Eric rose the next evening feeling as frustrated and hurt as when he had finally succumbed to his daytime rest. He had read as much of the first journal as he could, though he was careful to make sure none of the blood from the bleeds tarnished the pages. Part of him felt as if he was intruding on Sookie’s privacy, but she had obviously wanted him and him alone to find these items. For the first time in all these years, Eric felt as if he finally understood the mystery that was Sookie Stackhouse. She’d left nothing untouched in her writing. The entries after the first one dealt with the feelings she felt over Bill Compton’s True Death, a mixture of guilt, freedom, sorrow, and relief. Eric could understand the guilt and sorrow, but it was the freedom and relief that shocked him. In her own words, Sookie had come to realize that her sick carousel cycle with Bill would never end as long as one of them still existed. For as much as they tried to stay apart, they were inexplicably drawn to one another. Sookie had theorized it was because of the nostalgia she held for him because he had been her first everything. In her looping scrawl, Sookie had written wistfully that most women moved away or grew apart from their first love, but she never got that with Bill. Something always forced the two of them into close proximity with each other and it inevitably led to a rekindling of the feelings between them. Sookie had even written that although she was with Alcide, she’d felt a stirring to be with Bill while they had searched for the Hep V vamps. Sookie equated it to alcoholism, an addiction that she constantly fought against but kept relapsing despite her better judgment.
In addition to her musings about Bill, Sookie addressed the history of our own relationship. It was eye-opening to read her take on things. She had seemed to fixate on the wrong parts of our conversations when the situations were occurring in real-time, but with distance and perspective she had a whole new idea about how things had played out between us. Sookie still referred to me as a high-handed, smug, sarcastic ass but at least I read it as an endearment and not a condemnation.
As Eric reviewed his email and listened to his voice mail messages, his mind drifted back to the night he first saw Sookie Stackhouse. If there was only one word he could use to describe Sookie that night it would be fresh. She was a breath of fresh air in what had become a stale existence. Eric remembered she had likened Fangtasia to a ride at Disneyland. Eric had scoffed at her naïvety. How could anyone view the world with that much innocence? But her scent, blood, and manner were all refreshing; they were nothing like the chemically altered, emaciated rubbish that Eric was used to at Fangtasia. Discovering that she was telepathic was an added bonus as far as Eric was concerned. He wanted Sookie because she represented a fresh start in his otherwise boring existence.
Sookie and Eric never had the opportunity to simply get to know one another. Why had he listened to Pam when she reminded him that Sookie claimed to be Bill’s? Eric could smell that she had been an innocent, so he knew that declaration had been false. He had allowed Pam to influence his initial behavior when it came to Sookie. Pam had said it would make him seem over eager if he sought Sookie out, so he had waited until he had need of her telepathic abilities. It had enraged him to find that her innocence was gone. Eric had been prepared to sweep Sookie off her feet that night, to show her that he was the vampire meant for her. He had allowed his feelings of anger to mar his interactions with Sookie that night, making him try to frighten her into submission. Instead, she had held her ground, showing him the fire and spirit that bewitched him. Eric had suspected Long Shadow of the theft before Sookie had even read any of the humans on his payroll, but seeing him attack the woman he wanted had him nearly going into berserker mode. Having Bill stake Long Shadow had been a blessing and a curse; it was a blessing because he knew Bill would be punished by the magister and the punishment would be severe; it was a curse because it made Bill seem the hero to Sookie. Seeing her covered in the blood of his enemy had Eric fighting his every instinct not to lick her clean while fucking her for the rest of the night.
The closest Eric and Sookie had to a normal relationship was when he was without his memories, but even then they had to deal with a multitude of threats. Who knows where they would be today had they ever been given the time to get to know each other, to grow as a couple?? How different their worlds might have been? It saddens Eric to realize that all of this could have been avoided if two stubborn brigs had put aside their pride for a moment and said what they were really feeling, asked questions instead of making assumptions. Eric brushes his thumb across the picture of Sookie he kept in his hand while he rested for the day, vowing to never again let there be a lack of communication between them.
A new email from Vivienne arrives letting Eric know that Thalia and Freyda will be arriving in Shreveport by midnight. Thalia is a skilled warrior that was turned during the days of the Roman Empire. She had been a close ally of Godric’s having known him nearly all of his vampire existence. Thalia had helped Godric to end his own maker, a brutal vampire that used to torture and abuse Godric for sport. However, Thalia had been the one to tell Eric that tidbit, not his maker. The only thing Godric had ever told Eric about his maker is that he would never make him suffer the way his maker had. Eric had always felt indebted to Thalia for helping his maker, and has often aided her when she needed it.
