When I rise the following evening, I find myself alone in the bedroom. I know it is past sunset, but only by a few minutes. It is as if there is a timer inside my body, counting down the minutes between sunrise and sunset. Adjusting to a nocturnal schedule is going to take some getting used to. I’ve always been a creature of the sun. Not being able to bask in its warmth and golden rays ever again is probably the biggest regret I will ever have. Not having children is probably the second, though it is a distant second. Children were something I wanted but feared. How would I have ever been able to be a good mother if I couldn’t stand to be touched? Yet the idea of not being a mother felt as if something inside of me was incomplete. Every good Southern girl is taught from an early age to want to be a wife and mother, and I was no different. I wanted what I knew I could never have. As I got older, the idea of being a mother terrified me. By the time Bill walked through the doors of Merlotte’s the first time, I had resigned myself to the fate of a spinster with a house full of cats.
Ugh, Bill. Way to start the night off on a sour note.
With a sigh, I push the covers off my body and head to the bathroom. I laugh mirthlessly as I realize I no longer have to use the bathroom as a human would. I am surprised to see the shards of glass have been cleaned up and a new shower door hangs in place. Either Eric or Godric have been busy since rising. I must remember to thank whoever did this. My money is on Eric. Even though Godric is his maker, something tells me Eric still does not appreciate having someone in his resting chamber while dead for the day. I know I don’t like the idea of others around me while I’m vulnerable. It reminds me too much of Uncle Bartlett.
Damn! My thoughts really have a depressing tone to them tonight; first Bill, and now Bartlett. Could I be any more of a downer? I am still grateful that Eric didn’t force me to tell him about my uncle. The only ones I’d ever told were Gran and Bill, and that didn’t work out for me. I still feel responsible for Bartlett’s death, though the guilt I once felt has faded substantially. Is that a side effect of being a vampire? Does the lack of a beating heart mean I no longer feel compassion for human suffering?
Oh please! Bartlett deserved everything he got and then some! I never understood why you felt guilty when the old pervert met his fate. If he was still alive, he’d be the first person I suggest killing. That monster deserved to know what it meant to be scared of things that go boo. Though if Eric had known the truth, I’m sure he’d want that honor. He is awfully protective of us.
Protective is an understatement! Eric is . . . well he’s Eric. There is intensity about him in everything he does. Last evening I saw so many sides to him. In a short amount of time, I have come to question every assumption I had about him. There is a part of me that wants to throw myself at him, let the maker/child bond swell between us so that I consume him as I am consumed by him. This part of me wants Eric to be the center of my universe. Of course, there is the side of me rebelling against that pull, demanding I be an independent woman. The rational side of my brain is saying that Eric and I have a complicated history and jumping into bed with him isn’t going to help matters. Part of me wants to cling to that apathy and mistrust, but it is hard to do. Not because of the bond, but because it doesn’t feel right. Those feelings toward Eric were fostered by Bill. Without his blood in me, it is difficult to hold with that school of thought.
My feelings towards Eric are so confusing. It’s hard to separate what I want and what our vampire bond wants.
Maybe that’s because both parts of you want the same thing. You trust Eric; you are attracted to him. It’s a hell of a lot more than you could say about Bill before you gave yourself to him.
While I continue to argue with myself, I feel a gentle tug on the bond that connects me to Eric. The feeling gives me the urge to see him. Hurrying through the rest of getting ready for the night, I race upstairs to find Eric in the kitchen heating up blood. Once he sees me, the tugging sensation stops. My mouth waters because I can tell it is more of the AB negative I enjoyed so much last night.
“Good evening Sookie.” Eric’s voice is a deep rumble inside his chest and it makes me tingle between my legs. I feel bashful under his appreciative stare, especially given our encounter last night. Will something like that happen again tonight? Do I want it to? Or will it be something more?
“You did well,” he praises while removing the warm liquid pouches from the microwave. He clarifies his words upon seeing my confusion as I take my meal from his hands. “I used our bond to call you to me. We have a great deal to discuss this evening, and we do not have time to delay.”
After drinking the last of the rich liquid, I dispose of the empty bags and come back to stand before Eric. “Will you do that all the time?” It kinda makes me feel like a dog hearing its owner whistle. I don’t like it.
“Only when I have to,” Eric says with a chuckle, probably from feeling my displeasure in the bond. “If I am injured or in need of help, it can be useful. By the same token, I can send you caution or a warning to stay away if there is danger.”
“What if I refuse to listen?”
