Immortality is a strange thing. There have been periods of my existence where hundreds of years have passed in the blink of an eye, and there have been times when seconds feel like an eternity. The last few years of my existence have been some of the most chaotic I have ever experienced. It all started with a girl in a white dress with small red flowers walking into my bar . . .
I am standing on the balcony of my apartment in Paris, watching the City of Lights in all its glory. I have been here for the last month with my progeny, Pamela. I brought Pam here as my way of saying thanks. And she has certainly been enjoying my gratitude; my black American Express card is nearly at its limit. She has visited every fashion house this side of the Seine. To be honest, I am surprised there is anything left to buy. But I will not cut her off; after everything I had put her through these past few months, she deserves to have anything she wants. At least one of us should have what we want.
Sighing, I turn my back on the city and walk into the apartment. No matter how much distance I put between us, I still find myself thinking of Sookie. She would enjoy Paris; its rich history, gourmet food, and beautiful scenery would enchant her. And I would enjoy showing her everything as well as regaling her with my adventures in the city throughout the ages. Paris has always been one of my favorite cities in the world. The only reason I left Paris in the first place was because of that prick Bonaparte where I fled France for the United States. The vast openness of the country called to me. I traveled across the United States for several decades before finally settling in Louisiana. As I move through my apartment, I once again think of how I came to be back in Paris.
When I left Louisiana, I was lost… I felt as if I had nothing left to live for; my maker and sister were gone… The woman I loved had turned her back on me… I had released one progeny, and created another as a political move. I needed to regroup; I needed solitude; I needed to find myself.
And that is why I returned to Sweden. I returned to my homeland, something I had not done in several centuries. I had just crossed into Sweden from Norway, when I decided to stop in Åre, a town nestled in the mountains. I owned one of the ski resorts, and wanted to spend some time enjoying the snow. Having lived in Louisiana for the last fifty years, I had not seen snow in a very long time. Because of Warlow’s blood, I wanted to spend as much time in the sun as possible as I did not know how long Warlow’s blood would protect me from the sun; turns out, not very long at all. I decided to enjoy the sun and the snow by sunbathing while reading Den allvarsamma leken by Hjalmar Söderberg. The themes of love and loss in the book were something that I could closely relate to. I lost track of how long I was outside; the feel of the sun on my skin was indescribable. Of course, it led me to thinking of another time in the recent past where I was able to enjoy the feel of the sun on my skin. A time when I was pretending to be Ægir, God of the Sea, and Sookie, my beautiful Sea Goddess Rán, stood on the shore watching me, protecting me. I wish I had my beautiful Sookie to protect me that day when the magic of Warlow’s blood wore off. I do not know what happened, but I do know that the burning of my flesh was unlike any other time I had been hit with the sun’s rays. Instead of a gradual burning, my body was instantly aflame.
The heat from the flames caused the snow underneath of me to melt, revealing a fissure in the snow. My body fell through the depths of the opening, landing in a burnt heap at the bottom. Thankfully, the snow had put the fire out on my skin and the fissure was deep enough that only a small pool of direct sunlight was visible. As I lay in my snowy grave, part of me prayed for the True Death. The pain was excruciating, and I found myself wondering why I was fighting to survive. I felt as if I had no more reasons to walk this Earth. If I let the sun take me, I could be with Godric and Nora again. A smile had spread across my face as I remembered the last time the three of us had been together, which ironically enough had been Paris during the early 1700s. It was the Age of Enlightenment; the arts and sciences flourished, famous philosophers such as Voltaire and Rousseau spread their ideas in the salons and cafés, the city was the center of everything fashionable, and the population was booming. For three cultured, hungry vampires, the city was perfect.
Of course, thinking of Godric and Nora brought back all the anger, sadness, and loneliness I felt. As I contemplated meeting my True Death, I felt all the energy leave my body. For the first time in over a thousand years, I longed for my existence to be no more. What reasons did I have to go on? I could think of none.
I’ve already lost too many people that I’ve cared about. I’m not gonna lose you too!
My eyes flung open, searching the shadows of the cave. Sookie’s voice taunted me with the words she spoke to me as she protected me from the witch’s curse. I could see her staring at me with love in her eyes as she fought to keep me safe. My expression softened and I closed my eyes as my mind slowly filtered through my time with Sookie, starting with that first night in Fangtasia. I had never seen anything more beautiful; she was the perfect harmony of beauty, intellect, and spirit. Was it any wonder I was instantly smitten? I latched on to any excuse to see her. I did not need her to find the thief at Fangtasia; I had already known it was Long Shadow. I could have arranged for Bill to meet me in Shreveport when it was time for his trial before the Magister, but instead I chose to go to that backwoods hole in the wall run by the shifter so I could see Sookie’s angelic face. But it was Dallas that forever altered the course of my relationship with Sookie.
