I Wanna Live Again
Before my eyes opened, I could smell sunlight as strongly as if I were in it myself and I couldn’t resist the smile that took over my face.
But something was off…
Nothing tangible. It was more of a nagging.
When I opened my eyes, I found Sookie to be mysteriously missing from the room… There was no sign of her in spite of the fragrance of her favorite tanning oil hanging in the air, surrounding me.
No. Nothing but the scent that she bathes herself in for my enjoyment.
It was almost as though she left it just for me, but more curious was that the house was empty…
Hoping that Alcide had simply taken them out for dinner, but still worried that Adele might have had some sort of relapse, I felt for Sookie’s mood…
And hated what I found…
Nothing from Sookie.
Nothing from Adele.
Nothing but the overwhelming urge to get to Bon Temps as quickly as I possibly could.
I’d be lying my ass off if I denied that I was terrified of what it meant that I couldn’t feel either of them.
My phone’s battery was practically drained from not being charged, but at least there were no messages to be checked. I plugged it into the charger so that I could call Sookie, but when I tried to speed dial her, the screen told me that I was calling Fangtasia…
Not the time for technical malfunction…
My address book was no more help. The entries for every Stackhouse, as well as Alcide’s number were gone and the only thing I could figure was that I’d caused the problem myself by breaking my old phone.
Knowing better than to ignore the nagging pull I felt to Bon Temps, I went to my closet to dress… Only to find my clothing.
My clothes were the only thing hanging up. My shoes were the only thing lined up in the bottom.
I actually closed my eyes and opened them again hoping that I was only imagining how empty the rack seemed… only to be devastated to see that everything was indeed gone.
I became frantic… For the second evening in a row. Last night I’d risen to feel the agony and riot of fear from Sookie’s ordeal and it was having no different effect on me than the nothing that had taken over every fiber of me…
Looking around the room, I began to notice how gone Sookie was.
The lamp she’d needed…
The drawers that had held her underthings and bathing suits had been emptied and my things were in their place.
In the bathroom only my soaps…
My search took me to the kitchen to find the refrigerator, the pantry, the cabinets… All of them were empty and cleaned so well that one would think they’d always been vacant.
Everything was in perfect order even though Jason had stayed over and has a tendency to disturb the sofa cushions.
The bedrooms upstairs… Seemingly untouched, unoccupied, uninhabited… ever.
My last stop was the library…
My chest felt more completely hallow than ever before when there was no more evidence of Sookie or Adele there than anywhere else in the house. I found myself hovering over the chair Adele had made a home of, trying to pick up the slightest of traces… hoping for cinnamon and sugar… she usually wafted the aroma of baked goods as though she perfumed herself with them. Pam had jokingly accused her of keeping apple pie in her pockets…
But even in her favorite seat in the house, there were no hints.
And the longer I searched, the harder it was for me to detect the sunshine I’d risen to… like it was just a cruel memory.
The only thing left as proof of her existence was that I was still wearing the ring she’d given me.
It was as though someone had erased them from my life… Someone good… I wasn’t sure that I could’ve done such a thorough job myself.
As I sped out of the city and into the countryside I ran through the myriad of possibilities…
The first and only real threat to Sookie would be Bill Compton, but that ridiculous pussy wouldn’t have been able to manage such an absolute deletion even if he had been released from Andre’s musings.
Unfortunately, that was the only line item that I could spend any time contemplating… none of the others held any water.
Debbie Pelt, while pissed and jealous, couldn’t have arranged any such proceedings. Not without leaving the stink of Were behind and considering her made me realize that I hadn’t even picked up on Alcide’s scent.
The only witches Sookie knew were Paulette (who wouldn’t dare cross me) and her waitress friend Holly who was only practicing and didn’t have the power to pull off a stunt big enough to erase three humans’ traces from every room of my house…
Sookie had come in contact with and gotten the pleased attentions of hundreds of vampires since I’d met her, but again, they wouldn’t cross me even if they had the magical support that still would’ve left a scent behind…
I was probably closer to insanity then than any other time in my long existence.
