I apologize for taking so long to update. Real life has been hectic and its been a bit of a struggle to update, so I hope you'll forgive me. That said, hope you will like this one! :) Thank you so much for your kindness, and of course, I'd love to know your thoughts. TY!


Chapter 28

When I woke next morning by my alarm clock on my cell going off, I switched it off before checking my phone for any calls I might have missed from Gran. Strangely enough, there wasn't any I had received from her. Not even one, at the very least. Usually Gran would have called me. Well, I assumed she would have, especially after what had happened last night, how terrible I'd been to her.

My heart seized up with guilt. Not just for how I had treated Gran last night, but also... how I kept treating Eric. But poor Gran. I had been so rude to her last night, with letting my anger get the best of me. She really hadn't deserved that; While it was rotten of her keeping what she knew from me, about the marriage contract, I really shouldn't have lost my temper on her like that.

With trembling hands, I found her number in my contacts, dialing it through. One ring... two... three... four. She didn't answer. Gran surely would have been up by now; She wasn't one that slept in all that often. Usually at home, she would always be already up and moving about before I was. So why wasn't she answering me now?

I couldn't escape the dread that something awful had possibly happened to her. It could have been the only reason why she wouldn't answer the ringing telephone in the house. Gran hardly ever left the house all that often, unless she was with me and Jason. We'd give her lifts to the grocery store, or we'd head to church together. There was no other reasonable explanation into why she wasn't picking up.

I flung myself out of the bed, making it up as neatly as possible while I went around the room, searching for my car keys. I found them, then I shoved on my shoes hastily.

Eric obviously must have been asleep in his coffin, like I'd asked him to rather than having to endure him sleeping in the bed with me, because I never crossed him as I rushed towards the front door. There was no movement in the house, no activity that told me that either him or his roomy Pam was awake.

Getting in my car, I started it up, reversing out the driveway while I kept trying the house telephone, cursing myself each and every single time no one answered. If anything happened to Gran, especially after how terribly I had treated her last night... I would never forgive myself.

But I couldn't afford to dwell on that right now. I had to keep myself in the now, in reaching home safely. I couldn't afford to have another crash right now. It took me roughly twenty minutes at the most to reach home.

As I sped up the long dirt driveway, I couldn't see Gran anywhere outside. The laundry she had hung up on the line yesterday was still there, blowing in the early morning breeze. It just confirmed my worst suspicions; The sight of the laundry on the line alone. Gran always woke to do early morning chores. She liked to do the washing especially. She loved gardening and keeping herself nimble. Yet she was nowhere outside.

She wasn't answering the inside telephone, which meant that she couldn't have been inside either.

Something was wrong. Something was seriously wrong.

I pulled myself out of the car, running up the porch steps without hardly even bothering to both close the door and shutting the ignition off. My main priority right now was finding Gran and making sure she was okay. All that could wait until later.

As I yanked open the fly-screen door, I noticed with some apprehension that the front door was left unlocked. It probably had even been left unlock all late last night too- something so unlike Gran. She always felt better when knowing the house was all safe and securely locked up before she went to bed.

I creaked the door open, stepping inside. I could hear nothing; No early morning activity from her. Something was definitely wrong.

"Gran?" I called anxiously, my voice high-pitched. "Hey, Gran. It's me. I'm home now."

When I got no reply, I went further along the hallway, darting a look into the living room. I realized the television had been left on, though it was on mute; Bright pictures flickered soundlessly on the screen.

I caught the smell then, as I went to the back entrance near the kitchen. The back door was left wide open, and I flung a hand over my mouth and nose to try and mask the stench.

It was sort of a rotten smell. The smell of a carcass decomposing in the moist heat of the morning we were experiencing. I very nearly lost it then, as I forced myself to edge closer, and closer.

"Gran? Please, answer me." I hated the uneven quivering of my voice. "I'm so sorry about what happened last night! Gran?"

