ERIC POV, CONTINUED
Unfortunately, I could see all of the inevitable dominoes falling.
According to Cataliades, my best and only defense against Freyda’s claim upon me was the argument that I was already bonded and pledged to another supernatural.
The demon lawyer wasn’t sure the strategy would work, given the fact that Sookie didn’t act as if we were bonded or pledged, but he assured me that he would continue to be my advocate as long as Sookie continued to be my wife.
I couldn’t help but to wonder how Cataliades would view my pledge with Sookie—if it didn’t have the power of blood to back it up.
Likely, he would discount it as quickly as de Castro and Victor would.
I closed my eyes. “My human mother tried to teach me to never want more than I could have,” I said in a whisper, not necessarily talking to the witch. “But I was a poor student then, just as I am now.”
Yes. The dominoes would fall.
And—worst of all—I would soon be without our bond: the only thing I could use to assure myself that Sookie wasn’t being brutalized by another pair of fairies.
Of course, I would soon be powerless to do anything to come to her aid even if she were in trouble anyway.
I’d be even more powerless than I’d been when Victor wrapped me in silver to keep me from going to Sookie when Neave and Lochlan had her.
Indeed, without the bond, my case against Freyda would likely be overturned immediately. And I would soon be the property of the Queen of Oklahoma for a century.
Immediately, my mind kicked into action—working through steps that might keep Sookie safe through such a scenario.
“I thought you would be angrier to hear that Sookie planned to do away with the bond,” Amelia said cautiously, interrupting my scheming.
In truth, I’d forgotten that she was in the room.
“Angry?” I asked, my voice sounding detached even to my own ears. “No—I’m grateful that you’ve warned me. Otherwise, I would have thought she’d died.”
The witch sighed. “That is one of the many things Sookie has no idea about regarding the bond. Why don’t you tell her about it?”
I frowned. “But the more she knows, the more she hates the bond.”
“That ship’s about to sail anyway,” Amelia said. “But—I’ve gotten Sookie to agree to something. And I hope that you will agree to it, too.”
“She agreed? To what?” I asked suspiciously.
Witches always made me suspicious.
“A conversation—with you. At least an hour of honest speaking. Any question she asks, you answer. Any question you ask, she answers. No matter what. Honestly.”
“Sookie would never agree to that,” I frowned.
“She already has,” Amelia said. “That’s the price she is willing to pay for me and Bob to break the bond tomorrow.”
“And what will I get? For agreeing to this conversation?” I asked bitterly.
“A chance?” Amelia offered. “I think you and Sookie are a lot alike; both of you assume too much about each other. Maybe—if you were both completely open and honest with one another?” She stopped for a moment. “Who knows what could happen?”
“There are things I cannot tell her,” I said.
“No. There are things you choose not to say,” the witch said with clear frustration. “What? Are you more loyal to de Castro and Victor than you are to Sookie? I can’t imagine any political secrets that you’d need to keep from Sookie at this point.”
I frowned at the presumptuous witch. “There are other things—personal things.”
She scoffed. “Well—if you aren’t willing to open up about personal things with Sookie and to have a real relationship with her, then maybe she’s right that the bond between you needs to be broken right away!”
I felt my fangs snapping into place.
“No!” I yelled out. In that moment, I wanted to kill the witch for threatening the bond, but I stayed my hand.
“There’s the anger I expected,” Amelia said with a smirk. She shrugged. “You and Sookie are both so worried that you’re about to be rejected that you’re afraid to fight for each other.”
“Do you know what will happen if she breaks the bond?” I asked her.
“Some things—I can only guess,” she answered soberly. “The point is that Sookie doesn’t know. However, you could tell her.”
“If I told you about all the potential fall-out for your friend, you wouldn’t be so anxious to work your spell,” I said sullenly.
“I’m not anxious to do it,” she sighed with exasperation. “That’s why I dragged Sookie here tonight.”
“Don’t do the spell!” I ordered—begged.
“I don’t want to, but—if after tonight—Sookie still wants it, I will do it,” Amelia said stubbornly.
“Sookie wants the bond gone because she thinks it’s causing her feelings for you,” Amelia said.
