Unspoken Feelings Ch. 20

A/N: Hey, guys, sorry about the short chapter, but the next part of this story is about to start, and I was setting up for some transitioning! Sorry if that makes it feel rushed!

That said, I’m taking a few weeks off. There was a huge rewrite, and I had to scrap several pages because of it. Actually, I’ve scrapped about seventy pages total on this story since its conception! I’m hoping it will only be a two week vacation, but just remember to follow me or the story and you’ll get an alert to the next chapter when it comes up.

Sorry about the inconvenience, guys!

-Andi

Chapter Twenty: What Did I Miss?

February 23

Dear Sookie,

Alcide’s girlfriend has practically kept me exiled from my dorm room. She’s there every day, and I’m losing my mind!

If you’re wondering why I’m ranting about her all the sudden, it’s because she had the nerve to suggest that you let Compton get away because– get this– you’re in love with him!

Now, every time I see her face, I just want to scream at her, and I can’t concentrate to save my life. I have no idea how I’m going to study for finals with her annoying voice talking endlessly to Alcide. I guess I’ll have to make a home in the library.

I’m not sure which is more frustrating; being away from you or listening to idiots talk about our relationship like they know a damned thing?

I hope you’re healing and that Pam is taking good care of you. I love you so much and can’t wait the two weeks before I can do my last final and jump on a plane back to you for good!

I love you,

Eric

Signing his name, Eric folded the letter, stuffed it in an envelope and licked it shut. He searched his desk for a minute before finding that he was out of stamps.

With a sigh, Eric took the envelope, addressed it and headed out to the post office for what he hoped to be the last book he’d buy for quite some time. Of course, there would be bills to pay next year, but his postage financing would drop significantly for the next few months.

Hey, Eric,” Alcide greeted tiredly as he passed his roommate in the hall.

Hey,” Eric returned as he watched Alcide slump into their room. With everything that had been happening with him and Sookie, it was only in that moment that Eric realized that Alcide had looked exhausted the past week. Deciding to wait to mail his letter, Eric returned to his room and gave a quick knock in the doorframe. “Is everything all right?”

Alcide glanced back at the knock. “Yeah, why?”

You look run down,” Eric commented.

His roommate shrugged, “It’s okay. Don’t worry about it.”

Finals are in two weeks,” Eric reminded him. “Is it that or something else?”

Something else,” Alcide sighed in frustration.

Don’t you think you’d be able to concentrate better if you talked it out?” Eric suggested. “I know we aren’t much of friends, but-”

Debbie went out without me last night,” Alcide blurted out suddenly.

And?” Eric entered further into the room.

“And it’s been happening a lot more often the past month,” Alcide whispered. “She’s missed a lot of her morning classes this semester, and she just barely kept from flunking out through the first semester.”

“She hasn’t talked to you about any of it?” Eric came and sat on his desk chair.

Alcide shook his head, “This past week has been pretty nuts because it’s the most time she’s spent with me in the evenings since we got to school. Even when she’s physically here, though, she doesn’t seem to be withme. You know?”

Eric nodded slowly, “You have no idea what’s been bothering her?”

Alcide stared at his hands dully. “We went to a lot of parties when we first started school,” Eric remembered often falling asleep in an empty room the first semester. It had been awesome.“But I noticed my grades dropping and cut out with all the parties. Debbie didn’t. She was hungover a lot, and… I’ve been scared to ask her, but I think she might be doing drugs.”

Eric bowed his head gloomily. The past year he had been so absorbed in missing Sookie and all of their problems that he had been almost entirely ignorant of the predicaments going on around him. The fact that his own roommate had been living with these concerns was troubling in itself, but to know that Eric hadn’t even been aware of those issues was shameful.

I’m sorry I didn’t notice,” Eric apologized. He realized then that Debbie had actually said rather nice things at times. Maybe drugs were the problem. Perhaps his dislike for her had been amplified by Debbie’s college experimentations and not her usual personality.

It’s okay… I mean, you and I aren’t exactly friends. We’re just a couple guys that don’t really pay each other much mind,” Alcide mumbled.

That’s not really it,” Eric told him. “I think you and I could’ve been friends if I hadn’t been so wrapped up in missing Sookie. You and I actually get along pretty well.”

Alcide smiled briefly, “Yeah, and you always shared your care packages with me.”

I could never finish all of those things she sent me by myself,” Eric grinned back. The two were silent for a long moment before Eric finally uttered, “Next year, we won’t be roommates, but if you want to still hang out…?”

Really?” Alcide raised his eyebrows in surprise.

Yeah, and Sookie and I won’t be leaving for England until mid-June, so if you want to meet up in Shreveport, I’d like that too.”


“Cool, man,” Alcide nodded slowly. “I’d like that.”

If you need to talk about Debbie, I’m all ears. You listened to me whine about Sookie all year, so it’s the least I can do,” Eric offered.

Okay, okay,” Alcide laughed, “you can pull back on the apologetic actions, man. I get it, you’re sorry.”

I’m also serious,” Eric assured before he stood up. “I’ll leave you alone now, but if you need to talk- let me know.”

Will do,” Alcide waved as Eric finally left the room, and the blond man made his way outside.

Finally on his way to the Post Office again, Eric felt better about his relationship with his roommate. In all honesty, Eric liked Alcide and thought that he was a rather decent guy. Discovering what Alcide had been going through during the school year only made Eric like him more.

{†}

February 27

Dear Eric,

School’s been a nightmare. Before you panic– no. No one’s picking on me. Actually, everyone’s been uncomfortably kind to me. People who haven’t talked to me in years are suddenly asking about our wedding. Classmates who were pushing me into lockers are offering to carry my books to my next class. I’d like it better if they’d just ignore me instead of trying to take pity on me.

Although, Tara Thornton started talking to me again. She used to be my best friend until the car accident. Tara apologized to me my first day back to school and said she knew it was wrong to avoid me but was scared she’d be bullied even worse if she stayed my friend. A couple of days later, Tara dropped by the house, and I told her I forgive her. You should have seen her face! Gran and Pam helped me explain that talking is still challenging, and nearly impossible if people are staring at me. They told her it would be better if she didn’t let the rest of the school know, and as far as I can tell, no one’s said a word about it.

Anyway, so Pam, Tara, and Tara’s cousin, Lafayette have all been hanging out with me. Lafayette graduated the year before you and Jason, so you never met him. I’m delighted that Pam and Tara are hanging out. Hopefully, they’ll get each other through their Senior year since I’ll be gone.

I’m sorry Debbie seems to be giving you a hard time, but next year won’t be so bad! We’ll be together, a united front against her comments, and don’t even try believing that she’s right about my feelings for Bill. If you’ve found yourself wondering about my feelings for him, I’ll assure you that I’ve never had a crush on him. As for my calm about his escape? I dunno, I can’t help that he gave the cops the slip, and I’m not going to let it eat me up. Either he’ll slip up and get caught one day, or he’ll get away with it. I’m not going to waste another minute of my life worrying about justice or vengeance. I have too beautiful of a future ahead of me to spend any of it thinking about Bill Compton.

I love you so much,

Sookie

{†}

March 1

Dear Sookie,

As much as I hate gossip and talking about other people’s relationships, Alcide shared some news about Debbie. I guess she’s been getting a little too into the college drug culture. She’s also been going out without telling Alcide about it. The guy seemed really worried and lost on what to do. I wish I knew what to say to him.

By the way, that was one long letter you sent me! I was surprised considering you’re still in a cast! Although, it was definitely a pleasant surprise!

Finals start next week. I should be getting my schedule for it tomorrow. Once I do, I’ll let you know when to expect me home. I’m sorry your classmates are annoying you, but I’m glad that they’re at least treating you like a human at last!

Love always,

Eric

{†}

March 5

Dear Eric,

Since it’s my elbow that’s busted, I still have pretty decent mobility in my wrist. The biggest problem is that the cast wraps between my thumb and the rest of my hand! I have to hold the pen out, and it makes my hand get tired faster.

Anyway, I’m sad to hear about Debbie and that Alcide is having a hard time because of it. From the stories you’ve told me, he’s seemed like a really decent guy, and anyone who loves my baking gets automatic high scores from me!

I can’t wait until you’re home, and we can start our journey together, but don’t slack off studying for your finals because of it! Remember to let loose some while studying, and get plenty of rest.

I love you so, so much,

Sookie

Eric smiled as he put the letter down and returned to his notes. He was once again taking refuge in the library, avoiding Debbie at all costs. The last time he’d been caught alone in the dorm room had undoubtedly been eye-opening. With the suspicion that Debbie was now using drugs, Eric was more aware of her.

What Eric didn’t understand was Debbie’s obsession with his and Sookie’s relationship. She would alternate between complimenting their commitment and simultaneously undermine its authenticity. Debbie seemed adamant about proving that one of them was cheating. She would try and verify this each time by making a subtle move on Eric only to be shot down. When her efforts were useless, she departed with a comment about Sookie being less than faithful.

None of that mattered, however, because his finals started in two days. This meant that in five days, he’d be heading home.

“Is this seat taken?”

Eric looked up with exasperation only to choke on his tongue. Before him stood a woman with dark eyes, dark hair, and a lithe figure. She was tall and shapely. Eric wouldn’t have been surprised if she told him she was paying her way through college as a model.

No,” Eric replied with whispered deference to the library.

Cool,” the woman sat down with her books and smiled at him. “I’m Claudine.”

Eric,” he extended his hand. “Got a major?”

Claudine shook her head, “No, just doing my pre-reqs this year. My great grandpa really wants me to get my degree in business, though. He thinks my cousin’s going to run the family business into the ground.”

I’m working toward my degree in accounting,” Eric offered.

Ew, numbers,” Claudine stuck out her tongue playfully.

Quickly, Eric adjusted to the stunning beauty beside him and managed a sincere smile. “I like numbers, but I am planning to minor in business.”

Really? Do you want to own your own business?” Claudine asked.

Sort of,” Eric glanced at his letter to Sookie and explained. “My fiancée is a terrific baker. I thought, maybe, we’d open a pastry shop together up in Shreveport.”

Are you from Shreveport?” Claudine asked curiously.

I’m from all over,” Eric chuckled softly, “Sookie’s from Bon Temps, though. It’s a little south of-”

I know Bon Temps!” Claudine crowed happily, only to be viciously shushed by the stressed students. “My family is from Monroe,” she explained softly.

Really? You have practically no accent,” Eric pointed out.

My brother and I got shipped off to school in Maine when we were ten years old,” Claudine admitted. “I guess we lost a bit of the Southern twang.”

Eric smiled at her explanation before glancing back at his study materials. “I guess we should get to work now,” he suggested.

Yeah,” Claudine sighed reluctantly. “Hey, are you good at math?”

Yes,” Eric snorted. He’d just told her his major.

“Can you help me with this real quick?” She tilted her book toward him.

Eric sighed but nodded in agreement. The more he talked to Claudine, the more it demystified her beauty. She quickly became just another girl Eric went to school with and flushed away her natural charm. Relief flooded Eric as he overcame the attraction of the only girl to give him pause since arriving at school.

And it wasn’t even difficult, Eric laughed to himself. Everyone had tried to make him succumb to this doubt that some beautiful woman could steal his heart from Sookie. Now, Eric felt he had probably met the closest woman to a supermodel he would ever meet, and he felt no shred of consideration to abandon his love for his fiancée. It was stupid, and Eric had never doubted his feelings, but to finally have confirmation beyond his own beliefs was fortifying.

In just five days, Eric knew he would never have to prove his love for Sookie to himself or anyone else ever again. He would love her with all his heart, and no one would ever feel the need to question them again.

TBC

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Unspoken Feelings Ch. 19

Chapter Nineteen: Bruised

I’m sorry, Sookie, but Bill seems to have made a run for it.”

That sentence had been ringing in Eric’s ears for the past three days, and even a visit with Sookie to Dr. Broadway had not dampened the statement from his memory. Now, after considerable urging and even some threats made by his fiancée, Eric was finally on the plane ride back to New Orleans.

It was the longest flight of his life, which was saying something for a young man who had flown overseas multiple times and was the son of United States Air Force pilot. Eric was grateful when the journey ended, and he could exit the gate to see John Quinn waiting for him to give a lift back to the dorms.

Dude, you’re late,” Quinn remarked, but could only raise his eyebrows in surprise at Eric’s haggard appearance. “What the hell happened? You and Sookie break up or something?”

I need a drink,” Eric rumbled, not bothering to shorten his stride as he walked past Quinn.

Eric,” Quinn touched his friend’s shoulder, “you’ve never said you needed a drink. What the fuck happened?”

Get me in front of a bottle, and I’ll tell you all about it,” Eric answered as he shook off Quinn’s hand and stormed through the airport. The irritated blond only stopped briefly at the payphones and made a few quick calls before gesturing impatiently to the doors.

You’re really starting to freak me out, Man,” Quinn commented as they went to his car and he quickly scouted out a bar to get the story of Eric’s extended stay in Bon Temps.

When the pair were saddled up at the bar, Eric ordered two shots of bourbon and a Guinness. The two small glasses were quickly thrown back before Quinn could reach for one, and then the beer was up to Eric’s lips.

Someone beat my fiancée,” Eric finally spoke.

At what?” Quinn was confused.

Beat, battered, assaulted,” Eric snapped. “Take your pick! He fucking broke her arm and some ribs.”

Quinn’s jaw slung open in surprise, “Fuck, man, what the hell?”

“You know I told you she was bullied?” Eric reminded, and Quinn nodded. “She stood up for herself, and they got her back for it after school. He jumped her when she was walking home from the bus stop.”

The cops got the guy though, right?” Quinn demanded.

Eric shook his head, “She hesitated to say right away. She was scared of what her brother or I would do if we got to him before the police. Jason figured out who it was and went and beat the shit out of him, but I guess the little bitch figured the cops would come next, so he skipped town.”

Jesus, Eric, I’m so sorry,” Quinn looked at his Coors just to have something to stare at instead of his wreck of a best friend.

There was a long silence before a masked sniffle beside him drew Quinn’s attention back to Eric. “Sookie started talking. She told me she loved me.”

Are you serious?” Quinn felt his emotions ricochet into joy. “That’s amazing, Eric!”

So you see why I’m just… fucked up?” Eric asked before draining the rest of his beer and flagging the server for another one.

Quinn could undoubtedly see the emotional battle his friend was facing. On the other hand, he’d seen a couple friends already wade into the early signs of alcoholism, and he didn’t want that for Eric.

I get it, Eric, but… just take it easy on the drinks, okay?” Quinn tried to gently warn him.

When the server placed another pint of Guinness in front of him, Eric stared at it a moment before taking a slow sip. “I’ll just drink this one, and then we can go back to campus,” he assured. Quinn was pleasantly surprised when Eric did just that. He nursed his fourth drink for an hour, expressing his concerns for leaving Sookie behind.

You only got a month until you two are together, and Sookie can have a fresh start as soon as she finishes school,” Quinn encouraged as he walked with Eric to the car. “I seriously doubt that Cunton is gonna come after her again. He ran away to save his ass, not so he could get vengeance later.”

Eric snorted at Quinn’s new name for Bill Compton, but was quickly overtaken with concern, “How could you know that?”

Quinn frowned, “Because he’s been picking on a defenseless little girl for his entire life. Now that she’s not taking any of his shit, he’s going to move back to people too weak or scared to stand up to him. He doesn’t want a punching bag that hits back. He’s too weak to handle that.”

“That’s true. When I threatened Bill, he backed off her,” Eric remembered. “The second her brother and I weren’t there to keep him in check, he was right back to his bullshit.”

See? She’ll be fine until you guys can start over down here,” Quinn patted his friend on the shoulder before shoving him into the passenger seat and then strolling around the car to get behind the wheel.

Are you okay to drive?” Eric asked.

Dude, I had one beer over the course of an hour. I’m fine,” Quinn laughed as he turned the key in the ignition and pulled out of the parking space. “You going to be alright tonight? Wanna crash at the house with me?”

I wish I could go somewhere to be alone,” Eric commented as he leaned his head back against the seat. “Everyone’s going to be badgering me about why I was gone so long.”

Not to bring it up even more,” Quinn grimaced, “but how’s Sookie handling Bill getting away?”

Eric snorted on a laugh, “Better than anyone else!”

“Seriously?” Quinn asked in surprise.

She said it’s real justice because Bill did such a good job of running her away from her home, and now he’s gone and gotten himself exiled from it himself,” Eric explained. “As long as he doesn’t want to serve time, he can’t come back to Bon Temps.”

Quinn let out a low whistle, “And she’s okay with him getting away like that?”

“I don’t know. We went to see Sookie’s therapist yesterday, and with everything that happened, I can’t quite figure out how Sookie feels,” Eric confessed. “I think I’m too angry to absorb anything. That’s the second kick in the balls about this. I’m in so much pain and have so much anger about it that things that have always come naturally to me aren’t easy anymore. I’ve always been able to just look at Sookie’s face and get it. Now? I don’t know.”

Quinn nodded as if he understood, but he remained silent. What was really striking him wasn’t the fact that Eric’s fiancée had been assaulted, but the peculiarity of Eric sharing all of this with him. He knew that they were close, but he was more than aware that Eric didn’t like looking weak.

Are you going to classes tomorrow?” Quinn asked, hoping a change of subject would help him ease the shiver running across his shoulders.

Yeah,” Eric replied, looking out the window.

When silence overtook the car again, Quinn swallowed hard and whispered, “Hey, Eric… Do you think… You should see someone, too? Maybe someone who could, y’know, help you sort through things?”

Eric sighed and finally admitted, “I think getting it off my chest helped a lot.”

Why didn’t you just say it to Sookie?” Quinn wondered.

How could I? She’d think I was mad at her,” Eric pointed out.

Quinn rolled his eyes, “No she wouldn’t. You guys talk about everything. You’re the only long-distance couple I saw get through their first year apart without incident.”

I don’t want her to worry about me,” Eric grumbled.

Rolling to a stop at a light, Quinn frowned and glared at his friend. “Dude, just write her a letter about it or something. Get it written so that she understands what you’re feeling and why, and just spill your guts already! Maybe it’s not you. Maybe both of you are at a loss for communicating now that she can speak. Did you ever think that’s the problem? So go back to your roots. Talk how you guys know how.”

Eric considered the suggestion and decided that writing out how he felt might be therapeutic. He even bargained with himself that he didn’t have to send the letter if the mere act of writing it alleviated some of the pain inside.

When they arrived in silence at the dorm, Eric gave a solemn, ‘thank you,’ to his friend and headed up to his room. Alcide was already asleep, and Eric went to his desk to begin writing the letter he hoped would cure the anger that was threatening to swallow him.

February 18

Dear Sookie,

I’ve missed you since I walked away from you at the airport. It was the longest flight of my life, and after a talk with Quinn, I think it’s because I left you with so much open and unresolved.

It might be because of Compton, it might be because you can speak now, but I haven’t been as open with you over the past few days as I used to be. I’m scared for you, and I’m angry for you. Leaving today was harder than ever because if I feel this way, I’m terrified that you feel a hundred times worse, and I’m not there to help you.

Tagging along to your therapy session did nothing for me. I don’t need the help of a professional. I just need to know that you’re okay. I need you to smile and to feel that it’s genuine. I need to know that you still tell me everything, and you’re not trying to be brave like when the bullying started back up.

That was the only time that I can recall that you hid something from me. I need you to know that you don’t have to hide from me. Whether it’s words or fists, please, please, please tell me if someone’s hurting you…

Love always,

Eric

{†}

Sookie lay in bed, reading the letter from Eric for the fifth time. She hadn’t been back to school yet, deciding to take the week off before returning. Gran didn’t even put forth the pretense of a protest, accommodating her granddaughter’s wishes.

Eric will be home in a few more weeks,” Gran commented as she came into the bedroom with the laundry basket. Sookie lay gloomily in her bed. “Are you counting down?”

Gran?”

The grandmother felt her heart flutter at hearing Sookie’s voice. It was still so new and welcome, but also strange. Every so often, Gran would have expected to hear the barn cat, Tina, utter a phrase before she’d expect it from Sookie.

“Yes, Dear?” Gran began putting away the laundry merely to keep herself busy and not put too much spotlight on Sookie. As the concussion abated, her family began to notice that Sookie had a harder time speaking when she was watched. The fact that she could still talk was encouraging, however, and the doctors, as well as Amelia, were optimistic that her ability to speak wouldn’t completely disappear.

I don’t… feel good,” Sookie choked out.

Adele quickly put the t-shirt she was holding on the bed and came to sit beside Sookie. “What’s wrong?” she asked anxiously.

My stomach hurts,” Sookie whispered. “And my throat…”

Her grandmother smiled as she soothed back Sookie’s hair, “Do you need a good cry?”

It won’t…” she flailed her hands, trying to express that she couldn’t get to that point. Something inside of her just wasn’t letting go, and as much as Sookie knew a good sob would help, it just wouldn’t happen.

Sometimes, you just need help getting started,” Gran chuckled. “Come on, let’s go watch Steel Magnolias.”

Sookie let herself be hauled out of bed and into the living room. Together, grandmother and granddaughter watched the tear-jerker, and it wasn’t long before the movie had done its job. Sookie turned her watering eyes against Adele’s shoulder and began sobbing.

That’s a good girl. Let it all out,” Gran crooned as she smoothed Sookie’s hair.

After half an hour of tears, Sookie fell asleep on the couch, and Adele finished the rest of the household chores while the young woman rested. Sookie was still asleep when Pam arrived to drop off the day’s homework.

Hey, Gran,” Pam greeted as she came through the kitchen door. “How’s Sookie?”

I think she’s good,” Adele smiled. “She had a nice cry today. Finally!”

Pam’s shoulders slumped, “She cried?”

She needed it, Pam,” Adele assured. “Haven’t you ever felt so overwhelmed that you wanted to just be sick from it?”

I guess,” Pam frowned. “Is she in her room?”

No, she’s resting on the couch,” Adele gestured to the living room.

“I’ll go put her stuff on the coffee table, then,” Pam waved as she went to the living room and found Sookie laying on her side, staring at the blank TV. “Hey there. How are you feeling?” Pam crouched down but made sure not to stare at Sookie.

Better,” Sookie offered groggily.

Better than?” Pam pressed.

When Eric left,” Sookie replied.

Pam sighed as she began playing with the ends of Sookie’s hair. “I guess he made the whole thing not so scary?” Sookie nodded in agreement. “And now you are scared and upset?”

It was ea-asier… when he was… a-angry fo-or me,” Sookie explained roughly.

Nodding in understanding, Pam patted Sookie’s hand awkwardly. “And now you’ve got to deal with the anger and fear by yourself.” Sookie nodded. “You’re not alone, though. You’ve got me, Gran, Godric, and Jason! No one’s going to touch you ever again! So help me God!”

Smiling weakly, Sookie nodded again. The mention of Jason brought a flash of anger. It was brief, but still there, and it was only with the absence of her sorrow that she finally understood why she was angry. If Jason hadn’t confronted Bill, then he might not have run off before the police got to his house. If Sookie hadn’t been so worried about what everyone else would do, she could have told the cops before Jason had beaten up Bill. All in all, she felt angry at herself more than anyone, and how could she say that to Eric?

Of course, the last time you tried to hide the bad stuff from Eric, you were bullied for two months straight, Sookie reminded herself. And then when he found out, he was utterly devastated.

Sookie?” Pam called when she noticed her friend’s eyes glaze over thoughtfully.

Hmm?” Sookie’s eyes snapped back to Pam.

I brought something for you,” Pam grinned as she opened her book bag and extracted a beach bag. “I figured it would do fine for the remainder of the school year with only a couple months left.”

Sookie took the bag from her friend. Her heart raced as she recalled why the replacement was needed. Sheriff Dearborne had found Sookie’s previous book bag in the field Bill had chased her through. One of the straps had ripped off, and the teeth of the zipper had busted. Her books had spilled over three feet, the space of Sookie’s fall, to the ground. The sight of the beating had been temporarily marked by the flattened grass and flecks of blood.

By now the grass will be standing up again like nothing happened, Sookie thought as she gazed at her broken arm.

Thank you,” Sookie whispered as she quickly put the bag behind her to try and dispel the memory.

“You’re coming back to school on Monday, right?” Pam already knew the answer, but conversation felt strained these past few days. She didn’t blame Sookie for feeling withdrawn, but Pam desperately wanted to protect her friend from any more suffering.

Yes,” Sookie replied.

Dr. Jones asked about you today,” Pam mentioned. “He told me to tell you that you’re welcome to hang in his classroom during free periods.”


Dr. Jones used to let her do that before the Northmans arrived, but she’d had him as her teacher the previous two years. She hadn’t wanted to bother him when she wasn’t taking any of his classes this year.

And I talked to the principal about-”

Pam,” Sookie interrupted, “it’s okay. You do-on’t have to worry.”

Deflating a bit, Pam considered her options before finally standing up and preparing to leave. “I guess I’ll just let you do your thing for now.”

Pam,” Sookie reached for her friend’s hand, “thank you.”

Just don’t hold it all in, okay?” Pam encouraged.

I promise,” Sookie offered a stunted, careful smile that made Pam cast her gaze down. She missed Sookie’s open, carefree smiles that had been stolen for nearly the past week.

As Sookie watched Pam leave the house, she played with the fuzz of the wrapping near her palm. Her heart was aching, her lungs felt shallow, and her fingers tugged and twisted the soft part of her cast with visible anxiety.

When it became too much, Sookie went to her room and took out a pen and paper.

Dear Eric,

{†}

February 22

Dear Eric,

Everything is different now. After so many years of being picked on and even struck by others, I never really felt angry about it before. Sadness and depression would be more accurate. I felt weak, and unmotivated to be strong. Sometimes, I didn’t believe I deserved the strength to change. Regardless of what I’m about to say, I know I didn’t deserve what happened.

