Chapter Four: Getting to Know You
“So,” Pam crows as I walk through the back door of my house. I need to add on a proper garage instead of storing my Corvette in a shed. “How did it go?”
“Better than expected. Stackhouse caved once Carson told him how much his sister weighed,” I answer. “Sookie became much more agreeable to my offers once I explained that our “father” is forcing me to be so charitable.”
“Oh? Is she agreeable to all of your offers?” she asks me, leering and biting her tongue like a little devil.
“Her brother seems to think so,” I am grinning, and that causes Pam to stare a moment longer than she normally would. She scowls. “What?”
“I do not like how much you seem to be enjoying this,” she confesses and it makes me grin wider. “I am not jealous!” she insists with a howl.
“Of course not!” I am laughing at her expression.
“Eric!” she snaps. “This is not you! What the hell is going on?” she demands angrily.
Quickly I sober myself, but if I am forced to analyze why I am ridiculously pleased and happy, I find that the only answer is how relieved Sookie appeared. If I am honest with myself, I am excited to spend more time with her. I am also looking forward to spending more time with her brother. Seeing the two of them together or apart is always entertaining. They are an interesting pair, and their tempers are amusing to poke and prod. When Carson told me of Stackhouse’s sudden realization as to what was happening and his following tirade, I found myself having to mute the phone and laugh loudly to myself. I could actually visualize and hear the young man cursing my name.
Then Carson had laid down the situation in black and white. Stackhouse had fallen to pieces when he learned of his sister’s weight loss. Carson told me how he had cried and for the first time in my existence, a human told me that I was a good man for helping good people. I have never been called a good man before. A good employer. An honorable warrior. An amazing lover. Yes, to all of the above, but never a good man. It had stunned me into silence to hear my employee make such a claim. ‘Am I a good man?’
My first instinct is to grimace and shake off the accusation. What is so good about what I am doing? I practically blackmailed and threatened a man to accept my help, and it was entirely out of selfishness. It was easier for me to spend my required two hours helping him because I knew he was deserving of my assistance. It was easier than trying to find a new lost, probably less deserving, soul each night.
The fact that my first instinct about Stackhouse was incorrect only further proves my point about discerning who is and is not worthy of assistance. When I saw that young sister of his all alone at night with nothing more than a can of Mace and a shrill whistle, I believed her family to be neglectful or impartial to her. To learn that she had a brother who would give anything and everything for her was very grounding, eye opening. For a thousand years, I have believed only in the cruelty of humanity. In an hour, those two washed those beliefs away.
Finally, I am able to answer Pam’s concerns.
“It is not what I am made to do, but what I wish to do, Pamela,” I tell her evenly, making sure she is meeting my eyes and understands what it is I am trying to convey. “I wish to help those two. Their honor, love, or even something as simple as how they amuse me could be the culprit behind my motivations. I do not know. Regardless, it is what I wish to do with my time presently. Do you have some sort of objection as to how I find to spend my immortality?”
“Of course not, Eric,” Pam lowers her head contritely. “This is not a side I have ever seen of you. It has me unnerved,” she admits.
“It is not a side I knew I could explore,” I tell her. “Perhaps that is the real meaning behind Godric’s orders. Nothing so superficial as learning to maintain a future public image, but an opportunity to explore different facets of existence.”
Countless times I have proven my coldness and pragmatism. Never have I wandered the path of compassion. Godric’s constant repeated question of, “Why is darkness the only way for us?” rings in my mind. That is my Maker’s true motivation, seeking light within the darkness.
Right now, it is as if the Stackhouses have shed a floodlight into the night around me. Yes, the night still encompasses my body, but the steady glow their lives emit before me allows a strange sense of comfort. Suddenly I wish for more of it. More warmth, more light. In return, I will use my cold darkness to protect them from more of the cruelties and neglect that have befallen them in the past.
I wake covered in sweat and then have to suppress a moan as my nether regions clench. Sitting up, I look at the clock. It’s not even four in the mornin’ yet, and that means Jason isn’t back from work. At least if I made any noise in my sleep, he wouldn’t have been able to hear.
