AN: WARNING: This story is a dark, character driven story about a psychologist who is involved in a serial rapist/killer case. It is not a light-hearted mystery like the SVM stories. There will be scenes that depict violence, murder and dark kink (bdsm themes). I understand that this may turn certain readers off and I’m okay with that. But, I must stress,if it offends or doesn’t interest you, don’t read, remove it from your alert notice, or whatever! You have been warned so I have no pity or apologies for those who don’t listen and then whine about the content offending them! Reader discretion advised.
Thank you to Lcrafts for being kind, generous, and brave enough to beta this story, NaimaDemars for her unending support and encouragement, and to the wonderful VALady for the “clever psychopath” line.
Also, thanks to everyone who left supportive reviews-I appreciate it!
Sookie was floating slowly but inexorably down a darkened corridor. A bone chilling sense of dread permeated her body. She knew she should turn around but could not seem to stop her progression towards an unseen end. After what seemed an eternity, she finally reached a heavy door. Instinctively, she knew she should not open it…but then slowly the door swung open on it’s own accord.
The coppery smell of blood and rotted flesh hit her face with the force of a wrecking ball. Coughing and holding her hand up to her face, she peered into the room that was illuminated by light from an indeterminable source. Piled throughout the room were young fair-haired women, all in various stages of death, some seemingly “fresh,” others bloated and blackened with swollen bellies and limbs. Others were near skeletal remains with dried leathery sinew barely holding their forms together.
Her insides recoiled at the gruesome sight. When she tried with all of her strength to turn and run, she was horrified to find that she continued to float forward. Slowly, she drifted towards a body in the middle of the room. The woman had her wrists bound above her head with a black scarf. Her legs were lewdly spread; her mutilated sex prominently displayed.
Sookie continued to move closer to the corpse, whose skin was leached white from loss of blood. Despite her desire to flee, she found herself reaching down with a trembling hand to move the long blonde hair that was obscuring the woman’s face.
She awoke to the sound of hoarse screaming. Bolting up in bed while her heart sprinted, she had to take several minutes to calm herself. Glancing at the alarm, she saw it was early morning, 3:04 am to be exact.
She felt exhausted and her trembling muscles ached from adrenaline-fueled tension. Groaning, she forced herself to move leaden legs over the side of the bed. She desperately needed sleep but was pretty damned scared of what other dreams would haunt her. Until tonight, the dreams had been dark and disconcerting but…strangely arousing; a subject she did not have the energy to pursue further at the moment.
And now, the tone of the dreams had unmistakably taken a more sinister and disturbing turn…because when she moved the woman’s hair away from her colorless, slack lips she was horrified to stare into her own glazed blue eyes.
It was obvious that the Northman case was eating her up. She was no rookie, no fresh out of grad school novice. She had worked with criminals for years, many of whom were sex offenders and murderers, and so she had built up a calloused, detached approach with that population out of necessity. It was something touched upon briefly in her doctoral training but had been honed in her by the school of hard knocks.
Why then was this case haunting her? Why couldn’t she turn it off when she slept? She had recognized and examined, re-examined, and overanalyzed her attraction to Eric Northman. It happened to clinicians all the time, the sexual attraction to patients, but never to her.
At least, not to this extent.
She was angry and exasperated with herself. The repugnance of the crimes he was accused of committing should have demanded that she treat him like a very dangerous predator, deal with him efficiently, and then put him out of her mind. She was generally successful at doing this while she was awake, but while she lay vulnerable in sleep it was another story…
She trudged over to the bathroom and took a hot shower. She always felt and thought better afterwards and today was no exception. However, she still ached and it seemed like she was coming down with a cold. Although she often went into the office on Saturdays to finish up loose ends from the week, she decided to stay home.
She put on a comfy sports bra, an old, near threadbare tee that had the faded logo of her alma mater on the front, yoga pants, and a thick pair of socks. The high ceilings in her house made it difficult to keep warm despite the generally mild Louisiana winters and it seemed like her feet were always freezing from fall to early spring.
Shuffling into the kitchen, she put a cup of water in the microwave. She turned and leaned against the counter while she waited for the water to heat up.
