A/N: Hey everyone! Thanks so much for continuing to read and comment on this story! I wanted to clear up something about the previous chapter, “Blue.” Sookie did have a dream with Eric in it, but it was not a shared dream. Eric will tell us later that vampires cannot really have dreams―at least not in my story. He was pulled into one of Sookie’s dreams by her, but if you remember, he was completely awake at the time. All mysteries about how all this happens will eventually come out. I hope you enjoy as everything unravels.
Sookie sat at Lafayette’s table, looking at the flowers Bill had brought her. They really were quite beautiful.
“Thanks for bringing these in and puttin’ them in water,” Sookie said to Lafayette, who had just woken up and was pouring himself a cup of the coffee that Sookie had made.
Lafayette looked nervous for a few moments before answering. Eric had said nothing about glamouring away the events of the night before, so he was able to answer truthfully, “Actually Sook, it was your blond vampire that brought them in and asked us to take care of them. He also left that envelope for you.” He gestured toward the large manila envelope on the counter.
Sookie shook her head in surprise. Eric had certainly stunned her in more ways than one the night before. He’d sat with her for a long time, just talking. The conversation had been easy between them. She remembered feeling like she didn’t want him to leave, and she’d even asked him to carry her to bed.
She drank a long sip of coffee, enjoying the feeling of the warmth on her throat. She couldn’t believe she’d basically asked him to tuck her in and tell her a bedtime story. She rolled her eyes at herself in surprise. But Eric’s presence had made her feel more peaceful. After Bill’s warning of danger, it had been nice to know that Eric was there if anything happened.
She looked at Lafayette, who had joined her at the table. “Yeah, Eric was,” she paused looking for the right word, “nice last night.” Even as she said it, she couldn’t believe that “nice” would have ever been a word she would use about Eric Northman, at least for the version of him that didn’t have amnesia.
She looked again at Bill’s gift and pulled the vase closer to her. The roses smelled lovely and sweet, unlike the kind generally found in grocery stores nowadays. She hadn’t received flowers many times, come to think of it, and she appreciated Bill’s thoughtfulness.
She got up and slowly walked to retrieve the envelope and refill her coffee cup. She rejoined Lafayette at the table and felt the weight of the envelope, which she hadn’t held the night before. There seemed to be a thick set of papers and something rattling around inside. She opened it curiously.
Sookie gasped as her house keys, specifically the key ring she recognized as Eric’s set, dropped onto the table top. She touched the keys gingerly before pulling out the other contents of the package, which consisted of a thick, stapled legal document and a smaller envelope with “Sookie” written on it.
It didn’t take her long to realize that the legal document was the paperwork selling her house back to her. What did surprise her was that the date on the legal work indicated that the bill of sale had been initiated one day after her return. And according to the document in front of her, the sale had closed on October 30.
“Oh my gravy!” Sookie exclaimed.
Lafayette asked, “Is that what it looks like Sook?”
She handed him the document.
“Shit,” Lafayette said, drawing out the word. “This says that after you sign, the house is yours again. And, fuck!” he exclaimed reading further down. “The sale is for a dollar, Sookie! It says right here that after you give him a dollar and sign the paper, your house is yours again!”
Sookie grabbed the papers back from him and gasped again as she read them more closely. Sure enough, the document indicated that the house would be hers for a mere dollar.
“Why would he?” Sookie asked softly. “I mean on the same day that it says these were drawn up, he came to my house and asked me to be his―his property. He told me that since he owned the house, he owned me! I don’t understand this!”
“Maybe he explains in that,” Lafayette said, pointing to the smaller envelope sitting next to the keys to Sookie’s house.
“Maybe,” Sookie said, thumbing the envelope, almost afraid of what she’d find in there. She was burning with curiosity to read Eric’s letter though; however, she wanted some privacy.
Seeming to sense this, Lafayette picked up his coffee and walked toward the front door. “I’m gonna be right out here, Sook, if you needs me.”
Though his back was turned to her, Sookie nodded, unable to really say anything.
She picked up the ivory envelope, turning it over in her hands several times. From the thickness of it, there seemed to be several sheets inside.
