Chapter 9: We Are Here to Change the World
I wasn’t sure how long I knelt in the soft sand as the waves came crashing in around my knees. I could tell that wherever I was, the sun had just set because the sky was still tinged with purples and reds. Eventually my tears dried up and I just felt numb. Well, numb and cold.
Once my own emotions were calmer, I realized that while I was sure Eric could no longer feel me, I could actually still feel Eric. His emotions still seemed to mostly be shock, but suddenly overwhelming rage and fury swept over me. I leaned forward to gag at the strong force of his rage; nothing but bile would come up though. It took every bit of concentration that I had to build a barrier between me and Eric’s emotions. It felt sort of like building my shields, but even with the barrier up, I could feel Eric’s loathing and disgust.
I knew I couldn’t stay there all night so I gathered up what was left of my strength and started walking away from the beach. Soon I started seeing the headlights of cars going down a road. I was leery of hitchhiking, but I wasn’t even all that sure where I was and I couldn’t stay on this beach all night. My clothes were mostly soaking wet and I’m sure I looked like a mess, but I hoped like heck that someone would take pity on me and pull over.
There was no way of really knowing which direction to head in, so I turned right and followed the road. Several cars passed me by without so much as slowing down before a car pulled up beside me.
“You need a ride, honey?” a brunette woman in her 40’s asked. She looked like the typical housewife, dressed in a flower covered white blouse and khakis. Her face held a sweet but simple kind of beauty. Reading her mind, I saw that she felt pity for me and thought I looked too innocent to be any kind of trouble.
I nodded and said, “Would you mind?”
The woman smiled kindly and reached over to push the door open. “Get on in dear. You’ll catch your death of cold in those wet clothes. You really should be wearing more than that at this time of night anyway.”
I climbed into her car wishing I had a towel to put down to keep her car from getting wet. I was still in my Merlotte’s uniform and my shorts and the bottom half of my t-shirt were still pretty wet from sitting in the surf.
“Where you headed, dear?” the kind stranger asked.
I shrugged and asked, “I’m not sure, where are we?” The woman cocked her eyebrow at me and I concocted a hasty lie. “I was traveling with my boyfriend and we got into it. I got out and started walking and he took off. I wasn’t paying any attention to where we were at the time. I was so mad that I decided to go sit on the beach and cool off as the sun set and I guess I got kinda wet. I figured he’d come back for me eventually, but he didn’t so I guess I need to find the nearest hotel to spend the night and figure out what I’m gonna do.” I was surprised how quickly the story came to me and was pleased that the woman seemed to buy it.
“Oh, you poor thing! That no good man! Trust me honey, if he drives off and leaves you because of a little tiff, well, you don’t want him any way,” she said with conviction as she started driving again. “Well, the nearest town is southwest down the beach to Monterey. Will that do? That’s where I’m headed.”
“That’s fine,” I answered in a small voice, still reeling. I was shocked. Had I really just teleported myself all the way to California?
The woman looked at me funny when she noted my shock, but didn’t mention it. “I’m Marci by the way. What’s your name, dear?”
My breath caught for a moment. There was probably no harm telling this woman my name, but I knew I was going to have to get used to using another name in case people did start looking for Sookie Stackhouse. “Suzy Sanders,” I answered, thinking it would be best to stick with a name that was at least similar to my own.
“Well, Suzy, can I ask what you and your boyfriend were arguing about,” Marci asked curiously, she figured it would have to be something big if he drove off and left me without coming back.
I couldn’t stop myself from answering. It was like I needed to confess to someone. “I got pregnant,” I whispered.
Marci reached across the car and took my hand. That simple act of kindness from this relative stranger threatened to break the damns again, and several tears did escape before I could stop them again. “Oh, Suzy. Well, whether that boyfriend of yours believes it or not, every child is a miracle that should be celebrated,” she said kindly, squeezing my hand. The look in her eye was so understanding and almost motherly.
Two more tears escaped as I wrapped my free hand around my waist. “Yes, they really are,” I whispered. And she didn’t realize just how much of a miracle these children were.
The rest of the way we drove in silence, but Marci never let go of my hand. That simple gesture comforted me more than any words could have.
It was amazing to look at the lights of the huge beach houses as we drove by and see the huge marinas filled with boats and yachts. Monterey itself was just as impressive. I’d never seen buildings and houses nestled into the cliffs like they were here.
