All these years apart and that’s the only thing I can think of to say to her?!?!?!?!?! I’ve dreamed so many times of everything I would say if ever I got the chance and all of them fly right out of my head. I’m flabbergasted! I know a conversation is going on around me, but I haven’t a fucking clue what’s being said. Sookie is here, standing uncomfortably beside me. She hasn’t glanced my way once after our first greeting, but my eyes haven’t left her for a second. Hell, I don’t think I’ve blinked for fear that if I close my eyes she will disappear. Being this close to her makes me want to wrap my arms around her and never let go, keeping her in my embrace until she’s accepted every last apology I need to make and realizes that I still love her, I never stopped loving her; I will always love her.
“Baby girl, why are you sitting here with two strangers? Where’s your uncle? He’s a dead man when I get my hands on him,” Sookie fumes.
All my happiness at seeing Sookie fades as I process her words. Sookie is Allie’s mother?!?!?! It feels as if someone’s shoved a stick of dynamite in my heart because it explodes in a bloody, sloppy mess. Sookie has a child . . . does that mean she has a husband? My eyes snap down to her left hand, but it’s concealed from my view. The savage beast in me wants to grab her hand to know who has laid claim to the woman I love. I want to rip the ring off her finger, if there is one, and destroy the man that put it there. The only ring that should ever be on her finger is the one I still carry with me. I bet it was that asshole Merlotte! He was in love with Sookie for years; he would be the type of dick to swoop in while Sookie was heartbroken and take advantage of her fragile state. I will kill that mother fucker!!!!!
“Uncle Jay’s in the bathroom Mama,” Allie says with that adorable wrinkle of her nose. Looking at her now, I’m trying to see if I can see any sign of Merlotte in Allie’s features. But the girl is a carbon copy of her mother.
“Oh good lord! They are gonna have to demolish that bathroom when he’s finished,” Sookie says with sympathy. “Well, come on darlin’. You’ve already intruded enough on these nice gentlemen’s time. Thank you both for lookin’ after her. Let me buy your breakfast; it’s the least I can do,” Sookie says while reaching for her wallet. I can’t let her leave; I have so much I want to say to her. I need more time.
“It’s no trouble at all,” I say hoping to draw her attention to me. “In fact, why don’t you and Allie join us?” Sookie’s eyes finally swing to mine and she looks like a deer caught in headlights. My battered heart clenches seeing her look, she is afraid. I remember a time when this girl was fearless, when she faced everything head on; she was like a battering ram. She would push through everything to come out on the other side. Did I do this to her?
“That’s awfully nice of you, but I . . .” Sookie is cut off by her daughter’s pleading voice.
“Can’t we stay here and have breakfast? Puh-leaseeeeee Mama,” Allie asks while batting her baby blues at her mother and sticking her lower lip out in a pout. Oh my God; how can Sookie resist giving this child anything when she looks like that?
Before Sookie can respond, a man shows up at our table. He looks exactly like he did in the pictures Sookie had in her room all those years ago, so this must be the missing Jason Stackhouse. The only difference I can see in the man before me and the pictures from seven years ago is the wedding band on his left hand.
“Oh hey Sis. What are ya doin’ over her? I got us a table in the back,” he says gesturing towards the back of the restaurant.
“Jason Corbett Stackhouse,” Sookie says in her best mom voice and places her hands on her hips while staring at him accusingly. “How could you leave Allison alone at a table? She wondered off and ended up here. I oughta tell Gran what you did; she’ll make you go get a switch from the backyard!” Sookie looks completely irritated with her brother and I don’t blame her. If it were my daughter, I’d be completely enraged if someone had left my child unattended and at the mercy of strangers.
“Ah hell Sook, I’m sorry,” her brother says sheepishly. “Please don’t say anything! Holly’s already worried enough about being pregnant. You tell her this she might never give birth to my kid!”
Sookie snorts as a smile spreads across her face. “I don’t think she’ll have much choice when her water breaks. When the kid wants out, the kid wants out!” Sookie looks fondly at her daughter who’s finished her plate of fruit and glass of milk. “Are you full Allie?” Allie shakes her head. “Well, let’s go then. I’m not really hungry and we have lots of shopping to do. Uncle Jason can stay here and have breakfast while we get started.”
