“Mmmm.” I rolled over and took Eric’s arm with me. “Can you see your clock?”
“Is it morning yet?”
“Sookie, are you really awake?”
“Yeah, it’s really dark in here though.”
“It’s light tight.” I felt him shift. “Watch your eyes.”
When he turned the lights on it took a while for my eyes to adjust. I rolled over to face Eric and kissed his neck. “You owe me a dance. Take me home.”
“We need to stay put.”
“Why? I feel fine. I’m starving, but otherwise I’m great.”
I watched a tear roll down his cheek. “We need to stay here until Ludwig comes in.”
“Sookie, you lost a lot of blood.”
“I know when I’m too weak. I feel great.”
“Please. Just wait for the doctor.”
“Eric. You tell me. What is wrong with me?”
“Lover, it’s Tuesday.”
I thought about that for a minute. “Okay, well I guess you could call that well rest…” I slapped my hands to my mouth. “Oh my god! Am I vampire? I don’t feel any different. Is that why we’re in a light tight room?”
“Sookie…” I rolled over and looked at the IV bag hanging from the stand. “You need to calm down.”
“Eric… terbutaline? Why was I on a drug for contractions? Tell me. I’d rather hear it from you.”
He wrapped his arm around my waist and hugged me close. “Ludwig told me this might happen once she got here and looked you over. You lost a lot of blood, but seemed to be doing fine until yesterday. I lifted you so your nurse could change your sheets and there was blood under you. You were having contractions so Ludwig gave you medication to stop them and did a procedure to keep things from escalating. She said that it was a last resort but worth a try.”
He hadn’t even gotten through the first sentence before I started sobbing. I had ridden an emotional roller coaster over this pregnancy but had come to terms with everything. I started off terrified. I realized that we could keep children safe and I was shot doing something that was supposed to help secure their safety.
“Eric, take me home. I want to go home.” I rolled over and buried my face in his chest. “I’m sorry. Eric, I didn’t know. I don’t know why I had that vision if… I’m so sorry.”
Eric smoothed my hair and we laid together crying for a few minutes before there was a violent rap on the door. The doctor came in without waiting for a reply.
“Hello. How are we feeling today?” The sound of her voice was more annoying today than usual. I’m sure my mood responsible for that.
“Physically fine? Vampire get off the bed so I can examine her.”
Eric started to sit up and get off the bed and explain. “She was primed to go home until I told her.”
She grunted at him. “Well let’s see what we’re dealing with here.”
When I laid flat on my back, she lowered the sheet and lifted my gown. She hadn’t even touched her hands to me yet when her eyes lit up. “Well, I’ll be!”
Eric took a nervous step forward, his face turned down from tension. “What?”
“I’m not even sure if you needed what we did. Little Mama, your girls are stronger than they were on Friday.”
Eric and I both breathed ‘how?’.
She gave us both a look as though we should already know. “OK, are you going to wait for the others for me to give you your instructions?”
We both shook our heads.
“Ok, eat as much as you can. drink as much as you can. Stay off your feet. Sitting in the kitchen and overseeing chores and such is fine. Couch surfing is great. Gentle sex is great as long as you’re comfortable. You can do some swimming and stretching if you get restless. No running. No pole. Pop or get carried if you’re going more than 20 ft. Come in Friday and we’ll see what’s next. Now get dressed and go home. I’ll see you at the banquet tonight.”
She got up and left and Eric crashed onto the bed and swallowed me into his arms. Every bit of fear or regret or loss that we had been absorbing and reflecting with each other had been swallowed whole by reprieve.
“God! Eric, how is everyone? Alcide and Pam, the kids? Everyone.”
He didn’t let me go. “Alcide and Pam are in the hall. They’ve only been leaving long enough to bathe and feed. We’ve been calling the children constantly, everyone at the house has been pitching in and coming by in turn. Maddie, of all people has apparently been housekeeping alongside Janice.”
“What about Dell?”
Eric chuckled. “Dell picked the wrong time to come by. Jason and Angela were on their way here. Jason broke every bone in both hands teaching that lesson and Angela glamoured Dell to within an inch of tying his own shoes. They dropped him naked on Alcide’s front lawn rambling and called 911 about a drunk. I gladly gave Jason the healing as payment on that service.”
“Eric, I’m sorry I ruined the press conference. You did so well. They were eating out of your hand…”
“Shhh… Lover. You are what I have been worried about. Nothing matters but my family.”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too. Are you ready for them to come in now?”
I nodded and he pried himself away to go open the door a crack. “Alcide, Pammy?”