A few decades after Godric had turned Eric, they were joined by Thalia. The three vampires fucked and fed their way through Europe. It was in Scandinavia that Thalia felt the pull to make Freyda, a beautiful brunette that we found in a fishing village near the sea. Freyda was living alone in her hut, having no husband or children to care for. Thalia watched her for several nights, her fascination with the beautiful woman only growing. It completely surprised Thalia when Freyda approached her one night. Freyda said she had felt someone watching her; she wanted to know what Thalia’s purpose was. Thalia had been honest with Freyda; she wanted her to be her companion in death as Godric had wanted Eric to be his companion. Even though Godric and Eric included Thalia in everything, she yearned for the closeness and bond that existed between Eric and Godric. Freyda had not been afraid of Thalia; in fact, Freyda had welcomed Thalia’s presence in her life. Freyda admitted she had waited for death to take her; she had lost her father and brothers when they had gone to sea and never returned. After Freyda had been turned, the four of us had cut the path through Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa. It was only when Godric had turned Nora that Freyda and Thalia had gone their own way for good. Eric had seen the two vampires throughout the centuries, enjoying their attentions when the opportunity arose. It was during Sookie’s year in the Fae realm that Eric had last seen Thalia and Freyda. He had contacted them to tell them of Godric meeting the sun. In all his centuries on this Earth, it was the first time Eric had seen Thalia cry.
With his maker and sister gone, Thalia and Freyda were the only two vampires left that Eric trusted completely. Pam has proven that he can trust her no longer and Willa… Eric knew that trust would have to be earned by both for that relationship to grow. However, Eric trusted that Willa would do anything and everything to protect Sookie and her son. It saddens him that his youngest child is the one he will rely on in the coming days and not the one that has been with him for over a century. It is with these thoughts in his mind that Eric leaves his safe house to make his way to Fangtasia. It is time to deal with Pam once and for all.
When Eric arrives at Fangtasia, the only person there is Ginger, the ever loyal bar manager. Ginger preens as always when she sees Eric, hoping for a repeat performance of the best sex she’s ever had; sadly that thirty-second ride on the throne has never happened again. However it does not stop Ginger from hoping that one day Eric Northman will favor her with his sexual prowess again.
“Good evening Master,” Ginger says reverently as Eric walks towards her.
Eric fights the urge to roll his eyes. The humane thing to do would be to glamour Ginger to forget her association with vampires, letting her resume her life before she had fallen into the trap of becoming a fangbanger. However, Eric fears the amount of glamour that would need would make her an invalid. Eric looks around the room unnecessarily; his instincts have already told him no other vampires are on the premises. “Ginger, where is Pam?”
“I don’t know. She left me a message sayin’ to open the bar, that she wouldn’t be in tonight,” Ginger says in her simple way.
Eric seethes in anger and whips out his cell phone. He dials Pam’s number but the call goes directly to voice mail. His anger increases by the second as he waits for the infuriating beep. Speaking in a clipped voice, Eric leaves her a message in his native language. “Do you really think you can avoid me Pamela? You cannot run from me; I will always be able to find you. By avoiding me, you are only making this worse for yourself.” Eric ends the call, once again fighting the urge to crush the tiny piece of technology in his hand.
Ginger looks worriedly at Eric. “Everythin’ OK?”
“No Ginger, everything is not OK,” he says with a growl.
Eric closes the bar to the public, but keeps all of his staff working that night. He glamours each and every one of them to tell him everything they know about Pam’s plan to keep Sookie and him apart. It is as he thought; the entire staff has been glamoured to keep Sookie or anyone from Bon Temps for that matter, out of Fangtasia. Eric also learns that there is a list of phone numbers containing the home, cell, and business phones for Sookie and her friends in Bon Temps. If any of those numbers called Fangtasia, they were to be routed to Pam if she was on the premises. If not, then they were to hang up on the caller. And all correspondence was given to Pam; if there was a Bon Temps return address, Ginger automatically marked the item as ‘return to sender’.
