“Sometimes your skull is so thick that I suspect you of having goblin lineage,” I muttered.
Indeed, at times, she really was too stubborn to see what was right in front of her.
“Wait just a minute, buster!” she said, that temper of hers flaring.
“Are my intentions for you unclear?” I asked her, somewhat facetiously. “Is my want of your unclear?”
“Yes!” she yelled, her hands finding those supple hips of hers, even though she was sitting. “As a matter of fact, you are the king of mixed signals—or no signals at all!”
Obviously it was my turn to ask the inelegant question.
“Huh?” she repeated sarcastically. “Let me clue you in—okay?”
“Enlighten me,” I enunciated, my own irritation rising with hers.
“Your intentions when you first met me were to fuck me and bite me—right?” she challenged.
“Oh yes,” I responded, unapologetically. “You are beautiful and you smell better than almost any woman I’ve ever known.”
“Yeah—thanks for the wonderful objectifying.”
“Huh?” I asked again.
“You like me for my body. You like me for my scent. Neither of those things relates to who I am in here.” She gestured toward her head and then her heart.
I glared at her. “Was it not also clear that I enjoyed talking with you—being in your company—even before amnesia me came into the picture wearing his fucking Superhero cape?”
She glared right back. “I don’t like capes! And when did we ever talk about stuff not related to the work you wanted me to do or to how much you wanted to get me into your bed?”
My eyebrow rose. “There were many times. And—yes—the conversations were often about what you are calling ‘work,’ but that was for necessity’s sake. And—yes—we sometimes flirted. WE! Not just me.”
She practically growled at that.
“Tell me you don’t want this body,” I challenged. “Tell me you haven’t objectified me at times.”
“Just your ass!” she yelled in frustration, obviously not intending to say her words aloud.
I couldn’t help but to chuckle a little—until I saw a tear fall from her eye and felt her sorrow. I knew that she could be thinking of only one thing—her time with “not” me.
“You are sad,” I said, pointing out the obvious.
She nodded. “I miss you—him.”
I sighed. “I cannot give him to you, though I have consulted many witches on the matter, and I am still trying to figure out how to regain my memories of that time. Don’t you know that I want them back as much as you do? I want to understand exactly why and how my feelings for you evolved during that time.”
I nodded. “I went from liking you and very much enjoying your company—and, yes, wanting to fuck you, too—to feeling an intense desire to be with you always.”
Her mouth gaped. “Oh.”
“Oh—indeed,” I agreed.
“You didn’t tell me any of this,” she said with frustration.
I chuckled. “Sookie, I am a vampire who has spent a millennium perfecting the art of shoving feelings to the side—especially those of which I cannot understand the origin. Plus, I am a man. And—as Pam has told me many times—men are often inept at relationships. You must remember that I am not,” I paused, “experienced in such matters, so I fucked up.”
“So your just dropping out of my life without a word for weeks at a time was you fucking up?”
I shrugged and nodded. “Sometimes—yes. Other times I stayed away because I was angry that you wouldn’t tell me what had happened between us. You acted as if I would hurt you if I knew, and I certainly never deserved that! Plus, I felt your pain every time you saw me. I knew that I added to that hurt—though it wasn’t my intention to do so; thus, I stayed away—when, perhaps, I ought not to have done so.”
“I missed him and then I missed you,” she said sadly.
“Explain?” I requested softly.
“He—well—the other Eric became a companion to me. It was nice spending time with him,” she smiled tenderly. “Being with him for those short days—nights—was the closest I’d ever come to living with a romantic partner, and I really liked it. He and I talked and watched television and,” she blushed, “did other things, too.”
I nodded knowingly.
“There was more though. He looked to me for support.”
“He was weak,” I said with a growl that I couldn’t help.
“I thought he was strong to admit that he needed support!” she returned forcefully, defending her beloved me. “And he offered me support too. It felt like a partnership. We figured things out together. He valued me, as I did him.”
“And then he was gone.”
