WARNING: I hope you all know that when I include depictions of assault (of any kind) in my work, I try to be extremely thoughtful about how far to push things. From C.H.’s books, however, we know of sexual abuse occurring to Sookie (Uncle Bartlett and Bill) and Eric (Appius). I have attempted to show both care and restraint in referring to Appius’s interactions with Eric. We all know that Appius is an abuser and a rapist; in this work there will be references to things occurring, but no graphic depictions. Still, if any kind of referencing of sexual abuse is something you avoid, then you should skip the short section in italics. That will be the only section where Eric and Appius have direct interaction in the story. Unfortunately, abuse happens in this world. In my opinion, lights should be shone on this issue so that abusers face the wrath of society.
MARCH 11, 2005: ONE MONTH LATER
“Time is such an odd thing,” I marveled to myself as I parked my old car near the back door of Gran’s house. The old pickup truck that Eric had bought for work still sat in its spot, but it hadn’t been driven since he’d gone.
March had come in “like a lion,” and I hurried into the house in order to escape the frigid cold and wind.
Well—at twenty degrees, it was frigid for Louisiana.
I quickly turned on some water so that I could make some hot tea.
I was still working the day shifts, but I’d changed my schedule so that I went to bed around midnight—not that I did much sleeping.
I was still looking forward to the spring, but time seemed to have slowed down. My days with Eric—my time being a wife and being happy—had passed in a blink. By contrast, all the days since he’d gone away had passed in elongated spurts of work followed by even longer periods of loneliness at home.
Simply put, the house seemed dead without the dead man living in it.
With the mechanical movements of a human who’d decided to stay alive merely out of habit, I placed a bag of tea into a cup and waited for the kettle to hiss.
Meanwhile, I took off the cranberry red coat that had been a gift from the “new-old” Eric. I clung to that coat with every hope in my body. Did it mean that a little of him had remembered me? Truly cared for me? I knew from Pam that even that “old” Eric had wanted me—had had affection for me. But Eric had also been the king of suppression—out of necessity.
The coat had arrived two days after he’d left. How he’d managed to send it without Ocella knowing, I didn’t know. But I truly doubted his maker would had allowed the gesture. There had been a card.
Your outerwear is unacceptable. –E.
My own Eric hadn’t been worldly enough to notice the threadbare condition of my coat. He’d not had experience with new fashions or fine materials. To him, my coat had been perfectly fine—probably a lot more luxurious than the “coats” that his human kin had worn.
But the “real” Eric noticed such things.
Of course, I wore the new coat. And I hoped like hell that the “new-old Eric” would remember me eventually.
FEBRUARY 12, 2005 (1 MONTH EARLIER—THE NIGHT AFTER THE CURSE WAS COMPLETED)
To say that I woke up disoriented would suggest that I could understand anything about the condition in which I arose. I did not. In a thousand years, I’d never woken up in a place I’d not bed down.
But here I was in a foreign space.
I inhaled deeply.
I smelled me—everywhere.
I stood up and looked around the large bedroom. The bed I’d been in was big, and I knew right away that I’d built the frame, though I had no recollection of doing so. Still, I knew. Wood had not been worked in the Viking way for almost a millennium. It took a true Viking to know that, too.
And I was one.
I walked to the closet. I saw that half of the clothing was mine—though some of it was certainly “new” to me. I recognized garments in the other half of the closet as things Sookie had worn in my presence and knew that the rest of the clothing belonged to her too.
I looked on the dresser.
A wedding photo.
Me and her.
We looked happy.
I was lost.
A feeling within me indicated a numbness: a broken bond.
I looked frantically around the room searching for more clues, and then I stretched out my senses to assess the rest of the home.
I smelled Sookie almost directly below me. Her heart was racing, but I couldn’t feel her at all—not in the way that the blood tie had enabled me to feel her emotions in the past.
But there was something there. I wanted to go to her. But I stopped myself.
My phone rang. I answered. It was Pam.
“Come to Fangtasia,” she said. “I’ll explain everything. Just. Don’t. Hurt. Sookie.”
“Hurt her? Why would I do that? And what am I doing here?” I asked, confused. “And why do I feel as if a bond in me has died?”
“What else do you feel?” she asked cautiously.
“Confused. And I don’t fucking like it!” I growled back, tired of the feeling already.
“There was a witch’s spell,” she said.
“A witch?” I asked.
“Yes. It made you forget who you were.”
“You have been living with Sookie for a month—without your previous memories. You married her.”
“I saw the fucking pictures!” I yelled.
“Just know this: Sookie is not to blame for the situation. She just took care of you while you had amnesia. And she didn’t prevent me from seeking a cure,” my child added quickly.
“And you found one?”
“Yes. And, once I did, the bond was a problem. I knew that you wouldn’t want to have a bond that you didn’t agree to. Was I wrong?”
“No,” I growled.