Even though I won’t drop the charges I filed, I’m okay with Bill running off. I’ve chosen not to care about him or his problems. I hope that you can understand my feelings on the situation and that you can let go of your own anger and hatred for Bill in time. Holding on to all of that can lead to exactly what Bill experienced. He was consumed by something that happened a very long time ago, and he let it control him. Don’t be ruled by the same darkness. Forgive and move on. I have.

I guess what I want to tell you is that I’m not scared. I’m definitely tired. I’ll continue counting down the hours until you’re home with me forever. From there I’ll count down the days until being in this place that’s rejected me for so long doesn’t have the satisfaction of reminding me I’m unwelcome.

With any luck, today’s the last day Bon Temps has forced me to cry.

Love always,

Your Sookie

Eric read the letter through several times since receiving it the previous day, and still couldn’t help but stare at the messy scrawl of his fiancée’s left-handed writing. After a while, Eric hoped he would be able to let go and accept Sookie’s hopes of taking the high road. Instead, he had just felt the anger fester hotter and hotter inside of him.

You okay, man?”


Eric looked up to see Quinn standing over him. They were in the library, and his friend’s inquiry had invited a wave of hushing sounds.

I’m still brooding about everything,” Eric whispered the admittance.

“Is that Sookie’s letter?” Quinn asked, and Eric nodded. “What’s it say?” Handing over the paper, Eric waited as Quinn read. When he was done, his friend let out a low hum. “Wow. Your fiancée is a fucking saint. Talk about turning the other cheek!”

I’m relieved that she doesn’t feel like she deserved it,” Eric mumbled, “but I still think on some level she believes that.”

Quinn shrugged, “If she does, then that’s something she has to work through. How are you working through things?”

Not well-”

When another grumbling of disapproval rippled through the library, Eric jerked his head to the door. This wasn’t the place for unloading thoughts aloud.

Catching on to Eric’s gesture, Quinn followed the blond giant outside. They walked in the crisp February air for a few moments before Eric finally began releasing his pent-up anger. “I want to kill him, or at least beat him until he’s so fucked up he wished he were dead.”

“Whoa,” Quinn stared at the sudden, but not necessarily unexpected, outburst. “I guess that’s a natural response? Sookie made a good point, though. Shit like that rots inside you. It will get more disgusting and fucked up the longer you hold onto it.”

“I don’t know how to let it go,” Eric confessed.

Okay, instead of trying to let it go, why don’t you think about what would happen if you did something about it?” Quinn suggested.

Eric paused, “Well, I’d go to jail for murder or at the very least, assault. Sookie would be pissed at me, and we probably wouldn’t end up getting married any time soon, if at all.”

Feel like killing that asshole now?” Quinn asked.

With an agitated grunt, Eric shook his head. “Not as much.”

Sometimes more than letting go of something, you have to weigh the consequences,” Quinn pointed out. “Are the results really worth the costs?”

I didn’t expect you to be so grounded,” Eric told him with the first genuine laugh he’d had in days.

Quinn shrugged, “I got my impulsive streaks, but I’ve gotten into enough trouble to learn the difference between being spontaneous and being reckless.”

So have I,” Eric responded, but he seemed to doubt his own claims.

Quinn glanced at his friend and patted his shoulder, “Sometimes, you need someone else to ground you. From what I read in that letter, it’s obvious you picked a good wife. She’s tough, she’s forgiving, and she’s way too good for you.”

Eric snorted on a laugh, “Trust me, I’ve been told that many times already, and so has she. Somehow, though, she’s sticking with me.”

Like I said: she’s a fucking saint,” Quinn repeated as he slapped Eric on the back. “Want to go with me to the gym?”

At first, Eric was going to decline the invitation but quickly thought better of it. Letting off steam in the gym seemed like a much better alternative than spending more time in his head. Left to his own devices, the man thought he could quite possibly devise a murder plot that would keep him from being caught. Sookie would figure it out, though, he considered amusedly as he finally accepted Quinn’s offer. The two headed for the gym, and after a ten mile run on a treadmill, the only death Eric had on his mind was his own via dehydration.

When Eric dragged himself back to the dorm, he was grateful to find Alcide missing, and he checked his watch before he reached for the phone.

Hello?” a familiar voice lilted over the line.

Hey, Gran, it’s Eric,” the future grandson-in-law greeted. “Can you put Sookie on?”

Her speech therapy hasn’t even begun yet. You expect way too much out of that girl!” Gran teased before handing the phone off to her granddaughter. “It’s Eric, Dear.”

Sookie? Are you there?” Eric asked after a moment.

Mmm.”

Eric smiled. “I got your letter today, and I showed it to Quinn. He says you’re too good for me.”

Mmm,” she replied in an agreeable noise that made Eric laugh.

I just wanted to let you know that I never thought you were weak. Sometimes you can be a little naïve, but in the best ways,” Eric told his fiancée. “I wanted to tell you that I’m feeling rational again, and not to worry about me doing something stupid. Focus on getting better and healing.”

Mmm,” Sookie answered, and Eric once again marveled at her ability to express so much with a single syllable.

“I guess that’s all I needed to say,” Eric mumbled after a moment. “I will still send you a letter, though, so don’t worry.” He heard Sookie giggle at his assurance. “I’ll talk to you later. I love you.” He waited for a beat as he could almost feel Sookie trying to reciprocate his declaration.

Soon his patience paid off, and a disjointed, “I love you too,” graced his ears.

Hanging up the phone, Eric turned to flop onto his bed. The young man kept reminding himself that it was only a few more months until they would be married, and he would never have to leave her side again. In fact, Eric was hoping to broach the possibility of Sookie coming to stay at Rosenfont Hall until the wedding. The sooner he could glue himself to her side, the better, in his opinion.

Before Eric could continue contemplating the future he was anticipating, the door opened, and he sat up to greet Alcide. Instead, it was Debbie that stood in the entrance.

Hey, Eric,” Debbie waved at him merrily.

Hey, Deb,” Eric flopped back against his mattress once more. “Alcide’s not back yet.”

Oh,” she gave the room a glance before coming in the rest of the way. “Is it okay if I wait here?”

“Sure, I’m just going to start some studying in a minute,” Eric told her as he mustered up the strength to roll out of bed. Finals were in two weeks, and he’d been slacking on his studying after everything that had happened around Valentine’s Day.

How’s Sookie doing?” his roommate’s girlfriend asked with polite curiosity.

She’s been better, but she’s tough.”

So did she drop charges?” Eric raised himself up to look at Debbie incredulously. “Oh, Alcide mentioned it. I guess I wasn’t supposed to know about that?” She gave a weak grimace.

Sitting up the rest of the way, Eric finally slid to the floor and reached for his bag. “No, she’s still pressing charges, but it doesn’t really matter if they can’t find him. She’s taking it in stride though.”

Wow,” Debbie shook her head, “I couldn’t imagine someone doing that to me and not putting their ass in jail as long as humanly possible! I mean, I guess if I was in love with them, that might be the only way.” Eric looked at her annoyedly. “Maybe I should wait for Alcide somewhere else-”

No,” Eric stopped her from leaving, “tell me what you meant by that.”

Pausing briefly, Debbie shuffled closer to Eric and sat on the floor next to him. “I just meant that I’d only be able to forgive someone for that if I had really deep feelings for them. I wouldn’t let just anyone off the hook if they hurt me like that.”

“Some people are naturally forgiving,” Eric told her. He refused to believe that Sookie had feelings for Bill. When Debbie laughed, he glared at her.

What? You wanted me to tell you what I meant, didn’t you? It sounds like you’re in denial to me,” Debbie pointed out. “I mean, what do you really know about a girl who can’t have a slip of the tongue? She can’t babble or anything like that. How do you know what she really feels?”

I know how she feels,” Eric spoke harshly, “because she pushed herself for months just to be able to say it. Can you imagine that, Debbie? Can you comprehend the effort behind overcoming what she’s had to overcome just so she could tell me she loves me? That’s how I know what she really feels. Because she’s told me.”

Grabbing his bag, Eric stood sharply from the floor and stormed out of his dorm. He’d hang in Felipe’s dorm until his roommate’s bitch of a girlfriend finally left. The end of the semester couldn’t come soon enough!

TBC

Unspoken Feelings Ch. 18

Chapter Eighteen: Words for You

Gran was raving like a mad woman by the time she got Sookie home and into her own bed.

-call that school and give them a piece of my mind!” Adele ranted as she fluffed Sookie’s pillow for the twentieth time and stormed out to bring her a third cup of tea. “If you wanted to just drop out and get your GED, I wouldn’t stop you!” Gran continued shouting even as she came in with another mug of steaming, soothing tea.

At least she had given up on trying to find out who had done the attacking. With all the damage, done to her, it was speculated that more than one person had beat her up, but Sookie had refused to give a single name. A war was waging inside the young woman, and she feared her family would do something stupid and drastic if they heard who had beaten her. If only Gran hadn’t stormed in while the cops were taking pictures of my injuries…

Jason was leaning against the door, just out of the way of their rampaging grandmother. He had stared at his sister the past forty-five minutes, trying to think of anyone else who could have done this to her, but his memory was too good. Busted ribs, broken arm, and a face so bruised it was hardly a face anymore…

Pushing away from the wall, Jason left the house and stomped through the valley that divided the two hills that were the pedestals of the Stackhouse and Compton homes. He climbed the crest his best friend since diapers lived atop of, and he rang the bell hoping to find Bill’s hands unblemished.

Old Mr. Compton answered, already reeking of beer, his breath capable of stripping wallpaper.


“Whaya want?” Robert demanded.

Is Bill here?” Jason asked, unfazed by the drunkard.

What’s up, Jason?” Bill’s voice came uneasily from behind his father, and Mr. Compton turned to sneer at his son. When Bill came to meet Jason on the porch, Robert slammed the door behind him, grumbling all the way back to the living room. “Hey,” Bill’s voice was subdued.

Jason didn’t say anything at first. Bill’s hands were in his pockets, and the friend was working up the nerve to let accusations fly. Instead, however, Jason let out a sob he’d been holding in the last few hours since finding his sister wandering in the darkness.

“Bill,” Jason choked, making his friend look up in surprise, “someone beat my sister. They beat her up so bad! She won’t tell anyone who did it to her. Even while the cops were taking pictures of all the bruises! I don’t know if it’s ’cause she’s scared, or…” Jason snorted back on the snot building up in his nose. He just wanted a few more minutes with his best friend. Jason just wanted a few more seconds where Bill was the person Jason could turn to. Knowing that the guy he trusted and thought of like a brother had been the one to bring this pain was almost as devastating as seeing his sister bruised and broken.

It was me,” Bill whispered as Jason’s sobs tugged at what was left of his dying pride.

I know,” Jason sobbed harder, only moderately relieved that his friend had confessed. “Which means, not only did I have to take my sister to the hospital, but I have to lose my brother, too. I lost my brother over a decade’s old grudge you asshole!” Jason swung out his arm and punched his best friend in the face. “Was it worth it? Was getting back at a five-year-old girl worth losing your best friend?” Bill fell to the ground and stared up at Jason in surprise as his chest was quickly straddled and more blows rained down on him. “Did you think I wouldn’t see all that hurt, all them breaks and not think of you?! I was finally learning some signs, and now Sook can’t sign!” Jason howled as he remembered her struggle to scrawl with her left hand. Since it was quickly fatigued, her statements were as short as the time before the Northmans. Taken over by grief, Jason stopped his assault and just continued to loom over Bill. “She can’t write neither, you asshole! You took what was left of her fucking voice!”

The brother rolled away to sit on the cold grass, holding his head in his hands as he sobbed over everything he’d lost that day. Distantly, a part of him knew that Sookie had lost far more, but at that moment he could overlook that and just weep. Eventually, Jason stood up and pushed away his tears.

I don’t know why Sookie hasn’t sold you out, but,” Jason glanced down to watch Bill wipe away the blood from his lip, “this time, though, you’d deserve to be told on.”

Bill watched as his best friend, his brother, turned away from him and started heading back to his own house. When he was a few yards away, Bill felt his hopes rise because Jason had stopped and turned to look back.

Hey, Bill?” Jason called.


“Yeah?” Bill replied hesitantly.

Congratulations on becoming your father.”

Bill felt his world shatter at Jason’s words.

{†}

As a friendship was falling apart at the Compton house, Eric Northman was arriving at the Stackhouse farm. Godric hadn’t even put the car in park when Eric lunged out of the car and stormed into the house. The younger brother hadn’t been in his own home yet when his sister had run out to tell him that Sookie had been beaten black and blue. Eric had dropped his book bag on the driveway and jumped back in the car with Godric.

Eric ran to his fiancée’s room, passing Gran in the hallway. She gave him a sympathetic look and moved aside to let him pass. When he entered Sookie’s bedroom, Eric tried not to look at her immediately but instead crawled into bed with her. Tucking his head into her shoulder, Eric closed his eyes and tried to think of something to say. Instead, he let out a groan and listened to Godric come in and start talking to Adele. Although he could distinguish the sounds of their voices, their words evaded him.

Sookie turned her head to look at Eric. His eyes were squeezed shut so tight it was almost comical. He reminded her of a child trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. She thought about speaking, just one little sound. One little noise beyond an ‘mmm’ would make him feel so much better. Will you cooperate a bit, Brain? She wondered, not feeling the speeding of her heart at the idea of speaking. Sookie had avoided speaking since the inadvertent, “Ja-y,” from earlier. Part of her was worried it had been an involuntary sound. Another part of her wanted Eric to be the first one to hear her speak.

“H-i,” came the softest, most gravely sound from Sookie’s mouth.

“Hi,” Eric choked back before looking up with shock. “Sookie! Did you say ‘hi’!?”

Mmm,” she smiled just enough not to split her lip back open.

When? How? Wh-” Sookie placed a finger over his lips to quiet him a moment. The word had come so easily. It felt raw and a little uncomfortable to speak, but it wasn’t hard. Eric looked to see her awkward posture as her right arm was in a cast and wrapped to her chest. Somehow, she still managed to wiggle her left arm free to shush him.

Sookie’s finger left his mouth to touch his chin, and Eric felt his eyes being drawn up to meet hers. He stared at his fiancée’s tightened face. She looked like she was trying to work her mouth free of some sort of glue.

Finally, after a moment, her mouth opened and, “I love you,” tumbled from her lips to speak the sentence they had waited the past year to exchange.

I love you, too,” Eric gasped as they stared at one another in disbelief. Despite her bruised and swollen face, Eric could see Sookie’s disbelief at managing to speak her first sentence. To look away from her tears and offer a moment for both of them to take in this milestone, Eric leaned in and gently kissed her. Their lips pressed together until they were interrupted.

“Sookie,” Gran intruded gently, “I brought you some soup.” The old woman quickly realized that she had impressed upon a rather significant moment, and she proceeded to silently put the tray and bowl on Sookie’s dresser. Without another word, Adele left the room.

Were those your first words?” Eric asked softly as they lay in bed, back in their sphere of privacy.

“Mmm,” Sookie nodded. Her brain was still trying to process, accept and enjoy the hurdle she had finally cleared. It hadn’t sounded as garbled as she’d expected. Breathy. Strained. But definitely clear. In a way, Sookie wouldn’t be surprised if she found talking to be physically or even emotionally exhausting, but at that moment, she could only let silent, happy tears trail down her cheeks.

“Does this mean you’ll finally start signing your letters with love?” Eric asked hopefully. When Sookie pointed at her busted arm, Eric frowned. “I don’t mind if your letters are shorter and look like a five-year-old wrote them. As long as they end with ‘Love, Sookie,’ I’ll be happy.”

With another approving, “Mmm,” Sookie nuzzled her forehead against Eric’s crown.

It’s weird with your head higher than mine,” Eric commented as he began to gently adjust them so Sookie’s head could rest against his chest. The natural formation eased some of his anxiety. “Will you tell me who did this to you?”

Sookie pulled away and studied Eric’s face cautiously. Eric stared right back, waiting for her reply. “Only if you pro-omise not to do anythi-ing about it,” Sookie forced out the longer statement.

How can you expect me to promise that?!” he demanded in disbelief.

It wo-on’t ha-appen again,”Sookie told him.

“How can you know that?” Eric asked sharply but immediately regretted it. Sookie looked exhausted, and the extra strain of speaking couldn’t be making it any easier. Regardless, he almost felt himself drawing her out. He almost wanted to fight about it just to keep listening to her breathy voice.

I just do,” she responded patiently. “Do you pro-omise?” Eric shook his head, trying to convey that he couldn’t promise that. “Then I ha-ave to pro-otect you.” She would have given anything to be able to go turn Bill into the police that very second, but she knew Eric would find a way to get his hands on him first.

Eric took a deep, calming breath, “Okay. You’re right, I can’t handle it right now. I’d go and beat them all bloody once you told me.” Even though Eric had his suspicions, he also had his doubts that one person could have done this. He couldn’t imagine one person could inflict this much damage before they realized what they were doing. Who could possibly hate Sookie that much? It made far more sense that multiple people had attacked and done separate damages simultaneously before realizing they’d gone far beyond their intentions. At least, that’s what Eric wanted to believe.

Sookie flinched when she felt Eric’s lips touch gently against one of her bruises. When Eric pulled away guiltily, she gave him a reassuring smile.

“Did that hurt?” he asked sadly. Sookie shook her head. “Are you sure?” She nodded and with an even gentler touch, his lips grazed the bruised landmarks of her face. Her temple, cheekbone, jaw, and chin all received a remedying kiss that made Sookie smile appreciatively. When the exposed injuries were all kissed, Sookie smiled up at him.

Why are you here?” she asked suddenly, wondering how he could have arrived so quickly even if Jason had called Eric from the hospital.

“I was already on my way up for Valentine’s Day,” Eric explained. “I bought the tickets in December for a round trip and wanted to surprise you. Godric had class today, so he picked me up at the airport.”

Sookie’s mouth tugged into another tentative smile, “Love you,” she said with such effortlessness now that it made Eric’s heart pound.

“I love you too,” Eric assured while basking in this new experience. Today was the first day someone other than his family had told him that they loved him. He couldn’t bring himself to say that to Sookie, though. She’d feel guilty for not saying or writing it sooner. It wouldn’t matter to her that he felt this moment was well worth waiting for, and that it brought a lightness to an otherwise grim day. “I can’t wait until I get to hear you say ‘I do.’ It can’t come soon enough.”

Sookie reached for the front of Eric’s shirt. Without another word, she leaned in to capture his lips in another kiss. He let her control the pressure and intensity, wanting her to lead and keep from injuring herself further. When she tried to rake her nails under his shirt, however, he pulled away.

Sookie, are you actually in the mood for sex, or are you revving me up because you think I expect it?” Eric asked, holding her wrist delicately.

Missed you,” she told him softly, and he could hear the exhaustion and strain in her voice. She was at the end of her strength.

“You missed me?” he asked, and she nodded. “I miss you too, but you’re hurt all over the place. I can see the bruises, and I know your arm is broken but is there anything else?”

Sookie let out a frustrated sigh and softly muttered, “Three cra-acked ribs and a modera-ate concu-ussion.”

Yeah, we’re definitely not fooling around,” Eric frowned. “Even if you were somehow in the mood, we’re not doing it. Three cracked ribs? What happens when you get excited and start breathing hard?” Sookie hadn’t thought of that. “We’ll just stay here for the weekend. Right here in bed,” Eric told her. “I’ll bring you anything you need, and this will be our Valentine’s Day. All I want in return is as many ‘love yous’ as you can give me in the next 48 hours.”

Sookie smiled at the conditions of their Valentine’s Day weekend. After all, being with him at all was a gift, and as much as she missed the sex, she was grateful to have him there with her. They simply lay in her small bed together, lazily stroking their fingertips over skin and Eric would occasionally tug at the ends of her hair. His tactics were no secret, but Sookie let him lull her into a light doze.

Unfortunately, the reprieve from her exhausting day ended as Jason came into her room followed by Bud Dearborne.


“Sheriff,” Eric greeted in surprise.

Sookie,” Jason cleared his throat awkwardly, “I was hoping you’d be up to telling Bud, here, who did that to you. I already told him, but I guess he can’t just take my word for it since I wasn’t actually there.”

The sister gave her brother a hard look and realized he had blood on his recently changed shirt. His hands looked a little swollen too.

“Jason,” Sookie hissed, taking both brother and Sheriff by surprise, “what did you do?”

Oh, I just knocked him around a little bit, Bud said no jury would hold me responsible,” Jason grinned his rakish, stupid grin that drove his sister up the wall. “But, besides that… When the fuck did you start talking!?”

I thi-ink it’s the concuss-ssion,” Sookie admitted.

So you could lose it again?” Jason asked worriedly.

Sookie shrugged, “I don’t think so.”

She’s quite the chatterbox,” Bud commented.

Just like the good ol’ days,” Jason smiled. “Does it hurt?”

Sore,” Sookie replied as she pushed her blanket away and began to slide out of bed.

Where are you going?” Eric asked worriedly.

To talk to Bud,” Sookie told him. “I don’t want to put our hone-eymoon on hold for our first co-onjugal visit.”

Uck,” Jason faked gagging as Sookie stepped out of the room with the Sheriff.

I didn’t think she’d actually do it,” Eric whispered once Sookie was gone.

Do what?” Jason asked.

Give the names of the people who did it,” Eric explained.

Jason paused, realizing that Eric had no clue what had happened. “Why’s that?”

She has a crippling guilt complex,” Eric pointed out. “Haven’t you noticed? She let herself be bullied for years!”

I guess therapy’s done a lot for her,” Jason considered. “Or maybe you have.”

That’s nice of you to say, but I’m not so sure,” Eric frowned.

Jason paused a moment before clearing his throat and confessing, “I’m actually pretty serious. I mean, before you and Pam came into her life, Sookie didn’t really say much.”

Eric raised his eyebrows, “Up until this evening, your sister hasn’t said anything.”

“That’s not what I mean…” Jason struggled for a moment to explain. “The notebook she carries? Before you guys, the only thing she wrote in it was answers to teacher’s questions and the occasional shopping request to Gran. I don’t know if she kept diaries or anything, but she never really got anything off her chest.”

She always seemed so engaged,” Eric hadn’t noticed any lack of socialization from Sookie. She seemed well adept at communicating the way that she did. It had never occurred to Eric that Sookie ever experienced such difficulties holding a conversation.

Oh, she was always listening,” Jason waved off Eric’s comment. “She was always there, but she never let anyone in before you and Pam. Even Gran was kept an arm’s length away. Maybe it’s because she thought she was a burden, but it was probably because I was such a shit to her before. Whatever the reason, though, you guys coming to town and treating her like a normal person really changed her. You helped me forgive her, and you also helped her forgive herself. Not all at once, but a lot.”

Eric couldn’t help but smile to himself as he listened to Jason sharing these things with him. In a way, Eric hoped that he was good for Sookie. The future husband liked to think that was the truth, but to hear it confirmed was a relief. After years of being unable to connect with a girl, Eric had felt when the moment finally came, he’d be worthless to her. Instead, he found that she complimented his own nature. Where he took action, she tried to keep the peace.

As Eric found himself smiling while thinking of Sookie, her bedroom door began to open, and her face tentatively peeked inside.

Hey there,” Eric’s smile didn’t falter, but he felt his mood shift from contented to irritated when he was reminded of the brutalization she had endured. That swollen face and single blue eye that could look at him with concern stole most of the tranquility he had found only moments ago.

Sheriff Dearborne followed Sookie back into the room as well to say goodbye, and Eric’s annoyance grew when he was not given the names of Sookie’s attackers. Instead, the Sheriff tipped his hat and left without a further word.

“Didja do it, Sookie?” Jason asked hopefully, and Eric held his breath.

Mmm,” Sookie nodded and walked gingerly back to bed. Her legs felt weak, and whatever calm she had obtained since the attack, it was seeping away now.

Are you alright?” Eric asked worriedly as he quickly hopped to her side and helped Sookie recline back onto the bed.

“I think it’s all just hi-itting me now,” Sookie confessed. Jason had to admit she was doing an excellent job of keeping Eric in the dark. If Dearborne could just get Bill into custody, Jason knew that Eric wouldn’t do anything after that. In a way, Bill was better off being caught by himself or the police than being found by Eric. Regardless of what Bill had done, Jason still had a soft spot for his best friend not to murder him. Eric had no such reason to show restraint.

Jason had no doubt in his mind that if given a chance Eric would make sure Bill’s body would never be found.

Clearing his throat to get the couple’s attention, Jason gave a slight wave, “I’ll get out of here and let you guys settle in for the weekend. Sook, just try and stay relaxed. Bud’ll take care of everything,” the brother assured his sister before leaving the room.

Sookie?” Eric opened his arms for his future bride to curl against him.

Hmm?”

“Say it again?” he requested quietly, and his fiancée smiled.

I love you,” she managed to choke one last time before accepting that her throat was well overworked for a single evening.

I love you, too.”

{†}

The following morning, Eric awoke in Sookie’s bed, mildly confused by his location until he looked at her bruised and swollen face. Anti-inflammatories and ice had only done so much. Sookie would still be unable to open her left eye. Around the corner of her mouth had a trickle of dry blood painted across the puffy skin from a cut reopening in her sleep.

There was only one memory from last night that kept the rage from boiling over once more inside him, and that was remembering Sookie’s declaration of love. Eric wasn’t sure why, of all days, he had to hear those words while she was beaten, but he figured it was so he had something to distract him from murder.

Mo-orning,” Sookie choked suddenly, making Eric jump. It would take a while for him to get used to hearing her actual voice. He had still been adjusting to her ‘mmm’s and ‘ahs.’

Good morning,” Eric whispered. “You can still talk!”

Mmm,” she replied.

Does your throat hurt?” he asked just as softly as before, wanting to maintain the calm atmosphere.

Mmm,” she answered affirmatively.

“Do you want me to make you some tea?” Eric began to sit up but was tugged back against the pillow immediately.

No mo-ore tea,” Sookie told him. She sounded as though she had been standing in a dusty room all day and was still working the debris from her nose and throat.