Eric chuckles again. “My stubborn Southern belle. Refusing to answer a maker’s call or trying to disobey a maker’s command is extremely painful. The bond is programmed in such a way that the child obeys the maker in all things.”
“Still sounds like I’m a slave,” I grumble and look down at my feet.
Eric lifts my chin with his finger. His eyes are full of fire as he snaps out, “I have no use for slaves. But if you insist on calling yourself one, I’m sure I can treat you as one!”
“Eric,” Godric admonishes softly as he appears in the kitchen with us. Eric takes a step back from me and his face becomes that blank mask again. His fury still shakes our bond.
“I’m sorry,” I say humbly. “All of this is a lot to take in. I’m not used to others controlling me. Well, at least knowing that others are controlling me.” Bitterness creeps through as I again think of everything Bill compelled me to do.
There’s a stake with his name on it!
Eric nods his head once but he is still stony towards me. Godric shakes his head ruefully, muttering something in a language I do not understand. “Shall we move to the living room? We can begin your lessons there.”
Eric walks stiffly out of the room, leaving me feeling guilty. Godric tucks my hand in the crook of his arm. “There are some that treat their progeny and pets as possessions, property if you will. That has never been the way of our bloodline. As a human, I was a slave,” Godric relates matter-of-factly.
“Shut up!” I am flabbergasted. The strongest being I have ever met was once a slave shocks me. Godric is so respectful of all creatures; it is hard to picture him being dominated by another. Even while a prisoner at the Fellowship of the Sun church, Godric seemed in complete control of the situation.
Godric says nothing as we walk to the living room and he waits for me to be seated on the couch. Eric’s eyes narrow slightly seeing how close Godric settles next to me. But I appreciate having Godric close; it comforts me, especially in the face of Eric’s aloofness.
“Well? You can’t leave it like that! What happened? How did you escape?”
“I am sorry. I thought you found the topic unsettling. Isn’t that why you told me to stop speaking?” Godric now looks perplexed. I want to smack my forehead with my hand. I’ve forgotten how literal vampires can be. Will that happen to me too? Will I lose touch with the world around me? My eyes move easily to the blond godlike creature by the fireplace. Eric seems like a chameleon. He can adapt to any situation he finds himself in. Our gazes meet and Eric gives me a smirk as his earlier anger fades away.
“Modern slang has never been Godric’s strong suit. He still thinks the terminology from the thirteenth century is modern,” Eric teases.
“I will have you know I was quite proficient in slang from the forties and fifties. Humans lost me when hippies invaded culture and words such as groovy, bippy, and primo became common. Trying to understand those drug addled people was worse than the opium dens of London,” Godric retorts in exasperation.
“I can’t even begin to understand everything y’all have seen and done,” I say in wonderment. “Will you tell me stories from your pasts? My Gran taught me to appreciate history. She said you couldn’t get where you were going if you didn’t know where you’d already been.”
Godric smiles faintly. “Your Gran sounds like a remarkable woman. I am sorry that we do not have the opportunity to meet her. Did she die recently?”
“She was killed by Drew Marshall,” I reply sadly. I still feel her loss acutely. It’s nice to know becoming a vampire didn’t make me lose that. I hate to think there will ever be a time when Gran’s loss doesn’t hurt me.
“The one that was killing fangbangers?” Eric’s voice is sharp as he stares at me. Surely he knew all this? It happened in his area.
I nod once as I feel the blood tears pooling in my eyes. “She was murdered in our kitchen. He slit her throat. There was blood everywhere,” I whisper while lost in the memory. Thank God my fangs stay in place. I couldn’t handle it if relieving the memory made me thirsty.
“I thought the killer strangled his victims.” Sensing my distress, Eric comes over to the couch where I’m seated. His hands clasp mine as he crouches in front of me.
“Gran and Tina – my cat – were stabbed, but all the others were strangled. Bill called it escalation.” The name of my first love is bitter on my lips.
“Hmmm,” is all Eric says in response. Something is spinning inside his head but I cannot tell what it is; he’s thinking in a foreign language. Well I guess that’s one way to keep his thoughts private.
“Tonight we begin your training as a vampire,” Eric tells me as a way of changing the subject. He rises back up to his impressive height and I have to tilt my head all the way back to look at him. “It is a very different thing to become a vampire in this day and age then when anyone else in our bloodline was turned. I envy you,” Eric admits quietly.
“Why?” What is there to envy about being me?
