Chapter 22: You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

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You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

Sunday continued…

Everyone was alert by now. Hearing me yell at Sookie must be one hell of an alarm clock.

“Really, I’ll be home soon. The guy was just about to close when I walked in.”

I was off the fold out and halfway across the room before I realized that I was leaving Alc out of the conversation. “Sookie’s found deCastro. Get your shit. Call Pam while you do.”

He was on my heels as I headed back to get my things. “Where am I telling her?”

“The florist by Tara’s.” He dipped into his room and I kept going to dive into our closet…

“Sookie?” My hands were shaking as I made sure all of my clips were full…

“Yeah sweetie?” hand cuffs…

“What are you doing?” zip ties…

“I’m starting to second guess not wanting flowers for the wedding. Bubba could…” latex gloves…

“Sookie, I want you out of there.” I’d have cut her off earlier, but there was a fist sized wad of fear in my throat. Vest…

“He should only be a few more minutes. I’m sure there isn’t a flower that says ‘I win’. I’ll probably end up ordering a cactus.”

“Sookie, he can have anyone but you. Get out of there.”

“That’s sweet. I miss you too.”

“Why aren’t you listening to me? He’s fucking dangerous.”

“Is Laf upset that he missed Jas?” Normally I might be impressed at how well she spoke in code.

“I don’t care if we miss him, as long as you’re safe.”

Alcide filled the doorway… “Ready?”

I didn’t answer him, I just used the door frame to shove myself out of the floor of our closet and followed him

“Sweetie, it’s ok. I promise not to spend too much on a prank.”

“You’re acting like a retard. Get the fuck out of there.”

Alc turned around wearing angry shock. “She’s still there? What the fuck!?”

“The boys are safe in the car with Smom and Marnie.”

“SHE’S ALONE WITH HIM!?” He was not helping me stay calm at all.

I stopped in the living room, looking down at 3 very panicked faces. “Laf, call the station. Tell them I’m on the phone with Sookie. Tell them the vampire is at the florist by Tara’s. No lights. No sirens. Not to make a move unless he runs until we get there. Sookie’s in there with him.” He launched himself to the kitchen like a shot.

I turned my attention back to Sookie as we passed through the door. “I’ll do anything to get you to leave. Are you in the mood to bargain?”

“You’d do anything I want you to anyway. Lillies?”

“Fuck the flowers, Sookie.” As we climbed into Alc’s truck I switched to speaker phone.

“Maybe to cover the top of the pond?”

“Nice. I get it. You’re using the flower talk as cover. Is this fun? You sound like this is fun for you.”

“Of course not.”

“Where is he?”

“My back still hurts from the last time.”

“Is there more than one back room? Like work and storage? Can you tell?”

“Just the twice AND he drank every beer in the fridge.”

“Two doors to the back and the fridge is separate?”

“You bet.”

“Sookie, please get out. He can’t have you.”

“I don…” I heard her squeal. FUCK. “You snuck up on me. That’s what I get for talking…”

The phone hit the floor… Even Alc jumped.

We heard Sookie squeak… and then the call was disconnected…

“FUCK!!!!”

“Calm down. It won’t do her any good to be freaking out when we get there.”

“Yeah. Thanks for the pep talk! What would you be doing?”

Try what I’m doing… Imagine it’s Ame.”

I stared at him for a minute before I actually laughed. I rubbed my eyes… they were throbbing and I realized that there was still sleep in them from my nap. “I can’t believe she’s being so stupid!”

“Stop it. Walk me through it. What did she say?”

It took me nearly 5 minutes, but I think I managed to get it all right while I re-inventoried my pockets and re-checked my guns.

“Alright. Who in her family taught her to speak in code?”

“Who the fuck cares?” At the moment… there wasn’t anything Alcide could do to keep me from thinking about what could be going on right now…. He could be tying her up… He could be shoving her into the trunk of the Bonneville he’d shoved a dozen other bodies into… He could be raping her… He could… He could have already killed her… Fuck… FUCK… “FUCK!”

I was so tense that my legs were aching from bracing my ass in the seat. Alc was driving as fast as he could without rolling his truck, but it wasn’t fast enough.

It felt like it took less time to run through town this morning… with a 54 year old man setting the pace for fuck sake. The veins were going to bulge out of my neck if we didn’t get there soon…

**

Alc pulled into the gravel parking lot so fast that he fishtailed and effectively scared the shit out of Smom and Marnie.

I launched myself out of the truck and charged over to them, my gun already drawn. “Can you find your way home from here?”

Smom looked confused. “What about Sookie?”

“CAN YOU?”

She nodded.

“GO…NOW!”

She’d barely started the engine before I turned back to Alc… he was already assembling his rifle at the back of his truck, just in case. “Pam give an ETA?”