Again, she noticed Eric’s elegant script on the envelope as she opened it and took the letter out. She took a deep breath.
Eric’s penmanship was something of a masterpiece in and of itself. The paper was thick and unlined, but all the words were spaced perfectly, and the lines of text were straight. When Sookie wrote with a pen, her work contained many mistakes, words scribbled out and lines of text running a bit askew even when she was working on lined paper. Eric’s letter contained no mistakes, blurred letters, or scratched out words from his changing a thought. She was not surprised after having seen his precision in other things. She couldn’t help but smile to herself as she imagined him pouring over manuscripts in candle-lit libraries and perfecting his penmanship during his days as a translator.
She sighed as she began to read the beautiful handwriting.
It is difficult for someone as old as I to change his ways even though adaptation has been a staple of my life. The changes that have come over me due to my experiences with you during the last weeks―actually the last year and a half―have left me trying to balance the old with the new. My position as sheriff of Area 5 demands my continued ruthlessness and ties me to the rigor of vampire politics. Also, there are many more facets to the inner-workings of vampires than you can imagine as of yet, and I have reached my age by looking out for myself above all others.
Now, I find that my first instinct is not always to do that; it seems that looking out for you has become just as―if not more―important to me, and the idea of this leaves me uncertain for the first time that I can remember. This is dangerous for someone who lives on the edge of the sword as I must; however, I find that I would not change the fact that you walked into my club in your pretty little sundress a year and a half ago.
I find that I owe you many apologies, most of which I hope to make in person, but one that I feel the need to write down. After the witch, Marnie, asked for Bill and my deaths in exchange for your freedom, I agreed to the terms. My child stopped my potential martyrdom, and even though I was angry with her at the time―even banishing her from my sight―I must admit that she acted rightly, as I have always taught her to do.
I’m afraid that I allowed my jealousy to rule me in the moment I agreed with Marnie’s scheme. Bill was most clearly willing to give up his life for you―to die for you, so I felt the need to make the same offer. I will admit to you, but no other, that I have been struggling to find myself on even footing with Compton in your eyes since the first moment I saw you. My agreement to die for you was juvenile at best.
Angry and hurt, Sookie looked up from the letter. Was Eric trying to tell her that she was not worth dying for? That this decision would have been a mistake? That putting her life above his own was a mistake? A single tear dripped down her face. She whispered ruefully, “Eric has always been and will always be out for himself above everyone. I should have known that my Eric was gone. He would have always put me above himself, even if I didn’t necessarily want him to.”
Clearly, thought Sookie, Bill’s affection for her ran deeper than Eric’s. She looked at Bill’s flowers and touched them lightly, feeling the soft petals on her fingertips. Her eyes drifted to the keys sitting next to the vase.
They were a very different kind of gift. She steeled herself for what must have been the millionth time in the last few days and continued to read the letter.
If I know you, Sookie, you are probably angry with me for my words and my lack of the Southern honor that Compton seems to have in spades. As you are probably thinking―he was willing to die for you in a second and without second thoughts, but this is not how I operate, Sookie.
She snorted, uttering a barely audible, “No doubt about that,” under her breath before continuing to read.
What would have been the result if we had both died our true deaths? The witch had told us that she’d let you go, but what guarantee did she give us? Also, you would never have left your friends behind, so you would have probably gotten hurt or killed trying to mount a rescue even if she had let you go. Jessica is too young to have been much help to you then, and Pamela, I’m afraid, had been overextended already given her own curse and taking over both my duties as sheriff and the running of Fangtasia due to my incapacitation. If I had died alongside Bill, she would have been the only vampire of any type of authority left in Louisiana, and she would have been able to do very little to protect you from the Authority or Nan Flanagan. Even if you had survived the Marnie situation and saved your friends, Nan knows about your power now, and she may tell members of the Authority to solidify her position. Without Bill or me as a buffer, I fear you would have been in extreme peril. This only adds to the threat that I have guessed that you currently face from your fairy kin. You have not told me for sure where you went in your more than year absence, but to the fairy realm is the only logical answer. This also would explain the lapse of time you experienced. I know a bit about fairies from stories told to me by Godric and his maker, and I would not wish you to be left vulnerable to them. Your lack of a lasting reaction when I “killed your fairy godmother” indicates that they are not your friends, so I can only posit that they are a potential danger to you.