As my feet just reached past the open door, I looked out and down at the steps leading to the grass in the yard, and I saw it then. My brain seemed to have difficulty translating what my eyes saw. Red liquid was on the last step. A few dots of it trailed around the side of the house. Something swinging by the wall caught my eye next as I followed the trail of blood, and at the sight of that object, I staggered backwards and fell to the ground on my knees.

Gran. Dead.

Swaying from a rope fastened around her ankles. Like those murders that Jason had told me about recently.

Hanging the victims up and slitting their throat, like butchers do with pigs. Collecting their blood.

As the paralyzing sensations started to sink in, I realized I could not move. It was impossible to turn my eyes away, to stop staring at her face. Her face was unrecognizable compared to the one I loved and saw from last night. Her skin had a blueish hue, her white and grey hair floating around her as she continued to sway. I felt something happen to my brain through all the terror, a strange sensation, as my mouth flopped open and shut over and over. I couldn't seem to find the strength within me to scream. I could not make a single sound. Something was picking at my brain, probing at something inside of it. I felt something lift, something be removed.

I heard movement from behind me, but I couldn't say I really cared. Until two big hands came around me, swiftly helping me up and dragging me to my feet.

I hardly felt anything when I glanced up and saw Eric standing there. He had pulled me away from the sight of Gran, and now, as he slipped his arms around me, pulling me tightly against him, he was holding me, too. He tucked my head under his chin, his hand stroking my hair gently as he swayed on the spot slightly. Really, I didn't believe his comfort was all that necessary right now.

I found it was impossible for me to cry. I could not do anything. There was a tingling numbness there. I felt nothing.

"Sookie, we need to call the police." I couldn't feel his chin move as he spoke the words, but I nodded all the same, separating myself from him with difficulty.

Unsure how I even managed to do it, I had found my way inside to where the telephone was in the kitchen with limp legs. Without emotion, I dialed the number. When I told them my Grandmother had been murdered, I was startled by how little emotion came through. It was as though I was dead. My voice sounded as drained and numb as I felt inside.

It still felt surreal and as though it wasn't happening when the police cars arrived, as well as the ambulance. It felt as though this was all another big joke, a scene from a movie set, not something that was actually truly happening in real life. It was all a sudden blur of activity, of loud noises and people talking.

Eric sat by me on the porch swing as we watched all of it happen before our eyes. I was shaking uncontrollably while I held my knuckles over my lips, as if terrified any wretched sounds would fly out beyond my control. I still wasn't crying yet, I still felt detached and emotionless. Eric's hand was gripping onto mine tightly, but I didn't mind it. I didn't reel away from him, I was too far-gone to feel anything towards him. If anything, I welcomed it, the way his fingers would squeeze against mine. It was literally the only thing keeping me from breaking right now.

One of the sheriff's evidently was thinking along the lines of what I had believed. That Gran had been murdered by the same killers that liked hanging their victims by up the feet and slitting their throats, like in that paper article Jason had shown me that one time.

"That's along the lines of what I was thinking," I mumbled quietly when I heard him say it. "That whoever did it to that young girl that one time was the exact same killer that did it to my Grandmother... It can't be a coincidence surely, can it? It's the same style."

The sheriff had turned to look at me in a peculiar way after my comment, his eyebrows raised. Then he went on, about not saying it out loud, or something like that. But he had. I had heard him, even if he wasn't meaning for me to hear him.

"Don't say anything." Eric's words tore though me, low with warning. When I turned to glance at him blankly, he shook his head slightly. "Don't say anything more."

His lips hardly moved as he said the words.

The sound of wheels bouncing down onto the porch shot me out of my confusion. I shifted on the seat to glance back behind my shoulder, feeling the grief almost choke me. So apparently I wasn't as numb as I first thought I was. When I saw the blinding white tarp that covered my Grandmother's dead body, it about sunk its way in properly then. Choking back a sob, I closed my eyes tightly, wishing it all to go away.