“She was grabbing and going before I was off the line… maybe 5 minutes behind. Call the station to confirm?”

I pulled out my phone and dialed.

Fuck… 4 rings… What the… “Bon Temps 9- 1- 1. What’s your emergency?”

“Kevin, it’s Eric. What’s the ETA?”

“ETA on what?”

“Lafayette Reynolds should have called you more than 10 minutes ago.”

“I don’t know what’s going on. I got here to relieve Kenya and she wasn’t here. Place was locked up.”

“FUCK. Thanks.” I hung up.

“Alc, Kenya may or may not be on her way as our only local help.”

His jaw clenched and he snapped his scope into place. “She has brass ones and she has motivation. Having Kenya with us is better than Bud and Kevin both.”

**

I stood stock still. There was absolutely NOTHING for me to do until we had someone with us to cover the other door. Usually I find his ‘sniper calm’ relaxing. Like it rubbed off on me, but was more of a ‘if he can do it, I can do it’ thing… not this time. We waited. Alc’s truck was sitting along the side of the building, blocking the drive that led around back… Waiting…

I was just about to call Pam to find out what the fuck was taking her ass so long to get here when my phone started ringing. I didn’t know the number…

“Hello?”

“Eric.”

“Sookie!?”

“I’m fine….” She grunted and I heard shuffling. “I think he used a taser. I can hear him moving around.” She was whispering. I’d have put her on speaker anyway, so that I wouldn’t have to repeat everything for Alc later, but I needed it and we both huddled over the phone.

Finally breathing for the first time since the line went dead. “Sookie, where are you?”

“I think I’m behind the counter.”

“Do you think you can get out?”

Nothing

“Sookie?”

Some rustling… some distant noise… no Sookie…

“Sookie.”

Footsteps. Fuck.

I listened as closely as I could… I heard footsteps again, then what sounded like feet shuffling… then I heard Sookie gasp.

“no, no, no. where are you taking me?” grunting, bumping and scratching… she was putting up a fight as he took her away from the phone… the quieter her sounds got, the more deafening it became…

Then… the crackling of a taser and the sickening thud as Sookie’s body wilted to the floor… then a disgusting, disturbing chuckle… “Você vai ser divertido…”

I looked over to Alc, hoping he could guess at a translation, and I noticed his twitch. He whispered, “I think he said, ‘you’ll be fun’.” Mother fuck…

“Suave…” He was talking to her while she was unconscious? Sick asshole.

“…Soft.”

“Forte…”

“…Strong, I think.”

“Fresca…”

“…Fresh”

“Prefeito…”

“…Perfect.”

“Poderá ser o meu favorito…”

Alc turned green. “…Not sure…”

I gave him a dirty look, knowing full fucking well that he wouldn’t have looked like he was going to be sick if he didn’t know. “Say it. What the fuck did he say?”

“Favorite. I didn’t understand the rest of the words, just favorite. Maybe ‘you’ll be my…’?”

I didn’t have time to let that sink in before Sookie started making little noises… She was waking up. “Alc, Pam has 2 minutes.”

“Noted.”

…The laughter again… and more shuffling…

“You are exciting.” His thick accent did for my ears what a cesspool would for my nose. “Imagine my surprise when you walked in…”

Alc and I shot a look at each other. Fuck! He knows who she is.

“You are sweet, but you are… ioio… My friend was right about you…” Friend?

“Let me go.” She started grunting… maybe even kicking…

“Oh… I will set you free soon…”

“Something tells me that my freedom will get lost in translation, asshole.” God, please don’t provoke him!

More laughing… “Was that your husband on the phone?”

“Yes.”

“You lie, but I can pretend you are Mrs. Northman so that I don’t have to wait for Ess.” He was hissing.

“So what do you do to married women in your country?… Get OFF me.” Alcide’s arm shot out and grabbed me around my ribs, holding me back. I wanted to kill him.

“No no no, ioio… We will have special fun… enjoying each other…”

“Your English sucks. YOU might have special fun, but I’ll lay here and think about a million other things I’d rather do. Like lick a toilet.”

More laughing… “Why do you fight our love?”

“It’s not love, it’s eye contact…” She started grunting again. “That doesn’t belong to you!”

We heard him howl, through the phone and through the walls of the building… a loud thud… my fucking heart stopped… then through the phone… the open line, I heard high heels and completely lost track of things while the blood started getting pumped back to where it needed to go… and Kenya pulled in to the parking lot, lights out, no siren… I should have known she wouldn’t let us down…

No sooner than she was out of the car, it dawned on me that Sookie should be out of there by now. Then I heard the phone rattle, like she was picking up the receiver… “Eric…” She was cut off by a loud crash. Again, loud enough that we could’ve heard it without the line being open.

