“I may have misjudged your intentions with my goddaughter but you have proven a valuable protector to her. I expect that will remain so,” he spoke with a threat in his voice.
“With my life,” Eric answered dutifully.
The lawyer handed him a card with a series of telephone numbers. “If any need arises I will always answer one of these.” Eric nodded at him before Sookie kissed and hugged her uncle goodbye.
“Sookie do you realise he referred to you as his goddaughter?” Eric asked when they were returning to their hotel room.
“Yeah, he always did when I was little. There was never any ceremony though, I asked my Gran once. It’s just a nickname I guess.”
“No it’s not. Being one of Cataliades’ goddaughters earns you a modicum of respect and protection in my world.”
“What does that mean?” Sookie asked wondering if she was now some sort of a Mob princess equivalent.
“It means; don’t be surprised if Lorena and Bill suddenly lose their power base. There will be many enemies waiting when they fall.”
When Sookie opened her eyes and felt for the familiar warmth beside her she sighed in disappointment upon finding the bed cold and empty. She looked around the darkened room but saw no sign of her usual bed mate. She checked the alarm clock and saw it was still early despite her grumbling stomach. Sookie reached for the light switch beside her, hoping he left her a note explaining his absence. She got up out of the comfort of the warm bed reluctantly when she realised there was no sign of Eric. Slight panic coursed through her body, it wouldn’t be long before they would depart to Paris for their special break and it wasn’t like Eric to simply disappear without a word.
She checked the bathroom even though her ears had already confirmed he wasn’t there. Everything else seemed to be in the place as it was the night before. She opened the curtains to the terrace door and to her relief she found him sitting there looking out at the rising morning sun. She padded out and only when she saw his face did she take in the pain striking down on it.
“Eric what’s wrong?” she asked softly reaching for his hand as she sat beside him.
The severe tone in which he spoke gave her more answers than questions. She instantly knew what troubled him and the beautiful features of his face.
“Is it Russell?”
“Yes,” he simply answered as the silence fell onto them both.
“Is he gone?” she questioned when the sun had barely reached out over the horizon.
“No. He is in the hospital.”
“A week maybe two.”
“We’ll save Paris for another time,” she said assuredly. “You’re needed elsewhere.”
“I need to finish this alone,” he spoke coolly, dismissing her presence and shoving her hands back towards her.
“Eric let me come with you,” she pleaded.
“I don’t think it wise.” He dragged his free hand through his hair, it was unruly just like he was in that moment. The simple physical gesture cured neither. “I do not wish to feel like this with you.”
“Feel like what?”
“Conflicted,” he spoke almost inaudible, his gaze turning to a far distance where a glistening white sailing boat bobbed on the horizon.
“Eric let me be there for you,” she pleaded to his resolved stance that stopped acknowledging her presence by his side. She pulled his chin to her forcefully, holding his face in the palm of her hand.
“No. I need to finish this,” came his reply as he pulled her hand from her hard grasp of him. “Alone.”
“Why won’t you let me come?” Sookie’s eyes were beginning to gloss over with unshed tears, the morning rays reflected in what began to pool.
“This started between him and I. It should end like that.” He tried pushing her hands back again but she refused to let go of him digging her fingers in deep on any flesh of she could grasp. “I thought I had more time,” Eric whispered to the wind. “He isn’t supposed to die peacefully in a bed.”
“I’m coming with you,” she stated defiantly. “You could use me. Russell has always know more, I’m sure of it.”
“No,” he spoke with more command, still refusing to look at her. “I’ve called your uncle. He’ll protect you better than I ever could.”
“Please,” she all but sobbed out as the tears were falling in earnest now.
“Why is this so important to you?” Eric lashed out harshly, for the first time addressing her head on. The usual warmth of his eyes now turned cool against her.
“You once told me to always fight a cause that’s worthy even if it’s against you,” Sookie sobbed, finding her conviction. “This is it Eric, I’m standing my ground.”
“Why?” he asked with a loud growl, desperate to ignore the tears he was causing. Desperate to ignore her pain and his own. It was the best he could do for her, a final selfless act. Hurt her so she would leave him and be safe. He was convinced it was for the best. Her continued silence left them both apprehensive.
“Why?” he repeated, with an amended tone.
“Because I FUCKING love you okay!” she screamed, expelling all the oxygen from her lungs, stilling them both. “I’m not letting you do this alone anymore. You’re not alone anymore.”
He replied by pulling her body to his as he hungrily attacked her mouth, his tongue demanding an invite yet to be granted on her trembling lips. She opened her mouth tentatively to the need of his attentions. Once admitted, she gave all of herself to him in that moment as her arms snaked around his neck, deepening their kiss. He greedily gulped down everything she offered with a voracious appetite that bordered on painful. As the flats of their tongues reached out to each other they were accompanied by the melodic sound of tandem moans only rivalled by the echo of their incessant beating hearts. For once he allowed his own tears to fall with hers.
“I fucking love you too,” he panted out with the last of his remaining breath as she collapsed into his chest.
“Don’t leave me,” she whimpered.
“I have you.” He pulled her in tighter, almost uncomfortably so.