Eric is disgusted to realize how easy it had been for Pam to keep Sookie away from him. Correspondence and phone calls are things he never handled directly because he thought himself above such mundane tasks. And he would have never known if she had physically shown up on the premises; their fledgling blood bond had died out long ago. Nor had he ever caught a faint trace of Sookie’s delicious scent. If he had, he would have immediately sought her out. Eric had been a fool; through his indifference, he had been an accomplice in keeping Sookie away from him.
After learning everything he can from the humans, Eric sends them all home. There is nothing more to be learned from them tonight. Ginger in her usual desperate way lets Eric know that she is available for anything he may need, but Eric simply ignores her. He is lost in a sea of recriminations and castigation. He sits brooding on his throne as he contemplated everything he had learned in the last two nights. Eric is no closer to finding Sookie then when all of this started; he doesn’t even know where to begin to look. In his thousand plus years of existence, he has made many enemies. There was no way to avoid that. But who would know to attack him by using Sookie? How could they have possibly known she meant something to him? There has been ten years of silence between them. Who could have known of their history? All of the enemies that he and Sookie had faced together were dead: the Fellowship, Russell Edgington, Sophie-Anne, The Authority, Governor Burrell, Warlow, even Bill Compton were no more.
Eric pulls his phone out of his pocket, hurriedly composes an email before dialing Vivienne again. “Vivienne, I need you to look into something for me,” Eric says hurriedly once the connection is established. “I have sent you a list of names and organizations that Sookie and I battled together. Check to see if there are any surviving members that would have a vendetta against me specifically. The mystery caller said Sookie was there at the beginning of whatever set these current events in motion. That has to narrow down our search.”
“Yes Oncle,” Vivienne says obediently. “I have had everyone going through our systems; we have found nothing to indicate we have been breached. We will continue to look. I will have answers for you on the other matter as soon as possible. I thought you would find it interesting that a charge was recently declined on your black AMEX. It seems Pam was trying to book a flight to Europe.”
Eric’s anger increases as he realizes his errant progeny is indeed running. Before Eric can respond Vivienne continues quietly. “Rather than listen to her screaming and threatening me through the phone, I sent her an email letting her know the decision to revoke her access from all accounts and systems was by your authority. Once she read the email, I deleted her access to the email server as well,” Vivienne says with a smirk. Vivienne has never been a fan of Pam. Like her maker, Vivienne thought Eric’s eldest progeny was a spoiled, willful bitch that needed a reality check. Vivienne’s disgust with Pam has only grown in the last decade. Pam has insulated Eric to the point that no one could get to him without going through her. And Eric through his indifference and growing sense of disillusionment had let her. As fucked up as it sounds, Vivienne is thankful that someone abducted Sookie. It has reanimated Eric, given him a purpose; he is the vampire that Vivienne remembered before the loss of Godric, Nora, and even Sookie, had shattered his psyche.
“I want her brought to me. Deploy everyone if you must, but I want Pam before me by sunset tomorrow!” Eric paces Fangtasia’s floor in agitation; he has more important things to worry about than tracking down Pamela.
“I do not think it will take that long Oncle,” Vivienne says confidently. “I am tracking her whereabouts using her phone. It seems she is moving closer to your location. If there is nothing else Oncle, I will be going. There is much to be done and little time to do it.” Eric lowers the phone when the call with Vivienne ends. He continues to pace as his frustration mounts. Pamela as his progeny is supposed to be the one vampire he can rely on for everything. As her maker, Eric should have never needed to question her loyalty. But if Eric is completely honest with himself, Pamela has always been the puppet master in their relationship, even when she was human. Pam had forced his hand, slicing the arteries in her arms so he was forced to either turn her or let her bleed out. Eric had not been drawn to her as Godric had been drawn to him; Eric had not been drawn to Willa either. There has only been one human in his thousand years that he has felt the pull to be a maker with, but he lost that opportunity when he chose Pam over Sylvie in France. Pam had known that Eric was enthralled with Sylvie; she could feel all of his emotions in their bond. She must have known that he was contemplating turning Sylvie when she finished university. Is it possible that she orchestrated everything with Nan Flanagan, The Authority, and the Yakuza? Now that Eric finds himself in a similar situation again, he has to question why The Authority cared so much about his behavior in France. His vampire sister had been a Chancellor in The Authority; she would have warned him if he was on their radar. But he had heard nothing from Nora, and he had certainly heard nothing from Godric. In truth, what he had done with Sylvie was far less than what other vampires had done with their pets. Why was an example made of him? It doesn’t add up. And then when you factor in Pam’s behavior over the years towards Sookie . . . Eric is only now realizing how Pam has been sabotaging his happiness for nearly the last thirty years, if not longer.
