Sookie followed me down to the gift shop like a lost puppy… When I asked her why, she couldn’t think of a reason she cared to voice.
I ended up putting my shadow to good use. I had her help choose which Caribbean cookbooks Adele would prefer… and without telling her that it was meant as a joke for My Sookie, I had her find the most hideous of all maternity bathing suits in stock. As I perused the plethora of novelties I couldn’t help but notice nearly all of the children’s souvenirs were covered with flamingos, dolphins or iguanas… iguanas with uniquely pink markings.
The clerk looked like if I hadn’t approached him, he would have dozed off. “The Bahamas has indigenous iguanas?” Hunter had been envious since he’d heard another Hunter had his own dinosaur.
The clerk nodded. “They’re endangered… a portion from those sales go to conservation efforts.”
“How big do they get?”
“On average, they’re like a large housecat. With the tail, about 4 feet long.” That was doable. The other Hunter had a species that would weigh as much as he did in a few years, which is why My Hunter didn’t have one yet… If the lizard in question would be the same size as Tina, how could Adele argue?
“Are there any local breeders?”
“Sir, they’re endangered… a protected species… it would be illegal.”
“I don’t intend to make a wallet out of it. I mean for it to be a pet for my little boy. He’s preoccupied with all things reptilian… Perhaps you can think of someone who’d be willing to spare one in exchange for a donation to the repopulation cause.”
“Is $5,000 enough?”
“You could just look for one in the rocky areas of the beach, sir.”
“I don’t want a wild one. I really do intend for it to be a pet.”
The man stared back at me for a moment, so Sookie whispered, “We could go ask the concierge… That guy would do anything for a tip.” The idea of losing the ‘donation’ caught the clerk’s attention.
He offered, “I have a friend who fosters eggs until they can be released… It’s really for a pet?” Oh really? And I have a friend who’s married to a Faerie.
I pulled my phone out and quickly searched for the picture I had of Hunter holding a small alligator during an outing to a tourist attraction near Alexandria. I held it up to show the man. “That is the only thing on his Christmas list he didn’t get.”
“How old is he?”
“Four, but he’ll have help caring for it. When you talk to your friend, since I’m sure he wouldn’t want to expose his identity, ask him for instructions if you don’t mind.”
The clerk took a deep breath and carried the phone to the back room and Sookie began shaking her head as soon as he was out of sight. “He’s the friend. And he’s only told about a hundred people the same thing he told you. He usually tells people that he can ‘catch one’ for them, but he has a bunch of them at his house. He did raise them from eggs though. At least that much was true.”
“I assumed as much. I can smell that he’s had contact with lizards… or been in Pam’s shoe room. Otherwise I would have just asked the concierge.”
“Oooooh… You know you can just go to a pet store and get one for twenty bucks, right?”
“Another Hunter has a Green Iguana named Monte Carlo. It’s as big as he is now and still growing. Adele told Hunter in no uncertain terms even if it’s an herbivore, he isn’t allowed to have any pet that could eat the cat… Hunter doesn’t want a small one, but if I were to bring him a medium, endangered species he might feel more interested… and Adele is too amused with the concept of skipping so she’ll forgive me for the size of it when I call it a souvenir.”
“You’re going to manipulate a child and my Gran?”
“No. I’m doing my best to make them both happy with a compromise. I’m not the one who wants an iguana, nor am I the one with an aversion to having Godzilla under the same roof.”
“What about the other Me?”
“Oh, I’m going to owe her… in order to take it home, she’s going to have to snuggle with it.”
She snorted out a laugh. “Where is it going to stay until you can get a tank for it and all?”
“We’ll get home just as the sun sets. It will be fine if we leave it in Hunter’s bathroom while we run the errand.”
She folded her arms over her chest and leaned against the counter to huff, “You’ve got an answer for everything, huh?”
Since she seemed like she was mostly making a joke, I told her, “Usually.”
She snapped, “You called him your little boy,” as though she’d already mentioned it and I skirted the subject.
I rolled my eyes. “As opposed to giving an overcomplicated description of my relationship with him by calling him ‘my wife’s adopted second cousin whom we’re raising’? If it makes you feel more comfortable, I’ll refer to him as Hunter from now on. Adele calls him my shadow.”
