Blister & Burn
Nothing, NOTHING makes a Vampire move faster than when they’re hit with sunlight.
I died with Sookie happily tucked under my chin, cooing hopes the sky would be clear enough to ‘bring some sunlight’ to me tonight.
Since I rose to the agony of blisters boiling my skin in a sunlit room, I was going to have to ask her to word things a little more carefully…
Once the blisters healed, of course.
I yanked the blanket from the bed I rose on and used it as a shield, hoping the first door I could reach didn’t lead to another sun-filled room and had the good fortune of finding a bathroom…
I only had long enough to realize I didn’t have any way to know what time it was or where I was before I felt myself dying again…
THIS WASN’T IN THE JOURNAL.
With the few seconds I had left, I managed to push the comforter against the gap under the door and sit on it so the door couldn’t be opened easily…
It didn’t escape me that it was the exact bathroom Ema had drawn…
If Ema’s drawings were meant as warnings, I was justified in being terrified for what Sookie would be waking up to.
When I rose again, I was already feeling anxiety for Sookie. Worried for what she was facing and scared she was waking in the cage of a still enslaved version of herself. I wasn’t sure I could stand to see her go through another setback…
With no one to ask and the sun still high enough to keep me from leaving the bathroom, I was forced to look for clues.
The socket on the wall was my first clue… The CEE outlet on the wall next to me basically only narrowed down my location to being somewhere in Europe.
Two brushes with long blonde hair (one of them incredibly curly) and a third with long dark brown hair…
Three toothbrushes. Blue, purple, and pink.
A vanity case including a small assortment of hair care items.
At best, I could assume I was in the hotel room of three females, hopefully one of them was a Sookie, until I noticed the hamper tucked under the counter.
One item at a time…
Tiny socks, panties, undershirts, sweaters, jeans… they all looked too large to be Julie’s.
The only reason I continued to sift was the faint traces of Sookie on the clothing.
Close to the bottom of the hamper I found a sweater large enough to fit Sookie… the scent was faint, covered by the smell of one of the children, but Sookie was there. I had to assume she’d loaned it to the child but she kept a separate hamper in another room.
Nothing else. There were only three scents other than Sookie’s and the maid had emptied the bin, not that children would be in the habit of keeping credit card receipts. More worrisome than anything was that nothing smelled like me. If I was a stranger, they probably weren’t going to be happy about finding me naked in their hotel room.
The fucking bathroom was too small to pace. There was no phone. There was nothing to do but sit on the counter and wait for sunset.
I owed the first Sookie I met a wealth of apologies. I had no idea how disorienting it could be to wake or rise to circumstances unknown.
I was partially relieved to hear the sound of Sookie’s voice as the door to the hotel room finally opened.
She groaned, “Uuuuuuug, I ate too much. I’m sooooo stuffed I shouldn’t eat for a week.”
Another voice snorted, “You didn’t have to eat half a pie, geez.” A smaller female voice, almost like Julie’s, but not quite.
Sookie giggled, “Of course I did. I couldn’t let it be wasted.”
Yet another voice (the more important one at the moment), began chanting, “Gottapee, gottapee, gottapee…” Closer and closer…
I put my hands against the door to prevent the child from opening it and being startled, but just as I expected to hear the doorknob turn the child shrieked.
The sound was bloodcurdling. The sounds of running had started before the child was done screaming…
Sookie and the others asked what was wrong on their way, but the questions stopped once they reached the room.
Sookie gasped, “Oh God!” There was a moment of silence that needled me more than anything before Sookie voice cut through the tension. “Go. Lock yourself in my bathroom. Go.”
One of the children asked, “Is that… is that… blood?”
“Yes. Go. Now.”
“You too! Come with us! We’ll call police.”
Sookie growled, “We’ll do that after I kill the Vampire in there.” FUCK FUCK FUCK.
I wasn’t staying silent anymore. I needed to know what the fuck I was facing. If she was bonded to another Vampire, whether it was Me or not, she could be strong enough to do some damage and I didn’t want to hurt her to keep that from happening. All I could do was hope I’d be able to talk her into calming down and if all else failed, have her leave so I could do the same shortly afterwards.