Eric’s phone rings and he quickly accepts the call when seeing it is Willa’s number. “Willa is everything alright?”
“Yeah. Um, is everything OK there? Have you learned anything new?”
“No, but I think I have a few leads. Has Jason been able to get in contact with Niall?” Eric’s experience with fairies has not been favorable, but he is willing to accept help from anyone if it means that they will find Sookie.
“No, Jason’s flight didn’t get here until almost midnight. He kept getting hung up with delays around the country. He said he’s repeatedly left messages for Niall, but he’s gotten no response. Do you think something could have happened to him?”
“I do not know. What little I know of the Fae means they can travel between different realms easily. Time moves differently in other realms; a few minutes there can be years here, a minute here can be eons there. It depends on where he is.”
Silence stretches between the two of them and Eric can hear hushed whispering on the other end of the line. Willa comes back on the line and her voice is strained. “Would you mind speaking to Sookie’s son? He hasn’t been sleeping well and he knew I was speaking to you. I think speaking to you will make him feel better.”
“Of course,” Eric answers simply. He does not know how he will be able to make a small child feel better, but he will do anything he can for Sookie’s son.
“Did you find Momma yet?” The small child’s voice quivers slightly as he asks his question.
“I have not,” Eric says quietly. “I need you to be strong min modig son (my brave son). I am doing everything I can to find your mother so she can come home to us,” Eric vows fervently.
“Do you love Momma?”
“Then why haven’t you been with her?” Out of the mouths of babes . . .
“Because I was foolish. But I swear I will make it up to her. Will you let me?” Eric holds a breath unnecessarily. As a human, Eric had never asked permission to court a woman or to even wed one. It is a humbling experience to know that he, a thousand-year old vampire, is seeking permission to court his mother from someone who cannot tie his shoes. However, if this small child does not wish for him to be with Sookie, then Eric has a sinking feeling that Sookie will do as her child wishes.
“You bring Momma back, then we’ll talk.” The call ends and Eric is left chuckling ruefully. That little boy definitely has his mother’s spirit.
The outside door to Fangtasia opens and Eric whips his head around to see who dares to walk in. A genuine smile splits Eric’s mouth as Thalia walks in with her beloved katana strapped to her back. Eric remembers that Emperor Kogon of Japan gave the katana to Thalia in appreciation for her aid in seeing him succeed to the throne of the unified Northern and Southern courts during the Muromachi period. That katana has been with Thalia through every major battle she has fought for nearly eight hundred years. Seeing it attached to her back is reassuring to Eric; he needs her cool demeanor now more than ever. It goes without saying he wishes Godric were here; his maker would give him wise council as well as a savage warrior when the shit hit the fan.
“Geia palió fílo,” Thalia greets Eric in her native tongue.
“Hello to you too my old friend,” Eric greets her with all the respect that he would show his maker. He drops to his knees in a sign of respect and lowers his head.
“Stand up Eric,” Thalia commands quietly. “You bow to no one Viking, not even me.” Eric rises slowly to his feet, stretching to his full height. “That is better,” Thalia says with satisfaction. She walks around the bar with a look of contempt on her face. “This is where you have held court for the last fifteen years? I thought the video store was the most depressing thing I had ever seen, but this,” she says as her eyes land on the throne. “How the fuck is it you haven’t put a stake through your heart?”
“I’ve thought about it a time or two,” Eric admits honestly. Thalia stares at him with unblinking eyes. What vampire hasn’t thought about ending their existence? Immortality can wear you down after a while. “Where is Freyda?”
“She’ll be along momentarily. She’s dealing with the luggage,” Thalia answers nonchalantly. Eric raises an eyebrow in question. Other than the katana, Thalia has never traveled with any kind of baggage before. She doesn’t like to be weighted down.
The door to Fangtasia opens again and Freyda walks in dragging something behind her. Eric cannot see what is behind her from his current position, but he knows it is something wrapped in silver; he smells the metal in the air and sees the gloves Freyda wears to cover her hands. Freyda walks purposefully to the middle of the dance floor, dragging her bundle behind her. Freyda drops the heavy chains and strides forward to greet him.
“Hello Eric. Look what I found lurking around the airport,” Freyda says gleefully.
Wrapped in heavy silver chains, with a silver gag in her mouth, is Eric’s wayward progeny, Pamela.