Letting out a deep breath, I flop back against my pillow, biting my lip hard as I ride out the remainder of the pulsing and throbbing goin’ on below.
I’ve never had an orgasm before. Definitely not. That was amazing!
Remembering the dream that caused it makes me clench down there again, and I turn on my side as I suck in labored breaths.
Eric’s hands all over me, suckin’ on my neck, workin’ his way down to my breasts… Oh! I throb again and decide I can’t linger on the memory any longer. It feels rude to be this turned on. Very unladylike. Gran’s probably shakin’ her head in shame at me right now. This is insanely embarrassin’!
Rather than dwell on shame, I start examining the enabler of my first orgasm. Why am I dreaming about Eric all of a sudden? Is it because last night I finally found out his real motivation? Now that my suspicions have been cleared, and they weren’t nearly as bad as I’d feared, is this my subconscious tellin’ me that it’s okay to lust after him? Lusting is very unladylike. I think of our Pastor back in Bon Temps ravin’ ’bout impure thoughts and premarital sex. But it was a dream. I can’t help that, can I?
I’ve never been a lustful person. Sure, I’ve lazed about the library perusing romance books that my brother would have flushed and yanked from my hand if he saw me readin’ ’em. I’ve never done any of the romantic stuff though.
Jason would freak if he knew I dreamed about Eric, even if it was a PG dream. Innocent or risqué, my brother wouldn’t let Eric near me with a fifty-foot pole. He practically dragged Eric out of the apartment after he saw me starin’ at him last night. Jason would say Eric’s too old for me, or I was too young in general to be thinkin’ of dating.
That was all well and good up until now because we’ve been fightin’ so hard to keep our little family together that no outsider stood a chance of penetrating our little bubble. Now that some of the direness is being relieved, both of us might finally have the chance to explore relationships outside of familial. I sure as heck know Jason needs some non-familial exploration. He practically drools when anythin’ with boobs and two legs walks by.
Poor Jason, I think sadly. College was supposed to be the time for him to have adventures and sew his wild oats. Instead he’s livin’ the life of a struggling, single dad. How do you tell a college girl that your little sister has to tag along on the forty-five-minute date you’re squeezing in between your last class of the day and your job?
Ugh, I can’t sleep now. Instead I slip out of bed, gather some clothes, leave the room, and grab a shower. I shiver when the water starts turnin’ cool before all the soap’s rinsed out of my hair. I swear this place has a ten-gallon water heater.
I stay in the standing shower and take time to shave before exiting and dryin’ my hair. There’s five or six nicks in my legs. Awesome. I need a new blade. That’s gonna be a week’s long pursuit in itself.
Wrappin’ up my damp hair in a towel, I go out to the kitchen. It’s only 5 AM. I open the fridge and look at all the fruits and vegetables. There’s real butter, cheese, eggs, and milk. Oh my GOSH! BACON!
I resist the urge to fry up the bacon. I’d rather wait to make some for me and Jason to eat together. Maybe we can have a breakfast for dinner night tonight.
Bypassin’ the breakfast staples, I grab an orange and hop on the counter to start peelin’ it. As I do, I open the cupboard to see if there’s any bread I can toast. Holy crap! The pantries are just as stocked as the fridge now. Bread, crackers, flour, sugar. I frown when I realize that the entirety of our groceries are mostly staples. Not a single thing belies Eric’s own food preferences. That’s not me being picky or wantin’ for more, but an observation that Eric was either bein’ calculating on his purchases or doesn’t grocery shop for himself very often. I consider this a moment and decide that his sister probably does most of the grocery shoppin’ for them.
I giggle at the thought of Eric behind a grocery buggy. Somethin’ about that picture doesn’t fit in my head. Strangely enough, I can’t really visualize him shoppin’ for anythin’ food-based. Not even alcohol.
Rather than dwell on my strange delusion that Eric doesn’t need to eat, I instead make myself a sack lunch to take to school. A few extra dollars saved is always a good thing, and Eric bought way too many perishables. The fruits and veggies need to get eaten.
