Well, thank you so much for coming on this journey with me. This is just a little epilogue to wrap up Sookie's story for now. I hope it pleases, and leaves you a little hungry for more.
Thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed and enjoyed this little story. On to the next.
She'd gone into work early, she did it a few times a month. Quinn had picked her up, Eric had asked if she wanted to take driving lessons, but so far she had declined. The truth was, she found a great satisfaction in having men take her where she asked them to, and she was also a little afraid of what kind of vehicle Eric would have tried to buy her if she had gotten her license. If the furnishings in her 'unfurnished' condo were any indication, she would end up with little say in the matter, and she had already confided too much to Pam about Eric's beautiful cars. Quinn was out front of the club, supervising a parking lot cleanup, making sure that his boss got what he was paying for, and Sookie was going over some purchase orders at one of the back tables. Eric had insisted she start reading such things, so she could learn the business side of pouring drinks. It was his intention, and he had made no secret of it, that he wanted to her to take over some of the day manager duties in a few months, when she got really comfortable with the day-to-day operations of the establishment. He had asked if she wouldn't mind taking a few business courses from the local community college, and though she was afraid of the idea, she had agreed. He really asked so little of her, and what he did ask was never a real imposition, it always had a pragmatic motive, as it did in that case. One course at a time, she figured to herself, she could get through the basics; as long as Eric was patient with her progress, not that she had even needed to ask him for that. Most of the notations on the page she was reading were still mysterious to her, but she asked questions when Eric came in, and she found herself finally recognizing certain things.
She was still reading over the orders when Quinn came in the front door, a smaller man behind him, but of course most men were small when they stood behind Quinn. She cast out her mind to see who it was, at about the same time as she looked up to see a bouquet of carnations and daisies.
"Hi Sook." Her brother's face peered out from behind the cellophane wrapper. "I hope you don't mind me just dropping by without phoning and all?"
She kept seated, still a little unsure about how to greet him. Her anger had dissipated after their last meeting, but she hadn't replaced it with anything but an emptiness. She really hadn't expected to see him again.
"No, that's okay, I'm glad I was here." She put on the practiced expectant smile of pursed lips and raised corners. "Has something happened?" She knew from her quick glance into his brain that he wasn't particularly focused on anything just then, but she began to suspect that was just his way, purpose driven, but not too far.
"No, everything is good, thanks for asking. I just wanted to bring you something." He stuck out his arm with the flowers and finally she stood up from the banquette seat.
"Well thank you, they're very pretty."
"Not just that Sook. I went to see the lawyer, about Gran's estate."
"I got him to write you out a cheque for your half. I know it's early and all, but he was happy to be rid of the deal, and to finally get his fees." He started digging in his jacket pocket and pulled out an envelope, which he also handed over.
"I don't need this Jason." She began to protest.
"But Gran wanted you to have it Sookie, so just take it. Buy yourself something nice with it, or put it in the bank."
"Well, okay, I guess." She took the envelope from him, a feeling of sadness rising in her gut from the previous emptiness.
"There isn't a whole lot left of our family's stuff, but there were a couple of other things, things Gran wanted you to have." He dug back into a different coat pocket and pulled out a velvet bag. "Uncle Bartlett sold off everything he could find when Gran died." Sookie remembered that with a little shudder. "But Gran was smart enough to leave a few things in a safety deposit box, he didn't know about it, but her lawyer did. It isn't much, but they were hers and I just thought you should have them."
That gesture stunned Sookie, and she put the flowers and the envelope down on the table, taking the bag in both hands carefully, as if it would break if she handled it too roughly. She spilled out the contents into her palm. A string of pearls, a gold broach, and a ruby ring, all sparkling with the glimmer of age and love. A tear came to her eyes and she stared at the items for a good few minutes.
"You okay Miss Sookie?" She heard Quinn ask in his deep voice, the one that came right from his chest, and right from his hidden aspect. She nodded because she didn't have the words right then.
"I'll leave you be then Sookie. I just wanted to make sure you got everything okay." Jason turned to leave but she stopped him.
"The baby?" She asked.
"A little girl. She's out in the truck with Maudette. Did you want to meet her?"
"Yes, please." Carefully putting the few pieces of jewelry back in the bag Sookie wiped her eyes and followed Jason out to the parking lot, Quinn a few steps behind.