“When we were made vampire, we had to leave behind everything of the life we knew,” Godric explains. “It was necessary to keep the existence of vampires a secret. We were forced to move around constantly. The human population was not nearly as large as it is today. A human suddenly dying or disappearing was more noticeable. As we no longer age, we could not stay in one place for too long or else people would begin to question us. In the world we exist in now, vampires walk openly among the mortals. You will not be forced to leave your home, give up the friends and family you have.”
Eric had walked away during Godric’s explanation, moving to a bookshelf on the far side of the room. He returns to me with a picture frame in his hands. Eric hands me the item as he settles beside me. Our thighs are touching. My skin tingled with awareness, but I make no outward sign of acknowledgment.
Aren’t the butterflies in your stomach enough of a sign about what you want to do with Eric? What more do you want?
“These are the immediate members of our bloodline.” I can hear the affection in Eric’s voice as well as see it on his face as he looks at the picture. When I look down, I cannot help but laugh. The picture must have been taken in the twenties. The picture is of Eric and Godric with two women, one of which I recognize as Pam. The guys look like mobsters: dark pinstripe suits, menacing expressions, and fedoras. All they needed were a couple of Tommy guns. As for the women, they looked like flappers at a speakeasy.
“You look like you’re part of the mob.” I grin widely as I look up at Eric. He smirks in return.
“We were.” I gape in shock which makes Eric’s smirk more pronounced. “Who do you think taught Capone the ‘Chicago Way’? The ‘Chicago Way’ is what vampires have done for millennia. In all honesty, Capone was an overweight thug with syphilis, but he was the perfect face for our dealings in Chicago. Everyone thinks mobsters ruled the city, but it was really vampires and the two-natured fighting. The problem with Chicago in the twenties was that everyone was fighting for their slice of the pie. It was a time of great unrest in the state thanks to the assassination of the King of Illinois by one of the local Were packs. Rivals were fighting for the throne, as well as the Weres, and the battleground was Chicago. The mob was a perfect cover story to hide all the mayhem. A lot of blood was spilled on both sides, and it didn’t end until The Authority stepped in.”
My mouth hangs open. Gran would say I was catching flies, but I can’t believe what Eric just told me. Vampires were behind the mob? How many other events in history were really to cover up vampire activity? And what’s a Were?
Eric points at the brunette in the picture. “That is my vampire sister Nora; she is over four hundred years old. Godric turned her during the sixteen hundreds during the Restoration under Charles II. She is now a member of The Authority, though our relationship to her is not common knowledge,” Eric cautions.
“Why? What’s The Authority?”
“Lilla en, The Authority is the governing body of vampires in the Western Hemisphere. It is the equivalent of the Supernatural Council in Eurasia. All of the monarchs report to The Authority, but each monarchy has their own infrastructure. Most monarchs in the United States run like Texas and Louisiana. There are sheriffs responsible for overseeing a designated area; they enforce the rules and collect taxes. The sheriffs, in turn, report to the monarch,” Godric explains.
My head drops into my hands as I try to process all of this. I feel a bit overwhelmed. “That’s an awful lot of information you’ve thrown at me. Am I expected to know all of this right away?”
Eric nods his head. “As my progeny, you will be held to a higher standard than most vampires. I am the Sheriff of Area Five in Louisiana; I report to Sophie-Anne who has been queen of the state since New Orleans was nothing more than a rat infested trading post at the delta. You will need to know proper protocol because I will have to present you to her. As one of her sheriffs, I am often required to go to the palace in New Orleans.”
“There’s a palace in New Orleans?” The idea that there is royalty, even if it is vampire, in the United States is too absurd to believe. Here we are in the country that screams equality for all, yet vampires still cling to the monarchy system.
“It’s a home in the Garden District, but Sophie-Anne insists on calling it a mansion. She has a flair for the dramatic.” Eric rolls his eyes and I can’t help but giggle.
“So you’re a sheriff?” I point at Eric and he nods. I turn to Godric. “Are you one too? I heard Stan call you that in the church.”
“I was. I gave it up the night after the bombing took place,” Godric admits.
“Do you know of Nan Flanagan?” I nod and Godric continues his explanation. “She arrived in Dallas the next evening. She has had to deal with the fallout from the bombing and the events at the Fellowship of the Sun church. She and the Newlins are plastered all over the news if you turn on the television. Ms. Flanagan believes that I am somehow to blame for the events that transpired and thus she fired me from my position.”
“She can’t do that!!! You weren’t the one to set off the bomb!” I am livid and I want to go give that woman a piece of my mind. I never liked her when I’ve seen her on TV; I thought she was cold and snobby. Definitely don’t like her now.