“I know,” I seethed. “I have told her that it could not do that, but she doesn’t trust me.”
“She doesn’t trust anyone not to leave her or to use her,” the witch returned sadly. “And she knows that you are hiding something from her—something big,” she added warningly.
“How?” I asked.
“Because—despite all of her naiveté when it comes to being in a relationship—she loves you enough to notice when you are troubled about something,” she said, her eyebrow raising knowingly. “Or maybe she’s picking up a huge dosage of your unease through the bond. Either way, she doesn’t know what’s going on, and you should be the one to tell her.”
“But I want to protect her,” I whispered.
“You can’t do that by hiding from her,” Amelia said sagely.
“But what if she keeps hiding from me?” I asked—in a moment of vulnerability I wished immediately that the witch hadn’t seen.
“An hour, Eric,” Amelia said compassionately. “You have an hour to help Sookie to trust in you. You have an hour to help her to understand about the bond and about whatever else is troubling you. She’s agreed to be completely honest and open. And I’m going to tell her that you have done the same.”
“But I haven’t agreed to that,” I frowned.
“I’m taking the fact that you haven’t killed me—despite the fact that I’m the one who knows how to break the bond—as your tacit agreement,” she grinned.
“I still could—kill you, you know,” I warned as she shut the door behind her.
She was cackling.
“He’s agreed,” Amelia said as she parked herself onto the barstool next to the one I was sitting on.
I frowned. Why was the thought of having a long conversation with Eric so daunting?
Oh—yeah. It was that I was worried about what would likely happen at the end of that conversation—worried that Eric would finally realize that I wasn’t worth the effort.
Or worried—maybe—to find out something about Eric which would make me want to end our relationship.
Reluctantly, I put down the liquid courage I’d been drinking and slipped off of the barstool.
“It’ll be okay,” Amelia said encouragingly. “And if you still want the spell, we’ll do it tomorrow.”
“We’ll be here when you’re done,” Bob added supportively. I was actually starting to like him.
“Thanks,” I said before turning to walk away. When I was halfway across the dancefloor, Amelia’s screeching voice stopped me.
And the volume of her thoughts only added to it.
“Oh—and no sex!” the bitch—I mean witch—yelled loudly. “I know how you and Eric are about having monkey sex in order to avoid dealing with your shit!”
“Amelia,” I hissed as I turned beet-red.
There weren’t many people in the club, but they were all looking at me in that moment.
My so-called friend just shrugged. “Don’t lie and tell me you weren’t considering it,” she said just as loudly.
I glared at her. Okay—maybe I had been thinking about using sex in order to avoid the talking part. But that was no reason for Amelia to yell out her suspicions—in public!
She could have just “thought” them at me!
I turned around again, and—with all the dignity I could muster (which wasn’t a lot in that moment)—I strode toward Eric’s office.
I hated that I became calmer and more and more happy as I neared the vampire.
“Could you stop doing that?!” I asked with an exasperated sigh as I entered the office and slammed the door behind me.
“Stop doing what?” he asked with a frown.
“Stop trying to calm me down, trying to make me happy!” I said with frustration. “I just want to feel how I actually feel! I don’t need you trying to control that.”
Eric shook his head. “I’m not pushing my emotions onto you, Sookie.”
“Yes. You. Are!” I returned harshly. “I’m not dumb. I can feel it!”
“You are dumb sometimes!” he growled.
I glared at him. “Don’t call me stupid!”
“I wouldn’t if you’d just think for a minute, goddammit! The bond allows you to feel my emotions. And—fucking fool that I am—I found myself comforted and happy that I was about to see you!” He paused. “You. Felt. That!”
We glared at each other for a moment.
“Despite the fucking fact that Amelia told me that you aren’t really here by choice and the fact that I can feel that you don’t want to be here!” he continued, raking his hands through his hair. He looked tired—old—in that moment. “Maybe I’m the stupid one to feel so glad that you are here,” he added wearily.
“That’s what I felt? You weren’t trying to affect my emotions?” I asked, astonishedly—ashamedly.
“No,” he said sarcastically. “I’d like for you to be glad to see me on your own for a fucking change!”