**

Since there was more room to clear in the rear of the building, Alc and Kenya went around to the back door… leaving me to go into the front.

I waited to kick in the front door until I heard the sound of the back door collide with something…

The front door splintered away from the frame like balsa and I was in… Standing in the showroom looking at thousands of flowers in different arrangements… a jumble of debris that was once Sookie’s cell and purse laying strewn in the floor in front of a display fridge… Mother fucker…

It was easy to tell I was the only person in the large rectangular room… As I moved towards the counter on my way to the back, I heard Alc bark ‘FBI’.

As soon as I was behind the counter, my foot crunched onto a pile of broken glass. I had to reign myself in… vases? Lots of them shattered against the concrete floor and wet with blood… drag marks… Towards the large refrigerator… and over the threshold…

The room behind me was just as empty as the showroom… A staging area… rough double-decker tables of 2 x 4 and particle board lined the walls of the room and another large one in the center, nothing on them except a few scattered leaves or pedals… more nothing… more ‘not Sookie’… clearing the room was nothing more than waiting for Alc and Kenya…

When I came back from the nothing, Alc and Kenya were both stopped… staring at the smears of blood and glass… oozing sympathy, like I had time for it even if I wanted it…

**

Kenya moved around to open the door, pressing her ear against it for only a moment before jerking her head back.

“What?”

I had no patience for the sad look on her face. “He’s with her.”

I clenched my teeth and took the safety off my gun. “Open it.”

Her knuckles whitened as she squeezed the door latch and as quietly as she could pulled open the heavy door, undamming the noises of panic and helplessness from Sookie. I might as well have been shot. Every sound that crossed Sookie’s lips stabbed me.

He’d strapped her wrists together… her ankles too, with twine. There were small pieces of glass jutting out of her arms, neck and what I could see of her face.

Her blood was leaving little paths and her exposed skin was starting to look like a road map…

As soon as the door swung open, he abandoned his efforts on top of her and grabbed a handful of her hair to yank her to her feet like a ragdoll. He pinned her arms to her sides and hugged her against his body, sneering at us like this was a game for him.

He quickly grabbed a pair of sheers from the shelf… it was the biggest pair of fucking scissors I’d ever laid eyes on… and he pushed the tips into her throat, making her gasp.

…vaguely aware that Alcide was identifying us as FBI and giving him his rights… I was waiting for Sookie to look at me…

She was looking at the floor, her head hung almost limply. Her hair had fallen around her face like a veil. Other than wincing and cringing as he moved her body over him as a human shield, she was almost catatonic.

WHY THE FUCK WASN’T SHE LOOKING AT ME???

“Sookie?”

Nothing

deCastro hissed into Sookie’s ear, “The husband… the night in shining armor, as you say?” One shot, one opening… just one and it’d be over…

Sookie grunted at him, still looking at the floor and the sheers poked into her neck enough to start a trickle of blood…

Alcide had stooped down next to me, blocking off the doorway. One shot, God please, just one…

The mother fucker taunted me… he locked his eyes on mine and licked the side of Sookie’s neck… “So sweet… She needs a bath though… I’ll give her one…”

Sookie eyes drifted up, towards Alc though… I wanted to die… why wasn’t she looking at me?

Alc barked at him. “deCastro, we’re supposed to negotiate for the girl’s release.”

He looked surprised to hear his name. “Can I walk out and then mail her back to you?” Mother fucker.

“Afraid that’s not how it works. You need to make a request that we can give you. She’s not part of any deal.”

“You lie. There is no negotiation.”  He pushed harder on the sheers, causing a gush of blood and a muffled grunt from Sookie.

“Giving her over might give you a head start.”

“I wasn’t finished with her.”

Enough. I knew it wouldn’t be adequate, but I couldn’t listen to it anymore. I closed my eyes just long enough to pray that Sookie forgives me if I miss… I opened them again and squeezed the trigger, hitting the shoulder of the arm holding the sheers…

The way he was crouched behind Sookie, I couldn’t risk a better shot that wouldn’t hurt her… I would have sucked a dick at a clean shot at his head, but I got him better than I hoped. Just not good enough. He modified his hold and moved her to his other side… covering is hurt arm… and licking the other side of Sookie’s neck… even the puncture from the sheers… His nostrils flared and he rubbed his hips into Sookie’s back…

Sookie had to try even harder to not look at me. She was barely 8 feet away from me, now right in front of me. If she had looked up she’d have been looking down the barrel of my gun anyway.

He started laughing again. “In my country, we shoot hostages.”