“Take me with you.”
Despite their destination being down the road in the Mediterranean it took them over twenty hours to get to the isle of Lesvos. A stopover in Frankfurt, which Sookie noted as the most mundane airport yet, and a night in an Athens hotel found them arriving in the early morning hours to a waiting Thalia.
The sun was shining brightly and it was slightly warmer here than it had been in Monaco. Thalia Angelis regarded the blonde couple with scrutiny as they made their way through the automatic doors. As he pushed the cart with their luggage with one hand he held on to hers tightly with the other. His mask of indifference betraying the anxiety that coursed through the trembling hand she held steady.
They looked horribly out of place beyond their Northern European looks. Their luggage and clothing screamed of excessive wealth that jarred with the simplicity and unpretentious nature of their new surroundings. It had been a while since Thalia had last seen Eric, barely out of his teens at the time. He had been extremely restless although it manifested itself internally. As he was mostly occupied with philandering at the time, Thalia found his attachment to the petite blonde quite amusing. She seemed to own him and not the other way round. Though she didn’t like the thought that the blonde seemed to be dressing him like an obnoxious Ken doll.
“Thia,” Eric greeted to his aunt in her native tongue as soon as he spotted the petite dark haired Greek woman wearing her signature scowl.
“Eric so good of you to join us,” she spoke with a palpable hint of sarcasm. Her nephew had always been polite and good-natured but he hardly warmed to his familial ties. Unlike the other members of his adopted family Thalia never shied away from making him painfully aware of it.
She looked over the blonde pixie suspiciously wondering if she was the cause for Eric not being by his father’s side since his diagnosis like Pamela. Aside from Sookie being the first woman in Eric’s life to stick it out beyond a single night, her niece had been uncharacteristically tight lipped about her.
“Who’s this,” Thalia demanded without a hint of warmth as she was hardly in the mood to acknowledge what she already knew.
“This is Sookie,” he replied evenly, not mistaking Thalia’s hostility for anything else. “She’s my-” Eric stumbled over the words just like Sookie had when she introduced him to her Uncle Des, as he found it hard to find an appropriate term to accurately describe what they were to each other.
“She’s my Sookie,” Eric said with satisfaction and she smiled happily in return with the newfound title. Thalia only spared them a sarcastic eye roll and a poorly veiled gagging noise.
“It looks more like you’re her Eric,” his aunt noted dryly. “Thalia,” she stated curtly to Sookie not making any motion for a physical greeting.
Sookie was a little taken aback by Thalia’s hostility so she fell back upon her Southern Belle upbringing and gave her an oversized sweet smile as she replied with her own name and an outstretched arm that was left hanging mid-air, “It’s a pleasure to meet you ma’am.” Her cheery demeanour only seemed to displease Thalia more, deepening the set scowl.
“Let’s get to the car I’ve been up before the cock,” she grumbled, causing Sookie’s eyes to widen with her words.
“Rooster,” Eric softly supplemented to appease her shock.
The ride to Petra was long and unpleasantly silent. Sookie’s attempts at conversation were quickly stifled by Thalia’s minute replies. Eric knew better than to try.
“Does Petra mean anything in Greek?” Sookie questioned in another attempt at small talk when they passed the sign indicating they were entering the city limits.
“Rock.” Was the only response she received.
No one had ever disliked Sookie before without even speaking to her. It irked her beyond reason.
“Thalia? Have I done something to offend you?” she asked carefully, unable to stand the woman’s continued animosity.
“No,” Thalia replied with a shrug. “We’re here.”
They had pulled up to what Sookie could only describe as a small mansion. It stood in contrast to the small red roofed and white washed dwellings that otherwise littered the island. It had great age and reminded Sookie of the more lavish homes in her native Louisiana, shutters and all. Strangely enough it would not have stood out of place in the French Quarter in New Orleans despite being on a Greek island a stone’s throw away from the Turkish mainland.
Thalia parked outside the stone and cast iron railed outer wall and opened up the boot for Eric and Sookie to retrieve their luggage motioning them to hurry up.
“It’s beautiful,” Sookie complemented as they followed Thalia through the gate.
She gave another tiny shrug. “It’s not mine.”
They walked through the main door and after setting down their luggage Sookie stood back taking in the impressive décor.
“I’ve brought you the blonde incarnations of the Onassis’,” Thalia bellowed up the staircase before disappearing down the hall without another greeting. Two sets of footsteps could be heard descending down; one set belonged to a lethargic Pam while the other, a decidedly more frantic set, belonged to the excited Talbot.
“Sookie,” he exclaimed almost giddy as soon as he could see her. “It is so nice to meet you. Please excuse my sister she was born without pants and is ashamed to be dressed.”
“It’s lovely to meet you too, Sir,” she replied demurely, amused by what she assumed was a Greek saying. “Hi Raven,” she greeted with a small wave.
“Oh Pamela you were right. Russell is going to adore her,” Talbot gushed, as his scrutinising eyes raked all over her appearance before taking her by the arms and twirling her round.