“My name is Eric Northman. I don’t mean you any harm.”
Sookie growled, “You son of a bitch! You- WAIT! You’re not Mine.” I was so relieved that she was familiar with skipping, I actually got chills.
“Thank God. I thought Mine sent someone after us.” Did she leave Him? Was she hiding?
“Where are we?”
“Eijsden. Pretty little hotel in town.”
“Why aren’t you at the estate?”
“That’s a long story… What’s with the blood all over the jamb here?”
“I must have brushed against it. I rose on the bed while the sun was up. I’m not sure what time it was.”
“Sweet baby Jesus. Nice way to wake up. There’s still a few minutes. The windows aren’t blue yet. Are you alright now?”
“I healed, yes.”
“Do you need anything in there?”
“I’m not dressed. Does the hotel have a boutique?”
“No… Ummm… How about a one-size-fits-all robe?”
“That would be fine. Thank you.”
One of the girls chirped, “On it!” and ran out of the room.
“Thanks baby… So Eric, I’m Sookie Auers…” I tried, but the name didn’t ring any bells. Merlotte, Durone, Northman, Nordmann, Stackhouse… Sookies had taken the names of various husbands… But… I’d gotten as far as wondering if she’d been adopted after her parents died when I realized I should just ask.
“Auers? That’s a new one to me.”
“At least you’ve heard of me. Where did you die for the day?”
“In Eijsden with My Sookie.”
She snickered, “I guess it’s a good thing we stuck around. Wanna hitch a ride back to Kaastel Northman?”
“If you don’t mind, yes… Could you call to be sure she’s there? If she skipped anywhere else…”
“Yes sir, no problem…” I listened as she rifled through her bag and dialed her cell phone. Every unanswered ring made me more anxious.
Her Eric would have risen when I had. He wouldn’t be far from his phone because I wasn’t.
And the only fucking thing I could think of that would keep me from answering my phone might have been in bed with Him when He rose.
Dialing… four rings… no message, just a beep to cue the caller to leave a message…
Sookie repeated the process twice before dialing a different number.
Without being asked, Sookie had been calling the guards for the estate.
After Anja explained that she’d been relieved by Miles and Bastiaan, Sookie dialed again…
Miles answered, “Unless you’re ringing me because you’d like to apologize for my injuries with a rematch in custard, I’m hanging up now.”
“Absolutely. Though… I have an allergy and eggs make me break out… oozing hives. It’s kind of gross, but if that’s what it’ll take…” The girls were snickering, and I would have been close to laughing if I wasn’t worried about My Sookie.
“Do you know how impossible it is to repulse someone like me?”
“Did it work?”
He laughed, “It’ll be difficult to picture you without festering pustules, yeah.”
“Great. I need you to do something for me.”
“What then? Will I need to remove my trousers?”
“Already over the pustules?”
“I’m off my meds at the moment, yeah.”
She hissed out a laugh. “Damn it, Miles… Go downstairs and beat on Eric’s door…”
“Fuck you! I like my head where it is, love!”
“I do too, you big baby. I wouldn’t ask if it weren’t important. Go bang on Eric’s door and tell him Sookie asked if he remembers my tattoo-”
“Again… I like my-”
“It’s code. There’s something going on. Hearing my message will alert him to realize it. Just go give him the message and let him know you just now talked to me. Got it?”
“If it’s code, yeah, but if this is bullshit…”
“IF it’s bullshit, then I’ll clean your barracks room dressed in clothing of your choosing.”
“Worth it. Ta.”
Sookie sighed, “The sad part is that I know a guy who’s much worse… Hopefully Eric will call me back in a minute.”
“He knows about skipping, but he didn’t answer his phone. What do you think you’re interrupting?”
“Actually, I was hoping someone would ask why I was calling them when I’m already on the property. The last time a Me woke up there, she woke in the sitting room. God only knows where his phone is with the way he leaves everything laying around. Are you a slob too?” A slob?