Maudette was in the truck, as Jason had said, looking distinctly nervous. It wasn't hard to sort out that she wanted to be anywhere but parked in front of a Vampire bar as sunset was approaching. On her lap was a little bundle of pink, tiny hands reaching to tangle themselves in mom's hair. Jason opened the door and reached in to pick the baby up very gently and turn her to face Sookie.
"Sookie Stackhouse, meet Adele Stackhouse." A little face, framed with black hair stared at Sookie, tiny lips rubbing together in a baby sort of crinkle.
"You named her after Gran?" She put out a finger to just brush the rosy cheek carefully.
"Yeah we did. And I promise you Sookie, I am going to take good care of this little girl, I'm not going to let her down, like I let you down. Nobody is ever going to hurt her."
"You're gonna be a great dad Jason."
He curled up his mouth into that silly half smile, and shifted his gaze from his sister back down to his daughter.
"Thanks Sookie, that means a lot."
"You'd better get going, it's chilly out and I'm sure Maudette is nervous being here."
"Okay, but I hope maybe you'll come and visit sometime, or maybe I can bring Adele down, when she doesn't rely on her Mom every few hours."
"Sure Jason. That would be nice."
She watched him hand the baby back to Maudette, and offered a little wave to the woman, who returned it nervously, then strapped Adele into her little car seat and got herself ready to go. Jason slid in the other side, offering his own little wave and then started the truck and pulled away. Sookie watched them go, her hands, still clutching the velvet bag, arms wrapped around her torso.
"We should go back inside Sookie." Quinn offered, "It's cold out here."
"Yeah, we should."
"Quinn told me your brother came by earlier?" Eric had finished up his business calls, the first thing he dealt with each night as he came to the club. He was now leaning against the service side of the bar, watching Sookie. She'd put the flowers in a spare vase, and they were at the back by the register.
"He did." She'd been quiet since Jason had left, not sure what to feel, not sure what to allow herself to feel. "Introduced me to my niece."
"How are you?"
"Okay I guess. He brought me a few things that belonged to my Grandmother. That was thoughtful. He brought a cheque too. I didn't even look at it." She'd jammed the envelope into her pocket when she'd come back into the club, then had busied herself with getting the flowers sorted and the bar set up. She pulled it out and tore open the envelope. Her face went a little pale as she read the numbers.
"Sookie my little one, are you all right?"
"Oh God Eric." She held the slip of paper out to him. He took it and glanced at it as well, a smile broadening on his lips.
"You're Gran certainly did well by you."
"Eric, that's $100,000."
"It is indeed. You are rich my little one."
"What the hell am I going to do with all this?"
"Put it in the bank for now I hope."
"I can pay you back for everything Eric."
"Shhh my little one, I will have the new accountant get in touch with you and give you some advice about it. But it is your money Sookie, and if nothing else, let it be a comfort to you, knowing you have it at your disposal."
She thought about Eric's words for a few moments. The money would be enough to start a life of her own, not beholden to anyone. There was a comfort, as Eric had said, to knowing that she could. Not that she had any particular desire to change anything that she had right then, but, well? Eric seemed to understand her silent pondering, and waited on her to come to some conclusion.
"I am yours Eric." She finally said, looking into his sparkling blue eyes.
"You are my lover, and my heart, but if you want to walk away from me, though I will grieve, I will not stop you."
"I don't want to walk away Eric, I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
"It pleases me to hear that. But put the money away for yourself anyways Sookie." She nodded, feeling the warmth that Eric always seemed to inspire, rising in her chest. He stepped towards her, pushing away from where he had been leaning against the bar. He let his hands light on either side of her face gently, and drew his own mouth over hers to kiss her carefully. She let her body melt against his.
"Sometimes I really wish that I could read your mind Eric."
"Perhaps it is better right now that you can't?" He whispered through a grin. She smacked him on the arm, her own grin making her face and mood brighten visibly.
"You might be right."
"Though, if you were interested in getting into my head, as it were, there are ways my little one."
"We call it bonding. Perhaps we should discuss it one day soon?" He brushed his fingers down the side of her face, making her tremble.
"I get the impression that this bonding is something serious."
And with that he was gone, back to his office, as Quinn was making ready to open the doors, leaving Sookie with a vague confusion but little time to ponder it. It was Eric's way, teasing her, but always with good intentions, or good consequences once the night became theirs. She had a feeling that this discussion would be no different and busied herself behind the bar, enjoying the smell of the flowers in the vase behind herself, and the lingering warmth of Eric's presence in her heart.