“She adopted him?” Hunter Nordmann had a certain ring to it. He liked it enough to ask for an ID bracelet for Christmas.
I nodded. “And then we celebrated in Orlando so he could visit Jurassic Park at Universal.”
“So you’ve got two telepaths? How nice for you.”
“What? Why should I stop? You hit the lottery, huh? You got a Sookie and ended up with another generation of telepaths for when Sookie gets old…”
“Because you’re wrong. I’m not hoarding Faeries and building an army. I know why you think that, but it isn’t any less insulting.”
“Why am I wrong then?”
“Because you need to be recalibrated… Compton was the first Vampire to stumble into the path of a cheeky, yet naïve, little telepath a few months ago. And since then you’ve spent most of your time learning about how Vampires think from a photo negative. He lied and hid things from you while telling you that he loves you.”
She narrowed her eyes and studied my face for a moment before shaking her head. “You could be lying right now.”
“As far as you know, I could be, but I’m not. Let me know when you think of a way for me to prove it to you…”
“What difference does it make? You love your Sookie. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the Eric I know wants any more from me than Bill did.”
“Alright? That’s all you have to say?”
“About what? You don’t believe me. I can’t think of a way to change that. Why continue and let you become ruffled? I don’t see the point.”
“You don’t…?” She stopped when the clerk came back from his hiding place, but it was painfully obvious that she had been winding up for the next pitch…
He slid the telephone onto the counter and huffed. “Do you have any preferences?”
“I’d rather have one that isn’t full grown so that the boy’s grandmother doesn’t try to kill me… The markings are eye-catching. If there is a variation in that aspect, I prefer one with more color.”
He nodded, seeming to be narrowing down the list of iguanas ‘his friend’ had, but before he could say anything Sookie scoffed and began stomping out of the shop. “Don’t you dare, you dirtbag. Cay has swollen jaw. Pinkus is the one he wants. You’re getting five grand for one lizard. Don’t be greedy.”
He looked like he was going to be sick. He was still watching her leave when he breathed, “How did she…?”
“She’s a telepath and she’ll be with me to know if you try to palm off an unhealthy lizard… I’m leaving the island at 10 o’clock to get to the airfield. The concierge will know where to find me.”
She hadn’t needed to tell me where she was going… the growling in the pit of her stomach before she left me did the talking for her.
The problem was the hotel had an excess of 20 restaurants for her to hide in.
I found her in a café with a salad and a glass of tea.
“Do you want me to leave you alone?”
“You know me so well, why bother asking?” Okay then. As soon as I turned to leave, she blurted, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Why did My Sookie always seem to have an Eric who was happy to have her company and I was forced to suffer a confrontational Sookie?
I huffed. “What have I done now?”
“Where are you going?”
“Back to the room.” …to ignore the urge to call My Sookie again in private just to hear the more friendly version of the voice.
She scoffed, “You’re just going to leave?”
“You behave as though I’m the last individual on the planet you want to be in the company of. I’m leaving you to your meal.”
“He tricked me. Did you know that? He tricked me into taking his blood.”
I rolled my eyes and sat down. I had to be sure, so I confirmed, “By asking you to suck a bullet out of his arm.”
She nodded. “Did you do that to your Sookie?”
“No, but I’m sure I would have.”
“Why? He… I almost died because of that stunt. He… admitted it… that’s why Bill played those games to get me to Jackson. You said so yourself.”
“I know why, but will you believe me if I explain?”
Her chin puckered, but she managed to keep from crying. “Why doesn’t Eric just explain?”
“Perhaps because you treat him as though nothing he does will do any good…” There was no ‘perhaps’. I’d met enough of them who were ‘in pursuit’ of their various Sookies to know that when Compton happened to them first, they treated the Erics like pariahs.
She seemed to deflate slightly. “Okay… why did he give me his blood? Wait… did he tell you or are basing your answer on how you roll?”
“He told me. Sookie and I have met a few of Us who went to Dallas.”
“K. Go ‘head.”
