Close to Dead

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Chapter 7: Then I Screamed

I sat at my kitchen table with a yellow legal pad, a purple gel pen, a can of diet Dr. Pepper, potato chips, an old iron ladle and a lemon. The old ladle was one of the few things I had made of iron that I had from my grandmother. She used to use it to make lye soap, and I knew that if I needed a weapon against a fairy, it would serve me as well as that old iron gardening tool. The lemon wasn’t much good by itself, unless I threw it at a fairy and hit it in the eye, but just having it near made me feel safer. The Dr. Pepper reminded me of everything bad I had faced since I had become a vampire-loving girl, (and, I really liked the taste) and the legal pad and gel pen were for a list.

I was making a list of all the things I missed before vampires came into my life. I titled the list, “BVL”, or “Before Vampire List”. Short, but succinct, I know. Number one was my grandmother. I missed my grandmother something awful. Sometimes her death hit me as hard as if it just happened yesterday. I wondered if I would still feel this raw, this hurt, and this painful, another year from now, another two, or another three. Five? Ten? I didn’t know. I missed her. I really did. I missed everything about her.

I missed how I used to come home from work, and find her waiting up for me. Sometimes we would talk about my day; sometimes she would just smile at me, kiss my hair, and pat my hand. I missed how much she loved me.

I missed her cooking. That sounds shallow, but I know I will never taste another pecan pie as good as Gran’s. I missed her biscuits and gravy. I missed her scrambled eggs. I don’t know what she did to make them different, but they were, and mine didn’t taste as good.

I mostly missed the fact that there was always someone around who cared for me, no matter what, I never had to question her true feelings, and I never had to try to read her, because I just knew how she felt, because of the way she acted.

I missed other things besides my grandmother. I missed having normal days off work. I missed laying outside in the sun, I missed spending all morning long in bed if I wanted, I missed rainy days when I could stay in my nightgown and watch a romantic movie on the VCR. I missed days when I could clean the house, and have that alone feel like it was a feeling of accomplishment. I missed reading a good book, just for the sake of reading.

I missed the days when the worst thing there was to be afraid of was a mouse, a spider, or a thunderstorm.

To be fair, I should make another list. An “AVL”. That’s an ‘After Vampire List’, thank you very much. However, I wasn’t in the mood. I wasn’t feeling very charitable toward any supes right now, so I didn’t want to give them any credit for any of my present happiness, or future happiness, as the case might be. Perhaps I should change the list from “BVL” to “BSL” because I’m fairly certain that my life was better before I knew shape shifters, Weres, and fairies, too, and don’t get me started on goblins, demons, and the like.

I balled the list and threw it over my shoulder and I swear I made a basket when it hit the side of the trashcan and went right in! That one little success caused me to smile. That smile turned to a frown when I heard a knock on my backdoor. I picked up the lemon, cursed, placed it back on the table, picked up the iron ladle, and went to the backdoor. I looked out the curtain. It was the man from the store.

It was the fairy. Damn!

I backed away from the door, and began to feel lightheaded. I was breathing hard, and I realized it was still a good hour until sundown. Sam claimed someone was watching me, but just as I suspected, someone was doing a piss-poor job once again.

Then, the man called my name.

“Miss Stackhouse? Are you there?”

Damn!

“Miss Stackhouse?”

I hated being southern, because I swear, my southern upbringing absolutely forced me to be polite and answer the son-of-a-bitch at my backdoor.

“Yes?” I responded finally, iron ladle tightly in my grasp.

“May I speak with you? I know you already know who I am, because your former boss told you all about me. My name is Larkin, and I’m a sort of distant relative of yours. You have no reason to trust me, but I hope you will. Please, may we speak?”

“Go ahead, I can hear you,” I said tautly. Okay, that wasn’t too polite, but just because I had good manners didn’t mean I was stupid.

“Please, Miss Stackhouse, will you open the door? I know you went through a terrible tragedy, and you have no reason to trust me. I promise you, if you open the door, I’ll go to the edge of your back porch, past the steps, and I’ll speak to you from there.”

“If that’s the case, you can talk behind a door,” I contended.

He was quiet for a moment when he finally said, “I suppose you are right, and I know you are weary of all fairies, although I’m not one-hundred percent fairy. I have human blood, too.”

“How nice for you,” I returned, somewhat sarcastically. “How did you find me?”

“This is a small town,” he stated matter-of-factly from behind the door. “It wasn’t hard.”

I wanted to ask him how he got past ‘my guards’ but since I had no clue who was guarding me, I wouldn’t ask that. “What’s your name?” I asked hesitantly. I already knew, but that always seemed to be a good starting place when a person was meeting another person.

“I go by Larkin.”

That sounded odd. Instead of, ‘My name is Larkin’, he said, ‘I go by Larkin’. Odd. “I’m Sookie,” I returned, suddenly feeling stupid. I grimaced. He must know that.

“May I call you that?” he asked.

I frowned. I suppose he could do a whole host of things, including bang my door down if he so wanted, so I replied, “Alright.”

“Sookie, did your former boss explain to you who and what I am?” he inquired.