Sniffling, she let her eyes roam around the kitchen and dining room. They were drawn as if by a magnet to the rose bouquet she had brought back from her office and were now sitting on her dining table. She had initially planned to throw them away but for some reason couldn’t bring herself to do it. She had also kept the card that came with the flowers. Why, she didn’t really want to examine too closely…and why didn’t she call Stan Davis or the cops? Shallow flattery did not go far with her but she couldn’t seem to help the thrill of excitement when she thought of him ordering the flowers for her and writing her a personal note….
The microwave dinged so she went and got a bag of green tea (not decaf) to steep instead of her usual coffee. Taking her cup into the living room, she opened her laptop and began searching the web for news about Eric Northman. She had been so busy as well as physically and emotionally drained that she had not had time to stay on top of the news.
But given Eric’s cryptic note, she thought she’d damn well better find out if her hunch about him making bail was correct.
After typing in a few words, she found it. There it was: he had made national news. One article mentioned that there had not been any new rape-murders in the city since he had been incarcerated and gleefully speculated whether victims would start piling up again now that he was out of jail. There were photos of him leaving the Orleans Parish Prison, as well as shots of Stan Davis and Pam Ravenscroft’s press conferences.
She cringed when she saw Stan and read his curt, noncommittal statement to the press.
After receiving her report, to say that he was pissed at her was an understatement. He had called her and grilled her about her findings. He had never done that before, never in their working relationship, and she found herself getting defensive while he reamed her out.
“Stan, I’m sorry you aren’t happy with the findings, but I just report what I see in the data and make my professional judgment from there.”
She bristled when she heard his indignant huff but continued, her voice sharper.
“All of the cognitive testing was commensurate with his IQ, which was in the very superior range. He is one of the smartest individuals I have ever come across. His MMPI-2 indicated he was been open and forthright in his response style. And while there were some mild elevations on the paranoia and depression scales, I think in light of his incarceration and recent assault, it would make sense. There were also some hints of narcissism in his profile, but I have found that to be common in many wealthy patients. There were not overt signs of antisocial personality disorder and I believe he is capable of feeling remorse, which would argue against the presence of psychopathy. Given that he has no prior history of assaultive behavior, at least none that I am aware of and the data I had from the eval, I had to report tha-”
Stan cut her off in frustration. “Yes, I know that. But Sookie, you are dead wrong. The guy is nothing more than a clever psychopath. Because of your goddamned report Dr. Compton is going to take it and run with it. The judge will be swayed and that sick fucker is going to make bail.”
Sookie closed her eyes and let out a long breath. Bill Compton had faxed a request for raw data from the testing as well as her report, which she was obligated to send to him. Stan was right about one thing: Compton had undoubtedly found her conclusions to make his job easier, damn him.
“Stan, I’m sorry. I really am. But even if the guy is guilty as sin, his neuropsych eval came out nearly spotless.” She paused for a moment. “Wait a minute. I thought you said his former flame came forward with some damning information. If that’s the case…”
Stan chuckled grimly. “She’s a freaking basket case. I have no doubt that he was into the whole whips and chains, slap and tickle thing, but she came across as unstable, as a woman scorned. Apparently she was pissed that he had dumped her and was asking for some monetary reward for her “confessions.” It ended up being of questionable use.”
There was an uncomfortable pause until she heard him mutter under his breath, “Jesus Christ, Sookie…”
She softened her tone in sympathy, knowing that his ire was not really directed at her…he just held a deep-rooted passion for locking up dangerous criminals and the idea that Eric could get out to commit more atrocities was getting to him.
“Look, I know you were counting on me to find something in his profile that would help keep him behind bars. But don’t you realize that the fact that he claims he doesn’t remember the crimes is suspect given his near perfect performance on all of the memory measures, and flawless recall of other aspects of his personal history? His pattern of so-called “blank spots” is not consistent with what is typically seen in “psychogenic amnesia” or fugue states. Go back and re-read my conclusion, Stan and you’ll see what I am talking about.”
Stan seemed to brighten as he hissed, “Yes. Damn straight. I got flustered when I got the report and skimmed your summary section. I wasn’t seeing the forest through the trees. Sorry I jumped on your case, Sookie.”
“Don’t mention it Stan. Look, I need to go-I’ve got a patient in the waiting room, but don’t hesitate to contact me if and when you need me.”
“Sure thing, Sookie. Take care.”
Sookie continued mulling over the conversation with Stan and all of the implications of Eric posting bail, the note, and the dreams. She continued with her Google search, scanning each and every site that offered more tidbits about Eric Northman.