“Two reasons… 1- your injuries bothered him…”
“Infuriated would be a more fitting term. On top of the fact that it was a colossal embarrassment for an asset of his Area to be, let alone remain, injured, he doesn’t like seeing you suffer any more than the rest of Me do. Compton allowing you to keep your battle scars was akin to a museum guard sleeping on the job.”
She snorted, “That’s a little melodramatic. I’m not the Mona Lisa… And he didn’t know if I refused or not.”
“At the time, he suspected that one of you were preventing a permanent bond. That only pissed him off more considering Compton was whining hither and yon about how you belonged to him. He knew you’d refuse an offer… I’m sure you begrudge him for tricking you, but he would have healed you the night before if he knew Compton wasn’t going to. He was galled to see you arrive at the party still injured and the situation prevented him from confronting Compton about it.”
She sighed heavily and leaned back, ignoring her food in spite of how hungry she was. “Okay… what was the other reason?”
“The second reason is hinged on the first. Considering Compton left you to suffer, Your Eric had no faith in Compton’s ability to keep you safe. After Compton left you to go complain to the Queen in New Orleans so that you could be nearly killed by Rene Lanier, Eric wanted to be able to feel when you’re in danger… The last straw in that load was when Compton let you go into the church without arguing…”
“I’m not a puppet, Eric. I have a mind of my own…”
I agreed with a nod. “You’re as obstinate as I am, but I know you’re capable of seeing reason… It was your first outing as a paid telepath and he failed to talk any sense into you. Hindsight being 20/20, would you put yourself in arms reach of Newlin again?”
She moped, “No. I guess not, but…”
“But nothing, Sookie. Bill Compton wasn’t very old, but he’d been around long enough to know better than let you dance into a lions’ den. I would have taken extreme measures to keep my Sookie from making that mistake, but all I had to do was explain why she shouldn’t… She and I confronted Newlin at his house and negotiated for Ferrell’s release. Another pair of Us went to the church together and rescued him. No one was hurt in those versions. Compton showed no respect for you or what you’re capable of because he was too busy pouting about you agreeing to work in Dallas.”
She stared at me, seemingly processing the new information before she lifted her fork again to poke her food. She asked, “What about how weird he was in Jackson then?”
“I can’t be sure of how he behaved in Jackson. I was in Jackson with another You and this is our first skip since then.”
Her eyes widened. “Then what did you do in Jackson?”
She finally began eating again as I started, “That was a peculiar skip. I went to Fangtasia while I was looking for My Sookie and walked in on a phone call between that Eric and the Queen. She was looking for Compton and mentioned his little program. Since I’ve been trusting Alcide with My Sookie’s care for months, I suggested that Eric send him to help Sookie find Compton. I left him to oversee Fangtasia as he normally would so that I could find my Sookie. To be honest, I didn’t think that he was invested enough in his Sookie to be willing to put his neck out to protect Mine…”
“Was it your Sookie in Jackson?”
“No. I skipped alone that time. That Sookie was staked by Newlin and nearly died. When you mentioned what you went through in Jackson, I assumed we were meeting again. Bill awoke in a bloodlust and raped her in the trunk of the car she rescued him in…”
She shook her head to interrupt. “He couldn’t help that. I was just there and he was hurt.”
“That would explain why he shoved his fangs into you… No. You were raped. He was claiming you because you smelled like the Eric that healed you… And you should call Alcide to ask about your version since you were unconscious, but in mine, he said that it was my fault for healing you.”
“HE…!” She lowered her voice when her outburst startled another customer. “He had the nerve to say it was your fault?”
I nodded. “I had to hold that Alcide back. He broke a chair to use a leg as a stake.”
She shook her head, letting a tear escape and whimpering, “Why?”
“Why stop him?” Because I wanted to be the one to do it… I had to assume the question was rhetorical.
“You believe me?”
She put her fork on the table and sat back to study her hands. “I… I don’t know…”
Since she trailed off deep in thought, I offered, “You feel like you can, but given what I’ve told you, you’re scared to. Trusting Bill caused a lot of heartache for you. You’ve lost enough in your life and you think it’ll be stupid to trust someone else.” I was practically reciting the journal entry by ‘Butterfly Sookie’.