My final death would have, perhaps, been a grand gesture, but it would have also been an ultimately fruitless one. My death would have helped you for one night―maybe. Alive I can be of more service to you. So, Sookie, I will not die for you as Compton would. But I do aim to live for you and to keep you alive as well.
Sookie looked up again from the letter, Eric’s logic sinking in. She scolded herself for always jumping to the wrong conclusions about Eric―and jumping fast! She asked herself out loud, “Why do I do that? Where does it come from?” The answer struck her like a bolt out of the blue. Bill’s words and opinions had been the first she had ever heard about Eric, and the thoughts of her first love had always tainted her perceptions of her second. “Well that’s just bologna,” she said, continuing to scold herself. “You know how to make up your own frickin’ mind, Sookie Stackhouse! Gran taught you better than this!” Sookie vowed right then and there that Bill’s words and thoughts concerning Eric were never―ever―going to cloud her own perceptions of him again.
Eric was right. If Bill and he had died the true death that night, it would have been for little purpose. Marnie would have still been possessed and would have probably found a way to kill Pam and Jessica. Lafayette, Jesus, Tara, Holly and the others had not been guaranteed their freedom, and Eric was right that she wouldn’t have left without them. And even if all the vampires of Louisiana had been killed, there was no indication that Marnie would have stopped her vendetta; in fact, she seemed to be getting more and more fanatical. Sookie continued reading.
So I apologize to you for acting without thought and out of jealousy. I have admitted before that I am a selfish being, but since you have become so important to me, I find that your best interests and mine have begun to line up more and more. Perhaps, through a stroke of cosmic luck, I can remain just as selfish and still work for your best interests as well.
Sookie couldn’t help but smile. She could imagine Eric smirking and giving her a cheeky look as he said the last line to her.
Now, I must move on to the practical. You have, no doubt, seen the order for sale for the house on Hummingbird Lane, your home. I reverted to my baser nature two nights after you returned to this realm and attempted to use the house to make you mine. I had already set in motion the transfer, but I couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to try to convince you to become mine in exchange for my protection. I am nothing if not an opportunist. However, the risk to you in not being able to keep vampires out of the home was too great, so I had hoped that you would agree to accept protection from me while I was waiting for the paperwork to go through. I admit to my duplicity, Sookie. I cannot tell you how odd a sensation it was to feel half of myself wanting to secure you in any way possible―even if through misleading you―and half of myself being ashamed for trying because I knew you would hate me if I succeeded. In short, I know now that I behaved badly, and I am sorry for that too.
Sookie let out another snort. Again, she felt anger at Eric’s attempted manipulation, but she was also surprised that he was willing to admit it.
You have no reason to believe me, but my offer to protect you and to declare you as mine would not have been contingent upon your giving me either sex or blood. I would have tried to keep you safe―and will continue to try―for nothing in return.
Don’t get me wrong, however. I am no saint. I would have used all my considerable powers of persuasion to try to seduce you, but I have never wanted your affection as some kind of payment for services rendered.
I must also admit to another small crime that evening when I was in your home. Before I entered your bedroom and saw your delicious naked body for the first time, . . .
Sookie blushed as she pulled her knees up to her chest and got more comfortable. She bit her lip.
. . . I saw your purse downstairs and stole a dollar from you. I shall count this as payment made in advance for the sale of your home, so the papers will be complete as soon as you sign them. I have already had them notarized, and the official sale has been backdated to October 30 for the title records, so sign that date, if you don’t mind. I hope that you will invite me into your home when next we meet there. If you decide to stay in your grandmother’s old room from now on, as you said you might during our last evening together in that house, I would like to see to that squeak in your bed. It is the least I can do for you.