Multitaskin’ is easy, especially when you’ve spent your entire life listenin’ to multiple conversations simultaneously. That’s why I know to refill drinks across the restaurant while gettin’ an order for a different table. It’s why I know when Carla’s spit in a mean customer’s food, and quietly call her out on it so she replaces the order. Also, it’s how I manage to swerve my rear out of the way almost every time some yahoo tries to cop a feel. Every once and awhile someone gets a pinch in, but it’s usually when I’m just too tired to jump out of the way.
“Hey, Sookie,” Jax, one of my regulars, waves merrily at me. He’s about thirty-three, single, and has a five-year-old son named Kenny whom he’s absolutely in love with. Kenny is wavin’ at me, sittin’ on his little knees in his chair, and leanin’ over the table.
“Hey, Jax. Hey, Kenny!” I grin and come over with a glass of milk for the little guy and the pot of black coffee for his daddy. “How are you two handsome men tonight?”
“Good. Mary just dropped him off a bit ago, and the first thing he wanted to do was come see you,” Jax gives me an innocent, playful wink.
“Oh! What a little flirt!” I make a kissy face at Kenny, and he blushes and covers his face with his hands.
“You gots too much make-up!” Kenny declares, and my cheeks flush when I realize he’s pointing out my bruises.
Jax clears his throat uncomfortably. “Sorry,” he mumbles.
“It’s okay. I just got jumped the other night and walked away with a few bruises. I didn’t get hurt all that bad, and a really good guy stepped in and stopped the mugger from takin’ anythin’ of mine,” I explain. Most of my patrons have worried over this, and my coworkers practically grilled me the day before.
“I’m glad you’re all right,” Jax gives me a comforting smile. ‘It’s always the good girls this shit happens to. And here’s Mary complainin’ ’bout how bad she’s got it. Should walk a day in Sookie’s shoes!’
I can tell that Jax’s ex-girlfriend, and Kenny’s mom, has really caught Jax off guard with the sudden dumping of their son on him. Of course, Jax doesn’t see his kid as an inconvenience, but now he’s tryin’ to figure out what to do with him at the auto shop.
“The usual today, boys?” I ask, taking out my pen and pad.
“With tawberries!” Kenny pipes in.
“Pancakes with strawberries?” I open my mouth in feigned surprise. “You don’t want blueberries this time?”
“Tawberries!” Kenny insists.
“Do you want whipped cream on ’em, Kenny?” I hint.
“Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s always pancakes,” Jax shakes his head and laughs.
“I could eat pancakes all day, too,” I tell Kenny. “You want your usual meatloaf sandwich, Jax?”
“Yeah, Sookie. Thanks.”
“All right, I’ll put those right in for ya. Be back to check on ya in a bit,” I strategically shift my weight onto my other leg and narrowly avoid a rather bold grasp for my bottom. Honestly, do these guys think just ‘cause they’re a hundred they can grab my tush?
The remainder of my shift flies by and the next thing I know, Jason’s sittin’ at the counter waitin’ for me. Once my relief is on the floor, I finish up at a couple tables, grab my tips, and go to clock out.
“Hey,” Jason kisses the top of my head in his ritual greeting. “How was work?”
“Good,” I shrug. Nothing very interesting usually happens to me.
“So, uh, Northman wants to hang out with us between your shift and mine,” he tells me uncomfortably while we walk out of the diner and toward the bus stop.
Whoa, slow down, heart! I think anxiously over the idea of Eric wanting to spend time with us. Memories of my dream last night immediately force me to turn my face from Jason’s scrutiny, “I guess he wants to see how his charity case is doin’?”
Jason snorts, ‘Yeah, sure. That’s what it is.’ “Maybe he just wants to hang with real people?” he suggests instead.
“Sure you’re okay with us bein’ his ‘real’ people’?” I ask.
Jason shrugs, “Sure, why not? He’s straightforward enough.” He gives me a sideways look and asks, “He don’t make you uncomfortable, does he?”
Only in my underpants, I think crudely and immediately chastise myself for the unladylike musing. “I don’t know him too well yet, so he makes me a little nervous,” I admit.