Do you want me to get you a pen and paper?” Eric offered despite the desperation he had to keep listening to her strained voice.

Ah,” she shook her head. “Sca-ared to lose it.”

Just don’t push too hard, okay?” Eric told her worriedly as he leaned in to give her a gentle kiss.

Sookie nodded in understanding as she took a mental note of how she was feeling. Her ribs ached a little when she breathed in, and her face felt tender when she moved it. Though her arm was broken, it was rather quiet on the pain scale so long as it wasn’t touched or jostled. All in all, Sookie determined the most unpleasant injury was her eye. The pressure from the swelling was pushing against her eye, and a constant headache had persisted since the previous night.

As if her grandmother had felt Sookie’s discomfort, the old woman knocked on the door and entered with a double serving of breakfast and half a Vicodin.

Tha-anks,” Sookie mumbled as she took the pill first. Before she could chase it with the offered orange juice, though, Gran had dropped the tray all over the couple.

Gran!” Eric shouted as he tried to stabilize the old woman who had stumbled over. “Are you alright?” he asked as he slipped out of bed, covered in breakfast, and helped the woman sit down in the little rocking chair.

Sookie? Sookie, did you just speak?” Adele asked in tearful surprise.

Mmm,” Sookie smiled brightly, causing the tear in her lip to split back open. “I did.”

Oh, God,” Adele choked as she pushed away from the chair and hugged her granddaughter with a mindful gentleness. “My sweet girl,” Adele cooed as she smoothed Sookie’s hair. “I’m going to see if I can get an extra appointment scheduled for you and Dr. Broadway!” she announced before bustling out of the room and leaving the couple standing and sitting in their breakfast.

I should strip the bedding before the orange juice soaks into the mattress,” Eric commented. “Why don’t you go take a bath?”

“I’ll wa-ait for you,” Sookie’s smile softened as she rolled out of bed and helped strip the blankets. When the sheets were a pile on the floor, the couple went to the bathroom and slipped out of their sticky clothing.

“No funny business,” Eric warned as he turned on the water. Sookie felt her face protest as it scrunched into a would-be-pout. Watching her fiancé bend over with his perfect butt taunting her was more than enough for her to want to risk further injury. Instead, she followed the rules and didn’t put additional stress into the situation. She knew Eric would blame himself if she felt any pain, and she knew lovemaking couldn’t be painless for her right now.

With the water warm and filling the tub, Eric climbed in first to sit and help Sookie situate herself while keeping her cast dry.

As Sookie stepped into the hot water, Eric couldn’t help but look at the insulting marks all over her body. Bruises and scrapes taunted him, mocking his inability to protect his Sookie. It wasn’t until her body was nestled against his and the water turned off that Eric reclaimed his calm. He focused on washing remaining orange juice from her and maybe paying a little too much attention cleaning between her thighs. It wasn’t his intention to get Sookie riled up, but something in the back of his brain warned that if he denied any interest that would hurt her more than a bit of wishful touching.

I love you so much,” Eric murmured as he finished washing them both and finally reclined into the water. Though his height made most tubs uncomfortable, or plain, old impossible to relax; Eric found the clawfoot soaker pleasantly accommodating.

I love you, too,” Sookie whispered, the steam of the bath feeling good on her sore throat. She cleared it experimentally, and more of the tension alleviated.

How are you feeling?” Eric wondered.

Surprised,” Sookie confessed, reaching up to stroke his arm that was draped across her chest.

About?”

I thought I’d sound stranger,” Sookie confessed.

Eric smiled and gently nuzzled the back of Sookie’s head, “You did speak at one time, Sookie, and you’ve still mouthed words for the last year at least. I’m not surprised that most of the strain is coming from your throat.”

I suppose,” Sookie considered as she closed her eyes and let the heat sink into her skin and muscles. Though some of her cuts and bruises stung and itched from the excessive warmth, the other effects were welcome.

Sookie,” Eric’s voice was more hesitant this time.


“Mmm?”

Was Bill Compton one of the assholes that attacked you yesterday?” Eric asked quietly.

Sookie paused but reasoned that Bill was safely in police custody. “He was the only attacker,” she finally stated. She heard Eric suck in a deep breath from his nose and felt his arms and hands tighten briefly. They quickly relaxed as though Eric had realized he could hurt Sookie further if he lost his temper.

I’m glad you didn’t tell me at first,” Eric finally found the composure he needed to respond to Sookie’s confession. “I would have walked right over to his house and beat the shit out of him.”

I know,” Sookie replied, remembering Jason telling her how Eric had smashed Bill’s face into a locker for bullying her before.

But why didn’t you tell the police right away? Why did the Sheriff have to come out to you?” Eric wondered.

Sookie slowly explained, “I didn’t know what Jason would do.”

Eric’s shoulders relaxed, “I see. You were just waiting for a private moment?”

But Gran was with me once the cops sho-owed up,” she continued.

And she would have mentioned it to Jason,” Eric understood at last. “So it had nothing to do with… Thinking you deserved this?” He had to be sure she was past this punching bag mentality.

I didn’t deserve thi-is,” Sookie choked out. “I deserved to ho-old you this weekend.”

Yes you did,” Eric agreed as he leaned around to capture her lips in a brief kiss.

Their kiss ended quickly, but silence followed until the water grew cold. Finally, the pair decided to get out of the tub and dry off. When the couple returned to Sookie’s room, the soiled bedding was gone, and the bed had been redressed.

Gran sure can move,” Eric laughed to himself as he bundled Sookie into a robe and tucked them both back into bed.

How lo-ong are you sta-aying?” Sookie asked as she snuggled carefully into his side.

I don’t know,” Eric admitted as he began tugging the ends of her hair. It had become as much of a soothing action to him as it had to Sookie. When she looked up at him in confusion, Eric sighed. “I don’t want to leave you.”

I don’t want you to le-eave either, but you ha-ave to,” Sookie smiled.

I just don’t know how I can go back to school while you’re like this,” Eric told her, his expression pained at the very thought.

“Only a month,” Sookie comforted.

You’ll still be in a cast when I get home,” Eric frowned, gingerly touching the plaster. “Maybe I could stay a few extra days.”

Sookie thought for a moment, “Co-ome to my therapy session?”

When Eric nodded in agreement, Sookie felt relieved. With any luck, Amelia would be able to put some of Eric’s fears to rest.

TBC

Unspoken Feelings Ch. 17

Chapter Seventeen: Golden Winged Ship

Jan. 12

Dear Eric,

Watching you leave about ripped out my heart. I don’t know how much more of this I can stand. I keep telling myself it’s almost over, but it doesn’t take the ache away. Once again, I have no classes with Pam, and so we only see each other at lunch.

I met Dr. Fant, the therapist Dr. Broadway recommended to me for when I move to New Orleans. She was up here visiting Dr. Broadway, and I was invited to come to meet her as well. Dr. Fant seems nice. She’s older, probably in her late fifties? I don’t know for sure, and it seemed rude to ask. Dr. Fant seems encouraged by my voluntary noises and the fact that I can make multiple vowel sounds. I wondered why I couldn’t manage to form any real words even though I could make sounds. Dr. Fant and Dr. Broadway both seem to think it’s because I still have anxiety over speaking, and once I’ve been on my medication a while longer, I could see more promising results. They said it can take a while for the drug to build up in my system and show its real potential. Dr. Broadway reminded me that I need to celebrate and appreciate all the little things as well as the big things. She said being able to make several distinct sounds is a huge deal, but it still seems like my real goal is the moon’s distance away.

Four more months until I have you back and never have to let go again.

Yours always,

Sookie

Jan. 17

Dear Sookie,

Dr. Broadway is right, this is a huge step forward in the right direction. I can’t say how much it meant to hear you being able to participate in the conversations we have. It may seem like nothing to you, but you express so much in the sounds that you make. Approval, hesitation, joy, displeasure, annoyance… Even with the limits you have, you push them and stretch them to fit your needs the best you can. You’re absolutely amazing, and I’m the luckiest bastard in the world to have such an enduring woman in my life.

By the way, I’ve been looking at some apartment complexes down here, and I think we should come to New Orleans on our way back from England. It would be better to try and snag a place up during what’s left of the summer before the college students start coming back. Of course, there’s still the option of the family dorms on campus, but I haven’t heard great things about them. Also, with my monthly stipend, it feels unfair to take a housing possibility away from someone who really needs it.

Do you know if you’d be able to make another trip down here?

Love always,

Eric

Jan. 23

Dear Eric,

I was thinking about coming to New Orleans instead of going to Prom, but that would be the earliest I can make it down. Gran’s car is in the shop after a run in with a deer, so Jason’s the one stuck shuttling everyone everywhere. Godric’s been a big help too. He drove us all to church last week.

With us spending the summer in England for your semester abroad, I guess we could just catch a plane to New Orleans instead of Shreveport. So whenever it is we get in, we can go apartment hunting. I agree that we shouldn’t take up room in family housing if we can afford to live off campus. Also, if I can find a job down there, it will supplement the stipend you get from your mother’s estate. We’ll need to sit down and talk about our monthly budgets very seriously before we start apartment hunting. Maybe we can do that during your Spring Break.

Everything’s pretty much ready to go for the wedding. The fact we’re keeping it so small and casual is is probably why! It helps that we’ve only got my brother, grandmother, aunt and cousin, and your brother and sister attending. Unless you’ve thought of anyone else, you’d like to invite?

Yours always,

Sookie

Jan. 31

Dear Sookie,


I’ve been thinking about inviting our mom’s lawyer. We’ve known him all our lives, and he’s going to have to come down anyway to sign some legal crap. He really
 is like an uncle to me, Godric and Pam. His name’s Bobby, and I’d really like for you to meet him.

By the way, I’m getting pretty good at guitar! My chord transitioning is getting really smooth now, and Felipe’s been teaching me some easy songs. There’s the unfortunate side effect of people actually finding me and watching me play now that I’m getting good, though. I hate when people are watching me in my ‘learning phase’, they’re always too encouraging or too easily impressed. It gives me a false sense of accomplishment.

Also, yesterday I was officially approved for my summer program! We’ll be in Sussex!

Love always,

Eric

Feb. 5

Dear Eric,

Sussex? I’ll have to make a visit to the library and start reading about the area. Also, don’t forget to find out what we’ll have to do about our lodgings since your wife will be coming abroad with you. If they have their own dormitories for the summer semester, we might be forced to find our own place off campus, and that probably won’t be included in the tuition.

As for Bobby, if you want to invite him, why not just ask? I’m perfectly happy about it!

I can’t wait to hear you play! You’re so mean for not bringing your guitar home for winter break!

Dr. Broadway brought a speech therapist in on our last session. He won’t be my speech therapist, but all we did was talk about what speech therapy would be like when I finally start. Since I’m still not getting any real words out, Dr. Broadway thinks it’s too premature to begin working with one. I think she doesn’t want me to feel too much pressure about it. I agree, but it was a little disheartening to hear my therapist say I’m not there yet.

Yours always,

Sookie

Feb. 9

Dear Sookie,

I think the thing you should be looking at is that the doctor thinks you’re getting close to a big leap forward. Why else would she start preparing you for the next step if she didn’t sense something on the horizon? Don’t be disheartened, be excited! You’ve come so far, Sookie. I still remember that time at Six Flags, and you made one of your involuntary sounds that we all thought was your first real word. We all thought you’d finally managed to make an affirmative noise, but it was just perfect timing for one of those surprised sounds you used to make. Now you can make sounds that express your intent. I can hear you say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. I can hear the question in your ‘mmm’s. You’ve done all of this in less than a year, and that’s huge! Don’t doubt or question how far you’ve come. If you do, I’ll be right here to remind you how amazing you are!

I love you,

Eric

Feb. 13

Dear Eric,

Happy (almost) Valentine’s Day! I wish you were here. Thank you so much for your encouragement in the last letter. I didn’t see any of it like that, and you really helped me understand the truth. I told Dr. Broadway about how the last session really made me feel, and about your interpretation of it. She said you were spot on, and that she’s grateful to you as well. I guess she thought her and I were at a point in our relationship that I’d have a more positive view of her intentions. I feel sorry that she believes I think so little of her. I think very highly of her, and I told her that I apologize for making her think otherwise. I told her it’s me, not her, and she just laughed.

Did I tell you? Pam wants to sew my wedding dress! Since we’re doing such a small, informal ceremony, I wanted a short wedding dress. I want it to feel like a sundress instead of a gown. Pam showed me a sketch of what she had in mind, and I’m really excited about it! Don’t try and sneak a peek at it when you come home for Spring Break, though!

Yours always,

Sookie

{†}

Sookie dropped her most recent letter to Eric in the mailbox before heading up the road. Tomorrow was Valentine’s Day, and she couldn’t help but wish she had planned well enough to leave for New Orleans for the weekend. Instead, she planned to call Eric in his dorm tomorrow morning to at least hear his voice.

Walking toward the bus stop, Sookie was amused to pass Rosenfont Hall and not see Pam. Ever since Godric had taken her car away after her third speeding ticket since the fall, the two of them had ridden the bus together. Sookie was used to Pam running late, but she was getting nervous because she could see Bill coming up the road now. Pam never risked leaving Sookie alone with Bill.

“Sookie!” the girl looked back again to see Godric rolling up the road behind her. “Pam’s feeling really under the weather today, so I called her off school. Want me to drop you off?”

Grateful to be given an exemption to dealing with Bill this morning, Sookie came across to seat herself in the passenger side of the Jeep. The journey to school was short, and when they passed her bus still making its rounds on the way there, she knew she’d be extremely early. I wonder if it will be like when Eric and Jason left school, Sookie considered as she looked down at the unblemished flesh of her arm. The idea of earning new injuries after so many months incident-free didn’t appeal to Sookie.

Have a good day,” Godric told her as he pulled up alongside the school walkway. Sookie gave him a hesitant smile and agreeable ‘mmm’ before heading toward the school doors.

Most of the morning was the same as it had been for the past few months. Everyone just ignored Sookie. Tara asked for the usual pieces of paper and a pen or pencil. Sookie gave the items without further consideration. Other than that brief interaction, everyone seemed content to leave her be for the day. Until lunch.

Scarfing down her food in hopes of retreating to the library like the days before the Northmans, Sookie barely dared to blink or look away from Bill Compton. She couldn’t ignore the shadows under his eyes, or the way his face tensed when one of his friends clapped his shoulder. Sookie could tell that it had been a long night for Bill at the Compton house.

When Bill glanced her way and caught Sookie staring, the young woman quickly grabbed her tray and walked speedily to the garbage can. Glancing back to the jock table several times, Sookie saw a few as well as Bill rise to throw away their own leftovers. Practically throwing the tray to the lunch lady, Sookie scrambled for the door.

Despite the briskness of her step, Sookie couldn’t hope to out-lengthen the stride of the taller boys. Even Bill, with his significantly shorter gate, managed to catch up to Sookie before she could reach the library doors.

Facing the wall of muscle, Sookie waited nervously to see how bad her day was about to get.

Bill stepped forward, making Sookie shuffle backward. When there was nowhere left to back-up, Bill’s face leaned toward her, stopping mere inches from her own. Involuntarily, Sookie held her breath.

“It’s not so much fun being a little, mute bitch when Jason or that carpet muncher isn’t here, is it?” Bill asked in such a low growl that Sookie couldn’t tell if his friends could hear him. When Sookie’s only response was to swallow the lump in her throat, Bill seemed moderately pleased. “And as soon as your rich boy is done slumming it and wore out your cock warmers, I’ll be there to throw you back to the bottom of the pile where you belong.”

As Bill’s hand raised from his side, Sookie wasn’t sure what his intentions were. Past experiences warned her a slap was coming, though, and she didn’t wait to read his plan. Instead, as Bill raised his hand toward her face, Sookie swung out her fist and struck him with a glancing blow across the throat.

Bill immediately reeled back, clutching at his trachea and gagging. His friends crowded around him, and Sookie escaped to the library while everyone was distracted. For the remainder of the day, she fretted that she’d be turned into the principal’s office, and kept her head buried in her books. When the final bell rang without any more attacks, and no summons to the office, Sookie stared in disbelief at her luck.

Was he too embarrassed to say a girl had hit him? Sookie wondered as she quickly packed up her things and headed for the bus. When she took her seat, Sookie promptly found Bill a few spots behind her. I’ll work on my homework and take my time packing up, so he gets off before me, she planned quickly as she began taking out books and papers. She pretended to work on her homework all the way to the stop, and just as expected, Bill got off the bus before she finished packing her materials. I’ll go to Pam’s house and hang out till Godric gets home and he’ll take me back to the house, Sookie calculated further as she scrambled off the bus and onto the dirt road that lead home.

Sookie stared as Bill Compton walked ahead of her up the road. He’s not going to do anything about this morning? Sookie wondered in surprise. All the while they walked up the road, Sookie could feel her heart in her throat. Every time she tried to swallow, her heart would race harder, her throat would tighten further. It reminded her of the sensation she experienced when she tried to speak. Am I afraid to talk? Amelia had suggested such a thing before, but it wasn’t until this moment that it finally seemed plausible.

Floored by this realization, Sookie’s focus drifted from Bill just as the last sounds of the bus that had brought them there faded into the distance. In that moment of distraction, Sookie only had a split second to react as Bill dropped his bag to the ground, spun around and lunged at her.

Without prior expectations to the sudden chase, Sookie turned off the road and dashed into the open field, trying to shake her own book bag from her shoulders as she ran. The straps dug into her arms even as she attempted to run and slip them off, but Bill’s clawing hand grabbed the bag, yanked it from her back, and sent Sookie sprawling onto the ground.

“P-p-p-” Sookie’s mouth babbled as adrenaline short-circuited her brain. She tried to scramble up, but Bill kicked her in the ribs so hard that she let out a cry that startled both of them. Her shriek only seemed to give Bill a brief pause, because the next thing she knew, his foot was connecting with her body over and over again. Sookie tucked herself into a tight ball, shielding her head and face, but when she was thoroughly bruised and exhausted, Bill turned her onto her back and straddled her chest. His strong arms yanked her weak ones from her face, and he pinned them over her head with one hand while the other repeatedly struck her.

After her face felt like it had turned into a mound of mush, Bill finally stopped hitting her and let out a long, cleansing breath. He stood, towering over her, and stared down at what he had done. She was almost precisely as Bill had envisioned for the past eleven years. There was only one thing he needed.

Walking around her shaking, beaten body, Bill grabbed Sookie by the arm, held it up and placed his foot on her elbow. The scream that erupted from Sookie’s mouth when he kicked the joint inward curdled the young man’s blood. Had I screamed like that? Bill wondered as he reflected back on the beating he’d received from his father that had lead to Bill’s exceptional hatred for Sookie Stackhouse.

With one final look at his work, Bill nodded to himself and left the girl sobbing and broken in the field. Finally, Bill believed he had put someone beneath him. Finally, the son of the town drunk was no longer the weakest. He finally had power over something… But as his house grew closer and thoughts of the beating he had administered filled his head, Bill didn’t feel so strong.

{†}

Get up, Sookie, the girl told herself. Get up. Get up!

But her body was resistant. It hurt everywhere, and the world was shifting strangely as her left eye swelled further shut. The pain in her arm was sending nauseating waves through her body as every heartbeat intensified the sensation. She tried rolling onto her left side to rise, but it had sustained the most damage from the kicks. Sookie didn’t know how long she lay in the field, but the sun was growing more orange. It was getting late.

Your legs are fine, Sookie told herself. Endure it enough to get on your feet, she motivated. Get to Pam. But Pam made her think of Eric. Thoughts of Eric reminded Sookie how much she missed him and wished she could go to him instead of her best friend.

The heartache was motivating, and Sookie rolled onto her stomach with another whimper of pain. From there she was able to push onto her knees and rise. Her right arm hung awkwardly, and the sight made her vomit, but that only made her back and left side explode with more pain. She moaned as the vomiting ended, and finally stood up. She looked away from her damaged arm and hobbled past her book bag. She stumbled toward the road.

I feel away, she thought dazedly as her body and mind separated. Her brain was watching, but her body wasn’t hers anymore. It moved as it needed, it hurt everywhere, but her brain had stopped listening to the pain. Its objective was to get to safety now and acknowledge pain later.

What’s that sound? Sookie wondered. Her head lulled, and her eye that hadn’t swelled shut was filled with light. Headlights.

Sookie? SOOKIE!”

I know that voice…“J-ay,” her mouth sounded before her brain could protest.

Jason Stackhouse ran to the girl he barely recognized. When he’d turned down the street and seen the shadowed figure swaying to and fro like a zombie, it had sent a shiver down his spine. Now, looking at his battered sister in the full illumination of his truck’s headlights had rage boiling in his stomach.

Who did this to you?” Jason demanded angrily while his brain scrambled to figure out what the hell to do. “We need to get you home,” he finally decided as he reached out to take Sookie’s hand and guide her to the cab of his truck.

As her broken arm was tugged, whatever fog in her mind that sheltered her from the pain was blown away, and a scream of pain pierced the growing darkness. Jason flinched, his hands wanting to reflexively cover his ears, but instead, he looked at his sister’s arm and realized what had really been done. Her right arm was broken. She couldn’t sign. She couldn’t write. She couldn’t speak.

C’mon, Sook. We need to get you to the hospital,” Jason choked as he gestured for her to come to the truck. “Get inside,” his voice was a whisper as sobs threatened to overtake him. With gentle, shaking hands, Jason managed to help Sookie get into her seat, and then he ran around to get behind the wheel. He could call the Northmans when he got to the hospital, have Godric pick up Gran and bring her to the ER.

The drive to the hospital was silent, Jason couldn’t even bring himself to put on the radio. He just drove, listening to his sister’s shallow breathing and occasional whimpers of pain.

“It’ll be okay, Sook,” Jason encouraged as he pulled into the hospital parking lot. He came around to help Sookie out of the cab, and they walked together into the brightly lit building.

Bon Temps had a small hospital, and there was usually only a few nurses and single doctor on duty when there wasn’t a big event going on. Tonight was no exception, and the waiting room was blissfully empty. Even as they walked through the door, the nurse at the check-in was already paging a doctor. It was Dawn Green’s father, Elie, that came to greet them.

What’s going on, Margo?” Dr. Green asked as he came out to the waiting room.

Nurse Margo pointed to Jason and Sookie and Dr. Green came rushing over, “What happened to you, Sookie?”

Someone beat her bad, Doc,” Jason told him. “She was wandering in the middle of the road when I found her. I think her arm’s broke.”

Goodness,” Dr. Green tutted sympathetically. “You better go get your grandmother. I’ll start examining your sister.”

I’ll call my neighbor to bring her,” Jason said. “I don’t wanna leave Sook alone too long.”

All right, you go do that,” Dr. Green waved dismissively before pulling Sookie away to an examination room.

Jason swallowed hard as he went to the payphone and started making calls.

Hello?”Pam sounded terrible when she answered the phone. Drowsiness saturated her tone, and congestion distorted it.

Hey, Pam,” Jason tried to keep his voice even as he spoke to his sister’s best friend. “Is Godric home yet?”

No, but he should be back in half an hour or so,” Pam replied dully, her voice definitely let on that she was still feeling under the weather.

Jason didn’t want to call back later. “Can you tell him to go pick Gran up and bring her to the ER when he gets home? Sookie’s really hurt, and I don’t wanna leave her.”

What the fuck!?”Pam yelped. “I’ll go pick her up right now!”

Wait-”

Unfortunately, any protest he could have made was cut off as Pam hung up on him, and she presumably left to pick up the older woman. Oh well, he thought as he hung up the phone, put in another quarter and dialed a number he’d only bothered memorizing for emergencies.

Herveaux and Northman residence, how may I direct your call?” a stranger’s voice answered the phone, and Jason assumed it was Eric’s roommate.

Is Eric there?”

Nope. He went home to be with his girl for Valentine’s Day. Want me to take a message?” the roommate asked.

No.” Jason hung up.

{†}

“Well, you came on a good night,” Dr. Green tried to joke as he flashed a light in the one eye that wasn’t swollen shut. “You’re our only guest, which means radiology should be able to see you in no time. Follow my finger with your eye.” Sookie did as she was told. When he was done with that, he listened to her lungs, and the touch of the stethoscope against her ribs made Sookie flinch and yelp in pain. Dr. Green moved her gown a bit and looked at the bruising pattern blooming across her ribs. “Sorry about that, Sookie. Take a breath,” he listened again, more mindful of his touch. When he determined the girl’s lungs were clear, Dr. Green pulled the stethoscope from his ears and looked at Sookie worriedly. “Sookie, I have to ask, are you hurt anywhere else? Do we need to do a rape kit?” he asked gently.

Relief washed over the doctor’s face when Sookie shook her head negatively, and he patted Sookie’s hand comfortingly.

After the examination, Sookie went to radiology, and it was when she was brought back to the exam room that Nurse Margo popped her head in saying that Mrs. Stackhouse had arrived, and did Sookie want her to come into the exam. Sookie didn’t want that at all. She shook her head ‘no.’ I’m back to yes and no conversations, she realized sadly. I’m less talkative than a Magic Eight Ball.

As Sookie waited patiently for the results of her x-rays, misery began to fully envelop her. It might have been a good idea to let Gran come in to be with her. The old woman’s presence might have absorbed some of the enormity of the day. Her arm was broken. She couldn’t sign, and she could barely scrawl a sentence with her left hand; it was so useless to her.

A song came to mind as she sat by herself, lonely, afraid and heartbroken. ‘Because she was crippled for life and couldn’t speak a sound,’Sookie remembered. It was another Jimi Hendrix song. Something about sand castles or something. A song about life not meeting expectations. Or, maybe it’s about life giving you what you yearn for and then slapping it out of your hand, Sookie thought pitifully. In six weeks or so, the breaks in her body would be healed, but if the tingling in her hand was any indication, other afflictions could be felt for years to come.