But without the insanity, all I had was the nothing…
Madness was all I had since Sookie was gone…
I was pulling off of the highway and onto the ramshackle road that led to Bon Temps when one last possibility crossed my unhinged mind.
Sookie is part Faerie.
Just as Hadley and Jason…
They’d managed to live undetected for so long… until of course I entered Sookie’s life and they became the property of a vampire publically.
The haunting thought that Sookie had done everything herself, left me for some brutal and secretive reason suddenly became preferable to losing her to the Fae…
If she left me, I might’ve had the chance to get her back.
I jumped when my phone rang and didn’t bother myself with looking at the Caller ID.
“Where are you?”
“I’m still at home… Is something wrong?” Fuck. It was just Pam.
“Have you heard from Sookie tonight?”
“No. Why would I have heard from her?”
“I don’t know and I don’t have time to explain. Just let me know if you hear from her.”
“Seriously, Eric. You’re too bored. You should take up knitting or something… You had fun candle making that once. This thing you have for the little telepath isn’t healthy.” I wasn’t in the mood for her self satisfying amusement.
“Pamela, just contact me if she turns up.”
“Call me silly, but have you tried her at home?”
“If she was at home, I wouldn’t exactly be so concerned. Would I?”
“Just asking. I’ll call if I see her.”
I hung up on her. I was sure that I’d need her help at some point, but at the moment the sound of her voice was making me want to buy that plane ticket to Seychelles for her.
I almost didn’t stop, but as I drove past the dump where Sookie used to work I spotted her car and hit the brakes…
Why the fuck would she be there?
Why the fuck would she be there and driving her little old death trap?
No one seemed to take any notice when I walked into the disgusting grease pit until Arlene offered a menu to me and pointed to an empty booth while she apologized for being ‘swamped’.
Oddly, she didn’t seem to recognize me.
I sat in the booth facing the bar after double checking for Sookie…
I couldn’t feel her nearby.
I couldn’t feel her further away.
I was only there because her car was in the parking area near the service entrance…
If nothing else, Sam might be able to offer some sort of insight… whether he wanted to or not.
It seemed like forever before Arlene made her way over to take my order… with a serious look on her face no less.
“Sorry about the wait mister, we’re a waitress short right now. What can I get for you?”
“I’m here to see Sookie actually.”
She cocked her head to the side looked unhappy. “Oh mister, I’m sorry. I guess you haven’t heard… She’s the waitress we’re down.”
“I had heard that Sam replaced her.”
“Why would Sam replace Sookie? He’d drop everything for her.”
“Why is her car out back then?”
“That old thing? It wouldn’t start the other night.”
“And why wouldn’t she be working?”
She seemed as though she was debating whether to answer me for a moment. “Well, she was… She’s kind of not up to working since the attack.”
“Yeah… Poor girl… Like losing her Gran wasn’t enough…” NO!
I was on my feet in front of her quickly enough that she yelped. “Where is Sookie?”
The only thing to be pleased about at the moment was that her eyes were affixed on mine making it far easier to glamour her. “You’re going to tell me where to find Sookie.”
She nodded. “If she ain’t at her house, you should check with that vampire of hers.”
That vampire of hers?
What the fuck was wrong with that wench?
I’m ‘that vampire’ of Sookie’s.
She fucking knew that. She’d met me.
All I could think about on the way to the Stackhouse home was that somehow, something horrible had happened while I was dead…
Adele was gone…
What fucking attack?
I couldn’t think of a reason why Alcide or Jason wouldn’t have contacted me earlier…
Why would they have brought her back to Bon Temps?
Why wouldn’t they have… Fuck… They had to have been hurt too…
When I finally arrived at the farmhouse, I actually tried to get out of the car without taking it out of gear first.
I should’ve just flown, but in my state of mind I might have overshot the house and lost more time than I did dealing with the winding roads.
Paying no attention to anything but my goal of finding Sookie, I flung open the front the door and when I bounced off of the threshold to the house, I quite literally wanted to die- finally…
I’d been uninvited.