“Yes. You woke up after the curse was broken, treating me differently, not only from him but also from the way you’d always treated me before. You were almost,” she paused, “indifferent towards me. Angry even. It seemed that you wanted only information from me about our time together—so that you could fill in the gaps. I honestly didn’t think you would like what I had to say.”
“And you also thought I might use the Were-bitch’s death against you.”
She nodded. “I figured you’d think I owed you a favor; it was something you could hold over my head.”
“What did you think I would demand of you?” I asked with irritation. “Do you think I’m the kind of man who would require sex or blood as payment for a favor?”
She sighed. “Honestly, not the sex part. But maybe the blood part? Or maybe you would make me work for you full-time. I didn’t want to lose control of my life, Eric.”
“I don’t aim to control you!” I growled.
She shrugged. “I believe you don’t want to take away all my freedom or my will,” she said carefully. “I know you’re not Andre—or the queen.” She paused and took a breath—a deep one. “But I also knew you wanted me to be yours. And here I am—bonded to you. Yours. And you all but admitted earlier that bonding was a part of your plan.”
I closed my eyes and took air into my body before pushing it out in a sigh. I tried to think of a way for Sookie to understand what I had planned. I imagined the ways she’d respond to various things I wanted to say.
I gestured toward the clock. It read 3:20 a.m.
“I have a request for you. I believe it is an important one.”
“What is it?” she asked tiredly.
“Let me speak—without interruption—until 3:40.”
She narrowed her eyes at me. “What if I need to say something?”
“Hold it in until I am finished speaking.”
“Alright,” she agreed—too quickly.
“If you agree to let me speak without interruption for twenty minutes after you go,” she said with challenge in her tone.
I smirked. “If you need to speak for that long.”
“Or leave,” she added.
“Or leave,” I whispered in agreement, not liking the amendment, but accepting that she needed it.
She nodded, sealing the deal. “Okay. Go.”
I knew that the honesty I was about to display would be viewed as weakness by some. Of course, Sookie would see it as strength. And—she was my bonded. She was the one who mattered. And I was willing to give her my vulnerability since the Weretiger was no longer an issue.
Caution went to the wind as I blew out the air from my lungs.
“I will admit that my initial attraction to you was mostly sexual. You have to understand that—without any thought of doing otherwise—I have used most human women as merely food and/or sexual release for a thousand years. Before the Great Revelation, I rarely formed attachments with them.” I shrugged. “Why get to know a being who cannot know what I am? Most humans were, indeed, meals to me, and if I found them attractive—and they found me attractive—I would also fuck them,” I continued matter-of-factly, despite her rolling eyes. “I never glamoured anyone to have sex with me. I would glamour them to forget me, however. It was safer that way. So—again—why spend any effort on them?
“After the Great Reveal and the opening of Fangtasia, human women came to me. I no longer had to glamour them to forget about me, but no fangbangers have inspired me to get to know them—so to speak. I have found a few who had very pleasant blood and good sexual skills, however, and I have sometimes requested that those women return to Fangtasia so that I could have them again.”
Sookie cringed, but I kept going. “There have been three exceptions throughout the years when it came to human women. You are the latest of the three. The first was that psychic I once mentioned to you. With her extra sense, Colleen knew about vampires. And—like you—she couldn’t be glamoured. Her personality was quite pleasant as well. Because of this, I spent many years with Colleen, and she often anticipated danger that would come, so we could avoid problems. I did not fall in love with her, but I enjoyed our relationship.
“Colleen was educated and had an extremely inquisitive mind. She loved to travel and to learn about new cultures. And I enjoyed the fact that I had a sexual partner who knew me and cared for me. It was a new experience for me. Indeed, instead of growing tired of her—as you probably think I would,” I added, noting that Sookie was actually now biting her tongue so that she wouldn’t speak, “I grew to like the sex more and more. More than that, however, I grew to like the company more and more. And she and I shared a monogamous relationship for thirty-five years.”
Sookie gasped, but didn’t speak.
“I gave her my blood only once a decade or so—just so that I could track her and sense if she were in danger. I never felt the urge to bond with her, and the blood-giving was so sporadic that a bond never formed.”
