“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? It’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”―Jack Kerouac, On the Road
I was relieved that Pam’s emotions had finally settled down. She was still skeptical of Sookie, but she was no longer homicidal.
I smiled at my eldest progeny and then turned once more to my youngest.
“You are welcome by my side at any time, Willa Burrell,” I said softly. “I made you my child because you are strong and because I saw something admirable in you. Sookie was correct. I am proud of you.”
She smiled at me shyly. “Thanks.”
Though part of me had wanted Willa to come with Sookie and me, I knew that it was for the best that my young progeny and I were parting ways for the time being. If she was near me, Willa would likely form the vampire equivalent of a “crush” on me. Makers and children almost always had sexual relationships—at least for a time. I had certainly had one with Godric after I got over the surprise of finding myself attracted to a man for the first time. And Pam and I had fucked like rabbits for about two weeks after she was turned—until we’d both had our fill of that side of our relationship. However, I didn’t feel a sexual connection with Willa; I never had. Because of my love for Sookie, I’d already known that my new child and I wouldn’t be having a physical relationship—even before Sookie and I had spoken at Nora and Gran’s grave.
Taking all that into account, I was glad that Willa had decided to stay with Pam—both for selfish and unselfish reasons. Selfishly, I was looking forward to having Sookie all to myself. Unselfishly, I knew that it would be better for Willa. Without the possible plague of jealousy over Sookie and my relationship clouding her early days, Willa would be able to find her own way more easily. And—hopefully—she could find someone who loved her with as much fervor as I loved my bonded.
I kissed my youngest progeny’s forehead. “Your sister knows what she’s doing, but follow our bond to me if you ever need me.”
I looked at Tara. “Are you aware of the stock you are from?”
She nodded, and—for once—she spoke with sincerity, “My maker has made me aware that Godric’s memory is not to be fucked with.”
I kissed her on the forehead too—despite her look of distaste. I chuckled. “You hate me. I appreciate that fact. But I am proud to have yet another stubborn woman in my line.”
“Seems you like to collect them,” she deadpanned.
“Perhaps I’m the original women’s libber,” I snarked back.
“Whatever,” she returned sarcastically.
I smiled at her. “You remind me of my mother,” I observed sincerely.
Immediately her attitude changed too. “Why?”
“Because you don’t take shit from anyone—even when you are wrong,” I responded.
“Is that why you picked Pam?” she asked.
“Pam chose me,” I responded with a shake of my head. “I just let her.”
“Sounds like her,” Tara commented before going over to speak with Sookie. I could hear the two exchanging words about staying in touch via the untraceable email addresses we planned to set up. Despite what Pam said, my farm was actually quite comfortable—at least, it was now. Five years before, I’d had a new house built on the property. Luckily, it had been just before the Great Revelation; otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have bothered with toilets or kitchen appliances. But those omissions would have made humans suspicious at the time, so the house had everything my bonded might need, including central heat and a natural hot springs twenty feet from the back door. I was looking forward to utilizing that as soon as we arrived.
Sookie and I would stay connected to the outside world via the Internet, and—through Cataliades—we’d be getting some next-gen communication gadgets that couldn’t be traced. Demons were always the most cutting edge when it came to such things.
I noticed that Pam had moved off to the other side of the room, so I went to her. We’d been together for a very long time, and I knew that being without each other would be difficult—for both of us.
“Min dottir,” I said.
“I still hate the fairy,” she returned with a sigh.
“I’m very aware.”
“It will take many years of her not fucking you over for her to gain my trust,” she added.
“I might have said the same before I could feel her emotions as well as I can feel my own.”
“And what does she feel?”
“Love,” I said immediately. “Trust, certainty, devotion, curiosity, anticipation. But mostly love.”
She nodded. “Then I’m happy for you, but I still don’t fucking like her!”
I chuckled. “You’re not the one who has to.”
“And Sookie wouldn’t mind?”
“Mind what?” I asked.
“If we came to visit you in the windy shithole? Or even came to live for a while?”
I chuckled. “We talked about it when we were making our plans. She knows that you and Willa are part of the package. And you know that she wouldn’t mind Tara.”
“What would you have me do?” she asked with a sigh.
“Anything you want,” I answered.
She nodded. “Sheriff of Area 5 sounds nice.”
I chuckled. “You certainly know how to do the job. I always gave you the most tedious of the paperwork.”
