I reanimate an hour or so before sunset. Hmm, I must be very old if I can rise while the sun is still out. Unfortunately, I am confined to this cramped space.
I hear Sookie moving around the house. She seems peaceful today. I hope she rested after her long night. I do not want to add to her burdens; she already seems to have limited means of survival.
I am again plagued with questions about my relationship to Sookie. Why does she have my blood inside her? Was she injured? Do I wish to control her? Were we lovers? Are we still? I am hopeful she will answer my questions this evening after we speak to Pam. Sookie said Pam is my progeny, but the name is unfamiliar to me. Perhaps if I see her, something will come to mind.
I hear a diesel truck come speeding up the driveway to the house. My body tenses in fear. Is it someone who has come looking for me? Will they hurt Sookie? My fangs slide out at the thought. I do not want her to be hurt because of me. She deserves so much better than what my world can off her. I know she is a good person; whom else would stop and help a damaged vampire? Who else would take a vampire to their home for safe-keeping?
I hear the sound of boots on her front porch indicating that it is a man, and then a knock at the door. The door opens before Sookie even answers it. It must be someone who she is familiar with if they can come in the house uninvited. The thought troubles me; could this be a lover? Someone she has chosen over me?
I listen intently to the conversation. Sookie and the unidentified man speak softly but I can still hear the conversation. He asks what time she got in the previous evening; good, he must care about her safety. They then begin discussing a woman the man had been with last night. A small smile of satisfaction spreads across my face; the man was not intimate with Sookie. I catch Sookie trying to explain to the man (Jason she called him) that there were things out there besides vampires. He seems stunned by the idea. The conversation ceases for a few minutes as Jason digests this news. He changes the conversation to local gossip about what happened the previous evening with people they are both acquainted with.
The sun finally sets so I climb out of my confined space. I realize Sookie is washing my clothes, and I have nothing to put on. I do not wish to embarrass her by walking around her house in my underwear. Not that it would bother me, but I feel that Sookie is a modest woman. I see a brown robe hanging on a hook by the door. I put it on to cover me; it is too short for me as it does not fully cover my arms and legs, but it is better than nothing. I hear Jason ask Sookie if there was anything she needed from town since he plans to head in that direction. She asks him to get synthetic blood and clothing for me. I walk silently down the hallway as she is describing the type of clothing she wants him to get.
Jason asks, “Anybody I know?”
“Me,” I say in a deep rumble.
Jason whips around as if expecting an attack. Jason stares agog at me and casts a shocked glance at Sookie. “This is your newest man, Sookie? You didn’t let any grass grow under your feet.” I glare at him because it sounds like he is insulting her.
Jason demands, “Well, Sook, ain’t you gonna introduce me?”
She takes a deep breath and looks between us reluctantly. I can feel her hesitation. “Better not,” she says.
Jason looks hurt that she won’t introduce us, and I am offended. Is she ashamed of me? “Eric,” I say as I stick my hand out in greeting.
Jason puts his hand in mine and we shake. “Jason Stackhouse, this rude lady’s brother,” he says gesturing his chin towards Sookie. I stay expressionless but inside I am gleeful. Her brother; she is not involved with him romantically.
Jason pulls his hand away to glare at Sookie. “I’m assuming there’s a reason why you two can’t go out to buy him more clothes.”
She nods her head. “There’s a good reason. And there’s about twenty good reasons you should forget you ever saw this guy!”
Jason turns to ask me, “Are you in danger?”
“Not yet,” I say with a shrug. In truth, I do not know the answer to that question.
“If you do something to that gets my sister hurt, you’ll be in a world of trouble,” Jason threatens.
I nod my head in understanding. “I would expect nothing less. But since you are being blunt with me, I’ll be blunt with you. I think you support her and take her into your household, so she would be better protected.”
Jason’s mouth falls open and he stares at me wide-eyed. Sookie covers her mouth with her hand in shock, but I can feel her amusement. I do not understand why this is funny to her. A man should be willing to take care of his family.
Jason reiterates the items he needs to pick up for Sookie. She also asks him to get me a pair of shoes. Jason moves next to me, and puts his foot parallel to mine. He whistles in appreciation, and I flinch.
“Big feet,” he says as he steps closer to the door. He flashes Sookie a wicked grin and asks, “Is the old saying true?” I smirk inside; damn right the old saying is true
Sookie smiles innocently at him in return, “You may not believe me, but I don’t know.” Well that’s disappointing.
