Bob and I arrived at the old farmhouse on Hummingbird Lane well after sunset. In retrospect, maybe that wasn’t the best of ideas.
Sookie ran down the porch steps to greet us. I recognized her “crazy” smile as soon as I saw it.
After all, it was her most common smile.
She showed a lot of teeth.
But the smile never reached her eyes.
“I really am happy to see y’all,” Sookie told me, likely having heard my thought. “It’s just that I had a bit of a rough day,” she added almost brightly.
“A bit,” Eric intoned, stepping forward from the shadows of the porch. “Sandra Pelt tried to kill her. She learned that another friend of hers will be having a child, and her feelings about having children are ambivalent at best. She has no interest in becoming a vampire,” he added before nodding to first me and then Bob. “Pam will be happy that you seem to be in good health,” he said to me before looking at Sookie. “I will leave you to those you care for,” he said in monotone before taking off into the air.
“What was that all about?” I asked.
Sookie bit her lower lip. “Sorry about that. He was just surprised that I still don’t want to ever be a vampire,” she said with false flippancy. “He’s a little upset, but—uh—he’ll get over it.”
I frowned, but said nothing. I doubted that Eric would “get over it.” Sookie was his bonded—after all. Eric would obviously want to turn her, and—even though I believed that Sookie had every right to choose not to become a vampire—I doubted she’d understood the significance of the offer or had given it the consideration it deserved. Honestly, I couldn’t blame the vampire for being upset. But—then again—Eric probably hadn’t done a good job explaining things to her. The two were hopeless when it came to communication!
Bob and I shared a looked.
“Um—are you tired?” Sookie asked us. “I have your room ready. And I made a casserole this morning in case you’re hungry. It’s that one you like—with the sour cream. And there’s that kind of tea you like—um—in the fridge.” She shuffled from foot to foot nervously. “Anyway,” she said, gesturing toward the house, “you know to make yourselves welcome—right?”
“Sure, Sook,” I assured, moving forward to hug her. I concentrated upon thinking about how much I loved her and how much I’d missed her.
She looked at me gratefully when she broke our embrace. “Thanks, Ames,” she said, as she subtly brushed away a tear.
I pretended to ignore the tear and patted her hand. “Bob and I are tired, so we’re gonna turn in—okay?”
She nodded and gave me a little smile. It was small, but sincere. “Sure,” she said. “Um—there are extra towels in the bathroom. Oh—and I picked up some of that lotion you always liked. It’s—uh—by the bed.”
Clearly, I wasn’t the only one trying.
Speaking of trying, I tried to keep my thoughts to myself as Bob and I went to my old room. I knew that Sookie hadn’t let either of her fairy kin—neither of whom seemed to be home—use my room. She’d told me that Claude and Dermot had taken over Octavia’s old room, which almost certainly negated any possibility that Eric felt welcome to stay over—since the cubby was in there. I doubted seriously that the Viking vampire would allow himself to die for the day in such a vulnerable position.
Of course, as far as I knew, Sookie had never invited Eric to stay over anyway.
I sighed, wondering again at the state of their relationship.
Sookie and I no longer had heart-to-heart conversations—something I hoped to remedy soon—but she had said a few telling things on the phone.
They basically consisted of the following:
“Yes—Eric and I are together, but we’re both really busy, so we don’t get to spend much time together.”
“He’s still dealing with the death of his maker—I think.”
“I’ve been trying to stick close to home most days so that Dermot and Claude will feel welcome.”
And, most telling of all:
“I just don’t know if what I feel for him is real—with the bond and all.”
In truth, I felt bad for Sookie. And, though Bob and I were at the house to work on the wards, I knew that Sookie would also ask me about the bond between Eric and her. Months before, she’d requested that I look into whether it could be broken by magic.
And I’d found a way.
But I wasn’t so sure that finding it had been a good thing.
I liked to think that both Bob and I had matured a lot since the first time we tried a relationship before “his Bob-cat time.” We certainly got along better than we had before.
And—though he didn’t make my heart lunge into my throat every time I saw him like Tray had—I did smile each time he entered a room. I was beginning to realize just how many kinds of love there could be. And I was starting to understand that it was the uniqueness of each one that truly made it beautiful.
Still—I sighed with frustration as I looked over at my sleeping boyfriend.
A very tiny part of me wanted to put a pillow over his mouth. Of course, with the power of his snores, he’d likely blow it off within seconds.