Hearing Sookie practically grunt, I chuckled. “I sense that you have questions about the way bonds are made.”
She scowled at me, but nodded.
“Well—the vampire and the human must have each other’s blood—obviously. A bond can form in as few as three exchanges, though those exchanges need not be made at the same time. However, a simultaneous exchange, like the one we shared earlier, is often stronger. Anyway, more than three exchanges are sometimes needed.” I shrugged. “It depends on the amount of blood given, the time between exchanges—things like that. Honestly, not very many vampires create bonds—unless they want to completely control humans. Like Renfield.”
I could see her wanting to speak out, and she looked at the clock as if willing the minutes to go faster.
I chuckled, liking the relative power I had over her in that moment—especially because she was gifting me with that power.
“Earlier, Andre asked me if you heeled. The feelings that I can push into you are like compellations to weak-minded humans, those who forget how to think for themselves because glamouring is mixed with the bond. And the vampires who make such creatures disgust me,” I added, feeling my lips skew in derision. “They are worse than rapists in my mind in that they take the free will of a human for life.” I scoffed. “Oh—I’ve had humans that have worked for me, Bobby Burnham, for example.”
She rolled her eyes.
“Those will roll out if you’re not careful,” I smirked.
She flipped me off.
I chuckled. “Yes. Bobby is quite the stuck-up asshole—isn’t he? I’ve glamoured him to forget things that could hurt me, but his desire to keep working for me and his personality are his own. I suppose he would deserve it if I glamoured him to behave like a duck, but I wouldn’t do that kind of thing. The more repulsive of my kind do such things for sport, however,” I added, thinking of some of the things that Appius used to do. I truly did despise most things about my maker and prayed that Sookie would never have to encounter him.
Ironically, working for Sophie-Anne kept Appius at bay. They despised each other—something about a connection they once had in France. It had been one of the reasons why I’d chosen to work for her, and she knew it.
Sookie looked horrified, but I went on. “You might have to appear to ‘heel’ at times—but just in public. I will try to always discuss these types of situations with you beforehand, and you will have input in the work the queen will inevitably ask you to do. But you’ll have to seem to defer to both me and her. But—then again—I know you well enough to realize when you are being pushed too far, and I will keep you out of such situations one way or another.” I shrugged. “This is one of the things I will feel compelled to do—as your bonded. Plus, I would do it for you anyway. I already have—with this fiasco!” I added, gesturing around the room so that she knew I’d had a hand in her current arrangement with the queen. The bitch hadn’t wanted to pay Sookie at first!
“Anyway,” I continued, “now that we are permanently bonded, there are benefits. Unless I give my permission, other vampires cannot feed from you; if they do, I can kill them. That applies to even kings and queens,” I smiled. “And certainly to peons like Andre.”
She lifted a brow.
“Ah! I can tell that you want to know why Andre agreed to let me bond with you—since it cuts off his chances of getting your blood?” I asked.
“Likely, he didn’t know that tonight would make things permanent between us. He took a calculated risk. More so, however, his move was both political and practical. I am the queen’s best and strongest sheriff. Thus, it is best to keep me happy. Also, Andre is a little lazy. He probably weighed the pleasure he’d get from toying with you with the effort he would need to expend in ‘training’ you. Obviously, you didn’t want to bond with him, so he would have needed to ‘break you.’ And I raised the very relevant point that your telepathy might not ‘work’ if you were ‘broken.’ Moreover, you might not be honest about what you heard if you were unhappy. For these reasons, Andre relented. Plus—let’s face it—he was probably acting beyond the queen’s direct purview anyway. Otherwise, she would have ordered you to bond with him, and I could have done nothing. But he accosted you in a deserted hallway and was willing to use force. Thus, in the aftermath, the queen might have punished him. But—now—if you were to complain about being ‘forced’ and if the queen decided to sympathize with your plight, then I would be the one punished.”
She looked horrified for a moment.