“A bit and I have to tell you, that doesn’t exactly recommend you to me in my book. I’m not real keen on fairies, if you would pardon me for saying so,” I answered coolly.

He was quiet again. “I understand,” he retreated behind a heavy sigh. “Sookie, I hope you someday learn to trust me. I hope you let me get to know you, and I get to know you as well. I hope you will let me talk to you, unencumbered by a door, someday. I also want you to know that I need to warn you to stay away from the vampires.”

“Why?” I blurted, a bit put out. Sure, vampires weren’t always on the top of my list, but at least none of them had tortured and tried to kill me lately.

“I do want to tell you, but not like this, not with a piece of wood between us. Please, understand, that I warn you with the utmost sincerity and with the most humble regards,” he charmed in a very old-fashioned way. Still, for some reason, his veiled putdown of vampires made me angry.

“Maybe, someday,” I offered, because it was the polite things to say, because he sounded so damn sincere, and because, hell, I wanted to believe he really cared about me. I looked out the curtain, using the old iron ladle to pull back the flowered material of the drapes. He was really quite beautiful. I didn’t think he saw the movement, because he was looking in the other direction. I continued, “Maybe someday; we could meet at my boyfriend’s bar. It’s in Shreveport. It’s called Fangtasia.”

I knew we could never meet there, because he was part fairy, and that was a vampire bar, but I wanted him to know that I was close to a vampire, because he was warning me against them, and I was being a bit bullheaded. I guess I was happy that I was in an “AV” part of my life right now (After Vampire), and not “BV” (Before Vampire).

I was still peeking out of the small hole in the curtain, but as soon as I said the thing about my boyfriend’s bar, he turned slightly and looked me right in the eye. He said with some reproach, “Sookie, you know that will never happen, and I know you speak of Eric Northman, and he’s the one I need to warn you against. He will hurt you. He will. You must stay away from him. Please, let me in, and I will explain.” He took a small step closer to the door. I dropped the curtain, backed away, and then I let out a little scream when I saw the door handle jiggle.

I put a chair under the door handle, (couldn’t hurt, right?) and then I ran to my purse, which was on my bed. I dumped out everything, and found my phone. I cursed the fact that I hadn’t turned it on today. I waited the extra moment it took to turn it on, and then I dialed the number I had memorized. I knew it would go to his voice mail, because he was still asleep, but I wanted to call him first. If I died, I wanted him to hear my voice one last time. I would call him, tell him goodbye, and then call Sam.

“Hello?”

“Eric?” I asked uncertainly. What the hell? I looked outside. Still light. The knocking at the door started again.

“Hello, lover.”

“Eric, why are you awake? How are you awake? It’s still light for another hour or so,” I said, my words feathered with challenge. The knocking became more persistent.

“Is this the reason for your call, my love? Did you want to tell me the time? I have a clock for that very same reason, dear heart,” he purred warmly.

I felt like throwing the phone against the wall. “No, but, never mind. Listen, Sam said someone is supposed to be watching me, right?”

“Yes,” he replied, a bit more guarded. “Why?”

“Well, whoever it is, I hope you get your money back, because they are doing a terrible, terrible job of it! First this fairy comes up to me in Wal-Mart, and now he’s at my backdoor!”

“WHAT?”

Now I was waiting for that reaction. “That’s right Eric. The fairy is here, and he wants me to open the door and let him in, because he wants to warn me against you of all people! Now, I want to know what you want me to do. I have an old iron ladle.” I looked down at the ladle in my other hand and even I realized the absurdity of that comment.

“Where’s the mongrel?” Eric snarled.

“He had to go to the bar!” I shouted. “Don’t go blaming Sam! He got me right out of the store when he realized that the fairy came up to me. The fairy touched my cheek, and I fell down …” I didn’t say another word, because I heard Eric scream a long line of curses and cuss words, and I knew for certain that some were in English, and some weren’t, but the English ones were the worst words I had ever heard Eric utter. He usually had a better vocabulary than that.

“HE TOUCHED YOU!”

“Eric?” I prodded. “He’s at the door now. What do I do?”

“Do not be afraid, lover,” Eric said. I could hear his car door shutting.

“Eric, you can’t go out! It’s not bright out, but it’s still daylight! Please, I don’t want you to get hurt. Just tell me what I should do. I mean, if he wanted to hurt me, he would have done it earlier, at the store, wouldn’t he have? And, he could get in the house if he really wanted to, right? Fairies don’t have to wait for an invitation, do they?”

I heard his car switching gears.

“Eric?”

“I’ll be there soon. Stay on the phone,” he said in a voice that was so steady I wasn’t sure what scared me the most … his voice, or the fact that the knocking had stopped.

“Eric? I think he went away.” I ventured out of the bedroom, toward the hall, and into the kitchen. I stood and listened and I didn’t hear anymore knocking.

“Sookie, stay away from the door,” Eric warned. “I’m right outside of Bon Temps.”

“My God, Eric, how fast are you driving?” I asked.

“At the moment, 120 mph, why?” he asked provocatively.

“Geesh, Eric,” I fretted. I walked up to the backdoor, and with the iron ladle still in my hand, I pulled back the curtain at the backdoor.

Then I screamed.

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