She told her hands, “Yeah… pretty much.”
“He regrets more than you think.”
She sniffled, “Like what?”
“Summoning you in regards to his missing revenue because you were hurt in the process… not hiring guards to protect you while Lanier was still on the loose because you were injured needlessly… not ordering Compton to prevent you from going into the Church alone because of the damage done to you there… and there are two times that listening to Pam would have prevented everything you’ve gone through…”
“There was a night a few weeks before we met… An Eric was bored out of his mind. A Pam suggested he go out to some ‘shithole’ called Bon Temps to fuck with a Shifter she heard about… Several Mes ignored her, including me, but one of them took her advice.”
Sookie grinned and shook her head. “So there’s an Eric out there who listened to her and got his patent… what about the other one?”
“The other one was very close to killing the next mauk to touch him… Pam suggested a dinner break.”
“And his Sookie is fine and dandy?”
I nodded. “My Sookie actually… Adele thinks it’s hilarious that Lassie jokes saved one of her lives… the dinner break isn’t as amusing, but Pam and Jason are responsible for beating that horse. Adele hits them every time they use ‘be a hero’ as a euphemism for a blow job… And her hearing is outstanding since she had my blood…”
“WHAT!? You gave my grandmother your blood!?”
“There wasn’t much choice. She had a mild heart attack in early September. She fell down the staircase and needed surgery to repair her hip…” Sookie gasped and covered her mouth. “Once the doctors told us her heart wasn’t the primary concern, I healed her…”
“Hang on… why did you wait? I mean, would you have not healed her if it was her heart?”
“No. If it was her heart, then she would’ve been angry… it was the injuries she sustained in the fall that would have killed her and taken their time doing so. If she had her heart attack in the library, she would have made a full recovery. I didn’t need to defend myself because she understood it was a matter of her comfort rather than ‘cheating death’… The cardiologist tells us she’s recovered fully, but she claimed during the Thanksgiving toast that she was most thankful for her improved eyesight. She’s been reading practically nonstop…”
“You healed Gran? You healed her for your Sookie…” I couldn’t help but wonder if she was suggesting that I healed Adele just to keep ‘my pet’ happy or comparing it to the fact that Compton murdered her grandmother…
“Not just Sookie. I didn’t want to see Adele suffer either. We’re very good friends.”
She shoved her plate to the side and lay her head on the table to quiet her weeping… making me realize that it was the latter option. She was realizing that Compton had been a booby prize. Sookie’s crying fit went on long enough that her sniffles became choking and began to draw an audience.
Even if she wasn’t Mine (and experiencing semi-automatic mood swings), I still despised seeing her so upset…
I tossed the bag from the gift shop onto the dresser and carried Sookie to the bed to lie her down.
With only an hour left before we were due to leave, I called the concierge to have him arrange for a car and packed Sookie’s things for her while she tried to calm herself…
She’d done well enough that by the time I was finished, she was only suffering from sporadic relapses.
I knelt next to the bed to give her a cool rag for her face and say, “Your things are packed.”
She nodded without looking at me. “K… thank you.”
“I’ve seen worse versions than yours…”
She whimpered, “How? Did I kill my parents too?”
I sat on the floor to lean against the bed, assuming I’d be a while. “You haven’t killed anyone worth mentioning… Your father is alive in one of them. Adele died instead of your parents. She was there to hear the news that if she had driven you home, instead of putting pies in the oven, your mother and father would have lived to see their children reach adulthood. Adele had been coaching me through skipping because I find it so annoying… That night, Adele cried herself to sleep. She says that she’s done her grieving and she isn’t going to dwell… but she’s stopped teasing me about how much I hate the skips.”
She whispered, “Why do you hate them?”
“My first one was just after a You escaped Lanier. That Sookie was so offensive My Sookie didn’t want to talk to her. It was miserable and I couldn’t have been happier to go home… The insanity of what we rise to is hard to take at times. Case in point, I’m in the fucking Bahamas, waiting for the delivery of an iguana with a Sookie who thinks Eric is the ‘bad guy’ despite all he’s done to keep her safe. Even knowing that I’ll eventually go home with My Sookie, I want it to be over as soon as possible…”
She snorted, “Are you trying to talk me out of giving My Eric a go?”