Allie turns in her chair to give Alcide a big hug, which he happily returns. Allie then slides out of her chair to come to my side of the table. She stretches her arms wide to give me a hug and I carefully enfold her in my embrace as I pick her up. My heart clenches with longing and I have to drop my head against Allie’s shoulder. This could have been my daughter; Sookie and I could have been parents to this sweet angelic child. We could have been the ones to go to breakfast as a family after a long night of filming. My eyes are wet with tears as I set Allison back on her feet. When I chance a glance at Sookie she too looks ready to cry and I feel so fucking horrible.
“Thank you both again for taking care of my daughter,” she says in a voice barely above a whisper. She takes hold of Allison’s hand and nods at her brother who goes back to his table. My heart feels like it is shattering all over again as I watch them walk out of the restaurant. I cannot watch her walk out of my life again; this might be the last time I see her and I cannot leave it like this. Rising so quickly my chair topples over, I rush out of the restaurant, leaving an astonished Alcide sitting at the table. I put my long legs to good use as I easily catch up with them outside of the restaurant.
Hearing my voice makes her stop walking but she does not turn around. I close the distance between us and quickly move to her side. Sookie looks panicked to see me. It hurts to see her react this way to me, but it is no less than I deserve.
“What do you want Eric?” Her voice breaks our silent stare down. My first response is to tell her I want everything. I want to know that she is mine again, that she loves me as I love her. I want to tell her I’m so sorry for fucking everything up, that I’m sorry we aren’t a family. But all of those words get in my throat, and her expression morphs to one of tired resignation. “Go away Eric. After all this time you still don’t know what to say.” Sookie moves to step around me with Allie, but I grab her arm to stop them from leaving.
“Please don’t go,” I say desperately. I rake my hand through my hair in frustration after dropping my hold on her arm. “You’ve caught me off-guard, alright; I’ve practiced so many times what I wanted to say if I ever saw you and it’s all gone out the window. I just want the chance to talk to you, to apologize for everything.”
“Apology accepted,” she says quickly, too quickly. I know she is trying to get away from me, but I can’t let her walk away like this. I think we both need to have this discussion; maybe it’s the closure we both need.
“Sookie please,” I beg. “Just hear me out once and then I swear to you, I won’t ever bug you again.”
Her eyes drop down from my face to stare at her daughter who has remained silent during our tense conversation. When she looks back at me, I see the resolve in her eyes. “Not right now; I will not have this conversation on the street for everyone to overhear.”
I nod in agreement. “Tell me where and when.”
“We’re staying at Le Pavillion through the end of the week. Sometime in the afternoon,” she finally tells me.
“Tomorrow?” I know I’m eager, but I’ve been waiting years for this chance. I’d do it today, but I need time to gather my thoughts, make sure I say everything I have wanted to say for years. This is my only chance and I’m not going to screw it up. Sookie has always had a way of overwhelming me. I feel that if we talk today, I’ll only screw it up.
“Fine; three o’clock,” she tells me before walking off. Allie waves at me over her shoulder before they disappear around the corner.
Feeling as if I’m walking to the gallows, I walk slowly back to the restaurant to find Alcide waiting outside. He’s looking at me with worry in his eyes. “You wanna tell me why you took off like your ass was on fire?”
“It’s complicated,” I sigh out as we walk to his truck. I don’t know if I want to tell him everything.
“It usually is when a woman’s involved,” he says sagely. We get in the truck silently. He starts the engine and we drive off as the silence between us continues.
“She’s the one that got away,” I tell him when we stop at a red light. “I fucked everything up and lost her. I’ve been pining for her every day for the last six years,” I admit with a sigh as I close my eyes and lean my head against the headrest.
“Huh,” Alcide says as if he is pondering the greatest mysteries of life. “You know, I never would have pegged you as the type to abandon your own kid,” he says scathingly before punching the accelerator after the light turned green.
My eyes snap open and my head whips to the side. “What the fuck are you talking about? I don’t have a kid!”
Alcide flicks his eyes towards me as he drives. “That little girl is five or six years old. Do the math genius!”
“No, you’re wrong,” I state unequivocally. “Sookie would have told me if she were pregnant.” However, there is something nagging at my memory. My last conversation with Sookie replays in my mind. She was tired, vomiting, and feeling run down. What if it wasn’t the flu? What if she had been pregnant and didn’t know it? We’d always been careful about birth control, but that didn’t mean accidents couldn’t happen.
“Mother fucker!!!!! She never told me!!!!!” More importantly, was she ever going to tell me?