This was all my fault, I realized then. If I hadn't decided to run out on Gran last night, if Jason hadn't left and if she hadn't been alone... I felt warm tears gush down my cheeks. Gran died thinking I would never forgive her, that was probably what she thought. She died and I never got the chance to apologize for my behavior last night. My last moments with her last night, and I had to act so childish and rude to her...

"You can't blame yourself, Sookie." Eric's voice broke through my tormented thoughts again. "I know its always easier to blame yourself but you shouldn't. It's not doing you any good and, knowing your Grandmother, she wouldn't want you to blame yourself like this."

Who knew that the man I had been so unforgiving to recently could hold so many words of wisdom within him?

He made a low, dry noise. "Well, you might be surprised," he muttered ironically, as though somehow he could read my thoughts.

I hadn't said that out loud just then, though, had I? At least, I didn't think I had...

I opened my eyes, peering at him in confusion. My eyesight was all blurry, but I could still see him well enough. "Are you able to-" I got out halfway, before he leaned slightly over towards me, his shoulder brushing against mine.

"You're one to talk." I had watched his lips closely, and he definitely hadn't said the words out loud then. He wasn't actually speaking to me, yet... I could hear him. How was that possible? "You're a faery," his mind said to me. "When I told you all those times that I had wanted you to let your mental guard down to me, this was, well..." He tilted his head, eyeing the people around us, "This was precisely what I meant, Sookie."

Good Lord, we could read each other's thoughts now?

"No, you've always been able to. You just needed something to knock your guard down completely so that you could let everything in." I had to strain my ears to hear him properly, because suddenly, the voices around us got even louder, mingling with his. Pity flashed across his face before he shrugged, avoiding my eyes. "I just didn't realize that unfortunately, this would be the main cause to do it. Kissing you seemed to help, as you no doubt noticed. Touch."

Suddenly I recalled how he could show me memories of his. Of how he had tried to save my parents, how he'd watch over me as a little girl. Now, I think that I at last, finally understood just how it was possible for him.

"So this was why you wanted a fae bride so much, like in your contract with this Niall?" I thought back at him. I still really couldn't wrap my head around it. We were conversing with our minds!

He looked away from me, vaguely uncomfortable. "It wasn't just that, but it was definitely one part of it."

"Sis? My brother's voice came out of nowhere, and when I looked, he was standing there. He had finally arrived. I could hear him now, too, craziest of all. I could hear everything. "What's happened? Where's Gran?"

When I filled Jason in and explained to him that Gran was dead, that she'd been murdered, I realized it wasn't all that nice having to hear what he was thinking mentally as well. There was a lot of heartbreaking pain there, of anguish. He fell down to his knees beside me, covering his face in his hands. I rubbed his back, both shocked yet disturbed by the fact that now I could seem to hear everything. Every little private thought and detail. I couldn't understand how it was happening to me, but somehow, it was.

"You left after I did last night?" I asked him, though I already knew what he was going to say when he finally lifted his face out from his hands. He had been crying, something I still was having difficulty in fully doing.

"Yeah, I did. I didn't think anything would happen to her, though. Fuck."

"And neither did I," I assured him gently.

"What happened to her?"

I saw Gran again, real vividly. The smears of blood, the blue face. Eric's hand pressed against mine; He must have had a flash of it through my mind to his. Now I was the one transferring my memories to him. "She was murdered," I said, very slowly. I could hardly stand to look at him, not while he started sobbing again. "It was like in that newspaper article you told me about that time, Jason. How that girl was murdered. I got home from staying at Eric's, and I wanted to tell her how sorry I was over my behavior last night and how rude I'd been to her. How childish." My throat tightened as overwhelming emotions hit me. "It was exactly like in the paper. I went out back when she never replied, because the back door was open. There was some... blood and then I saw her."

Jason sniffled, eyeing me. "So tell me. How'd she look when you found her."

