I blinked in confusion. “Uh-say what now?”
“I knew Godric before we went to Vegas.” Amelia repeated, her eyes dropping to her lap.
I stopped breathing for a moment. Amelia knew Godric? She set me up? What the fuck? After everything we’d been through together and everything she knows I’ve been through-she set me up? And let me get married, without me knowing? And then kept it from me for weeks? I was so confused. I stared at my lap as the thoughts swirled in my head, only breaking from them when I felt Eric’s fingers gently running through my hair. I focused on the rise and fall of his chest at my back and tried to match my breathing to him. I looked up to see Amelia and Godric making faces at each other and whispering lowly back and forth. I stared at Amelia, disbelief still coursing through me, while hurt and betrayal began seeping in.
I took a deep breath. “You knew Godric?” She nodded timidly. “And how exactly did you know Godric?” I couldn’t keep the venom from lacing my voice and Amelia cringed.
“Well-see, we met online and-”
“You knew Godric before we went to Vegas?” I knew interrupting was probably counterproductive, but I’d be damned if I let her pull this ‘timid and innocent bullshit’. I wanted answers and I wanted them now. “You met him online, then what-met up while we were gambling? And what, just pushed me on his friend so he could bash your beaver? What the everloving FUCK, Amelia?!?”
Eric’s arms tightened around me fractionally and I closed my eyes in an attempt to calm down once again. His soft murmurs in my ear went miles towards bringing back my rational thoughts.
“Sookie, I just-”
“No. Just get out. I can’t even fucking look at you right now.”
“Amelia. I am asking you nicely to get the fuck out. Now.”
Head hung, she retreated from the room. Thankfully, because I was seriously about to kill her. We’d been through so much together and I just couldn’t wrap my head around this.
“Nuh uh! You too Godric, out!”
“With all due respect Sookie, I don’t-”
“I don’t care what you think right now. You lied to Eric and are complicit in whatever fuckery Amelia has going on. So, again, get the fuck out!” I was seething-absolute rage coursing through my veins, corrupting any semblance of rational thought.
These people actually called themselves our friends? Godric sighed, as if this whole fucked up situation was somehow my fault, as he banged the door open and stepped through.
Georgia shuffled back into the room, watching Godric walk away and towing a wheelchair with her. “Come on baby. Time for your CT scan.”
Eric lifted me gently, even though I protested, and sat me in the wheelchair as if I was an egg about to break. He clutched my hand gently as Georgia wheeled me out into the hall.
“I’ll wait here, sweetie. Have fun.” He waggled his eyebrows comically and I giggled. We started down the hallway and I glanced over my shoulder, unwilling to let Eric out of my sight. He stood in the hallway, staring longingly after us, before holding two fingers to his lips and blowing me a kiss.
Georgia smiled down at me as she pushed me through the twists and turns of the hallways.
“You two seem like you’re really in love. It’s so nice to see young people find their soul mates so early.” I sputtered slightly. Eric wasn’t my soulmate, was he? Regardless-I didn’t even believe in soulmates.
The CT scan was boring; they always were. The technicians never talked, or when they did, it was usually about what brought you here. Not really the best conversationalists.
Another nameless orderly wheeled me back to my room silently. Eric’s eyes lit up and he jumped off the bed when he saw me, lifting me into his arms and settling with me on the bed.
“I got lonely.” He explained unapologetically as he stroked down my arms with his free hand. His lips were pressed into my hair, over my shoulder and up my neck as we reclined on the bed together.
“Hmm, a girl could get used to this. That feels nice.” I burrowed further into his chest, shivering slightly. I never understood why hospitals kept their temperatures down so low. It had nothing to do with Eric’s place next to me or whatever visceral reactions my body may or may not be having. Nope, not that at all.
“It does, doesn’t it?” Eric asked, sounding surprised.
We stayed like that for a few minutes, just enjoying each other’s embrace. He smelled so damn good-like a combination of sweat, beach and tanning oil.