Just as she was about to let herself be consumed by anger and self-pity, Sookie remembered something significant that had happened only an hour or so ago.

I said, “J-ay.”

For a brief, beautiful moment, Sookie had actually wanted to say something, and it had started to come out. She had wanted to call to her brother, and his name had actually begun to pour from her lips. It was only the first syllable of his name, but it had been uttered on purpose. That sound had been said with intention. It had been more than just a noise. It had been more than an interpretable answer to a close-ended question. It had been her brother’s name.

And so castles made of sand slips into the sea. Eventually.

TBC

Unspoken Feelings Ch. 16

Chapter Sixteen: Letters From Me to You

Sookie looked at the last of her fading bruises as she changed clothes after school. Since returning from New Orleans, things had changed dramatically for her. The entire school had seemed to collectively decide to ignore her. Sookie suspected the change in her classmate’s aggression toward her was more than likely linked to her brother’s sprained wrist.

It had only been three days of being bully-free, but Sookie had been grateful for those three days. The worst of her bruises were still brilliantly discolored, but the majority which had been quite light, to begin with, were finally vanishing rather than being recreated.

Now she would be heading to Shreveport to meet with a psychologist for the first time since shortly after her accident. Gran would be coming as well, but she’d said it was only to drop her off.

Sookie didn’t understand why. After all, she’d just driven to and from New Orleans over the weekend, but rather than question it, Sookie merely nodded and changed for her first session. The car ride was quiet which made Sookie more uneasy. Gran usually filled Sookie’s silent life with gossip or commentary on her latest book.

When they arrived at the psychologist’s office without so much as a word, Gran handed Sookie her notebook and smiled.

Don’t be scared, Sookie,” Gran told her. “Just be honest. It’s just you and her. No one will see or hear a peep about it.”

Taking her book and pen, Sookie nodded slowly before shutting the door and heading to the office. Approaching the brunette receptionist by herself was nerve-wracking. Her fingers fumbled as she opened the notebook to a fresh page, and her ordinarily beautiful penmanship suffered as her hand was unsteady.

I’m Sookie,” she held the page out for the receptionist to see.

The middle-aged woman glanced up and saw the paper before her. She smiled and nodded. “Hi there, Sookie. I’m Barb, Dr. Broadway’s assistant. I’m sure we’ll get to know each other well. If you feel more comfortable signing, then go ahead and use that. The doctor and I will both understand you,” Barb told her in a reassuring lilt.

Sookie let out a breath she’d been holding as the matronly looking woman seemed to cure a bit of her anxiety. “Thanks,” she gestured in relief. Even though she wasn’t perfect at signing, it was a relief for smaller statements or inquiries. Only having Eric to sign with limited her practice and vocabulary, especially now with him away at school.

If you want to take a seat right there,” Barb gestured to a small seating area, “Dr. Broadway will be with you in a few moments.”

With less hesitation than when she entered, Sookie took a seat and waited by staring at her notebook. She studied the wiggly lines of I’m Sookie, and began to write it over and over again until the shakiness of her hand vanished. When the swoops of her words smoothed out, and she felt the calm finally extending throughout her body, she felt more prepared for her first session.

Sookie?” Barb called gently. “Dr. Broadway is ready to see you.”

Sookie smiled politely as she rose from her seat and headed for the office. When she entered, a lovely, young woman rose to meet her. Her hair was a brilliant, natural red, and Sookie wondered momentarily if she was old enough to be a doctor.

Hello, Sookie,” Dr. Broadway held out her hand to shake Sookie’s. “It’s very nice to meet you. I’m Dr. Amelia Broadway.”

You too,” Sookie replied when she got her hand back.

I see Barb informed you that signing is understood here,” Dr. Broadway smiled.

Yeah,” Sookie nodded.

Excellent.” Dr. Broadway gestured to the available seats. “Wherever is comfortable for you.”

Sookie chose the sofa, leaning into its arm, and perching her notebook upon it. Dr. Broadway settled in a nearby armchair, and Sookie figured it was because she would be able to read Sookie’s notes easier from that vantage point.

So how is your day going?” the psychologist asked.

Good,” Sookie’s hands answered.

Dr. Broadway smiled, “Remember, Sookie, this is a place where nothing you say gets back to anyone. You don’t have to be polite or proper, and you don’t have to grin and bear a thing.”

Sookie looked at her notebook and frowned. The only thing that ruined her day that destroyed everyday…

I miss my fiancé, Eric.” She held up her notebook and confessed.

“Long distance relationships are complicated,” Dr. Broadway nodded. “But with the circumstances you’ve grown under, I can tell you’re tough enough to handle it.”

He’s tough, too. He and his siblings moved all over the world while he was growing up,” Sookie told her.

I bet he fell pretty hard for you,” Dr. Broadway teased.

Why do you say that?”

The older woman shrugged before saying, “When I first saw you, I envisioned homemade apple pies and sweet smiles. What man wouldn’t melt for that?”

Sookie blushed before she confessed, “Eric tries to encourage me to look beyond just being a housewife. When I visited over the weekend, he asked if I might want to go to school to become a pastry chef.”

Would you?” the doctor asked.

Sookie shook her head before looking back to her notebook, “I love to bake, but I can’t envision it as a career right now. I sort of thought I’d get out of high school as fast as I could, move to Shreveport or somewhere, get a job in a factory or warehouse where I wouldn’t have to talk, and just-” Sookie stared at the sentence, searching her mind for the verb that eluded her. When no word came, she held the incomplete statement up for the doctor to read.

That’s called existing, Sookie,” Dr. Broadway provided. “You seem fixated on getting out of Bon Temps, though. Why is that?”

I’d come to visit home,” she assured quickly and showed it to the doctor. However, the rest of her statement came soon after. “Everyone in town talks about me when I come into the stores. The waitresses and stuff talk about me when Eric takes me out in town. Gran stopped even offering to bring me shopping with her after awhile.”

You want the anonymity of city living?” the doctor asked. Sookie nodded slowly. “Has that want changed at all since getting engaged?” Sookie took another moment before giving a tentative bob of her head. “What do you want now?”

Babies,” Sookie answered bashfully.

Dr. Broadway smiled, “How many?”

At least five,” Sookie covered her face with her hands after she replied.

What about motherhood is most exciting to you?”

Sookie’s shy smile faltered, and Amelia was surprised.

They will know I love them even if I can’t speak,” Sookie finally gestured out her feelings. “They’ll always know without words.” Sookie took up her pen again and continued, “My mom and dad told us they loved us all the time, but I always felt it even when they weren’t saying it. That’s why I… Eric hasn’t had to hear it once. He knows.”

“But you want him and your babies to hear it, too,” Amelia finished gently. Sookie nodded and pushed a tear that trickled down her cheek. As she snuffled back the building congestion in her nose, she saw the doctor nudge a box of tissues at her, but Sookie stubbornly refused to use one. “What happens when you try to tell Eric your feelings?”

Sookie frowned dully as she answered, “My throat closes, and no breath comes in or out until I stop trying. Then I stop trying, and I can breathe again.”

I see,” Amelia watched Sookie in a manner of consideration rather than observation. Sookie felt like she was being listened too and not studied. It felt much less clinical and scary than when she was a child. In a way, she felt like she was sitting around with Godric. She imagined his curious questions and rapt attention. “Was it always like that when you tried to speak after the accident, or did it feel a little different when you first woke up?”

Thinking back, Sookie tried to remember if her inability to speak had always felt like choking on her own tongue. No,Sookie thought, I couldn’t even move my lips right when I woke up…She remembered the words around her, absorbing them, understanding them, but had none of her own. It had been like someone removed the path from her brain to her mouth. In fact, as Sookie recalled, she hadn’t even been able to write at first. That had come back about two weeks after waking up. When Sookie tried to explain this to Amelia, the doctor nodded as if she understood something Sookie had spent her entire life trying to fathom.

“Then the thing keeping you from speaking has changed since the beginning, hasn’t it?” the doctor asked, and Sookie could only hesitantly agree. Has the nature of it changed?

They communicated back and forth about the differences between how she couldn’t speak when she first awoke from her coma, and how it felt when she tried to talk now. By the middle of the session, Dr. Broadway seemed far more encouraged about the situation than Sookie felt.

We’re going to work through this together, Sookie,” Amelia told her. “We’ll celebrate every little victory together.”

What about when I move to New Orleans next year?” Sookie asked.

“Well,” Amelia thought for a moment, “I have a colleague down there. Actually, she was more of a mentor than a colleague. Her name is Dr. Octavia Fant, and we both have similar ideas when it comes to our approach to helping others. If you like, I can help you schedule an appointment with her while you’re down in New Orleans visiting Eric. You’d have to give me plenty of notice for your trip, though,” Amelia told her.

I’d really appreciate that,” Sookie agreed. Getting to know her future doctor now felt like it would make the transition much easier later.

“All right, try to plan a trip at least six weeks in advance, okay?” Amelia suggested before refocusing their attention to their actual meeting. “So, how do you feel so far about your first session?”

Sookie considered the question before confessing, “A bit overwhelmed and confused. What does it mean if the cause of my muteness has changed?”

Amelia smiled. “It means that we might have a real chance at bringing your voice back if we work together. You’re not fighting this alone, Sookie. You have your Gran, your brother, Eric, and Pam! Everyone’s rooting for you, Sookie. Think of me as your coach, and your family and friends like your fans and teammates. You’re the star of the game, and we all want to see you win. But we need to win as a team. That means you can’t shoulder everything yourself. Lean on your team. Ask your coach for advice.”

I’ve always felt alone in this,” Sookie admitted. “I don’t know that I know how to work as a team.”

“Well, unless you were planning on making and raising those five babies you want on your own, you’ll have to at least learn how to work with one teammate,” Amelia pointed out with a smirk, and Sookie blushed. “Do you think keeping Eric in the loop on your sessions might help you bridge the gap in the experience?”

Eric told me he wanted me to share if I was willing to,” Sookie wrote slowly as the gravity of his request hit her. “I just don’t want to distract him from his studies.”

The two of you are planning to get married at the start of the summer, right?” Amelia asked. When Sookie nodded, Dr. Broadway gestured as though she felt that alone should answer Sookie’s doubts. “When you’re married, there won’t be escaping to your own house and hiding. He’ll be there when you’re overwhelmed and crying. He’ll be there when you’re sick or just PMSing. When you start having kids, he’ll be there through the bloating and vomiting and all that fun stuff. If he wants to be around for all that, don’t you think he wants to be a part of this?”

When you put it like that, writing about my sessions to him seems almost romantic,” Sookie smiled amusedly.

I think it’s obvious that he cares for you and loves you very much,” Amelia assured, and Sookie felt a weight lift from her chest.

Her own family had been very positive about her engagement to Eric, but Eric’s brother and sister seemed hesitant. Sookie wouldn’t go so far as to say they were disapproving, but she definitely felt far less enthusiasm from them. 

“Are you okay, Sookie?” Amelia asked as she saw the young woman’s eyes grow distant and sad. When Sookie expressed how Godric and especially Pam had reacted to the engagement, Amelia nodded in understanding. “Well, it’s certainly a difficult family dynamic. Since I don’t know any of them, I can only give general theories about their lack of enthusiasm, but it feels like the issue definitely isn’t you.”

I know,” Sookie gestured half-heartedly.

As the session wrapped up, Sookie thanked her new doctor and headed for the waiting room. She thought she should be crying, or feeling something profound. Instead, she felt simpler. Dr. Broadway had demystified her condition. She made it feel like she could fight. Though they hadn’t really talked about a plan of attack, Sookie guessed that Amelia wanted to get to know their opponent a little better. Though it had been described to her like a football game, Sookie saw it as a boxing match in her head. I guess that makes Eric Adrian…Sookie smirked. I wonder if I’ll sound like Rocky when I start talking; like I have a bunch of marbles in my mouth?

Sookie paused on her way out the door. For the first time in eight years, she had thought of the word ‘when’ instead of ‘if.’

While tears trickled down her face, all she could do was let out short huffs of laughter like sobs as she left the office and stepped out to the street.

{†}

Oct. 20th

Dear Eric,

My session went well with Dr. Broadway. We’ve started by exploring the possibility that anxiety might be playing a role in my speech problem. She suggested trying some anti-anxiety medications and seeing if it helps me overcome my mental block. The problem is, I don’t want to be on medication my whole life, and I want to try learning other coping methods instead of resorting to drugs. What do you think?

Yours always,

Sookie

Oct. 26th

Dear Sookie,

I think what’s important is doing what feels right for you. If you want to try getting through this without medication, then I support that decision. I think you should talk more to the doctor about the situation, though. Drugs aren’t always permanent solutions. A lot of the time their use is as needed. I think a few sessions more could be useful in making your decision, and that you should discuss your goals with the doctor.

Oh, I went to a party at Quinn’s frat last weekend. The idiot went back to some girl’s dorm room, was too tired to make it back to the house and ended up in my bed with me! Scared the hell out of me waking up to someone in my bed! I couldn’t figure out where the hell he came from! I’ll kill Alcide for leaving the door unlocked!

Love always,

Eric

Oct. 31

Dear Eric,

Happy Halloween!

Tell Quinn he’ll get a beating from me if he steals my spot in your bed.

School’s been better. Everyone’s been back to ignoring me for a few weeks now, and it’s lonely, but it’s better than being covered in bruises. I think Jason had something to do with it because when I got home, he had a sprained wrist.

I have a countdown board in my room, tearing off days until graduation.

Dr. Broadway and I talked some more about the medication thing. She elaborated more on her intentions for using drugs. The doc thinks if I can get to the point where I’m relaxed enough to start talking, I can eventually be weaned off the anti-anxiety meds and not use them at all, or only as needed. She makes it sound like a shortcut. I’m not fond of taking the easy route, but when I mentioned that, she said they aren’t always about cutting corners, sometimes they’re for reducing strain. She pointed out that if I’m under constant stress about not being able to speak, that it could be making it all even worse.

I see her point, but I guess I’m just scared.

What are you doing for Halloween?

Yours always,


Sookie

Nov. 8th

Dear Sookie,

Sorry, I’m writing you back so late. This week has been nuts. Debbie and Alcide got into a huge fight, and Alcide’s been clinging to me like a lost lamb.

Halloween was fun. I went as a Viking (polaroid enclosed) and drank a couple beers with Quinn and Felipe, the guy who’s been teaching me the guitar. Felipe’s pretty cool. We’ve been hanging out a lot together.

Speaking of counting down days, are you still sure about the specifics of the wedding? Do you still want June in your Gran’s house?

Being scared about Dr. Broadway’s suggestions is okay. The important thing is to keep talking about it. Tell her you’re afraid and why you think you are. Keep working with her! What’s important is doing right by yourself, and if the pills help, then just follow the dosage and ride the ride.

Love always,

Eric

Nov. 15

Dear Eric,

Yes, I’m counting down to the wedding too! Already talked to Gran about it, and I want June 7that her house! In regards to the picture you sent: that is one sexy Viking, and he’s all mine!

I’ve decided to give the Doc’s medication suggestions a try. She said finding my right dosage, and stuff is important. Boy, was she right! I took my first pill, and it killed me for the day. Gran had to call me off school. Dr. Broadway was surprised because she gave me a really low dose, to begin with. I was put on an even smaller amount, and this doesn’t feel like much of anything. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. It’s only been a few days, after all.

You can tell me all about the fight between Alcide and Debbie this week when you come home for Thanksgiving!

Yours always,

Sookie

Nov. 24

Dear Sookie,

Is it Christmas break yet? I’m glad we got to sneak back to my house while everyone was at yours. I really wanted to show you how thankful I am to have you in my life. You really surprised me, too! That ‘mmm’ sound you can make when you feel like it is so expressive! I can hear the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and ‘huh?’ I was most thankful for that. I liked the other sounds I got out of you later, but the ‘mmm’ was the best of our lives so far!

Alcide and Debbie still aren’t talking. I’m a little worried about it, actually. I figured they’d have things patched up when they got back from Thanksgiving, but they seem worse than ever.

I was thinking on my drive home about our wedding. It was good to talk about what we wanted to do while everyone was together visiting, but you and I haven’t discussed our honeymoon at all. We’ll have most of the summer to do something. Any suggestions? I have a couple things on my mind, but what do you think?

Love always,

Eric

Nov. 30

Dear Eric,

I wish it were Christmas already too! I hope Debbie and Alcide can bring it back together, but the most I can do is keep them in my prayers. It’s not our business to butt in unless they ask, I suppose.

As for our honeymoon, we could go camping if you’d like. We could drive up north, and that would definitely be just us! Maybe we can find a nice hotel for a day or two and do the pampering thing, but I don’t know. That’s what came to mind for me. I guess people usually go somewhere exotic or sophisticated for their honeymoon.

Yours always,

Sookie

Dec. 3

Dear Sookie,

What about England?

Love,


Eric

Dec. 7

Dear Eric,

Is everything okay? I know school is getting busy right now, but only one sentence in your last letter? And England? Where did that come from all the sudden? Are you alright? I know with everything I’ve had going on, you’ve put so much focus and attention on helping me through therapy and making choices about medications and other stuff. I just hope I haven’t been neglecting you in the process. Please, don’t be so worried about me that you feel you can’t open up and let me shoulder some of your problems, too. Knowing I’m not the only one going through all of this is a relief, not a burden.

Yours always,


Sookie

Dec. 9

Dear Sookie,

Yes, it’s partly that I’m getting ready for finals. I am busy, and my letters will be shorter. It’s also that, the longer I’m here, the more I realize I miss more than just you. I’m used to moving around and having to make new friends. It’s nothing new for me having to adapt to a new place, but I guess it’s finally hitting me that I’m not used to doing any of that alone. I call either Pam or Godric plenty, but I always wish it was more. Realizing that they’re the ones who made me strong or resilient enough to handle change is worrisome. I always thought I was strong. Now I just feel homesick all the time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m having fun and making plenty of friends, but I guess I was surprised to find out things were only so easy growing up because Pam and Godric were there. Next year will be a lot easier with you here.

As for England, I’ve been looking into taking a summer semester abroad. I know it sounds selfish, but I could get some more credits completed over the summer, and work on finishing my degree a year earlier.

Love,

Eric

Dec. 11

Dear Eric,

We all miss you too, and there’s nothing weak about that. I’ve never felt stronger than when I became a part of all of your lives. Being away from you hurts, and I know next year, when we’re living together in New Orleans, a part of me will feel lost and a little lonely not having Gran nearby. Regardless, I won’t feel guilty for that longing, and I won’t feel weak for feeling that way.

If you want to go to England and earn some extra credits over the summer, I’m excited to go with you. What’s the rush to finish your degree though?

Oh! By the way, I can make ‘oooo’ and ‘ah’ sounds on purpose. I’m ready for The Fourth of July!

I’m counting down the days until winter break! I miss you so much! All I feel that I do anymore is countdown for one thing or another involving you!

Yours always,

Sookie

Dec. 17

Dear Sookie,

Here’s hoping I get home to you before this letter does! I’m looking forward to a few weeks of being with the family. Not only does this break mean that we finally get to spend some quality time together, but it also means that there are only four more months until we can start bringing our lives together.

Things seem to be leveling back out between Alcide and Debbie. Their relationship is a lot more complicated than I realized, that’s for sure. As long as they leave me out of it, though, that’s their business. Alcide told me he plans to pop the question when they go home for Christmas break. I was a bit surprised, I thought he’d wait until next year, but I guess Debbie is putting pressure on him even though I suggested that she shouldn’t. That’s Debbie, though, she asks your advice and then goes and does exactly what she was going to do before asking.

Quinn is already getting bored with all the partying. He’s gotten stuck with doing all the planning and prep work for the frat parties, and I think it’s a good thing he shaves his head because the way his Brothers throw kinks into his plans would make him rip out his hair. He likes to pretend he’s loose and easy-going, but he’s just as bad as me when it comes to planning.

Let’s talk about England when I come home.

Love always,

Eric

{†}

Sookie bounced impatiently on the balls of her feet. The plaguing anticipation that had built during the exchanges of their letters was about to lift at long last. Now she just had to wait a few more minutes for her fiancé to exit his flight’s gate, and then she could wrap herself around him for the next two weeks.

Finally, she saw a gleam of blond hair above all the others who filed through the exit, and her hands raised eagerly to flag Eric down.

“Eric!” Pam called beside Sookie and raised her own hand in a more dignified greeting.

Hey, Pam,” Eric smiled as he spotted his sister, brother, and fiancée all waiting to greet him. “Godric, I thought you were just going to pick me up after class?”

Before the older brother could reply, Eric had wrapped him up in a hug that he dragged his sister into as well.

Whoa,” Pam stumbled in her heels as she was unceremoniously pulled from her center. “What’s this about?”

I’ve missed you,” Eric whispered and opened his eyes to see Sookie smiling at him reassuringly. Her sincere expression made him strong enough to hold the embrace with his siblings a little bit longer.

We’ve missed you too,” Godric murmured back. The flitter of concern could be distinguished, but no one in the group openly acknowledged it.

Breaking away from the embrace, Eric cleared his throat as if to break the atmosphere and bring a more light-hearted tone instead. “Anything new happening since Thanksgiving?”

Together, everyone headed toward the parking lot since Eric had a tendency to travel with no more than his single carry-on.

It’s Bon Temps,” Pam replied dryly. “Nothing is happening. Although, I’m happy to report that your little bride remains unblemished.”

Sookie rolled her eyes, but couldn’t help the small smile on her lips when Eric beamed happily. “I’m glad to hear it. Stackhouse has been throwing his weight around?”

I wouldn’t be surprised,” Pam nodded.

Eric’s arm that was draped over Sookie’s shoulder pulled her a bit tighter against his side. No one mentioned the bullying beyond that brief exchange, but Sookie knew that her future husband was relieved to see that she was still safe.

The car ride back to Rosenfont Hall was filled with laughter and playful jibes. Sookie kept her head leaned happily against Eric’s chest, and she couldn’t wait to tell him about his Christmas present.

When they arrived at the old plantation, Sookie followed Eric into the house and up to his bedroom.

I’m glad you’re not just going straight home,” Eric commented as he pushed his door open. When Sookie’s grin widened, Eric frowned and looked into his room. There was a bulging duffle bag sitting on the floor next to his bed. “What’s that?”

Your Christmas present,”Sookie responded.

Dropping his bag on the floor, Eric went to inspect the duffle. He was further confused to find that it contained clothing that was definitely his fiancée’s. “I don’t get it,” he confessed.

Gran said I could stay here for Christmas vacation,” Sookie explained, making Eric jump to his feet.

Are you serious?!” he asked excitedly as he lunged and captured Sookie once more in his arms.

“Ah!” Sookie nodded, and Eric hugged her even tighter.

I love you so much. I love you,” Eric mumbled as he finally heard a conscious sound out of Sookie’s mouth. When his mouth sought hers and their kisses intensified, Sookie was the one who pulled away and urged to be set back on her own feet. “What’s wrong?”

Sookie took a step away and sat on the bed. “Can we talk about England first?”

It’s pretty simple,” Eric replied as he sat beside her. “I want to take a summer semester, but I still want to give you a honeymoon. We could go a few days earlier than the program starts and have some fun, and then stay together for my semester.”

But why do you want to take summer courses. You know it won’t get you your inheritance any sooner,” Sookie reminded him.

No, it won’t,” Eric agreed, “but it will get you pregnant sooner.”

Sookie’s jaw slackened at his point. “Are you serious?”

Yes,” Eric smiled.

But you said you were still scared about becoming a father,” Sookie floundered briefly. As ecstatic as she was, she couldn’t help but worry that Eric was rushing himself.

I don’t think I’ll ever not be scared about becoming my father,” Eric confessed. “I don’t know if that fear will ever leave me, but I do know that I want to start a family with you. I know that you won’t let me do a bad job.”

I won’t,” Sookie assured him. “I won’t have to stop you from messing up. You’ll be a great dad.”

I love you, Sookie.” With that, Eric layered himself over his fiancée. “Does that mean we’re going to England?”

Ah!” She nodded and wrapped her arms around Eric’s neck. It was time to start celebrating winter break!

On to Chapter Seventeen!

Unspoken Feelings Ch. 15

Chapter Fifteen: Dreams of the Future

Eric awoke slowly with a moan. He’d been having the best dream about Sookie being in bed with him. Even as the fantasy slipped away, Eric could still feel her lips wrapped around his cock. When he realized he was fully awake and could still feel her, Eric’s eyes snapped open, and he looked down to see his fiancée sucking on him with mischief in her eyes.

“Sookie,” Eric groaned as he watched her lips glide over him. His hand reached to tangle in her hair, and he urged her to release him. “Get up here.” He sat up and put his arms around her waist as Sookie scooted up his legs. His hands were on her thighs, spreading them until he could easily slip inside her. When he was fully encased, Eric hugged her tightly to his chest. “Best alarm clock in the world,” he grunted as his hips undulated beneath her and his hands pushed down on her hips. Sookie whimpered and twisted atop him as their sexes ground together in an effort to be closer, to push deeper.

“Ah! Mmm,” Sookie cried as his fingertips left her hip to rub above where they were joined.

As her inner walls began to flex with her orgasm, Eric groaned, “Goddamnit!His hips bucked feverishly beneath her and Sookie was thrown into bliss as she felt Eric wildly fill her with his cum. “I just… Can’t make it through,” he panted with small grunts as her pussy squeezed him rhythmically with its aftershocks. “It’s a good thing I don’t have to pull out,” he told her. “You’d never finish during if I couldn’t get those last few thrusts in.” Sookie smiled and kissed his cheek before seeking out his lips.

Glancing at the clock, Eric saw that it was only 4AM. “If you want to sneak in a shower, now’s the time. The night owls are passed out, and the early birds aren’t quite awake. We’d only risk running into the insomniacs at this hour.”

Sookie smiled and nodded. He’d been somewhat pent up and indeed made a mess out of her.