I shook my head silently, wishing he wouldn't make me say it. Then again, he had a right to know. Gran was his Grandmother as well. We both loved her just as much as each other. "I found her strung up by her feet. Her throat..." My throat closed up, and I found I could not go on.

It seemed I didn't need to, though. I could see, through Jason's mind, that he understood. He seemed to get the picture completely.

"What're they gonna do about it?" Jason asked in a slow voice, jerking his chin towards the police. "Are they gonna help catch the killer?"

"I'm assuming so. I mean, one of the sheriff's was thinking along the lines the same as we are thinking. That it was the same killer that did it to those other victims. It's just a too... similar style of killing for it not to be."

Jason started crying again, and this was so wrong. It shouldn't have happened, I thought. None of this should have, not to someone like Gran. Really, not to anyone. I kept waiting to wake up, like any second now... I'll wake and discover this is all a cruel dream. Only each second that passed by, it become more unfairly clear that I wasn't going to wake up from this anytime soon.

Once everything was done, I realized I wanted nothing more than to go back to sleep. Once the police and ambulance were gone, and once Jason went with them, I struggled to my feet wearily, ignoring Eric. I should have called my boss to tell him what had happened, and that I couldn't come in, only I realized that was pointless. Bon Temps was a small town and surely soon enough word would get out.

I hardly remembered how I managed to get upstairs into my room. It was though I was a zombie, as though my legs were working out of their own free will. But I made it there, and I pulled down my sheets before climbing in, still dressed in my shoes and all. I'd close my eyes, go to sleep, and then hopefully, this wouldn't be real.

When my eyes opened again, that numbness had disappeared. In its place, was everything. All these emotions swelling up in my heart, impossible to sort out. Most of all, there was this hollow ache there. This terrible loss. Something important was gone. Something was missing, and it wouldn't ever be coming back.

I turned on my side, forcing my eyes closed again, swiping my cheek against the pillow. I could pretend it wasn't real though, if I tried hard enough. If I really, really tried.

Then I felt the mattress on my bed depress and I knew he was there. He hadn't left clearly. Now I felt like crying, but for an entirely different reason. What good reason did I deserve him to be here for me right now, especially seeing as how cruel I'd treated him? How unforgiving?

Eric's hand brushed against the side of my head, smoothing my hair back, and I turned, reopening my eyes to look up at him. I felt grateful then when he looked back down at me, his eyes searching my face. Grateful that I wasn't alone right now, that he was here surprisingly. It made all the difference in the world.

Looking at his face suddenly became too much, so I turned my head, glancing at the time on my clock. Already, it had gotten darker outside. I'd almost slept a full day indulgently. "I slept in," I thought, smiling slightly.

I wanted to make sure that other part of it- us conversing with our minds- wasn't something I had just only conjured up also.

"You did." And there. There, it was. I hadn't dreamed that.

"This is so strange, conversing with you like this," I sent back at him. "I never dreamed it was possible." When his hand brushed my hair back away from my face, his fingers collided with my cheek, and I couldn't help trembling. His fingers were freezing. "Thank you for being here," I thought, looking him in the eye directly so he knew I really did mean it. "And I'm sorry for how I've been with you. It means a lot to me that you're here for me in a difficult time like this. Really, I don't think I'm deserving of it, especially not with how I've treated you..."

He stroked around my chin with his thumb. "You'll feel better once you sleep some more, wifey."

Despite myself, I laughed, tears swimming up in my eyes. "Wifey? Yep. Still don't like you calling me that. I suppose some things will never change."

Eric started to smile back at me, but then he caught himself, moving away instead. I heard him clear his throat hoarsely. "I'll leave you to it then. I do hope you'll feel better soon."

"Thank you," I said out loud finally, using my voice again. Tears slid down my cheeks and as I watched him walk out, I felt my chest very nearly burst.

Eric hanging around and comforting me. It was funny how something like that could change your view on someone, so easily and quickly. Of course, it didn't mean I would be eagerly trusting him within a heartbeat anytime soon. I just felt nicer, appreciative things about him now.