I knowingly endangered her life trying to save Godric. My maker had every right to chastise me for that action; I almost lost both because of my irrational decision. In the church, I would have willingly sacrificed myself to keep Godric and Sookie safe. That action alone made Godric realize how much I cared for the petite Southern belle. At Godric’s nest, I was poised to protect Sookie from Lorena if Godric had not intervened. And when the bomb exploded, I shielded her body with my own because I could not bear the idea of anything happening to her. I knew she was mortal and my time with her would already be limited; I could not stand the idea that my time with her would be cut even shorter due to the madness of others.
Sookie may think I tricked her into taking my blood, and in a way she was right. I had tried to give her my blood after the Maenad’s attack because I did not like that she was injured and I had no knowledge of it until Bill brought her to Fangtasia. But of course, Compton would not allow that; his possessiveness of her was irrational. I knew there was something he was hiding, but I had no idea the depth of his deception. I saw her taking my blood as an opportunity to weaken the tie between her and Compton. Knowing what I did of the little spitfire, her absolute unquestioning devotion to Compton did not make sense. And it did not hurt that taking my blood would allow me to find her if she was in trouble or injured; with the way trouble seemed to always find her, logically I did not think it was a bad idea. I hated that I had to rely on the message for Compton which was given to him by the hotel employee. But of course, Sookie only saw this as a way of me trying to control her. Why did she never think that Compton was trying to control her?
After the bombing, Godric came to my hotel room. He refused to discuss the events that happened at the Fellowship of the Sun and the melancholia that surrounded him. Instead he wanted to talk about Sookie. For the first time in my existence, I feared my maker. Why was he so interested in Sookie? Godric, feeling my anxiety, smiled the first genuine smile I had seen on his face in over a hundred years. I could still hear his voice as I thought of that night.
You love her.
I tried vehemently to deny his words, but he would not listen. He instead told me that he was happy I had finally found someone who I could share everything with. My maker was right; despite the devotion I had for him, Nora, and Pam, I always held part of myself back; I was trying to insulate myself from getting hurt. Somehow, Sookie had scaled my defenses and wedged herself firmly in my mind and non-beating lifeless heart. I recall looking at him as if I were a lost child, asking him what I should do since she belonged to another. Godric had smiled softly and told me that there are some people in this world that are meant to be together. They may be kept a part for a time, but in the end, they will always find their way to each other. Godric said he had faith that Sookie and I were such a couple.
Godric’s words were the hope I clung to as I tried to navigate the minefield that was Jackson and Russell Edgington. His words were the prayer I said every night for the year she was in the Fae realm. When she finally returned, I thought my prayers had been answered. Our time together . . . no words in any of the languages I had known could adequately describe it. I thought Godric’s words had finally come to fruition since Sookie and I had started a blood bond that day in the cubby.
But she pushed me away once I regained my memories. She said she could not make a choice without feeling as if she was being torn apart. In that instant, I hated her; she turned her back on us because she was scared. The pain from Sookie’s rejection was what drove me into Nora’s arms. Nora was safe; with Nora, I knew exactly what to expect. I loved her, but I was not in love with her. It was comfortable and easy and we fucked like champions. It was the perfect balm to my damaged heart. Thinking of Nora brought me back full circle; I was alone. Why was I fighting so hard to stay in this world?
With a resigned sigh, I decided to meet my True Death. I began making my way towards the small pool of light on the cavern floor. Sookie had told me of how Godric perished in the sun. Instead of using the magic that resided within him to fight the sun, Godric had let go of his magic, causing him to burn quickly in a blue flame. I was already badly burned because it was vampire instinct to fight the burning of the sun. This time, I will not fight the sun’s power. I was almost to the pool of light when I heard Sookie’s voice again.
Sookie’s voice was frantic; despite the distance between us, I could feel her panic clearly in that instant. I felt a great pain seize me in the area where my undead heart resided. The pain was so great it pulled me into my daytime rest.
When I came to, I found myself in what looked to be a hospital bed. I tried to move, but found a silver needle in my arm. The needle was connected to a transfusion line. I noticed the skin on my arm was nearly healed. When I turned my head, I found myself staring into a pair of familiar blue eyes.
“Pam,” I said with a small smile. My beautiful progeny smiled back at me, her eyes rimmed with tears.
