Warning: This chapter includes explicit descriptions of domestic violence including sexual abuse. If this is a trigger for you, you can skip this chapter and draw conclusions from material presented later.
Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards – Kierkegaard
Nautical Note: Backwash is something that happens with large vessels powered by propellers. When the direction of the propellers is changed, it helps to move the vessel sideways. But it is a violent action and anything directly behind the boat can be caught in the water and drawn directly into the blades.
I could feel sun on my face. I knew I was sitting outside. The difference in temperature, the feel of moving on floor then on pavement, the added pressure of a blanket pressed closer; I registered all these things. But they were not important. They were just veneers against the overwhelming, terrifying mess that was my life.
It was so confusing. I thought I had it right. I thought I had found my real life; my human, normal life. But it was a lie.
I had been betrayed before. My heart had broken in harsh, crippling ways that left me gasping for breath and aching. I had found myself blindly stumbling through city streets, not knowing where I was headed; trying to escape the gaping hole that was my heart.
But this was different. If I even tried to make sense of it I could feel the vertigo rushing up to grab me and drag me back. It was better not to think. It was better to stay quiet inside where I may not have anything, but at least I wasn’t being battered and laughed at. Yup – all one big game was Sookie Stackhouse. Throw the dart and win a prize. Tears? No. Bury back. Tears mean you’re thinking. Tears mean you’re feeling. Better not to do either. Stay in the dark.
It was really all my fault – what happened. Sam had told me that bringing him back had changed him. He had told me he wasn’t happy I saved him. But I had. I had thought, “He’s my friend. He always stood by me. He made me a partner in the business. I belong in my town because of him.” He had been so steady when my whole world was turning to shit. Of course I used the magic to save his life.
Sookie took a deep breath and leaned back against the seat. She could feel the heat of the sun on her face and hands. The bright light made the blood running through her eyelids look like kaleidoscope images. And she thought of the past five years.
In the bad days that had followed her using the cluvier dor, Sam had been there. But looking back on it, it seemed that Sam had mostly been there in a way that made Sookie feel guilty. He had been so unhappy about being brought back. Then there had been the business following the arrest. He could have just told her about his meeting with Eric. But he hadn’t. He had avoided her and refused to speak with her. And Sookie, in her predictable way, had run to be his friend. She was so determined to be kind that it ended up causing her to pursue him. And pursue him she had. She had written him messages. She had inquired about him through mutual friends. She thought that it was just being Christian. And it seemed like a positive thing to do in the midst of all the horrible things that were happening.
Sookie couldn’t think of that time without remembering how abandoned and rejected she had felt. Amelia had come back into her life, spilling her secrets and bad-mouthing Eric at every turn. Alcide was quick with the biting comments, calling Eric the King of Cold. Her friends, including Tara had jumped on the hate wagon in no time. Quinn telling her that he was the only one who could do the Oklahoma wedding – making sure she knew it was going forward and when. There had been not one person who had been willing to support her relationship with Eric. And she had allowed her friends to consider it acceptable.
Hell, she’d even considered taking Bill back into her bed for vengeance sex.
Bill had driven of the final nails in the coffin, so to speak. Bill had been the one to tell her that Eric had laughed when he heard Sam was staying away. Bill couldn’t wait to be the one to tell her the deal that Eric and Sam had struck for the bail money. Bill had used every opportunity to twist and turn Eric’s actions, and then use them like a knife to twist and turn Sookie. And, like a bad habit she just couldn’t break, Sookie had believed him. She knew Bill had wanted her back. She knew Bill wanted her for his own. She knew he despised Eric, because he told her. And still, Sookie had believed him.
And there was Sam. When Sam had told her he would break his promise to Eric and talk with her, Sookie had been so relieved she had thrown herself into his arms. It wasn’t until later that it occurred to Sookie that the reason she was so happy was that Sam had been willing to do what Eric would not; set aside his honor and say it was for her.