Pam smiled sinisterly. “But now that’s what Willa and Tara are for.”
I grinned for a moment, but then felt my worry rise. “Just don’t fuck with Bill,” I warned.
“I won’t,” she promised and then rolled her eyes. “At least not as long as he’s Billith.”
I nodded and then chuckled. “Strangely enough, I’m pretty sure he’ll welcome your interest to become sheriff.”
“Do you think I’ll have to show him respect?” she asked with a twinkle in her eye.
“Absolutely not. I’m sure he’d just be suspicious if you did,” I smirked.
“Now that’s the master I know and love,” she drawled.
I leaned over and planted a kiss on her forehead.
“I need to know something—one more time,” she said with a little trepidation.
“I need to know that you are sure about her,” she said gesturing subtly toward Sookie.
“Yes. More sure than anything I’ve ever felt,” I responded quickly.
“I fucking hate her,” Pam repeated.
“I know,” I reiterated as I smoothed of wisp of blonde hair behind her ear. “But I fucking love her.”
She looked at me through narrowed eyes. “Then I won’t kill her.”
“Thanks. And Pam?”
“You need a new tailor,” I snarked.
“Fuck you sideways, high-water boy.”
I chuckled and excused myself for a moment. I went into the only functioning bathroom in the building and quickly washed the blood off of my skin and changed into the fresh clothes that I knew Sookie had left in there for me. They were the jeans and flannel shirt I’d worn when I had amnesia. I put my spoiled clothing into the garbage bag that Sookie had also thought to leave. My bonded was nothing if not thorough. I also took the opportunity to extract the vials of Warlow’s Fae blood from my ass. I was grateful once more that I didn’t actually use that part of my anatomy for anything more than a very occasional storage facility.
I put two of the vials into my jeans pocket. They would each serve a clear purpose. I would drink one of them after Sookie and I had exchanged blood—if Warlow’s Fae blood was burned from my body during the bonding as I thought it would be.
Hopefully, what was in the vial would work to protect me from the sun; if it did, then I would be flying Sookie to a private airfield near Shreveport. There, I had a small plane stashed—a plane that couldn’t be traced to me. Then I’d pilot us to Sweden in little jumps for the next two days—Louisiana to St. Lewis, St. Lewis to Cleveland, Cleveland to Montreal, Montreal to Newfoundland, Newfoundland to Reykjavik, Reykjavik to Oslo. There we’d ditch the plane in a storage facility I owned—under an alias, of course—and we’d make our way to Öland by car and then boat. A little glamour would convince the humans in our path to accept that Sookie and I were a series of different couples—with the matching documentation to go along with that story—and that my plane had different serial numbers with each flight.
If the vial didn’t work, however, we’d have to go with Plan B. Alcide had already secured a light-tight panel van for our use if necessary. In it, I would take cover from the sun as Sookie drove us to Dallas. Isabel had a private plane, which she’d already agreed to allow me to use. However, I preferred not to have to utilize her aid for several reasons. First, she wasn’t currently aware that Sookie would also be a passenger. I had simply told her that it would be me and up to three other vampires traveling. Also, as it stood, if Bill and/or Warlow questioned her, all she’d be able to tell them was that I’d asked for the use of her plane and its pilot, but that I’d not given a destination, nor had I shown up at the appointed time. They would assume that I’d intended to leave the area—with only the vampires in my line. My not using Isabel’s plane would only help to substantiate that I’d suffered the true death.
For the second vial in my possession, I had another use in mind. I intended to hold onto it in case of emergency or immediate threat. And—if Bill and Warlow met their true deaths and I still had it? Well—Sookie and I would wait until summer in Sweden when the days lasted almost 24 hours. And then we would bask in two of them.
I imagined us on a mountaintop—me in my birthday suit and her wrapped in fur.
Needless to say, I was hoping that Billith and Warlow would bite the dust before I had to use the second vial.
I picked up the trash bag and the remaining three vials of blood and returned to the room with the others; seeing Alcide was back, I threw him the bag. We exchanged nods as I handed one vial each to Pam, Tara, and Willa.
“What are these?” Pam asked.
“They will allow you to walk in the sun for two days,” I informed.
“What?” Pam asked dumbfounded.
“It is a Fae blood mixture, but be careful. Fairy blood will make you drunk if you let it. The trick is to not allow your blood to chase the Fae blood once it’s in your system,” I cautioned.
