One Year Later: Chapter 2
As I was packing, I decided to call Pam and check in with her. As much as I love Pam, I still find it so hard to see her and talk to her. She’s Eric’s child, after all, and that fact never leaves my mind when I’m around her. She has sworn to protect me just as Bill has, and I will always value that. Now that Fangtasia is hers, I can’t go there, of course. I wonder if it’s hard for her, or if centuries of hardening her heart have made it easier. I’ve only had nine months to work on that, and I am failing miserably, I’m afraid. I told her that I was going to the beach to clean out the house and put it on the market. She asked if I was certain that that’s what I wanted, and I said yes. She offered again to give me Eric’s Shreveport house, but I told her that no, he left that to her, and I really hoped that she would live in it. It really is such a beautiful house, but I could never live there. I can’t imagine ever even driving past it. Way too painful.
Eric was smart to put the beach house in my name (naturally–you don’t live a thousand years unless you’re very smart). Even though he did leave me a very wealthy woman, it has taken months to get through all the red tape, just as Eric predicted it would. He left the bar and his house in Shreveport and a load of cash to Pam. I am now the proud owner of fourteen commercial properties in Shreveport and New Orleans as well as forty-two million dollars. I had no idea that Eric had such wealth. That night at the beach when he told me he had set up a trust for me, I envisioned some sort of account set up to provide me with a small income so I wouldn’t have to worry. When he said I wouldn’t have to worry, he wasn’t kidding. But until a few weeks ago, I didn’t have access to all that money, and the rental income from the beach house is what has gotten me by. I wasn’t able to work anyway, I was such a wreck, so I honestly don’t know what I would have done for money if it weren’t for the beach house. That Eric, so practical.
Right after Eric’s death, Pam brought me two personal items that she thought I might want. One was the framed photo of me beside my sandcastle and the other was the letter I wrote to him asking that I be turned if I accidentally died. As I re-read that letter, I thought how naïve and self-centered I was at that time. I was so involved in my own decision, that I never even considered the possibility that I would out-live Eric. And when he told me that he had set up a trust for me, I was so busy balancing that giant immature chip on my shoulder, so ridiculously lost in the idea of being a kept woman, I didn’t even see the hard cold reality that I could actually lose Eric. He just seemed so invincible to me. He was my savior, and yet when he needed saving, there was no one there for him. The image of his last moments before death haunts me. Was he afraid? Did he know that he was dying? It’s hard for me to think about. I’m much happier playing another Eric tape in my head. Because I have many more happy memories than I do sad ones.
Those three months back here after the beach were for the most part happy. Eric was so good to me. We saw each other as much as we could even though we were both pretty busy with our lives. Fangtasia looked great when they had the big grand re-opening. I went there on my nights off and stayed over at Eric’s. When I worked late, Eric came to my house. He had one of the upstairs bedrooms converted to a light-tight room, and that’s where he stayed during the days he was here, locked up nice and tight. The week Pam was at the beach and Victor was in town, he stayed away and I missed him terribly, but I understood why he did. Other than that week, though, our lives had settled into a somewhat normal routine.
Eric wanted me to move into his house, but I just couldn’t see living there with him. Now, of course, I kick myself, and realize that I should have moved in the first day back from the beach. Fool that I am, I thought I had all the time in the world to make up my mind. I wanted to take it slow. Let’s not talk about living together. Let’s not talk about the future. Let’s not talk about the beach house and living there. Fool.
After Eric’s death, people treated me differently. Sam told me that he respected Eric and was glad that we had at least had some time together. Jason told me he loved me. About six months after Eric’s death, Alcide called and asked me out. I was pretty surprised, and I surprised myself even more by saying yes. I have always liked Alcide, and thought that being around him might make me feel normal again. My new practical side knew that I should date again. I’m still a very young woman, too young to feel like a widow. Practical or not, the night Alcide was picking me up, I was so nervous that I drank three gin and tonics on an empty stomach, and when I answered the door, I just threw up on his shoes. Then I decided that I wasn’t ready to date. The biggest surprise I think was Quinn. He called within a few days of Eric’s death and gave very polite condolences. That was followed by a sweet and heartfelt note asking if we could be friends. Now we talk on the phone every week or so, and he always asks if I need anything, and he has never made any kind of remark that could be construed as a pass. And, of course, you already know about Bill. Dear sweet Bill. Great kisser, but I just can’t go there anymore. I think he finally understands.
I know you’re curious about how Eric died, and I do want to tell you. I really do. It’s just so hard to remember that night and to talk about it. But you’ve been so patient with me, and deserve the truth.