I chuckled at her. “No… Do you realize you’ve started calling him Your Eric?”
She slid her leg over to knee my shoulder and snicker, “Shut up… So, do you ever find out how things go for the other versions?”
“We visit with our first skip often, actually. We skip both ways. They’re raising a Hunter too, but that Sookie lost Adele the same way you did.”
“So how screwed up are my other lives?”
“I think the worst one we’ve come across so far is that Compton was spooked enough by Sookie meeting Eric that he killed Adele and Jason, then eloped with her… and there was one version where you were turned by the Queen’s second. You weren’t happy about it, but you weren’t being mistreated or being denied access to your family. We haven’t reunited with the version of Sookie that Compton turned and I’m beginning to think we won’t. I don’t think she went gentle into that good night… The bulk of the others were just different.”
“Different like… I won Powerball and I’m in high cotton… I’ve got a cabana boy to refill my tea while I’m sunbathing?” There she was. She was cleaning up after her little pity party faster than I thought she would.
“In a manner of speaking… You had a baby with JB DuRone right after you graduated high school and he joined the Army to support you, but he wasn’t a very good soldier… In that version, you were supporting Adele, Hunter and Corbett Stackhouse DuRone by selling Chevrolets… You met the Vampire of your dreams when he bought his new Corvette from you and the five of you spend your time happily island hopping through the Mediterranean.”
“JB? I barely made out with him. I couldn’t…”
“You discovered that you could relax without damaging your shields with the help of marijuana… Of course there is the version of you who was taught to use her shields so efficiently that she forgot she had the ability. She had a bit of a shock waiting for her when she began reading the minds of her husband and children. Sam Merlotte hadn’t told her what he was… and since the children could read minds, they knew before Sookie did.”
She snickered, “That’s just crazy.”
“No. Crazy is skipping to a version of reality where your wife is dead. Not ‘undead’. Buried with the rest of her family. We heard about it from another Us… The other Sookie was the one to tell me about it because he refused to do as much as let her add it to the journal and I can’t blame him.”
“Wow… That’s…” She sat up suddenly to look down at me. “You… you actually love her, don’t you?”
“I’ve given My Sookie one rule. Don’t die.”
“What do you mean, ‘don’t die’? Are you going to turn her?”
“Does she know?” No. I was going jump out and yell surprise.
“Of course she does. She’s already making tentative plans for our quiet time together.” A second honeymoon in Longyearbyen… I could easily spend the next 20 years fanaticizing about that Dark Season.
“Why? I don’t want it. What would change my mind about that?”
“You never considered coming over because you didn’t love Compton enough to want to spend forever with him. That isn’t the case for us.”
“When are you going to turn her?” Once our children are grown.
“Eventually. Hunter needs her now. We can wait.”
“Is that all you’re waiting for?”
“No… I’d be lying if I said we aren’t still raw from Adele’s heart attack and that happened during the day. We’re perfectly fine with waiting…”
“Great… I thought it was bad enough that Eric just wanted to steal me from Bill like he was winning some stupid playground-bully prize… the idea that he would…”
“I wouldn’t worry about that if I were you.”
“Let me ask you something…” The knock on the door to the room was well timed. As I stood up to answer it, I finished, “Have you been behaving with me as you would normally behave with Your Eric?”
She shrugged and followed me. “I don’t know. I guess. Why?”
“Because I certainly doubt that I’d want to spend forever with someone who would treat me as though I’m responsible for all of her own poor choices while simultaneously declaring that she doesn’t need anyone’s advice. I’m not an idiot.”
She gasped angrily and practically choked to halt her tirade when I reached for the doorknob.
She was either going to realize how bitchy she was being, or she was just going to wait to defend herself. Either way, she was going to hear the truth from one Eric.