All three of my line looked a little confused as I continued. “Listen—I don’t want you to use this unless you have an emergency and need to stay awake during the day.” I sighed. “Warlow is a day-walker, and if he aims to attack you, I want you to be conscious and ready to defend yourselves. Or—if you must come to me in Sweden because you are in danger—I want you to use the blood so that you can pose as humans—albeit drunk ones.”
“Do you think that Warlow will come after us?” Pam asked.
“No. If you stay away from him, he will pay you no mind—as long as he thinks I am dead,” I said with certainty. “The vials are your Plan B.”
“And if we don’t need a Plan B?” she smirked.
“Then one day, you can all take a nice vacation to somewhere secluded so that you can get drunk on fairy blood and spend two days in the sun,” I grinned.
Tara, Willa, and Pam all looked at me with wide eyes and mouths.
“Just look at it as my going away present to you all,” I winked.
Pam, being the oldest and having been without the sun for the longest, was obviously struggling to keep her tears at bay.
I wasn’t really surprised when Sookie helped her with that.
“Pam?” my bonded asked my eldest child.
“What?” Pam snapped at her a little.
“Would you do me a favor and glamour Jason so that he can’t talk to anyone about what happened tonight? Or about Eric and me being alive? Or about where we’ll be?” she asked.
I had been planning on doing that, but I knew Sookie was trying to help Pam mask her emotion by asking for the favor. From the look on Pam’s face and the feeling I got from my eldest in our bond, she knew it too.
“You’re asking for a lot,” Pam intoned.
“I know,” Sookie said sincerely as she and Pam exchanged a look that spoke volumes.
“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of your brother,” Pam promised after she seemed to find what she needed to in Sookie’s eyes.
I felt surprise from Sookie and sincerity from Pam. My own reaction mirrored Sookie’s, but I was happy that my child was offering much more than a simple glamour job. She was offering Jason her protection too.
Sookie smiled at Pam. “And I’ll take care of Eric,” Sookie vowed.
Pam gave her the slightest of nods before she turned back to me. “What now?” she asked.
I looked at the Were, who nodded.
“Herveaux has a paneled van which will protect you all from the sun. He is going to drive you to the old Toy ‘R Us across from Fangtasia,” I informed.
“What’s there?” Pam asked.
“About a year’s supply of untainted TruBlood for four and a shitload of money.”
“Four?” Pam asked. “I only see three vampires here without a private fairy source for blood,” she snarked.
I grinned sheepishly. “A baby vampire I felt pity for will probably show up tonight.”
“You sap,” Pam accused, though she looked at me fondly.
I didn’t respond to her comment. I didn’t need to. Pam knew that I had a soft spot for hard cases.
“Well—I reject this part of the plan,” Pam said with challenge in her tone.
“Come again?” I asked.
She put her hands on her hips and looked at me like she had the first time she suggested we develop a line of merchandise for Fangtasia. She’d been right about that. The T-shirts alone had made thousands.
“Willa, Tara, and I should go to the warehouse where you sent Jessica. We should pretend to be waiting for you,” she grinned.
“And pretend that you are worried for me,” I added.
She grinned. “Yes. Because you got the idiotic notion that Sookie Stackhouse needed saving.”
Sookie grinned. “I often do.”
Pam chuckled. “Sadly, Willa and Tara—because of their ages—will need to die right at dawn, but I’ll force myself to stay awake. And—as sensitive as Jessica is—she will try to stay awake with me.”
“Surely she’ll last ten minutes, given the fact that she’s recently fed,” I offered.
“Surely,” Pam returned.
“And when you feel the explosion,” I grinned.
“I shall reprise my role from Les Miserables.”
I chuckled. “You were fucking brilliant in that—once you glamoured the director to do only night performances. And you are still brilliant,” I said, referring to her modification of the plan.
Of course, my eldest child looked arrogant, but she deserved to.
“So—you will take Tara and Willa to rest with Jessica and have an Oscar-worthy performance. Meanwhile, Alcide will drive the Newlins and Jason to Shreveport.” I looked at Jason and then Alcide. “You’ll both need to stay out of sight until Pam arrives tomorrow night to glamour you.”
Both agreed with a nod.
“We’ll make our way back to the Shreveport area with Jessica after the sun sets so that I can have an encore,” Pam beamed.
“I played little orphan Annie in my school play,” Willa offered.