I tried covering my ears with my pillow.
But it did nothing to muffle the “muffler” of Bob’s snoring.
I really thought about kicking him, but he’d driven all the way from New Orleans, giving me the opportunity to nap a bit.
Finally, I gave up and tried to read. But I was too tired to take in the words. Sadly, I wasn’t tired enough to be able to sleep through the Mongolian throat singing happening in the other half of the bed.
Still, I couldn’t help but to look at Bob fondly.
Indeed, the only thing I really didn’t like regarding Bob was the fact that he snored.
Oh—and he was forgetful, so he’d forgotten the potion I’d made for him to eliminate the “issue.”
What I loved about him, however, was that he was willing to trust me enough to drink the potion in the first place—given the whole “Bob-cat” incident.
Yep—that trust most definitely trumped his snoring. But I still made a mental note to go to the store to pick up the ingredients needed to make some more of the potion the next day, even as I decided to take my chances on the couch, hoping that the fairies weren’t camped out in the living room.
I quietly made my way to the kitchen to get a glass of water. I wished that I could say that I was surprised to see that Bill was in the yard speaking with Sookie. Though I couldn’t make out their words, Bill looked as full of longing—and as full of shit—as always, and Sookie seemed to be eating up his every word.
I sighed. It was one thing to want to stay friends with your first love; however, to me, it was another thing to stay friends with him if he’d initially been sent to seduce you. I would have actually been willing to give Bill some slack if he’d told Sookie about his mission back when he’d supposedly realized that he loved her. But he hadn’t. Eric had needed to force Bill to confess. Plus, there was the whole Lorena/Jackson episode. From what Sookie had told me, the trunk “incident” was bad. And from what I’d inferred, it had included a viscous bite and a rape—though Sookie had never used that word to describe it. And she’d also corrected me when I’d “thought” the word. She’d explained that “Bill couldn’t help himself.”
Maybe I was just an unforgiving type of person, but I figured that a lot of rapists tried to tell themselves the same fucking thing!
Therefore, I wasn’t buying Bill’s excuse—even if it was true.
To complicate matters, I knew that Sookie still felt guilty about Bill’s silver poisoning—which he’d gotten because he’d been protecting her when Eric couldn’t come, a fact which I would bet Bill reminded Sookie of as much as possible. But Bill looked well enough now—despite his constipated-looking expression.
I gasped with concern as another vampire stepped out of the shadows. She was beautiful and she was looking at Bill with a hurt expression. Just as I was getting ready to call the police, the vampiress straightened her body in a dignified manner and walked away.
Bill looked even more forlorn, and clearly Sookie was in comforting mode.
It was clear to me that Bill still wanted Sookie and was trying to weasel his way back into her heart. The thought made me nauseated.
Thus, it was like an answer to a prayer when the phone rang. I thought about scuttling back into the hallway so that I could pretend that I was only just coming into the kitchen, but then I laughed at myself.
Telepath in the house.
Instead, I answered the phone as Sookie came in through the kitchen door, Bill on her heels.
“Hello?” I greeted.
“Uh—hey. Is this Amelia?” a familiar-sounding masculine voice asked.
“Yeah,” I responded.
“Um—Bud Dearborn here. Can I speak with Sookie please?”
“Sure,” I said before holding out the phone for Sookie.
I didn’t bother greeting Bill as Sookie greeted Bud.
“Hey Bud. What’s up?” she asked.
She listened to what Bud was saying for about a minute, her expression ranging from curiosity to fear to resignation.
“Thanks for lettin’ me know, Bud,” she said before hanging up.
“Don’t worry, Sookie,” Bill said comfortingly, touching her shoulder gently. “As long as she’s out there, I’ll be happy to watch the house—at night.”
“Thanks Bill,” Sookie said gratefully to the knight in shining armor wannabe.
“What’s up, Sook?” I asked.
“Bud said that Sandra Pelt escaped from the jail, so I’m extra glad you and Bob are here to make the wards stronger.” She sighed tiredly. “Oh well—another day, another person tryin’ to kill you—right?” She looked at me apologetically. “If you and Bob wanna get a motel room or somethin’ while you’re in town, I’ll understand.”
I moved to hug her. “We’re fine here,” I assured.
“Well—I will take my leave,” Bill said in his annoyingly formal way. “Do not worry, Sookie,” he added, trying to add warmth to his tone.