Bill had started the story of what happened that night – the night Sam went to see Eric to ask for Sookie’s bail. But Sam had elaborated in a way that was guaranteed to make Sookie hate the vampire. Like all lies, some part of it had been true. Freyda had been there. There had been conditions to giving the money. Eric had felt guilty about not being able to volunteer the money. So the bits about making Sam promise not to tell her how it came about – that kind of made sense. But the business about Sam not being able to court her? That had been a lie.
It was only now, in the cold light of day Sookie could start to appreciate that although Eric hadn’t told her in plain terms his intentions; although he had never asked to marry her in a human ceremony or offered to re-bond after she had broken it so carelessly, his affections had indeed always been with her.
He had given up 200 years of his life to make sure that she was safe from any vampire interference. He had indentured his own child for a year to watch over her. He had done his best to have Pam installed as sheriff so that Sookie could be sure that actions in the area would flow around her. When Horst had shown up at her house, determined on some sort of mischief, Eric had agreed to leave for Oklahoma immediately in exchange for further assurances from Felipe the Sookie would be left in peace.
She knew Eric had been jealous of Sam. When she had been shot and in the hospital; the last time she saw her Eric, she had held Sam’s hand and refused to let it go. Eric had offered her his blood to heal her, but she had thrown his offer back in his face. She had heard Eric say “I will not release you.” She had thought at the time that Eric was speaking with Sam. But like so much that had happened, she wasn’t really sure what was true anymore.
And before she could recover; before she felt like her life was in any kind of balance, she was back in the hands of men who wanted to torture her. She remembered how Claude, her poor demented fairy cousin had known about her scars – the ones that never really recovered from the first time. She remembered how some part of her mind was playing through everything that had happened with Neave and Lochlan, and how she was almost anticipating the same things again. It had been like some sick, sad part of her was looking forward to the feel of the knife and the total loss of control. Like in some part of her brain she had decided that all the bad things were things she deserved.
Then she was rescued. And she was in Sam’s arms. And they were making love. And he was moving from his trailer to her house. And they were getting married in a church with her friends and family. There was a big reception at Merlottes. She remembered feeling a little odd that Sam had asked her to pay for the expenses. But then again, she had told him of her windfall and she had been so determined to join the ranks of everyone she knew in being married that she pushed the thought from her head.
Sam had made a big deal about not inviting Pam or Karin. Sookie had understood, but it hadn’t sat well. She had emailed Pam to tell her the news. She had walked out to the tree line to tell Karin.
The vampire had been very still for a long while. Sookie had felt her eyes searching and pulling at her.
“Are you sure?” And in the very back of her head, Sookie remembered hearing a small voice screaming, “No! Don’t do this!” But Sookie was so sure that this was the happy ending she had always deserved. A normal life. A normal, warm husband who everyone liked. No late night politics or danger waiting behind every corner. Just quiet and safe and ordinary.
So Sookie assured Karin that this was the way things were always meant to be. She told Karin she was sure that Karin and Pam understood how having them at the wedding and reception would be awkward. Sam had held her afterwards and told her how brave and right she had been. He had told her how he appreciated that she was willing to put him first.
Karin and Sookie didn’t speak so often after that. Once the wedding was over and Sam and she had returned from the Hawaiian honeymoon Sookie had paid for, she rarely saw Karin at all. She knew that Karin was still on the perimeters of her property because Bill mentioned her.
But over the next few weeks, she saw Bill less and less as well. She mentioned it to Sam. Sam told her that he’d told Bill to stop coming around so often. After all, Bill was Sookie’s past. She had a future to build with him. It had sparked their first real fight.
Sam had yelled at her a lot. He had thrown things. He had got right in her face telling her that he knew in his gut that she wasn’t over her unhealthy obsession with all things dead. He told her that he knew that the reason she wasn’t as uninhibited in bed as she should be was because she really just wanted cold things in her. He told her that he wasn’t ever going to be the kind of guy that needed to bite her to get off, and that if that’s the kind of sick person she was, she should just tell him. He would file for divorce right now.