“Why does it feel so good?”
Eric managed to startle me out of my musings and I realized just how relaxed I was around him.
“I have no idea. But I know I’m really gonna miss this when I have to go back home. I wish-” I paused. What did I wish? I wish things were different. I wish I had met Eric in a more conventional way. I wish we actually were married for real, instead of just on paper. But I couldn’t say any of that, could I? “I wish…God, I dunno what I wish.”
Eric was silent long enough that I thought maybe he’d fallen asleep. Wouldn’t be the first time I bored someone nearly to death. That is, until I heard him sniff.
“I don’t think I want you to go, Sookie.”
I froze. Because, seriously, when a guy like Eric says something like that to someone like me it warrants a bit of a brain freeze. He eased me back a bit so I could see his face. His blue eyes, so much like the ocean we’d flown over on our way here, were rimmed in red and shone with unshed tears.
“Look, I’m really not this guy…the one who cries and does crazy shit like get married in Vegas. But something about this feels so right. When I first saw you on my porch I felt something-something I don’t think I’ve ever felt before. And I want a chance to explore that.”
I just stared at him in disbelief. I must’ve hit my head harder than I thought.
What I was, was interrupted when a young doctor burst into the room loudly banging the door open as he went.
This guy-Preston, apparently-was glaring at Eric harshly.
“Uh, what’s up, dude? Oh, by the way, Sookie this is my friend Preston Pardloe. He’s the Dean of Medicine here. Preston, this is my wife, Sookie…” His voice trailed off as he spoke, his throat probably drying out from the frosty glare coming his way.
“That’s funny, Eric. You say she’s your wife, but I’ve never met her. And then, when I run basic medical tests, see evidence of long term abuse. What, have you kept her locked up in your garage all this time? Or what-”
“What?!? Abuse? No! Pres-we met in Vegas about a month ago and got married while we were drunk. I just met her this morning, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care for Sookie! What are you talking about?” Eric’s eyes shot to mine as I tried to look away. “Sookie, what’s he talking about?”
“Uh-well…it’s-a long story. Do you think maybe we can do this in private though?” I asked his chest, because really, I couldn’t look him in the eye. He must think I’m so pathetic.
“Are you sure, Miss? Eric, do you think you could step outside for a moment?” Dr. Pardloe asked, still shooting glares at my husband.
“No! No, really we did only meet this morning. I-I-well…I found out we were married and came to find him. He had nothing to do with-uh…any of that. It’s uh-well-it just…it wasn’t him. I swear,” I stuttered slightly, my breathing becoming labored.
“Shh, Sookie. It’s alright, I’ve got you. Trust me, Sookie. Please, just trust me.” Eric’s whispered words brought me back to myself and I found myself tearing up. Amazingly I did trust him, even after knowing him for less than twelve hours.
“I do, Eric. I really do.” I sighed and shut my eyes, leaning my forehead against his. He pressed a soft kiss there and looked back up at Preston, who I’d forgotten was even there.
“Alright Eric. I apologize. But, medically speaking, can you see things from my perspective?” I felt Eric nod at Preston’s question. “She seems to be mostly fine. She’s got a concussion and will probably have a headache and a nasty bruise for awhile, but otherwise she’s ok. Keep her up for a while, keep an eye out for seizures, confusion, increased headache. If anything feels weird, give me a call.” Preston lightly touched my back and I jumped slightly, causing Eric to tighten his arms around me even more. “Sorry. It was nice to meet you Sookie, albeit I would’ve preferred better circumstances.” Preston flashed his megawatt smile as he started to retreat out the door. “I’ll get Georgia to get your discharge paperwork. Then you’ll be all set.”
“Thank you Dr. Pardloe. I appreciate it.” I mumbled, still into Eric’s chest. I was so sure that I’d gotten over being embarrassed in front of doctors and nurses, but I guess not. Or maybe it was because he was Eric’s friend and knew more about my life than my husband did. Something about that just wasn’t right.