I was lifting myself off of the lawn when I finally heard her…
“Yeah, who is it?”
I started making my way back to the door. “It’s me. Eric.”
“Eric? Eric… Eric Northman?”
“How many Eric’s do you know?”
She finally came into sight, holding a shotgun and wearing a nightgown I’d never seen… and battered so extensively that she was hardly familiar. “What are you doing here?”
Without a second thought, I bit into my wrist and held it out to her… “Drink. Heal. Then explain what’s happened.” But she recoiled as though I was poison. My chest felt as though it was caving in.
She shook her head and stepped even further away from me. “Ew. I don’t think so.”
“Why not? You can’t be comfortable…”
She shook her head again. “Seriously Eric, what are you doing here?”
“I came for you…”
“You tried to break into my house.”
“I tried to get to you. I was told that you’re hurt.”
“Why would you care? Is someone else stealing from you?”
“What? No… I… Sookie, what the fuck is going on?”
“You’re the one that’s standing on my porch. Why don’t you start?” Insanity was a cruel bastard. It was becoming too much…
“Start? I’m pretty sure you know how my night has gone so far. I rose to find you and Adele gone and all I had to go on was an unexplainable urge to come here… Why would you think I wouldn’t come after you?”
She scoffed. “I guess I’m not surprised… Bill told me this would happen. I didn’t want to believe him since I agreed to work for you…”
“He’s here? In Louisiana?” That stupid mother fucker.
“Uh… Yeah… why don’t you go over and bother him.”
“I’m bothering you?”
“You aren’t going to try explaining why you left me? Why you’d walk away without a word?”
She rolled her eyes. “Eric, the last time I saw you, we were both covered in Long Shadow’s blood and you were close to draining me! What is there to say about that?”
“I killed Long Shadow nearly two weeks ago!”
“And?” I was so confused that I couldn’t even begin to formulate a list of questions…
“Tell me one thing.”
“What, Eric?” She acted as though she was amusing a child.
“Why are you talking to me like you don’t know me? What the hell is going on?”
“I don’t know you! You need to leave… I know you don’t care, but you’re scaring me… Leave me be.” She slammed the door in my face and I couldn’t move.
I watched her shadow move around the house slowly… She was limping from her mysterious injuries though I couldn’t feel them…
I’d made fun of her just that morning as we’d gotten into bed because she kicked the wheel of my desk chair hard enough that I’d felt it.
I couldn’t feel her at all… no bigger than the house was, she wasn’t more than 40 feet away from me and I felt nothing from her. Still.
I was actually confused by how not angry I was about the way Sookie was acting… She didn’t seem to have any more grip on reality than I did…
No matter what, one of us was very wrong about circumstances… My life seemed to have been undone in the matter of one day…
Everything I knew as true, any version of my existence with Sookie at my side had been edited…
She knew who I was, but not what she meant to me.
She mentioned Bill as though he was her sage instead of the punchline to so many jokes we’d shared.
She suggested that I wouldn’t care that I scared her.
None of the repairs had been done to the house… looking out on the yard, the driveway hadn’t even been fixed…
And our bond was gone.
The ‘why’ wasn’t as intensely consuming as the ‘how to fix it’…
I needed to fix it.
I needed her back.
I was sitting on the porch swing… distracted from my attempt to make heads or tails of the night by a thought of Adele… The swing was unbelievably hard and I could easily see swarms of mosquitoes and gnats in the little bit of light coming from the lamp by the front door.
She would have enjoyed the screened in porch…
I knew he was nearby, even though he thought he was sneaking up on me… Bill Compton, comical in so many ways… even if the amusement he caused was closely related to the laughter caused by groin injury montages…
“Why are you here?”
“That wouldn’t be any of your fucking business and you need to give me a wide berth or I’ll enjoy ending you.”
“Excuse me? You have no rights here… Sookie is m…” Finishing that sentence would be the last thing he ever did.
“Shut the fuck up right now and go home. I’m no danger to Sookie, not that you rate an explanation you fucking degenerate. I’m your superior… I best you in every fucking facet of being from my position to my strength… and obviously intellectual aptitude since I would listen to a ranking vampire’s warning to go away. Leave.”