She had cried and clung to him. Thinking back on how she had acted; how crazed and needy she had sounded. And Sookie felt ashamed. She had promised him anything. She had begged for a child so she could prove to him that she was really his. She remembered how he had snarled at her and told her that he wouldn’t begin to think about bringing any child of his into their lives until she had her head on straight and had her cunt out of the graveyard. He had banged out of the house and hadn’t returned for three days.
When he did come back, he had been wearing a boyish smile and carrying a bouquet of daisies. He told her that he didn’t want to fight with her anymore. He held her hands, and looked deep in her eyes and told her if she would try harder, so would he. And she had been so grateful. The sex had been rough that night. He had really hurt her. But if this was what he wanted, Sookie wanted to be that for him. He was her husband and she didn’t want him to think that she was holding onto the past. Sam was her future.
That really was the beginning. It always seemed that there was something wrong. She couldn’t cook the way he liked. She didn’t dress the right way. She talked trashy and needed to clean up her act if she was really going to be running a restaurant. If the restaurant lost money, it was because she needed to change how she was treating their customers.
Sam would make plans to meet with Jason and Michele. But then something would come up and they would have to cancel. The times that Michele invited them were never convenient for one reason or another. It was the Christmas of their second year married when Sookie realized that although she and Sam spoke of her brother and his family often, it had been almost a year since she’d actually seen them. Sookie had called Michele and made arrangements to drive out right away. It had been a really nice afternoon and they’d laughed and shared. Hours had passed. Sookie remembered how the stars had been shining on her drive home. It made her remember another starry night when Eric had laid her out on the hood of his car. And for the first time in a long time she found herself laughing out loud. But she was also crying. She felt confused and hurt and she wondered how he was doing and if he thought of her ever.
When she drove down the long driveway, she could see the lights of the house. Every light was on and the house looked like a blazing box in the dark. Sam was at the door, a dark shadow against the brightness behind him. She could tell by the set of his shoulders she was in trouble.
“Where were you?”
“I went to see Jason and Michele. It’s been so long and since it’s Christmas and all…”
“Liar!” He strode into the yard and grabbed her arm. Sookie wondered what would have happened if Karin had still been there. But Karin wasn’t. She had left without saying a word when her year was up. Sookie had the impression that there were still watchers, and every once in a while she thought she could catch thought signatures near the borders, but she didn’t see anyone tonight.
Sam pulled her into the house and dragged her through the kitchen into the living room. He flung her against the coffee table in front of the couch. Sookie felt her knee impact and knew there would be a bruise tomorrow to join the one on her arm.
“Don’t you lie to me! If you were going to see your brother, you would have invited me! Who have you been sneaking around with? DuRone? I always knew he wanted to get in your pants! Hoyt? You spread yourself for him? Or did you lean over for Compton? Missing that whiff of corpse in your life?”
“No! No! Just call her! Michele will tell you I was there!”
“Like she wouldn’t lie for you, you little whore. I know you’ve been giving it up all over the county for anyone who asks. Cause you sure as hell aren’t doing your job here!” And he’d grabbed her by the hair and forced her to her knees.
“You better be showing me that you haven’t used yourself up on someone else. You love me? You only mine? Prove it!”
And Sookie had crawled toward him and worked open the belt of his pants. She had pulled down his zipper and reached to stroke his growing erection. Sam had stood over her, his eyes hard and his muscles almost shaking in rage.
“If you bite me I’ll beat you bloody.” And with that he had freed himself and used her hair to bring her mouth to him.
“Suck, vampire lover. Suck me like the whore you are.” His free hand had traveled to her cheek, then her jaw, and finally her throat. He forced her head back and forth. “Hold onto my legs. Moan for me, bitch.” And she had. He had fucked her throat until she could see black spots in front of her eyes from lack of oxygen.
