Darkness is the first thing I remember. I have no idea where I am; how I got here. Wherever I am, it is completely dark. There is no way for me to tell what time of day it is. Despite the blackness that surrounds me, I can see perfectly well.
How is that possible?
The room I am in is barren save for the bed I am lying on. How did I end up in a bed? The last thing I remember . . .
I gasp in shock. The bomb! The last thing I remember is that member of the Fellowship of the Son, Luke MacDonald, walking into Godric’s home saying he had a message from Reverend Steve Newlin. Luke had been a one-man kamikaze attack on the vampires of Dallas; he’d strapped a bomb to his body along with wooden stakes, silver, and anything else that would inflict damage on vampires. I remember the second before his thumb had pressed down on the detonator. My breath had caught in my chest, as if the religious zealot had sucked all the air out of the room. Time had stood still for both humans and vampires alike in the second before the explosion. But once his thumb had pressed down on the tiny red button there were only two things that stood out in my mind: the intense heat and the deafening roar of the blast.
I never knew something could be that hot. It felt like I was inside Dante’s inferno or the inside of an erupting volcano. The heat singed my clothes and burned my skin; I felt like I was melting. Suddenly I had a greater appreciation for every piece of meat I’d ever smelled cooking on a grill. If I could go back in time, I would apologize to all the animals I’d consumed in my life. I know they were dead when we cooked ‘em and couldn’t feel anything, but I still felt the need to atone because being inside that house, I knew exactly what it felt like to be ‘on the barbie’ so to speak.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to tan, but I didn’t want to sizzle like a piece of bacon in the frying pan!
I couldn’t hear anything over the noise from the explosion. There was nothing I could even begin to compare that sound to; it was stronger than anything I’d ever experienced and left me with nothing but a ringing in my ears.
Did you ever watch the movie Backdraft? That movie was a personal obsession of Jason’s for years. He wanted to be a firefighter so bad because of that movie. He thought it would be the greatest thing in the world to be a fireman: it was a sure-fire (pardon the pun) way to get chicks and he’d be a hero. If the football thing hadn’t worked out, Jason was all set to be a firefighter, that is until he learned you had to go to school for it. That took the wind outta his sails; Jason only passed high school because of his football skills. There was no way he’d be able to charm his way through the fire academy. Anyway, the reason I bring it up is because watching the explosion was like watching one of the fires in that movie. In a split second, everything was engulfed in flames; red, orange, and yellow flames dancing along every surface they could find. But when there was nothing left for the fire to consume, it rolled back on itself, like it was sucking in its breath. It was looking for something to sustain to, something to keep it going, but there was nothing else for it to consume, nothing to feed its savage appetite.
After the blast itself, I don’t remember much of anything other than a few flashes that don’t make any sense. I was lying on the ground, immobile, with Eric hovering over me. There were tears in his eyes. Had something happened to Godric? Then there was the sensation of being weightless, as if I was floating through the air. I’d never felt like that before; I kinda liked it. It felt like I didn’t have a care in the world. It was a nice feeling given how I’d been feeling overwhelmed for weeks.
But then there was one sensation I could have done without.
Endless, burning, excruciating pain that tore at my very soul. It was all-consuming and I wanted to cry out but found I could not. As fast and as hard as it hit me, it was gone; swept away by whispered words and a soothing, cool touch. I couldn’t understand the words, nor could I tell who was caring for me, but I felt safe and cherished.
Then there was nothingness until I woke up here. Except I still don’t know where here is.
I finally become aware of something other than my preoccupation with my surroundings. I am not injured, I am naked, and I am not alone. I know it is not a human that is lying in this bed with me. It makes me smile thinking Bill is lying next to me, that somehow he got me out of the burning rubble of Godric’s home and took care of me. When I look down at myself, there isn’t a scratch on me. Bill must have given me his blood to heal me. I smile and frown when I think about that. I’m grateful that he took care of me, because I wouldn’t have wanted to deal with the pain that would have come from being a burn victim. If the flashes I had while in the swirly, inky blackness were any indication, that’s something I was better off not having felt. But I don’t like the idea that he’s always giving me his blood to fix me. In the few weeks I’ve known Bill, I’ve had more near-death experiences than most people have in their lifetimes. Maybe those religious nuts have a point; maybe I’m not living my life the right way. I don’t necessarily think it’s because I’m involved with a vampire; you can’t help who you love. But something in my life needs to change. I can’t keep going through all these near-death experiences. Eventually one of them is going to catch up with me.
It must be after dark, because I feel the vampire mind beside me buzz back to life just as I feel his finger begin tracing the contours of my shoulder and down my spine. His touch is feather light and makes me shiver. With a smile, I roll over so that I’m facing my vampire.