Alc calmly told him, “We do that here too.” Then another shot was fired…

This one sent deCastro crashing to the floor and taking Sookie with him… More importantly… He dropped the sheers in favor of putting his hands over the fountain of blood coming from his thigh…

**

Kenya backed away and called for a couple of ambulances, but I had tunnel vision… I needed to get to Sookie…

She was in a lump. That’s the only way to describe it. I kicked  deCastro away from her while he flailed his arms in turn either trying to land a plane or surrender to injuns’ and I knelt at Sookie’s head. I reached down and cut the twine around her ankles… then wrists with my Leatherman… while Alc held his gun on the psycho as cover.

She flinched away from me when I touched the top of her head… “Sookie…”

She didn’t move.

“Sookie, I need to take you out.” I tried to slide my hand under her and she drew away from me like I was poison. Her face was buried in the crook of her arm and I heard her take a few deep breaths, then she put her hands flat on the ground at her shoulders…

She slowly lifted her top from the floor under her and for a second, I thought she was going to say something when her lips started to open…

Instead… a river of blood spilled out…

I was trying to figure out where so much blood could be coming from when deCastro made the mistake of talking… “The blood of a good woman is like a fine wine…” I watched him lunge for the sheers that were unreachable from where he was…

The sound was deafening as Alcide, Kenya and I all fired a shot at the same time… all three of us made the mark… one of us got the head shot, I’d been praying for.

**

There didn’t seem to be anyway to touch Sookie without hurting her… small shards of glass still imbedded all over her body, and no telling what he’d done to her before we got to her…

I put my hands out so that she could take them since she seemed hell bent on standing on her own. Splinters of glass dug into my hand when she took it to help herself up, pausing to spit out more blood but still not looking at me.

She made it as far as the counter before her knees gave out and I had to catch her around the waist to keep her from falling into the glass again…

**

I was standing in the parking lot, slowly pacing with Sookie bleeding in my arms when Pam finally decided to grace us with her presence.

“Northman? What the fuck?”

“You first! Where the fuck were you!?” I’d yelled like I was scolding a dog for shitting on the rug.

“I was at the wrong florist. There’s one on the highway on the other side of the neighborhood. What happened? Alcide said that Sookie found the Vampire.”

I growled and paced, pissed that it hadn’t been her fault for being late, just mine for waiting for her. “She stopped here and he was working the counter. Called me and tried to stall him until we got here. He recognized her.”

Her eyes were huge, unusually affected. “Where is Alcide?”

“Alc and Kenya are watching deCastro bleed out. Kenya called for buses.”

“Is Sookie ok?”

“She’s not talking. Make yourself useful. Call Burnham.”

**

With the wait we had for the ambulances, it was a wonder anyone lived through a heart attack in this town…

As I wandered through the parking lot, Sookie’s head rested against my shoulder. I bent my neck to kiss the top of her head and she sucked air past her lips and shied her head away from me.

“Sookie, will you please say something to me?”

She shook her head gently.

Fuck. “Are you angry with me?” I had yelled at her… and was really regretting it.

When she shook her head this time it was stronger. She uncurled her arm from her chest and pointed over towards Alc’s truck…

“You want me to set you down?”

She nodded and I started to panic all over again that she was communicating through mime.

I set her on the hood of the old Trooper and even though our eyes were at the same level, she still didn’t look up at me. Instead she reached down into my pocket and fished out my phone, starting to type immediately in spite of the shards of glass imbedded in her palms and fingers.

She quickly handed it to me. “He hit me & made me bite my tongue.”

“That’s where all the blood came from? Let me see.”

She finally lifted her face for our eyes to meet. One side of her face was peppered with more of the broken vases and the other was black and blue, a gnarled gash on her cheek like he’d hit her with his whole arm. She still didn’t open her mouth.

When she felt like I’d seen enough, she took her eyes from mine and started picking glass out of her hands then arms. It was eating me alive to not know what happened to her, but I didn’t push…

I started plucking shards from her chest as gently as I could… and even the jagged ones, the ones that had to be painful, didn’t seem to cause a reaction.

**

We were still working at it when Alc, Kenya and Pam came outside.

Alc came right over too us. “He’s either dead or a great faker. How you doin’ Sookie?”

I had to explain to him why she wasn’t talking and he winced.

“I did that once. Tongues heal pretty quick. You’ll be putting us in our places again in no time. Did I crease you?”

She almost smiled and slid her dress up her leg to show him a burn about an inch long on the outside of her thigh, then found the holes in her skirt from where the bullet passed through on its way into deCastro’s thigh. Impressive.

“I have a notebook in the truck if you want to start explaining what the fuck you were thinking.”

