Sookie woke the morning after Thanksgiving with a heavy heart. The night before had been short of a natural disaster. She still couldn’t believe how rude Tara had been to Eric. Snuggling closer in his arms, the thought of his face at Tara’s comments, left her haunted. She had felt his anger and she knew he appreciated her defense of him. But for the life her, she couldn’t figure out how two of the most important people in her life, couldn’t get along.
She was in love with Eric. She’d do anything to protect him and longed for every moment with him. Tara was her best friend and basically had been since the first day of Kindergarten. Back then, her “disability” was near impossible to control and was overwhelming. When Hadley and her friends began picking on her, it was Tara who came to her defense. Being one of the only three black children in school, Hadley and her friends were somewhat shocked by this act. But Sookie was forever thankful for her friend… her sister. So why could they not come to an understanding? Some mutual ground and just be civil.
Slipping out of the bed, she made her way around the darkened room and fumbled her way through the process of dressing. She had only gotten some basic clothing after the fire. She felt the moment Hunter awoke, sending him a Good morning, Hunter, before making her way to the bathroom to finish getting ready. It was fairly early, but the drive to Bon Temps took nearly an hour and she had wanted to ensure she arrived before everyone else.
Heading into the kitchen, Sookie started a pot of coffee and poured Hunter a bowl of cereal. Her soft smile greeting him as he stumbled into the kitchen, his tousled hair and Spider Man pajamas clear evidence of how recently he had woken.
Did you sleep well?
Her thoughts directed at him as she pulls a mug from the cabinet. She always enjoyed their morning routine. As much as she longed to spend time with Eric during the day, his presence would only allow him access to the knowledge of the one of the few secrets she kept from him. It wasn’t her lack of trust in Eric, that refrained her from confiding in him. It was her fear that eventually others would learn of Hunter’s “disability” and what they would do to him.
I guess. Sky keeps whining at night. I think he misses Midnight.
His thoughts were laced with sadness and she couldn’t help but scoop him up into her arms. She too, had been worried about the nearly black kitten they had rescued from the animal shelter. But the sight of Hunter curled up on the couch, sobbing into Sky’s fur the night before had broken her heart. Offering him a small reassuring smile, she thought:
We will find him. Now, eat your breakfast while I get your clothes ready and we’ll drive home to find him, okay?
His head nodding solemnly as he eases into a chair and picks up his spoon. Pressing her lips to his forehead, she can’t help but pray that she is right about the kitten. Heading into the guest bedroom that he now was using as his own, she couldn’t help thinking he had been through way too much in the past year. He had never known his mother. Hadley had been a wild child. Men, alcohol and drugs had been her life. Sookie had been surprised to find Hadley had settled down long enough to marry and have a child before practically enslaving herself to Sophie-Anne LeClerq, the Vampire Queen of Louisiana. Hunter’s father, Remy had disappeared during the summer. Hunter couldn’t even recall how he had found his way into Merlotte’s and Sookie couldn’t help but fear the worst for Remy.
After setting out an outfit for Hunter, she grabbed her coat and Sky’s leash. She knew Eric was worried about her safety, but who would know to find her there? Walking him around the block, she breathed the cool November deeply as the wiggling puppy pulled on the leash and tried to walk circles around her legs. Once back at the house, she and Hunter piled into her car, their destination her now damaged home.
Making her way down the familiar Hummingbird Rd and turning into her drive, she was startled by the sight of the house. She had seen it the morning after the fire, but she didn’t think she would ever get use to seeing it in the state it was. The windows blackened with smoke and moisture, made her once, comfortable safe haven seem almost daunting. She had been instructed not to enter the house until the fire inspector and insurance agent had given her approval.
As she exited the car, she was pleased to her the soft cries of Midnight from under the front porch. Hunter ran from the car and scooped up the frightened kitten. Tears swelled up in her eyes as she watched his face light up with joy and relief. At that very moment, she heard the crunch of gravel as a pick-up truck made its way down the drive.
Greg Aubert was a middle aged man, who served as an elder in the local Presbyterian Church. He had been her Gran’s agent for twenty years and it was by her example, that Sookie continued to maintain the same coverage on the house, no matter how often money became tight. His sandy blond hair and clear blue eyes, covered by rimless glasses, gave the Agent the appearance of being an average man. But one look into his thoughts and Sookie was surprised he carried a secret.
Aunt Sookie, what’s a witch?
Hunter’s voice rang out from behind her and she nearly jumped out of her skin. Greg’s face paling at the question. Great, she thought, not only does everyone know about me, but soon, they’ll know about Hunter. Greg had paused just a few feet shy of her, his hand half-way extended.
So it’s true? You can do… his voice trembling softly, what they say and so can he? His head nodding in the direction of Hunter. Fear coursing through my veins, I nod slightly, gathering every ounce of strength I have as I keep my voice calm and steady.
And you are a witch?
He shifted his stance uncomfortably, his hand moving up to run through his hair as his gaze dropped to my feet. The entire story playing through his head, almost as if I were watching a movie. Images of a woman, who I could only assume was his mother sneaking behind his father’s back to pass on the knowledge of the power she possessed, to their son. The extent of just why he was known as being so lucky and how he used spells as a way to back up his insurance claims.
Sookie stood there in awe. She had never met a witch before. Sure she had met the wannabes. The ones who wore all black, never bathed and were “Wiccan” as they had put it. But a real, honest-to-God witch? She was so overwhelmed, she eased onto the top step of the porch before speaking. After several moments of uncomfortable conversation, he led her in through the front door of the house.
The first thing she noticed was the smell. The air around them was heavy with the smell of smoke. She cringed at the thought of all the work she would have to put in, just to clean the sturdy parts of the house. The furniture, the linings, their clothes… it was going to take a lot to clean up the majority of the house. Greg, Hunter and I opened the windows throughout the safe portion of the house, in hopes it would help diminish the wet smokey smell. Most of the house was in fairly good condition. But the kitchen and porch needed to be completely replaced.
All of the major appliances would have to be replaced, as evident since both her water heater and washer were now residing halfway through the floor board. The entire east side of the kitchen was destroyed. Her eyes fell upon the window above the sink and her heart broke. Hanging there in tattered shreds, were the remnants of the curtains her Gran had spent several hours to make. It was the loss of items like the curtains, a set of fine china and other relics of her family’s history that was tearing her up inside. Things that were irreplaceable… their value lay in the memories and history.
Once their tour through the house was complete, Greg went over all the details of the upcoming steps. How much her coverage would entitle her to, the amount of the deductible and the time frame in which she would have to wait to receive the funds. She knew she would have to contact a contractor to come and give her an estimate, but even with the remains of the Dallas money in her account, she was pretty sure she’d have to take out a loan. She hated the idea of borrowing money or even selling some of the land that was in her name, but it was better than her other option… Eric.
They’d been together long enough for her to know he’d help her. But she couldn’t… no… wouldn’t go there. She could take care of this on her own. Even if it meant extra shifts at Merlotte’s and going without extras, she would make sure she made her way through this ordeal on her own. She placed the stack of insurance paperwork onto the passenger seat before buckling up. Her mind a million miles away, worrying about how all of this was going to work out and praying silently for the strength to keep from breaking down. She eased out of her drive way, looking one final time at the image in the review mirror, a sharp pain in her heart at the picture of her house, her home… tarnished and in a sense broken.