For the next two hours, she was immersed in the various articles she found. Apparently, several prominent, well known business leaders had come forward to extend their support and belief in his innocence, including partners in his different companies: Victor Madden, Franklin Mott, and Lorena Ball. His parents and a purported friend and business associate, Andre Paul, were also not immune from the press’s stalking. On a gossip site, some woman named Sophie Anne LaClerq (Sookie assumed this was the one Stan had spoke derisively about) talked about his “kinky sexual habits,” which Sookie noted with some discomfort, hinted at acts that were the subject of many of her dreams.
She closed up her laptop in disgust. She’d seen enough. Despite feeling under the weather, she second-guessed her decision to stay home. It seemed that work distractions could be the best option to keep her mind from straying…
She got up to put her empty mug in the dishwasher, intending to go get dressed and into the office after all.
As she walked by the living room window, she paused as she saw a dark sedan pull up to the curb. An unfamiliar man emerged from the driver’s side and looked up at her house. Sookie moved quickly to stand in front of the door, where she looked out the peephole.
She watched as he approached the house.
He was average height, brown hair with a receding hairline, dressed in khakis and a dark polo shirt.
She waited with breath held, determined not to make a sound until he left. She jumped and let out a startled squeak as he rang the doorbell. To her surprise, she saw him bend down and then turn to leave. She watched him get back into his car and drive away. After several minutes, she opened the door and saw a package on the porch.
Looking around suspiciously, she bent down and retrieved it and quickly locked the door-both the deadbolt and the doorknob lock.
She brought the box into the kitchen and sat it on the island. Frowning, she saw that there was an envelope taped to the top with S. Stackhouse written in flowing script. With a hitch in her breath, she recognized the handwriting immediately. She tore open the envelope and unfolded the letter size stationary.
Please do not be alarmed. I had my personal assistant locate your home address.
I was honest with you during the evaluation. Although I do not have any memories of the atrocities I am accused of committing, I believe myself to be innocent of all charges. For reasons that I will explain later, I believe that someone known to me is committing the crimes.
I hope that you will help me. You are smart and I am confident in your ability to see what others cannot or will not.
In the package, you will find dossiers on people of interest to my case.
I will be in touch soon.
She was dumbfounded. With trembling hands, she let the letter drop to the floor.
He had found her home address. He knew where she lived….
Heart racing, she raced to all of the doors in her house, checking the locks. Then she went around to frantically double-check her windows. She had gotten lax, she realized, as she set the burglar alarm.
Finally, she went into her bedroom, into the large walk in closet. She reached up and pulled down the metal box that held her Glock 42 from the shelf. She took the box and sat it on the bed. Popping out the magazine, she checked to make sure it was loaded and tamped it back into the gun.
In a daze, she clutched the gun in her hand.
As if on cue, her phone rang. Glancing at the caller ID, she saw it was an unlisted number. She let the answering machine pick it up but when the automated message ended, all she heard was dial tone.
Grasping her Glock (keeping it close by was reassuring to her), she headed back to the kitchen. The adrenaline rush had caused her mouth to dry up. She needed a glass of ice-cold water like nothing else…well, maybe a shot of whiskey too.
As she took down a glass out of the cabinet, her cell phone started ringing. She glanced at it and saw that it was once again an unlisted number. Frowning, she answered it.
“Hello,” she breathed.
There was a pause before she heard a familiar deep baritone. “Dr. Stackhouse. This is Eric Northman. I wanted to-”
“You have no right to invade my privacy!”
“Please just listen to me. I needed-”
She interrupted him with a hiss, “I’ll tell you what you need. You need to leave me the hell alone or you’ll find yourself right back in jail. Don’t ever contact me again!”
She ended the call and cursed under her breath.
She picked the phone back up and dialed 911. But when the operator intoned in a bored voice, “911, please state the nature of the emergency,” for some unknown but compelling reason she began second-guessing her decision to involve the police.
“I’m so sorry to disturb you. I had a grease fire on my stove that freaked me out but I got it under control. Everything is fine. Sorry.”
The operator grunted a non-committal assent and disconnected the call.
She thought for several moments until an idea popped into her head. She scrolled down her contact list and called the one person she always could turn to, the one person she could trust and count on to be the voice of reason.
“Hello, Stackhouse residence.”
“Hi Gran,” she said shakily. “I need to talk to you about something.”
AN: Thanks for reading!