Sliding out of bed, Eric grabbed his robe to throw at her, and then slipped on a pair of sweatpants to wear to the bathroom. He grabbed his toiletry bag and then ushered his fiancée out the door. When she pointed confusedly at the bathroom sign, Eric laughed.

Our floor is a co-ed bathroom. Don’t worry about it.”

Sookie’s face slackened uncomfortably at the notion, but he shoved her into the bathroom, and that was the most she protested through the entire experience.

Oh, I hate this, oh I hate this, Sookie thought miserably as she showered. Even with Eric in the same stall as her, she felt like someone would whip back the curtain at any second and start staring at her. God, I hate this!

“Relax,” Eric chuckled as he started running his hands over her body. “No one’s going to peek on us.” At the pitiful expression on her face, he leaned in and gave her a gentle kiss before moving their positions and putting Sookie directly under the spray of the water rather than the two of them standing sideways beneath it. The new arrangement effectively put Eric between herself and the curtain. “There. Now they’ll only see me if they peek.”

Sookie didn’t like that idea either, but it was better than the alternative. However, it turned out not mattering because no one whipped back the curtain at any point during their shower.

I told you so,” Eric laughed as they were toweling off and Sookie was once again in his robe. “It’s not as scary as you think it is.”

I don’t like bathing if I can’t lock the door,” she told him.

“… Even if it were an all girl’s bathroom?” Eric asked. Sookie shook her head. “Why?”

Girls in gym took pictures of me once,” Sookie explained as they went back to his room.

When did that happen!?” Eric demanded.

Freshman year.”

What’d the school do?” Eric pressed as they arrived back in his room.

Sookie took up his notebook and wrote out, “The gym teacher walked in, took the camera and destroyed the film. She said ‘disrespecting bathroom rules like that made the girls a bunch of perverts, and she was disgusted by them.'”

Eric stared, “That’s it? No one was expelled or suspended?” Sookie shook her head. “What the fuck!?”

“The entire freshman girl’s class would have been expelled except for me if they’d done something like that. There are only 53 people in the class of ’99. 28 of them are girls.”

“Jesus, I forget how small Bon Temps is,” Eric remembered the population of the entire town hadn’t even toppled 3,000 yet. “You only have the one gym class for the Freshman.” Sookie nodded. “Would you have done anything if the teacher hadn’t stepped in?” Eric wondered. When Sookie shrugged, Eric sighed. Pulling her into his arms, he whispered, “One day, Sookie, you’re going to see how amazing you really are, and I hope you look back on all those memories and realize you didn’t deserve to endure any of it.”

It was in that moment that Eric understood why Sookie could be bullied so harshly and no action be taken by the faculty. The school had unwittingly set a precedent. As long as enough students could be held accountable, the system would do nothing. After all, they couldn’t expel half of an entire graduating class, could they?

Sookie accepted her fiancé’s embrace, and as she was wrapped up in his warmth, she had to wonder if he would love her if she were the type of person to make waves. Did Eric love her because he felt she needed to be looked after? No, she denied the thought as quickly as it came. She knew his love wasn’t so superficial. Even if it had initially attracted him to her, it would no longer be his primary interest. Regardless, she knew that part of his love for her had to do with endurance he wished she didn’t exercise. She knew this because how often he brought it up. There was admiration as well as regret when he witnessed her persisting nature. That admiration is what made her first fall for him. He didn’t look at her as someone who escaped reality but pushed continuously against it. Yes, she admitted to herself, I gave up on a lot of things for myself, but I never denied the life I was living.

That was something Sookie always remembered was how she lived. Even if her goals were as short-term as getting out of high school as quick as she could, she’d still worked her ass off to do it.

The pair were silent for the remainder of their time in the dorm that morning. Eric and Sookie quickly dressed and left to explore the real world of New Orleans. It was still early, but they found a little bakery that did donuts and cinnamon rolls that they inhaled for breakfast.

“Wow, these are amazing,” Eric moaned as he took another bite. Sookie tentatively took a bite of her cinnamon roll and openly stared as if she were in shock. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s delicious,” Sookie told him.

Then why are you acting like it just bit you?” he laughed at her expression.

Unable to respond, Sookie took another bite, and then another and another. When the entirety of her breakfast was gone, she stared at her empty plate contemplatively. I didn’t realize there was this big of a gap between my baking and a professional baker, Sookie realized. As per her agreement with Gran buying Eric’s guitar for his graduation gift, Sookie had done all of the baking for the church bake sales and pancake breakfasts. The items Sookie made were always the first ones gone. For a few days, she got to hear about how Adele Stackhouse was the best baker in all of Renard Parish because no one knew Sookie was the actual creator.

They bake much better than me,”Sookie confessed to Eric.

Sookie, they’re professionals,” Eric pointed out as he devoured another pastry.

“I guess I didn’t realize there was this big of a gap in my skills,” Sookie told him, and her expression about broke his heart.

Eric quickly stood up and headed for the register. “Excuse me,” he greeted warmly, “my fiancée is an aspiring baker, and she really loved the food here.”

The clerk seemed confused why the man was saying this instead of the woman who came in with him, but she smiled and thanked him. “We’re always happy to hear that from our customers! It’s still early for the breakfast rush. If you put on a hairnet, you can go back and talk to my sister while she works.”

Oh, this is family run?” Eric asked.

The woman nodded, “Yeah, my sister does most of the baking. She has a couple assistants, but it’s mostly all her. I run the actual business part. I guess you could say that we’re well matched.”

I’ll ask her if she wants to go into the back. Thank you!” Eric smiled as he returned back to their table. Sookie stared at him, having heard the exchange. “What do you say? Want to talk with a professional baker?”

Nodding hesitantly, Sookie took her fiancé’s hand and let him tug her toward the counter. The clerk handed them each a hairnet, and Sookie smiled amusedly at Eric in a hairnet. When they entered the kitchen, Sookie floated through the strong aroma of baking loaves of bread and sweets.

Hi there,” Eric waved, “your sister said we could come back here and meet you.”

A young woman with brown hair spun into a tight bun looked over to see them. “Good morning! Did you have a good breakfast?”

We did, thanks to you,” Eric replied. “My fiancée really enjoyed it. She’s very proud of her own baking skills, and I thought meeting someone who owns their own bakery might be inspiring to her.”

Oh, well,” The woman laughed nervously. “It’s always been my passion,” she explained as she took a tray of bread dough from the oven, cut quick slits in each and threw it back into the heat. She bustled around performing her tasks as she spoke. “I went to pastry school right out of high school and got a job as the head baker in a grocery store for a few years. I couldn’t stand baking pre-made doughs, though.”

Sookie’s hands flung out wildly, and Eric smiled as she finally showed some enthusiasm.

Where did you go to school?” Eric asked.

LCI, right here in New Orleans,” she baker replied. “Is she deaf? Should I face her more?”

Eric shook his head, “No, she just can’t speak.”

Oh, okay,” the baker shrugged. “I’m glad she understands me easily. I don’t know a bit of sign language.”

Sookie’s hands shot up, and Eric laughed.

She says that she barely knows any either,” Eric told their host. “So, how long is the LCI program?”

The baker shrugged. “Depends on the program. One can be done in a year, or there’s the other program can be done in four. I have an associates degree,” she explained.

Well, thank you for your time,” Eric smiled as he saw that the woman was becoming increasingly busy as different timers started going off, and the baker began hopping from one station to the next. It definitely looked like she had a system at work.

Sookie waved goodbye as well as they headed out to the shop. The clerk thanked them and said farewell as they left.

So,” Eric looked at his fiancée as he yanked the hairnet off his head, “what do you think about going to school to become a pastry chef?” Sookie thought about this a moment before shrugging. “You’re not interested at all?”

I don’t know if I want to go to school for it,” she confessed. “Is it greedy to want to be a stay at home mom for a career?”

Eric shook his head, “No, it’s not. Especially if you get your way and have five kids to wrangle all day.”

I still haven’t convinced you for more than two babies?” Sookie teased.

Eric thought a moment, “I think you’ve got me up to three.” Sookie beamed at her future husband and hugged him around the middle as they walked down the street together. “If that’s what you really want, then I’ll be all too happy to help you get it, but I don’t want you to feel limited.”

Sookie stopped and took her notebook from her purse. Eric paused to wait as she wrote out her reply to his statement. “I don’t see being a mother as a limited dream. I want to do all the mom things like school bake sales and being a helper mom. I want you to come home from work to a house that’s in order, and a home-cooked meal.”

Eric smiled as he kissed the top of her head. “Putting the kids to bed and then sitting up at the kitchen table going over bills and budgets?” he guessed. Sookie nodded, and Eric pulled her in tight. “If your dreams ever change, just let me know.”

Hand in hand, the couple explored the many attractions New Orleans had to offer. Eric bought a disposable camera and made sure to snap plenty of pictures of her, and she did the same so that they would have mementos to carry until they could be together again.

All too quickly the day slipped from their grasps, and they were enjoying a stunning sunset that turned the sky into a red, burning fire. They stood, staring over the Mississippi River and the reflection of the crimson flames above them.

I don’t want you to leave,” Eric whispered as the sun sunk lower and lower. “I thought I was handling the distance pretty well, but then when you showed up yesterday… I’ve missed you, Sookie,” he confessed.

Sookie looked at her fiancé as she opened her notebook, “I’ve missed you too. I wish I didn’t have to leave either, but six months isn’t so long. We’ll have a long weekend together next month. And then two and a half weeks in the winter. We’ll make it. We’re both strong.”

Eric laughed at his fiancée’s reassurance, “I’m glad you can be so positive about it.”

All I have to do is remember that I’ll be living with you next year, and it makes it much easier to be so positive.”

Were you still wanting to get married this upcoming summer?” Eric asked. Sookie nodded enthusiastically. “We need to get planning that.”

Sookie took the notebook back and quickly wrote, “We could have it at Gran’s if you’d like. I’d really only be inviting Jason, Gran, Hadley and Aunt Linda anyway. Unless you have a lot of people you’d like to invite?”


Eric snorted, “Not really. If Quinn and I are still friends, I’ll probably invite him, but that’s the only person I can think of other than Godric and Pam.”

What about your roommate?” Sookie asked.

Alcide? No, I don’t think so. He’s nice enough, but I don’t really think of him as a friend. Not to mention, his girlfriend is too unpredictable for my liking.”

How so?”

Eric became thoughtful, “Debbie buys things, big things, on a whim. She bought a car three weeks into the school year.”

You bought a car the same day we met,” Sookie pointed out.

Eric pouted, “We planned for that, it wasn’t impulsive. I’d driven down in Godric’s Jeep from New York. When he and Pam arrived, Godric was going to need it, so we’d decided to get me a car too.”

I was just teasing,” Sookie smiled and gave him a sympathetic hug for good measure.

Eric draped his arm over her shoulder as she hugged him and kissed the top of her head. “When are you leaving tomorrow?”

When I wake up,” she signed.

Eric held her tighter for a brief moment, “I’ll have to keep you up late tonight then, so we sleep in.”

Sookie gave his ribs a gentle nudge to chastise his motives, but deep down, she wanted the same exact thing.

{†}

Eric waved goodbye from the sidewalk as his future wife left campus to head home. They’d managed to sleep until 9, but it still hadn’t been long enough. Both dressed as slowly as possible, hugging, kissing and caressing at every opportunity. Several students witnessed them breaking their own anti-PDA rules on their way to the parking lot, but all those witnesses were in agreement that the exchanges were sweet rather than lewd.

“Your girlfriend is adorable.”

Eric nearly jumped out of his skin as he looked down by his shoulder to see Debbie standing beside him. “Thanks,” he mumbled after calming down, “but she’s not just my girlfriend; she’s my fiancée.”

Oh, that’s right,” Debbie remembered, but he heard a slight sound of annoyance at his correction. “Next time, you should let all of us hang out with her instead of hogging her the whole time.”

“She came to see me, not to socialize or make friends,” Eric replied as he headed back to the dorm.

Possessive much?” Debbie grumbled.

“Very much,” Eric agreed but left it at that.

Debbie paused a moment before she sighed and apologized. “I didn’t mean to sound like a bitch. I just meant that since she’ll be moving down here next year, it might be nice to know some people ahead of time. You don’t expect to keep her barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, do you?” she teased.


Eric laughed at that. “Actually, the way she talks sometimes, I don’t know that she’d mind that arrangement all too much.”

Seriously?” Debbie was surprised.

Sookie wants children very much,” Eric nodded. “I’m not so sure about the barefoot and kitchen part, but if I told her I was ready to start a family right now, she’d chuck her birth control.”


“Wow,” Debbie followed him back into the dorm, “I don’t know that I’m sure if I want kids at all, let alone ready to start 
now! Do you think it’s because she can’t speak that she doesn’t like to socialize?”

Eric glanced at his roommate’s girlfriend and laughed, “Sookie’s actually very sociable. She’s funny and sweet. Like I said, I’m just greedy for her. Next year, I really do plan on the two of us going to parties together and helping her make new friends. It’s only difficult for her to make friends when others don’t show her the patience to listen. Her personality is beautiful.”

Well, I hope I’m one of the people she gets to know,” Debbie commented as they walked further up the stairs. “Maybe she can give me some pointers on getting a ring on my own finger.”

Eric didn’t reply right away. Up until twenty seconds ago, he didn’t really like Debbie all that much, but talking to her about Sookie was slowly warming him up to her. Finally, he comforted her by saying, “He might just be waiting until the two of you are done with college.”

What made you propose so easily?” Debbie pouted.

I wasn’t afraid of people hounding, criticizing and mocking me,” Eric grinned. “Not many people can handle the stress of others picking at their relationships. I’m constantly attacked for my commitment to Sookie. It’s one of the reasons I’m not big on going to parties. There are always girls trying to sleep with me, or guys trying to convince me to cheat on Sookie because it’s, ‘what you do in college,’” Eric threw up some air quotes. “I’ve gone a lot of my life being told what I have to do and who I have to be. Now that I’m free, I choose to do what I want and be who I want without allowing others to sway my decision.”

Why can’t Alcide be like that?” Debbie moaned in frustration.

You realize that you’d probably get the same flack from the girls too, right?” Eric pointed out. “Do you really want to listen to all the girls in your dorm talking shit about how they can’t believe you’d settle down with a high school sweetheart and not play the field?”

Debbie frowned as she looked at Eric, “Would it really be like that?”

Eric shrugged, “Maybe. I don’t know, I just know how it is for me, and the answer is: yes. It is like that.”

That sucks,” Debbie sympathized.

“I suggest you stop worrying about when Alcide plans to propose, and focus on classes and just spending time together. Stay strong through college, and he’ll pop the question when he’s ready to. I think everyone’s a lot harder on Freshman about this stuff than anyone else because we’re all still high schoolers in a way. Hopefully the pressuring will go down when we come back next Fall.”

Have you thought that, maybe, going out and partying might help?” Debbie suggested.

How do you mean?” Eric asked, pausing before his dorm room and looking at his roommate’s girlfriend with curiosity.

“Well,” Debbie thought aloud, “if they see you being sociable instead of holed up in your room all the time, they wouldn’t say that you’re letting college pass you by. If they see women hitting on you, and you politely rejecting them instead of regretfully, they might believe Sookie’s more than just a high school sweetheart.” The girl looked Eric over amusedly, “Or do you doubt you have the control to turn down lay after lay?”

Eric snorted at the challenge, “Are you serious? There’s not a single girl on campus that could turn my head.”

Then is Sookie the one who keeps you in on the weekends?” Debbie taunted.

Of course not. Sookie even told me I should go out more,” Eric rolled his eyes as he opened the door to his room. Alcide still wasn’t back from wherever it was he had crashed, and Eric felt a little guilty having put his roommate out for a weekend without warning. When he’d told Sookie to give surprise inspections, he had forgotten surprises meant inconveniences for his roommate.

See?” his new shadow laughed. “Make a point to people! Show them that Eric Northman isn’t just blissfully unaware of what’s out there, but perfectly happy with what he already has!”

Eric sighed and looked heavenward. If it will shut you up! “Fine. Quinn already demanded I show up at his Frat’s party next weekend.”

“Excellent! Now get lost,” Debbie jerked her thumb toward the hallways. “Alcide will be back soon, and we’ve got an entire weekend of sex to catch up on because of you!”

With a resigned sigh, Eric grabbed the guitar Sookie gave him for graduation and went on the hunt for a private area to practice. He didn’t like people watching him fumble to learn the chords. Rather than walking across campus for privacy, Eric headed further upstairs until he came to the roof access. No one ever came this high up except maintenance, and Eric sat down on a step to balance his guitar on his knee.

The guitar was an excellent opportunity to be by himself without others talking. Telling Debbie that he wasn’t bothered by all the gossip surrounding him wasn’t necessarily a lie, but it wasn’t exactly the truth either. It was frustrating, and he had to bite his tongue often. There was little point in fighting the snide comments and gossip, and far too exhausting for the minuscule gains.

As his fingers clumsily skated across the strings, Eric felt himself become more honest with himself than he’d been with Debbie. The hounding from people who knew nothing about him was easy enough to ignore. They weren’t his friends, and their opinions were just as offensive as a pile of dog shit. He had to endure the odor only in proximity to the dump, as long as he didn’t step in it, it might as well not exist beyond that brief encounter.

Thankfully, UNO was a large campus, and he wasn’t the only Freshman with a high school sweetheart back home or at another school. Unfortunately, when he’d see one of those other lovesick fools cheat on their absent lover, that was more painful and longer lasting than any offhanded comment he endured.

Eric’s fingers traveled to the D chord, and he let out a smile as he strummed it. A Mexican kid named Felipe had shown him the simplicity of transitioning the D chord to play ‘Free Falling.’ It was one of Eric’s favorite things to play when he felt like his practicing was going nowhere. At that moment, that simple chord banished more than the doubts of his musical talent. For a second Tom Petty was there reminding him of ‘all the good girls at home with broken hearts,’ and Eric was comforted to know that Sookie wouldn’t be one of them.

On to Chapter Sixteen!

Unspoken Feelings Ch. 14

Chapter Fourteen: Don’t Look at Me Like That

Sookie looked nervously at her watch as she stood in the lobby which housed Eric’s private mailbox. What if he’s already come to pick up his mail? She worriedly glanced at the security camera that she could swear was zooming in on her. No, you just watch too many crime dramas, she told herself to calm down. She knew Eric had class until two, and she had managed to arrive a few minutes before his final period of the week ended.

What if he doesn’t come to check his mailbox until the evening? Sookie considered as she walked over to the payphone to call the house and push a few keys on the dial. I should just surprise him at his dorm, she thought as Gran picked up and she pressed the pound sign a couple times.

Are you in New Orleans? Push once for yes, twice for no.” Gran told her. BEEP “I’m glad you got there safely. Give Eric my love! Have fun, Dear!” With that, Gran hung up, and Sookie was left to wait by herself.

Maybe I should at least sit outside, she reasoned.

Before Sookie could make up her mind on what to do, Eric appeared in the lobby, staring at his fiancée in disbelief.

There was a long pause before they closed the distance between one another, and Sookie felt two full months worth of tears explode from her face. I missed you so much, she hadn’t realized just how much until she was wrapped in his arms, and he unknowingly put pressure on the leopard print of bruises she had hidden beneath her clothes. At that moment, she didn’t care about the little nips of pain each small injury gave when he touched them. Eric’s arms were around her, and her tears were absorbing in his shirt. She could survive anything.

“How many stamps did Gran have to put on you to get you here?” Eric teased as he pulled away and kissed his Sookie deeply. “I missed you so much, Sookie,” he told her. “God, I love you. I love you,” he pulled her back into his arms and rested his chin on her head as they stood in the lobby like two very incongruous characters. “What’s wrong?” he asked when Sookie’s hands had yet to raise in even the simplest of greetings. When he looked at her crying eyes and red cheeks, he couldn’t help but feel that her tears were about far more than pent-up longing and relief. She looked like a person who finally had a boulder removed from her chest. She looked like a woman who had finally taken her first breath in two months. “Sookie?”

Sookie shook her head and buried her face against his chest. She didn’t want to ruin this moment. They were together, and that was all that mattered. He didn’t need to know about the bullying right now. It would have to come up at some point during their visit. She couldn’t fathom driving all this way and not ending up in bed together. He would see her bruises and then the questions would happen.

Choking on a fresh sob, Sookie realized that if she didn’t come clean about the bullying now, it would just ruin their intimacy later. I don’t want to tell him! She clung to the front of his shirt, wanting to avoid the conversation just a moment longer.

Eric felt her breathing change dramatically as her sobs intensified. Before he knew it, ragged gasps of air became nearly hysterical, and Sookie’s hold on him became one of weak desperation. He felt her weight in his arms grow heavier, and Eric quickly sat her on the ground.

Sookie,” Eric placed his hand over her mouth, “hold your breath.” He felt her mouth suctioning to his hand. “Look at me,” he commanded, and finally caught her wide, panicking eyes, “hold your breath.” She sucked in a short breath, and Eric began counting down, “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.” He pulled his hand away from her mouth this time, and she sucked in another breath. “Again, hold your breath.” He counted down for her again, and they repeated this several times before her breathing became less distressed.

By the time Sookie was back to soft, hiccuping sobs, Eric finally asked, “Sookie, what’s happening?” When her reply was to roll up her sleeves, Eric stared at the blotched bruises that ran up her forearms. “Sookie, who’s been hurting you?” he tried to keep the anger out of his voice, but even with his best efforts, it still came through.

Everyone,” she responded despondently.

What do you mean by everyone?” Eric asked in a tone that caused the hairs on the back of Sookie’s neck to stand on end. For a brief moment, she feared for those that bullied her.

Anyone who feels like it,” she told him as she continued staring at the ground while her hands spoke for her.

Oh, Sookie,” Eric pulled her into his arms carefully. “Why didn’t you mention anything in your letters?”

What could you do?” She signed sadly.

Eric sat slowly on the floor at her question and dragged her into his lap. “I could have told you to deck those mother fuckers in the throat.” His hand began to stroke her hair in deliberately long pulls against her locks. He knew that she found gentle tugs of her hair soothing, and he’d put her to sleep several times over the summer with such tactics.

What’s the point?” she moped as her eyes shut lazily from the careful pulling.

The point is to show them that you’re done with their bullshit, Sookie,” Eric told her. “I know you’re an advocator for turning the other cheek, but it’s not working. Don’t you think it’s time to stop all this?”

It’s only another six months.”

But I don’t want to see bruises on my future wife,” Eric whispered. “I feel every one of these a hundred times over knowing I can’t stop them from happening.”

I’m sorry.”

I don’t want you to be sorry, Sookie. I want you to be happy,” Eric moaned. “Doesn’t it hurt enough being apart? Why are you letting it hurt even more?” When she didn’t answer, Eric nuzzled his nose against her crown. “Whatever it is you think you deserve… You’re wrong, Sookie. You don’t deserve to be treated like that. No matter what you or anyone else thinks.”

How do you know?”Sookie demanded weakly. Her expression was defeated and tired.

Because you haven’t lived long enough to earn this much bad karma,” Eric smiled sadly. “And you’re too sweet to have done anything mean to anyone on purpose.”

I killed my mom and dad,”Sookie told him, and it was the first time she’d ever expressed to another person how she felt about the car crash that took her parents and her voice. Some might have guessed about her guilt, but she had never confirmed their suspicions.

Because you survived and they didn’t?” Eric asked.

Dad was yelling at me. If he hadn’t been so mad, the car wouldn’t have crashed,” she told him, and Eric knew that she had wanted to make this confession to him. She had found signs he hadn’t taught her just so she could confess to him.

Sookie, plenty of people have arguments while they’re driving. Did you dive forward and yank the steering wheel? Did you put your hands over his eyes? I seriously doubt it. Accidents are called accidents for a reason. They’re nobody’s fault, they’re just things that happen,” Eric told her. “My father stepped in front of a bus because his wife was dying. Even if no one knows if it was on purpose or not; it doesn’t mean I think my mom killed my father.”

Sookie stared at her fiancé in surprise. She hadn’t known how his father died; not really. Eric’s Aunt Maryanne had implied how the Northmans’ father had been killed, but Sookie had never really considered the woman’s accusation beyond that day.

What I feel is that if your parents had a choice, they’d be happier knowing you lived instead of them,” Eric told her. “If you think you had some sort of debt to repay for surviving, I think it’s long past repaid.”

I can’t just turn off how I feel,” Sookie tried to explain.

With a long sigh, Eric could only nod, “Maybe it’s something to try and work out with the specialist you’ll be seeing next week.” He looked at his fiancée carefully, “Can you do that for me? Can you talk to the therapist about this?”

If you want me to,” Sookie agreed.

“Please.” He sighed as he began wiping the remnants of her tears away. “Have you eaten yet?” She shook her head. “There’s a good pizza place near campus. How does that sound?” She nodded in agreement, and they both rose from the floor to head out.

The walk out of the lobby was awkward as Eric felt his frustration with her become more overbearing. Why can’t you see you’re not a god damned punching bag!? He howled internally as they left Gran’s Station Wagon parked and walked to the nearby pizza parlor.

When the pair clambered into an available booth, Eric leaned against the wall and pulled Sookie in until she was sprawled across him. He knew that she wasn’t the biggest fan of public displays of affection, but he hadn’t seen her in nearly three months. He’d be damned if he didn’t keep her as close as possible for the time she could be with him.

After he’d placed their order, Eric shut his eyes and let himself get lost in the familiar sensation of Sookie’s body laying on his own.

“Are you nervous about seeing the specialist?” Eric asked after a few minutes of comfortable silence. His eyes opened to see her nodding. “Will you tell me about your appointments, or do you think you’d rather keep them to yourself?”

I don’t know,” she answered.

Do whatever is best for you, Sookie,” Eric encouraged. “I’ll support you however you need me to.”

“AH!” Sookie and Eric looked up to see a tall, tan and bald man standing over them. Eric knew him to be John Quinn, but Sookie stared wide-eyed in concern. “Is this your fiancée?” Quinn pointed at Sookie curiously.

