Chapter 24: A Mother Of A Day

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A Mother Of A Day

Monday continued…

The plan had been to lie on the couch and watch a movie until Alcide got back from Shreveport.

We only got part of that chore accomplished.

Lying down: check.

Agreeing on a movie to watch, Quantum of Solace: check.

Snuggling up on the couch: check.

Watching a movie: Nope

We would have needed to stay awake to mark it off the list.

Sookie’d had me lie down and get comfortable first then she joined me, next to me on her side with her head on my shoulder and arm over my ribs. No sooner than we settled in, my eyes started getting bleary, Quantum Of Solace or not.

**

The James Bond theme was playing as the credits crept up the screen when I opened my eyes.

The movie ending wasn’t what woke me though. It was the whispered argument going on between my parents while Smom’s cell phone rang that got me. I asked what was going on, spooking them both out of their spat and Smom stared at me. Dad though, he was eyeballing her.

“Ooh nothing, Eric. You just get some rest, hon.”

The phone started to ring again almost as soon as it stopped.

“Bullshit. If it’s nothing, then why aren’t you answering that?”

Smom’s face looked pickled so dad started the explanation. “It’s Aurora, son. She knows that Deb talks to you on Sunday, so she usually calls on Monday to check on you.”

Like I needed this shit going on right now! Fuck me! I growled, reigning myself in so that I wouldn’t wake Sookie. “If you talk to her on Monday, then why aren’t you answering the call?”

Smom’s mouth seemed to want to put words together, but when nothing came out she just looked like a deranged goldfish.

Dad again. “Deb didn’t tell her we are visiting. She’s not sure how to handle it.”

I rolled my eyes at her. “You start by pushing the button with the little green phone on it.”

**

Considering that I’d almost lost Sookie less than 24 hours ago, the last thing on my list of give-a-flying-fuck was that Smom gave the woman updates… as long as Aurora stayed out of my life.

When the phone started ringing again, Smom finally answered it on the way to the kitchen for some privacy.

It was probably better that way. God only knows how often Aurora had been getting updated on my life. Hearing her half hearted and chicken shit attempt to stay in touch without actually caring more than likely would have just pissed me off.

Taking care of Sookie and getting my head straight were the only things on my plate at the moment. Sookie and I promised each other.

I closed my eyes, not trying to go back to sleep necessarily, just appreciating that I woke up holding onto Sookie for once.

…I knew that I wasn’t going to be happy when Smom called Dad to the kitchen… I knew right away what was going on. I waited, hoping to be wrong.

**

I could hear and feel Smom come back in and cross the room to stand over me.

“Eric.”

“Smom, make up your mind. You told me to go back to sleep.”

“Eric?”

I opened my eyes and she looked scared and hopeful at the same time. “You want me to talk to her, don’t you?”

She nodded so I took a cleansing breath and let her put the phone in my hand. Anyone else would have been told to fuck off. “Why do you want this?”

“Because it would break my heart if you didn’t talk to me.”

“You know that I’m only doing this for you.”

She misted up and called me her ‘sweet boy’ and kissed my forehead before she all but ran from the room like a scared rabbit. Chicken.

**

Because the morning hadn’t been unsettling enough… Let’s see how many scabs we can pick in one day…

“Hello?”

“Eric.”

Counting to ten… “Hello Aurora. How have you been?”

“Deb didn’t tell me they were visiting you. Where do you live?”

Wow. I guess Smom wasn’t one for thorough explanations. “I’m in Louisiana, near Shreveport. How about you?”

“When Dan retired, we stayed in Washington, but we moved to Oregon when… Dan Jr. was in an accident a couple years back so we moved to help his wife take care of him.”

Wonderful. A) at least she took care of one of her children… B) now I know something about one of my half brothers. Name, Marital status and State of residence… It felt like I knew him already!

Not much came to mind to keep the ‘stranger in an elevator’ conversation going, let alone civil. Deep breaths… “Is it nice there? Louisiana is flat and muggy.” Weather: Fueling uncomfortable small talk between strangers for centuries!

“It’s okay. Getting really cold here though. How is work? You’re still a cop right? Is Shreveport near New Orleans?”

Cop? Smom must have been giving her the bare minimums.  “Not really… It’s about 5 hours away at the opposite corner of the state. And yeah, I’m still in the FBI.” Even if it is temporary. Sookie didn’t want me to leave it, but the verdict was still out on my attachment to the job. Still waiting for the cost/benefit analysis to come back.

“Oh! FBI? I didn’t realize… I shouldn’t have called you a ‘cop’. What’s been going on in your life?”

“My partner and I have been working our asses off to catch a guy and finally found him. He was trying to rape and kill my fiancé at the time but he’s off the streets nonetheless.”

My Id started laughing at her stillness. I waited for her… I was thinking that she do the ‘everyone ok?’ or maybe even go with ‘sorry to hear it’.

“You don’t have to be mean. You could have just told me that you didn’t want to tell me. You didn’t have to make up something so horrible.”

Fuck… “I didn’t make it up.”

“You’re engaged?”

“Yes.”

“When are you getting married?”

“Christmas.” Moving along nicely. I could do this.

“Deb didn’t tell me.”

“She just found out.”

“Deb tells me how quiet your life is.”

“It used to be.” She was being as nice and calm as can be, but part of me still wanted to tell her to go fuck herself.

“It seems really quiet right now. You’re being really quiet.”

“Sookie is sleeping. I don’t want to wake her…” It occurred to me that she probably thought I was too retarded to just leave the room. “We dozed off while we watched a movie. She’s got a pretty good grip on me.”

“Oh… So are you two taking time off because of Jim and Deb’s visit or is she like a stay at home mom?”

“She’s a teacher. We don’t have any kids.” I’d like to think that Smom would include that in an update…

“Do you mind if I ask why?”

More than a little… “We’re waiting a while.”

“Oh. Because Mark can’t. I was just wondering.”

“Who is Mark?”

There was a weird pause at her end.  “Your… brother.” Ooooh another name! Goody!

“Ok. So there’s Dan Jr., Mark and… does the girl have a name?”

Sookie’s arm moved over my ribs and gave them a squeeze. I looked at her and confirmed that I woke her up. Rather, the rubber-band-like sound of every muscle in my body tensing when we started the topic at hand is probably what did it.

“Rachael… They know about you.” …and that’s what I get for thinking I couldn’t be more tense…

“How’d they find out?” I doubt it was an attack of conscience since she seemed so fucking adamant about my ‘being seen/being heard’ status.

“I was out with Rachael one day and ran into an old friend from Pearl Harbor. I was pregnant when she transferred and she mentioned it. Rachael called me on my reaction. She went straight home and started googling you. She’s still angry that she didn’t find anything.”

“I kind of need to keep a low profile. Even my email is anonymous. I’m all over facebook now though.”

“She’ll be excited to hear that. Dan and Mark don’t seem as curious, but that’s because of the circumstances.” Oh, you mean that you fucked around on their father? Hmmm… prudes.

“Where is she living?”

“She’s a cop, an actual cop, in St. Louis. She has the sweetest little girl. Lexi.”

That would have been nice to know… You know, way back when I asked if I had anything in common with them more than 6 years ago. Bitch!

“Aurora, she’s a cop. She could have found me.”

She started laughing. “If you had any idea how many times she yelled that at me… She looked and looked online and she called and talked to nearly every cop in New Orleans.”

“She could have put my name through the system.”

“She knows. She figured that since it was so hard to find you, you must be trying to not be found. She didn’t want to barge in on your life, especially if you were… well, I told her that if you were being so private on purpose, it wouldn’t be because of her. It would have been me.” God damn fucking right… fucking fruit loop…

Sookie slid her hand into my pocket and took out my phone. She gave me a wink as she started to play, no doubt tweeting.

I watched her hands work, not even realizing that I was distracting myself until Aurora cleared her throat. “You had asked about them once.”

“I was making polite conversation. You kind of took me by surprise the way you just showed up at the graduation like that.”

“I reacted badly.”

“Yeah, you did. So did I.” I do have a much better excuse though since I was the one who didn’t know she was coming… had no time to prepare myself for meeting my ‘one way pen pal’… was still drunk from the party the night before…

“I don’t expect anything from you, but Rachael would love to hear from you if you’re still curious.”

