AN: Warning: At times Sookie will behave contrary to how a psychologist (should) act. She may be unprofessional and arguably behave in an unethical manner in this story. If you disagree or feel uncomfortable with this plot direction, then please stop reading. If I wanted to write a case study or other work of nonfiction I would. I don’t.
Also, I have no false illusions that I am Dostoevsky working on my magnum opus. It’s fanfiction, folks, written by a novice fiction author, so it is what it is. So for those of you who are cool with that, I appreciate your support and reviews…Speaking of which, thanks again to everyone who took the time and effort to review last chapter!
Sookie walked quickly out of the jail to her vehicle. Her mind raced as she opened the door and sat inside.
Seeing Eric Northman beaten and vulnerable in the prison infirmary had shaken her to her core.
She hated it. The clinical detachment that was necessary in her profession had been challenged….hell, it had almost been erased. The degree of countertransference she was experiencing was disturbing…but, at least she was cognizant of the dynamic. She would just have to work her ass off to reset boundaries.
Yes. That’s what she’d need to do in order to keep the objectivity necessary to perform her job to the best of her ability.
Shaking her head, she started the SUV and decided to head over to her office. She needed to finish scoring his psychological testing. Although he hadn’t completed the personality measure, she could begin the interpretation of the cognitive testing portion of the evaluation and start on the report. She also had some billing headaches to attend to.
As she drove, her mind wandered…more often than not (to her chagrin and annoyance) back to her handsome client.
Before she knew it, she arrived at the office complex and found a parking space close to the main entrance. She cut through the pleasant courtyard, which was sprinkled with Japanese maples (one of her absolute favorite trees) and sporadically placed benches. It was…soothing and peaceful. Lord knew she needed as much “soul candy” as she could get. She went through the side entrance that connected to her side of the building.
She unlocked her office door and went straight to her desk. Her first objective was to check her voicemail. She sifted through various messages until she came to one from Stan Davis. He wanted her to call him back, asap. There was no other content in the message.
Given his tone and brevity of the message…it didn’t bode well.
She sat down at her desk and held her head in her hands.
The incident at the jail that morning had continued to leave her feeling disoriented and in a strange mood. And sweet Jesus, that dream…She shivered as she recalled his commanding tone, his tongue, how he had tied her hands together…
She forced the memory back with some difficulty. God, of all the clients to dream about, she had to have one about a man accused of the most heinous sexual murders.
It pissed her off.
It figured that she’d get sucked into such a clusterfuck of a case now, when her level of burnout was at critical mass. She didn’t feel like dealing with Stan or the whole drama of Eric Northman’s world. Not for the last time, she thought about how much she needed a vacation.
She closed her eyes and fantasized about lying out on a white sand beach with Windex colored water. She pictured herself in her black bikini, sipping on a margarita. As she rolled over on her side, she looked over at a smiling Eric Northman reclining next to her.
Her eyes popped open as the fantasy went up in smoke.
“Good God, get a grip, Sookie,” she muttered to herself. “Work, focus on work, woman and get your head in the game.”
She popped open her briefcase and pulled out Eric’s test protocols. After adding up the scores for the various subtests and looking up his performance relative to the normative data, she transcribed all of his standardized scores onto the “summary sheet” page, which allowed her to assess his performance in a quick glance, arranged by cognitive domain. Across the board, from IQ to problem-solving, language, attention, processing speed, memory, etc., his performance ranged from above average to superior…in many cases, he was above the 99th percentile.
It just confirmed what she had already suspected. Eric Northman was fucking brilliant. Jesus, was he truly a murderer, a sexual sadist? She doubted it…But why would someone with such a keen intellect get himself into such a mess? She felt that inexplicable twinge again, that “hunch” she sometimes experienced.
At an emotional and intellectual impasse, she grabbed her phone and called Stan, who answered on the second ring.
“Stan. Sookie Stackhouse.”
“No problem. And Stan, please call me Sookie when it’s just us talking outside the courtroom. How long have we known each other?”
“Of course, of course Sookie.”
“Thanks.” She took a deep breath before continuing. “Stan, this case has taken a weird turn.”