She gave him a little nod so he brought it to her while I started pulling more shards out of her legs, some were deeper than I was brave. They’d have to wait until she got to the hospital…

**

The first thing she wrote was asking if ‘this’ was official or unofficial… ‘Un’ was barely out of Alc’s mouth when she started writing…

She tore off the first page and handed it to him and he read it out loud… “It had been eating at me… How he found his victims… Their birthdays, homes, work… I had a brain fart when Smom asked about the flowers we wanted for the wedding and decided to stop by and order some flowers. I’d told Smom the Selah part as my excuse… just to see how much info they ask for… I didn’t know he’d be there. I recognized him from his picture with Maudette and Arlene right away… That’s when I called Eric…”

By the time Alc was done reading, she handed him another page. “…I was leaning into a display case, sniffing flowers when he came out of the back and snuck up on me. As soon as I turned around I knew I was in trouble… Before I could think of something to do, I was trying to pick myself up out of the floor and everything hurt… I dragged myself to the counter and called again… He found me and took me to the back room… He started tying my hands and then he started climbing on top of me… I squeezed his ribs with my legs and broke some and kicked him in his dick when he rolled off of me… And I tried to get away…”

Another sheet was handed to Alc and my insides were crawling… I didn’t know if I could handle what might be in the next installment. “He threw the shelf full of vases on me while I was trying to get to the phone… it knocked me out and when I woke up, I was in the fridge. He was on top of me and his pants were open… I started fighting as much as I could and that’s when he put his elbow into my cheek… You guys came in right after…”

I found a small part of her shin that wasn’t cut to ribbons and gave it a squeeze, grateful that she hadn’t been raped… again… She handed him another page.

“deCastro told me in the fridge… Him and Bill have been ‘hanging out’.” I got chills when he read it. I felt like I was going to be sick and Alc’s neck twitched.

When Sookie started writing again, I read over her shoulder. “When we get home, I can tap into their bank accounts… I bet I could find times that they’ve gone to movies or stopped at an ATM together… surveillance video…”

I took the pen and notebook and handed it over to Alc. “We are going to the hospital. You’ve done more than enough.”

**

Sick of waiting, I left the scene for Alc and Pam to deal with and climbed into the back of Kenya’s squad car with Sookie.

I put my arm over her shoulder and let her get comfortable, even though I wanted to grab her and hold on to her. The ride out to Minden Memorial Hospital was quiet. Since Sookie couldn’t talk and Kenya and I were both working through our own thoughts…

Kenya was basking in the obligatory relief that should follow your friend’s murderer’s undoing.

Me, on the other hand… None of this would have happened to Sookie if I had just had the sense to stay in Shreveport on Halloween. I don’t care that the Vampire would still be at large. I let go of that thought right away. The Vampire would be winding up to become one of the most prolific serial killers in the US and I didn’t care about his potential victims as much as the fact that my fiancé, MY SOOKIE was huddled up under my arm on the way to hospital, looking every bit like she’d been run through a meat grinder. This was all my fault.

The cop fantasy joke had just become a nightmare. My job had just brought a serial killer to her doorstep. She still wanted to help with the case… But once the adrenaline from her struggle wore off… She’d come to her senses. Now that she’s seen firsthand what the job can be like, she’d be a fool to want to wait for the next time.

I’d quit. That’s all there is to it. Alc would have to understand. I sure as hell wouldn’t give her the chance to hate me because of my job.

I was just as sure as shit is brown that I never wanted to see Sookie hurt again. Not like this. Not ever. Nevermind what almost happened… What would have happened if we had waited for Pam.

Logic had been my preferred method of thinking for as long as I could remember, but guilt was winning the mental fist fight…

The ifs and buts of the last 11 days were still bouncing around redundantly in my thoughts when Kenya pulled into the ambulance bay.

**

Even though I hurt her getting her out of the car, Sookie refused to be put in a wheelchair. The triage nurse took all of her vitals and entered her into the system while she sat slumped against my chest. Then she had me carry her to the waiting area where she still opted to stay in my lap.

We sat there for nearly an hour waiting. The longer we were there, the more pissed I got. Sookie was obviously worse off than the other people in the room. She was actively bleeding for fuck sake!

…But Sookie was trying to calm ME down, rubbing her hand up and down my side when finally… Rather than having a nurse call Sookie’s name, a doctor approached us…

“Oh my GOD! Sookie what happened to you?”

Sookie took her hand from my side and pat my chest so I held my hand out and shook the guy’s hand. “I’m her fiancé, Eric Northman. She can’t talk. She was hit really hard. It made her bite her tongue. It’s in bad shape.”

“Who hit her that hard?” His head tilted slightly and he was being shitty. I knew what he was getting at.

I glared at him. “It wasn’t me.”

“Right… Sookie, let me get you a wheelchair…”

She shook her head and patted my shoulder.

“Sookie, he can’t go back there with you.”

She winced as she leaned away from me enough to take my phone out and start typing frantically and then shoved it at him. He read the message and almost smiled at it before he handed it to me and waved for us to ‘come on then’.