They must have nodded off because I had to call them again and when they slowly peered around the door frame they were both bleary eyed and haggard. Pam’s hair was without fluff or style, still damp from just running a brush through it. My poor Alcide looked like a lumber jack; his hair was a rat’s nest and he hadn’t shaved since I’d been in here and Alcide is the type of guy that needed a shave before dinner too, if he was going out.
“I need a ride home and someone to babysit me until the doc says otherwise. Know anyone who wants the job?”
They both smiled at me and each of them sat on opposite sides of the bed and hugged me like a life line. “I love you guys.”
When they pulled back, they were both crying and I smiled at them. “Ok you two, times up for worrying. Get me home to my kids. I know it’s only been a day for me, but I owe them a couch party until the banquet tonight.”
“Shug, are you sure you’re up for it?”
“I am going to dance 3 well spaced dances in the presence of the doctor. One with each one of you and the rest of the evening, I will sit on my pretty ass letting you all wait on me.” I smiled at them and they turned and looked at Eric.
He shrugged. “Ludwig brought it up. She’s only restricted as a precaution.”
Alcide was still being my worry wart. “And your ok?… Everything is ok?”
I smiled and nodded. “You guys had a scare when I wasn’t here to calm you down. I’m sorry.” I wrapped my arms around his shoulders and pulled Pam back in too. I let them hold me until they didn’t need to anymore.
They finally helped me get dressed and Eric carried me all the way to the lobby, from one end of the hospital to the other and across 3 wings and 8 floors. I giggled and told him that it was a good thing he’s a vampire and strong enough to carry me so far, otherwise we might have to invent some kind of chair with wheels or something. It made him laugh so I stretched up and kissed his still grinning lips.
“I don’t want to let you go.”
I sighed into his chest as I laid my head on his shoulder. “I know you never left me. You never have.”
“Sookie, I never will.”
When the sliding doors opened, it felt more like we were entering a circus tent than leaving a hospital. There was a din of overlapping questions and flashing cameras, making me very thankful that Pam had wanted to tend to my hair. Alcide and Pam tried to clear the way for us but it seemed like they couldn’t make way without getting cut off. So I patted Alcide’s back and had him whistle to get everyone’s attention before I started fussing.
I chided them with a concerned tone. “This is ridiculous. You should be ashamed of yourselves. I’ve been unconscious for nearly 3 days while my best friends and fiancé stayed with me and my family and children worried from home. I don’t know what happened yet. I don’t care what happened, not until I kiss my children and let them know that I am alive and well. Right now, my family needs to heal and the sooner we can get home, the sooner that can start. Please, let us through.”
Believe it, or not… They parted like a bad wig. Even though I glamoured them to leave us alone, I was still happy that it worked. Alcide climbed in first and slid me over and I ended up with my guys flanking my sides. I reached over and held Pam’s hand resting it against Eric’s leg. It didn’t take long for Alcide’s hand to find my other one. He didn’t really hold it, as much as he laid it in his palm and stared at it as he ran his thumb over the backs of my fingers. The four of us sat quietly most of the way home and… snuggled, I guess you could call it.
As we approached the driveway, I started asking questions.
“Pammy, how was the Parent Trap?” She and I had watched it with the kids, well, we’d watched both versions but we both enjoyed the original more. Every time I saw the redhead in the remake though, I thought about watching it with Pam. The effects in that movie were more advanced but Pam knew right away that Hailey and Hallie were played by the same girl. ‘Freckles are like fingerprints’, Pam told me. It made me smile to think about it.
“Brilliant. He was watching me on TV when I paid him the visit. Jordie is excited to start work, I hear.”
“And Joss is training with Clancy and Felecia, I assume. How is Doug working out?”
Pam grinned. “Like mother, like son. Those two are perfect for this family. She’s been staying at the house helping and then when the girls go to bed, she goes to Fangtasia. She was on her way to oversee the set up for the banquet when we came back to shower this morning. Doug, on the other hand, went toe to toe with Clancy Sunday night. Doug fired a bouncer for carrying a concealed weapon because it’s illegal and it turned out that Clancy to them told come armed if they could because of current conditions. Joss told me that Doug didn’t flinch when Clancy bit him. He just stood there. He accepted Clancy’s apology and told him that Clancy owed him a new shirt.”
I chuckled. “That’s Doug: Tantric Bouncer. OK, so before the kids are around, what happened?”
Alcide cleared his throat. “There were men on the roof of the Sun Church ‘watching for trouble’. They meant to shoot Eric just because they recognized him, but you moved suddenly. What made you move?”