Pinkus was exactly what I had in mind…
His body was only a foot long and his face, forelegs and spine had beautiful pink and orange coloring… If Hunter rejected it, and I doubted that was likely, finding a home for Pinkus wouldn’t be a problem. The Berts would gladly take the iguana off my hands. It wasn’t every night they would have the chance to add an Andros Island Rock Iguana to their menagerie.
The lizard wasn’t any more skittish than I would have expected any animal would have been after being transported in a gym bag… He wasn’t reluctant to being handled either, just suspicious of his surroundings.
Sookie managed to remain cordial while the clerk made the delivery for ‘his friend’, but once the concierge called to tell me our car was waiting and the clerk left $5000 heavier, I was the (willing) recipient of the silent treatment…
On the rare occasion that My Sookie was a silent reminder of a disagreement, the punitive behavior needled me until my skin crawled.
That Sookie? The saying ‘silence is golden’ came to mind.
Tantrum free and avoiding eye contact…
In the elevator and the car… she even stayed quiet when she noticed the small plane waiting for us on the runway. Panic was panic no matter which Sookie wore it. I knew that look too well.
She faked it well enough, even though she was nearly rattling… settling in her seat, obsessing over her seatbelt, bumping her forehead on the small porthole as she tried to see the airfield…
It wasn’t until the plane was taxiing down the runway that she said anything.
“Why didn’t you just fly home?”
“Flying a thousand miles would risk freezing my extremities. Regenerating fingers and toes is miserable and I have immediate plans for my cock.”
She narrowed her eyes, but instead of saying anything she turned away to study the window she couldn’t see much of anything through.
I offered, “After all the traveling we’ve done, My Sookie is still afraid to fly. She concentrates on my mind and sleeps through flights.”
She was too tense to answer right away as the plane lifted from the ground… Several minutes went by before she finally blurted, “I hate you.” Nice.
“I don’t care, but since we have nothing else to do, I’ll play along. Why?”
“Eric can be so nice sometimes and then…” At least she wasn’t referring to Me specifically.
I pulled my phone out of my pocket and she watched curiously while I looked through the files for the right ones. “From the moment I laid eyes on Sookie Stackhouse, I knew there was more to her than a ponytail and counterfeit smile. The chaos, stench and over stimulation of the Friday night crowd in the dive she worked in aside, all it took to realize she was special was a touch… I was taken by her before she saved my life’… Another Eric said, ‘I would have fucked her if she was inclined. I would have taken her blood if she offered, but I would have made a complete fool of myself trying to make her Mine’. Yet another Eric said, ‘I’d lost sight of whether I wanted her to be Mine or if I would have settled to know she was safe. Even though she hasn’t spoken to me since I ended Bill Compton, it’s a sacrifice I made willingly. Hopefully, she’ll never know how much danger she was in’… I could go on, but there isn’t a single Eric in the journals that could ignore how he felt about his Sookie. We’re all the same. I was ruined in 5 minutes. There are Erics who have turned Sookie because it was necessary and those who plan to when their children are grown. There are virgin Sookies and experienced Sookies. Bonded and not bonded. Sheriffs and telepaths, public and secret, working and retired. Eric and Sookie work together perfectly.”
“I don’t see how. He’s so pigheaded.”
“Pots and kettles.”
She pouted, crinkling her chin. “You’ve been spending too much time with Gran. She shortens it like that.”
“I know… I can’t be sure of every minutia of your relationship with Eric, but I can tell you that if nearly anyone else had been attacked by Long Shadow, I wouldn’t have cared. The same could be said of your other injuries. There is a very short list of individuals I would tend to. All but one of them were part of the Sookie package deal.”
“The other is Pam.”
“Why is he so aloof then? I mean, if he cares, why not say something?”
“Do you mean the way Compton said he loved you and promised he’d protect you? I could tell you grass is purple, but that doesn’t make it true. Compton promised to protect you, but Eric is the one who actually did.”
She huffed as she closed her eyes and leaned back in her seat. “Actions speak louder than words, huh?”
“You should do yourself the favor of compartmentalizing your experience with Compton. It isn’t Eric’s fault you were betrayed because he had no hand in it. He’s done what he could to show he cares. Try taking it at face value instead of comparing every little act to something Compton said or did.”