“I have the right to protect Sookie.”
“You have the right to kiss my ass, Bill.”
“What do you even want with her? She’s obviously not well enough to read minds for you.”
“Telepathy is your reason to be interested in her, not mine.”
Something about my remark surprised him. “What do you know about…?”
“I know that the queen regrets sending you to spy on Sookie…”
Our attention was caught by the front door swinging open and Sookie charged out to the porch to loom over me with her hands on her hips. “Explain that! What do you mean? What queen?”
I caught myself staring at her… She had no idea what I was talking about… “Invite me in and send him away. I’ll explain everything.” Hope was all I had.
“Half way. I’ll send him home, but I won’t invite you in.”
I gave her a nod, hating that she didn’t trust me. “Fair enough.”
She looked confused. “Really?”
“I’ll take what I can get.”
With Bill gone, she folded her arms over her chest.
“He was sent to spy on me?”
“He was sent to find out how your family feels about vampires because your cousin Hadley’s maker is the queen. Since I’m lost as to details of what’s going on now, I can’t even begin to warn you about his motivations… I can’t remember a time that I’ve been more confused.”
“You just told me that my long lost cousin is a vampire princess… What would you be confused about?”
“For starters, the only thing that’s ‘right’ is that I still have my ring.”
“The ring you gave me a week ago.”
“I didn’t give you any ring.”
“Nonetheless, I have the ring… Hence my confusion.” I held my hand up to show it to her, hoping to see some recognition in her eyes… no such luck.
“You’re saying I gave you a wedding ring? You think that we’re married?”
“Not at all… We were in New Orleans and I bought a ring for you that you considered ‘flashy’ and as a joke you bought the wedding band to retaliate… it was on my finger when I rose and I haven’t taken it off since then… This is the first time I’ve seen you without yours.”
“New Orleans? A week ago… I was in high school the last time I went to New Orleans.”
“I like my version better.”
“You’re version of what?”
“The past couple of weeks.”
“Ok. I’ll play your little game. How have the last couple of weeks been different for you?”
“I’m not sure other than you obviously having no feelings for me… You came to see me at Fangtasia…”
“Right, Bill brought me.”
“We talked about Jason’s connection to the murders of Dawn and Maudette in my office and…”
“Wait… we talked on that little stage… You made a face at Bill for mainstreaming.”
I shook my head. “I would have if I had the chance, but Pam brought you to me in my office because you were asking questions in the open. Bill didn’t come with you.”
“Huh… did the bar get raided?”
“Wait… I guess it wouldn’t… If you were in your office then you wouldn’t have kicked that fangbanger for touching you. And then that other vampire wouldn’t have been snacking on him in the bathroom.”
“Are you really comparing notes with me or are you just humoring me in the hopes that I’ll leave?”
She closed her eyes as she shook her head. “I don’t know… You’re… I don’t know… you think we’ve been together for two weeks… why would you think that?”
“17 nights. You’ve lived with me for 16 of them.”
She snorted. “I wouldn’t have moved in with you the night after I met you.”
“You didn’t have much choice. The night after we met you heard that Rene was the killer and you and Adele came to stay with me until the police could arrest him.”
“So while we were hiding, which isn’t something I’d do either…”
“Adele took care of convincing you that safety was more important than your pride. You were less than happy with the idea initially.”
“And in your fairy tale, I jumped right into bed with you?”
“No. We didn’t start having sex until a few nights later.”
“With Gran there!?”
“Not in the room with us.”
“Her room is on the second floor and our room is underground… even if she were to stop reading she wouldn’t hear us. Our room is soundproof.”
“Our room?… Wait… You said ‘reading’?”
Her eyes lit up. “How do you know Gran liked to read?”
“The night we met, you brought me back here and introduced me to her. She was very friendly, entertaining, gracious… She questioned me about what I knew of the Civil War and was curious about Russia since that’s where I was during the affair… The next day, I had a copy of a Mark Twain book delivered to her… She’s been using me for my library ever since.”