“I am glad to see you,” I sighed in defeat, even as I slumped into a chair. “I just don’t enjoy feeling like I’m being coerced into talking with you.”
“Then we won’t talk,” he said.
“Amelia said no sex,” I muttered—immediately blushing when I realized I’d vocalized my thought.
Eric chuckled. “This room is soundproof. We can do what we want.” He paused. “But I don’t like the idea of your resenting me if we speak about things you don’t wish to speak about.”
“What about you? Do you want to talk about,” I paused, “us?”
He sighed. It was an odd sound to accept coming from a vampire, especially from Eric—but I’d heard it more and more from him lately.
“If I can convince you to stay bonded with me, I will do whatever it takes,” he responded evenly. “Even talk.”
“What if I convince you that getting rid of the bond would be the best for the both of us?” I asked.
“You won’t,” he returned. “But based on what your witch friend told me, she’s planning to help you to eliminate the bond—whether I approve or not—if you still want to do it after our talk.”
Again he sighed.
“You look tired. Sad,” I said with concern.
“I am—both,” he admitted.
“I don’t want to hurt you, Eric,” I said with a sigh of my own. “I just want to know that my feelings are my own.”
“They are,” he said confidently.
“How do you know?” I asked. “And, more importantly, how can I know? You told me yourself that you’d never had a bond like ours. How do you even know that your feelings for me . . . .”
“My love for you,” he interrupted.
I gasped. “How do you even know that love’s real and not just a byproduct of the bond—or the result of the spell that had you acting so unlike yourself that I have a difficult time thinking of you and that other Eric as the same person?”
“You think I am so different from the man who stayed in your home?” he asked.
“I know it,” I responded.
Again, he sighed. “You are wrong, Sookie. That other Eric—’your’ Eric, as I’ve heard you call him—is a part of me. He just had no memories or experiences to make him guarded. He had no fears beyond the immediate troubles he’d found himself in—until he loved you, that is. In fact, the only fear that truly threated to gut him was losing you.” He looked down at his hands. “He and I share that fear.”
“Eric,” I said with a frown. “You won’t lose me.”
“I will lose you,” he returned. “Even if everything I’m currently planning for—hoping for—comes to fruition, it is just a matter of time.”
“I’m sorry I don’t want to be a vampire,” I said.
“So am I.”
The more Sookie and I spoke, the more I saw the wisdom of the witch.
Open, honest communication wasn’t something that either Sookie or I had ever excelled at. But it seemed to be our only hope at the moment.
“Will you do this with me?” I asked Sookie after we’d been silent for a few moments following her reiteration that she didn’t want to become a vampire.
“Do what?” she asked, deflecting.
I smirked. “How about you ask a question first. I’ll answer. Then it’ll be my turn to ask something. And we can trade off for an hour. Or—if we don’t have a question and just want to say something—that could be a turn, too.”
She shifted uncomfortably and bit her lower lip.
“Promise me something, and then I’ll agree?” she asked.
I nodded. “Anything in my power to promise—I will.”
“Don’t hate me if I decide that I need to break the bond,” she whispered.
“I might get angry, but hating you is one thing that I could never do, min kära,” I responded softly, “so that is an easy promise to make.”
She took a deep breath. “Okay. We’ll trade off questions.”
I took out my phone and set my alarm. “For an hour,” I said. “And I will tell you everything, even if it’s hard,” I promised.
I reached across the desk for her hand. She extended hers to join mine. I was grateful for that.
She squeezed my hand, probably looking for comfort. I squeezed hers back, making sure I was careful with the pressure of my gasp.
She was so fucking fragile—yet so much stronger than she thought she was.
I felt her determination, and I pushed my own into the bond as well.
She smiled and nodded at me as she recognized the sensation coming from the bond—from me.
It was a good start.
A/N: Hello all! First, I hope that everyone who celebrated any December holiday had a wonderful time. My hubby and I shared a low-key and relaxing Christmas, and we had a delicious meal.
I hope you enjoyed the latest chapter! Sookie and Eric are actually talking! It’s a Christmas miracle. LOL!
Until next time,
Many thanks to Kleannhouse and Sephrenia!