Do you think I’d have any other woman sprawled across me?” Eric asked with raised eyebrows. When Quinn glared at him, he sighed and introduced them. “Yes, this is Sookie. Sookie, this is Quinn. Quinn, what the fuck are you doing here?”

“It’s Friday night. I’m getting a pizza, and then I’m going to a Frat party. Wanna come?” He invited the couple. “Alcide and Debbie are coming too.”

No,” Eric shook his head. “Sookie’s only here for the weekend. I just want to spend it with her.”

Quinn gave a small, frustrated snort. “Yeah, cool. Have fun.”

If you put Alcide up for the weekend, I could?” Eric pointed out.

Quinn groaned but nodded, “Fine. Are you gonna party at all while you’re here?”

Eric thought for a moment before answering, “Maybe next year. Sookie will be living with me, and we’ll be able to go together.”

Quinn rolled his eyes, “C’mon, Sookie, take his balls out of your purse, and trust him to go out!”

Sookie thought about this a moment as she reached into her purse and took out a pen and paper. She quickly wrote a reply that Quinn leaned over to read while the pen danced across the paper.

It’s been a couple months, but last time I checked, his balls were right where they’re supposed to be.” Reaching behind her back with her left hand, Sookie made Eric jump as she squeezed his groin. “Yup, still there.”

Quinn roared with laughter, “Okay, okay, so your fiancée isn’t as uptight as I thought she’d be.” Smiling fondly at Sookie, Quinn was disappointed when the cashier at the counter called out his order number. “I’ll put Alcide up for the night. You guys have a good weekend.”

The couple waved goodbye as Quinn went to grab his pizza and start his weekend.

Sorry about that,” Eric mumbled as they were finally able to dig into their own dinner. “Quinn has been very intense about me enjoying my college experience.”

Does being engaged make you feel like you’re missing out?” Sookie wrote with her right hand and ate with her left, but something about her expression seemed more curious than concerned.

Eric shook his head and smiled, “Not at all. Sometimes other students try to make me feel like it’s some sort of big deal, but I don’t personally get it. I can drink and have fun whenever I want, being engaged doesn’t stop that. The only thing being engaged prevents me from doing is having sex, and a single school year with infrequent sex is nothing.”

I guess that’s true. I mean, you went last school year without any sex. At least you’ll be getting some when I come to visit or when you’re home on break,” Sookie realized. “Why don’t you go to any parties?”

Eric groaned, “I don’t know… The reason the other students drink doesn’t really fit my own intentions for it. It seems everyone drinks to black out or get so wasted they can’t find their way home. If it were about letting off steam, that would be one thing, but everyone seems more intent on competing over it.”

Well, you already learned a lot about your drinking limits when you were living in Europe. They don’t have that advantage,” Sookie pointed out.

Her fiancé shook his head, “Even when I was learning my limits, it was nothing like this. It’s weird as hell, Sookie.”

I’m not trying to tell you to get three sheets to the wind,”Sookie smirked. “But you should be able to go to a party if you want.”

I guess,” Eric agreed hesitantly. “I just feel old or something.”

Sookie’s smirk turned into an eye roll. “Whatever you decide to do is up to you. I just want you to know that you don’t have to justify any of it to me. I want you to have fun in college. I don’t want you to have regrets.”

Regrets?” Eric read. “Regretting that I didn’t kill more brain cells during college seems like a very low standard.” Sookie laughed at his remark and shoved the rest of her pizza into her mouth.

So,” Eric began anew once they had finished their food, “we’re in New Orleans together for the weekend. What do you want to do?”

Sookie’s mouth curved in a surprisingly provocative smirk as she pointed at him suggestively.

Her fiancé practically shoved Sookie out of the booth as he threw down some money and hurried her toward the door. Sookie beamed as Eric’s hand on her wrist tugged her back to Gran’s old Station Wagon, and he pushed back the driver’s seat to get them on campus as quickly as possible.

When they arrived at the dorms, Eric glanced around, hoping not to be asked a million questions on the way upstairs. As he assessed that the coast was clear, Eric did his best to shield Sookie from view as they passed other students so as not to be disturbed. Thankfully, no one paid much mind to him, and the couple made it to Eric’s room without any hassle.

We made it!” Eric sighed in relief as he shut and locked his door.

Embarrassed of me?” Sookie teased.

More like… Territorial of you,” Eric admitted. “You’re here, and I don’t want to share.” Sookie smiled as Eric leaned down to kiss her and begin tugging at her clothes. “I’m sorry I won’t be all that romantic. I’ve missed you so fucking much,” he murmured against her lips before pulling away to strip her shirt above her head. “And these,” he squeezed her breasts through her bra, “I’ve missed these a lot too.”

He quickly unhooked her bra and took a nipple into his mouth with a firm suckle. Sookie gasped and laced her fingers into his hair as she was pushed onto the small bed. Eric released the hardening bud to look at her, but the image was marred by the brown, yellow and green splotches along her body. Mostly the bruises were light, but there was one purple spot on her rib.

What was this?” Eric asked, tracing his finger just outside the edge of the bruise.

Don’t worry about it,”Sookie encouraged him as she tugged his hair and begged for another kiss.

Choosing to overlook his concerns, for the time being, Eric reached between them to begin undoing the buttons of her jeans. She raised her hips impatiently as he started to peel them off her legs, but the bruises on her knees made him let out a frustrated sigh.

Please,” Eric sat back on his heels. “Sookie, please stop letting them do this to you. If I can’t convince you that you don’t deserve the punishment, fine, but seeing this hurts me. Seeing you beat up like this is killing me.” His hands lightly touched her legs, and he leaned forward to kiss the bruises on her knees. “Now I have to kiss every last one of these.”

He was true to his word, and Sookie began to wiggle impatiently as he found and kissed every single bruise on her body. By the time he was done, she was prepared to body slam every last student in Bon Temps for making her wait to get the loving for which she’d driven five hours.

Finally, she thought in relief as he pushed her legs open and placed his tongue against her womanhood. She let out a sigh of pleasure as his fingers came to assist his efforts, but she quickly recognized that she’d missed touching him too. With that realization, Sookie pushed him away and urged a stunned Eric to lay back on the bed.

What are-” He immediately silenced as she crawled around until she was facing away from him and straddled his face. As her sex hovered over his mouth, he felt Sookie’s lips wrap around his cock. God bless the greatest number ever invented!

Eric moaned against her pussy as he hugged her bottom half closer to his face. While Sookie’s mouth worked up and down his length, Eric lapped at her slit hungrily as his hands kneaded and spread her bottom. When he felt her take him deep into her throat, the man had to resist the urge to thrust upward. Sookie had spent much of their summer together learning how to ease him deeper and deeper into her mouth, but it seemed their nearly three months of celibacy had interrupted her learning process.

Sookie realized with annoyance that she was having trouble opening her throat enough to take Eric as far as she’d managed before he’d left for school. No matter how much she tried to relax her jaw and throat, he kept striking her tonsils and refused to descend. Thoughts of her problem were becoming distant memories, however, because Eric’s mouth on her was becoming far more distracting.

Opting to suckle and lick rather than trying to sheath his entire cock, Sookie focused more of her attention on what was going on between her own legs. Eric’s mouth was aggressive as ever, something she’d come to learn as she grew more comfortable with sex. He’d tug at her labia with his teeth, suction down on her clit before assaulting it with flickers of his tongue, or pump his fingers deep and hard inside of her. All of this was preparation for the grand finale when he’d build up her frustrations so high that choosing a milder but consistent rhythm was all it took to send her plummeting into orgasm. Sookie wasn’t fooled; however, she could feel his cock between her lips as he became rougher. With every plunge of his fingers or every flicker of her clit, she felt his shaft give a throb in her mouth.

When the exchange grew heated, Sookie felt Eric begin to push her hips from his face. Before she could ask what was wrong, he’d pushed her onto her side and rolled her onto her back as he shoved her legs apart.

I’ve missed you so much,” Eric told her as he settled between her legs.

Gentle,”she reminded him as he began to push inside of her. Eric took a breath and nodded, having forgotten that she hadn’t had sex in a while and it wasn’t as easy to start back up for her as it was for him.

Layering his body over hers, Eric slowly nudged further inside, feeling her slick inner walls open and accept him. As she hugged herself to him, Eric kissed and licked her throat until he worked upward and found Sookie’s lips. While their tongues tangled together, Eric slowly worked his hips back and forth until Sookie was panting against his mouth.

“You’re so beautiful, Sookie,” Eric whispered as his own breathing became uneven, and his hips began to lose control. Sookie whimpered beneath him as he rammed into her. She could feel his desperation to be closer. She wanted him to stay with her forever, to never have to return to Bon Temps. “Fuck,” he ground out, “ah. I can’t-” The erratic motion of his thrusts triggered something in Sookie, and she felt her walls contract around Eric as he lost his control. The intensity and emotion in the air charged her own orgasm, and she gasped for air as she felt his cock spending inside of her. She welcomed every drop of his desire.

“Sorry,” Eric panted as he rolled them onto their sides. “I can go again in a bit,” he promised even as his hands went between them to stroke at the juncture of her legs. When Sookie flinched away, Eric removed his hand. “You came pretty hard then, too?” he asked proudly, and Sookie wanted to deny it just to wipe the smug look off his face. However, she could only nod. “I’m glad,” he leaned in to give her a softer kiss. “It’s been so long, I didn’t think I could go long enough to satisfy you during the first round.”

When she gave him a smile that said a lot more than agreement, Eric slipped out of bed to grab a notebook and pen. He gave them to Sookie and then slipped in behind her so that they rested on their left sides, and she could write freely. Her hand moved quickly on the page, and then she held up the book for him to see, “You came a lot.”

Eric snorted, “Yes, I did. You know I don’t like to jerk it.”

You’d rather make a mess out of me,” she accused.

Every time,” he agreed and hugged her tight. “Plus, I have a roommate now, so that makes it even less desirable to do.” Snuggling back against her fiancé, Sookie couldn’t help but agree that she liked when he made a mess out of her. “It’s still pretty early,” Eric whispered, “but you had a long drive. Do you want to sleep?”

Sookie wanted to protest, but she really was tired. Eric seemed to sense this, and he began combing his fingers through her hair and giving the ends soft tugs.

“We have all day tomorrow to spend together,” Eric assured her. “We can go to the French Quarter, and we’ll get some real food while we’re out.” As he went on telling her about the day they’d have tomorrow, he could feel her body growing heavier against him. More of her weight leaned against him, and he welcomed the feeling.

Eric lay in bed with Sookie for nearly a half an hour before he slipped out and reached for the phone.

Hello?”Adele’s voice came over the phone.

Hey, Gran, it’s Eric,” Eric greeted. “I just wanted to let you know that Sookie and I met up safely and that she’s here.”

Oh, thank you, Dear,” Adele crooned at him, making the young man smile fondly. He couldn’t remember if Gran’s sweetness had always melted his heart, but he was pretty sure it did. “She called and let me know she was in New Orleans, but it’s good to know that she’s safe and with you.”

She called?” Eric asked softly so as not to wake the sleeping woman in his bed.

Yes, she would call at her pit stops and phone the house. She’d push a button to let me know it was her. When she got to New Orleans, I asked if she was there, and told her to push once for yes and twice for no,” Gran explained.

“Huh,” Eric frowned thoughtfully as he took this into consideration, “I only call her to wish her goodnight and tell her I love her. It drives Alcide up the wall.”

“I think it’s sweet. Sookie waits at the phone for your good nights,” Gran told him. “Well, I won’t keep you. Thank you again for letting me know that Sookie is safe. Call and tell me when she’s leaving on Sunday?”

Yes, Gran,” Eric agreed easily. “I’ll call you as soon as I get back to my room from seeing her off.”

Thank you. Good night,” Gran ended the call and Eric placed his phone back on the cradle.

As he climbed back into bed, Eric placed his hand on Sookie’s hip as he contemplated the difference a year would bring. With any luck, this time next year, they would be married and live together off campus. He’d come home to their apartment and be able to tell her about his day and read all about hers. Could she be able to speak it to me by then? He wondered with tentative optimism.

He hoped that therapy would help her. He prayed that it could make a difference. Even if the only time he heard her voice was while she slept, he welcomed the thought that someone could help her with her self-confidence. He hoped that someone could get it through her head that she wasn’t a burden or, especially, that she wasn’t responsible for the deaths of her parents. If only she’d believe the people who love her.

On to Chapter Fifteen!

 

Unspoken Feelings Ch. 13

Chapter Thirteen: All Good Things

Don’t cry, Sookie,” Eric soothed as he hugged his fiancée tightly. They were standing in his dorm as Godric dragged Pam away to give the couple some privacy. “It’s only nine months, and we’ll be together every break. You’ll come and visit too, right?” he reminded. Sookie nodded as she swiped away another tear that was falling. “And I’ll sneak up for a few weekends here and there. We’ll survive it.”

I know,”Sookie sniffled as she dove in for another embrace. When she pulled away, she told him, “If you miss one single letter, I’ll drive down here and give you a whooping!”

Eric grinned, “You realize that’s more of an incentive to not write you a letter, right?”

And you won’t get sex after the beating.”

Well, I can’t get sex from a letter, but at least I’d still get to see and feel you even if you’re beating me up,” Eric still hadn’t found the bad side to this scenario.

And you’ll make me very sad.”

Oh, then I’ll have to make sure I don’t miss a single letter,” Eric smiled as he gave her a sweet kiss.

Sorry!” a voice made them jump out of their embrace. “I’m just dropping off my bag!” a rather handsome man with luxurious looking hair that fell in loose, dark curls slipped into the room. The newcomer was large in his musculature, and Sookie had a feeling the pair would probably end up going to the gym together. “I’m Alcide Herveaux.”

Eric Northman,” Eric greeted. “This is my fiancée, Sookie.”

Sookie gave a wave and tentative smile. This was her first formal introduction as Eric’s future wife!

Whoa!” Alcide laughed. “Congrats. My girlfriend and I picked the same college too. We’ve been together since eighth grade, but we’ve known each other since diapers,” he seemed embarrassed to admit it. “She’s in her own room putting things away. Do you know who your roommate is yet, Sookie?”

Sookie has one year of high school left,” Eric explained. “She’s just here to see me off.”

“That sucks,” Alcide frowned. “Well, taken men need to stick together in college. Otherwise, everyone tries to get you to cheat!”

Sookie flinched as she twisted her engagement ring on her finger. She trusted Eric, but she didn’t like the idea of him having to wade through swarms of half-naked college women to get to his classes.

Are you planning on coming to UNO next year, Sookie?” Alcide asked of her. When she shrugged half-heartedly, Eric’s roommate became uncomfortable with her coldness.

“Sookie can’t speak,” Eric informed him. “She’s not trying to be shy or rude.”

Oh… I wish I knew how to sign that I was sorry,” Alcide mumbled.

It’s this,” Eric gestured the sign for an apology, “but she’s not deaf. She just can’t use her voice.” Sookie let out a huff. “Okay, she can’t use her voice on purpose.” She smirked.

Alcide’s brow furrowed, “What does that mean?”

If you surprise her, or if she gets hurt sometimes she’ll make a sound,” Eric explained. “Involuntary sounds, things she can’t control.”

Eric’s new roommate looked at Sookie before nodding, “I see… Well, I’ll leave you two alone to finish saying goodbye. I have to go find Debbie. That’s my girlfriend,” he said before waving goodbye.

When Alcide left the room, Sookie looked to her fiancé with a bit of trepidation. What if he always has to fight off college girls? What if the guys make fun of him because of me? Sookie didn’t ask any of these things, she just leaned against his chest and wrapped her arms around him.

Everything will be alright, Sookie,” Eric assured her. “I’ll write you every week just like we agreed. I’ll call every night to say goodnight.” Sookie smiled and squeezed him tightly. “I love you, Sookie.” She pulled away to look up at him and offer him one last kiss. When he held her face and tangled their tongues together, she thought she might break down crying.

I don’t want to go…

{†}

~August 31, 1997

Dear Sookie,

Classes are looking pretty good. I’m not really worried about any of my first semester courses. Most of them are just the usual prereqs. There’s a gym on campus, so I’ve been making a couple friends there. A guy named Quinn spots for me a lot of the time. His name’s actually John, but he asks to be called Quinn. My roommate, Alcide, is there pretty often, too. It turns out he’s from Shreveport, so he knows where Bon Temps is which is a miracle to find anyone who’s heard of that shithole.

Alcide’s girlfriend is… interesting. I actually prefer when they hang out in her room or go out altogether. She’s got an ego that could put mine to shame (don’t roll your eyes!), and she spends more time in front of a mirror than Pam.

Other than working out and going to classes, I’ve just been studying and trying to come up with things to write to you about. I miss you. That’s really the long and short of it. That’s the only thing I think about when I’m not doing school stuff.

Love you, love you,

-Eric~

{†}

“Come on, Freshmen! Drink!” John Quinn eagerly thrust a beer at Eric.

No thanks,” Eric declined. “I don’t drink on the weekdays. Besides you’re a Freshmen too. Why are you calling me ‘Freshmen’?”

We got us a Weekend Warrior!” Quinn roared, ignoring Eric’s point. “So what are you doing in a bar on a weekday night if you don’t drink on the weekdays?”

Alcide’s in our room with Debbie,” Eric replied as he tried to work on his fundamentals of accounting class. “The library is too quiet.”

Isn’t your girlfriend a mute?” Quinn snorted as he sidled up beside his friend. “I thought you’d be used to the quiet!”

That’s my point.” The cozy quiet always made him think of Sookie, and that was not a good way to get work done. With no Sookie to go home to, the quiet only made him homesick. Even after two and a half months of being in college, he still felt homesick for her. “And don’t call her a mute.”

Shaking off Quinn’s hand on his shoulder and pushing away the beer in front of his face, Eric went toward the bathroom to use the payphone. It was almost time to tell Sookie ‘goodnight’, and he hoped she didn’t mind the sound of the bar in the background.

The phone rang only once before it was picked up, and Eric smiled to himself, visualizing Sookie sitting in front of the phone, waiting for his call.

“Goodnight, Sookie. I love you, I love you,” Eric said into the phone. He heard her lips smack with a kissing sound and he smiled. “I miss you.” When she hung up, Eric sighed and wished he was able to hear about her day every night. That was what their letters were for, but he longed to have more…

By the time eleven o’clock rolled around, and Eric knew it was safe to return to his room, he was tired and ready to go to bed, but he stopped by the private mailbox office as he did every day. Sookie would send him care packages from time to time, and he’d been warned by his brother that some dorm mailboxes were not at all reliable. Therefore, since he and Sookie were entirely dependent on their letters, Eric had gotten a private mailbox at a location with a 24/7 lobby.

Opening his box, Eric smiled at the small parcel inside and a separate letter. Grabbing both of them, he finally headed back to his dorm.

Alcide was sprawled across his bed when Eric came in and sat up quickly when he saw the box.

Sookie cookies!?” his roommate demanded excitedly.

“Maybe,” Eric laughed as he set his box on the floor and mail on the desk. Opening it, he shook his head. “No cookies.” Alcide deflated. “Muffins.”

“MUFFINS!” Alcide leaped from the bed and grabbed a muffin from his roommate. “You picked the best future wife!” he moaned as he stuffed the baked good in his mouth. “She cooks and writes you all the time! Debbie sees me every day and sometimes doesn’t say a word.”

Eric had no idea why his roommate was so loyal to his girlfriend but knew better than to stick his nose into anything. The last thing he needed was to accidentally break them up and have to deal with a pissed off roommate for the rest of the school year.

She sent you muffins and a letter?” Alcide asked in a muffin muffled voice.

Eric looked at the envelope, “No… This is from Gran.”

Aw, your grandmother writes you too? Jeez, you’d think I don’t even exist!” he laughed as Eric opened the strangely thick envelope.

No, it’s Sookie’s grandmother, not mine.”

Why would she write you?”

“I have no idea-” Eric’s hand struck something hard and plastic, and for some reason, his heart lurched. OH GOD, IT’S A PREGNANCY TEST! He thought worriedly until he realized it was the wrong shape and size to be a pregnancy test. Why am I freaking out about pregnancy tests all the time? He wondered as he pulled out a cassette tape.

Your fiancée’s grandmother made you a mix tape?” Alcide asked curiously.

Eric shrugged as he read the label, “Listen First. Letter Second.”

Even more confused, Eric went over to the CD and cassette player and put the tape in. He pushed play and listened with increasing bafflement as nothing but the sound of air crackling over the recorder filled the room.

Sookie,”Gran’s voice called softly in a whisper.

Eric?”

Eric’s heart leaped into his throat. His hands cupped over his mouth as he listened harder.

Sookie,”Gran called again, her voice lowering a bit further.

Eric… Miss you…”

The tape’s audio changed, and he knew that was the only recording on the tape. Immediately he popped the tape out and grabbed a pen to remove the safety tab. He laughed when he saw that Gran had already done this for him. She knew he’d want to keep the tape forever.

Was that your fiancé’s voice?” Alcide asked in surprise, though not nearly as blown away as Eric.

Yes!” Eric laughed as he reached for Gran’s letter. “Sometimes she would mumble in her sleep, but I’ve never heard her form complete words!”

~Dear Eric,

Imagine the surprise on this old woman’s face when she woke up in the middle of the night to use the facilities and heard her granddaughter’s speak for the first time in nine years! She dreams about you a lot, but I don’t think she remembers them.

Yes, I’ve told her about her sleep talking, and she’s going to see a specialist this week to discuss what this new development could mean. I don’t want you getting your hopes up, but I still thought that you of all people deserved to hear her voice. Isn’t it such a beautiful, sweet voice?

Anyway, enjoy the tape, and I look forward to seeing you for Thanksgiving.

Love always,

Gran

P.S. Make sure to check your mail on Friday right after class. I’m sending something that won’t keep over the weekend.~

I don’t want to sound… Can I listen to it again?” Eric whispered as he stared at the tape.

Alcide smiled at his roommate before reaching into his bedside table and tossing his walkman at Eric. “Listen as many times as you want.”

The recording was only a minute long because of the spacing between Gran’s prodding and Sookie’s responses, but Eric listened to it five times before he managed to fall asleep.

{†}

Sookie’s School Year

Sookie had almost forgotten what it felt like to be afraid to go to school. Every day of her Senior year, she was reminded what the years before the Northmans arrived had been like. The first time she was body checked into a locker, she had felt staggered. By the third time her books had been slapped out of her hands, she remembered she needed to hug them tightly to her chest rather than balance them on her hip like a baby.

When August ended, she fell back into her old routines. Lunch with Pam only eased some of the loneliness, and her friend regularly remarked that Sookie had lost her luster.

It’s nothing,”Sookie assured her as she poked at her lunch. If Pam wasn’t noticing anything, Sookie wasn’t about to bring it up. Sookie could only hope that her friend would think the gloom surrounding her was due to Eric’s absence. The thought of Pam trying to take the place of her fiancé and her brother as a bodyguard made Sookie worried.

If I just keep my head down, Sookie thought as they left the lunch table and headed for Pam’s next class. If I don’t bother anyone… Maybe it won’t be so terrible.

But even that didn’t work as Bill Compton spotted her coming down the hall. He had been the first person to antagonize her after school started back up. She remembered him staring her right in the eyes and then smacking her books from her hands as if to declare that ‘Sookie Season’ was now open. After that single attack, the rest had come like machine gun fire. Her locker door was constantly closed on her, catching her fingers and hand on several occasions. She’d been shoved onto the ground and against lockers multiple times in just a couple weeks. By the start of September, Sookie wondered if she could survive. It was as if the assaults had doubled from previous years to make up for the fact no one had touched her Sophomore/Junior year.

It was halfway through September when Jason began to notice something was not right with his sister.

Sook,” Jason frowned, “it’s still hot as hell out. Why’re you wearing long sleeves?” When his sister ignored his question, he got up and grabbed her by the wrist. She struggled to bat his hand away, but he yanked her sleeve up until the multiple splotches of green, purple and yellow glared up at him. “The fuck, Sookie?” he checked her other arm. “Who’s coming at you like this?”

Sookie jerked her arm from his loosened grasp and went back to clearing the table.

Gran, do you know about this?” Jason demanded.

Adele sighed as she washed the pot from dinner. She’d had her suspicions but knew better than to think Sookie would tell on anyone. Even before she’d lost her voice, Sookie had taken snitching very seriously. Jason had once gotten away with convincing their parents that Sookie had broken their mother’s Christmas plate when it had actually been him. Sookie hadn’t even tried to defend herself.

My poor Sookie, Adele thought sadly, why do you think you deserve all of this?

It was around October that Sookie started hearing the whispers. She endured the snickering as her classmates commented on how much pussy her fiancéwas getting now that he wasn’t giving her a pity relationship. She ignored the remarks that Eric had only proposed to give her something to look forward to after graduation. She even managed to smile a little when she overheard someone say that Eric’s proposal was the only one she’d ever get. Duh, she’d thought condescendingly, because I’ll be married and not likely to receive another!

Still, even with mental comebacks, Sookie felt the weight of their words on her heart. She missed Eric more than ever, and perhaps that was the reason why she’d begun talking in her sleep.

Gran was waiting for her in the kitchen the morning after hearing her granddaughter talking in her sleep. She looked tired but surprisingly chipper despite the fatigue.

Sookie,” Gran smiled at her, “I have something for you.”

Sookie tilted her head curiously as Gran held out a tape recorder and pushed play.

Sookie,” came Gran’s voice.

Eric?”

Sookie’s eyes widened at the voice she heard, and she fell into the kitchen chair.

Sookie.”

Eric… Miss you…”

Sookie looked at her grandmother, a stunned expression on her face.

You finally spoke,” Gran smiled at her.

Sitting frozen a moment longer, Sookie finally scrambled for a pen and paper,“What does this mean?”

I think it means that maybe you should finally see a therapist again,” Gran pointed out. “I planned on calling around today while you’re at school. Is that alright?”