She knocked on the door and I was shaking my head when I carefully cracked it enough to be given the robe. “No. I’ve never been sloppy.” If everything was cluttered, it was nearly impossible to notice if anything was out of place.
“Great. Something else we have to deal with… Eric, My Eric has completely fallen apart. He lost Pam and… well, he’s a royal pain in the ass.”
“You aren’t together or…”
“God no. I’m lucky he’s budged enough to admit my telepathy could keep him alive. We only met because of a skip… My Eric is broken.”
“Broken?” I knew I shouldn’t ask… “What do you mean, broken?”
“He stopped smelling his surroundings when Pam’s scent faded away. His mind might as well be a bucket of pitch. Saskia isn’t allowed in his office or his chambers. The floor in his office is covered with his shoes and strewn papers. His chambers and bathroom are covered in dirty clothes he can’t be bothered to give her for washing. She says he collects everything from time to time and dumps them in the garbage and he just orders more. And from what I managed to get out of the minds of his staff, he doesn’t feed unless one of his Lords gives him a donor while he’s visiting.” Fuck. ‘Fallen apart’ was appallingly accurate.
“In his defense, I have donors offered to me regularly… Is he violent? Aggressive? With you?”
“Yeah, but We can handle it. I mean-”
She stopped when my fangs ran out reflexively. “No. You might be able to ‘handle it’, but My Sookie can’t.”
“What? Why? I’m never a wimp…”
“Neither is she. I only just this week rescued her from being tortured and raped. She was held captive by another Vampire for months. Freeing her was the reason for Our skip. My broken Sookie is with Your broken Eric…”
“SHIT! Why don’t you get a shower so we can get out of here as soon as the sun sets?”
Sookie sat on the bathroom counter while I showered (facing the wall to offer privacy I didn’t care about), making use of the time by hearing about what my Sookie had been through.
Luckily she shared the same past with the Sookie who’d married Merlotte, so I was somewhat familiar with her life until that point…
Her tiny companions were Hadley’s children, Misty and Jenny, and her own daughter, Lindy…
Since she shared so much of her life with a Sookie I was already familiar with, she practically interviewed me until sunset because I hadn’t brought a copy of the journal with me.
I couldn’t have possibly cared less that I wasn’t wearing anything but a robe as we left the room.
After Miles called back to say the message had been delivered I would have left nude…
Eric told him to have everyone leave the property and Miles smelled blood at the door to the chamber.
The last time I dismissed all of my guards was when I had a mess to clean up and couldn’t afford witnesses.
And to make matters worse, the battery in Sookie’s phone died while she repeatedly tried to call the other Me in vain.
Sookie let me drive since I had every intention of making the drive as short as possible. The timing was horrible. I’d been tempted to fly, but even a few kilometers would have frozen me enough to slow me down.
The car was anxiously silent and the children were staring at me in the rearview mirror.
“I should apologize for my mood. I’m worried about My Sookie. She’s very fragile. She’s been through enough. I’m not sure how she’ll react to having any Me treat Her harshly. It was only last night that she mentioned how safe she felt with me in Eijsden.”
Sookie patted my knee and offered, “We can tell you’re worried. It’s okay. We are too. He’s been a jerk at best.”
“You’ve had his blood though. I can smell it. Did He force you?”
She shook her head. “When He met the first Sookie, She gave him a rundown of trivia You don’t necessarily print on brochures. She mentioned Pam. He’s hell bent for seeing Pam again so I agreed to bond with Him to increase the chances.”
I snorted and shook my head. “Kind and patient to a fault are your constants… The first Sookie I met took Me by surprise. I rose with Her in the bed next to Me. I’d never heard of Her and I hadn’t set foot in Louisiana since I retired. Pam and I had a falling out, so we hadn’t talked in years. Being friendly didn’t help My disposition, so She switched strategies to slap Me in the face with ugly truths. She convinced Me to see Pam again…”
“Apparently that’s what helped Me get as far as I am. I don’t think He knows how to handle someone being nice to Him, so it presses his asshole button.”