Once we were in an exam room, Dr. Joe Skinner finally introduced himself and explained that he was a roommate of Frannie’s ‘back in the day’ while I helped Sookie out of her clothes and into a gown and I explained what had happened… two separate taser hits, both causing a loss of consciousness plus the blow to the head causing another LOC and explained the glass and elbow to her cheek. He stood there for a minute just staring at her. I couldn’t tell if he was waiting to make sure I was done or if he was waiting for one of us to yell out ‘psych!’.

Skinner had called in a plastic surgeon to stitch her up to reduce scarring, a cardiologist to start an EKG to make sure the taser hadn’t effected her heart and a maxillofacial surgeon to evaluate the laceration on her tongue… He’d done it all before the nurses had the chance to start cleaning Sookie and pulling out the glass we missed.

It felt like it took them forever to put her back together… Rather than prick her dozens of times to numb her for sutures, they sedated her entirely once the EKG showed that her heart was fine. Even as she slept, she never let go of my hand.

**

She was resting, still under heavy sedation. The room had cleared out and the only noise in the room was from the heart monitor. I pulled the chair over and sat, still holding her hand.

In an effort to stay awake, I pulled my phone out to text everyone with an update and found Sookie’s message to Skinner still on the screen. “It’ll hurt me, but I will punch you in your dick. Eric didn’t do this. I’m not going anywhere without him.” I couldn’t help but smile. Even damn near broken, she was still full of piss and vinegar.

I saved the message and then started the update for everyone. “The taser didn’t affect her heart. She needed a lot of stitches, including 8 in her tongue. She’s sleeping off the sedation & waiting for test results. Be home late. DO NOT MENTION THIS TO JAS OR FRAN. Sookie’ll kill you.”

**

I’d barely slid the phone back into my pocket when a throat cleared in the doorway behind me. It was Corbett.

“Ever hear of a fucking update?”

“I just sent one. They only stopped working on her a few minutes ago…” I spent a while telling him all that happened at the florist and how things have gone since we’d gotten to the hospital… I was already sick of telling the story…

He’d stood and absorbed it all and then found a chair in the next room and brought it in, setting it on the other side of her bed. Once he was settled in he grumbled at me. “You sent an update to Jason?”

“No.”

He looked pissed. “Why not?”

“Because there’s nothing he can do from Cancun except ruin his honeymoon by worrying. If he calls to check in, it won’t be for a few days and she can explain herself and he’ll know she’s ok. If he doesn’t check in, then he’ll see for himself that she isn’t in any danger when he gets home. Until Sookie says different. Period.”

“Are you telling me to keep something this big a secret from my son? Her brother? Boy, you know…” The way he said ‘boy’ sent my hair up. I wanted to pop him one.

“Yeah, I know what you’re like… I’ve seen how the family works… I’ve also seen how upset Sookie has been over the Jason/Frannie bullshit and how horrible she felt when our meddling caused them to fight. If she wakes up and finds out that some asshole told Jas that she was nearly raped again, beaten to a pulp and was close enough to a serial killer that she can tell what soap he uses… she’ll shoot first and ask questions later because just as much as she’d be on HER way home, HE’LL be too. DON’T call him.”

He looked so angry that his hair could catch fire. “I don’t like being told what to do.”

“Yeah well, I’m not really fond of arguing family policy with my future father-in-law over my sedated fiancé… deal with it.”

“Since you’re new here, I’m gonna lay things out for you…”

“Be my guest. Lay it out for me. You can start by telling me that anything I just said was inaccurate.”

“Really?”

“Yes sir.” Not budging. Not fucking around. Probably the biggest mistake I could ever make considering I was still unsure how much Sookie would still want to do with me once she came to her senses… But I was not backing down from this debate. She’d be angry (as a minimum) if I didn’t do what I could to make sure that no one interrupted their wedding on her account.

He leaned back in his chair and put his feet on the edge of the bed, crossing them at the ankles. “You’ve got some balls.”

“I’ve been known to.”

He snorted. “Fine. I won’t say anything to Jason unless he comes out and asks how she is.”

“Thank you.”

His mood seemed lighter all of a sudden, but he kept his serious face screwed on tight. “You know, you can let go of her hand. She isn’t going anywhere.”

“She’s holding my hand. I tried to let go so that I could run to the bathroom… I guess I can wait.”

“She’s holding yours?”

Fuck… Sick of being tested… I lifted my hand about a foot from the bed and opened it. Sure enough, her fingers held fast and didn’t fall. I laid them on the bed next to her again and waited…

“You’ve been together, what? 2 weeks? And she’s not letting go… even sedated?”

I stared at him. That all seemed a little redundant, but I did nod… he had finally mentioned how long we’d been together.

He gaped for a few minutes like a monkey with a math problem and eventually settled down… “She claims that the rape didn’t affect her.”