“For that reason, the bond that amnesiac you and Sookie made was broken when the witch’s spell was.”
I felt that Pam was holding information back. “What aren’t you telling me?” I asked.
“Sophie-Anne—she sent Bill Compton to procure Sookie months ago,” she said.
“What?” I asked angrily. “She dared to poach in my area?”
“Yes. And I’ll tell you all about it when you come in,” she added. “Just know that Sookie both protected you and then cooperated when I brought you a cure.”
“I will be there soon,” I said before hanging up. I looked down. I had on blue jeans and a T-shirt; though not a usual combination I’d choose, both garments were mine and both smelled strongly of Sookie.
I’d heard of memory spells before, but never those that could affect vampires. I rushed to the closet and chose clothing that smelled more of cleaning detergent. Then I put on my boots.
In addition to feeling the broken bond that I’d obviously made with Sookie at some point, I also felt a nagging sensation that I ought to be doing something other than what I was.
I didn’t like it. It was disconcerting. All of my feelings were disconcerting—especially when I thought of the telepath!
I contemplated leaving through the window, but I went downstairs instead.
Sookie was sitting at a table I didn’t recognize, but knew immediately that I’d made.
“That is a good quality table,” I commented.
She nodded in agreement, though she said nothing. Food lay untouched in front of her. And a full cup of coffee that had obviously run cold was next to the food.
“You and I married?”
“I stayed here while I was cursed?”
I found that I missed her speaking to me—the way she was always ready to challenge me.
“I fucked you?” I asked, trying to get a rise.
“Many times,” she whispered.
I was about to offer to fuck her again when that nagging feeling came back to me. My fangs slid down as anger tore through me. “I do not like feeling!” I yelled.
“I know,” she whispered.
“What am I feeling?” I asked, confused as hell.
Before she could answer, I felt something else.
Something I recognized.
My eyes widened.
“What is it?” Sookie asked.
“My maker! Rescind my invitation and Pam’s! Now!” I yelled before zipping from the room and then from the house. Ocella was close—probably less than fifty miles away from me.
I flew as fast as I could toward Fangtasia, glad that he was calling me there rather than coming to me at Sookie’s—even though a tiny part of me wished that he would just kill her—since I could not do it myself. Since I’d known her, Sookie had arguably affected me a little too much, and—now—I felt even “more” for her, though the feelings seemed alien to me.
What had the fucking witch done to me?!
I pushed thoughts of Sookie and witches away as I began to steel myself for seeing my maker. I felt emptier and emptier with every mile I flew toward him—and away from her.
But I couldn’t go back. My maker was calling.
“On your knees, boy,” Ocella greeted as soon as I entered Fangtasia.
It was my maker’s standard greeting. I still remembered it.
I still remembered not to disobey. Head lowered, I fell to my knees before him immediately.
“Look at me!” he ordered.
“Do you know me?” he asked. There was a younger vampire next to him—one who looked about fourteen but was obviously more than 100 years old.
“Of course, master,” I replied, trying to keep my voice calm, my emotions suppressed.
I felt Pam near the bar, but I didn’t dare look her way. Thankfully, Fangtasia had not yet opened for the night.
I heard my maker’s zipper lower.
I knew what to do when that happened too. And I did it, feeling nothing but a sense of emptiness that threatened to overwhelm me.
“Please me and I might not kill the telepath when I visit her later,” my maker said sickly.
I turned off my mind as I performed a physical act I detested.
THAT SAME NIGHT, TWO HOURS LATER
Appius Livius Ocella showed up at my house three hours after Eric had left. I felt his void. And then I heard what sounded like whizzing as he seemed to be looking around.
I was sitting on the stairs—more numb than anything else. Pam had speculated that Ocella would come. And I’d been waiting for my husband’s maker.
It looked as though he was going to make me wait a little longer as he scouted around.
I closed my eyes, reliving the night thus far. I had woken up—groggy as hell—an hour before sunset on what I had already labeled in my mind at S-Day.
As in “Sucks to be Sookie Day.”
I’d felt numb all over, though I was waiting for the pain. Octavia had said that the tonic might take a bit to wear off.
I’d gotten out of bed because I’d been too nervous to stay in it with Eric—whom I had known would be waking up without his memories of our time together. I’d used the bathroom. I’d showered. I’d made coffee. I’d made food. I’d sat at the beautiful table that Eric had made for the dining room—in one of the two chairs that had been finished. The others were still in the little work shed out back. They were half-made.
Sunset had come and Eric had risen.
He’d been the Sheriff of Area 5—a jarring presence after the time I’d spent with my Eric.
Despite hearing a slight thud from outside, I kept my eyes closed and kept remembering.
Not surprisingly, Eric had been somewhat cold—somewhat aloof. Confused. Suspicious. I’d speculated that he was feeling the loss of his heart’s desire without ever remembering that he’d had it.