Sookie’s blush moved throughout her whole body and her eyes grew wide before she smiled broadly. There had most definitely been a squeak in that particular bed. She put down the letter momentarily, fanned herself, and then went to grab a pen she’d seen in Lafayette’s living room. She poured more coffee, returned to her seat and immediately signed and dated the Bill of Sale that would make her house hers again. She went back to the letter.
I realize, given your nature, that you may wish to somehow pay me, at least for the improvements I made in your absence, . . .
Sookie nodded as she read, her own Southern pride and desire to NOT be a kept woman in any capacity flooding her.
. . . but I would like for you to consider why your home was damaged in the first place. It was done when you were away from Bon Temps and working for me. More significantly, it was done when you were aiding me in finding my maker. The Maenad was most likely in the midst of her destruction the very night that you survived a rape attempt, our time in the church, and a bomber’s attempt to kill everyone in Godric’s home, in addition to my trickery to get you to take my blood. Perhaps even as you stayed with my maker when I could not and stood by his side, shedding tears for him as he met the sun, the Maenad may have been desecrating your grandmother’s things. I ask that you allow me to share in the responsibility in preserving Adele’s memory by repairing her―now your―home. You did, after all, aid Godric in a way that I could never repay. I hope that you will consider us even when it comes to the repairs.
Sookie reached for a dish towel that was on the table to wipe some of the newly forming tears from her eyes and cheeks. Eric’s words about Gran and Godric had touched her deeply.
For the rest, you may ask your brother about the price I paid him for the property. If he has retained some of the money from the sale, I will accept that. However, beyond that, I do not wish to accept any other money from your brother of yourself. I am an old vampire, and I have been smart in business. I have more money than I will ever know what to do with―despite having Pamela as a child―and the price for your home and its repair has not―I can assure you―left me deficit in any way. I hope that you will accept this, but I know that the matter will probably be a topic of discussion in the future, and I am ready to listen to any counter-proposals you wish to make.
Oh, speaking of money, Pam will be visiting tomorrow―Monday evening―to pay you the promised sum for your taking me into your home when I was incapacitated, your babysitting as I think you called it. Given what happened between us, I’m sure you are bristling at the thought of still taking this money, but I ask that you do. If it makes you feel any better, writing the check from her personal shopping fund and delivering it to you herself are some of Pamela’s punishments for shooting a rocket directly at you. I have also ordered her to apologize to you for this act. I admit to being a bit envious that I won’t be there to see it. I asked her to be extra contrite.
Sookie’s emotions turned once again, as she smiled at the thought of Pam’s punishment. She’d have to think about whether to cash the check, but she would take it just to see the look on Pam’s face. She imagined the smirk on Eric’s face as he issued this orders to his child.
Finally, I must write to you about some measures I have put in place to protect you. I’m sure by now that Bill has impressed upon you the perilous position you are in, and I wrote about it above. I know that your first impulse will be to resist protection and to try to take care of yourself, . . .
“Damned skippy,” Sookie said to herself. She didn’t want to owe Eric for this, no matter how much she was coming to value him. Also, she was afraid that a bodyguard from Eric would mean that her privacy would be lost. At the same time, however, she acknowledged her fear. Even the night before, she had contemplated whether to take Bill’s blood again, just to ensure her own safety. And she couldn’t deny that she had felt a lot better, knowing that Eric was there.
. . . but I ask you to go against your nature in this for the short term―at least until you have decided on what direction you wish to take for your life. I have chosen two protectors that I feel will be most palatable for you. In addition, you may gain a sense of satisfaction in knowing how uncomfortable the situation will make me once I have explained it fully. After all, if you are to be put-out―so to speak―in accepting my aid, then I shouldn’t be in the position to celebrate your discomfort.
To this end, I have arranged for Alcide Herveaux to look after you during the day hours. As I am sure you can surmise, my jealousy that he can protect you when I cannot knows no bounds. However, I am learning from my previous lesson the other night and have put my jealousy to the side―with great difficulty, I can assure you. Lest you feel that his protection of you is completely noble, I have agreed to pay off some gambling debts accrued by Herveaux’s father, which have estranged the whole family from their original pack in Mississippi.