Jason makes one more crude remark then bolts out the door. The engine of his truck roars to life and he speeds away into the darkness of the night. An awkward silence descends between Sookie and me.
“I’m sorry I came out while your brother was here. I didn’t realize you didn’t want me to meet him,” I say as I move to stand in front of the fire, enjoying the warmth of the flames.
“It’s not that,” Sookie rushes to say. “I just worry that you are in a heap of trouble, and I don’t want my brother to get involved.” She moves forward to touch my hand in a comforting gesture.
I clasp her hand in mine, “He is your only brother?”
“Yup. Our parents died when we were young. Our Gran raised us and she passed away last year. He’s all I have left,” she says quietly, sadness creeping through her every word.
I want to pull her in my arms to make the hurt go away. I do not think she would like that. So I say, “Do not be sad.” The sentiment sounds inadequate to my ears.
“I’m not,” she says briskly. She steps away from me and picks up a hair brush off the coffee table. She brushes her hair so vigorously that it crackles.
“You’ve had my blood.” Way to be subtle and ease it in the conversation. I want to smack myself.
Sookie freezes, her arm raised to her hair. Her eyes are wide and she looks at me in shock. I rush on, “I mean, I could tell how you were feeling. That wouldn’t be possible unless I had given you my blood. Have we…are we lovers?” Oh Gods, stop talking now!
“No,” she says quickly. I can feel the truth of her words, but there does seem to be some hesitation from her. If we haven’t had sex, maybe we have done other things. The thought gives me hope and I look at her intensely. She begins blushing.
“If this bathrobe isn’t your brother’s bathrobe, then whose is it?”
“He is your lover?” Anger begins bubbling up inside me. I don’t want her to belong to another.
“He was,” she says honestly, but there is a little sadness to her voice.
“What happened? Are Bill and I friends?” I do not think I would be friends with this Bill. If he had been with Sookie I cannot see myself being nice to him if I wanted to be with her.
“Not exactly,” she draws out. “See, you are the Sheriff of Area 5 in Louisiana. Bill is one of your subordinates.” She resumes brushing her hair, looking in the mirror over the fireplace as she does. My eyes lock with hers in the mirror and she begins to blush.
“Are you alright?” I can feel that she is attracted to me, and I shift slightly so that the robe gapes a little revealing my chest muscles. I hope she does not notice that I am flexing slightly.
“Nope, I’m good. You should get dressed. Your jeans are in the dryer, and Jason should be back soon with more clothes for you. Besides, your friends should be here shortly.”
“My friends?” The only person I would consider a friend is standing in front of me.
“Actually, I’m not sure they are your friends. I guess Pam is; you guys are pretty tight. Chow at least works for you.”
I am irritated at the fact I cannot remember anything. “At Fangtasia?”
She nods her head. “That’s where I met you. I don’t go that often. Only when you would make Bill bring me to do something for you.” Sookie smacks herself in the forehead with the palm of her hand, “I’m an idiot,” she mutters.
“Sookie, how could I make you do something for me? May I borrow the brush?” Why do I get the feeling that the other me is an asshole? This poor beautiful woman has enough burdens in her life and I add to them by demanding she does things for me. I hope I at least have paid her well. I pull the brush through my hair and feel Sookie’s eyes watching the muscles in my chest. She notices that I am watching her and she flees to her bedroom. I can feel tension and anger coming from her, as well as desire.
I vamp to her room to see her pulling her hair back from her face. “Are you OK? I can feel you are tense,” I say. She yelps in surprise and glares at me.
I hold up my hands and back away, “Sorry, sorry!” I look at her in apology. A knock comes from the front door. I can sense it is two vampires. She stomps past me to answer the door, telling me to wait in her room. I hear her greet the two vampires and invite them in her house.
Sookie calls for me to join them in the living room. I slowly move out to find a male and female vampire. I assume this is Pam and Chow. Pam is a beautiful blonde woman dressed elegantly in a fluffy cream sweater and golden-brown knit pants. Chow is a short Asian man with longish straight black hair. He is wearing black pants and a black vest; his exposed skin is covered in tattoos.
I gaze warily at the two vampires. I recognize neither one of them. I can confirm that Sookie was correct in calling Pam my progeny; I feel the bond that I have with her. I feel relief coming from my bond with her.