“I told you not to leave me,” she says as her voice breaks. She collapses into sobs, burying her face into my chest as she allows herself to let go. Pam had been tracking me since my disappearance from Louisiana. When the magic of Warlow’s blood had faded, she had been fortunate enough to be able to seek shelter in an abandoned warehouse. When she rose that night, she could no longer feel me. She frantically searched the area where she had last felt me. It took her two days, but she finally found me in my snowy cave. She had notified the King of Sweden that I was missing. Once I was found, he had arranged for me to be transferred to his compound where I received the necessary medical attention. I was unconscious for two weeks; during that time, the medical staff gave me many transfusions to help the healing of my body. As my skin healed, the doctors could not understand why I did not rise.
After I was released from the King’s medical facility, Pam and I traveled to my farm in Öland. I spent the next few weeks lost in my thoughts. I finally allowed myself to grieve for Godric and Nora. Pam would watch me from afar, with fear and worry in her eyes. Part of her thought I would still try to meet my True Death, but I assured her I would not. Slowly, I felt my zest for life return and I was able to put the past behind me. As I came back to myself, Pam and I were able to heal our relationship. At the farm, we spoke of everything; no topic was off-limits. But there was one topic Pam never asked me about: Sookie.
When I rose in the medical facility, I felt myself truly alone for the first time in my existence as a vampire. I could no longer feel the bonds with either of my progeny, and the bond with Sookie was snapped in half. It felt as if the frayed edges of my bond with Sookie were flapping in the breeze, creating a phantom pain inside me. I do not know what happened to break it, but I think that it is what caused my extended slumber. I knew Pam could no longer feel me, so I had to assume the same was true for Willa. I was selfish enough to admit I was relieved to no longer be burdened with the reminder of one of my greatest mistakes. From the little I had seen of Willa, I am certain she will make a fine vampire, but I deeply regret the circumstances that led me to turning her.
After a few months, Pam was restless. She had never liked my farm on Öland; I was surprised she had lasted as long as she did without complaint. I offered her the chance to go anywhere she wanted, and she chose Paris; I was not surprised.
My head turns as I hear Pam’s key in the door to the apartment. She comes in followed by three porters; each man’s arms filled with boxes and shopping bags. I roll my eyes; honestly, how can one person need so many shoes?
Pam tips the porters and they close the door quietly upon their departure. I turn on the television, wanting to have some sort of distraction so Pam will not make me sit through a fashion show of her new shoes. I flip through the channels until a breaking news report on CNN International grabs my attention. The story is about the widespread panic in the United States caused by the Hepatitis V virus. Hep V had not turned out as Dr. Overlark had hoped. Instead of killing vampires, it turned them into something closer to a zombie, but with the heightened senses and skills of a vampire. The spread of Hep V was contained to the United States since True Blood was only sold in that country. All European nations had closed their borders to vampires from the United States followed by Japan and China. The countries in South America, Africa, and most of Asia had never been friendly to vampires to begin with so there was no need for said closures. My eyes fixate on the images being shown on the screen; entire towns decimated by the roving vampires. Images of decaying bodies and abandoned towns flash on the screen. The newscaster says the hardest hit areas in the United States have been in the rural South. The news story closes with a video of the President of the United States declaring martial law in the South. Pam turns off the television as the newscast goes into a commercial break.
“Eric, we have to go back,” Pam says with a resigned sigh. I stare at my progeny in surprise. She raises an eyebrow as she returns my stare. “What? You and I both have progeny in that bumfuck state. As much as I hate to admit it, I worry about Tara. And I know you will hold yourself responsible if something has happened to Willa because of this virus. And then there’s Sookie,” she finishes quietly.
I open my mouth to speak, but Pam cuts me off. “Do not try to tell me you don’t think about Sookie. I may not be Tinkerbelle’s biggest fan, but I know you love her. And you do not turn your back on those you love.”
“It does not matter how I feel, she does not want me in her life. The last time I saw her, she rescinded my invitation from her home.” I close my eyes as the pain washes over me again as I think of Sookie’s rejection.
Pam moves forward, placing her hand on my arm. “Eric, if she did not care about you in kind, she would not have staked Bill to save you.” I remain silent as I let Pam’s words settle between us.
“Eric, I do not claim to understand what the fuck was going on in her mind, but I know the last morning I saw Sookie she was not in a good place. She had come from the cemetery dressed in all black; I later learned she had buried a human she had been friends with. Something in her that day seemed broken, like she had given up.” Pam squeezes my arm gently and moves away. “I’ll call the airport to arrange our flight back,” she says from the door to the office.
I move outside to stare once more at the city beneath me. As much as I hate to admit it, Pam is right. I am worried about Sookie. I need to know she is safe; I need to make sure she is taken care of. I have fought it for months, but Pam is right. I love Sookie; I will never stop. Some would say that my love is an obsession. But it is more than that . . . it is a yearning . . . a craving . . .