“I’m sorry, but why the hell are we going to Dallas while my brother is in jail? We need to find out who the killer is. How the hell are we supposed to do that if we aren’t even in the same damn state? If you think I’m leaving, you’ve got another thing comin’ buddy,” Sookie says while glaring at me. Gods, when she fires back at me like this I want to push her up against the wall and fuck her until we are both deaf, dumb, and blind. There is something incredibly arousing about Sookie Stackhouse when she stands up to me. I’ve always admired strong women; you can thank my mother for that. The female vampires that I’m closest to, Nora and Pam, are both strong women that don’t take shit from anyone, even their makers. That’s part of why I let Pam get away with as much as she does. She is never disrespectful to me and I know her loyalty is without question.
“Would you like to hear my reasons before you outright dismiss me?”
“Not really,” she says with an attitude but I continue on as if I haven’t heard her.
“First, the renovations to your house are going to be extensive due to its age. The renovations will be a slow and painstaking process. Given the situation we find ourselves in, I cannot let you and Adele stay in a house that is not safe. Second, the Fellowship of the Sun reaching out to your brother is troublesome. Couple that with what you have heard in the killer’s mind, I think they may have more to do with these murders than we originally suspected. There are three men we are looking at closely based on the information Mustapha has been able to gather. My maker resides in Dallas. He knows someone who may be able to aid our search.”
Sookie rudely interrupts my explanation. “Do you ever pause to take a breath?”
“I have no need to breathe. Why should I pause in listing all the reasons why my decision for us to go to Dallas is a sound one? Third, it will keep you out of the killer’s clutches. Fourth, if your brother is still in jail -”
“Alright already! I get your point,” she says with an exasperated huff. “How long will I need off? And what about Gran? I’m not leaving her here to fend for herself,” Sookie says stubbornly.
“Of course not. Adele will travel with us. I believe she will enjoy picking my maker’s brain about history and literature,” I say with a slight smile. “As for how long, a week perhaps. It may be more, but I will not know that until we are in Dallas and see what the results of our search turn up.” In all honesty, the issue with this killer will be resolved by the time we return. If Khan’s search turns up nothing, then Fortenberry and Lenier will be subjected to my progeny’s method of interrogation. She’s quite talented if I do say so myself; I taught her everything she knows. However, Pamela is very inventive and is always looking for new ways to perfect her techniques.
“Fine, I’ll have to tell Sam I need some time off. When are we going?”
“I would like to be in Dallas two nights from now,” I tell her knowing I will need time to clear it with the Queen to leave my area. She should have no issues, particularly when I tell her I am taking the Stackhouse women to meet my maker. I will not tell her the real reason for our trip. The last thing I want is her or her children coming to my area and creating more work for me. The only reason Sophie-Anne has retained her kingdom for as long as she has is because no one has wanted to go up against her children. The Berts were fierce warriors as humans; as vampires, I have not seen any that can match them with a sword or hand to hand combat. As for André, that pompous ass is slicker than an oil spill; there is no telling what he would do. And I especially do not want him anywhere near my fairy. Something tells me André isn’t going to leave it alone that Sophie-Anne “gifted” the Stackhouse family to me.
“Fine, I can work my normal shift tomorrow and take the lunch shift the day after. How are we getting to Dallas?”
“I’ll make the arrangements. Do you want me to come with you to tell the Shifter?” His days of being alone with Sookie are over. If he wants to talk to her, he’ll need to do it in front of her guards. Even then I think I want him to be collared and tethered in the yard before speaking to her. Muzzled would be preferable.
“Nah, I got it,” she says confidently. Sookie strides past me, pushing open the back door. Merlotte hasn’t moved from his slumped place on the ground. Fucking pussy; I didn’t hit him that hard. The way he’s acting you’d think I did permanent damage. It’s not like I neutered him, although the thought does have merit.
“Sam, I’m working dinner shift tomorrow, opening the day after, and then I need off for a week. I don’t wanna hear any of your shit,” she says with a glare and her hand raised in a stop motion. “You aren’t the alpha male around here anymore; he is,” she says pointing at me with a smug expression.
“Damn it Sookie-” he begins only to cut off.
“What did I tell you? In case you didn’t notice, I’m not askin’; I’m telling you this is how it’s going to be. If you don’t like it, fire me,” she says with a shrug. “My family will always be more important to me than some job.” When Sookie said family, her hand found its way in mine and she gave it a squeeze. The strangest feeling settles over me as I now realize I am among those that Sookie considers family. Thank the Gods that vampires are expected to be the silent, brooding type, because in that moment, I am so overcome with emotion that words escape me. I could not speak even If I were so inclined.