“Well, he’s meeting us tonight. If he still makes you nervous after tonight, I’ll tell him he needs to back off. Okay?” Jason suggests gently while we stand around waiting for the bus. A sudden shiver racks my body and I let out a forceful sneeze. “Wow, God bless you!” he laughs. “Didn’t give yourself whiplash, did ya?” he teases.
“Thanks… Does any of this make you uncomfortable, Jason?” I ask as we huddle a bit tighter together, my sneeze prompting him to try and warm me up.
“The handouts?” Jason looks at me a bit confused.
He shrugs and looks down the street to see if he can catch sight of the bus yet, “A little. Mostly ‘cause I wanna instill in you to stand on yer own feet, y’know? I don’t want you to think things get handed to you. At the same time though, it don’t bug me so much. After the past three years of just gettin’ shit on by life, it’s almost like someone’s finally throwin’ us a life raft.”
I nod in both agreement and understanding, “I guess we can take comfort in the fact that Eric’s said several times the only reason he’s doin’ this is ‘cause he knows we won’t abuse or squander his offerings.”
Jason smiles down at me, and I can hear the bus rollin’ down the street, “I’m glad someone thinks I’m doin’ right by you.”
“I always thought that,” I assure him. “Nothin’ anyone could give me would be better than havin’ you as a big brother, Jason.”
He grins down at me again, and I feel almost peaceful at his excited smile and thoughts. ‘This is the right thing. This is what she really deserves. Everything, and I am part of her everything.’
I am again lounging on the monstrosity they call a sofa. I can practically feel every spring pressing into places I am certain would leave a human with sciatic pain or a knot in their back. I must tell Pam to choose a ‘cozy’ feel to the downstairs apartment. These two would not appreciate, nor feel comfortable in Pam’s crisp, cold “modern” ideals of furnishings. They would be much more at home in earthy brown tones and soothing blues.
As I am exploring their home, I stumble upon a work in progress hidden beneath a slew of feminine hygiene products in the bathroom cabinet. It is what appears to be a dissected window frame. I uncover it and gaze at the scribing. A smile tugs at my lips, and I shake my head at the efforts the young Ms. Stackhouse is making to give her brother a Christmas present. Crouching back down, I bury the gift once more beneath packages of feminine napkins and tampons. Admittedly, it is a good hiding spot from young men. Most are too squeamish to even look at such things. I have the feeling her brother is not one of them, but would genuinely have no interest or reason to disturb her personal products.
In their shared closet space, I find the present Jason has hidden from his sister stored on a shelf the shorter woman would need to find a ladder to access. It is folded within a spare, thin blanket one would only use in the spring. There is an inscription on this one as well and when I read it, I feel this strangely unsettling feeling in my throat.
Below I can hear the brother and sister returning home, and I safely stow away the Christmas present. I return to the living room and try to appear casual and unassuming after they enter.
“Hey, Eric,” Sookie waves at me from behind Jason while he works his key back out of the lock.
“Good evening, Ms. Stackhouse,” I rise from the sofa and meet them at the door. “How was your day?”
Sookie shrugs, and I watch her play with one of the hanging straps of her rucksack. She tries hard to keep her eyes from glancing toward her feet. Suddenly, her face scrunches up, and her entire body acts like a bullwhip as she sneezes.
“Dang,” Jason frowns, “Bless you. Sooks, go grab a blanket and get warm. I’ll make ya some coffee or somethin’.”
“There is tea in the cupboard over the stove,” I tell the brother when I follow him into the kitchen while Sookie goes to retrieve the quilt that drapes across her bed.
“Fuck, that’s a lot of tea,” Stackhouse laughs after he sees almost the entire cabinet devoted to different brands and flavors.
“I understand that tea is good for the body, but I did not know what you would favor,” I explain to him as I hunt down a pot in which to warm water. I need to buy them a tea kettle. I look around again and note that they also need a microwave.
They need everything, I tell myself in exasperation as I watch Stackhouse peel an orange and throw the rind in the pot of water I have just set on the stove. When Sookie returns to the living room hidden behind the bulk of her quilt, he brings her the peeled orange.
“Eat that,” he tells her firmly once she takes a spot on the couch.
Smirking, I go over to the little blonde and sit next to her. “Do you need any medicine?” I ask.