She frowned at her knees and a few tears fell over her bruised cheeks. “Don’t talk about her like she’s still around…”
“But she is… When she went to bed last night, she was making a list of chores she wanted to tend to.”
“She’s alive in your version?”
I nodded again and brushed a strand of hair away from her face. “Would you let me heal you? I really hate seeing you like this.”
She scoffed and leaned away from me. “You’d like that wouldn’t you? Me owing you.”
“That’s got nothing to do with it… In my version, we’re bonded already… I’m only offering what’s already yours.”
“Publically you belong to me… Privately, our relationship is much more than that.”
“Nice fairy tale… How long did it take you to come up with that?”
I sat back into the corner of the swing. “Tell me then… what am I like in your version that you think so little of me?”
“You just want me for mind reading.”
“The night we met I told you about the cop in the club so that you could get out before the raid… then you called Bill to have him bring me in about Long Shadow… You sent flowers while I was in the hospital.”
“So you think I care nothing for you, only your ability, based on two encounters?”
She got up as quickly as her battered frame would let her and went into the house, returning a moment later with a flower arrangement… white roses and peonies surrounding a single red orchid. She shoved the card at me. It had the stamp of the florist I would’ve used… the only one in Shreveport open late and the signature was definitely mine.
“I’m not denying your version of events… I just want my life back.”
“Your life? What about Pam? How does she remember things?”
“I talked to her on my way here… she seemed unaffected by the news that I couldn’t locate you. Given that she’s fully aware of how closely bonded we are, I seem to be the only one confused.”
“All things considered, you should try going back to business as usual then.”
“I don’t want to. I want you back.”
“I was never yours to begin with.”
“Eric, seriously. You’re the only one who thinks that there’s anything between us. That should tell you something.”
“It doesn’t tell me anything. I can’t stand the idea of going back to my house without you. I hate not feeling you. The emptiness is maddening. The Eric you know is a lucky bastard to not know what he’s missing, but I’m not interested in going to rest at sunrise without resolving this.”
“This? Why not just glamour me to believing it all then?”
I smiled at her attempt to trick me. “If only I could.”
She narrowed her eyes at me for a moment. “Bill’s the only one…”
“I know a lot about you that no one else does, Sookie. I’m not trying to con you.”
“Like what? And don’t be a pervert.”
“I know that your least favorite kind of book is mystery because you find yourself wishing to read the minds of characters. You built a fort back in the woods with Jason and Hadley as a child and all three of you injured yourselves because of it in the same summer. Hadley twisted her ankle. You hit Jason in the head with a timber while it was being built and you smashed your thumb with a hammer hanging the curtains you made from one of Linda’s old table cloths. You and Adele found Tina under a car at the market. The last time this house was painted was when your father did it shortly before he died. Adele’s secret ingredient to her fried chicken is honey. You told me about Bartlett, but it was Adele who told me about what your mother put you through. You prefer a Cherry Coke that’s mixed by hand as opposed to factory bottled. You and Jason chew your ice, even though Adele has always tried to get you to stop. . Most of your underthings are lace…”
“Hey… I told you not to be a pervert.”
“I wasn’t. It was a preference that I thought would be less well known… Anyone might know that your favorite color is blue or that you swear by Coppertone for your tan. You’d be offended if you thought I was telling you things I could’ve learned through gossip and investigation.”
“You could’ve glamoured Jason to get that information though.”
“He didn’t know about Bartlett. You’re testing me.”
She shook her head. “Can you blame me!? Someone I’ve spent maybe an hour with is sitting next to me claiming that we’re living together.”
“What is that?”
“You’ve had my blood enough that we’ve formed a blood bond.”
“You’ve given me your blood?”
“We’ve shared blood… often.”
“How convenient… You have a willing donor that just so happens to read minds for you.”
“You don’t really work for me.”
“I work for you now. I already agreed.”
“I meant as I know it… It started as a joke, but you offered an exchange of services. Mind reading for backrubs.”
“Oh… so that’s how you got me into bed.”
“Is it necessary for you to be so nasty?”