“I wanted to kiss him and tell him how proud I am. He did great, even with the maker question.” I could feel Eric’s guilt so I stretched over to kiss him and he wasn’t budging. So I figured I’d give him some time. “What happened to the snipers?”
Alcide laughed. “Are you sure you want to know?”
I giggled. “I’m even more sure now.”
“Your family, Febes and Azo at the lead, took all three of them. They stripped them naked and bagged their clothes. They wrapped their hands in saran wrap and zip tied them together. They beat the shit out of them and once everyone, even Jeremy from what I hear, had a whack, Azo and Febes waltzed into the police station with them and the bags of evidence.”
“Are they ok?”
Alcide looked confused. “They’re in jail. Last I heard, the church claimed that they didn’t tell them to do it, even pressed charges for trespassing.”
“Not the snipers. Azo and Febes aren’t in jail for assault are they?”
“Oh…” Alcide laughed at himself for misunderstanding. “…Yeah the guys at city hall had a talk about that and want a list of your guards. They are going to issue special badges for them and a special designation so that they don’t get hassled trying to protect you guys. Kind of like security for ambassadors. Shaun and Marin quit though. They said that it was too much.”
“That’s fine. I’ll get Mr. C to check them out.”
“Why, you checked them when we hired them.”
“They were fine then, but they were the 2 wild cards. They didn’t spend much time with the family. It could just be that they’re quiet. It could be that they were approached in the last couple of weeks. The snipers ‘watching for trouble’ thing is bullshit. You don’t need sniper rifles to defend a 6 acre tract when you’re in the middle of it on a roof. And they weren’t after Eric, or they’d have used silver and they’d have needed to make their own cartridge. One of ours had to have tipped them off. What kind of gun?”
His mood was suddenly sober. I ‘heard’ him thinking that I could have died and it wouldn’t have occurred to him that I was betrayed.“M82.”
“Yeah, there goes that defense. The Barrett is a $9K gun. That will be easy to trace. I want to see the commissioner and Coughlin. What about the clerks and the indoc and the shopping for the puppies?”
“The kids wanted to wait to do the shopping. They weren’t up for it, thankfully. The clerks are still staying at the hotel with the rest of the Indoctrinates. They carried on after much urging with your clerks sitting in for you.”
“Ok, what else do I need to know?”
Pam took over. “You and Eric are like America’s Charles and Di. People are obsessed with you. Fangtasia’s phone was ringing off the hook. The web site had crashed due to traffic, the mail box for management has millions of emails. Print media wants you on the cover of every magazine. Someone even tracked down your house in Bon Temps and wanted pictures of your old bedroom.”
“Well now I know what Sleeping Beauty felt like. Let’s go home.”
As we walked through the still sleeping house, I was overwhelmed with the peacefulness of coming home from a long trip. Even though, I had been conscious of only 4 hours of the last few days, my body knew how long it had been.
Eric sat me on the edge of the bed and went to my dresser to get some PJs while Alcide knelt to unzip my boots. Pam was right behind us with a tray full of juice and beer and snacks.
I downed a bottle of juice after I dressed and slid myself to the center of the bed. They all stood over me, staring like I were a flea circus until I held my arms out and waved them all down to the bed. Alcide and Eric layed on either side of me and Pam rested her head on my thigh.
All three of them quickly fell asleep from the mental exhaustion and for the next hour until the kids woke up and discovered me, I said the longest prayer of thanks that I ever had. Call it blessed, or charmed, or lucky. Perhaps this was a karmic reward for having come out of my first 20 some-odd years of loneliness and hell still finding good in people. The unlikeliest of people, at that. God, Odin, Zeus, Allah, Vishnu, whoever was listening got a nod. I may not have a fairy godmother anymore, but I knew that someone or something had been looking after me.
Until recently, if happiness were fireflies, I was a sad little girl just hoping someone would share some of theirs since catching my own didn’t seem to be in my cards. I had been the little girl staring into someone else’s jar full of wonder and happiness as friends found love and children.
Somehow, Sookie Stackhouse has figured out how to catch her own fireflies. Now, even if it is just for now, all I have to do is place my jar in the grass and the jar fills itself.
Hard to believe that I could feel such joy considering that since yesterday (in my mind, anyway) I had been bombed, shot and nearly miscarried my babies. But, finding peace in the middle of a storm surrounded by people who would do anything to keep you from being swept out to sea, becoming each other’s everything, brings it all back into perspective, and soon, I was going to have to find a bigger jar for my fireflies…