Sookie shakes her head, “No. Jason’s just freakin’ out over a few sneezes and sniffles.”
“You have been sustaining yourself on a meager diet lately. Your brother has good reason to be concerned,” I point out. “Illness is very easy to befall those who are undernourished.”
Her body tenses at my words, but instead of addressing me, she calls to her brother, “Jason, I’m fine! Stop worrying. It’s December. Everyone gets a cold in the winter.”
“Yeah, yeah,” he grumbles back from the kitchen, and I hear the clank of pots and pans against the stove grates. Soon the smell of cooking meats and vegetables fills the air, masking the more appealing aroma of the young woman beside me.
Sookie sniffles again and I find myself tucking the blanket beneath her sides and under her legs.
“Stop it!” she snaps, wiggling against my efforts.
I grin down at her and continue the assault, amused that she tries to squirm away when my fingers graze her ribs. She is ticklish, and I can smell that she is also slightly aroused. Idly I wonder if it is a physiological response to being tickled, or if it is that I am touching her.
“Ticklish?” I taunt, finding that my fingers are moving across her body of their own accord, searching for more sensitive areas to torment. Her sexual excitement increases as my assault continues, but I have not yet confirmed what is responsible.
Sookie thrashes when I find a particularly responsive spot on her side, just above her hip. She is laughing and squirming until Jason comes with a plate of eggs, peppers, and onions. As he hands her the plate, he leans in and kisses her forehead.
“You’re warm,” he assesses, and I marvel at a human’s ability to measure body temperature in such a manner. Since I have not had an opportunity to hold Sookie at peak health, I am not as aware of what is her normal warmth. “Eat up. Got homework?”
“Yeah,” she confesses.
Jason runs his hand through his hair and goes to retrieve her bag by the front door. He brings it over to her and sets it at the foot of the couch. The next thing I know; I am looking over Sookie’s shoulder as she does a series of several complex math problems. As she struggles on one of the equations, I reach over and start pointing at the factor she has neglected.
We chat as Jason showers and prepares for work, her doing homework, me assisting. It is so normal and domestic that it is foreign to me. She is very efficient in completing her homework, and I realize suddenly that it is Friday night. Though she has all weekend to complete her assignments, she presses through them.
“Do you work tomorrow?” I ask as she closes her final book and puts it back in her bag.
“Yeah, eleven to seven,” she tells me.
I nod before turning to her brother as he comes down the hallway in nothing but a towel around his waist. My God. He is just as underweight as his sister! The definition of his musculature is pronounced, but slight. There is not an ounce of body fat to be found, and it seems that the bulk of his muscle has been sacrificed to sustain him during the fast they have both been forced under.
“Stackhouse,” I call to him once I have recovered from my observation, “what is your schedule for tomorrow?”
“I’m at the B’n’B from eight tonight ’til ten tomorrow morning. Then I’m at the stadium from eight tomorrow night ’til three Sunday morning,” he tells me as he wanders half-naked to the kitchen and starts eating the leftover eggs from the pan with his fingers.
“May I send the doctor to you around noon? That will give you time to return from taking your sister to work,” I offer.
“I don’t take Sooks to work durin’ the daytime hours,” he tells me. “I only ride with her when it’s dark.”
“Eleven then?” I suggest. “That should give you time to return from work and spend a little time with Sookie before she leaves for her shift.”
Jason nods at me agreeably, “Yeah, that sounds good. Thanks, man.”
“You are welcome.”
We spend the remainder of our time talking about Sookie’s job. I greatly dislike the allusions her brother makes about men touching her inappropriately, and it would seem he is just as irritated by this.
“Perhaps once you graduate high school, you could pick up a few hours at one of my companies?” I offer Sookie.
“What would I do?” Sookie asks.
I shrug, “I would have to look into what is available, or what would be available this June. Your plan was to work a year after high school while your brother finishes college, yes?”
Sookie nods, and though her delay in continuing her education concerns me, I know that neither she nor her brother would allow me to pay their expenses entirely so that they could both go to college at the same time.
“What do you wish to do after college?” I ask Sookie.
“Teach high school English,” she replies firmly.