“I don’t know. How did you get me into bed?”
“No. I want to know. Why the hell would I sleep with you?”
“I was lucky.”
“That’s cute. You want me to believe this BS and you’re refusing to answer me.”
“I’m not refusing.”
“What the hell would you call that answer then? Lucky? Really?”
“What do you want me to say, Sookie? We both know that I was the first man to come along whose attraction to you didn’t invade your mind, bringing back memories of what your uncle had done to you. It just so happens that we get along and work together really well… Adele calls us a ‘cute couple’.”
“No. She Doesn’t! My Gran is dead! She was stabbed to death by the serial killer that was waiting for me. A guy I’ve known for years who I never heard anything hinting that he was the killer until he nearly killed me!”
“You caught him.”
“I came to Merlotte’s and you baited him.”
“How did I bait him?”
“We talked to Jason about who he discussed his partners with and found that Hoyt and Rene were who he confided in… The next night he brought them to Merlotte’s while I was there and when you kissed me, Rene’s thoughts gave him away. We returned to collect Adele and you put things together for the Shreveport police… It took them a few days to get the warrant, but he was jailed before hurting anyone else.”
“Nice story, but I don’t want to hear bedtime stories. It won’t get Gran back. What do you want from me? Why are you here? What do you think… I mean even if you’re completely convinced that all of this is true, what purpose does it serve for you to be here? All you’re doing is rubbing my nose in how miserable my life has been.”
“Are you really?”
“Normally, I’d know that you aren’t comfortable. I’m at a loss right now.”
“Because we’re bonded in your little world.”
“Yes and you’re being nasty again.”
“No one is keeping you here.”
“You might not realize it, but you are.”
“How’s that? I already asked you to leave.”
“Peculiar as it may seem, I’d rather sit here while you criticize me than leave without you.”
“I can’t disagree with you… If you don’t mind, I’ll just sit here and try to figure out what’s going on… Why this is happening. Don’t let me keep you from anything.”
“You’re serious? You’re just going to sit here?”
“Would you be more at ease if I sat in my car?”
“It’s weird either way… hey, what happened to your Corvette?”
“It’s in the garage at home… I brought the SUV thinking that I’d be bringing you and Adele home with me.”
“Me and Adele!? You really are off the reservation, aren’t you! Bill told me that you’d do just about anything to get to me, but that’s just low!”
“That’s rich, considering the source.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean? He saved my life! Why wouldn’t I trust him?”
“Need I remind you that I’ve done that as well… even in your version of events. What I meant was that he’s convinced you to be distrustful of me while he’s sunk to unimaginable tactics to gain your favor.”
“That’s just your version though… in mine…”
“From what I can tell, things are identical up until the night that we met… that’s when things diverged. Yes?”
“I guess so.”
“You saved Bill from being drained?”
“Then a little while later, the drainers came after you?”
“They nearly killed me, but… he gave me his blood to heal me.”
“He glamoured the Rattrays to go after you ‘in retaliation’ with the purpose of giving you his blood… Healing you was a means to an end. Please tell me that in this amount of time he’s explained what having a vampire’s blood does.”
Her eyes widened and she shook her head… The sickened look on her face practically ruined me. “You’re about to tell me that there’s more to it than just healing properties, aren’t you?”
“He can tell where you are, how you’re feeling… he can influence your dreams and if he chooses, how attracted you are to him. He gave you his blood as part of his scheme to make you his to gain ‘brownie points’ with the queen.”
She stared at the dry rotted railing of the porch for a long while, quietly crying over the new information before she could think of anything to say. “But… in your version, you’ve given me your blood.”
“In my version I’d already explained that to you and I suggested our first exchange for tactical purposes… You were given the option rather than tricked and we were already sleeping together at the time.”
“I don’t need them. I’m already her favorite.”
“You could be lying.”
“I could be… Feel free to come up with a way for me to prove any of it to you though. He covered his tracks by killing the Rattrays and if I’m the only one confused the queen wouldn’t know that she’s been torturing Bill for his treachery for more than a week now.”