Pam pulled Sookie into a hug as soon as she reached her, leaving her dizzy with all the physical attention she was receiving where Eric simply stood with his back against the wall near the front door. “Thank god you’re here. Finally someone who knows my true name. They insist on calling me Pamla.” Her face was sour with the mention of the offending pronunciation as Sookie stifled a giggle. Pam soon turned to her brother with the full force of the stink eye and greeted him with, “Took you long enough.”
“We had other things to do,” Sookie supplied vaguely when it seemed Eric would not answer.
“You mean you had someone to do,” Pam corrected with a waggle of her brows before her eyes roamed suggestively over to Sookie.
“Pamela,” Talbot admonished. “Sookie I apologise for her behaviour.”
Sookie simply smiled unoffended, well used to Pam’s antics already. She quipped, “Perhaps we should find her some pants too.”
Talbot laughed throatily at her wit before offering to show them to their room. When they had settled in Talbot invited them to join them downstairs for breakfast. Sookie thanked him kindly for his hospitality and he fawned how pleased he was to discover someone with such graceful manners in this day and age, while not so subtly hinting that Eric and Pam could learn a thing or two from her.
Eric had been unusually quiet through it all. When Sookie asked if he was feeling okay he merely shrugged in response and took a seated position on the edge of the bed. She held her hands to his face cupping him gently, forcing their eyes to meet.
“Don’t pull away from me,” she requested softly. “Pull away from them if you must, but stay with me.” He nodded his head along her palms the scruff of his beard caressing against the softness of her skin.
“I love you,” Sookie whispered in reassurance to his ears as she trailed soft kisses down his face.
“It’s not enough.” His hands wrapped around her body seeking any sort of comfort, pulling her in impossibly close.
“It never will be,” she said knowingly as her hands soothed over the tension his body held.
“So tell me what were you two doing haunting old Monte Carlo?” Pam asked channelling an old Hollywood actress’ voice. “You’re looking awfully debonair.”
Their happenstance departure hardly gave them thought to discuss any necessary cover story. Sookie decided to just go with the semi truth, as Eric had continued to remain silent around his family members who hardly gave it much thought.
“We were meeting up with my uncle. He’s a bit lush hence our dress.”
“I thought your only family was your brother and cousin?” Pam asked as she shoved a pastry down her throat with little grace.
“He’s not a blood relative, a very good friend of my late grandparents.”
Pam shrugged, the explanation sufficient enough while Sookie’s attention fell to a small plump elderly woman who entered the back door dressed in a plain black dress instead.
“This is my mother Adonia,” Talbot introduced. When Sookie offered her hand in greeting the woman pulled her into an embrace after which she took a hold of both her cheeks while she cooed at Sookie in her native language. It had been some years when someone had last pinched her cheeks and she forgot how painful this type of doting could be. “She likes you,” Talbot noted as Adonia moved on to Eric to give him the same greeting, much to his displeasure.
“I noticed.” Sookie said while rubbing her cheeks back to normalcy. Adonia disappeared as suddenly as she had arrived and at Sookie’s confusion Pam explained she was off to do laundry or ‘some other domestic shit’.
“How is Russell doing?” Sookie asked carefully as her hand caressed gently over Eric’s forearm. She had been surprised how everyone had been acting so normal upon their arrival, considering that the man was weeks if not days away from his death.
“Well my husband seems to be enchanting all the male nurses and doctors,” Talbot huffed out in annoyance. “He has recovered enough to come home now. I made sure the nurse they are sending over is as ugly as a troll.”
“Why begrudge him a little eye candy?” Sookie teased, remembering how her aunt Linda had been indulged her every whim in her final weeks.
“I’m all the eye candy he will ever need,” Talbot harrumphed. “You’ll do as a close second.”
She giggled a little at his compliment, “I think I lack some essential equipment.”
“Nonsense. Russell is an equal opportunist when it comes to the aesthetics of beauty.” She couldn’t help but smile at him sympathetically as she noticed the pain of impending loss glistening in his lively bluish-grey eyes before he quickly turned around and privately dabbed away at the tears that fell.
“Eric, will you come with me to visit Russell today?” Pam enquired while simultaneously tapping away at her phone. It would appear she was diverting the attention away from Talbot’s grief was she not so distracted herself.
He looked towards Sookie not for assurance, merely for comfort. She reached out her hand which he instantly latched onto. An encouraging smile graced her face as she understood how conflicted he was in this moment, being here for the man that raised him but simultaneously took everything away from him. Sookie kissed the knuckles she held of his in her hand, simply communicating that she would be there for him, no matter what.
The silence of his answer lasted longer than comfortable but finally Eric spoke for the first time since entering the impressive mansion to someone other than Sookie.
“Yes, we’ll come along.”
A/N: Like I warned last week tough times ahead for these two. The title of this story is 6 Months to Live as that was the initial prospect that was given to Russell when he found out he had cancer, I do keep a timeline with this story and we are a couple of months in but not near the six months point. Eric thought he had more time and he likes his meticulous planning and it’s thwarted once more. Luckily he has Sookie by his side now and aren’t we all glad he let her come along, only took her to admit she loved him to make that happen 😉 Next time we’ll meet Russell.
Today’s Thanksgiving Fixin’ outtake is here.