He pulled her off and pushed her to the couch. “Pull your pants off and lean over,” he demanded.
“Please, Sam. Please don’t hurt me. Just call Michele and Jason. They’ll tell you I was there!” But Sookie pulled her pants down anyway. She knew not to argue.
She kneeled on the couch cushions and he pushed her face into the cushions. Then he pushed his cock into her anus. He knew that it hurt her. “This is what happens when you cheat on me. I check you out. Look – no lubrication, so I guess you didn’t cheat on me with your nice tight ass.” Then he pulled out of her and slammed himself into her pussy. “ Wow, Sookie. Maybe I owe you an apology. This hole is pretty dry too. But it shouldn’t be. I’m your husband and you need to be taking care of me.” And he had reached around to twist her nipple while he shoved brutally until he found his release.
“Get yourself cleaned up. And take care you don’t get some nasty infection in your pussy. Then come to bed.”
And Sam walked back to their bedroom.
Sookie had showered and used a douche to clear herself. She had washed carefully, wincing at the sharp pain and trying to stanch the blood from her ripped tissues. She had crawled into bed, naked like Sam wanted. She was trembling and tried her hardest not to make any noise.
Sam rolled over and pulled her into his arms. He cuddled her and stroked her hair.
“I’m sorry baby. I shouldn’t have done that. You know how crazy with worry I get when I don’t know where you are. Please just tell me when you are going out so I don’t get all worked up.”
Sookie found herself crying and telling him she forgave him and promising she would do better.
At work the next day, she found herself looking at Sam. She wondered what she had ever seen that had looked attractive or friendly. Sam looked up and caught her gaze.
“What happened to you?” she asked.
“I came back,” he said. “I wish I hadn’t.”
Sookie became accustomed to the life that developed. Sam would go out. She wasn’t allowed to ask where he went. He used her money (their money) as he wished. One day she came home to find a pair of woman’s underwear in her laundry basket. It was stiff with dried fluids.
When she asked Sam if he knew where they had come from, he smirked at her and told her if she was thinner and prettier she wouldn’t need to be worried. Sam started regulating what she was eating. If she deviated from the food he prescribed for her, he’d tell her that she was just driving him away by letting herself get fat. Sookie found most days she was hungry. But she also found that it was hard to work up much energy to fight anymore. It was just too much trouble to disagree with Sam on anything. His temper was always just below the surface. Any little thing could spark an argument.
Sookie found herself giving up on things she liked or people she wanted in her life. If Sam suspected she was attached to an item she would find it broken or gone. And it was just too difficult to maintain relationships. Sam would accuse her of cheating on him or talking behind his back. He had a huge shouting argument with Tara. Tara refused to come to their house anymore.
Then had come the day Sam had announced that it was time that they had a baby.
Sookie had been in one moment stunned and in the next moment horrified. Her own life had become a roller coaster of nasty surprises. But there had always been the small voice in the back of her head that told her that it wasn’t really that bad. And if it was, she could always leave him.
A baby would change that. She would never be able to ever get free of him. The voices in her head started screaming loud that day. It had been hard, but she’d found a way to get to Shreveport to see a doctor. Luck was with her and the birth control pill prescription worked well. It had been a stressful month, but somehow she’d managed to stay pregnancy-free. She hid the pills in her purse. When she caught Sam looking through her purse (just trying to see where your money is going to help you budget better), she moved the pills to a Tupperware in the freezer.
She knew the minute he found them. He was in her face, shaking the pills at her. He told her he knew that she was a liar and that she had never loved him. He shook her until she fell. It happened so much easier now. She was so thin that someone at the restaurant had thought she had contracted cancer.
Sam started unbuckling his belt, making it clear he’d take what he wanted.
“Well, at least I’m not a vamp!” he screamed. “Sometimes I wish I was – then I could just force you to feel what I need!”
And Sookie felt some part of her old self come forward. “Like that would work? You know I can’t be glamoured!”