I sacrificed much pride to ask for his aid, especially after the Were growled at me that day at the lake when I was still experiencing the after-dinner effects of your fairy godmother.
Sookie couldn’t help but laugh, imagining Eric’s mixture of sarcasm and disgust if he were saying these words in front of her.
Moreover, I did not like the way he was looking at you or the way he spoke to you on your porch that day. (Yes, I could hear you from my “cubby.”) I like it even less that he stood naked next to you, and although I did not catch you looking, I still didn’t like it.
Sookie had to shake herself out of the memory of being so close to two beautiful, naked men that morning. She’d been so worried about Eric at the time that she’d not been able to enjoy the sight as much as she’d wanted to, but she had sneaked a peak at both Eric and Alcide’s beautiful bodies that morning. She blushed again.
I am comforted only by the fact that in this situation, I will once again prove myself to be the “bigger” man (pun definitely intended) just as I was that morning―despite the chill of the water, I might add.
Sookie’s blush at Eric’s words knew no bounds. In this point, she would definitely have to agree. She had only seen three male “tools” in her life, and to be fair to Alcide, she didn’t see him aroused or anything, but she was definitely sure that Eric’s―um gracious plenty―was in a class by itself. Hell, it was the teacher of that class!
You may call Alcide’s cell as soon as you are done reading this letter. If you are reading this in the daytime, then he is already close-by, keeping an eye out for any danger. However, I asked him to wait for your call before he showed himself at the house.
As for your night guard, I cannot help but feel that you will want some distance from Bill and myself, and I will respect this and try not to contact you unless something arises concerning your safety. I have arranged for you to be protected by a very special vampire friend of mine, whom I feel you will like very much and who is extremely good at keeping out of sight. This particular vampire is also under the protection of most of the kings and queens in America, as his case is special. He has worked for me from time to time, and since I treat him with respect, he is very loyal. I feel as though I must prepare you, however, for his appearance.
The first thing that you must know is that you have to refer to him as Bubba. If not, there will be trouble. Do not, under any circumstances, call him Elvis or even Mr. Presley! This is imperative, and I must insist that Lafayette, Jesus, and especially your brother be well-schooled in this rule as well. It may be pretty clear, now, to whom I am referring; you will be able to recognize him immediately, I am sure. I will not tell you the whole story now, but suffice it to say that he was too near death from overdose, one of the paramedics was a vampire and a huge fan, and the turning did not go well at all. Remembering his past makes him extremely agitated; thus, he must be Bubba and Bubba only. Oh, and make sure that if Lafayette has a cat, that Bubba is told it is off limits. I have ordered him to listen to you in all things. He will arrive this evening with Pam, who will make the introductions. Oh, and don’t ask him to sing. He will sometimes break out into song on his own, and you can take my word for it that it is a great treat, but he doesn’t respond well to being asked.
I must wrap this up now so that I can drop it off for you with Jesus or Lafayette. Please suggest to them that they place protective wards around both their home and yours. After feeling their power personally, I am certain that they are strong enough to place very strong wards. I am having all of Marnie’s magic books and many of her supplies delivered to them this afternoon, so I’m sure they will find an appropriate spell there.
I will close by saying something about the spell that they placed, the spell that severed our blood connection with each other. You need never try to justify this decision to me. You have already told me your reasons, and I have accepted them.
Sookie looked up, wondering what Eric was talking about; they hadn’t discussed her reasoning as far as she could remember.
You said at Compton’s the other night that you loved both Bill and I. I could see in your eyes that it was tearing you apart; I just didn’t know how to help you then. You said that you thought the love might be because we’d give you our blood, that it might only be chemical. It is your time now Sookie, your time to find out if your theory is correct. You were right that night when you told me that I had given myself to you―completely. I stand by that decision even now; I would do it again as both the Eric you came to love and the one writing to you now. I want you to be “mine,” Sookie Stackhouse. I am very aware that you hate this term, but since you can most definitely label me as “yours” already, I feel that it is only fair. I hope the love you felt for me remains in you even as you read this. If it does not, I will still offer you my protection―again, with no strings attached.
Either way, I will await your call as I did before.