I thought about that for a few minutes. I didn’t even care that I had left her hanging, waiting on baited breath, whatever. Rachael had been curious since she found out about me… I know damn good and well that she could have tracked me down. I guess it’s something that she respected my privacy by not doing it. Respect must be a recessive gene. “What does she know about me?”

“She knows you’re 4 years younger than her. She, we, thought you were a cop in New Orleans, single… Deb told me that you like your job a lot… She’s never given me any real details because she wasn’t sure how you’d feel about that. I respected that. Her loyalties are with you, not me. She just let me know that you were ok.”

Again, that’s why I’ve always loved Smom. I had her give me Rachael’s number and Sookie added it to my phone as I read it off and handed Smom’s phone back to her.

**

Sookie smiled at me. “I’m proud of you.”

“Why?”

“For not telling her to go fuck herself like you wanted to. You were nice to her. It must feel better than the last time you talked to her.”

“Everything is so busy, maybe I should wait until after the wedding to call her.”

“Do I get a vote?”

“Of course.”

“Don’t wait that long. I’m not as patient as you are. You don’t have to invite her.”

I smiled and kissed her forehead. “How about I try calling her while I’m getting you a replacement phone to distract myself from your errands?”

“That sounds perfect. Alc and I will go to the morgue and the grocery store and we should be home at the same time.”

“I called it an ‘errand’ for a reason. I don’t want to think about it. K?”

She nodded, but didn’t say anything. I think she was starting to get how shaken yesterday left me… on a lot of levels.

**

We both realized pretty quickly after deciding to get up for lunch that it was a task easier said than done. After making ourselves feel retarded, I finally rolled off the couch and into the floor and then carefully lifted her by both hands.

She pouted at me from her seat at the table when I refused to let her make sandwiches for 5 adults who were all fully capable of doing it themselves. So while I pulled the ‘fixins’ out, I tried to distract her since she did it to me often enough.

“Why Miami?”

She stuck her tongue out, knowing I was playing one of her tricks, but she was smiling. “It started as a cheat. The Caribbean became a ‘family’ thing. Stackhouse Sanctioned Only. So I tried the Keys and it was blatantly geriatric. Fort Lauderdale and Tampa had all the charm of Larry the Cable Guy… Miami is, well South Beach is postcard pretty, its far enough south to stay warm and its young. Lots of clubbing and shopping to be done… I think they send all their old people to Boca.”

“How many times have you been?”

“Past couple years… Probably 4 times.”

“Holy shit! You’ve taken 4 vacations in 2 years. I’ve taken one and it was 4 years ago.”

“I didn’t say I’d taken 4 vacations… I take 1 vacation every year. The family trip. I’ve taken 4 weekends to Miami though. I take weekends all the time. Probably every month.”

“How the hell do you have time for that? When was the last time you went?”

She twitched her eyebrow at me and I realized I asked a question that she shouldn’t answer. Fuck’oops. “Everyone has weekends off. You pack a bag before you go to work on Friday. After work you jump on a plane. Time management. Work on the plane then enjoy yourself on the beach or clubbing or seeing a game. As a matter of fact, I didn’t hear you complaining a couple weeks ago when I was dancing my ass off in New Orleans.”

I had a hard time not laughing at the way she worded it. But my Dad kicked me under the table. “Working all weekend, my ass!”

Sookie threw a pickle at him. “Hey! Be nice. We both worked… I had meetings. You might as well say we didn’t see each other.”

That was it. I buried my face in my hands and laughed as silently as I could. Thankfully my father thought I was laughing because she’d thrown food at him and I used beer as an excuse to leave the room and pull myself together.

**

We were all still eating when Alc trudged in and went straight back to his room to get out of his suit.  By the time he came back, Sookie had made a plate for him and sent me out for a beer. I had to wonder: If she’s insisting on making lunch when she’s this bad off, how bad would she need to get to actually rest?…

When Alc came back in a wife beater and jeans, he sat down and started eating. The only thing he’d said was ‘thanks’. He was fucking with me. Asshole.

**

When I decided that I let him play his game long enough, I blurted, yes, blurted out like a petulant child. “Mother fucker! Not Funny. What happened?”

He laughed quietly while he finished chewing and he was lucky I couldn’t reach to kick him. “Ok, first of all… Burnham went and sat in on the party with the ME from Shreveport … Bobby ran the blood work himself. The guy was clean. Burnham even ran a test for some Brazilian fever. Brazil must inoculate like we do; he had antibodies for all the normal stuff.”

Sookie’s head bounced a couple of times, but other than that didn’t show much affect. I couldn’t have been more relieved. That was a huge weight lifted. I spent a fare amount of time thinking about how many opportunities his blood had the chance to get into her body… with all of the cuts, he bled all over her… The medications available to treat Sookie for what she could have caught would have made her feel like she was sick… the news was definitely something to be grateful for.

“Is there going to be a review? What’s the fallout look like?”

He shrugged. “What fallout? We’re clear. Ballistics report was brought in during the meeting. The melon shot was yours, but the ME had already told them that the shot in his leg woulda done the job since the ambulance didn’t get there for half an hour. So we tied. We need to put it all together for the case against Prince Charming though… Oh… funny part… some tool was there from the ‘Marinha do Brasil’ with another tool from NCIS. DeCastro wasn’t the Brazilian equivalent of a CS… he was a CT.”

“A CRYPTO!?!”

He nodded. “Yup. He was paid to find hidden messages and solve puzzles… That doesn’t explain much, huh?  Some kind of fucking genius too… and the report he had from his command was a bit thicker than the one NCIS left with the Ft. Lauderdale po-po. FULL of counseling chits and mast-able behavior… beat the shit out of another sailor for not pairing his socks right.”

I caught myself chuckling at his sarcasm. “Do we know about previous crimes yet?”

“Not yet. Pam told me to do a search online to see if something might be archived… I told her to kiss my ass. She’s going to fucking make director off of this case eventually and she’s just gonna have to take Corbett’s cock out of her mouth long enough to put a couple of hours in on it.”

Sookie giggled at him. “Don’t hold back Alc. Tell us how you really feel.”

“Sookie, fuck being nice about it. When we walked into the office this morning the suits started patting her back right away. Fucking PR tool asked her if she had a photo to add to the press release… Not only are you how he was caught but you’re the one who fucking found him. You have the battle scars to fucking prove it. Fuck that and fuck her. She shat the bed. I don’t care that she knows it and feels bad about it. That doesn’t change the fact that she’s put absolutely no fucking work in on this case other than calling Ft. Lauderdale… and you’re even the one to tell her to do that.”

“Alc…”

“Nope, shut it. I don’t care if it’s rational. I’d almost rather not have caught him at all than the way it ended up. Kenya is probably the only one of the friends and family of 13 victims that gets any closure because the rest of them won’t get to see him get any punishment and God only knows if the hypothetical survivors in Brazil would ever be told.”

Sookie looked like she was looking for something heavier than a pickle to throw at him for telling her to ‘shut it’. “Don’t be a dick. Pam did her job which is to manage all 6 agents looking for the guy. Fucking my father had no effect on the case other than possibly calming her down enough to shut her fucking mouth and listen to someone else’s opinion. Besides, you’re forgetting, Bill had arranged for me to be on the Vampire’s ‘to do’ list anyway. If I hadn’t walked in to that florist, he would have gotten 2 more girls before Pam and then redouble his efforts to make sure the math worked out for him to be at ‘S’ on July 1st.”

Alc sat and chewed for long enough that I thought he was going to drop it. I was wrong. “Nope. Still pissed.” At least he sounded calm.

“Ok. Why?”

“Because I’m pretty sure that I’m just now realizing how fucking lazy she is. She shows up last to the crime scene, she calls us in the middle of the night and we’re always where we’re sent before she is. She sends Eric and me all over creation and the only thing she ever does is interrogate even though he’s MUCH better at it. I’m starting to think that the only reason she ranks is because the higher ups were afraid of a lawsuit if they didn’t promote her. This case is just the straw.”

Sookie nodded. “Ok.”

That took us both by surprise. “Ok?”

“Yeah.”

I started shaking my head. I had to hear this. “You aren’t going to handle him away from being pissed at her?”

“Why? If she’s good at her job and puts the time in, then he’s just on his rag and he’ll calm down when his cramps go away. But if he’s right, he’s got every right to be pissed. If she really did climb the ladder by letting the boys look up her skirt on the way, then fuck her. She deserves his ‘kill you’ face.” He laughed quietly and gave her a wink.