“It’s a half lie.”

“Which half?”

“It only occurs to her that she’s a victim when she’s treated like one. She’s too stubborn to let him win. I’ve seen less completely shatter people.”

“She’s a tough cookie.”

I nodded. “She’s a sexist pig too. Nice work.”

He chuckled.

I was about to tell him how mind-fucked poor Alc had been this morning, just to have something to talk about, when Sookie started to come around. So instead I asked him to take her other hand because the first thing she does when she wakes up is mauls her eyes. He gave me a puzzled look, not unlike the one I’d gotten from Jas when he couldn’t wake her up this morning, and he took her hand so that she wouldn’t pull her stitches.

**

“Hey hon, how you feeling? The doc said they could give you more pain killers if you need them.”

She seemed dazed, but eventually her eyes panned around the room and found mine.

“The surgeon said that you could talk if you want, but I can go get you something to write with if you don’t want to try yet.”

She licked her lips and cleared her throat a few times before trying, but she still sounded froggy. “I don’t feel anything.” She also sounded retarded because her tongue was still really swollen.

I forced a smile. “80-some-odd stitches, 20-some-odd staples, a mild concussion and a fractured cheek bone… I’d say that’s probably a good thing.”

“This is all your fault, you know?” Oh fuck. Yeah, I did know. Even if talking with Corbett had kept me from wallowing, I knew… “If you weren’t so damn bossy I’d be in our bed right now. These sheets stink. Take me home.”

Corbett huffed from her other side, “You’d also be scarred for life and sound like Mush Mouth from Fat Albert forever. I’ll go find someone about discharge papers.” He was gone after he kissed the back of her hand.

**

She pulled my hand to her chest and hugged herself around my arm. “D’you hate me?”

I closed my eyes and shook my head. Unbelievable. “I was going to ask you the same thing. Why would you think that?”

“Short answer: for being a know-it-all bitch and not leaving like you told me to.”

I shrugged because she didn’t need to hear ‘told ya so’ anymore than I was in the mood to say it. “I’m just glad we got there in time to keep you from being next.”

She smiled at me. She fucking smiled? We barely got there in time to keep her from being raped and killed, but we were standing in the parking lot with our thumbs in our asses while she was tasered and beaten and tied and dragged through broken glass and she smiled at me?

“I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you anyway. Why would you think I’d hate you? You saved me.”

“Well, if it weren’t for me, you never would’ve been wrapped up in this shit. And I yelled at you then you wouldn’t look at me… I already blame myself, I don’t know why you don’t too.”

She kissed the back of my hand and gave my arm a squeeze. “You forget, I was already looking into him… You yelled at me for being a stupid twat and I deserved it. And I wasn’t looking at you because I didn’t want you to remember THAT every time you looked at me.”

“I’m sorry anyway.” Probably more so now. Un-fucking-believable. A better man would’ve cried, but I just let out the breath I’d been holding…

**

Another hour went by… test results, discharge paperwork, aftercare instructions… and a reiteration from Sookie for Corbett to leave Jason out of the loop ‘or else’… She had me carry her out to Corbett’s truck and even dozed off against me on the way back to the house.

Someone must’ve been watching for us through the front windows because by the time Corbett’s truck stopped, the front porch was full…

Lafayette and JB had stayed and the house was clamoring to check on her. Even though it was after midnight, Jack and Carm were even waiting to see how she was.

My plan was to take Sookie straight to bed. I guess I should’ve known better. She had me set her down in the club chair. The adults were gawking, afraid to say anything… Children don’t seem to suffer that affliction…

They stood inches from her and Carm was the one to start. “Dey won’t tell us what happened.”

Sookie smiled at him. “I got very lucky.”

Jack snorted and gave her a dirty look. “Lucky doesn’t look like that!”

“This is exactly what ‘lucky’ looks like, you little butt. Are you arguing with me?”

“If you aren’t going to tell us, that’s fine, but don’t lie to us. Not you.” The poor kid looked like he was going to cry.

She pulled his head to her and kissed his forehead. “This is lucky. I did something stupid and was even dumb enough to ignore Eric when he told me how stupid I was being. It was so stupid that Eric and your Daddy had to come save me and if it hadn’t been for them I wouldn’t have come home.”

“One of the predators did this?”

She nodded. “Yeah. And I knew he was one of them and didn’t leave… will you guys keep me company while Eric gets a shower? He doesn’t want to leave me alone, but it’s been a long day and we all need some rest.”

They both nodded and then smiled up at me. I guess I had my orders…

**

I was barely under the water when I realized Lafayette had followed me…

“Did he get her?”

I took a deep breath, rolling my eyes. God forbid I get a shower, but I guess I could understand him not wanting to talk about it around the kids. “Another couple of minutes and he would have.”

