Being so far away from home was bad enough. I missed my wife. I missed my family.
It wasn’t a situation I would have ever thought I’d find myself in, but the past few years had been more enjoyable than ever…
As much fun as I had visiting with my friends, recruiting a Sheriff to replace Cleo with no notice was annoying enough… Missing the Christmas party at Sandwich Island just made me want to kill the cunt again.
I actually had Pam and Klaasje come to New York with me just so I could live vicariously through their Christmas shopping. Teasing them for finding gigantic stockings for our family so they could justify shopping for more stocking stuffers was just a bonus.
After packing to return home, I’d gone to rest with the phone in my hand, dying to the sound of Sookie’s voice. She’d wanted to come with me to New York, but between our obligations and Hadley’s due date being only a week away, she stayed…
Seeing that I had messages waiting and missed calls from Sookie put a smile on my face, until I realized I couldn’t feel her.
The fear that caused…
At least I knew ahead of time that my connection to Sookie could be hampered by skipping, but given that I was where I belonged, in my suite at Francesca’s with my own belongings that smelled of the home I shared with my wife, the possibility of losing her somehow was still present.
I was as panicked as I could possibly be when I began playing my messages.
The first was left at 9:21…
And the way Sookie’s voice sounded, hoarse and pained, didn’t settle my mood.
“Eric… Something… I know you can’t do anything from where you are, but I’m just trying to keep you… I’m giving you updates so I don’t fall apart right now… Something happened to Hadley. I told you last night we had to keep fussing at her about doing too much at the party. Shawn was helping her out of the tub when she started bleeding… blood everywhere… The dumbass EMTs got spooked and had Shawn arrested. Thank God Andy got there in time so Shawn could go with her… I’m at the hospital now. Shawn stretched out for the day in a resting bag. He wouldn’t leave her. He wants me to draw his blood to heal her. She’s still in surgery…” Her voice cracked, “She lost sooooo much blood… I’ll keep you posted.”
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
The next message was left at 11:46…
Sookie sobbed, “Arianna was born via C-section at 10:21 and Lucinda was born at 10: 32. Annie and Lucy both weigh over six pounds… Perfect. Beautiful. Alert… But Hadley’s hemorrhaging. They’re doing what they can, but… Poor Leif, he’s freaking out. He’s camped out in the room with Shawn. He pushed Jason when he tried to take him home to wait for news… I know you’d be dead for the day even if you were home, but I still wish you were here.”
While I waited to hear that the next message, which was left at 3:15, I decided that as soon as I was home, a supply of my blood would be stored in our refrigerator. For the next eight months, I’d die for the day on pins and needles. I had already been anxious for our due date.
I paused the playback when someone tapped on the door to my room.
“Who is it?”
“Klaasje. I heard you shout.”
I opened the door for her and offered, “Pack if you haven’t already. I’m listening to Sookie’s messages now. Hadley began hemorrhaging just before dawn. I know the babies are fine, but Hadley’s still in surgery as of the last message Sookie left for me. To make matters worse, Sookie’s gone. She’s skipping.”
She gasped and pointed at my phone to urge me to listen to the next message.
Sookie wept, “They had to do a hysterectomy to stop the bleeding. She won’t technically be considered comatose for a few hours. Until then, she’s just unconscious… I gave her Shawn’s blood. Nothing, no change. She’s in there, Eric. She told me she wished she had my ability so she could see Annie and Lucy. Leif… that poor baby… he’s on the bed with her… He’s holding his sisters… and taking care of them… and… narrating for Hadley because he knows she can hear us. I really need to hear your voice right now.”
The next message was from Brandon… He’d left it just moments before I rose.
“Hey Eric, I know Sook’s been leaving updates for you. Still no change. You should be waking up soon, so… uh… don’t panic, but she skipped. We were in the elevator. One minute she was there, the next she was gone. Like she needs this shit right now… So the thing is, we need something from you. With time zones and all, you might be able to think of a something for us to say to Shawn so he doesn’t flip out when he rises. We’re afraid he might want to turn her. At his age and all… Yeah, that wouldn’t be good.”
Klaasje snorted, “I’ll take her to ground before I let a newborn take that risk. As long as the hospital can keep her stabilized long enough for us to return, he won’t be widowed.”
“That’s very generous. Thank you. Are you packed?”
“I am… do you need my help with anything? Have you called to have the plane waiting for us? Should I make arrangements for a car?”
I nodded while I dialed Brandon’s number. “Yes, please.”
As Klaasje left, I heard her meet Francesca in the hallway and begin explaining why we planned to leave New York as though it were on fire.
Brandon answered, “Hell of a way to wake up, huh chief?”
“You could say that. We were already planning to leave early, but our departure will be bumped ahead as much as possible.”
“Good to know. No news in the past few minutes. Julie’s translating for Leif right now. They just fed the twins. Patty offered to come get him. God knows a normal kid shouldn’t be here for this…”
“He’s not normal though… Does he understand what’s happened though? Is he grasping the situation?”
Brandon huffed, “He’s pretty sure Shawn will take Hadley to ground. He’s oblivious to the concept of losing his mom.”
“If the hospital can keep her alive long enough for us to return, Klaasje has volunteered to be Hadley’s Maker so Shawn isn’t tempted to risk murdering her. I’ll begin making calls in a few minutes to have an older Vampire donate blood in an attempt to heal her. At Shawn’s age, he’s lucky his blood healed Leif after his tonsil-”
Brandon interrupted, “Wait!”
“I’ll call you back. Sookie just ran past the waiting room…”
Anxiety. Guilt. Hope… I’d been so upset, I missed her return, but she was back.
“What is she doing?”
“I don’t know… I’ll find out. Call ya back.”
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck…
Klaasje and Francesca darted into my room and asked, “What happened?” in unison.
Francesca didn’t realize the significance of Sookie’s return because it wasn’t as though we advertised skipping on Welcome to Louisiana billboards…
Klaasje offered, “That’s something though, yes?”
I nodded. “Something… I was speaking to Brandon when she ran into the ward. He promised to call back.”
Klaasje sighed, “Can I wait here? The car and the plane are taken care of.”
I nodded… and began pacing.
Vampires don’t pace.
Then again, Vampires don’t usually have families they care about either.
They don’t have fosters who married their cousin-in-laws.
They aren’t godfathers.
They aren’t rising every night to tear a page from a due-date calendar and hoping like hell their wife makes it far enough into her pregnancy that the doctor can induce her labor so they have a chance of being alive for the birth.
As though Klaasje could read my mind, she chided herself for not leaving her blood behind just in case.
She watched my phone as though she was willing it to ring as much as I was.
After the boys rose, Francesca explained why we were leaving early… It was the first time since I arrived to hire them that they didn’t take an opportunity to tease me for becoming a family man.
After fifteen minutes of waiting, I began trying to think of who the fuck to call about donating their blood to Hadley.
I reached for my phone, resolving to call Malcolm because he was lucky to still be alive, and at six hundred years old, he would finally have a purpose…
When it rang in my hand, it actually startled me.
Raspy voice aside, it was definitely Hadley… and Sookie was completely overwhelmed, sobbing in the background.
Klaasje was already crying when I let out a sigh of relief.
“How are you?”
She cleared her throat and cried, “I feel great… Sookie skipped. Another You gave her his blood for me.”
I’d never… EVER… complain about skipping again.