Something I’d said annoyed her judging by the look on her face, but she didn’t explain what it was… She watched the yard, scanning the scenery as she thought until she stood and went to the door. “Don’t make me regret this… I’m inviting you in, Eric.”
As Sookie closed the door behind me, she ordered me to close my eyes. “I’m sure you have a good memory… Tell me about the house.”
“Regrettably, I’ve only been in the front rooms. The kitchen and living room.”
“Ok. Go on.”
“The living room furniture is centered around the fireplace. Adele’s favorite chair is wood and tapestry and closest to the fireplace. Next to it is a round pie crust table with a pink glass hurricane lamp on it then an old green upholstered recliner. The coffee table is oval and battered with claw feet. When I was here there was a lace runner in the middle of it with an assortment of library books including a copy of Zoya by Danielle Steel which Adele used as a conversational springboard. While we waited for Jason to arrive she questioned me about czarist Russia… The couch sits on the other side of the grouping. It has a floral slipcover and all of its throw pillows are embroidered. There’s no art on the walls. A mirror hangs over the fireplace and family photos are the rest of the decoration… The area rug is floral too. None of it matches because Adele has been shopping at flea markets as needed for years. When you got your retainer from the queen, you were excited to go shopping. You were planning on spoiling Adele with a new mattress and bedding since she’s been sleeping on the same one since before you and Jason moved in.”
She practically whimpered. “The kitchen?”
“The appliances are old. You made the joke that they might be older than me until you found out how old I am… at the time, only two of the burners on the stove worked. The table had a yellow table cloth with pink stripes… Wooden legs… the chairs are white except for the wood seats. The white linoleum is worn in front of the sink and the stove. You keep the cat food in the cabinet under the microwave, but you have to keep it in a plastic container because otherwise Tina would make a mess chewing through the bag. Her food dish is on the floor by the hot water heater. The yellow and white wallpaper is peeling away around the window over the sink. The white wall phone hangs by the refrigerator and there’s a note pad and pencil next to it. The buttons are white and the 7 is worn enough to look like a 1. Can I open my eyes now?”
When I opened my eyes, Sookie was wiping tears from her face… “What did I say?”
She shook her head. “Nothing. Don’t worry about it… If you’re telling the truth, that Bill can feel me… prove it. Get him over here.”
“Are you suggesting that I hurt you?”
“Yes. Scaring me won’t work because I’ll expect it. Hit me or something.” That wasn’t going to happen.
“How accurate is it? Would he be able to tell what’s going on, like where I’m hurt or just a feeling that I might not be ok?”
“As heightened as your senses were when we met, we figured that he gave you a substantial amount of blood. He should be able to feel the kind of pain and where on your body it’s coming from.”
She tilted her head to the side and gave me a steady look before walking past me and into the kitchen… I followed only to see her go to a drawer and pull out a serving fork. “If you won’t do it…”
I didn’t give her the chance to finish explaining that she’d hurt herself to lure Bill over. I snatched the fork from her hand and before I had the chance to react, she gasped and snatched it back from me and tossed it towards the sink…
“You crazy jerk! That’s silver!” She pulled my hand up to inspect the burn.
I chuckled at her. “Now I know… I don’t want you to hurt yourself. It bothers me enough to see you with bruises.”
She ran her fingers over my quickly fading injury. “Then what do you suggest? Now that you saved me from a fork, I doubt I could get scared of you on cue.”
“Are you in pain from the injuries you already have?”
“Well, yeah… I’m sore all over.”
“He’d be able to feel it if you were to improve instantly.”
“I’m not taking your blood, Eric. I’ve had Bill’s and some of Long Shadow’s. I’ll heal fast enough.”
“Then think of something else.”
I only thought about that for a spit second. “Anywhere I touch you would hurt wouldn’t it.”
She let an exasperated sigh. “Damn it… You’re not making this easy!”
I actually chuckled at the irony… I was making something difficult for Sookie for once.
She rolled her eyes. “What else would get him over here? You know about all this blood stuff.”
“Did you ask him to come over earlier?”