Two days later, I went to my daytime rest inside my travel coffin so that I can safely journey from Shreveport to Dallas. I would have preferred to fly to reduce our travel time, but Sookie convinced me that it would be better if we drove. As she pointed out, it was only a three-hour car ride, and I’d be “sleeping” for the day, so what did it matter if we drove? She argued that this way would give her and Adele access to a car during the day if they needed it. Over my dead body will they be venturing out in Dallas alone! Dawson wasn’t able to come on this trip because of obligations at his shop and Herveaux was tied up with the renovation project for the house on Hummingbird Lane. Given his less than stellar performance guarding Jason Stackhouse, I didn’t trust Herveaux with the safety of these women. It will be a long time before Alcide earns back my trust in that regard. Sookie argued that she refused to be treated like a prisoner, forced to stay cooped up in a hotel room while I was unavailable for the day. If I hadn’t been so furious with her for being a stubborn pain in my ass, I would have thought it endearing that she refused to admit I was dead for the day. I was asleep or unavailable; never would she utter that I was dead. Adele too refused to admit that I was dead during the day, choosing to say I was “indisposed”.
The problem was that our security options for the day were limited without Dawson and Herveaux. The others on Dawson’s team I don’t know nor do I trust. Fortunately we found an option that I found suitable at the eleventh hour. Mustapha Khan and his partner Warren are driving the vehicle that is transporting all of us to Dallas. I did not doubt Mustapha’s abilities, but I had no knowledge of Warren’s. Khan assured me Warren was just as good as him, perhaps better when it came to guns since Warren had been the sniper on the covert ops teams Khan commanded. I will have to trust Mustapha’s judgment. If he lets me down, their lives will be forfeit.
Vampires are not claustrophobic as we have no need to breathe. However, I abhor being inside a coffin, not because of the confined spaces but because they are never quite long enough for someone of my size. I really need to invest in a travel coffin that fits my size. I haven’t felt the need to invest in one because I usually rely on my ability to fly to get me where I need to go. And given the fact that I can rise before the sunsets, I’m a bit annoyed to find that I am still inside my travel coffin which is located inside a moving vehicle. Well, the vehicle’s engine is on but we aren’t moving. This is why I went to rest with my cell phone in my hands, so it is easily accessible should I need it in this cramped space. But before I can begin typing my message, the phone lights up with a text message from Sookie.
Sookie: Oh good, you’re up. We’ve been stuck in traffic on the I-20 for the last hour. Accident.
Eric Can’t we take a detour?
Sookie: GPS says we’re about 20 minutes from the hotel. We stopped for a late lunch so we could get out of the car. Don’t worry, Mustapha stayed in the vehicle while Warren sat with us.
Eric: I wasn’t worried. Aside from the accident, how’s the trip been?
Sookie: Fine. Gran read for a bit until she fell asleep. I reread Dracula. Seemed right given the company I’m keeping. 🙂
Eric: Ahhh. Stoker was a drunk who unfortunately saw a little more than he was supposed to. Glamour doesn’t take too well in drunks and children because their minds aren’t able to focus.
Sookie: Are you … Dracula?!?!?!?!?!
Eric: Of course not. I would never be that careless.
Sookie: But you know who was?
Eric: Unfortunately. It was a newborn vampire whose maker left him alone to the wolves so to speak. Godric and I were among those vampires that ended his existence, but the damage was done.
Sookie: I don’t even know what to say to that… I know you said you’re a thousand years old, but this is the first time it’s really hit home. I can’t even begin to imagine the things you’ve seen and done. Me and my family must seem so provincial to you.
I did not respond to her last message. How do I explain to her exactly what she means to me when I cannot even explain it to myself?
When we checked into the Hotel Carmilla, there was a message waiting from Godric stating that he would meet us in my hotel suite at ten. That gives those with a beating heart among my traveling companions time to get settled and eat. It gave me time to pace my suite and contemplate again what the question that has plagued my existence for days.
What does Sookie Stackhouse mean to me?
On the surface, she is my pet as are the other members of her family. To be honest, her family only concerns me in how they relate to her. I do have more regard for Adele than I do for Jason, and had Sookie been like the other members of her family, I would have been able to have the strict business arrangement that I wanted originally. But Sookie is more than just a pet to me. Her intelligence, spirit, and sense of humor challenge me. She has a body that is meant for sin, and I want nothing more than to teach her all the pleasures that can be found in intercourse. And her blood . . . that sweet, divine ambrosia makes me want to drown myself in her and never come up for air. I want to consume her and protect her; defile her yet laugh with her. The way I feel for her reminds me of the emotions I have for my maker, progeny, and human mother, yet the emotions are more, so much more.