I gasp in outrage and grab the sheet so that it is completely covering me.
“ERIC?!?!?!?!?! What the hell? What am I doing here? Why are you here? Where’s Bill?”
Eric Northman, the bane of my existence, is lying on his side completely nude. His long frame curled in such a way that it looks like we were spooning, though my eyes refuse to look any further south than his chest. He looks far more relaxed than I have ever seen him. Usually his expression is guarded, only showing me the cold hard mask of the Sheriff of Area Five. But today he’s an open book. His emotions flash so clearly across his face that I can easily discern what he’s feeling. There’s happiness and relief, which I don’t understand. When I mentioned Bill, I could easily tell he was annoyed and angry. But under it all there is a sense of reluctance; guilt even.
He sure as hell better be feeling guilty! There’s no way on God’s green earth I’d willingly lie in bed – NAKED – with Eric Northman.
Yes you would!
Shut up subconscious! This is not the time for you to be sneaking into this conversation.
Well then stop lying to yourself. You know it’s a sin to lie. And the only sinning we should be doing in this bed involves HIS body.
Oh my God! My inner voice is a slut! She needs to keep her trap shut!
“I’m waiting for answers,” I snap furiously. It’s hard to keep up one’s indignant stance when there is nothing more than a cream-colored sheet separating your naked body from that of a living sex god.
“I neither know nor care where Bill Compton is,” Eric snarls furiously. “If – when – I see him again it will mean his True Death.”
“Eric, you can’t mean that!” I know they don’t get along, but Eric can’t kill Bill. I love Bill!
Are you sure about that?
Yes, I’m – wait. Why would my inner voice be questioning my feelings for Bill, especially if she’s all about honesty? When I stop and really think about how I feel for Bill, there’s nothing there. Well, nothing deep anyway. The fascination over having met a vampire is definitely gone and there are certainly no feelings of love inside me. Hell, there aren’t even any feelings of affection. How is this possible? You can’t suddenly love a person one minute and then fall out of love with them the next!
Rather than answer me, Eric has been silently watching me as I debate with myself. He’s watching me as if I am the most interesting thing in the world. He lifts his hand slowly and I watch warily as his hand moves towards me. I watch him warily as I wait to see where his hand will fall. There’s no point in my trying to avoid his touch; he’s a thousand times stronger than me so it’s not like I could fight him off. And despite knowing how much he wants me, Eric has never forced himself on me. Yes, he’s pushed the boundaries, but he’s never made me feel as if I didn’t have a choice when it came to accepting his advances.
That is until I found myself lying naked in bed with him. How he got me to agree to that, I’ll never know!
“Tell me what you remember about the bombing.” His voice is as gentle as his touch on my face. Those strong fingers of his are barely touching my skin; it reminds me of being a little girl and giving my daddy butterfly kisses. It’s soothing and arousing at the same time. Without thinking, I turn my head so that my check is pushing into the palm of his hand. I want to feel more; I need to feel his skin on mine.
“I remember the bomber and then the bomb going off, but I don’t really remember anything after that. What happened? Is everyone alright? Where’s Godric? My brother?” Panic begins to set in as I realize I don’t know what happened to anyone else that was in the house. All I know is that Eric and I are OK.
“Your brother is well; he was protected by the brick wall that held the fireplace. Godric also did not suffer any injuries. Several vampires that night met their True Death, including Stan.” Eric is speaking in a monotone, relaying facts but not really telling me the whole story.
“What are you keepin’ from me?”
Eric sighs, an odd expression coming from him. It’s a sign of indecision, and it makes him seem almost human. “You were too close to the bomb. I tried to get to you, shield your body from the blast with mine, but I was too late,” he whispers brokenly as his thumb caresses my lower lip. A red tear rises to the surface in the corner of his eye and begins streaking down his handsome face.
“I tried to save you . . . tried to heal you, but I couldn’t. You were too injured. There was only one thing I could do . . . I couldn’t let you go,” he whispers feverishly.
My eyes have widened while I’ve listened to his tale. I don’t understand. What does Eric mean he couldn’t save me? I’m lying right here in bed with him, having a normal (somewhat) conversation. I’m all healed up, so I don’t understand what he’s talking about.
As if seeing my confusion, Eric lowers his hand from my face, pressing his fingers against the skin covering my heart. “The bombing was three nights ago. Godric and I brought you here to keep you safe.”
Three nights ago? Was I in a coma? Is that why I haven’t woken up before now?
“Your injuries were too great. Godric and I both used our blood to try to heal you; we even called Ludwig. I had to make a choice.”
“No,” I whisper in horror as I finally begin to process everything Eric isn’t saying. It’s not possible.
“You are a vampire Sookie.”