“And Pres, maybe you can stop by for dinner sometime soon. We don’t really know how long Sookie’s gonna hang around, but give me a call.” Eric offered, obviously having forgiven his friend.
“Sure thing, man. I’ll see you both later.” And Preston retreated with a grin, leaving a trail of eau de hospital in his wake.
I steadied myself and looked up at Eric. “I promise that I’ll tell you everything. But it’s a really long story and I’d prefer to do it later. I just-it’s hard. I’ve only ever talked about it with Amelia-which reminds me, I still want to find out what douchebaggery she and Godric are trying to pull.” I ran my hand down my face.
My life had officially crumbled down around me. I mean, my life was pretty shitty before now, but ever since the wedding I’d been on a crash course with disaster. I felt like I was just hanging on while things spun further and further out of control. But maybe Eric was a bright spot now. I contemplated my new reality as Georgia bustled in with the papers, signing where she pointed. She spoke with Eric about what to watch for, repeating much of what Preston had already said, and Eric nodded along dutifully.
I dressed quietly, not bothering to ask Eric to leave. He’d seen all of me before, even if neither of us remembered. I looked up when he sucked in a harsh breath as I dropped the hospital gown on the bed.
“Sookie…” His agonized moan confused me.
He approached me slowly, eyes trained on my chest where my lacy bra cupped my fairly bountiful assets. No, his eyes were on my torso…on the bruises.
His fingers ghosted over my ribs, gently brushing over the mottled skin there.
“What the fuck?” Despite the vulgarity, his voice was aching with tenderness and my eyes welled up.
“Eric, please? Let me get dressed. I’ll tell you everything, I promise.” I pleaded, my voice embarrassingly small.
“Alright, sweetie-” His brow wrinkled and I cocked my head to the side. “Yeah, that doesn’t sound right, huh? Get dressed. I’ll meet you out in the waiting room-see what the wonder twins have gotten up to.”
We both chuckled as he pressed a soft, sweet kiss to my lips and tried to smile at me, though it didn’t quite reach his eyes. Then he was gone.
I finished dressing quickly and efficiently, cringing as I pulled my shirt over my head. Then I left my room, wandering through the emergency department until I found the double doors leading to the waiting room. When I pushed through the doors, my eyes first fell on Eric. Once he saw me, his eyes lit up and he strode quickly over to pick me up.
“Eric!” I squealed. After all, I wasn’t some waif…he could hurt himself.
“Oh hush. You’re hurt and that means I get to baby you a little bit.” The light in his eyes dimmed a bit as he spoke.
“Where are the douchetards?” I asked, effectively changing the subject.
Eric barked out a laugh as he strode out the emergency room doors and across the parking lot. “They called a cab back to my house. Apparently they’re going to wait for us.”
I wrinkled my nose. “Meh. I haven’t eaten all day and barely ate this week-” I broke off at the withering-yet still amazingly tender-glare he cast my way while he pulled open the passenger door and deposited me in the seat. “What?!? I was nervous!”
He just shook his head and laughed as he strapped me in and retreated to the driver’s side.
“I’m not a baby, you know.” I pouted, fighting back a smile.
“I know.” He turned a brilliant smile my way, dazzling me for a moment. “But I’ve started my campaign to keep you with me. So I gotta step it up.”
I smiled, and possibly drooled a little, as I watched him drive. He truly was a gorgeous specimen of a man. His blonde hair glinted in the dying sunlight, nearly glowing like a halo. His goofy grin that he shot me occasionally as he drove just made me smile even wider. And his body-good lord, sculptors couldn’t have made something so fine.
I looked around as he pulled to a stop in front of a weathered yellow building. “Uh, we’re not at your house.”
Then I rolled my eyes. Way to state the obvious, genius!