Pam moves forward to ask, “Eric, you are well?” She inclines her head in a deep bow towards me. Chow bows fully at the waist to acknowledge me.
I try to assert my authority in the situation, “I know you.” In truth, I know nothing other than the little that Sookie has told me.
Sookie moves to leave the room to give us privacy, but I do not want her to leave. She is the only person I feel comfortable with. I want her with me so that she can verify any information these vampires give me.
“Please don’t go,” I say to her, a slight note of panic in my voice. I want to be strong in this situation, but there are too many unknown variables. I can feel Pam’s amusement that I am using a human as a buffer against two vampires. Chow does not seem pleased that I want Sookie to stay with me.
A knock sounds at the door. Pam and Chow drop into attack positions; fangs out, hands curled into claws, and their knees bent, ready to pounce if necessary. Sookie moves to the door asking who is there. Jason’s voice responds, but he sounds angry. Sookie gestures for Pam to go back through the house and circle around to make sure Jason is alone. Pam moves silently through the house. Chow moves to stand in front of me, ready to defend me if necessary. It is good to know that I inspire loyalty in others that they would willingly defend me.
An angry bellow comes from Jason, and Pam calls out, “Open up.”
Sookie opens the door to find Jason locked in Pam’s arms. She has lifted him off of the ground and he is flailing about. All of the bags he brought are scattered on the porch. Sookie apologizes to her brother for upsetting him, but she explains that they needed to be sure he was alone. Pam sets Jason down on the ground and he turns around to give her a hard time. But the words die on his lips as he takes in Pam’s beauty. Jason tries to flirt with Pam and she just looks at him in amusement.
Sookie reaches through the door to grab the bags. She thanks her brother, but abruptly tells him to leave. Jason finally tears his eyes away from Pam to look at his sister. Jason must have also glimpsed Chow because he suddenly looks afraid.
“Sookie? Are you alright?” Jason steps in the room to be closer to his sister.
Sookie sighs in exasperation, “I’m fine, Jase. These are friends of Eric’s that have come to check on him.” She sets the bags down in the doorway leading to the kitchen.
Jason looks perplexed. “Well, they’d better go take down those missing person posters then.” Everyone in the room is shocked by this, and Jason enjoys being the center of attention. He nods his head as he continues on, “Yup. They got posters at the Grabbit Kwik, Wal-Mart, and the liquor store. I heard other people mention they been posted all over town. The posters explain that he,” Jason gestures to me, “is missing and that his friends are offering $50,000 for information about his disappearance.”
Pam hisses in anger. “Damn witches! They are hoping to trap Eric. It will work, too, because people around here are desperate for that kind of money.”
“We should take care of it.” Chow glances at Jason and readies himself to attack. Jason looks ready to fight back, but Sookie grabs hold of his arm and cautions him to stay silent. She looks at Chow angrily and says he will have to kill her too. Chow seems unmoved by her statement. Pam is expressionless, but I can tell through our bond that she is torn. Pam wants to make sure that I am protected; she knows that Sookie and Jason are both liabilities since they have seen me. On the other hand, she seems reluctant to harm Sookie. I think Pam feels affection for her.
Before the situation can escalate any further, I decide to take charge. “Explain the meaning of this, Pam.” My voice sounds full of authority, and I stand up straighter to appear imposing.
After a minute, Pam shifts her eyes to me. I can see Sookie and Jason visibly relax as if they sense the danger is at bay. Sookie leads Jason slowly over to the couch near the fireplace and they sit down. I sit down on the floor next to Sookie, so that I can protect her from the other vampires in the room. I will not allow her to be harmed because of me!
Pam sits down in a chair across from us, but Chow remains standing near her side. He still seems to be readying himself for an attack. I calculate the different ways that I will be able to defend Sookie, and by extension Jason. I feel that my odds have considerably improved when I take into account the fire poker that is within arm’s reach. At the same moment, I feel extreme satisfaction coming from Sookie. A quick glance back at her face shows that she has a slight smirk to her lips. I wonder what that is about.
Pam explains about the witches. She says that they originally approached me at Fangtasia demanding a share of my businesses. I have more than one business? Am I rich? Pam continues to explain that if they did not receive the money, they would cause problems at the club. Jason seems incredulous and asks how a bunch of girls dressed in black could be such a problem. Pam explains that what Jason is thinking about are pretenders; real witches wield immense power and can cause all kinds of problems. She says that the problems could be so extreme that Fangtasia’s revenues could plummet to the point of being worthless. Sookie and Jason both nod in understanding, and he mentions something about protection money. I will have to ask Sookie about that later.