“Are you not going to school to become a high school history teacher?” I ask her brother.
Jason nods and grins, “Yup! You’d think one of us would pine for a job that would make us more money, but what can I say? I guess we’re so used to havin’ nothin’ that we don’t really strive for much more than that.” He looks chagrinned at his explanation.
I rise from the couch as Stackhouse goes to make himself a thermos of instant coffee. I need to buy them a coffee maker, I think bemusedly. “Ms. Stackhouse, will you be all right by yourself in this condition?” I ask her.
Sookie rolls her eyes at me, “I’ll be fine, Eric, and can you just call me Sookie? You’re bein’ way too formal for a guy that bulldozed his way into our lives.” She is teasing me and that makes me smile at her softly.
“All right, Sookie,” I comply with her request and she lights up from beneath her quilt. “Have a good night, and feel better.”
“Thanks. You have a good night, too.”
“Ready to go, Stackhouse?” I ask of Jason while he is finishing up in the kitchen. He grabs several pieces of fruit from the refrigerator, and I smile with relief that he does so. It is good to see these two eating. Normally I do not enjoy watching humans eat, but this pair gives me a strange pleasure to see enjoying a meal.
“Man,” Jason groans as he flops into the passenger seat of my Corvette. I have the top up for the first time in a very long time in deference to the cold and my passenger’s sensitivity. “Would it bother you if I passed out for a bit?” he asks me suddenly.
“Not at all,” I assure and in an instant, the young man is asleep in my car. This ability of his to sleep so suddenly takes me by surprise. In the span of time between my assent and turning my head to look at him, he was already asleep.
Taking care to drive smoothly and not jostle the unconscious man, I decide I should find a job for Jason. I need to crunch some more numbers so that I can find a position that he could excel within, while still being active enough to warrant the amount I plan on paying him. That will be difficult, and I will only have a week and a half to accomplish it. It would be so much easier for all of us if they would permit me to put them on an allowance.
Those thoughts spur another question I have been asking myself, which is, why are they not receiving SNAP? They should more than qualify. I decide to look into that as well. Pam can always sift through my many local businesses and find something suitable for the Stackhouses while I focus on their situation with Social Services.
I need to discern whether the Stackhouses have merely fallen through the cracks of government assistance, if they have been actively resisting aid out of pride, or if someone is intentionally trying to make their lives miserable. The latter thought is particularly paranoid for me to consider, but I have seen the levels of laziness behind government-sponsored programs. Sometimes, yes, the programs are flooded with endless requests from the undeserving or lazy, and that ambush can cause those in genuine need to be overlooked. Still, it is also an occurring problem when a government employee merely ignores part of their duty to avoid the legwork. The Stackhouse’s caseworker should have made attempts to enroll them in SNAP, or at least prompted them to enroll. Since I found no paperwork showing that she made any attempts, I am curious to know whether this was due to sloth or flat-out negligence.
Pulling up along the curb of the Buy’n’Bag, I sit a few moments in silence, allowing Stackhouse a few extra minutes of sleep. He has fifteen minutes before his shift begins, and he can spend ten more of those resting.
As the clock signals it is time to wake the boy, I give him a sharp nudge in the ribs and he instantly jerks awake, looking more alert than I have yet to see him.
“Oh, man, I slept good,” He stretches awkwardly in my car before turning toward me. “Thanks again for the ride, and thanks for sendin’ your doctor over to check out my arm tomorrow. If I can get outta surgery, that would be awesome. If it means I can play out my senior year, too, well, that’s icin’ on the cake,” he laughs.
“I hope Dr. Ludwig can brew a miracle for you,” I agree and smile while he slips out of the car and into the shop. Now I must go back to my residence and speak to the good doctor about some of the options regarding Stackhouse’s shoulder. I call her from my cellphone to request her presence at my home in half an hour.
When I arrive at my home, Ludwig is already there, looking sour as ever. She is standing with her arms crossed in front of my desk and her usual scowl on her face. The good doctor always fills the usual warmth of my study with an arctic wind.
“Doctor,” I greet her with a nod.