“Isn’t that going to make family get-togethers uncomfortable? It makes sense to calm him down even if it is just to keep the peace?”

She giggled. “Doesn’t matter. She’s on her way out the stage door. Daddy’s done with her.” Fuck!

“Because of yesterday?”

“No. Because she’s a slob. Because she’s uppity about Terry being around so much even after Daddy explained that we’re all Terry has. Most of all, because she’s a 2 and not the 2 that can make up for the other 3. Not when you’re a 5 like Daddy anyway.”

Alc threw himself back in his chair and started laughing like he was deranged. I closed my eyes, not believing I was about to ask… “Which 2?”

Sookie laughed. Probably not at the question. Probably at how ridiculous I looked when I asked. “It’s more like 1 and 2 halves. She’s a go for surface. She’s about half there for space and social. She’d rate higher in social if she hadn’t been a twat at the cookout about sitting with Smom and Momma. She pouted like she was being punished.” Smom backed Sookie up with a nod.

“Ok. Not trying to play devil’s advocate or anything, but… Smom and Linda are Moms they were talking recipes and crafting… Pam was out of her element.”

“But she also made no effort to pop the brat bubble she put herself in. Pam might have found out that Linda has a vacation house in Tahoe where Pam grew up. Pam might have learned that Smom likes foreign films for the same reason she does. Had she tried to make small talk and gotten frustrated, Linda would have told Daddy that it was sweet that she tried. When Daddy asked his sister what she thought about Pam, she had no opinion. Red flag. If you think Jas and I are close, you have no idea.”

“Your dad was testing her?”

Sookie nodded. “She was already starting to turn anyway.”

“So my father-in-law is breaking up with my boss? Fucking outstanding!”

She laughed at me. She didn’t have to say out loud that I was taking the news worse than a kid whose parents were splitting up.

Dad finally jumped back into the conversation. He’d finished eating and was kicked back in his chair smoking, but he’d started knitting together scattered details. “Your mom, this morning she said ‘your dad’s whores’…”

Alc jumped all over that. “She called?! I HATE missing shit.”

Sookie laughed at him. “It’s a shame you can’t TiVo the house huh… wait… maybe we can put in some Big Brother type cameras.”

He shook his head and pointed at her… “You’re not glossing over that one… you told Pam it’d been a long time since he’d been ridden hard. He dated?”

Sookie took a deep breath. “Yes. Daddy dated. He’s been a married bachelor for at least 20 years. Sheila didn’t care other than it gave her a way to end an argument. She’d throw his keys at him and tell him to spend the night with whatever girlfriend he had at the time. The only real difference in life for him now and life for him last month is that now he can have people over. Lafayette calls her the ghost because she only ever stirred shit up. She wasn’t any kind of wife or mother.”

My father looked like he was dying for the next detail. “So how long had it been then?”

“About a year. He let himself get too attached. He would have left Sheila for Keisha, but she turned up pregnant and decided to try to make it work with her husband.”

My turn. “How did he know it wasn’t his?”

“Daddy had a vasectomy after I was born, but since those things can undo themselves they spent 8 months wondering. Her husband is Cambodian and the baby looks just like him.”

WAIT!… “Keisha? Kenya’s sister? Isn’t she a little young for him?”

She shrugged. “Daddy tends to date the age he feels, then complains about the generation gap, but they were good together.”

Alcide started laughing again. “That explains why you were trying to help me handle Ame even when you thought I was doggin’.”

“No it doesn’t. I was helping you handle your wife so you could concentrate on the case. Cheating is wrong, but it’s not cheating if everyone knows. Which explains why I told you to fess up or stop.”

“You ever double up?”

She took a deep breath and slowly tilted her head to crack her neck in both directions. “Not unless you count that I was still wearing JB’s ring when I was jumped.”

And that’s when it clicked. I’d had the information I needed to come to the conclusion… Jas told me that Quinn came between Frannie and Bill… Frannie didn’t meet her until after the rape… She didn’t have sex with JB until last year… she told Pam and me that she thought first times were ‘exciting’… It wasn’t until right then that I let myself realize her first time was when Bill raped her.

I stood up fast enough that I knocked my chair over and I stormed back to our room and slammed the door behind me.

**

I paced the floor until I was afraid I’d leave a groove. That son of a bitch. That fucking piece of shit… it wasn’t bad enough that he’d raped her. It wasn’t bad enough that he’d maneuvered into marrying her just to control and abuse her. It wasn’t bad enough that he made friends with a serial killer and negotiated her death. It wasn’t bad enough that he was making fake IDs for her students in the hopes that they’d kill themselves and break her heart. It wasn’t bad enough that he’d threatened to do to Tara and Hadley what he’d done to her if she left him. In spite of everything that cocksucker threw at her, did to her, forced on her… she’d pulled herself back together and gotten it all back. She was the antithesis of the picture of rape. Motivated, caring, social, cheerful and friendly… No one ever would be able to guess. She was whole, unbroken in spite of his best efforts… It was his turn…

I was lightheaded before I even realized that I was hyperventilating so I sat down and started working through my plan.

It didn’t take me terribly long once I decided it wasn’t an option to have him released just so I can take him into the woods and kill him slowly.

After a few phone calls and a few more deep breaths, I joined the family in the kitchen.

They all looked on edge when I came around the corner. Sookie especially. I could tell she knew what my hissy fit had been over.

“Mind if I take Rotten for my errands?”

She nodded. “Eric, you alright?”

I bent over and kissed her forehead. “I will be. Call me if you aren’t done in time to get the boys. I won’t be long. Love you.”

I was already on the way to the door when she answered me and said she loves me too.

**

After a few minutes, it dawned on me that I was square rooting my plans to death. Even though I was driving, I desperately needed a distraction. Smoking sounded great. Then it occurred to me, I did have something that I could be doing.

As soon as I got to a stop sign, I pulled my phone out and called to leave another message for Jane about Tippy… then dialed the number Aurora had given me.

“Hello?” The voice was small and definitely not adult.

“Hi, I’m trying to reach Rachael.”

“This is Lexi.” I smiled instantly.

“Hi Lexi, I’m Eric. Is your mom there or are you at work?”

She giggled. “I’m too little to work.”

“But you have a cell phone.”

“It’s Mommy’s!” I heard a woman fuss at her and ask who she was talking to. “It’s Derrick.”

“Derrick? We don’t know a Derrick. Give me that. I told you not to answer my phone. What if work calls?… Hello?”

“Hello, Rachael Foster?”

“Yeah, who’s this please?”

“Eric Northman.”

There was a long pause. “No seriously, Mark? If this is your idea of a joke, I’ll…”

“I’m not joking. I spoke to Aurora this morning. She told me you’d been trying to track me down.”

Another pause. “You spoke to Aurora?”

“My parents are visiting and she called them.”

“Your parents? You ended up… Ok? You were Ok?” I was touched that the first question had to do with how I was brought up. Truly.

“My father’s wife is amazing. She raised me like her own.”

“That’s a relief… I gotta say, I don’t know where to go from here. I’ve known about you for two years now and every day I go to work, I have to convince myself not to run your name through the system.”

“Aurora told me you’re a cop.”

She snorted. “Bitch. I made detective 3 years ago, but yeah, in St. Louis. Aurora told me you are a New Orleans cop. Why couldn’t I find you that way?”

“Because Smom, that’s what I call my step mother, didn’t know how I’d take it that she’d been keeping Aurora posted on my life after the way we left things. She told her I was in Law Enforcement. Aurora assumed.”

“Oh. So what are you? Like a security guard or…?”

“FBI.”

“No wonder I couldn’t find your spook ass! What do you do for them?”

I laughed. “I’m not a spook. I’m a thug. I’m on the Predator Task Force.”

“Ew. Special Victims Unit, huh?”

“Pretty much. What about you?”

“Missing persons.”

“That actually sounds nice.”

She laughed. “Tough week, huh?”

“You could say that. So tell me something about you. When I met Aurora, I asked about you and your brothers. It scared her off.”

“Typical. Lemme guess, she showed up all smiles and then flipped her lid.”

“Yeah. Smom told her about my graduation and she made an appearance.”

“Lovely… Are you… are you bipolar?”

Uhhhh. That seemed too random. “No. Why?”

“Because Mom is, Mark and Junior are too. I was just wondering.”