“Nope. Godric and Amelia can wait. I thought, since you were hungry and my kitchen is fairly sparse, we could get something to eat. Ya know, kinda like a date?”
His hopeful expression tugged on my heart strings and I giggled. “Wow, Mr. Northman! We really did this backwards, huh?”
He grinned adorably. “I guess so, Mrs. Northman.” My breath caught in my throat at that. Something so small, yet so meaningful-I had to fight back some tears. “But this place is awesome! Have you ever eaten Cuban food?”
I shook my head, climbing out of the passenger seat, wincing as the door slammed. It was easy to forget the massive headache I had when I was staring at such perfection, ya know? I looked up at the sign above the door.
“Can’t say that I have.”
“Oh, then you’re in for a treat! La Teresita is the best in town!”
He grabbed my hand, linking our fingers together. A spark shot through me, right down to my toes, filling me with a warm, tingly feeling.
We walked into the small restaurant and Eric situated me on a barstool next to a highly polished counter before sitting himself next to me, angling his knees towards mine.
I jumped and nearly fell off my stool as the kitchen door banged open, someone bellowing, “My MAN! Oh sweet Jesus, my man’s come home at last!”
I was blindsided as an enormous black man came bounding around the counter, nearly jumping over me to tackle Eric.
“Laf! Shit brother, you nearly crushed me to death!”
I stared wide-eyed at the guy hugging my husband. He had flung something white over the counter-I’m guessing it was an apron?-and was now crowded into Eric’s lap, laying one heck of a smooch on his cheek. I had to stifle my growl as possessive fury welled up in my chest. Wait-what the hell?
I started at his feet and worked my way up, trying to figure this guy out. He had purple patterned socks sticking out of black Toms, pretty regular grey cargo shorts, although the purple striped underwear sticking out the back was a little unexpected. But then I got to the black tank top and fluttery purple shirt, purple fedora and more eye makeup than I think I’d ever seen on one person. And I noticed those penetrating chocolate brown eyes were taking me in as well.
“Well, now hookah-look at what yous brought me! Hey there, hunny-I is Lafayette and I is the one who is goin’ to put some meat on those bones! Seriously Eric, where’d you find this skinny miss?”
I blinked. Was I being punk’d?
“Sookie, this is Lafayette. We’re brothers, can’t you tell?” He beamed a grin at me as he carefully shoved Lafayette off his lap. Then he pulled me to stand between his legs. “And Laf, this is Sookie-my wife.”
And then I saw why I was standing in front of him. Protection.
“What the mother lovin’ FUCK?!?” Lafayette’s eyes widened comically and he cocked his hip to the side. His toe began tapping as he pursed his lips, waving his immaculately manicured hands around wildly. “And when did this happen?”
Lafayette’s eyes softened at Eric’s one word answer, something I didn’t fail to notice. I put it to the back of my mind to discuss later though. Seems like we had more than enough to get through when we got back to the house.
“Well, it’s nice to meets you baby girl. This here’s my favoritest man ever! So you treats ‘im right, ya hear?” Lafayette demanded affectionately, whipping a dish towel back and forth as he spoke.
“I thought I was your favorite man, baby.” A chuckling man emerged from the swinging door to the kitchen, wiping his hands on a towel. “Hey, I’m Jesus, Lafayette’s husband.”
I took the proffered hand, shaking it gently. “Nice to meet you. I’m Sookie, Eric’s wife.” That was unexpectedly nice to say and I beamed a huge smile at Eric, who’s smile threatened to break his face in two.
“So I heard. Well, what would you all like to eat? Laf, get your beautiful ass back in the kitchen.” The grin he was sporting belied Jesus’ commanding tone and Lafayette jumped around the counter, pulling a frilly white apron over his head as he went.
“Yes, sir!” And with an obscene gesture, Lafayette disappeared back into the depths of the kitchen.
“So, now that you’re back in the land of the living, Eric-what can I get you and your lovely bride?”