As Marci pulled up in front of a beautiful stucco covered hotel, I couldn’t help but stare. I’d never seen a hotel so big or elaborate. I could see that it was right on the ocean and parts of the hotel and patios from the rooms were over the water on big stilts. It also came to my mind that here I was without my purse or anyway to pay for even the cheapest fleabag motel, let alone a place like this.
Marci’s voice broke through my thoughts. “Now Suzy. I can see that you don’t have a purse with you, so you probably don’t have any money, but don’t you worry about that,” she said. I turned to look at her and protest but she tugged on my hand and continued. “Now it won’t put me out any, my husband and I own part of this hotel, so it won’t cost us anything to put you up in a room that isn’t being used anyway, so I won’t hear any argument out of you.”
I was shocked by her admission, at first glance she had seemed so ordinary, but as I looked more closely I could see that her clothes, though plain, were of a much finer quality then you would probably see in any part of northern Louisiana. Her car too seemed plain at first glance, but looking closely at the steering wheel, I could see a BMW emblem. Tears once again came to my eyes as I asked, “Why are you doing this for me? I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to repay you.”
Marci brought her other hand up to my cheek and cupped it. “Suzy, I’ve been where you are, honey. I wish someone had been there to give me a place to stay when I was pregnant and alone and needed a chance to figure out what I was doing with my life,” she explained. The image of her about seven months pregnant and passed out on a cheap motel bed, strung-out on drugs, flashed through her mind. It shocked me to try to reconcile that that image was this very woman. “I went down a bad path Suzy, but you deserve at the very least to have a hot shower and a nice room to spend the night in until you figure out where you go next.”
She let go of my hand, and I was surprised at how much the loss of contact with someone else tore at my heart. I hadn’t realized how much just holding her hand was helping to keep Eric’s overwhelming fury at bay. More tear threatened to fall as I got out beside Marci.
Now that she was out of her car and in the lights of the hotel, I could see that she really was quite lovely and very elegant looking. She was tall and slender in that wispy way that all movie stars seemed to be. She wrapped her arm around my shoulders and began to guide me up the steps.
A doorman opened the door, saying, “Good evening, Mrs. Dell.”
Marci nodded, “Good evening, Thomas.”
We had barely made it into the massive lobby when a man in an expensive suit approached us. “What can I do for you this evening, Mrs. Dell?” he asked pleasantly. I was feeling very self-conscious about my still damp uniform and soggy tennis shoes and I felt very out of place in this expensive hotel, but the man smiled pleasantly at me as well.
“Jeremy, I need you to show this young woman to the Grand Bay Suite and make sure that anything she needs is taken care of. Send up some food and clothes for her as well.”
“Certainly, Mrs. Dell. I will go make keys for it at once,” Jeremy replied before he turned on his heel and went behind the hotel desk.
“You really don’t have to do this,” I protested. I wasn’t sure how I’d ever be able to repay this woman’s generosity, not even money seemed like it could cover it.
Marci smiled kindly. “Think nothing of it. That’s my husband and mine’s suite, so it will have some clothes in there. I am a bit taller than you, my dear, but I’m sure for tonight some of my clothes will do fine. Take a hot shower and get some rest, and I’ll come by to see you in the morning. Promise me that you won’t leave until I can see you in the morning,” she said as she wrapped me in a hug.
“I promise,” I croaked as I held her tight. “I can’t thank you enough for everything you’re doing for me,” I said earnestly when she pulled away.
“Honey, you just make better decisions than I did and that’ll be thanks enough,” she told me. I saw in her mind her delivering a child and a doctor telling her the baby had tested positive for drugs at birth and hadn’t been able to survive. My eyes wavered and I dropped my gaze to the floor as I simply nodded in reply.
Jeremy came back over and said, “If you would follow me miss.”
“I’ve got to get back home to my kids and husband, Jeremy, but I’ll be back in the morning to check on Miss Sanders, so in the mean time, you see to it that she is very well taken care of,” Marci said as she motioned for me to follow Jeremy. I was surprised and happy to see that after the tragedy of losing her first child she apparently cleaned up and was able to have more, two boys and a girl from what I could see of her thoughts.
“Of course, Mrs. Dell. I will tell the staff to expect you in the morning,” Jeremy replied in the same pleasant voice. I almost felt like I was in the twilight zone or something, everyone was just too good to be true.