“I assume you’re asking me because your father isn’t.”

“No. He’s just an idiot.”

I started laughing. “I don’t mean to laugh…”

“No, it’s fine. If it wasn’t for Lexi, I would have stopped talking to them when I found out about what happened with you. But at least you ended up not getting fucked around by a shitty step mother. She called earlier and I let it go to voicemail as usual. She only ever calls me when she watches some Lifetime movie that puts it in her head to put in for mom o’ the year anyway.”

“But Dan Jr… she moved to tend to him, right?”

“Ha! That was bipolar self glorification at its best. He’d been in a coma for 2 days before his wife tracked me down because they didn’t have any numbers. Then I had to call Mom to let her know.”

“What happened?”

She huffed into the phone. “He got drunk and pulled a knife on the wrong guy at a bar. That was a wonderful event.”

“I bet. She told me it was an accident.”

“Sure. He accidently fell on his own knife and ended up winning a colostomy bag to go with his paraplegia.”

I had to fight the urge to laugh at the way she put it. “You’re killing me. Tell me about you. You’re the one that wanted to find me.”

“Not much to tell. It’s me and Lexi. She’s almost 5. She’s adorable and the smartest little thing ever. I’m probably jaded, but we’re fine with that.”

“No dad?”

“Nope. In spite of the cocked up childhood I had with a bipolar mom and older brothers, I always wanted kids. I waited until I was out of the manifestation danger zone and then went to the bank. What about you?”

“No kids yet. My fiancé and I are waiting, but not long. I just got transferred from New Orleans to Shreveport. So once I’m settled… after the wedding… How about Dan Jr. and Mark?”

“Junior has two boys. 18 and 19, different mothers, high school love biscuits. We don’t know anything about them except they exist. The moms were at least smart enough to stay away from Junior. Mark can’t. Birth defect.”

“That would explain why Aurora asked me why Sookie and I didn’t have any yet.”

“Like she had the right… Tell me about Sookie. What’s she like?” I swear the longer I talked to Rachael, the more I liked her and the more pissed I got at Aurora…

“Sookie’s a high school teacher, close to her family and about as close to perfect as I’ve ever met. I’m probably jaded, but we’re fine with that.”

She laughed. “So Mr. HotShit FBI task force guy… Have you caught anyone I might have heard about?”

Not that I really wanted to talk about work, but this was going better than I hoped… “The task force got Harlon Ives, but Alc and I didn’t put a lot of time in on that one because we were on Joseph Velasquez. We got Bob Jessup too.”

“Full Moon Slasher, huh? Nice. You have the Vampire too?”

“We did.”

“What happened?”

Deep breath… “He was the tough week… He died last night.”

“Holy shit! Sorry you didn’t get him.”

“We did. That’s how he died. Long story though… What’s Lexi short for?”

She laughed. “Because she’s only 5.”

“Ha ha.” Sookie and Rachael would get along just fine. “I wasn’t asking why she was vertically challenged; I was asking if Lexi was a nickname for something longer.”

She was still laughing. “I tend to change the subject too… Lexi isn’t short for anything. It’s just Lexi. Don’t laugh… I had this thing for comic books growing up… I wanted her to be a boy so I could name her ‘Lex’.”

Instead of laughing I chuckled. “Her middle name isn’t Luther, is it?”

“Smart ass. No, it’s not… How do I see what you look like?”

I almost told her to pull my DMV picture, but I figured I’d test her sense of humor. “If you’re near a computer, you can look up Jager Tango on youtube.”

She snorted and I heard typing right away… then the horrible sound quality of Deliverance and loud clubbers as recorded by a cell camera… and sudden screeching laughter… “OH MY GOD! Which one are you?”

“I’m the tall one.”

“Oh my… Did he just dip you?… Where is this? Who is that guy?”

“It’s the night spot here… That ass clown is my future brother in law. Jason.”

“Is… did that guy just try to cut in?… Who was that?”

“That was either Sookie’s father or Godfather… they both tried.”

She started laughing again. “Is that… the girl fighting…?”

“Yeah, that’s Sookie.”

She laughed into the phone until the video was over… “There’s another one here called ‘How was I supposed to know it was your sister?”

“That was taken a little later. That’s just me dancing with Sookie’s sister, Tara. I think my boss took that hoping I’d do something else retarded.”

I heard the music again. “She’s a twin I see.”

I laughed. “Adopted, smart ass.”

“Jason wasn’t jealous?”

“Him and Sookie were on stage with the rest of the family. That’s him you hear singing. Sookie was playing drums.”

“Must be nice. I can’t sing for shit and Lexi kicks my ass at Rock Band.”

“Same here. Sookie’s teaching my partner’s kids how to play and I just watch in awe. I’m too retarded to do anything but dance.”

“At least you have that going for you. I have zero artistic talent. Mark can draw really well though. He worked for a long time painting… he was that guy who’d turn yuppies’ family portraits into sofa paintings. I’m athletic though. Softball, basketball, soccer.”

“Me too. Football, baseball, lacrosse, basketball…”

“College?”

“No. My Dad pushed it all at me. So when I got to college I rebelled and stayed away from it.”

“Eh, opposite here. Mom hated like hell that she had to taxi me everywhere, but she didn’t complain that that’s how I got through college without loans. Criminal Justice at UMSL. You?”

“Cal-Berkeley Crim and Psych. How do I see what you look like?”

“Uhhh, I can text you a pic if you want, but we look a lot alike.”

“Are you gargantuan?”

“Yes. 5’ 10”… I’m blond too. Your eyes brown?”

“Blue.”

She snorted. “Fucking ken doll… Are you that tall or is Sookie’s family that short?”

“Yes.”

She laughed. “How tall are you?”

“Jason told me I’m ‘6 foot huge’. 6’5” and he’s only about 5’8”… Sookie’s like 5’2”.”

She snorted again. “Careful you don’t break her.”

I heard Deliverance start again. “You aren’t watching that again!”

“Oh yeah, I am… You have no idea how worried I was that I’d finally track you down and you’d be all kinds of boring or uptight and damaged by the shit I imagined you could have gone through. You’re on the job. You’ve seen the shit people do to each other… This is awesome.”

I really did understand. The job… Sookie… I understood too well. “As long as you’re not emailing it out to…”

I stopped talking when I heard the little girl giggling… “Mommy, who is that?”

“THAT is Eric.”

“Eric?”

“Mmm Hmmm.”

“Your little brother Eric?” She’d told her little girl about me?

“That’s the one.”

“That’s him. On the phone?”

“Mmm Hmmm.”

“HA HA!!! I talked to him first!!!”

“Oh, that’s it!…” Lexi started laughing frantically, I assumed because she was being tickled. Then the noise finally died down. “Sorry, she’s a brat. She needed to be dealt with.”

“I think you were a little hard on her.”

“I know… I should watch it. A cop might hear… So listen, when can we get together? I want to meet you in person.”

I had to think about it. I couldn’t think of a good time… “Uh… can I get back to you on that? I…”

“That’s fine… I understand.” I found a parking spot in front of the Minden Best Buy and shut off the engine.

“No, I’m not being distant… My partner and I killed the Vampire last night while he was trying to rape my fiancé. We hadn’t even checked in with our new director yet. We uncovered a massive ID forgery case in the process and Sookie looks like a pin cushion. It’ll probably be a couple of weeks before I’m freed up. Sookie and I are taking off for the weekend but when we get back I should have a better idea.”

“Holy shit! He got to her? Are you ok?”

“We’re getting through it… It’s part of the really long story… I’ll tell you all about it if you still want to hear it when we get together.”

“Absolutely. Do you think you want to come to me, I can come to you… we could meet somewhere neutral.”

“I like options A and C. If you came to Bon Temps, I wouldn’t get the chance to get to know you. Sookie’s family is great, but they swarm… Not cool for a first meet.”

“Understandable. We’ll work on it when you know something more.”

“Sounds good.”

“Hey Eric, thanks for calling me. You have every right to be bitter.”

“Oh, I am… but you didn’t have anything to do with it… to be honest, if she hadn’t shown up at my graduation, I wouldn’t ever think about things.”

“Yeah, Aurora’s good for that.”

“Text me your email and don’t forget to send a picture of Lex.”

**

By the time I was standing at the counter full of cell phones, waiting for the self important spaz behind the counter to show off his ‘impressive’ knowledge of Nokia phones to the poor man who just wanted to replace the phone his wife ran through the washer… my phone had been blown up.