Sookie makes me feel a paradox of emotions and I do not know how to handle them. I need guidance; I need my maker’s wise counsel. Looking at the clock, there is still an hour until we are to meet with my maker. Not knowing what to expect while we are here, I decide that it is best for me to feed. I don’t want a donor coming to my room; that is a distraction I do not have time for. But the other reason that nags at me is Sookie’s comfort. After what she saw in the mind of that fangbanger, I don’t want her to experience that again. I have more regard for her and won’t disrespect her like that ever again.
Thirty minutes later, I’m stepping off the elevator from having gone down to the donor’s lounge which is no better than a brothel. The donors are only contracted to feed vampires, but many of them provide other services, off the books of course. They are a step up from the fangbangers that frequent Fangtasia, only because they are often tested for narcotics and are required to follow a strict diet to make sure their blood is of suitable quality for those of the fanged variety. The blood of the donor I feasted on earlier tastes marginally better than anything I can find at Fangtasia, but it is still not the blood I prefer to drink.
It is not the blood that I crave.
When I made the arrangements for our accommodations, I insisted that everyone in my traveling party be assigned to a light-tight floor. In addition to myself, Khan, and Warren, Thalia will be joining us this evening as part of the Stackhouse security detail. I had reservations about bringing Thalia to such a volatile territory, but she swore she would do nothing in Godric’s territory to dishonor me. I had made it clear to her that if she did, I would not be the one punishing her; that responsibility would go to my maker. Even if Godric were not my maker, I am a guest in his territory. He is the authority here and deserves to be respected. I expect nothing less of any vampires that travel to my territory.
As I pass by the suite for the Stackhouses, the door opens and there stands Sookie in one of her sundresses, but this one is far more somber than I am used to seeing. It’s a dark navy with a tiny white ribbon around her waist. She’s wearing a pair of white heels with a navy toe. Thank God Pam is not here to see her; I would hate to hear the lecture about wearing white after Labor Day. Ridiculous rule if I ever heard one. What the hell does it matter?
“You look pinker than you did earlier,” Sookie says as she takes note of my flushed cheeks. Her tone of voice is even and I cannot feel any malice or jealousy coming from her through our tie. Although I do detect a slight hint of sadness.
“I went to the lounge to feed,” I admit honestly. “True Blood and bagged blood only go so far. I do not know what Godric will have planned for us this evening, so I need to be at my best.”
She closes the door to her suite behind her and leans against the wall, an interested expression on her face. “It’s not like you get nutritional value from blood like humans do when they eat. That’s why we have to eat different types of food. What’s the difference between the different ways you can get blood?”
“True Blood only provides the most basic of sustenance to my kind. It does not completely satisfy us nor can we only subsist on it. Scientists have assured us that we can live only on True Blood, but the vampires I have seen that attempted to do it have been weakened by the lack of fresh blood. Bagged blood is definitely preferable to the synthetic variety. It is screened for toxins and disease. It tastes like blood from a human, but it has lost its ‘freshness’ and can sometimes taste like the bag that encased it.”
“Ok, so human blood straight from the source is preferable,” Sookie says in understanding. “What’s your favorite type of blood?”
Yours is what my first response is, but I cannot tell her that. “AB negative, though I do not drink it often because it is rare. A negative is my least favorite; it tastes like tree bark.”
“What did you pick tonight?”
“Why would you pick your least favorite? If I had an entire menu of options available to me, I’m gonna pick my favorite thing on the menu.”
I smile slightly at her analogy. “Picking my least favorite blood type meant I focused only on feeding. I wanted it to be over quickly; I was not distracted by other needs.”
“Oh,” she says blushing as red as a tomato. She clears her throat and hurries to change the topic of conversation to cover her embarrassment. “Well Gran went to bed and sends her apologies. She said she was tired after a long day of traveling. I figured I’d let you and your maker catch up tonight and then Gran and I can meet him tomorrow night.”
“Godric is most interested to meet you. He would be disappointed if you were to deny him the pleasure of your company this evening,” I tell her with a smile. It’s true; the moment I’d told my maker that we were coming to Dallas, he’d wanted to know every detail about the Stackhouse women, wanting to make sure his home had all their favorite food options so that he could play the role of the perfect host. My maker had arranged for nighttime tours of the major tourist attractions in the city so that he could play tour guide. Even now it makes me smile to realize how much this visit has energized my maker. He’s not here yet, though I feel him getting closer, and for the first time in a long time, I feel excitement coming through our bond.
“Are you sure? I know it’s been a while since you’ve seen him. You guys should be alone,” she tries to argue with me.