Pam clapped her hands together. “Perfect! An understudy!”
Tara scoffed. “I’ll just act indifferent ’bout you dyin’,” she told me. “No offense.”
“None taken,” I laughed.
Jason cleared his throat. “Oh—and—um—Pam should probably glamour me to feel sad when someone mentions Sook. Maybe she could make me think about Gran or somethin’,” he suggested.
Again, I felt my respect for Sookie’s brother growing. “Because you have a tie with Warlow, and he will need to feel your grief over Sookie’s death for it to be believable.”
Jason nodded. “Yep—that’s what I was thinkin’. And—uh—can I be glamoured so that Warlow can’t glamour me no more?” he asked.
I shook my head. “No—but you can be glamoured to tell Pam all about it if you are.”
Jason smiled. “Good enough. I wanna know if that motherfucker tries to put anything else into my head!”
“Have you ever considered being a vampire?” I asked him.
Pam hissed and glared at me, eliciting laughter from everyone in the room—except Jason.
“Nah,” he said. “No offense, but—um—I ain’t willin’ to give up food. Or beer.”
Pam smirked as she started to put her vial of promised sunlight into her pocket. “Do I detect a hint of ass on this, Master?” she asked with a respectful tone, even as her eyes danced with amusement.
“Yes,” I confirmed. “I hear that ass-flavored Fae blood is all the rage.”
She grinned, but her expression sobered as she approached me, whispering so that only I could hear. “I have loved you from the night I rose vampire.”
“As I have loved you,” I said just as quietly. “Even though you have always been a pain in my ass.”
She sighed. “This is not goodbye.”
“No,” I agreed. “One day Warlow and Bill will kill each other off, and after that Sookie and I will be free to return.”
“You really do love her?” Pam asked again, her eyes training into mine like lasers.
“Body and soul,” I responded. “Though mostly soul.”
“Vampires don’t have souls,” she said as her eyes narrowed.
I grinned. “Oh yes we do. They’re just difficult to find.”
“Then I’ve misplaced mine,” she intoned.
I chuckled and kissed her lightly on the cheek. “Remind me why I made you again?” I joked.
“Because I’m the shit,” she responded.
“Oh—that’s right,” I confirmed before moving over to Sookie. I threw the phone/detonator in my pocket over to Jason, whom Sookie had been saying a tearful goodbye to.
I looked back at Pam. “The Newlins may have more information. You’ll find an excellent set-up at the Toys ‘R Us for them.”
“Goody, I always did enjoy playtime,” she drawled.
I rolled my eyes. “Indeed. And there are others responsible for the Hep-V. Cataliades will be sending you a rundown of any names he gets from Overlark’s records—at least the ones that need to be punished more than arrested,” I informed. “Bill is getting a copy too. I’d imagine that he would be a useful ally in ridding Louisiana of its more unpleasant bigots.”
“And—working with Billith would help my candidacy for sheriff,” she smirked.
“Exactly,” I agreed.
“What about Steve?” she asked.
I glanced down at Sookie. “Make it last,” I said coldly, pleased when Sookie’s emotions barely flinched.
“You sure you don’t want to stay and oversee the Newlins’ visits yourself?” Pam asked wickedly.
“Priorities,” I said, taking Sookie’s hand. “I took care of the creator of Hep-V. Bill killed its father. And I’m giving its ‘mother’ to you to have fun with. Between Cataliades, you, and Bill, I know that the rest of them will be taken care of as well. And it would be,” I paused, “useful if Bill saw you as an ally. We still don’t know what all he intends.”
Pam rolled her eyes. “I’m pretty sure that he intends to be an asshat.”
I chuckled. “Isn’t that a word spoken by only thirteen-year-old boys?”
Pam scoffed. “What? It’s descriptive.”
This time everyone in the room laughed.
Suddenly, Willa looked nervously toward the East. “The sun will be rising soon.”
I nodded. As a matter of fact, dawn was fourteen minutes away.
“Don’t worry. I’ll deliver the Newlins to the Toys ‘R Us,” Alcide said.
“There’s a code to get in the building,” I offered.
“Nah,” Alcide replied. “We’ll just take our time gettin’ there and keep to the back roads. I’m afraid there’s not room for Steve Newlin to be totally out of the sunlight, but he’ll only be missin’ a toe or two by nightfall.”
“You might just turn out to be a good dog after all,” Pam drawled.