“Anyway—back to the psychic,” I said, looking at the clock and knowing I needed to get back on track. “I did feed from Colleen—almost exclusively—during our years together. But I was younger then and sometimes I needed more blood than she could safely give.” I shrugged. “She knew this, and she didn’t mind it. I never fucked another, however. I asked her to let me turn her about once a decade. She always refused, and I accepted this, despite knowing I’d miss her once she’d lived out her days. Eventually, she died at the hands of a vampire who had a grudge against my maker. She knew what was coming, but she chose to die, even as she helped me to live and defeat my maker’s enemy.
“Colleen left me a letter, explaining that she’d had visions of her life with me, and that she’d chosen that life despite knowing that my maker’s enemy would eventually track us down and kill her.” I shook my head sadly as I remembered her. “She wrote that she’d very much enjoyed our years together and that she didn’t regret her choices, including her choice not to be made vampire. I was melancholy about her death for many decades, and I missed her. But I went on.”
I took a moment to gauge Sookie’s reaction. She was still with me, though clearly she was aching to speak. However, I still had time.
I grinned, lightening the mood. “The other exception was a human queen—England’s Queen Elizabeth.”
“Because of the make-up fashionable at the time, which made everyone look extremely pale, I fit right in,” I chuckled. “I worked in Liz’s court for about a decade. I enjoyed the intrigue of it all, and courtesans were aplenty. Liz was intrigued by the occult, and I did tell her about my nature; however, I used glamour to ensure that she told no others of it. She was certainly not the ‘virgin queen’ that some people thought she was, and I could sneak in and out of her chambers to pleasure her without being noticed. Sex with her was,” I paused, “okay—but just barely. She wasn’t fond of bathing. And her blood was not delicious, so I took my nourishment from other sources, whom I glamoured. But Liz and I became what you would call friends, and she offered me a haven in her court in exchange for advice I would give about warfare, politics, things like that,” I added with a wave of my hand. “Eventually, however, I moved on.”
I ran my fingers through my hair. “And then there was you. It didn’t take long for my initial lust for you to become genuine esteem. Your loyalty became apparent almost immediately. And I liked that you were willing to stand up to me—to share your thoughts and opinions. Your bravery was also soon apparent. I admired you and respected you—though I continue to think that you are too loyal at times. Bill comes to mind. And the little kitty.”
She gave me a glare.
I chuckled. “Anyway. I also like that you are clever. You might get yourself into situations like the soda can bomb incident, but you really do apply your mind to creatively get yourself out of them once you do. You are smart, though you are currently unschooled, something I would help you change if you like. Your common sense is quite prevalent; however, sometimes you make poor choices based upon naivety or misplaced loyalty.”
Her glare became more deeply ingrained in her face.
I simply rolled my eyes. “Indeed, I admire a great many things about you, Sookie Stackhouse, not the least of which is how you are currently managing to fulfill the terms of our agreement. So—yes—smart, beautiful, loyal, and brave.” I shrugged. “Not surprisingly, I found myself wanting you more and more. But I am patient. I knew that Bill and Quinn were both wrong for you, and I figured that you’d eventually know this too. So I waited. I had planned to court you following our time in Jackson, but you were hurt by Bill’s assault. Your mind needed to heal—to find a way to deal with the fact that someone you cared for had harmed you in that despicable way,” I spit out.
“Gods, how I wanted to kill Bill!”
“I imagined it countless times and in countless way,” I went on, knowing I’d likely never be able to get away with expressing my true feeling about that fuckwit again—without her trying to defend him, that is. “I would have taken him apart piece by piece and then let it all start growing back—right before I staked him.”
“It’s not as if I did it,” I said rather flippantly, knowing that my tone would frustrate her to no end. Maybe I just liked pushing her.
She narrowed her eyes at me.
Definitely—I liked to push her, just as she pushed me.
“Sadly, vampire blood could not take care of your mental pain,” I said, returning to my narrative. “And then the witch cursed me, and—like I said earlier—I fucked up after that. I was confused. But I still wanted you for all of the reasons I noted earlier—and one more.”
She looked at me curiously.
“I’m sorry, but I cannot put a name to that reason. I suppose I wanted—and still want—you ‘just because.'” I shrugged. “Something about you simply suits something about me. And I think we could be good together—maybe even great.”