The first picture was of Lexi… adorable little ginger haired angel with pudgy cheeks… her freckles have freckles…

I realized I was smiling like an ass and decided not to care.

Next picture… Rachael… long wavy blond hair, dark brown eyes and other than the undented chin and eye color, we really did look alike…

Another picture, this one was taken a while back, more than two years ago… Dan Jr., Mark and Rachael standing together in front of a body of water in flannel shirts… They were all the same height… Dan was blond, Mark had dark hair… All three of them have the same nose… I groaned… all four of us have the same nose.

The next picture was Rachael and Lexi together… both of them in karate gis and little Lexi was holding up a broken board with a smile that took up her whole face… that picture got saved as their caller ID…

When the dungeon master was done being bombastic about the inferiority of the phone the other customer had chosen, he came over and gave me a look that said he wasn’t going to make this any easier on me.

I must have argued with Frodo for 10 minutes before he called the manager over because I was being ‘difficult’. After 3 minutes with Rod Serling, I was walking back to the car with the exact model of phone I wanted and all of the accessories, even a bright green skin.

**

When I got back to the house I could smell bleach while I was still in the yard.

I walked in and could hear water running in the kitchen and figured that it was as good a place to start as any. Marnie had her back to the door and was scrubbing out the already neat microwave.

I snuck up behind her and put my arms around her shoulders, hugging her and making her yelp. “Thank you.”

She spun around and slapped at me. I deserved it. I scared the shit out of her. “You’re welcome you big asshole! Mom and me knew you and Alcide wouldn’t do it right.”

Glossing over… “You’re right. Guy clean isn’t clean enough. This might keep Sookie from trying to do too much for a few minutes.”

“What happened earlier? You flipped out and… well, you acted like me.”

“I had a moment. Something Sookie said made me realize that I want her ex’s head with a bow on it.”

“Oh… You’re better now?”

I nodded. “For the most part. I have a plan.” I wiggled my eyebrows.

“I don’t want to know, do I?”

“Probably not. It’ll tell better as an anecdote afterwards.”

“If you say so… Did you call her?”

“Who?”

“Your sister.” Shit… I had no idea how to handle this… No clue how she’d react…

“Oh, yeah… She seems nice. Her little girl is adorable.”

“What about your brothers?”

I shrugged. “They have issues with the fact that their mother ran around on their dad.”

“Do you have anything in common with them?”

“Rachael’s a cop. One of the brothers can draw. Nothing freakish like all of us having an extra toe or an allergy to lettuce.”

She laughed a little. “What’s it like?”

“I don’t know. Weird and fun at the same time.”

“You know I have 2 sisters right?”

I do remember that. Marnie used to be more excited to see them than her father. “I could find them for you if you want. I can find anyone.”

She cringed. “I don’t know what I’d say if I met them.”

I raised an eyebrow at her. “Hello?”

She snickered. “Asshole. You know what I mean. They probably don’t even remember me.”

“Or they could be looking for you. You’re right between them in age right. The older one would definitely remember you.”

“I don’t know. I should probably work to keep my head out of my ass for a while before I SMUFF.”

“Smuff?”

“Set Myself Up For Failure. Getting rejected probably won’t help my disposition… I’m sorry about this morning. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I already told Sookie. You didn’t need my bullshit.”

I gave her a hug and kissed her forehead. “You’re doing great. Don’t beat yourself up over a bad mood. Especially considering the stress. We’re all feeling it.” She smiled at me and tried not to cry. I have to admit… She was trying… harder than I thought she could.

“Is that Sookie’s new cell?”

“Yeah. I nearly had to beat the annoying weasel at the store into submission to get it. Why?”

“Just wondering. When I was putting some laundry in your room I noticed Sookie’s Twitter and Facebook were open. If you post that she needs everyone’s numbers again, I bet you could get most of it saved for her. Since her hands are so cut up.”

I thanked her for the idea and headed back to my room. I opened up the Fort Knox style packaging and plugged the phone in to charge it… not that it really mattered. With all of the tweeting and facing, she’d have the damn thing drained in no time.

“My phone was broken. Text me your name.” That’s it. That’s all I typed into the field of both sites. Within minutes, I was laughing at the nearly constant vibration of her phone while I put her students into her address book for her. Most of them went as far as to send a full address book entry. Once the barrage seemed to be calming down, I grabbed my phone and texted the message to her family to forward it on to whoever they thought Sookie would want stored. That caused another wave of texts, including that sock puppet Quinn.

Smom came in to check on me so we talked, about my fit and about my talks with Aurora and Rachael while I tasked myself. I worked right up until Sookie and Alc came home with the boys and a truckload of groceries.

**

Alc was already on his way in with another armful when I got outside to help. He snarled at me. “Thanks a lot, you asshole.”

“What did I do?”

“It’s not what you did, it’s what I had to do. That’s fucked up.”

“It wasn’t my idea. When I told her that I didn’t want any parts of it, she said she’d ask you.”

“That was some disturbing shit.”

“I’m sure. You could have told her no.”

“I would have if Kenya wasn’t on duty. If I said ‘no’ it would have left her to do it.  I didn’t think she needed to see two friends like that.”

“How realistic are they?”

“That’s the creepiest fucking part. Everything looks dead under those bright ass lights and with the way she’s so banged up… I’ll probably die with the distinction of being the only mother fucker to see her naked and feel sick.”

Which is exactly what I imagined. “I need the card from the camera.”

“After all that, you’re going to look at them anyway?”

“No… It’s my turn to take my balls back from Pam.”

He stopped dead and stared at me for a minute. “Are we going on a field trip?”

I nodded. “And it just so happens to be take-your-father-in-law-to-work day.”

**

By 4:30, everyone had rallied to help get the groceries put away and helped Marnie and Smom to start dinner while Sookie supervised with a cold drink. In spite of everything going on, she was still insisting on making the Monday Night. I was heading back to the kitchen from tending to a couple last minute details and getting Sookie’s afternoon dose of steroids and antibiotics since she seemed to be pretty spent after giving Alc his tour of the grocery store. That’s when I heard Corbett’s heavy steps on the front porch and opened the door before he had the chance to knock.

“How is she doing today?”

“She’s convinced herself that she’s not hurt. She just got back from the damn store. Is there any talking sense into her?”

He shook his head as he shut the door behind himself. “Fraid not.”

“You sure you’re up for this?”

I got the Stackhouse smirk. “Oh yeah. Can’t think of anything more fun to do today.”

“What did you tell Pam?”

“That I have plans.” Alpha.

I smiled and showed him into the kitchen.

**

Like we didn’t have enough going on, everyone in the kitchen watched Team Herveaux tense at the sound of Alc’s phone ringing. Tubular Bells. Ame’s ringtone.

Jack and Carm looked disgusted and watched in horror as Alc jerked his head to have me follow him out to the porch.

“Yeah?”

“Hey, Alc.”

“What’s up?”

“Am I on speaker?”

“Yes. My lawyer suggested I have witnesses when you contact me.”

“Your lawyer?”

“Yeah. When one is getting a divorce, one tends to secure legal representation. What did you need?”

“I was just calling to see how things were going and talk to the boys.”

“Things are fine.”

“How do they like their new school?”

“Love it. Jack has a dozen girls after him and Carm likes to help run cheer practice.”

“How’s the house coming?”

“It’s done. Just waiting on our stuff.”

“And everyone is getting along okay there at the house?”

“Yes. Sookie’s taught Jack how to play drums and he’s working on piano. Carm is a pretty good bass player even though the couch holds the bass up for him and he can play Chopsticks.”

“Really?”

“Really.” He was being… forced calm. Not like sniper calm though. It was more like he was just biting back the urge to hang up on her and this was the only way.

“Can I talk to the boys?”

Alc took a deep breath and called them out to join us.

He held the phone up for them so they could hear better. “Your mom wants to talk to you.”

Carm took the lead while Jack snarled quietly at the phone. “Hi mommy.”

“Hey baby. How are you doing?”

“We’re awesome… now.” Ewww, ouch.

“What have you been up to?” Her voice wavered.

“Doeing to school, and practice and Sookie’s teaching us music and cooking. Hunter is our new best friend. It’s dood here.”

“That’s great. I’m glad you’re happy. Are you making a lot of friends?” She was actively crying.