“Thanks, Bill,” Sookie smiled.
As soon as he was gone, Sookie looked at me apologetically. “Sorry if our voices woke you up.”
“Bob’s snoring did that,” I chuckled. “I was just getting ready to take up residence on the couch when I saw you and Bill outside. Is everything okay there?”
She sighed. “Well—the good news is that Bill’s better, fully healed from the silver poisoning, thanks to his vampire sister, Judith.”
“Was that her in the yard just now?” I asked. “Sorry I was spying, but I was worried.”
“It’s okay. And—yeah—that was her. She’s always loved Bill and was hoping that being together again would encourage him to feel the same way—especially now that their maker is no longer around to mess with them. But,” she sighed again, “Bill doesn’t love her. In fact, he told me that he still loves me.” She shook her head. “Not that I know what to do with that information.”
“It seems a little unfair of him to come over just to unload that information on you,” I said cautiously.
“Maybe. But I think he senses that Eric and I are having some issues.”
“Issues?” I asked as Sookie got herself a glass of water. We both sat down at the table.
“Yeah,” she said once she was settled. “Eric’s been acting weird with Pam lately. Pam wants to turn her girlfriend Miriam into a vampire because Miriam has leukemia. But Victor has refused to give her permission. So she’s gotta short trigger. And—also—I think Eric’s hiding something from me. Something big,” she added. “And then he’s been stressed about the Sandra Pelt thing and about the Victor thing. And he’s pissed off about my hair, too.”
“Really?” I asked. “I was gonna tell you that I liked your new haircut. I can’t believe that Eric wouldn’t!”
“Oh—it’s not that,” Sookie said. “He’s angry about the reason why I had to get it. A Molotov cocktail was thrown into Merlotte’s the other day. Sandra Pelt was behind that—and a couple of other attacks against me. Anyway, part of my hair burned, and Eric showed up since he felt my anxiety through the stupid bond,” she said with frustration.
I frowned. Clearly, Sookie was still not a fan of her and Eric’s blood connection.
“But,” she sighed, “Eric was nice enough to have Pam arrange for her hairdresser to come fix my hair in the middle of the night.”
“That was nice of him,” I said.
“Yeah—until he and Pam got into a huge fight in the kitchen,” she said wearily. “That’s when the hairdresser, Immanuel—who happens to be Miriam’s brother—told me about Pam not having permission to turn Miriam.” Sookie threw up her hands in an expression of frustration. “Victor’s really causing a lot of stress between Pam and Eric. And—like I said—it’s difficult to be around Eric these days. He’s so hot-blooded these days—not that he could ever be hot-blooded,” she added with a rueful chuckle.
“I’m sure Eric’s frustrated because he can’t give Pam what she wants,” I offered. “And he’s worried about Victor encroaching on Area 5. And he’s worried about you.” I paused and bit my lip. “Aren’t you gonna call him? And tell him about Sandra?”
“No,” Sookie said after taking only a second to consider the suggestion. “He’d just have Bill keep an eye on things, and that’s already happening anyway. Plus, Bill will tell him, I’d imagine. He probably already has. I figure that Eric has ordered Bill to tell him about what’s going on with me,” she added with some bitterness in her tone.
“Well—you and Eric have never been the best at sharing,” I said gently. “Maybe if you tried? Even if he has heard about what’s going on with Sandra, I’m sure he’d appreciate hearing it from you.”
Sookie shook her head and got up to refill both of our water glasses.
“No. I don’t want to bother him, Ames. I figure he’s got more important things to worry about. And Bill’s out there now. And tomorrow, you and Bob will strengthen the wards. So everything will be fine.”
I nodded my head, even though I truly wondered if things would be.
She sat back down. “So—tell me about Bob and you. How’s that going—besides the snoring?”
It was obvious she was changing the topic, and I let her.
In fact, I tried to make her laugh as I told her about Bob’s recollections of being a cat—including the nirvana of “ball-licking.”
A/N: Howdy all! Thanks to everyone who commented on the first chapter of this story. I appreciate your support! I hope that you are enjoying this more likable Amelia. Again, by this point in CH’s overall “narrative,” Sookie and Eric were both on my last nerve. Neither one of them was communicating in a productive way, and they needed an intervention!
Up next: an Eric POV
Many thanks to Kleannhouse, who–as always–did a quick job with the beta work. And thanks again to Seph for the artwork for the story!