Godric smiles faintly and leans forward to calm me. “It is fine. I would have resigned my position even if she did not take it from me. I am partly to blame for the events that took place. I let the Fellowship take me. I thought I could show them that we can peacefully coexist; that we are not the monsters they make us out to be.”
“Did you want to meet the sun?” My eyes go to Godric’s while my hand reaches for Eric’s to comfort him. I know his maker means everything to him. This is only my second night as a vampire, but Eric is already the most important being in this existence to me. Can you imagine that feeling amplified by a thousand years of shared history?
“If sacrificing my existence would have spared any further bloodshed between our kinds and led to harmony among our species, then yes, I would have done it,” Godric admits gravely. I gasp in shock at his admission, and Eric looks positively green. I turn to try and offer some comfort to Eric, knowing that he is reeling from Godric’s admission. There is another part of me that wants to yell and rail at Godric. His final death would have done nothing to ease any of the tension between humans and vampires; it only would have exacerbated tensions on both sides.
“However the events of the last few days have taught me that giving up my existence would not have altered the course of events between us and humans. Look at what has happened in the aftermath of the bombing of my nest. Including you Sookie, eleven humans and six vampires lost their lives that night, not to mention those that were severely injured. Do you think the humans feel any remorse for taking human lives? No, Reverend and Mrs. Newlin argue that the humans that lost their lives deserved it for turning their backs on God and follow the path of Satan. The loss of lives on both sides will not be the end of this war,” Godric concludes full of sorrow and his eyes fall to the hands clasped tightly in his lap.
The tension in the room is so thick you’d need a chainsaw to cut through it. Eric is still reeling from the idea that his maker was ready to give up his existence. I wish there was a way I could comfort him, a way I could make it all better.
The only thing I can think of is to return the topic of conversation towards less troubling waters. “So this picture is everyone in our bloodline?” My thumb strokes the glass softly, caressing the picture of Eric unconsciously.
“Those of us that are still among the undead, yes.” When Eric’s gaze meets mine, he smiles slightly and sends me gratitude through the bond. He knows what I am trying to do. “Pam had turned Collin within a year of having been made a vampire herself. It had been an accident, one she was ill-equipped to handle given her infancy in this existence. Collin did not want to be a vampire and met the sun shortly after his turning. Pam has shied away from turning anyone since because of how strong the pain was when she lost her progeny.”
“Does she know you . . . that I’m . . .” My voice falters. I haven’t had many interactions with Pam, but I’ve always gotten the impression she doesn’t approve of me; that she thinks I’m beneath her.
“Yes, Pam knows you are a vampire and that you are my newest progeny. Pam says that I owe her one because she is covering my responsibilities both at Fangtasia and as sheriff. She did say to tell you that when we return to Shreveport, she wants a little sister bonding time. With Pam that usually means shopping at the expense of my bank account,” Eric finishes with a smirk.
“So you’re supporting both of us? I don’t want to be a burden.” Eric puts his finger over my lips, halting my babbling.
“Pam has money of her own, a great deal of it. I have a habit of spoiling her.” He removes his finger from my lips, and I feel a sense of loss. I had thoughts of sucking on that finger like I want to suck on something else, something far lower.
Atta girl! Now you’re catching on!
Shit! I didn’t mean to think that! Maybe I’m thirsty. That’s it; I need blood to satisfy my cravings.
And what happens when blood doesn’t satisfy the craving anymore? What happens when you need sexual release?
That’s why God gave me two hands and a pulsating shower head!
Eric is gone and back in less than a minute, handing me a container of warmed blood. He must have felt my need through the bond.
I wonder if he feels all our needs through the bond. A good maker would make sure his child is well taken care of. I’m sure Pam can tell us all about it.
Wait a minute! So that means Eric and Pam . . . Godric and Eric . . . Godric and Nora . . . I think I’m gonna be sick!
“What is it kära en? What troubles you so?” Eric brushes the hair back from my face and I shy away from his touch.
“Nothing, just thirsty.” I hurriedly gulp down the blood, hoping that will calm the turmoil inside me but it does not. I give Eric my ‘crazy Sookie’ smile when I finish the drink, knowing that it must look more insane than usual given that my teeth are stained red.
“Is there anything else I need to know about the bloodline?”
“Only that it is one of the most powerful in the world. There are very few vampires older than Eric; even fewer older than me. I know of only one in the United States that’s older than me,” Godric states. “You, lilla en, are in very good hands.”