And she saw something that she had not seen before in Sam’s face. There was an element of having been found out – like there had been something lurking below the surface that was not just the two of them. “Are you really that stupid? I used to believe you were naive, but now it’s clear that you really are just a dumb hick. You know what that bond was about. He was just pushing you. I heard he liked it rough. But he made you so horny you just begged for it.”
And then he struck her. In all the years they had been together, he had never hit her anywhere that anyone would see. She fell to the floor and he was over her. He dragged her by the hair into the living room to the couch. This was his favorite place for punishing her. He took her in every way until she was broken and moaning. Then he stood over her and pulled her face to his.
“He never loved you. They can’t love – none of them. Either get over it or end it. Cause he moved on to greener pastures and you were never more than his feed and fuck.”
Sookie remembered how something inside had broken then. She had crawled to the bedroom they shared. She had thought about crawling onto the bed, but she knew if she tried to rise, even to her knees, the pain would bloom and then roar to life. She knew if she stayed still Sam would leave. That would be best.
He took his time. He showered. He threw some clothes into a bag. He walked over Sookie and around her, like she was dirty clothes or trash. Sookie remembered thinking just that. “I’m just the nasty stuff that gets left on the carpet,” she thought, “Barely worth the dustbin.”
Then something caught her eye. It was a picture in a frame under the bed. Slowly, slowly Sookie extended her arm to catch it with her fingertips. Little by little she drew it toward her. She had thought in her dreamy, shocky way that maybe she could escape into the picture. Maybe it would be like the family in the little house where Thing One and Thing Two had held her so long ago. Maybe it would be an answer to her pain. And she had flipped the picture up. “It is us,” she thought. She remembered the day of that photo. She had been smart mouthing off to Eric and he had laughed at her. She had been annoyed, but not really. Michele had taken the photo and given it to Sookie days before their lives had gone so bad; when Appius had come. She remembered how Eric had smiled when he saw the picture on her table and how he had held her and kissed her.
Sookie must have made a noise. Sam was walking past. He was on his phone telling someone he would be there soon. “Can’t wait to see you too.” He was using his sex voice. Then he stopped. He leaned down and Sookie couldn’t keep herself from flinching and the picture fell over. While Sookie curled into herself, Sam picked the picture from the floor.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” he yelled. Sookie heard the sound of the frame and glass breaking when it hit the wall. She wanted to close her eyes and make it go away. But she couldn’t. The picture was gone. He had broken that too. She was stuck with nowhere to run. No escape. Sam grabbed the sheets from the bed and pulled them off and threw them across the room as well. Then he stomped from the room.
Sookie had finally found a place deep inside herself and she had retreated there. She didn’t hear the front door slam.
Days passed. She had found her way across the hall. She had tried to make some soup, but there wasn’t much in the house. And Sookie found she was too tired to go far. There were days that she thought of whole conversations with people that probably weren’t there at all.
She thought she saw Eric. She asked him what he was thinking when he made the bond with her. She asked him if he had used the bond to manipulate her feelings. She told him that she didn’t really believe that he did because she had fought with him as often as not. If he had really been able to make her dance like a puppet on a string he sure had made some pretty crazy choices about what he wanted her to do.
When she saw Niall she asked why he made the area around her house so crazy fertile. If this was a blessing, what did he mean her to do with it? Or had it just been for her pleasure because he knew she liked to garden?
One time she thought she saw the Ancient Pythoness. The crazy blind vampire was sitting next to her bed stroking her hair.
And she thought she saw Sam with Freyda. Sam was telling the Queen there was no food left in the house and that it wouldn’t take long. He had turned off the water and Sookie had no car or phone. Freyda was thanking him for giving her such a wonderful show and that she loved the movies he had made.
Sookie closed her eyes and dreamed of flying through starry skies in the arms of the one that she now knew with all the conviction of her heart had always been the love of her life.