Alcide winked at Pam and then at Willa, whose eyes dilated at the Were’s attention. I briefly thought about commanding Willa never to play with strays, but then I reconsidered. Alcide Herveaux—for all his canine-ness—was a good and loyal individual. And if Willa decided to like him, I couldn’t imagine it ending badly for her.
I looked at Willa and smiled. “Be safe, min dottir,” I said, kissing her forehead a final time.
“I will,” she promised.
“And you,” I said to Tara.
“Don’t,” Pam said to me. I could tell that one more sign of affection would set her over the edge, so I just nodded.
“Take care of them,” I ordered her as I glanced at Willa, Tara, and then Jason.
Pam nodded. “As if I’d do anything else.”
“The farm is less windy in the late summer,” I said with a smile. “And I’ll have WiFi by then.”
She scoffed. “I suppose we could visit during the summer. But never in the winter.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“It’s colder than a witch’s titty then.” She paused dramatically. “Trust me. I know firsthand,” she punned.
I rolled my eyes.
“Glamour them to tell anyone who asks that they witnessed Sookie going into the factory to save random humans from bombs that had been set by Sarah Newlin and her cohorts,” I told Pam, as I gestured toward Alcide and Jason.
“And glamour them to say that I followed her in,” I added.
“Like a pussy-whipped puppy,” she said with a smirk.
I chuckled. “No—like an arrogant Viking.”
Pam grinned. “That’s more like it. But what of Sarah Newlin?”
“She will be presumed dead once her vehicle is found at the center of a secondary explosion near the camp and factory,” I informed, looking to Alcide for confirmation.
The Were nodded.
Pam turned to Alcide as well. “I’m also gonna glamour you to get a haircut—just so you know.”
Herveaux chuckled good-naturedly. “Just not a buzz cut.”
Pam rolled her eyes but agreed.
I felt Willa’s lust spike as she watched the Were; however, I made a supreme effort not to say anything. Nature could take its course—as far as I was concerned. However, it would be better that I was out of the country the first time I felt my youngest experience sex; no matter who it was with, I knew that he or she wouldn’t be good enough.
“We should go,” Alcide said looking at his watch.
I nodded and turned to Jason.
“Exactly ten minutes after sunrise,” I told him, “dial ‘M’ for murder and then the number sign. Alcide will help you know the exact time.”
“What’ll happen when I do?” he asked.
“The Vamp Camp and the TruBlood factory will both explode,” I said.
“Ka-fuckin’-boom!” Jason yelled, looking at the phone as if I’d just giving him a present.
“Yeah,” I chuckled before turning to Sookie.
“Is everything ready?” I asked.
I looked at the Were. “You’re sure it’s safe?”
Herveaux nodded. “The building’s got a sound infrastructure and a solid basement. It’s only a block away from the factory, but it’s abandoned, and there’s another building in between which will take the lion’s share of the impact.”
“Good,” I said, looking around the room at my girls. “126 Industrial Street—two miles northeast of here. Get to safety.”
“You too,” Pam said before she zipped out of the room. Tara and Willa followed right behind.
“Why are you smiling?” Sookie asked me.
“Pam’s finally got a set of minions that she can dress up,” I grinned.
She grinned back.
The remaining members of our group went quickly to a van parked across from the entrance of the building we’d been in.
While Alcide got in, Jason lingered and swiped away a tear.
“Will I see you again?” he asked Sookie.
She looked at me and I nodded.
“We’ll find a way,” she assured him. “It just might take a while.”
Placated, he nodded. “I love you, Sook. I might not have been the best brother, but . . . .”
She interrupted him. “Hush.” She gave him a quick, tight hug.
He looked at me. “Take care of her?”
He reached out for my hand and I shook his. As Jason climbed into the passenger side of the van, I noticed Sarah Newlin tied up and gagged in the back seat. There were a couple of vampire toes sticking out of a blanket right next to her face.
I smiled, but refrained from saying, “Good dog.”
“Ready?” Sookie asked me.
A/N: I hope you liked being back in Eric’s head! Thanks so much for all the messages for the last chapter. I had to laugh at how many of you commented about Jason needing to be glamoured. I love how invested you all are in the story that you noticed that detail! Of course, I knew that the plans for that were coming—even giving Jason another moment to shine—but I smiled every time y’all seemed to be getting into my brain and reminding me to tie up the loose ends. LOL. 😉