“Uh huh… Sookie took us shoppin’ yesterday and me and Jack used some cuss bank money for a new dame.”

“Oh yeah? That sounds fun… Jack?”

He didn’t answer. He just stared at the phone harshly so Alc jerked his head to get him to say something. “What?”

“How are you doing?”

“I’d be better if you hadn’t called.”

“Jack, I…”

Jack cut her off. “Daddy, I know you have to be nice. Do I?”

He gave Jack a dirty look. “As nice as you can be.”

“Who do I pay if I cuss?”

“The piper. I’ll ground you.”

“Can I just go then? I don’t want to talk to her. We don’t need her. We’re happy now.”

“Boy, you need to settle down. You won’t be mad forever.”

“I know. But I’m allowed to be mad now.” The kid made a good point.

Ame couldn’t take it. “Jack, I’ll come back. I’ll move closer if you want.”

“NO! I don’t want you. We’re happy now that you’re gone and if you come back, you’ll ruin it!… Daddy…”

Alc gave him a nod and Jack left the porch.

“Alcide! What have you been telling them!? You’re poisoning them against me!”

“Amelia, we haven’t talked about you since the night they found out you weren’t coming to Bon Temps.”

“What did they say? How did they take it?”

“They were just as relieved as I was.”

“You liar!”

Carm got closer to the phone. “He’s not lying, mommy. We don’t like you. You’re mean and you yell at us. No one has yelled at us all week. And we det to talk to Daddy because you aren’t yelling at him. It’s like you were the boogie man… Daddy, can I go too? Smom’s donna let us cook with her like Sookie does.”

He gave him a nod and Carm ran off.

Alc pointed to the phone and then into the kitchen as he muttered at me. “You should get one of these to help you appreciate what’s in there.”

I laughed through my nose and gave his shoulder a slap. “I’m cool. Thanks.”

He shook he head and took another couple of breaths. “Amelia, are we done?”

“Are the boys gone?”

“Yeah. I’m on the porch. They’re in the house.”

“So you have a lawyer, what are you suing for?”

“The boys.”

“And?”

“And, what’s theirs. Their college fund. Shit, once I get the boxes of little stuff out of the truck you can have the furniture. I want to get new stuff anyway.”

“You want the boys. Nothing else?” As though she had anything? She hadn’t worked in years.

“They’re the only reason I put up with you for so long.”

“You? Put up with me?”

“I’m not picking a fight. I’m stating a fact. Are we done?”

“I miss you.”

He laughed. “That’s a shame. I’ve never been happier. I’m hanging up now.”

I gave him a look after his phone was back in his pocket. “You good?”

He looked like he was thinking about it. “Yeah. I’ll be even better after we get to play. You ready?”

I did a little happy dance and wiggled my eyebrows at him. “Oh yeah. Let the games begin.”

He laughed and called me Howdy Doody.

**

Jack was sitting perfectly still in Sookie’s lap when we got back to the kitchen. He was snuggled against her chest as she ran her fingers through his hair. I know for a fact the treatment he was getting would calm him right down.

She closed her eyes and shook her head slightly to let us know that he would be fine. She kissed his forehead and told him that she felt the same way after she talked to her mother today.

She looked up at me. “You look like you’re up to something.”

I gave her my best shit eating grin. “Those charges won’t stick.”

Her eyebrow went up and Alc and Corbett looked like they were waiting for us to argue.

“Eric…”

“Yeah, Hon?”

“You’re up to something.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Savagery or scheming?”

“Can I take the 5th?”

“Only if you promise to be careful.”

I bent over and kissed her forehead. “Of course. I promise. We’ll try to be back for the second half.”

**

As soon as the three of us were in the Trooper, I was on the phone. For the first half of the ride, I sealed things up with my accomplices and the second half of the trip was spent explaining the plan.

Mr. Bobby Burnham, my super duper splat team friend, was waiting for us outside the facility. “Bobby! My Buddy! How ya doing?”

“I’ll have what you’re having! How are you in such a good mood?”

“I have a sadistic streak and I’m gonna go rip the wings off something.”

“You must have brass ones.”

I smiled at him and took the folders he’d brought for me. “They aren’t just brass, Sweetheart. They’re huge. You coming to the party?”

“Negative. I just ran over to bring those. I’ve had two teams working their asses off and we’re still trying to unfuck your knot.”

“I’m sorry. You know that I owe you a big one for this, right?”

“Don’t worry about that. Being the PTF’s rentboy looks good enough.” He blew me a kiss and gave Alcide’s hand a shake as he took off.

**

It took us nearly half an hour to get through security. Even with our badges… Corbett of course was with us to try to ‘ID someone’. We were deep in the bowls of the Detainment Facility when we were finally met by Alcide’s girlfriend; Jennifer. When she gave us nothing more than a genial nod, I had to fight the urge to laugh. As it was, Alc nudged my arm with his as we followed Jennifer through the maze of corridors to stop by the door to one of the rooms used for meetings between individuals and their counsel. I’d have called them people, but it would have been giving them too much credit.

Corbett stared down the sack of shit shackled to the floor at the table inside and Alcide had fun putting on his ‘death face’ while the grownups talked.

“How long has he been in there?”

Jennifer smiled at me. “Since about one. I called over as soon as we hung up. He’s been complaining about needing the bathroom for about an hour.”

“He thinks his lawyer is on the way?”

She nodded. “That could be bad.”

“It could be, if he hadn’t hired the firm that also represents Sookie’s business interests. They really did withdraw. He’s unrepresented for the time being.”

“Nicely done. What if this goes the other way?”

“If it does then it does. But he’s a fucking coward.”

She laughed. “If nothing else, you’ll get to beat the shit out of him.”

She looked scared at the smile I gave her and then turned to leave.

**

Alc led the way into the observation room next door that really did have one of those ridiculous mirrors separating the two rooms.

Corbett looked confused when I sat down and put my feet up on the table. “Aren’t you in the wrong room?”

“No. He’s seen us. More specifically, he’s seen you. Alc and I being here wouldn’t be a big deal to him since he knows we’re Feds. You though… You’re the wild card. Right now he’s shitting his pants trying to figure out why you could’ve come with us. He’s been here long enough to know civilians aren’t something they see often. You’ve already served your purpose.”

He nodded his head and Alcide pulled a deck of cards out of his back pocket and started dealing 5 card draw.

We played for a few minutes before Bill made his first sound. He’d yelled ‘guard’ and I immediately whipped my arm around and slapped the thick pane of glass and made him jump out of his skin. More importantly, he started to sweat.

After only a few more hands, his forehead was beaded and his pit stains were visible.

Every time Corbett looked at his former son-in-law, he smiled… at me.

When Bill yelled for a guard that wasn’t there to answer again, I finally got up and grabbed my things to start our little chat. Alcide slapped me five and let me know they’d try to ‘keep it down’.

**

I stilled my face as I slowly entered the room and crossed the floor to sit across from Sookie’s rapist. I leaned back in my chair like it was the most comfortable place in the world.

I stared.

“What are you doing here?”

I stared.

“What do you want with me?”

Staring and waiting.

“What’s Corbett doing here?”

He sat back and gave staring back at me a try for a while since I hadn’t answered him. It barely lasted a minute, but he stayed quiet while he fidgeted through the next 43 minutes of uncomfortable silence.

He finally tried again. “I want my lawyer.”

I sat forward suddenly and made him jump. “You don’t have a lawyer.”

“Sullivan…”

“Sullivan, Davies and Lombard have terminated your representation. They’ve found a conflict of interest.”

“What conflict? They’ve represented my family for years.”

I smiled at him. “You should right them a letter… I met with a friend of yours yesterday.”

He narrowed his eyes at me. “Which one?”

“Filipe DeCastro… Victor Madden… Victor, Filipe, Filipe, Victor… Fun, fun.”

His eyes flew open and he took a hard swallow. He didn’t look like much of a poker player. He tried to lie about knowing anyone by the name.

I smiled at him and slid one of the folders across the table to him. “Maybe this will jog your memory.”

The top page when he opened the folder was an up close picture taken of DeCastro on a slab. There was a black void in his forehead just over his eyebrow, one in his cheek and the last one had been put in his neck where it met his collarbone… Compton looked like he was going to be sick.

“You want to know something about ‘bad guys’?”

He’d lost what little bit of color he had. “What?”