“No. I thought about it, but I figured I was safe in the house if you weren’t invited.”
“Not necessarily. I want you to realize that if a vampire wants to get to you badly enough, he could destroy the house around you.”
“If it doesn’t have walls, it isn’t a house. You should ask your friend Holly to ward your property against trouble. I can put her in touch with a friend who can help her with wording.”
“Bill didn’t say anything… Wait… What about Holly?”
“One of the waitresses you work with. She’s a witch… and you’re still testing me.”
“You’re passing… I don’t know how the hell you’re doing it, but it’s working.” Why wouldn’t I? I wasn’t insane…
I grinned at her. “Since his protective nature isn’t a venue I’m willing to explore, then perhaps his jealous nature?”
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you? There’s a hole in that plan… How do you think you’re going to make him jealous without touching me?”
I took a step towards her. “I don’t need to touch you to excite you.”
She started laughing in spite of the extra step I took. “You think you can turn me on!? I was picturing a King Kong type of scene… vampire style of course… lots of fangs and throwing that ‘mine’ crap around.”
I took the last step towards her that I could without being pressed against her and ran my fangs out. “You are mine… In fact you enjoy reminding other vampires that I’m your master.”
“Master? You’ve got to be kidding! I’m nobody’s slave!”
I leaned over to put my mouth next to her ear, still avoiding contact. “Of course you aren’t… As a matter of fact… If anything, I’m your slave. I’d do anything for you, to keep you safe and happy. In over a thousand years I’ve never had a reaction to anyone like the one I’ve had to you… Just having you near me brings me peace and nearly anything can happen, but as long as I wake up and die with you snuggled into my side, I consider it a ‘good night’… You, my sweet little Sookie, have an unexplainable power over me. I’m greedy. I want you. I need you… so much so that your smile and the way you breathe in your sleep fulfils and replenishes me more than blood and the smell of your tears breaks me… I love you, more than my maker, more than my child… Anything you want is yours, Sookie, including me.”
Her breathing had begun to shake and her body stiffened while she absorbed what I’d said, and finally she muttered… “Eric, I’m not going to have sex with you.”
“Not only have we already had sex, but we’ve done everything from passionately making love to primitive, obscene fucking in just about every position imaginable. You love being on top and I love the way you pull my hair when I go down on you… And when we exchange blood, it’s as though everything about us merges… our desire becomes so intense that we lose ourselves in each other… all that matters is the space between us and no matter how much time we spend tangled together, it’s never long enough… but, I think a kiss would finish the job.” Considering how wet she suddenly was, I was surprised that Bill hadn’t already come through the door.
She shivered slightly and she failed to keep how aroused she was from her voice. “Just a kiss?”
“Just a kiss, but you should uninvite Bill so that he doesn’t get himself hurt barging in to ‘rescue’ you.”
“Can I do that without him here?”
“Just as easily as you can void my invitation if you become uncomfortable.”
“How do I do it?”
“You tilt your head back so that I can get to your full sexy lips, perhaps even wrap your arms around my sides so that I can feel your warmth pressed against me…”
She cleared her throat weakly. “I meant uninvite Bill.”
“Just say that you rescind the invitation, but use his name so that I’m not affected.”
“I rescind Bill Compton’s invitation?”
“That should do it… Go ahead.”
“I rescind Bill Compton’s invitation.”
“I meant to go ahead and kiss me.”
She seemed to need to build up the nerve and I couldn’t help but be slightly amused considering that normally she’d have just as much difficulty controlling herself as I would…
Her lips were so close to mine that I could feel their heat when my phone rang. I would’ve ignored it, but Sookie leaned back to let me answer.
“Your timing is as impeccable as ever, Pam.”
“You told me to call. This is me calling. Sookie is here and she’s in quite a state.” How the fuck…?
“What sort of state?”
“She’s incensed that she can’t find you. She said that you aren’t at home. I wasn’t aware that she knew your address.”
I instantly wore an undefeatable smile, puzzling my present company. “Order a Lynchburg Lemonade for her and tell her I’m on my way.”