“She ok?”

“No… She’s held together with liquid stitches, staples and nylon. She has a crack in her skull and one in her cheekbone…”

“All of that will heal… How is she?”

“She seems ok.”

“How are you?”

There wasn’t a short answer… I just pretended to not hear him.

“Don’t blame yourself. None of us do. She won’t either. Even she knows how hard headed she is.”

“Thanks.” Still not feeling any better…

“Don’t thank me… You two are perfect for each other. I’ve never seen her happier. Don’t fuck it up by doubting yourself.”

“I just worry about keeping her safe.”

“You can’t. Don’t try.”

“Wow, thanks.”

“Woulda, coulda, shoulda… Abstract is scary when you exist on a strict diet of logic… stay rational and realize that statistically, she’s 15 times more likely to die of health related problems.”

“I am… more than a hundred thousand people get raped and murdered every year.”

“And she’s already been raped… she’s already been checked off… unless you got numbers on how many women are raped more than once by two different assailants.”

“Asshole.” Alc had the right idea… I was sick of being surrounded by smart people too.

Lafayette was chuckling when he walked out of the bathroom… I swear to god… I started thinking that maybe we should have Marnie stay with us, just so I’d be smarter than someone.

**

When I got back to the living room, Laf and JB were both on their way out, promising to check on her tomorrow and Jack and Carm were both sitting in the chair with Sookie while the adults talked about what everyone had done while we were at the hospital…

Marnie buzzed out of the kitchen, holding up a plate and a beer for me and it wasn’t until I smelled the pork chops, green beans and mashed potatoes that I realized I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. I thanked her and gave her a kiss on the cheek before I sat down on the couch. While I ate, I watched her take a tea to Sookie and then another one to our room with the bag from the pharmacy. She really looked like she was excited to be making herself useful.

**

Once the kids were shuffled off to bed because they had school in the morning and I apologized to Smom for yelling at her at the florist, I carried Sookie back to our room.

I went to our dresser to get her something to sleep in since she’d been forced to come home in scrubs. Even if her clothes hadn’t been covered in blood and cut to ribbons, they had to be bagged for evidence. The only argument I got about it was that she wanted to burn them…

I cut the top off so that she wouldn’t have to lift her arms over her head and she ended up sliding her arms into one of her soft knit robes with nothing underneath…

“The doctors said that you can take a shower tomorrow.”

She nodded.

“Are we not talking about what happened?”

“No. I’m too embarrassed. What did you do while we were shopping?”

I smiled at her and lifted her legs to help her into the bed. “Gave Had the news about Jas and Fran and then snuggled with Lafayette.”

She giggled. “Y’all fell asleep watching football as soon as you got comfy, didn’t you?”

“Yes ma’am, we did. When I woke up, the living room looked like a drunk tank during Mardi Gras. Snoring bodies were everywhere.”

She giggled again. “That would explain why you didn’t answer any of my texts.”

I nodded and sat on the edge of the bed, noticing that Marnie had put the tea on Sookie’s nightstand but she’d thought to put the prescriptions on mine. I’d have to remember to thank her. “So how did shopping go?”

“I’d have to say it was very successful. I had the store ship everything for the apartment directly there. Macy’s is cool like that. Dishes and cookware… a few dozen sets of nice sheets… all white so that Had doesn’t have extra work to do.”

I laid down on my side next to her and she slowly rolled over, taking my arm with her and snuggling back into me. “You sent pictures of dresses… did you find something?”

“Yes sir. For both of us.”

I tensed. She’d sent pictures of tuxes. Grrrrr. “Well?”

“Mine is Diane Von Furstenberg… Yours is DKNY…”

“You bought me a tux? How did you manage that?” I’d shit if they actually had my size on the rack…

She giggled. “Not a tux. You’d rather wear an iron maiden than a suit… Light blue dress shirt, Navy with light blue pinstripe vest and designer jeans.”

“You don’t want me to wear a tux?”

“I might have before I saw how constipated you looked in a suit. I want you to be comfortable.”

I started laughing. “I’d kiss you if I wasn’t afraid of hurting you.”

She rolled back a little and kissed me anyway and hummed. “I’m glad you’re happy.”

“Sookie, I spent the whole ride to the hospital worried that you would leave me for bringing this to you. I’m just glad you still want to be with me.”

“I spent the whole ride worried that you would leave me for being so much trouble. With a combined IQ as high as ours, we sure are retarded.”

“Hon?”

“Yeah love?”

“No flowers for the wedding.”

“No kidding.”

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4 thoughts on “Chapter 22: You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

  1. Ok, seriously didn’t see that coming. Well, the attack ya, but him being played out instantly. I thought he was going to be a factor to the end. Now I’m really curious what you’ve stuck in there.

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