She studied her hands for a few minutes before snorting, “If I can’t trust my husband, who can I trust?”
I held my phone out to her. “You and your grandmother. We’ve all started keeping journals. I’ll make sure you get a copy when we land…”
“Yeah? I don’t have a computer though.”
“Eric has a printer… I’m sure he’ll burn a disk of the videos of interest for you too.”
“Adele’s idea. The photos go a long way towards believability, but the videos are the cherry on top.”
“Can I watch them on the phone?”
“Only a few of them… one was taken by Alcide. He recorded our version of Compton’s death… and I doubt you’d want to watch the rest.”
She furrowed her brow and asked, “Why not?”
“Considering how you woke up…”
She rolled her eyes, catching on immediately. “God! Why doesn’t it surprise me that you… Wait. I would never…!”
“You would. You did. And it’s several hours long. I had to add it to my phone in segments…”
She gasped, “Nooooo!”
Since she hadn’t taken my phone from me, I quickly cued up the video and pressed the play button. She leaned away from the phone, turning bright red without looking… all she needed was to hear the audio.
Hearing her voice and all of the noises, not to mention me… She was blushing before I turned the volume up, but then she covered her ears and barked, “Oh my God! Stop that!”
I chuckled and shook my head. “She said, ‘oh my God, MORE!’…”
“That’s not what I mean… stop the video…” I bit the inside of my mouth to keep from laughing at her. “Why would you record that? Just so you have it to prove to Sookies that you have one?”
“No. I’ll admit that I enjoy having the souvenir, but I needed proof Sookie wasn’t in danger with me…”
She raised her eyebrow. “Nice line.”
“It’s not a line. When we share blood, we lose time. Vampires don’t suffer blackouts often and when we do, more than bedding tends to be ruined. The first time she had my blood, I didn’t take hers and we still lost nearly an hour of time… When we exchange blood, we disappear into our bond. She’s more Vampire, I’m more Human…”
She snatched the phone out of my hand and gasped, “No way!”
“She’s practically a Vampire now, considering, but…”
“Not that! In Jackson… When Eric healed me…” She paused, fixating on the video and tilting the phone. “He had a reaction.”
“What kind of reaction?”
“Like he was stoned.”
“That would be it… It’s imperative that if you exchange blood simultaneously, you do it somewhere light-proof. I’ve lasted until well past dawn, in Shreveport and under clear skies…”
“But… I thought he was just being a pervert… Bill didn’t… well, he did… but not like that…”
“Sophie-Ann has been with your cousin for years and hasn’t ever experienced it…”
“It’s… just an Eric-Sookie thing?”
“So it seems… I spend most of my time with her resisting urges…”
She shook her head to break her gaze from my phone and handed it over to me. “Pots and kettles… You’re like a force of nature. I swear, I feel like I’m preparing for a Category 4 Hurricane when I know I’m going to be around him… He’s almost impossible to resist.”
She huffed and slammed her head back against the seat to tell the ceiling, “Because I’m just a mind reading blood bag.” She wasn’t reminding me of a fact… her tone gave the impression that she was reminding me of her misled impressions.
“When did you sign a contract?”
“When has he fed from you?”
She bit her lip and whimpered, “He hasn’t… I thought it was because of the ‘she belongs to Bill’ thing.”
“Pussy and blood are available to him every night at Fangtasia and if telepathy was the draw, he would have kept Barry for himself.”
She whispered, “I know.”
“When you spoke to him, he offered to help…”
“Instead of insisting that I go back or having a hissy fit…”
“You’re mouth-watering, but he doesn’t have any idea of how much. You’re physically tempting, but he has no concept of how euphoric it is to be with you. You’re a very talented mind reader, but he hasn’t had you use your ability for his own gain…”
She unconvincingly argued, “The Long Shadow thing,” and it sounded more like a question.
I chuckled, “$60,000? Really? Pam spent more than that on purses last month. Summoning Bill and ‘his pet’ was nothing but a ploy for face-time… You’re…” I was about to explain that her naiveté was responsible for her confusion as tactfully as possible, but she finished for me…
But she was coming around.