Sookie nodded numbly as she grabbed the recorder, rewound it and played it again. She listened to it twice more before writing, “Can you send this to Eric?”

Do you want me to?” Gran asked.

What if it’s the only chance he gets to hear my voice? It’s not the words I wanted him to hear, but at least they’re true words,”Sookie explained.

Well,” Gran considered, “since you didn’t technically speak them to him, you could still work toward that dream. I think this will make an excellent gift for him.”

I do miss him,”Sookie confessed.

I know you do, Dear,” Gran reached forward to pat her granddaughter’s hand. “If you’d like, you could borrow my car and drive down to see him this weekend,” she offered. Sookie looked at her in surprise. “Of course, I want you to stop every so often and just call home and press a couple buttons to let me know you’re alright along the way.”

Sookie considered this, but it was at least a five-hour drive, and she’d never driven outside Bon Temps before. It scared her, but New Orleans would be her home next year. Also, if she were brave, she would get to see Eric. For a single weekend, her life would be better.

Okay.”

That Friday, Gran called Sookie off of school and sent her on her merry way to New Orleans. If nothing else, at least her granddaughter would have a reprieve from the bullying.

Adele waited until after school hours to go visit Pam and Godric. She knew the oldest Northman boy would be back from Shreveport by the time Pam returned from school. That was why, after receiving the most recent, “I’m alive,” phone call from Sookie, Adele began her trek up the road.

Hey, Gran!” Pam greeted as she pulled up to her driveway to see Adele coming up the road. “What’s up?”

Pam,” Adele caught her breath and fanned herself. The little hill around the bend always took the wind out of her. “I was hoping to have afternoon tea with you and Godric.”

Sure!” Pam agreed. Let me just park the car. “How’s Sookie feeling?”

Fine,” Adele responded before following the car up the driveway and heading inside with her daughter’s friend.

Is something wrong?” Pam asked as she slid out of her car and walked up to the front door. “GODRIC! GRAN’S JOINING US FOR TEA!” she hollered as she stepped inside the house.

I suppose you could say that,” Gran sighed as she walked with Pam to the sitting room. She just adored the little tea set-up the Northman’s had. It was quaint and beautiful. It reminded her of her youth. The occasional afternoon tea with girlfriends, discussing their crushes and giggling with their admittances.

What is it?” Pam asked as she pulled a chair out for Gran and helped her slide it back in.

Such a lady,” Gran patted the girl’s hand making Pam flush.

Before Pam could listen to any answers, Godric arrived in the room with their tea and snacks.

Good afternoon, Gran,” Godric greeted cheerily. “How are you doing?”

Very well, thank you. However, I called Sookie out of school today so she could take my car down to New Orleans,” Gran smiled with a distant look fogging her eyes.

Fall Break is only a month away,” Pam protested. “Are you sure it’s safe for Sookie to travel that far on her own?”

She’ll be fine,” Gran waved off the girl’s concern. “Sookie’s tough in her own ways… Which brings me to the purpose of my visit.” The Northmans looked at the older woman curiously. “Pam, have you noticed anything at school lately?”

Pam’s brow furrowed, “Not really, why?”

Sookie’s not acting off at all?” Adele pressed.

Well,” Pam thought, “she’s a lot more withdrawn at lunch. After the first day, she stopped trying to meet up with me between classes, too. I just figured her classes are too spread out to mingle between them. As for lunch… Well, she’s been down, but I know she misses Eric.”

“You haven’t noticed any other students bothering her?” Adele asked, and Pam stared. “Or that she’s taken to wearing long sleeves already?”

She’s being bullied again?” Pam sounded devastated. “Why wouldn’t she tell me?”

I don’t think she wants to raise a fuss with it being her last year at school,” Adele admitted. “She’s just trying to muscle through, but she’s never had so many bruises before. It used to be that she’d come home with the occasional one, not that she’d have layers of them throughout the week.”

With Eric and Jason gone, it looks like the students are showing her she’s not protected anymore,” Godric frowned as he listened to the conversation. “It’s as if they’re trying to put her back into her place.”

Pam stood sharply. “That’s not right!”

Of course it’s not, Dear,” Adele soothed as she gave Pam’s hand a tug, encouraging her to sit back down. “Regardless, Sookie needed a break, and she really misses Eric. That’s why I sent her to New Orleans for the weekend.” With a soft smile, she added, “She starts therapy next week after school.”

What?” Pam and Godric asked in unison.

She’s started talking in her sleep. Actually talking!” Gran glowed happily. “I recorded it with Jason’s cassette player and played it for her. She agreed to start going to therapy again.”

What did she say?” Godric asked curiously.

She said Eric’s name and that she missed him,” Gran answered warmly. “It was very sweet. I went ahead and sent the cassette to Eric once Sookie was done with it.”

“I wish I could have heard it,” Pam mumbled sadly. “I’m glad she’s finally agreed to see a specialist again. She told me that when she was a kid, the doctors made her feel like not being able to speak was her fault.”

What do you mean?” Adele asked curiously.

Pam looked at Gran in surprise, “You know, how they said she’d speak when she was good and ready?”

Adele’s jaw slung open, “Oh, no,” she shook her head, “that’s not what they said at all.”

It’s not?” Godric asked.

Adele shook her head, “No, they were talking about how she could very well regain her voice. It was described as a mental block, and could dissipate with regular therapy.”

Did Sookie go to therapy?” Godric asked.

Gran placed her teacup down and replied, “Well, she did for a while. After a few months, the doctor told me that Sookie still wouldn’t write to her and she refused to try and learn to sign. She said it seemed like Sookie didn’t feel like she deserved to get her voice back. Unless Sookie was willing to try, the doctor didn’t know how much therapy could help.”

So you took her out of it and just let her be,” Godric realized.

I’m sure it was the wrong thing-”

I’m not saying that,” Godric smiled comfortingly. “Sookie is tough in her own way, but she’s also stubborn. I think you know that better than anyone.” Adele smiled fondly. “If she got it in her head that the muteness was some sort of punishment, do you think she’d try to overcome it?”

Adele sighed, “No, she’d accept it and move on.”

Is there anything she should feel that guilty for?” Pam asked.

Adele looked at her tea for a long moment before she confessed, “I don’t have all the details.”

Any would be a start,” Godric encouraged. “If the therapist has a lead, maybe they can actually help Sookie this time.”

“I know,” Adele took a deep breath, “that the day of the crash, my son and his wife were running late picking Sookie up from my house. My brother had come to visit out of the blue and agreed to watch Sookie while I went to my Descendants of the Glorious Dead meeting. Jason was at football practice, and I’m sure my son and his wife were taking advantage of putting the kids out of the house for the day like moms and dads do. The thing is… the crash happened heading back into town from the swamp. Not my house. My brother hasn’t been seen since that day.” Pam sucked in a quiet breath.

Godric stared for a long moment, “I don’t know that I’m following.”

A few months after their deaths,” Adele continued, “was when Hadley started showing signs of obvious drug use. While she was under the influence, she asked me if I thought Uncle Corbett and Aunt Michelle would still be alive if she’d told on Uncle Bartlett. She asked me if I’d forgive her if Bartlett hurt Sookie too.” Pam looked down at her hands as Gran confirmed a terrible worry she’d been having for nearly a year.

My son was a sweet boy,” Gran continued. “Boisterous, a bit full of himself, but a good boy… But if he found out his uncle did something like that to his baby… He’d kill him. If he did that to her,” Adele gasped, “I don’t want her to remember it… If she gets her voice back, will that mean she’ll remember the crash and all the things that lead up to it?”

There’s no way to know,” Godric told her honestly. “I mean… Maybe you should let the therapist know about all of this and see what they have to say.”

Adele frowned at the idea of dragging her family’s name through the mud over theories, but if there was a shred of truth behind any of the possibilities, it might affect their approach to helping Sookie. “I’m sorry to put the burden of all this on the two of you, but with Eric as part of the equation… I wondered if you might have an idea how he’d take all of this?”

“What do you mean?” Pam asked.

If it turns out that Bartlett hurt Sookie, how do you think Eric would respond?” Adele rephrased.

He’d be mad as hell,” Pam answered truthfully, “and if your brother isn’t dead already, Eric will take care of it.”

He wouldn’t look at Sookie differently?” Adele whispered nervously.

Godric became thoughtful a moment before confessing, “He would, but I think he would be a lot more aware of her. A lot more protective.”

That’s a terrifying notion,” Pam mumbled as she picked up her teacup and took a long sip.

If you’re worried that he’d leave her over it, well, I couldn’t imagine it,” Godric declared. In the last year, the oldest brother had to admit that Eric was completely serious about Sookie. He couldn’t say why his brother was so devoted. Sookie was a sweet girl, and she was more than capable of poking fun at Eric and making him laugh about it. Still, their relationship wasn’t what anyone would call an obvious one. No one looked at Sookie and Eric and thought, “Oh, they’re a perfect couple! I couldn’t imagine them with anyone else!” Of course, those who knew the two of them would beg to differ, but Godric would also understand the point of those looking from the outside in.

Resting her face delicately in her hand, it was Pam that settled all their minds. “Either way you slice it, it’s something they’ll have to get through as a couple because it impacts Sookie’s ability to speak in the future. In a way, that’s a big deal to Eric’s future as well as Sookie’s because they’ll be living that future together. So, shouldn’t we just leave it alone and let them deal with it however they’re going to? If they need help, they’ll ask for it… At least, Eric will.”

Gran had to agree with that. When he’d asked for permission to propose to Sookie, he had asked many other questions. He wondered if he was right about thinking Sookie was a ‘settled’ type and wouldn’t regret not sowing her wild oats. Gran had chuckled and answered that Sookie had strong, resilient bones, not flexible, wild ones. He’d asked how Gran would feel if he took Sookie away from Bon Temps, and she had given her blessing to take her granddaughter away; even if it meant only seeing her for major holidays.

I suppose, Gran thought with only the slightest quake in her composure, Bon Temps has become her prison, not her home.

On to Chapter Fourteen!

 

Unspoken Feelings Ch. 12

Chapter Twelve: I Promise

~ “I can’t believe you’re actually serious about this,” Godric was still stunned by his brother’s declaration.

Why is that?” Eric asked as he began putting away the tea set. His sister was still holding her cup to her mouth in shock.

His siblings both sputtered a moment before Pam pointed out, “You’re leaving for college in three months!”

So?” Eric snatched Pam’s teacup from her hand and put it on the serving tray to return to the kitchen.

Pam was about to continue her protests, but Godric placed a hand on her shoulder, “Eric’s always done exactly what he’s wanted. If he’s made up his mind, Sookie’s the only one that can stop him now.”

Are you guys that worried?” Eric demanded.

For Sookie,” they replied in unison.~

Thankfully, Eric had achieved what he wanted out of that fatiguing conversation a week ago. Godric and Pam had decided to spend the following weekend in New Orleans, and Eric had the house to himself. With a little help in the kitchen before they left, Eric had a pleasant dinner set up when Sookie rang the bell.

Hi,” Eric greeted her at the door nervously. She tilted her head at his worried expression, but still gave one of her dazzling smiles. “I’m glad Godric could drop you off before they left for their trip.”

Why aren’t you going?”Sookie asked as she came into the house.

Because I’m going off to college soon, and I want to spend as much time with you as possible before that happens,” Eric explained as they walked to the dining room together.

Not eating in the kitchen?”Sookie asked as she saw the place settings.

“No,” he was growing more and more nervous, and Sookie wanted to soothe his tension.

She wished she could say that he didn’t have to go through all the trouble of a romantic dinner just to have sex with her. She was ready! She was primed! Let’s do this! She excitedly thought.

Eric pulled her chair out for her and Sookie glanced back to make sure he wasn’t about to keel over before she sat down. He was up and down from his chair a half dozen times before they even managed to cut into their dinner.

Eric, calm down,” Sookie comforted. “You don’t have to try so hard!”

“Can I get the hard part out of the way now?” Eric asked suddenly.

Sookie’s eyes widened. What? Is he going to push all the dishes away and do me on the dining room table? She wondered but was a bit aroused with the notion. So, with mixed expectations, Sookie nodded her head in agreement.

Letting out a relieved breath, Eric stood from his seat and came over to Sookie. When he lifted her from her chair, her heart began to race. “One day, I’ll do this more formally, but for now, I only need you.”

Sookie was stuck on the word ‘formally.’ Is he planning on calling in a group of witnesses and a notary over our sex life?

Sookie, it’s not much, but it’s what I have right now,” Eric told her as he took her hand in his own. “You don’t have to wear it until after you graduate, but will you accept my ring and agree to be my wife?”

His girlfriend’s jaw slung open in surprise as Eric’s free hand opened a small, black box dexterously. Inside was a ring far grander than anything she would have expected ever to receive. Wait, this whole night has nothing to do with sex!? Sookie stared at him in wonder.

Sookie, I know this thing doesn’t look like it weighs much, but it feels like a boulder right now,” Eric whispered. “I need you to answer.”

YES! She frantically nodded as she pushed her left hand at him and brought her right palm to her mouth in an attempt to stifle her sob.

Eric let out a long breath as he slid his ring onto her finger. She immediately grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him in for a deep kiss. “Dinner,” he mumbled against her mouth, and she pulled away to shake her head ‘no.’ Sex was happening, and it was happening this instant!

Still holding the front of his shirt, Sookie led Eric toward the stairs, but it was obvious that whatever nerves had been wracking her boyfriend- No! Fiancé! She thought delightedly- were no longer an issue.

Before her foot could touch on the first step, Eric scooped her up and began bounding up the stairs. Sookie grinned as she clung to him excitedly. When they arrived at his bedroom, Sookie felt her first burst of nervousness as she was laid out on the bed. With only a few crummy romance novels to guide her, she was finally feeling the distance between her level of experience and Eric’s.

Mercifully, Eric merely layered himself over her and began kissing her deeply. Okay, I know how to do this. Go with the flow. Pretend it’s like learning to dance. Let him lead and pay attention how to follow-OH! His hand cupped her breast and gave her nipple a sharp tug. The sensation caught Sookie off guard as having her breasts played with didn’t typically send a shock wave to her sex, but this time, the edge of roughness caused a deep thrum to echo inside her womb.

Eric grinned against her mouth, finally having unlocked the attention her breasts needed to stir a response. The tempting globes weren’t overly sensitive, and that meant he could be firmer than he was accustomed.

As his hand squeezed and plucked at her breast, Sookie found her hips wanted to move as well. Just as she was beginning to calm down, Eric pulled away and smiled at her. At her curious look, he gave her a quick peck on the mouth before rising and heading to the CD player. He pushed play on the tape deck and began padding back to the bed while removing his shirt.


Sookie’s lip found its way between her teeth as she watched his bare chest appear. She’d only seen him a few times with his shirt off, and the most recent time had been when they went swimming while staying in Texas. The sight was a glorious one to behold, and Sookie felt the last of her nerves melt away. Pretty soon that tempting torso would be mashed against hers, and his perfect butt would be within her hands’ reach. Her fingers itched to give his rear a good squeeze, but she remained still on the bed as he returned to her with another kiss.

Once more she was beneath him, and their kisses began anew as Jimi Hendrix sung about being Bold as Love. Over the past months, Eric’s mixtape had become the soundtrack of their lives, and seventeen songs that crooned through their experiences together played an infinite loop in Sookie’s head.

“I love you, Sookie. I love you,” Eric told her as he began lifting the hem of her sundress. Sookie arched so he could push it from under her bottom and then sat up so it could come over her head. When she sat in front of him in nothing but her lacy, soft pink underwear set, Eric knew that his fiancée had arrived with expectations for the evening. She’s my fiancée! He thought happily.

As Eric reached for her, Sookie took a steadying breath. When his hand snaked behind her, she had no time to be curious because the clasp of her bra immediately came undone. I guess those jokes about men and bras is not a universal truth, Sookie realized as she sat bare-breasted in front of Eric.

You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to suck and nibble on these,” he told her as he leaned in to do just that. Admittedly, Sookie found it a lot more enjoyable than she thought she would. His touch was solid, and she felt pleasant little aches shoot from her nipples once more to her sex as his mouth sucked one nipple and his fingers tugged the other.

Soft noises began to tumble from Sookie’s lips, and she found herself laying on the bed as Eric licked and sucked his way down to the border of her panties. With a short hesitation to give her time to stop him, Eric proceeded to remove the last scrap of her clothing. Sookie glanced down at him as he pushed her legs open and groaned pleasurably as his tongue began to caress her pussy. She reached down to bury her fingers in his hair, and her knees bowed a bit wider as she enjoyed the building tension in her womb.

She could feel her climax growing after a short while. She wasn’t sure how long Eric had been licking and pushing his fingers inside her, but she knew that the edge of her orgasm was on the horizon.

Ahh,” her mouth uttered as she found the precipice, but before she could tumble over, Eric pulled away.

“Wait for me,” Eric whispered as he ran his hands up and down her thighs. “I don’t think I’ll be able to last long… It’s been a while,” he confessed as he began removing the remainder of his clothes. Sookie panted as she felt her proximity to bliss grow more distant, but the sight of Eric’s cock as he dropped his jeans and boxers caused a whole new pulse inside her.

Oh, she stared at the beast that had been poking her for months beneath the cover of his clothes. Okay, he’s had other girls take it. I can take it… Right? She found herself breathing harder as anxiety and anticipation ran rampantly through her body. Delving deep, Sookie found her resolve, and the part of her that had no fear.

Sookie reached for him as she found her confident side, and took him boldly into her hand. Eric was surprised as she began to stroke him, and secretly thanked God he had the presence of mind to jerk off earlier in the day.

Her exploratory touches and intense observation filled Eric with a combination of affection and amusement as he watched her explore him. Relief came as he realized she wasn’t getting nervous.

Oh, God, stop staring at me! Sookie thought as she glided her hand up and down over his cock. His stunned gaze was making her self-conscious, and she was starting to worry he wasn’t liking what she was doing. With the only course of action, she could think of, Sookie put her hand above her eyes as if she were blocking out the sun. Phew, just the loss of him in her peripheral eased some of her jitters.

She focused her attention back to her exploration. A bead of fluid had begun to drip from the tip of her fiancé’s shaft, and Sookie ran her thumb over it, curious about the consistency. Her thumb glided over the slit, and she was captivated by the spongy head of his cock. As she grew more emboldened without feeling his gaze on her, her stroke became more self-assured. Then, without warning, Eric’s hand took hers and made her release him. Oh! Was I doing something wrong? She softly moaned as she was drawn back until she lay on the bed.

“Sookie,” Eric’s voice was considerably lower than usual, “I don’t want to rush you, but you’re driving me crazy. If you keep stroking it like that, I’m never going to get inside of you!” His hand slid between her thighs to pump his fingers a bit longer into the space he wanted to explore most of all. “I think tugging on me got you even wetter.” Sookie’s cheeks glowed at his observation.

As his fingers dipped in and out of her passage, she felt the heel of his palm rubbing carefully over her clit. Sookie found the sensation to be a teasing one and shimmied her hips in search of a more fulfilling experience.

Sookie never found the angle she was looking for because Eric’s hand left the space between her legs so that his hips could settle in their place. As his body lowered over hers, and his arms formed a cage on either side of her head, Sookie felt his length come to rest against her pelvis.

“Feeling alright?” Eric asked, and for the first time since his proposal, Sookie could feel his nervousness. For some reason that made her feel better. Knowing that he was uncertain made her feel like he had more consideration for her. Not preoccupied with what he was doing, Eric was concerned about pleasing her. He wanted this experience to be perfect for her, and at that moment it was.

Sookie nodded as she raised her knees and gently pinched Eric’s hips with them. He smiled down at her and captured her mouth for another kiss. One of his arms reached between them, and she felt him tracing the head of his shaft against her slit. The way it glided smoothly against her opening made Sookie relax further. That soft, liquid sensation assured her that they were meant to join like this.

Tilting her hips, she felt him begin to slip inside and instinctively held her breath. His hand was back at her clit, rubbing gently as just the head of his cock slid in and out at the very edge of her opening.

Mmm,” she simpered as a breath of air escaped.

More of her juices began to coat him as he rocked and rubbed. His movements became more comfortable, and his stroke became deeper until he reached a point that made Sookie let out a surprised ‘ah!’ and grasp him.

“I got you,” Eric assured her as the arm by her head bent to support him on his forearm and press their bodies closer. “Are you alright?” Sookie nodded with a deep breath. “Do you want me to stop for a minute?” he asked, and she shook her head. “You’re sure?” She nodded and used her knees to give him a gentle tug. Soon he was buried to the hilt inside her and sought her lips for another long, calming kiss.

Eric remained relatively still as he began rubbing her just above where they joined. Sookie was breathing normally again and was staring at him wondrously. She wanted to tell him how good he felt, how good he made her feel. Every little movement inside her was easily distinguishable, and Sookie desired to hold him there always.

“I’m going to start moving, Sookie,” Eric whispered as his hips began to draw away. Sookie moaned from the loss, but let out an approving noise as his member slid back in. “Give me your hand,” the love of her life encouraged as he stopped rubbing her to reach for her right hand. Sookie opened her eyes as she felt her arm raise and bashfully watched as Eric ran his tongue over her fingertips, “Show me the right way to touch you, Sookie,” he told her as he placed her hand over her pleasure point and waited with intense curiosity.

Eric sighed with a bit of relief as Sookie’s hand went to work on her clit. The loss of the task made it easier to concentrate on keeping his orgasm in check. It was hot to watch her rubbing herself, but he could enjoy it with a more detached marvel. I got this, he thought with an essence of alleviation.

Just as Eric was able to start enjoying himself, and discovered a sense of confidence that he wouldn’t go off too early, Sookie surprised him by twisting her hips beneath him as if she were trying to get away. Eric looked at her face worriedly and found her looking away with a glazed, panting expression. Her walls tightened down on him, her hips arched harder, and Eric found his fingers digging into her hips to try and grasp onto the control that seemed so well within his reach. I don’t got this! He realized as she cried out with an orgasm and her tight, squeezing walls milked him for his climax.

GOD, FUCK!” Eric shouted as he slammed his hips tightly against Sookie’s and let out a regretful snarl as his release shot deep inside. I’ll get better, he promised himself. She’ll loosen up, and I’ll get better, he reasoned as his cock experienced intermittent tremors that seemed to synchronize with her own.

Sookie stared dazedly up at her fiancé until her body began to calm down and she ran her hand briskly over the arm that kept him suspended above her. He seemed to realize he’d frozen above her and finally fell to his side to pull her against his chest.

“I like holding you like this,” he mumbled as he hugged her tighter. “Rub my arm for ‘yes’ and tap it for ‘no,’ okay?” She rubbed his arm. “You feeling okay.”

Yes,” She wiggled back contentedly.

“He’s not waking up for a while,” Eric laughed. “You’ll know when he’s ready again,” he promised. “Do you hurt anywhere?”

No.”

I’m glad,” Eric sighed as he kissed the back of her head. “I love you, Sookie. Thank you for agreeing to marry me.”

How the heck do I respond yes or no to that! Sookie thought in bewilderment as she tried to turn over in his arms.

No, stay just like this,” Eric whispered. “I want to tell you something important, but I can’t if you’re looking at me.” Sookie remained still as her future husband built up his nerve. “You know how I feel about your voice. You know that it’s never mattered to me how you tell me your feelings so long as you do. The other day when I told you that I loved you, and I saw how much it hurt you not to be able to say it back… I’m sorry… But I’m sorry that I’m not sorry for that. Sookie, have you loved me for a long time?” he asked. She rubbed his forearm slowly. “I fell in love with you on Christmas Eve,” he told her, “and it wasn’t because you made me jizz in my pants.” Sookie snorted with a laugh. “It was when we were driving, and you were listening to the tape I made for you. You fell in love with the music, and I fell in love with you.”

But so many of the songs were love songs, Sookie considered. Was he already feeling all that, and seeing my reaction just cemented what he already felt? She pulled at Eric’s arms, forcing him to hold her tighter. After he was asleep, she’d be able to sit down with a pen and paper. She’d be able to express everything she felt. She’d be able to ask all the questions to which she desired answers.

Soon.

{†}

Admittedly, it was much harder to get out of bed with Eric than to get into it. She wasn’t talking about the fact he was nearly laying on top of her, and that his weight was like an immovable boulder. Sookie was observing that his warmth was welcoming, and she wanted to stay right where she was.

Still, she had a million questions running through her head. What did he mean by not wearing his ring until after I graduate? How long does he want to be engaged before we get married? Sookie wasn’t a big fan of long engagements. If people were so unsure about their relationship, then they probably should have waited to get engaged. Then again, if financial or health-related problems come up, I can see wanting to wait it out…

Shaking off her derailed train of thought, Sookie finally shimmied out of bed and went to Eric’s desk. There was a pen resting on the table top, and she grabbed his decommissioned notebook to start her list of inquiries.

“Mmm, what are you doing? Come back to bed,” Eric mumbled as he sat up twenty minutes later. Sookie didn’t even have the chance to turn and look at him before a strong arm had snagged her around the middle and began dragging her back to bed. “What are you writing?” he blinked several times when he discovered his old physics notebook had come along with Sookie.

Sookie handed him the notebook, and he began reading, “Oh, is this like the sex page you gave me last month?” Eric asked as he pushed his pillows back to prop himself up. He pulled Sookie into his side, draping his arm over her as the other held up the questions. “‘What do I tell Gran?’,” he read. “Well, you don’t have to tell her much more than that you said ‘yes.’ I already asked her permission, and considering you’re not coming home tonight; I think she can guess what your response was.” Sookie’s eyes widened, but she was too stunned to hear that Gran didn’t object to Eric asking her to marry him. Gran had always been a somewhat idealistic blend of traditionalist and modernist.

Let’s see, what’s next? ‘Why can’t I wear your ring until after graduation?’” Eric glanced at her. “Do you want to wear it now?” Sookie nodded. “Then wear it. I just thought you might not like being the center of attention being the only engaged woman in school.”

