AN: This is my most difficult story to write, hands down, for several reasons and on top of that, I’ve had a terrible case of writer’s block. The story is in my head, but the words just won’t flow. Hence the delay, for which I apologize…but thanks a million to everyone for the reviews, follows, favorites, and encouraging PMs! Also, I appreciate the votes for this story in the “You Want Blood” awards—3rd place in the “Edge of Your Seat-Best Cliffhanger” category was a huge accomplishment! I just hope I continue to do the story justice…
Thanks so much to my jedi betas, LCrafts and VAlady, for looking over this chapter and for the plot suggestions—it is much appreciated!
“To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.”
“O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.”
“Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.”
~Edgar Allan Poe~
Sookie began pacing the foyer, nervously glancing outside and peeking out the blinds as she shrugged the phone to her ear with her shoulder.
She took a deep breath. “Well, Gran, the dreams-they’re back. Back with a vengeance,” she laughed weakly.
There was a long pause before she heard an intake of breath. Doubtless Gran was trying to find a way to gently probe the topics of the nightmares. She took the reins and spared Adele the necessity of having to walk on eggshells.
“I’m involved in a case right now that is…uh, especially disturbing. It’s a murder case.”
“Oh my word! How horrible!” Gran exclaimed. “I’m awful proud of you, Sookie, but sometimes I have to admit I wish you had gone into a different area in your field. Like maybe working with children in the schools or something.”
Sookie sighed. “Yeah, Gran, me too…but it is what it is.”
Ever practical, Adele agreed, “Yes, it is. You chose your path, my dear, and it’s a difficult one to walk. Has been since you were a child. But God blessed you with a strong spirit and uncommon smarts, and he won’t give you anything you’re not going to able to handle.” She paused and Sookie could hear her take a swallow of a beverage. Likely sweet tea, knowing Gran, despite her diabetes. “Now, let’s talk about those dreams. When did they start up again?”
“Several weeks ago. After I started the evaluation.”
“Yes, the man involved in the case has shown up in the dreams. I…don’t want to go into detail about the content, but suffice it to say they are pretty disturbing.”
“You poor thing,” Adele interjected. “I remember those darned dreams first started around the time of Bartlett, and only got worse after Corbett and Michelle passed, God bless their souls. I felt so bad for you honey, with the sleepwalking and all. Always was scared to death you’d hurt yourself. That’s one of the reasons why I took you to that child psychologist…”
She smiled. “Yeah, Gran, I remember. I think it made an impression on me.” She chuckled grimly, “There usually are some sort of precipitating factors for why people in my profession get into the business in the first place. I guess that might have planted a seed in my head to pursue this field.”
Sookie cleared her throat and steeled herself for the change in subject, her main reason for calling. “I remember you mentioning that great grandpa had strange dreams and…”funny feelings” about people…” She winced internally as her voice trailed off.
There was silence on the line and she could practically hear the wheels turning in Gran’s head.
Suddenly, she felt foolish. She shouldn’t have brought it up. After all, she had clung to her graduate training as a scientist practitioner as fervently as any zealot. Years ago, starting with her Intro to Psych class, psychology had become religion to her, explained people’s bizarre and cruel behaviors, and replaced the emptiness and hurt inside with something that made sense. But she couldn’t help feeling that niggling, gut deep instinct that there was more to the world, beyond this world, than could be answered from empirically based explanations.
Before she could backpedal, she heard Gran blow out a breath. “Well, yes, Niall was always known for being a bit of an odd bird. Eccentric I guess you could say. I honestly didn’t know the man very well. But from what Earl told me, he had the reputation of just…knowing things. Had those funny feelings about people you mentioned, that were usually spot on.”
Sookie felt even more awkward, although she forced herself to continue. “But the dreams-did they ever say he had dreams that were, uh, I guess you might call prophetic? Seeing things that came to pass, or maybe warnings about the future?”
Gran’s tone shifted again, her worry evident. “Sookie, those dreams you’re having…they sound like they must be pretty bad, hon. You sound shaken up.”
“Yeah, to be honest, Gran, they’ve been bad, but then again, this case is pretty extreme, even by my standards. Worse than that Rene Lenier case I was involved with a few years ago even.”
Gran gasped appreciatively, having been keenly aware of the gruesome and salacious details that were sensationalized in the local media about Bon Temps’ notorious serial killer.
“It’s kind of getting under my skin,” Sookie admitted.
“Oh, honey,” Adele sympathized. “I can only imagine how hard it must be working day after day with folk like that. And then to have those dreams on top of it all, making it worse. If it makes you feel any better, it wasn’t just Niall that had similar kinds of dreams. Your father also had them since he was a child, but he never would talk about them none since he was a teenager, though he’d still wake me and Earl up screaming every now and then.”
Sookie stiffened in shock. “I didn’t know dad had nightmares and sleepwalked.”