“Vampire,” Ludwig replies tartly. “What damages have you caused now that I must repair?” She is, of course, referring to several disfigurements I have caused that were unable to be rectified by vampire blood. She has only failed me once. Restoring sight is a tricky process apparently. Luckily for her, I have not caused her any challenges since being put under my Maker’s humanitarian orders.
“Actually,” I sit at my desk and fold my hands neatly in front of me, “it has nothing to do with what I have done, but what another has done to themselves.” Ludwig’s eyebrows raise, intrigued by my uncharacteristic show of concern. “He is a college athlete who has done an alarming job of destroying his shoulder. I want to know if there is anything that can be done to repair the damage, short of feeding him blood.”
“You do not wish for the connection?” Ludwig guesses and I nod. “Well, injecting vampire blood into the joint at three points would mostly localize the healing properties of the blood, unless the subject’s body received extreme trauma, and the healing factor was crucial elsewhere. Injection would be effective without causing a link to be forged,” she offers. “Of course, I have never had the opportunity to review the effect of injecting vampire blood on that particular injury. Assuming that his joint issue is entirely stress-related and not a disease or genetic disorder, injecting blood could make his shoulder good as new.”
“Can it cause him to have excessive strength in that arm?” I ask. I do not need him throwing football field-length passes.
Ludwig shakes her head, “If the damage in his arm is so severe that you are calling me, then it might actually take two or three treatments to reverse the problem. We will do one, and then I will go over in a week, review him, and see if anything else needs to be done.”
“You are confident that you can fix his arm?” I ask.
The doctor looks at me in exasperation, “You have known me to reattach severed arms and legs that functioned the same, if not better, than before they were removed.”
“Fair point, Doctor,” I smirk at her confidence. “Will you be able to visit him at eleven tomorrow morning?”
I push a piece of paper with the Stackhouses’ address toward her. She looks at the paper and nods, “I will. I take it they are unaware of the Supernatural?” When I nod, she continues, “I will mask my otherness for the appointment.”
“May I ask why you are hiring me for someone you have not maimed, and therefore are not responsible to accept the bill of treatment?” Ludwig inquires.
“Because he deserves to keep playing,” I shrug.
The doctor looks at me as though I have grown a second head. I merely laugh at her expression because I have been earning such looks for several days now. Pam, Sookie, Carson, and now Ludwig have all bestowed that look upon me.
As the doctor departs, I leave notes for Pam on her newest project of finding a job for Stackhouse. With that complete, I begin my investigation on the Social Services situation before finally leaving to perform my duties as Area Five Sheriff.
While I am driving, my cell phone rings, and I glance at the caller I.D. to find that it is my Maker calling me.
“Good evening, Master,” I greet.
“Good evening, Eric,” his voice is amused, and I feel his end of our Link open and confirm that he is, indeed, laughing at me on the inside. “I must say, these past few evenings have been quite interesting. Entertaining even.”
“How so?” I ask sharply. There has never been a time that I enjoyed being the source of Godric’s amusement.
“You have not shown resentment while performing your required hours of community service. I dare say, it even feels as though you look forward to it,” Godric informs me.
“Is that right?” A frown forms on my face at his observation.
“Apparently you have found a project that works with our agreement and you are enjoying it?” Godric asks.
“I suppose that is accurate,” I reply guardedly.
“I am glad that your resentment has waned. It only took seven years, but I am grateful nonetheless.”
“I see,” is all I can respond.
“That is why I am optimistically lifting my orders. I want to see if you continue to meet my expectations without my command forcing you.”
“Meet?” I seethe a bit. “I have been helping every slob in Shreveport and Bossier for seven years and you see that as only modest effort?” Pam abandoned me for two years because of my Maker’s orders and only recently returned!
“Your efforts are not the testament of this exercise, Eric,” Godric tells me pointedly. “It was the results that I have awaited. Forced community service is not the same as compassion or empathy. These past three evenings you have genuinely empathized with another individual. That was all I have ever wanted from you.”
I bristle at my Maker’s explanation, but I keep my mouth shut. This is an opportunity to remove myself from his ridiculous command! It is my parole hearing.
So why do I feel regretful and anxious?