“Yeah. Ravenscroft called and left a message saying something about Northman being sick, unable to finish the eval.”
“Um, yes, about that. He, uh, apparently got assaulted early this morning. It’s pretty bad. In fact, it’s so bad I don’t understand why the hell he isn’t in a real hospital, not the jail infirmary.” She paused. She couldn’t let him know she had gone up to his room to visit Eric. “Um, at least that’s what Ms. Ravenscroft told me,” she hurriedly continued. “So I can’t finish the eval until he’s cleared medically. She told me that he had a concussion, so that would most likely impact his performance on neuropsychological measures-.”
“Shit,” Stan muttered.
“Well, the good news is that he had already completed the majority of the cognitive testing, we just had the MMPI-2 left and I was going to throw in a couple of harder executive functioning tasks given his high IQ, but they weren’t really necessary. The MMPI-2, however, is of the utmost importance. Of course, his recent assault will impact his clinical profile, but I will take it into account in my interpretation.”
“So you’re saying that we lucked out that you finished the cognitive portion of the evaluation because the concussion might have screwed things up.”
“Well, that’s sort of what I meant.” She sighed. “Really, Stan, at this point in time I wish I could just remove myself from this case…”
Stan laughed. “Tsk tsk, Sookie. Come on now, you signed yourself on for the whole carnival. You can’t just bail out of the middle of the funhouse at this point.”
Sookie sighed again. “I know, just wishful thinking.”
“If it makes you feel any better, we’ve had some, uh, recent developments on the case that are going to make my job a hell of a lot easier. Northman better enjoy his down time, because he’s going to be going up the river for a long while. If he escapes the death penalty, that is.”
Sookie sat up as her heart galloped. “What do you mean?”
“Well, let’s just say that one of Northman’s former lovers recently came forward with some interesting information about his, uh, sexual tastes.”
Sookie let out a shaky breath. “Tastes?”
Stan chuckled grimly. “Apparently he likes to play around with S&M. You know, tying up his lovers, rough sex, discipline, stuff like that. It will help strengthen the case that he’s a deviant and that the rape murders were his way of taking his sexual urges to the extreme.”
Sookie felt her mouth dry up. She quickly thought up a lie to get him off the phone. “Uh, Stan, I apologize, but I just realized I’ve got a patient feedback coming in any minute.”
“Oh, yeah, sure…well, I’ll be in touch with Ravenscroft about Northman’s status and let you know when he’s well enough to finish the assessment.”
“All right. Thanks, Stan. Talk to you later.” She ended the call and did some deep breathing exercises to slow down her heart rate and to help reduce the other physiologic signs of anxiety she was experiencing. Stan’s remark about Eric’s sexual habits was…disconcerting. Not necessarily because of his particular kink, but…something else.
She groaned internally, aware once again of her over involvement in the case.
She thought for a moment and looked at the box sitting next to her desk. She was about to do something that she made a policy of never doing.
She spun her chair towards the box Stan had sent that held Eric Northman’s files. Although she normally would only review the files after all the testing was completed in order to reduce potential bias, she felt compelled to sift through the information.
As she bent down to lift the lid, she paused momentarily. She couldn’t help but think of Pandora…
She first pulled out a thick cardboard file folder, tucking it under her arm as she pulled out a bundle of paperwork held together by a thick rubber band. She placed both on her desk. She paused again. Was she going to do this? Go against her usual procedure?
She took a deep breath and thought for several minutes, warring with herself. She got up and went into the little closet cubby where she kept her file cabinets, testing supplies, small fridge and microwave. She poured some bottled water in a cup and popped it in the microwave. After it dinged, she grabbed the box of herbal tea and placed a bag in the steaming water.
She walked back to her desk and sat the tea on a coaster and began sifting through the paperwork. As she scanned through the documents Stan had provided, her heart rate unwittingly began a rapid staccato.
Her dream, which had left a vivid imprint on her brain, rose to the surface of her mind like a dark beast rising out of the water.
In the midst of the graphic details summarized in the police reports and court documents, one thing stood out…screamed out to her.
Many of the victims had their hands or feet bound.
With their bras.
She swallowed thickly. Her dream…
“Shit,” she whispered.
AN: Thanks for reading.