“He was always so quiet and to himself, just like Earl though…Earl never really had bad dreams.” Gran muttered offhandedly, but then paused, as if catching herself inadvertently speaking her thoughts aloud.
“So, can you tell me more about dad?” Sookie encouraged. He had died when she was so young, and while talking about him still hurt, she was always hungry for any information she could get about her parents.
“Your father always kept things that bothered him closed up tight. Sookie, I just hope those dreams don’t eat you up inside like they used to when you were little and the way it did your daddy,” Adele continued slowly, seeming somewhat reluctant to continue discussing the topic.
During another lull in the conversation, Sookie decided to file the information away for later consideration. The coincidental nature of the Stackhouse dreams was…disturbing at the very least, but not something to explore right then with Gran, who seemed uncomfortable with the topic. Not wanting to worry her grandmother anymore, and feeling guilty for even bringing up the subject, Sookie offered with false cheerfulness, “Don’t worry. It’ll be over soon. I finished the evaluation and hopefully they’ll get to sentencing the guy permanently behind bars before long. He may even get the death penalty.”
She actually didn’t think Northman would serve much time, if any, beyond what he had already served at Orleans Parish Prison. After all, there had been other high profile cases where wealthy men had literally gotten away with murder. But she didn’t want to burden her Gran with the truth: that an accused serial killer and rapist was out on bail, knew where she lived, had sent her flowers, and was rich enough to have any and all resources at his disposal. Oh yes, and who had every intention to contact her outside of the jail, indeed had even warned her that he’d be “seeing her soon.” Not to mention the sexually explicit nature of some of her dreams starring Eric Northman. Good God-it would cause the old woman to have her own nightmares.
Gran offered, “Sookie, why don’t you come home for a spell? We’ll catch up and I’ll whip up some of your favorites, chicken and dumplings, homemade biscuits, icebox pie, the works. If I know you, you haven’t been eating well and are skin and bones.”
Sookie let out a genuine and much needed chuckle, “That sounds great, Gran, really it does. More than you know. As soon as things slow down here I promise I’ll come up for a visit. I’m overdue for a nice, long vacation and I want to see you, and hopefully Jason can come around too so we can all catch up together. I really miss y’all.”
The change in topic was obviously a welcome one, and Adele cheerfully took advantage of the opportunity to prattle on about the latest Bon Temps gossip. Sookie listened with a nostalgic fondness and felt her eyes tear up as she bid her grandmother goodbye.
After she hung up the phone, the temporary levity from the end of the conversation faded to black. Although she missed Gran terribly, she didn’t really miss the close-mindedness of the people in her hometown. Like the saying said, there really was no going home again…
Although the discussion with Gran really didn’t reveal much, in part due to her grandmother’s hesitancy to divulge details about her deceased family, the nugget of gold that was revealed about both her great grandfather and father having had similar dreams was interesting. Very interesting…though she felt silly reading too much into it. But then again…in the back of her head, she had that nagging feeling again. She was starting to worry that her dreams weren’t just overlay from the case. Maybe, just maybe, the dreams were trying to warn her…
Shaking the sudden chill that ran down her spine, she walked to the dining room. The huge rose bouquet and the package sat prominently on the table, not to be denied. Looking out the blinds again, she couldn’t shake the feeling she was being watched, but seeing nothing unusual, she sat down and opened up the box Northman had delivered.
As she thumbed through the various files of the people he had investigated, she noticed names that had been mentioned on the various websites. There were files for Victor Madden, Lorena Ball, and Franklin Mott, as well as some other names that were unfamiliar: Felipe de Castro, Peter Threadgill, and Steve Newlin. Scanning each file rapidly, she saw that he had outlined his associations with each one and his conjecture regarding possible motives that may have driven each one to set him up. She noticed that some of them had to do with adversarial business relations but others had to do with more…personal reasons. But, really, how plausible was it that he had enemies who hated him enough to frame him for serial rapes and murder? There was an unfortunate pile of victims who had lost their lives. Would anyone be that driven to set him up? To take innocent lives, again and again, in a most brutal and profane manner just to settle some business affront or personal slight?
Shaking her head skeptically, she stared for several moments at the box’s contents. However, she soon found herself caving in to the voyeuristic tendencies universal to all psychologists, and quickly became fascinated as she began perusing the papers in the top file.
Immersed in her reading, she suddenly jumped in her seat, banging her knee on the table leg as her phone rang. Picking it up, she groaned when saw the name on the caller ID.
Sookie answered the phone with a hesitant, “Hello?”
“Dr. Stackhouse. Pam Ravenscroft. Please, for the love of God, tell me that my client has not contacted you.”
Sookie froze. What in the hell was she going to tell the attorney?
AN: I realize there is not a lot of action in this chapter, but a few things were explored to further the plot along. Once again, thanks for everyone’s support and for reading!