I just hoped that my Eric was intact within him—somewhere.
So that this Eric could survive Hallow’s true curse.
And then—my nightmare had come true as Ocella had clearly called him. I had paced for a while before my legs no longer seemed to want to work. Then I’d sat on the stairs.
The only interruption had been from Bubba, who had quickly come into the house to give me his blood. He’d left right after taking a drop of mine—again apologizing for needing to find something to “rinse me down.”
I had, as Eric had ordered, rescinded his invitation and then Pam’s—since an invitation automatically applied to all members of a bloodline.
I’d thought that it had broken what was left of my heart to rescind my husband’s welcome to our home, but I’d been wrong, for my heart seemed to be breaking anew by the minute.
There was another thud outside, this time from the front porch. Appius Livius Ocella knocked on my door at 10:03 p.m.
I steeled myself and opened the door, but I was careful to stay out of his grip.
“Are you the human wife of my child?” Ocella asked.
“I am,” I answered, “but Eric no longer remembers our marriage.”
“Oh—I know that,” Ocella grinned. “But his mouth was busy, so I would like for you to explain the situation to me,” he ordered.
I immediately understood the implications of Ocella’s words. He’d violated Eric. However, from Pam, through Eric’s commands, Ocella had likely heard everything. So I made sure that I spoke the truth, though without giving details. “Eric was cursed by a witch on the first night of January. Her name was Hallow. She took his memory, and he came here. I took him in and we fell in love while he was here. His child came last night with a cure for him. He became himself again and cannot remember what we had. Our bond was broken by his request,” I recounted, not bothering to squelch my tears.
“You love him,” Ocella leered.
“Of course,” I returned. “But, like I said, he doesn’t remember us.”
“Still, he seems to care about what happens to you,” Ocella commented.
“I am a telepath,” I returned. “I helped Eric find a thief in his business. I gained him profits in Dallas. I am,” I paused and let out a sob, “useful.”
“I think he cares about you for more reasons than that,” Ocella replied.
“He’s always wanted to fuck me,” I said crudely.
“And did he?” Ocella asked.
“Not before he lost his memories,” I responded.
“Would you fuck him now?” he asked.
“Yes, but it would be difficult since there’s no way in hell I would invite him into this home,” I returned.
Ocella laughed heartily. “I like you. You are feisty. Would you like being a vampire?” he asked. “I could have fun with you.”
“Come out of the house so that I can show you just how much fun,” he tried glamouring.
“No thank you. And, just so you know, glamour doesn’t work on me,” I said, trying to keep my emotions in check. Fear and anger and despair seemed to be working very hard to replace the numbness I’d been feeling.
“A woman with manners. I like that,” Ocella chuckled. “Do you know that you are coveted by the Queen of this state?” he asked with a smirk.
“I have learned that very recently—yes.”
He inhaled deeply.
“My child’s scent is all around this place, but not inside your blood.”
“Pam’s witch eradicated my and Eric’s blood connection when she was here.”
The ancient vampire grinned.
“Did that hurt?” he asked.
“I was sedated,” I said evenly, now having to work even harder to keep my emotions in check.
Ocella looked disappointed, and for the first time, I noticed a younger vampire in the shadows.
“Don’t worry. I hurt now. I ache,” I informed.
At that Ocella smiled. “So does Eric, but he doesn’t know why. It is most,” he paused, “amusing.”
The vampire in the shadows growled as if jealous, but Ocella ignored him.
He was silent for several moments.
“The Queen had gotten my hopes up,” he said wistfully. “I’d been promised that I would find my child a blank slate. An empty canvas,” he added.
Still trying to keep my emotions from overwhelming me, I said nothing in answer to that comment.
“I would claim you myself, but I can sense that you’ve already been claimed by another.”
“I’m a hot commodity.”
“I could burn down this house around you, drain you, and present your dead body to Eric.”
“He would be sorry to lose an asset,” I said, wondering if I was telling the truth—fearing that I was. “He would be,” I paused, “disappointed.”
“You really do love him,” Ocella grinned.
“With all that I am,” I said again.
“And if I brought him here and flailed him alive?” he asked. “And set your house alit?”
“I would stay in this house and let it burn me to death while I prayed for my husband,” I answered as sobs escaped me.
“I believe you would,” he grinned. “That would hurt my child a great deal—I think.”
“He’d get over it,” I answered.
“Yes,” he said contemplatively. “I think that he would. But—tell me—would you get over losing him?” he asked.
“No. And I have lost him already,” I answered honestly.
“Yes you have.”
Ocella left Gran’s home cackling.
Truth be told, I didn’t want him to leave. I didn’t want him to return to where Eric was.
But I knew that’s where he was going.
The weight of my sorrow and my pain took me down to the floor.
A/N: I won’t say that the angst is over, but the next chapter will introduce a ray of hope. For me, this chapter is the low point; I hope you will hang in there with me.