She tilted her head a little, biting her lower lip as she did so. She was contemplating my words.
Again, I got back to the narrative, “And then I learned about Bill’s orders from the queen, and you needed to grieve for that. So I had to be patient—again. And then there was the Quinn nonsense.
“Speaking of which—I hate that he betrayed you, but I am very glad he is out of the picture.”
She rolled her eyes.
“Anyway, I had a long-game in mind when it came to you—not that I see you as a game piece to be won,” I amended quickly. “I did plan to pursue you—to woo you—as soon as the timing was right. It was so often quite wrong, however. But tonight, Andre has forced our hand.”
I sighed. “I am grateful to him in a sick and twisted kind of way.”
She groaned, but I could feel that she was a little grateful too—not that we’d been forced into things, but because she’d gotten the boost of vampire blood she needed to learn the truth about her erstwhile beau. Sookie might resist the truth at times, but I knew that she’d rather know it, nonetheless.
“So, you see, I had planned to woo you. And I had hoped—and still hope—that you will develop the same feelings for me as you did for the other me, of whom I will admit to being jealous. Though it feels odd to be jealous of a part of,” I paused, “me.”
She tilted her head and looked at me curiously.
“And—yes—I do believe that the ‘me’ you knew then is a tangible part of me—though without all the baggage attached to this me.”
She sighed, but nodded. From the bond, I knew that she thought the same.
“Anyway,” I continued, “as I was saying, our situation is odd. But I always wanted you. I told you about Colleen because I want a life with you similar to the one I shared with her—though more meaningful. I just wanted to woo you before offering it. I would have also broached the idea of bonding at some point. Unlike with Colleen, I was drawn to bond with you—well before tonight. I wanted to do it, Sookie.” I paused to let that information sink into her brain.
“I want to share myself with you,” I continued after about thirty seconds of silence. “Call it love if you like—but I say it’s more. And I like the bond already—though it is new. I think you might come to like it too. I hate that it was forced upon us the way it was, but I want you to know that I chose the bond—and you. I want you to know that if you don’t choose to give a relationship with me a try, I will be your bonded only in the sense of protecting you. I will not take your freedom from you.
“Will I be disappointed if we are not together? Yes.
“But I don’t want to be disappointed, Sookie.” I sighed. “Even now, I can imagine the life we could find together,” I said, closing my eyes, “and the prospect thrills me and delights me. I want it. And I am selfish, so I will continue to try to convince you to want it too—unless I find the situation hopeless.”
I opened my eyes and glanced at the clock. Two more minutes.
“One final thing. We are bonded, and there is affection between us. The Renfield thing, therefore, couldn’t happen—and not just because you can resist glamour. It wouldn’t happen because I wouldn’t use the power I have over you in that negative way. You will have to trust me on that, but there is trust required in relationships between humans, too—right? You will have power over me as well—you know—and you could use that power against me. You could defy me in front of my superiors and peers. You could make me a laughing stock. I believe the term is ‘pussy whipped.’ However, the prospect of being whipped by your pussy is,” I paused, “intriguing.”
Sookie blushed and looked at the clock.
“Since there is affection on my part, if you don’t one day choose to be a vampire, I may very well choose to meet the sun following your death; you’ll just have to deal with that. I will not know if I can go on unless you die, and I don’t want that to happen. Also, as I mentioned earlier, if I were to die, you would be miserable—at least for a while. Losing a bonded one is painful—another reason vampires don’t bond often. Suicide is common after the loss—unless the vampire holds no affection for a bonded one. That is not the case between you and me, but I am not sorry that this is true.
“So now I have another reason to stay alive—to protect you from the pain of a severed bond. I will not give up trying to convince you to join me as vampire, though I will not nag. Pamela informs me that Dear Abby insists that nagging can ruin a perfectly good relationship.”
And, with that, my time was up.
And Sookie was up.
A/N: I hope you liked Eric’s monologue. It was fun to write for him when Sookie’s mouth was shut. LOL.