“They tend to get chatty when they know they’re about to die.”

“He didn’t. He… I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Bill, why didn’t you ask what he was doing when we caught him?”

“I don’t know him. Why do I care?”

“Because he told us that he knows you very well. He says that you gave him his documentation to stay in the states so that he could continue to rape and drain mothers and daughters. He said that you gave him his credentials in exchange for his services. You offered papers to a psychopath in trade for your ex-wife’s murder.”

“That’s absurd. I don’t know him.”

“You might want to change your mind about your answer.”

“Why?”

“Because you don’t know how many witnesses there were to his deathbed confession. And you still haven’t asked what he was doing when we found him.”

He started shaking his head. “Why are you here? If you know for sure it was me, then why are you even here?”

“Ask me, Bill.”

“What?”

“Ask me what he was doing, Bill.”

“Fine! What was he doing?”

I cleared my throat and tossed another folder out to land directly in front of him. I kept my eyes on his, careful not to look at the pictures… I was worried that I’d have to try and convince him of the authenticity…

No sooner than the manila folder was open, his body lurched to the side and he barfed all over the floor. It was beautiful…

It was fucking stunning and it wasn’t over quickly.

He was still sicking up a week’s worth of institutional grade food when I realized that the putrid stench of stomach acid was mingling with a couple of other smells…

I looked under the table and confirmed… He’d pissed all over himself… At least.

I gave him some time to settle his breathing back down after heaving from his toes…

“So I figure that we have a few things to talk about.”

He gagged up a little more and spit. “What do we need to talk about?”

“Your options.”

“Fuck you! I’m not talking to you!”

I stood up as quickly as I could and grabbed the hair on top of his head and spiked his face into the table and watched it bounce him back to sitting upright.

He choked on his own blood and spit out a tooth. “Guard!”

I started pacing around behind him. “You’re yelling into nothing. You’re mine princess… And I think that you WILL be talking to me.”

“Why would I talk to you?”

“Because I’m patient. We can dance for 72 hours… just like this. You’re covered with your own shit and piss and blood and puke… I can tell why you rape… you’re just a pathetic prick without power…”

“Her own mother told me to put her in her place! You’re the only one that doesn’t know what an uppity whore she was!” Oh Lovely! Another tick on the list for Sheila.

I grabbed his hair again and flung him backwards, stepping out of the way. The shackles holding him in place grabbed his ankles and added to the snap in his landing. He started to wail about the pain in his back.

“You’re a fucking hero, huh! You didn’t get to her in time and now you’re going to beat the shit out of me while I’m chained to the floor.” Pretty much.

I snorted at him and bent over, wrapping my hand around his throat and lifting him to his feet. I held his throat and fisted my other hand and pulled it back and fired it like a cannon into his dick. I held him as still as I could until his girlish sobbing was over. “72 hours. We can continue our dance or you can play by my rules… So tell me, baby-dick, do you need to be taught a lesson? Would you like the ‘alley treatment’? It can be arranged… You know… its nothing to be ashamed of. Lots of girls like you have a itty bitty piss pump. I’m sure there’s lots of rapists that need to use a strap on. They’re useless little fucks like you who couldn’t handle it when a date starts laughing.”

“I’m here for forgery. Not Rape.”

“No no no, Buttercup… Forgery got your ticket. Conspiracy to commit murder will secure your stay. Who you raped is why you have my attention.”

“I didn’t…”

I pulled my fist back and hit him in his dick again… harder than the last time… This time I dropped him and let him writhe around on the floor. I stood over him and watched his cheeks puff out while he breathed through the need to puke up what he’d already let go of… exquisite.

“Are we ready to talk yet Billy?”

“Don’t call me ‘Billy’!”

“Ohhh, do give me a hint… coward… bitch… wuss… wimp… douche bag… punk… pussy… sissy… cry baby… loser… sissy mary… chump… poser…nancy boy… Oh, how about candy ass!?”

“Go fuck yourself!”

I watched him put his hand flat on the floor to try getting up… I put my heel down on his wrist and started leaning into it… “How much pressure did you have to use to shatter her wrist? I wonder.”

“It didn’t take much!”

I clenched my jaw and pressed my foot into him with a twist like I was stomping out a cigarette butt and feeling his bones give way under my boot…  He went back to crying and begging for mercy again.

“I don’t know about you, pet, but this seems a little counterproductive. Are you ready to discuss things yet?”

“What difference does it make? You’re going to do whatever you want to me!”

“Awww! Precious, don’t be so negative. Free will is a big deal. You’ll be free to make a choice.” The more I patronized to him, the more unreasonable he was getting… he’d be breaking faster than I thought. “Beside’s if you think that this is what I want to do you after what you’ve done… you aren’t nearly as smart as you think you are.”

I set his chair right and left it to go sit back down in mine.

I watched him grunt and snarl as he pulled himself out of the floor and into his seat.

“Fine. Let’s hear it then asshole!… Like it’ll bring your whore back!” Before he was done scoffing, the back of my fist had cracked his nose, undoing up his freshly reset break.

“I told you to be nice. The only reason you’ve lived this long is because Sookie didn’t want your death on her conscience.”

“My Options.” Ah! That’s more like it. The fun part.

“You can stay in jail or go home.”

“Then I’ll go home.”

“I thought you’d want to. That’s why I brought Corbett. We’re anxious to get you settled in.” I tilted my head and smiled… Alc had told me that when I do that, I look like the Mad Hatter.

“What! I can’t… You can’t…. NO!”

I shrugged at him, still smiling. “You wouldn’t rather stay in prison, would you?”

“Rather than die! I think I would!”

I shook my head and slid a legal pad over to him. “Confess.”

“Confess to what?”

“Confess to raping Sookie in Nashville. Confess to providing documentation to an illegal alien who you knew to be a serial killer and rapist. Your part was the last 8 victims and I want every fucking email address, phone number and PO box you used to facilitate your fake ID empire. Confess to exchanging services with DeCastro so that he would murder Sookie…

…Confess to all of it or Corbett and I will bail you out and be your ride ‘home’. I need to warn you though… don’t think for a second that it will be fast. He knows too well where to hide you long enough to turn your sweet little ass into a sport… and I know how to get away with it…”

“This is entrapment!”

“No it isn’t. Entrapment is when a law enforcement agent induces a person to commit an offense which the person would otherwise have been unlikely to commit. This, my pet, is Coercion: the practice of forcing another party to behave in an involuntary manner (whether through action or inaction) by use of threats, intimidation, trickery, or some other form of pressure or force… Normally, I might get put on a desk for a couple of months, but because you are responsible for putting my fiancé on that table and my partner and I technically just bagged a really big meanie…  They won’t even take away my gun; I’ll just have a couple weeks of therapy… And just in case we’re unclear, mastering in psych gave me a step by step on how to get through the return-to-service evaluation.”

“FUCK… YOU.”

I stood and leaned over the table, grabbing his head and holding our faces close in spite of how disgusting he smelled. “You really are cocky for a guy with no dick.” I pressed the pen into his neck and held it where DeCastro had poked the scissors into my Sookie… “No matter what you decide, I get MY way. Not you. Not ever again. Anything that happens to you, for the rest of your pathetic fucking life… is on my say so…” I pushed the pen into his neck until I felt the pop of the skin breaking and he yelped for a guard again. “You BELONG to me now, Bill.”

“You’re nuts! You’ve gone crazy!”

I started laughing… “You’re so fucking stupid I can smell it… I’m no different than I was yesterday, but now Sookie isn’t here to keep you alive… You fucked up… You didn’t know who you were dealing with… Your bad.”

“Fine! Fine… I’ll confess… I’ll confess.! Let me go.”

I smiled at him. “Say pretty fucking please, cocksucker.”

“Pretty… pretty please.”

I winked at him and blew him a kiss… then I took the pen out of his neck and poked it into his arm… and left it there. “Good boy… start writing.”

**

I sat across from the rancid smelling pervert for the next hour and coached his confession so that there would be no loopholes. No stone left unturned. He was fucked. He was signing his life away and didn’t fully realize it.

When we were finally done revising his statement, he shoved the papers at me. “Let me out. I don’t want to be in here with you. I need to go to the infirmary.”

I looked over to the mirror and gave Alc the nod so that he could call Jennifer. “Hey, Billy. One more thing…”

“Stop calling me Billy.”