Sookie nods her head, but seems confused. “OK, I understand everything you are saying, but that still doesn’t explain how Eric ended up on the side of the road leading to my house?” SDuring the conversation, I have shifted slightly so that my hand circles her ankle and my check rests against her thigh. I can feel the warmth radiating from her through her clothes. I want to curl myself around her so that I can feel more.
Chow takes over the explanation, “We told the witches we needed time to think about their offer. Last night though, one of the lesser witches returned with an alternate proposal. She said that their leader, Hallow, found Eric attractive. She would cut the percentage of money from 50% to 20% in exchange for Eric entertaining her for seven nights.”
Jason looks at me with newfound respect. “You must have some kind of reputation,” he says to me in awe.
I feel my chest swell with pride and I glance up at Sookie with what I hope is a smoldering stare. She looks at me as if she feels trapped; as if I am the hunter, and she is my prey. Oh my beautiful angel, you have no idea the things I want to do to you when I catch you.
“Against our advice, Eric refused the offer in very insulting terms,” Chow says in disgust. I turn to stare at him angrily. He has no right to question my decisions. I am not a slave that can be bought and sold to the highest bidder. “Pam and I were in the office with him. One minute he is sitting in his chair, the next he is gone.”
Sookie asks me, “Ring any bells, Eric?” Her hand runs through the hair on my neck, scratching my scalp slightly. I want to purr in contentment and rub against her. Her stopping pulls me from my enjoyment and I look at her puzzled. Why did she stop?
“Do you remember what happened?” Ahhh, she wants me to answer her.
“I was born the night you found me. Until you took me in, I was a void,” I tell her honestly. I am so very lucky that it was Sookie that found me. I shudder to think of what the alternatives could have been.
“There’s more to the story; it feels like you are holding something back,” Sookie says shrewdly. “I highly doubt Eric became cursed just for refusing…what did you two do?”
After a lengthy pause, Pam answers, “Chow lost his temper with the witch.” Lost his temper is the nice way of saying he killed the witch.
Chow glares at Sookie angrily, but he cannot meet my eyes. He rushes on, “It doesn’t matter how it happened.” Once this is all over, Chow will have to answer to me for his actions.
Her brother demands, “So now what?”
“It would be best if Eric were to remain hidden until we can resolve this issue,” Pam states. “Right now, they cannot find him because they cannot find any of his possessions or anyone that has his blood.”
I press closer to Sookie, trying to shield her from the world. Why is it that I seem to keep putting her in danger even unintentionally? Because she has my blood in her, she too will be wanted by these witches. I hope no one outside the two of us knows she has my blood in her.
Jason asks out of the blue, “Has he ever been to Merlotte’s?” What is Merlotte’s?
Pam shrugs her shoulders, “I have but I do not think Eric has.”
Sookie ponders the question for a few moments. “No, I don’t think so,” she finally says.
Jason nods his head in satisfaction. “Good, then no one can tie him to Sookie.” What is he getting at? He continues on, focusing on Pam. “You want him to stay hidden but safe, dont’cha? How are you going to do that?”
She looks at him with understanding in her eyes. “It would be best if he stayed in a human home. That way no other vampires can enter, and the human can watch over him during his daytime rest.”
Sookie interrupts, finally catching on to what they are discussing. She puts her hands over my ears. I put my hands over hers; I can still hear everything she says. “Pam, this is the worst idea I have ever heard! How am I supposed to keep him safe?” Sookie does not want me here? The thought crushes me.
Jason continues on as if Sookie had not spoken. “I think it’s only fair that whoever he stays with should receive some form of payment for their troubles.”
Pam nods, “Agreed. What do you propose?”
“Fifty thousand, the same amount the witches are offering.”
“Twenty-five,” Chow counters
“Thirty-five,” Pam counters.
“I’ll go get Sookie my shotgun,” Jason says as he rises to his feet. He exits the house telling Sookie he will be back soon. Pam and Chow bow towards me, nod to Sookie, and vamp out of the house. I know Sookie is not happy with how this situation has turned out, but I cannot help but feel overjoyed. I get to stay with the person that means the most to me in this existence of mine.