Oh, that makes more sense, Sookie smiled sheepishly.

“As for how long we’re engaged,” Eric considered, “I really wouldn’t mind getting married next summer, but I don’t get my inheritance until after Pam gets at least a four-year college degree. I might not make any real money until after I finish college. We were given tuition stipends, and a small allowance for the time we’re in school. It’s generous, but it’ll be tight with two people living on it.”

How much would we need to balance?” Sookie asked. Gran had taught her to be thrifty, so she had hopes that she could keep their budget-

Two grand a month for living expenses,” Eric told her.

Though Sookie wasn’t aware of the costs of apartments in or near New Orleans, she had a feeling that a young couple could manage three years in a one bedroom or even a studio apartment. The odds of that costing even a grand seemed unlikely. She felt confident that she could manage that sort of budget between the two of them.

Maybe I can find a job in the city. My signing is getting better, she considered as Eric read on.

“Yes, Sookie, you can definitely visit me at school. Any time,” Eric smiled at her. “You can even drop in for surprise inspections if you want.”

I trust you.”

Well that’s a relief,” Eric laughed. “’I want ba-‘” Eric stopped reading the next question. It wasn’t a question at all. It was a declaration. “Sookie, you’ve told me that babies are important to you.” She gestured for him to read on. “’Is five okay!?’” he asked anxiously. “You want five!?”

At least,”she told him happily.

Eric stared at the paper as if she’d just handed him a positive pregnancy test. He knew with his split of the inheritance, being financially responsible for five children was more than within his means, but the idea of five little Eric and Sookie Juniors looking to him for love and attention was daunting.

Uh, can we negotiate the numbers later?” Eric asked. “As long as I accede to two now?”

Sookie smiled as she reached her face upward for a kiss.“That’s fine for now,” she told him as she pulled away.

I know we can’t plan for everything, but can we try waiting until I finish college before we start working on that?” he asked. Sookie nodded in agreement and Eric went back to reading her questions. “‘Where will we live after you finish school,’” he read. “I don’t have my heart set on any particular place. I think we can leave that one for later. Unless you had somewhere in mind? Did you want to come back to Bon Temps?” He was well aware that a few months ago, she was certain she wanted to live anywhere but Bon Temps. When she shrugged disinterestedly, Eric decided it was a conversation for much later. After all, they easily had four years to come to a decision. “Is that it for now?” Eric asked in surprise.

Sookie pointed to her ring, “With this, that’s all I need now.”

Eric smiled and threw his notebook on the ground before turning to layer himself over his fiancée. “In that case,” he whispered, “are you up for a little more celebrating?”

Her reply was to smile and pull him in for a kiss that quickly evolved into so much more. “Will you take my name when we get married?” Eric asked as he began kissing down her throat. He pulled away long enough to see her nod, and it made him smile. “I’m glad.”

Why wouldn’t I take your name, Silly? Sookie looked into Eric’s eyes with fondness as his kisses intensified. The warmth of their skin, the heat of his breath, and that excited glint in his eyes when she agreed to take his name were all seductive in their own ways.

“I would stay in this room with you all summer if we could,” Eric whispered as he gave the space between her thighs a soft nudge with his hardening member. Sookie gave him a why-am-I-not-surprised look, and he smiled. “Not just for the sex,” he laughed even as he rocked his hips and let his shaft become coated with the wetness she was producing in response to the fact he was sliding tauntingly against her clit. “I mean just being left alone to be together, and forgetting the world for a while.”

Sookie considered his point a moment. In August she would be back in school. She had no classes with Pam, and would only see her at lunchtime. Eric would be in New Orleans. For the first time since meeting the Northmans, she would be alone throughout most of her day. The thought made her sad and a little anxious.

She could do with turning off the world for a while as well. That was why she reached between them and placed the head of his cock against her opening before wrapping her limbs securely around his torso. Eric groaned as he began to slip back into his new haven. Pressing her into the bed, Eric kissed and licked her throat as he tried to find just the right angle to allow one of his hands the opportunity to explore. The young man ran his hand up and down her side. On the upstroke, he would squeeze her breast, and then he would pull her in for a tighter collision of their sexes when his fingers dug into her hip. Sookie grunted passionately at his thrusts but occasionally felt him so deeply that it was almost painful.

As their bodies smashed rhythmically to some natural beat within them, Eric wrapped his arms tightly around his future wife as he pushed in close and deep. Sookie was gasping with every thrust, and he felt like he wanted nothing more than to crawl as far inside her as possible. Eric captured her mouth and tangled his tongue with hers. His fingers dug into the softness of her body, but he just couldn’t get as close as he wanted. When his body began to tense with an impending orgasm, he felt her legs tighten around his sides. He felt her fingers twist in his hair. Finally, she was holding him how he needed, and it was that sensation which brought him over the edge. Feeling like one giant being. Feeling whole.

On to Chapter Thirteen!

Unspoken Feelings Ch. 11

Chapter Eleven: All the Things I’d Like to Say

Sookie didn’t care that everyone was glaring at her. She clapped and whistled as Eric was called to receive his diploma. When Gran chuckled and tugged at her shirt to make her sit down, Sookie only did so when her boyfriend cleared the stage.

In a small town like Bon Temps, graduation ceremonies were blissfully short, and there were only a handful of students that needed to receive their diplomas after her boyfriend. That short amount of time felt infinite as Sookie bounced impatiently in her seat. She barely even remembered to whistle and clap for her own brother!

When they were finally able to mingle on the gym floor with the graduates, Sookie launched herself into Eric’s arms. “I’m so proud of you!” she told him.

Thanks, Sookie,” Eric pulled her close for a short but sweet kiss.

Good job, little brother,” Godric grabbed Eric and gave him a quick, masculine hug.

Says the shortest one of all of us,” Pam pointed out as she snuck in a quick hug of her own. “So, how does it feel to finally be free of this bullshit?”

Let’s just say, I’m looking forward to a Summer of Sookie, and sort of dreading going to New Orleans this August,” Eric confessed.

Jesus,” Jason grumbled as he weaved his way toward the group, “what am I, chopped liver?”

Sorry,”Sookie gestured before finally letting go of Eric and hugging her brother. “I made your favorite cake for graduation,” she offered as consolation.

Yeah, ’cause your man doesn’t eat cake,” Jason scowled.

No, I’m more about pie,” Eric grinned, and Sookie’s face tightened anxiously at the reminder that her birthday was only nine more days away, and her boyfriend would happily gorge himself on her pie if she didn’t make an objection.

Jason’s eyes narrowed as he followed the implication, but he chose not to say anything in front of his grandmother.

Shall we head back to Rosenfont?” Pam asked as they gathered toward the door. Everyone had managed to squeeze into Gran’s station wagon by putting Sookie on Eric’s lap. The couple had made no objection to the seating arrangements.

As everyone strolled back to the car and piled in, Eric couldn’t help but let his hands wander as they bounced along the back country roads. Sookie’s ass was rubbing him through their clothes, and he could see her nipples hardening through the cotton of her dress and bra. If she didn’t let him get his face between her legs in the upcoming weeks, he wasn’t sure he’d survive!

When they pulled up to the old plantation, Eric stopped Sookie from sliding off him, “Wait, just a moment, okay?” Sookie looked at him before a pleased grin spread across her lips. Her bottom shifted against his dick, and he sucked air between his teeth. “I wanted you to stay put to hide my erection, not make it worse!” he hissed.

Remaining quietly still, Sookie waited until she felt the rigidness against her bottom dissipate. She had to admit, she didn’t think he had that much control over his body, but he seemed to do just fine bringing himself back down. Then again, she remembered grinding against him the previous night and causing another messy pair of boxers. Those occasions only happened every few weeks, and she was starting to find a timeline or rhythm in regards to his level of control. For the next week, he’d be able to keep a handle on his arousal, but once they hit day nine or ten, it would be more difficult for him to calm himself. After two weeks, he’d be at risk of losing all control.

Thanks for cheering for me,” he said while pulling her close once more. “It meant a lot to me.”

We should get inside,” she told him as she began to climb off his lap. It was too warm in the car to stay there for very long.

Have you thought much about your birthday?” he asked before she could open the door.

Sookie was grateful her back was to him because every time her birthday was mentioned all she could think about was Eric’s desire to go down on her. That made conversations with Gran very confusing and awkward when she asked about the cake she wanted.

She shook her head.

You still haven’t asked me much about it. You asked a few things at the park when I first brought it up, but you never followed through on talking about it when we got to the hotel.”

Slowly Sookie turned to him, “Embarrassed.”

Why?” he asked, intrigued. Sookie gave him a look that questioned why he was oblivious to the answer. “It’s funny how you can be so bold one second and so timid the next,” he laughed as he pulled her back against him. Despite the oppressing heat inside the car, he wanted just a couple more minutes alone with her.

Turning in his arms, Sookie took out her purse, opened it, pulled out a paper and handed it to Eric. It was on one of their blue notebook pages.

Unfolding the paper curiously, Eric was surprised to find an entire page of thoughts and worries presented to him in Sookie’s beautiful handwriting.

These are all the things you’ve been thinking about since I brought it up?” Eric asked in surprise.

I needed time to think,” she explained.

‘How do I reciprocate?’” Eric read off the paper, and Sookie flinched. “Sookie, it’s not a bartering system. You do things as you want. ‘What if I don’t like it?’” He smiled. “I doubt that would be a huge problem, but maybe let me know how I could be better?” As he read on, he was smiling, and at one point he stopped reading and just leaned forward to kiss her. “The things you know from what our classmates talk about is terrifying. No, I won’t put my fingers up your butt.” Sookie covered her face with her hands in embarrassment. “Hmm, well, it looks like I’ll need to study this a bit, but I’ll answer all of these,” he promised, folding the paper and putting it in his pocket. “Right now, though, it’s getting too hot in here!”

Eric pushed his door open, and it was terrifying to find that the air was much cooler outside despite it being mid-May.

In reality, Eric had come across the question, ‘Why don’t you masturbate?’ and just wasn’t sure how to answer it. To be honest, ‘getting off’ hadn’t been on his mind for quite some time. Every so often his body demanded it, and since becoming more adventurous with Sookie, many a pair of boxers had been soiled. But how could he explain to his girlfriend that at 18, he had already lost interest in immediate gratification? He wasn’t sure if it was because he had started having sex so young, because of his mother’s death, or maybe even because he had met Sookie. Whatever the reason was, if Sookie wasn’t there, he didn’t see much of a point.

Sookie crawled out of the car as well, joining Eric as he combed his hair back with his hand. Suddenly he understood why Sookie had taken her time writing this list. He would need to take his time answering it.

Do you masturbate a lot?” Eric asked suddenly, and Sookie looked at him in surprise. She shook her hand in a so-so manner. “Daily?” she shook her head. “How many times a week?”

Sookie shrugged before holding up four fingers. This wasn’t exactly accurate. It really depended on the week or the time of the month for that matter. She wouldn’t even be thinking about touching herself for the current week.

I just don’t get too preoccupied with it, I guess,” Eric told her. “Eventually my body tells me it needs it and that’s when you make a mess of me,” he teased. “But as for why? I really couldn’t say.”

Taking this into consideration, Sookie wondered what that could mean for their future sex life. Would he not want sex often? Would he want sex all the time? She was beginning to wish she had her page of questions back as more came to mind. The last inquiry on the page was making her nervous now. What if I want more than just your mouth?

When the couple came into the house, they were grateful to find everyone had already convened in the kitchen to set up lunch. With just the five of them, they decided to set the prep counters with the pre-made food and cake and just socialize in the kitchen. Gran was sitting on a barstool at the breakfast bar, and smiling fondly at her grandson as she snapped one last picture of him before he discarded his cap and gown.

I’m so happy to see you graduate, Dear,” Gran told him. “I’m even happier to hear you changed your mind about college!”

Jason snorted, “It’s just a little community college in Shreveport, Gran. A couple night courses a semester.”

That’s more than I ever expected you to agree to!” Gran laughed. “I’m so proud of you.” She looked sideways at Sookie. “Maybe it will encourage your sister to reconsider college.”

I think she’s looking to get her MRS, not a BA,” Jason commented.

Sookie’s head snapped to glare at her brother, and threw the only sign language he could understand.

You put that middle finger down, young lady!” Gran barked. “Voice or no voice, that’s no way for a lady to act! And, Jason, don’t say such rude things in front of her boyfriend!”

What?” Jason shrugged, “I thought I was helping!”

Pam distracted the situation by putting out the platter of food that had been in the fridge, “Let’s just eat some lunch already!”

As everyone was distracted by food, Sookie slipped away to Pam’s room. She had hidden Eric’s graduation gift in there. It had taken a lucky stroll through a pawn shop and a bargain to do all the church event baking for the next year, but Sookie had managed to purchase Eric his first guitar. Pam had agreed to stow it for her the night before the graduation ceremony so she could give it to him right after.

Coming back down the stairs, Sookie wasn’t quite surprised to see Eric on his way to find her.

What do you have there?” Eric smiled as Sookie unsuccessfully hid the present behind her back.

Your present,” she mouthed as she pulled the guitar from behind her back.

Eric grinned as he quickly ascended the stairs to meet her halfway. She handed him the guitar and gave an apologetic shrug over how beat up it was.

This will give me something to do my first year away,” he smiled as he sat on the step and Sookie sidled up next to him. His fingers gave a light, experimental strum and the strings crooned in an out of tune chorus. “I’ll try to get some basics learned before leaving. Otherwise, my roommate might kill me.”

Sookie leaned her head against his shoulder as his fingers played softly against the strings of his new guitar. When he felt her hand in his pocket, Eric looked down at her in surprise, but relaxed when she pulled out her list of questions from earlier.

You want to keep going through them?” Eric asked. Sookie shook her head and held up one finger. “You want me to answer one of them? Which one?” She pointed to the question. It was the one she finally felt she wanted the answer to. “You… want more?” he looked at her with a mixture of emotions.

Sookie turned and reached into her purse for her ever-present pen. Using her thigh, she wrote on the back of the paper.

I know why you wanted to wait, and if that’s still how you feel, I respect that. But you should know, that even if college could manage to break us up, I’d rather things end with the knowledge that I got to know you completely. I want to spend the first summer of my first romance with you in every way I can for as long as I can.”

Eric read the paragraph three times before he finally looked at his girlfriend. “I want that too,” he whispered. “But before any of that, there’s something we’ve been skirting around. I think I know why, but I can’t be with you if I don’t say it.”

Oh, Sookie bemoaned silently, no, don’t say it! Please, God, don’t let him say it!

I love you, Sookie,” Eric murmured as he took her hand. “Don’t gesture or write or anything. Just kiss me, and that’s all I need. I know you want to say it. I feel it. So, for now, just let me say it for the both of us, alright?”

Please, God, if there were ever a moment you should unstick my voice; this is it!Sookie pleaded as she opened her mouth. She knew her throat would close even before her lips moved. She knew that even the softest sound would clog at her vocal chords, but she still wished an angel would clear her throat for a fraction of a second she needed to tell him what she’d wanted to say. Instead, while her throat remained closed, her tear ducts opened. Instead of words, salty rivers came.

Eric could feel her cries even as her mouth reached for his. She kissed him as tears ran down her face. She sucked in his breath with a chest-rattling sob, and he held her close.

It’s alright. I know, Sookie. I know,” he soothed as he buried his face into her neck. “I’m sorry, but I need you to hear me say it. I need you to know that I love you so much that not saying it every time I see you I feel like I’m lying to your face.”

Sookie clung to Eric as she accepted his declaration. It wasn’t that she didn’t desire to hear it… She just wished desperately that she could say it back. She wanted to use her voice; not the voice she had hidden behind for nine years. Words were laying dormant in her chest, not her hands, and she wanted them to come out. The weight of those words was crushing her lungs.

Please, don’t cry,” Eric begged as he held her tighter. “We knew. That should have been what mattered. I’m sorry, Sookie,” he felt his chest grow heavy with the guilt of what he’d taken. The brief relief of finally telling her how he felt seemed superficial and mocking now.

Pulling away, Sookie wiped another stray tear away as she took the paper back from him and quickly wrote, “Say it twice as much for me. Keep saying it twice as many times until I can say it back.”

Eric read her promise before he kissed the page and then her lips. When he went to kiss her, he couldn’t help but let out a sobbing laugh, “You had to write something that romantic on the back of a paper covered in sex questions?”

Sookie let out a watery giggle as she pulled him in for another kiss.

I love you, I love you,” he mumbled against her lips.

{†}

Happy birthday.”

Sookie jerked away at the sudden voice in her ear but found herself restrained by a sturdy pair of arms.

It’s just me,” Eric chuckled as he loomed over her in the darkness of her bedroom. There was scarcely half a moon to illuminate her room, and the late hour wasn’t helping any. “It’s midnight. Happy birthday! I wanted to be the first to tell you.”

Sookie reached for her bedside lamp and then turned in Eric’s arms. “How did you get in here?” she asked.

A Cheshire cat smile split his mouth, “I came in through the bathroom window.”

Sookie gaped at him. The bathroom window was eight feet off the ground and barely two square feet big!

How!?”

That is my own little secret,” Eric told her mischievously. “You see, I know it’s going to be difficult getting you to myself most of the day. I only have you booked for two hours, a half hour of which is driving out to this farm with horse trails, then an hour of riding, and then a half hour ride back. So, if I wanted any ‘Sookie is legal’ time, I had to get it in now.”

Pig.”

Undoubtedly,” he agreed easily. “But I’m helplessly in love with you, so I can be a pig from time to time, right?”

Sookie sighed but nodded in agreement.

Thankfully, my only real mission was to be the first person to wish you a happy birthday,” he whispered. “Since that’s out of the way, I can leave if you want me to. Or I can stick around, and we can cuddle,” he offered.

We can cuddle,”she agreed. “We’ll see what happens from there.”

All I wanted was a foot in the door,” he assured as Sookie reached for her bedside lamp and shut it off. “Just… Pat my hand or something from time to time so I know you’re still awake. I’d hate it if you weren’t awake to feel me feeling you up.”

Yeah, like I’ll be able to fall asleep when your hands are running all over me like that, Sookie noted as his hands pressed and squeezed against her belly and sides. Before long she could feel him pressing against her backside, and she sighed. Eric getting hard was a staple in their making out. If his hands were on her for more than a moment, it was a guaranteed result.

Although it seems a lot hotter now, she thought as his breath was warm and wet against her neck. Though his hands remained against her abdomen, she felt herself gasp from time to time as he’d push against her lower stomach and she’d feel her womb clench in response. Oh, my God.She thought her body was being far too responsive to such small efforts. As the heel of his palm rocked rhythmically against her uterus, she felt his other hand rise to cup her breast. His fingers tugged at a nipple that had already hardened, and her thighs clenched reflexively. What’s happening?She clutched his forearm with a combination of helplessness and pleading.

As his hand removed its pressure from her womb, Sookie wanted to protest, but that hand slid down further against her thigh. She felt his hand slide inward between her legs and held her breath as his middle finger stroked her folds.

You’re already starting to get a little wet,” he tugged her earlobe with his teeth, and Sookie shuddered excitedly. A surge of excitement pulsed to his nether regions as he discovered his girlfriend slept without panties. His finger slowly worked her arousal over her clit and began to rub there in a teasingly light manner. He felt her hand tighten on his forearm and paused. “Do you want me to stop?” he asked softly. “Push me away if you want me to stop,” he encouraged. Rather than push, she placed her hand over his and pressed his fingers where she liked them. Experimental strokes of his fingers made Sookie let out the breath she’d been holding, and he felt her begin to move against his touch.

Sookie watched as Eric’s form slipped from behind her and rolled her onto her back. Soon he was towering above her, one hand supporting his weight as the other stroked between her legs. His mouth kissed and encouraged her as his fingers probed and explored. When his middle finger slid inside, Sookie marveled at the depths he could venture that her own fingers could not.

You only use those tiny fingers of yours in here, don’t you?” he asked as his finger slowly slid in and out. Sookie’s head nodded, and her lips parted when he struck untouched spaces inside. His wrist pivoted, touching all the surfaces of her inner walls and a soft moan escaped her lips. “There are those noises that I love to hear,” Eric kissed her again. “Don’t hold back. I want to hear you.”

His girlfriend groaned as his finger left her channel to play with her clit once more. She opened her legs further as her hands came to cover her face. Even though it was difficult to see in the dark, their eyes were adjusted now, and there was no escaping his entranced gaze. He was watching her every movement.

Eric let her hide from him, knowing that in time she wouldn’t. If covering her face helped her escape and just enjoy what he was doing, then the young man wouldn’t object even if he wanted to see her expression as he gave her pleasure.

Since her mouth was covered with her hands, Eric began kissing down the length of her body. Her nightgown was mostly in the way, but it was starting to bunch above her navel, so he focused his energy on kissing and licking her belly until her legs had opened all the way and he could nestle his head between them.

Sookie seemed to notice the shift of his weight because she looked from between her fingers at him, watching in anticipation as his mouth lowered to her sex. She was captivated when his eyes closed, and he seemed to savor her taste. He licked enthusiastically at first, and just as soon as Sookie began to grow concerned about his methods, his tongue lathed over her clit in firm, repetitive strokes.

AH!”

Eric opened his eyes to look up at Sookie as she instinctively muffled herself. Although the shout was definitely loud for Sookie, it was barely as loud as a sleepy grunt. Certainly not enough to disturb anyone from their sleep.

Her hips began to tilt away from his face, and her hands alternated between clutching the bed and reaching for his head. She never committed to either movement, and he enjoyed watching her body lose control. His hands kept busy while one slipped its fingers in and out of her pussy and the other kneaded and rubbed her thigh. Eric could feel her walls beginning to tighten down on his finger, and knew if he just kept doing what he was doing, he might actually pull this off!

Stay there, stay there, stay there, Sookie begged internally as she sucked in a breath and didn’t release it. Eric’s touches intensified as he heard her hold her breath, and was soon gifted with the pulsing clench of her inner muscles as he gave her the first orgasm of their relationship.

Her breath came back in rapid gasps, and Eric gently stroked her wet, swollen lips as she came back down. Their soft throbbing against his fingers brought a million fantasies as he looked up at her stunned face.

Eric watched as she finally caught her breath, and pulled away as she sat up. When she reached her arms around him and stole a deep, grateful kiss, he could only smile and bask in his success.

You’re adorable when you cum, Sookie,” Eric told her as she wrapped her legs around his waist and pulled herself tighter against his body. “You have absolutely no idea what to do with your hands!” he teased before kissing her again.

I taste okay?” she asked bashfully.

Mmm hmm,” he assured. “More than okay. Five Star dining.” She snorted and rolled her eyes. “You don’t believe me? Can you not feel how fucking hard I am right now? That’s from dining at Café Sookie.” As usual, his compliments walked that fine line of vulgar and endearing for her.

With a small shimmy of her hips, Sookie easily felt the erection of which he spoke. It was hard between her sensitive lower lips, and she felt as though she needed it to stay there.

Eric,”Sookie wondered how well he could see her signs in the dark, “can I have more?”

There was a pause before her boyfriend replied, “You liked it that much?” He seemed happy to know this. She nodded as she leaned in to kiss him. Her flavor was still on his lips but tasted much better than she remembered it tasting before. “I’d be happy to oblige,” he agreed as he went to push her from his lap, but she held tight. “I can’t go down on you in this position,” he pointed out with a chuckle.

Sookie shook her head, “Sex.”

Eric fumbled a moment as he understood her request, “I don’t have condoms, Sookie. I didn’t come here thinking you’d-”

I’m on the pill,” she told him.

Wait, what?” he stared in disbelief. “Since when?”

January,” she answered.

Why?” he asked.

She paused, confused by his question. Finally, she realized she didn’t have enough words in her ASL vocabulary to answer. With a sigh, she turned the bedside lamp on again and reached for her notepad.

Because that’s when I knew I wanted to have sex with you, but I’m not ready for a baby,” she held up the paper as if this shouldn’t need to be explained.

How did you get on the pill?” Eric was still reeling.

Gran took me to the doctor, I had an exam, and they gave me pills,” She still wasn’t comprehending his disbelief. Wasn’t this what women did?

Gran knows!?” Eric yelped, quickly losing his momentum in the situation.

I told her I’ve had desires for it. She’s the one who suggested the pill,”Sookie was losing patience in the conversation. “But the moment’s gone now, so forget it.”

Oh, I can get the moment back,” Eric told her without concern. “I’m just surprised that you’ve been thinking about this.”

Why?”

Because…” How did he tell her he never thought of her as pragmatic? Sookie waited for his answer, and a small wound tore at her self-esteem. She wondered if he felt that expecting sex from him was egotistical. “Because you’re such a romantic. I guess I saw this going a different way.”

What way is that?”Sookie asked.

Candles, music, family members not being on either side of your bedroom,” Eric responded. “I guess I was the romantic. I want it to be special for you… For us.”

I can wait,” Sookie felt terrible that she was trying to steal something he wanted from him.

Eric laughed, “Oh, you can?” She nodded as if she hadn’t heard the joke in his words. “Then give me some time to plan it out. I want it to be perfect for you,” he leaned in to give her another kiss. “Right now, I should probably sneak out of your house and get back to my own bed. We both need a good night’s sleep if we’re going to survive your birthday in the morning. It’s a drive to that horseback riding place.”

You woke me up,” she reminded him.

I know I did,” he laughed, “but you can’t go pretending you didn’t love every minute of it.” Sookie pouted. He was right. “I’ll see you in the morning. I love you, I love you,” he told her as he kissed her one last time before heading for her window. “Sleep tight.”

Sookie waved to him as he climbed out her window and dropped to the ground below. She rose from bed to make sure he landed safely, and when she saw him sprint across the lawn, she sighed to herself.

Tonight could have been perfect for me, she thought. As long as it was with you, it would have been perfect.

On to Chapter Twelve!