“Why? You let your momma call you, Billy.”

“It’s over. You got what you wanted.”

I slid another file over and let him look through it.

“What is… Who are these people?”

“Those are favors waiting to happen, Billy. I wasn’t playing around when I said that you are mine. If anyone ever tries to take pity on you or help you get the legal help to get out… you claim that I roughed you up, coerced you, whatever… one of those favors or one just like it… WILL INDEED rip open your asshole and wear you like a fucking cock ring… got it.”

He nodded and sat quietly… green… sulking until Jennifer came into the room.

**

“FUCK, NORTHMAN! What happened in here?”

I gave Bill a look and he volunteered, “I got sick when I saw My ex-wife’s autopsy pictures. Then I slipped.”

Jennifer looked stricken. “Northman? Something happened to Sookie?”

“DeCastro roughed her up pretty badly. I’ll tell her you say hi though.” I smiled at Bill. I might as well have had my tongue out.

“Well, what did you get from him?”

I stood up and started leafing through the pages. “Confessions for rape, aggravated assault, fleeing the scene, crossing state lines to avoid prosecution, more than a thousand cases of forgery, 8 cases of accessory to commit rape, sodomy, kidnapping and murder and a federal case of attempted contract killing and rape by barter.”

She started laughing. “And a partridge in a pear tree.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Alright then…” She went over to the table and picked up the folders, flipping through them. She nodded her way through DeCastro’s file… When she got to Sookie’s file her eyes shot up to mine and she looked justifiably horrified. “Who did the makeup?… I can’t believe she’d agree…”

“Jennifer, that isn’t makeup. That’s what happened to her when DeCastro tried to take her. And posing was her idea.”

She smiled at me. “She put up more fight than any of the others.”

I gave her a nod and eyed Bill who looked like he was thinking about opening his mouth. He lowered his head and settled back down. “Report says that she broke 5 of his ribs with her thighs.”

“She should be on the job.”

“It’s bad enough that she’s marrying the job.”

**

After telling Jennifer to shred the photos and getting my own copies of Bill’s confessions, we were in the car and on the way back to Bon Temps. I rode in the back, with the windows open because I smelled vile. Corbett and Alc talked quietly in the front, chain smoking the whole way… Corbett had a few ‘let me at that mother fucker’ events in the room with Alc and needed to calm down almost as much as I did.

I’d taken my boots off in the car so that I could leave them on the porch and I made a bee line grossing everyone out as I headed back to get the most needed shower of my life… I’d been puked on before and not felt as disgusted with myself; it was probably from having touched that monster…

When I was out, I yanked on a pair of knit shorts and wife beater and I buzzed back outside to quickly toss out the offending stench. I just didn’t care enough to wash them. Again, losing another pair of jeans…

I was being stared at when I came back in. Smom, Dad, Marnie… Sookie. Dad and Alc were even gawking and they knew what happened.

I went over and helped Sookie stand so that I could get into our chair and then put her in my lap.

“Did you have fun?”

Her eyebrow twitched at me. “Yeah. I played piano with the boys tonight… they had a lot of fun. Not that it’s a surprise, but Smom and Marnie made the Monday Night like they’ve been doing it forever. It was awesome. The 9ers are whooping up on the Bills but everybody saw that coming and then some sexy, tall guy reeking like a Lollapalooza Port-O-Shitter ran through the house like his feet were on fire.”

I smiled at her. “I had some business to do.”

“Not letting it go.”

“I went to visit an old friend.”

“Why?”

I reached into my pocket and pulled out my copied versions of Bill’s confessions, handing them to her. “We had a few things we needed to talk about.”

She scanned over the pages quickly and then back again… “Eric! How did you do this?”

“The usual way.”

“Bill did not just admit to everything he’s ever done.”

“That’s exactly what happened.”

“Eric? What did you do to him?”

I stared at her hoping it would dawn on her that she didn’t want to know. “No more than I needed to.”

“Daddy and Jason and Remy all… Beating him up hasn’t worked before. Why did you take Daddy?”

“Incentive. I told him that if he didn’t confess, we would be his transportation home.”

“Implying that he wouldn’t get there… And he just started writing?”

“Do you really want the details?”

She started to nod. “I think I do.”

“I bounced his face off the table knocking out and breaking a few teeth. I knocked him over in his chair. I punched him in his dick twice. I stood on his wrist and broke it, rebroke his nose and I stabbed him in the neck and arm with a pen.”

She stared at me for what felt like forever and I couldn’t help but worry that she’d be repulsed by the job. The way I’ve had to get more than a few confessions turned my stomach from time to time.

Eventually she took my arm from where it was resting on the chair and put it over her stomach, snuggling back against me and watching the game.

Corbett and Alc gave me a few looks… like they were waiting to see which direction a tree would fall. Eventually, the normally steely Alpha thought he’d try talking to her. “Sookie, can I talk to you in the kitchen for a minute.”

“Do I have to get up if I tell you I’m fine? I’m comfy. Or is it about something else?”

“It’ll only be a minute.” He held his hand out and helped her up.

**

My parents stared at me nearly the entire time she was gone.

When she came back she had beers for Alc and I and went right back into my lap while her dad said his goodnights and left.

We settled back and watched the game for a while before Alc brought my attention to the fact that Sookie had fallen asleep.

I told everyone goodnight as quietly as I could and carried Sookie back to bed and climbed in beside her.

I put my arm over her stomach and she lifted her hand from the bed and rested it on my arm so I gave her a little squeeze.

“Was that special because it was Bill?” I was surprised she was awake.

“Sort of. Some of it was tailored to him.”

“So you terrorize people into confessing all the time?” Fuck. This is why I wanted her to let me get away with being vague.

“The type of people that need to be treated like that to confess are subhuman. It’s only used as a last resort. It’s never even close to what they guilty of.”

“You broke his wrist.”

“I did. I stood on it and listened to the bones snap.”

“And now he’ll never get out of jail. Now he’ll die abused and alone in a jail cell.”

“That seems likely.”

Sookie rolled over to face me. “So you abuse criminals often?”

“Sookie, it’s not a hobby. I don’t like doing it…”

“Eric how many times this year have you done something similar?”

Fuck. Fuck. FUCK! “Seven… Eight, including Bill.” Bracing myself. I was sure she was about to change her mind about me. Us. Everything.

“So I don’t have to worry that there’s going to be charges or anything? You won’t be reprimanded?”

Oh fucking hell… Breathing again. She’d been quiet because she was… Worried I could be charged. “No hon. I made sure of that.”

“How?”

In for a penny, in for a pound… “I was easy on him. That way if anything happens, I can remind the powers that be that I’d done worse.”

“So that you could remind ‘them’ that they didn’t mind the methods before. So that you could prove that it wasn’t because this hit you at home and you haven’t gone off the deep end.”

“Exactly.”

She smiled at me and then reached up to slap my face.

“What was that for?”

She started giggling. “For thinking I’d be scared of you or freak out!”

“I’m sorry! I keep forgetting that you’re a crazy bitch and that you hit people all the time! My bad!” I was so relieved that I couldn’t help but laugh with her.

She leaned in to give me a kiss and interrupted herself with a huge yawn.

“You did too much today, Beautiful.”

“I know. I’ll try to do less tomorrow.” She snuggled into my chest.

I kissed her forehead. “I’ll believe that when I see it. I bet you couldn’t stay in a chair all day if your life depended on it.”

She rocked back to catch my eyes. “I bet I could.”

Shit. I never thought of betting her. “What are we betting?”

“I bet I can go all day without walking around on my own.”

“What are the stakes?”

“Hmmmm… how about a piercing?”

“What body part?” My Id…. was screaming ‘NONONONONO!’

“Winner picks.”

I thought about that… There was no way I was going to lose. She’d be up by lunchtime. And I’d get to play with a shiny new barbell… “Sunrise until we take Smom and Dad to the airport.”

Her eyebrow twitched. “You carry me?”

I nodded.

She put her hand up between us to shake on it. “I think we have a deal.”

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5 thoughts on “Chapter 24: A Mother Of A Day

  1. Oh, I loved Eric’s encounter with Bill. What a pathetic excuse of a man. I loved how he convinced Bill that the Vamp killed Sookie and how he woul be charged because of it. As tragic as most of the chapter was, it ended on a happy note. Eric is such a sweetheart….always afraid that Sookie will leave him for what he has to do.

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