Once again feeling numb, I followed Jeremy as he led me down one wing of the hotel. I had been having trouble shielding myself for more than a week now, and I didn’t have the energy to even try now. But I was pleasantly surprised that Jeremy’s thoughts were almost as pleasant as his outward demeanor. He seemed a little worried that I might be taking advantage of Mrs. Dell’s good nature, but he was too tenderhearted himself to discourage her from wanting to help out others. Especially someone like me who really looked like she needed some help. I was embarrassed that I looked so bad that complete strangers pitied me, but I knew I was in no position to turn away the help either.
When Jeremy opened the door to the suite, I found myself once again gaping. It was so big; it was like its own little house. There was a living room with a fireplace, a kitchen, dining room, a bar, what looked to be several bedrooms, and a huge patio with its own hot tub.
I was still standing there gaping like a fish out of water when Jeremy kindly asked, “Now what can I get you to eat, Miss Sanders?”
My attention went back to Jeremy; he was fighting to keep a smile from his face at my reaction. “Oh, just call me Suzy,” I told him. “I really don’t think I could eat anything, I haven’t been feeling all that well.”
Jeremy shook his head. “That simply won’t do. Let me send up some of our chicken with white and wild rice soup. It is very good and just the thing if you have been feeling under the weather.”
I could see that he wasn’t going to take no for an answer. His employer had told him to get me food, and he was going to see that it was done. I nodded and quietly said, “Thank you.”
After Jeremy left me alone, I wandered into the main bedroom and found the attached bathroom. It was already fully stocked, so I stripped down and climbed into the shower, eager to wash away the sand and sorrow.
My emotions were still numb as I stepped out of the shower and wrapped myself in a towel. It felt better to be clean, but I felt like I was a void or a black hole. I needed and wanted to feel something. Opening the closet in the bedroom, I found a simple pink colored tracksuit and I pulled it on. Sometime later, I found myself sitting on a couch staring at the black screen of the TV. I was thankful when there was a knock at the door. At least getting up to answer it was some kind of purpose.
The boy at the door delivered a tray with a bowl of soup and what looked like an assortment of other munchable foods and some drinks as well as a bag with some clothes for me. I was sorry when he left because the silence in his wake was almost deafening. Funny how I had longed for silence all of my life, but right now I just couldn’t stand it. I didn’t want to be left alone with my thoughts and Eric’s anger.
I wasn’t sure how long I sat at the table in the dining room staring at my empty soup bowl. Eventually I wandered out onto the patio, I needed to feel the wind and smell fresh air. I needed to feel something besides my own anguish and Eric’s anger. I wandered around the patio and was surprised to see that it went around the corner and connected to another patio. There were a set of stairs that led up to the roof and I followed them onto another open patio. The patios off the suites were over the ocean and so of course would offer a wonderful view of sunset, but I was pleased to find this rooftop patio. It was nearly sunrise and I found myself wanting to watch the sun come up over the cliffs behind the hotel as the new day began. I felt like I needed to see something begin well.
The roof was empty since it was so late—well, I guess early—so I hopped up and sat on the edge of one of the bars.
I had closed my eyes and was enjoying the smell of the salty ocean breeze when a deep accented voice beside me said, “I am told the sunrise over the cliffs is nearly as beautiful as the sunset over the ocean.”
I yelped and jumped, nearly falling off the bar I was sitting on. As my eyes snapped open, a cool hand shot out to grab me and keep me from falling. Standing beside me and steadying my shoulder was a handsome man—no handsome vampire. His hair was straight and dark brown, past his shoulders. The bones in his face looked like they had been chiseled by a sculptor. He was so tall he was nearly at my eye level even with me sitting on the bar.
I was instantly afraid because he was a vampire, and of course, because he was a vampire he instantly knew it. He sniffed and I’m sure could either smell Eric’s blood in me or Eric himself on me and removed his hands and said with a kind smile, “Forgive me for touching you. I can smell that you belong to another and it was inappropriate for me to touch you, but I did not wish you to fall.”
I stiffened and replied flatly, “I belong to no one.”
He arched his eyebrow, but made no comment other than to nod once. He slowly stepped away and faced towards the east and the graying sky. I kept expecting him to leave to go to rest for the daytime, but I suddenly realized that this vampire had no intention of going anywhere. For the first time, I probed towards the vampire, trying to figure out what he was doing. I was shocked by the amount of sorrow I felt from him and that I could feel emotions from him. I also saw clear as day (no pun intended) what this vampire intended to do. I pushed aside the knowledge that I had read a vampire at will, and slide from the bar and walked towards the dark haired vampire.