“I insist,” I say while taking her hand in mine to lead her the few steps to my suite. When we enter the room, she moves nervously around the seating area, reminding me of a hummingbird going from flower to flower.
“What’s your maker like?”
Her question startles me. “Godric is . . . He’s Godric,” I say simply.
“That’s not helpful. Is he kind? Mean? Handsome? Ugly? What do you think of when I say Godric to you?”
“Godric is my maker. For a vampire, there is no relationship more important than that unless it is a bonded mate. He is the one that gave me this existence. I am nothing without him,” I admit honestly.
“You have a lot of love for him,” she says with a smile.
I nod my head in agreement. “The maker/child bond between Godric and I is different from the bond most makers have with their children. A vampire creates a child usually out of loneliness or because the human provides some advantage to them. When Godric chose to make me, he did so because he admired my skills on the battlefield. I had been mortally wounded; my men had erected a funeral pyre for me and I was waiting for my Valkyrie to take me to Valhalla. Godric slaughtered my men.” At Sookie’s horrified expression, I cannot help but chuckle and give her a smile. “Godric was less refined back then. He looked like a dirty hippie to be completely honest,” I say with another chuckle. “He offered me a choice: die or live as a companion to death. I’ve always been extremely selfish when it comes to my existence, so I chose to live. For a thousand years, I have walked this earth knowing that Godric is out there. Our bond comforts me; it strengthens me. I cannot begin to describe him to you because my words would be inadequate.”
“I think I understand,” she says as she settles in an armchair. “I know it’s not the same, but that’s how I feel about Gran. She’s given up so much to raise Jason and me, never complaining or wishing for things to be different. If someone were to ask me to describe Gran, I can think of dozens of words that describe an aspect of her, but it’s still not enough. She’s been my mother, father, and friend all in one. I guess she’s been everything to me,” Sookie says with a smile.
I smile back at her, knowing exactly what she means. My smile freezes on my face and my head whips to the door. There is a void outside the room, a very familiar one. In a second, I have the door to my suite open and there stands my maker, my beloved Godric. He is wearing dark grey pants with a light grey sweater. His skin is pale, far paler than is healthy for a vampire, and it makes the blue ink of his tattoo stand out even more. But his eyes are alight with joy and his lips move in a wide grin when he takes in my appearance.
I drop to my knees, bowing my head respectfully. Long ago, Godric told me that I am not to call him master. He said that if I am to be a vampire that is feared and respected in our world that I am to be subservient to no one. I am to be respectful, but no one is my master; I am not controlled by anyone. I understood Godric’s rationale, but to me, he will always be my master. It is a sign of respect that I willingly call him that. Godric has never and will never abuse his power over me. It is for that reason that I have never requested to be free of my maker.
“Godric,” I whisper reverently.
“My child,” he says softly but his tone is full of joy. His hands cup my cheeks, lifting my face so that he can see my eyes. “Rise Eric, you do not need to bow to me.”
Once I am on my feet, Godric peeks around my frame. When I turn my head to look behind me, I see that Sookie has risen to her feet. When she sees Godric looking at her, she curtsies adorably while bowing her head slightly. I couldn’t be more proud of her than I am in this moment.
Godric smiles warmly at her and walks to her side, clasping her hand so that she will rise up. “You must be Miss Stackhouse. I have looked forward to meeting you, though I wish it had been under better circumstances. How are you and your grandmother holding up?” Godric guides Sookie back to the couch, making sure she is settled comfortably before he takes a chair opposite her. I make a move to join them but a knock at the door stops me. There is a human on the other side of the door, one I am neither expecting nor familiar with. My fangs snap down as I prepare to defend two of the most important beings to me; however Godric hurries to reassure me.
“The person on the other side of the door does not mean us harm Eric. It is my informant inside the Fellowship of the Sun. I arranged for us to meet here. He is dressed as a bellboy so no one would recognize him.”
Retracting my fangs, I look through the peephole to verify Godric’s words. There is a man in his mid-twenties standing on the other side, dressed as an employee of the hotel. Satisfied, I open the door.
“Good evening Mr. Northman, my name is Barry,” an affable yet courteous man says on the other side of the threshold. I gesture for him to enter the suite and close the door behind him.
Sookie’s gasp has me whirling around. She’s sitting on the couch, staring with open-mouthed fascination. Barry in turn is staring at her in the same way. This silent staring competition lasts for several moments. I look at Godric with worry, but he gestures for me to wait, knowing that everything will be alright. It’s not the silence that worries me; it is the feelings coming from Sookie through our blood tie. Wonder, amazement, and excitement are her primary emotions, but there is one that is building prominence inside her. It is a feeling that only began when she got a good look at Barry.
I do not like it at all.