I chuckled, “I’m not going to admit to that.”
She giggled, “Of course not… Your Pam isn’t dead though. This poor guy… He’s afraid that enjoying anything would betray her. I’ve seen it before. My dad didn’t smile for months after his sister died. Not until the first time he held Lindy.”
I nodded. “I could certainly understand that. I’d be devastated if something happened to Pam. How long ago did He lose her?”
“I think it was ’78. She was Halfdan’s cannon fodder.”
“He only threatened her, and it was two decades later in My version.”
“In ours, Halfdan took Her and Appius somewhere protected by magic as insurance and they were told that one would be ended if the other tried to escape. Pam played nice. Appius didn’t. When Eric was done with His job, He was told where to find ‘them’. He found Appius and a puddle. Appius and Halfdan didn’t survive the night… The other Sookie We met suspects that Appius was in on it. She brought My Eric to Me, hoping I’d help. She wanted more than anything to reset so She could get to Her Eric. They were vacationing at the Matterhorn when Appius showed up and Halfdan called. The skip made the tumblers start clicking into place. She was pretty sure Her Eric was going to have to go the same route You did.”
“Does that Me still have Pam?” I couldn’t help but wonder if our falling out saved her. It would have made up for missing her for so long. And if Appius used my child in ANY scheme to advance his station, then Darwin was the one to strike down that motherfucker.
There was a small snort in the back seat and I checked the mirror just in time to see the curly-haired girl mumble, “They’re all retarded for Pam.”
Sookie had her mouth open to chide the child, but I beat her to it. “Misty, you’re only eight years old, but you’d be devastated to lose your sister. The two of you have a lot in common and because of what you are, there have been times when she’s the only person who could possibly understand you. You can’t begin to appreciate how it would feel to lose her after being together for three HUNDRED years, to lose someone who knows you better than anyone because she’s part of you, to know that you’ll live FOREVER and never see her again. Pam loves me in spite of the fact that most Vampires fear and detest their Makers. He’s lived for long enough to know that it’s only a matter of time before NOTHING is left of her except His memories. Imagine that for a minute. Imagine losing Jenny… and then imagine someone arriving on your doorstep with proof that you’re going to love them just as much, that they’re going to make a huge impact on your life in a matter of a few weeks, days in some cases, that they’ll be just as irreplaceable to you as your sister… I don’t have to ask how you’d react because I know that your instincts are going to make you want to push them away… You can’t feel that pain again unless you’re stupid enough to love someone.”
It had been a struggle to finish my rant since all three of the children had been quietly weeping since I first mentioned something absolute happening to separate them… nevermind the lump in my throat.
I was ready to offer an apology to Sookie, but she waved her hand to stop me…
“Thank you… really. He’s such a pill, I needed to hear that. It’ll make some of the stuff he says and does a little less hurtful… knowing how much pain he’s still in. I kind of already figured, but I guess it helps to hear it from the horse’s mouth.”
“But I upset them.”
“It was good for them too… They needed to hear it from your perspective and they needed to hear it in terms they’d understand. Our Eric won’t talk about it so they didn’t realize how much it would hurt to lose someone like that… So how bad off is your Sookie?”
“Last night she was in amazingly high spirits, despite a tense moment. A few nights ago, she had a crippling panic attack when she thought of the possibility of other telepaths being taken like she was. It’s what inspired the collection we returned to Eijsden with. She’s improving but it’s going to take time.”
“Mmmmm… I might just have something to help her out then.”
“She already uses pot to calm her nerves…”
Sookie patted my knee and giggled, “Not that… I’m sure it helps, but I think a cause might give her something to focus on.”
As much as I was interested in hearing about something Sookie could benefit from (especially since it was coming from the horse’s mouth), I decided to wait for the details…
Seeing the gate to My estate, knowing Sookie was probably there…
Knowing I wouldn’t want her to have met me the way my first Sookie did…
I couldn’t think of anything but getting to her.