“Why would you want to do this?” I asked quietly as I placed a hand on the vampire’s arm, folded over his chest.
He turned towards me and I could see bloody tears gathering in his eyes. “Why would you care?” he asked curiously.
“I can see you’re in pain. What happened?” I pressed, as I reached up and took one of his hands in mine and pulled it down between us. I couldn’t explain why I felt the need to help this vampire, maybe I thought if I could help ease the sorrow in someone else; the sorrow in me might lessen.
The vampire searched my eyes. “I lost Gregorio. He was killed by drainers before I could get to him,” he finally said in a thick voice as two tears broke away leaving bloody trails down his cheeks. Our eyes held each other’s. There was a strong feeling that neither of us could look away.
“You loved him,” I said simply as I ran my thumbs over his large hand between my small ones.
“He was my child and my lover for more than 600 years. Love does not even begin to describe it,” he said ruefully, shaking his head. As more tears followed the first ones, he continued, “He was always too gentle and trusting for a vampire. I should have been there to protect him, to make sure he did not trust those humans!” he said vehemently.
“You can’t change what’s been done.”
“No,” he admitted, “but I will see him again.” He finally broke eye contact with me and looked towards the east. “Soon,” he said quietly.
I felt tears escape my own eyes and I felt my head dip down towards the ground. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d seen a vampire meet the sun, but I had seen that this vampire wasn’t like Godfrey. There was still darkness in him, but the love that he had had for his lost child was so strong and beautiful. I could see that there was goodness and caring in him as well, at least more than I had seen in most vampires.
His free hand came up to my chin to tilt my head upwards again. “You do not even know me, why do you weep, little one?”
“I’m so tired of death and dying,” I whispered. “Why do you have to do this?” I found myself pleading. I couldn’t explain it, but I needed to see that salvation or redemption for another was still possible. I needed to know that I could still have some kind of impact for the better in this world.
“It is my atonement for failing him,” he whispered.
“Was he that cruel?” I pressed.
“No!” he said, clearly shocked.
“If you had died then, what you’re saying is that you would have wanted him to punish himself for the rest of his days or meet the sun?” I asked staring up at him.
“But he should have blamed himself?”
“I would have been furious if he had blamed himself,” he said, his eyes narrowing.
“Then what would you have wanted him to do?”
“I would want him to …” his voice trailed off as he looked at me in wonder.
“You would want him to go on,” I finished, I continued to stroke the back of his hands, all the while concentrating on trying to send him some healing magic. I wasn’t even sure if it would work with a vampire, but his sorrow was so strong, that I desperately wanted to at the very least lessen it. “If he were here now, wouldn’t he tell you he wanted you to go on? Wouldn’t you want to honor his wishes?” I felt like I was pleading with him now.
“Yes … yes, you are right, little one. He would want that. Thank you for making me see that,” he whispered almost reverently as he bent down to lightly kiss my forehead.
“You’re gonna go inside then?” I whispered.
He nodded and started towards the stairs. He paused and turned around. “I have much to think about.” He stepped down one stair then turned towards me again. “What is your name woman?”
I almost smiled remembering those same words coming from another vampire. “Suzy Sanders,” I lied. He nodded and disappeared before I had a chance to ask him for his name.
Turning to the east, I saw the sun just begin to break across the tops of the cliffs. It truly was a beautiful sight. With the sun long since set in Louisiana, I was finally free from Eric’s anger and hatred. The anger hadn’t surprised me, but I had been surprised to feel such hatred from him. I tried to remember what the quote was about love to hatred turned. Maybe it was, “a vampire has no rage like love to hatred turned.”
A/N: This chapter is dedicated to cretin! Don’t listen to what anyone else; who cares if they say whining is unbecoming! I love hearing from you guys, and it does encourage me to write faster. So this is for cretin who has been waiting (un) patiently in a cubicle for another update. I hope this makes your day!
Also, before anyone goes there, no I am NOT introducing another love interest for Sookie. He will be a reoccurring character, but they will not see each other in that kind of light. So don’t worry about that. And like I said before, things are going to get rougher before they get smoother, so hang on tight, and just enjoy the ride!
As always, let me know what you think!