Sookie stretched out in her lounge chair and started the arduous task of analyzing her feelings. She had been setting aside things to think about later for so long that she now had a very long list to get through. She sighed.
As expected, she was still uncertain about many things regarding the men in her life as well as what she wanted from her relationships with them. She was especially wary of what they wanted from her. However, she did feel certain that she would be able to rationally meet all of her doubts head-on, and she was actively taking steps to use her dinners with both Bill and Eric to accomplish just that.
What she hadn’t expected what the intense grief that she’d been feeling for Gran ever since the blood tie and bond had been destroyed. She tried not to be angry with herself, but she was having a hard time with that too. She realized she’d never really dealt with Gran’s death―never felt the grief she needed to. It was true that she had grieved right after Gran died, a mixture of shock and intense loss, but she realized now that she’d never dealt with those emotions or honored Gran by feeling them as she should have. Instead, the night after Gran’s funeral, she had literally run directly to Bill―in a virginal nightgown, no less. She scoffed at her own actions, “What were you thinkin’, Sookie Stackhouse?”
She’d heard of many people dealing with grief by replacing it with something else, but Sookie wondered if her grief had been stifled at least in part by Bill’s blood. Her major emotion changed from acute grief to absolute love overnight―literally―and though she had been saddened by the loss of Gran after that, she never felt it acutely again, at least not until now.
It was perhaps natural for her to have avoided her grief. From the thoughts of those around her, she knew all about denial. But it did not escape her notice that her grief hit her hard again only after the vampire blood was gone. Now Sookie intended to reason out the reappearance of this strong emotion and to honor Gran by putting her common sense to it.
She had felt intense grief immediately after Gran died. “What could have changed that grief so much in just one night?” Sookie asked herself out loud. Well, she’d lost her virginity; that was definitely a change. She had felt like she loved Bill after that night, but she also knew that was a normal reaction. After all, it was common, especially for girls, to fall in love with―or to think that they were in love with―the ones they’d lost their virginity to.
Suddenly, the other major part of her first sexual encounter hit her like a ton of bricks: Bill had bitten her and taken quite a bit of her blood that night.
Could that have strengthened the tie enough to alter her emotions? At one point, she had also thought that she tasted blood when they were kissing―before he had actually bitten her. She had thought he might have nicked her tongue with his fang, but what if he’d bitten his own tongue or something? She cringed mentally, wondering if he’d do that. She answered her own question out loud in a whisper, “He may have. At that time he was still out to procure me for the queen, so sneaking more blood into me would have been good strategy.”
Still, she wondered if he would have gone that far, especially since she had just lost Gran. He’d seemed so loving that night, after all. But then she remembered that only about a week before, he’d paid the Rattrays to beat her to near death while he’d stood by watching them do it and waiting for her to reach a point when she’d gratefully take his blood.
She shuddered. She’d also become much more comfortable, even compelled in a way, to tell Bill her secrets after they’d had sex. She’d thought it was a sign of the trust and intimacy they’d had, but she wasn’t sure anymore. Now that she thought about it, Sookie realized that Bill certainly hadn’t opened up to her in the way she’d opened herself to him. There was no real exchange of thoughts or emotions between them. It had just been her opening up. Whenever she’d asked him a question, he’d evaded it or told her that it was a vampire issue and, therefore, not to be spoken of.
She’d told him about Uncle Bartlett, and only two others had ever known about that―Gran and Tara. Looking back, she wondered why she’d spilled her most painful secret to someone she’d known only for a short time. Then Sookie remembered something that Jesus had said the other day. A vampire could use a tie to subtly influence a human’s emotions or actions since there was a kind of “glamour within the blood itself.” Sookie had put that idea to the side because she was able to resist regular vampire glamour, but what if she couldn’t fully resist the glamour within the blood tie itself?
Sookie felt like she’d been functioning in a room with dim lights, which had kept her from seeing everything clearly. Since the blood tie and bond had been removed, the lights in the room had been turned on full blast.
She wondered briefly if she was just being paranoid about Bill, but common sense Sookie scolded her. Bill had manipulated her―at least for a while. He had lied to her. He hadn’t told her the truth even after he had said that he loved her. That thought was the most disconcerting of all to Sookie. Still, she felt that she needed to give Bill a chance later that evening. Whatever his motives had been at first and however he may have tried to use his blood, they had been through a lot together, and she would give him an opportunity to come clean. She was also willing to let her feelings occur naturally with him. She knew that her instincts and her common sense―if she listened to them―would help her determine whether she still loved Bill.
Sookie took a deep breath and centered herself. Gran had always taught her that to solve any problem, she needed to consider all the angles and directions. As Sookie saw it, she had five choices, and she planned to work through them logically, giving each one a fair examination with the old common sense.
One―she could re-tie herself to Bill. He was king now and could protect her because of that. And most of all, she was almost certain that he did love her, despite all the deception that had existed between them before.
Two―she could take Eric’s blood, and she could bond or tie herself to him. Though not king, Eric was the strongest vampire she had known with the exceptions of Godric and Russell. And she was certain that he was the smartest. He seemed to love her too, and they were connected through her dreams somehow even without a blood tie or bond.
Three―she could say no to vampires altogether and go for Alcide. He’d given her an offer the afternoon before and something extra to think about that morning. He was a Were, so she couldn’t hear his thoughts as clearly as a human man’s. And he was right; they could have children. That would never be a possibility with a vampire.
Four―she could just be on her own, stay in Bon Temp, and try to get something of a “normal” life back. This was a very tempting possibility, especially since she was certain that Eric was being serious about continuing his protection of her no matter what.
Five―she could run; after all, she’d been prepared to do it the night before if Eric and Bill had been killed. Now that no one had her blood, she could run away clean from Bon Temps. It would be a struggle and she’d have to give up her family and friends for the most part, sort of like she was entering the witness protection program, but she’d be free as long as she stayed away from Supes. She had the check that Eric had made Pam give her in her purse, and that money―which turned out to be twenty thousand dollars―would pay for her to start a new life. If she were very careful, she might even be able to stay in contact with those she cared for the most by using anonymous email accounts and the like.
Sookie had decided to consider these options one by one until she finally landed on the best one for herself or until she came up with another, better option.
She could already eliminate one of her five options: Alcide. She felt horrible about it, but she knew that Alcide and she wouldn’t work out. Sure, there was bad timing between them as there always had been, but ever since the vampire blood had been gone from her system, she realized that the increased libido thing had been at least partially responsible for her attraction to him. Certainly, he was a beautiful man to look at―dark curly hair and brown, soulful eyes to die for, as well as a body to rival even Eric’s. He was all muscle―all man―and Sookie couldn’t deny that her stomach fluttered when she saw him even now, but it had done a lot more than flutter before the blood had been taken away. She’d almost kissed him several times while she was still in love with Bill, for goodness sakes! And she would never have done that if it weren’t for the blood; she knew that now. The physical pull she felt toward him was definitely gone.
Thinking rationally, Sookie knew that Alcide would be a good man for her in a lot of ways. He was strong, and as a Were, he’d have ways to protect her from other Supes. But the fact of the matter was that she could hear him to a certain extent, especially when they touched. And he was most certainly not over Debbie. No matter what she’d done to him in the past, he loved her, and up until just a few days before, they had been sharing a life that he was happy with.
Sookie Stackhouse was no rebound girl! And, if she was telling herself the truth, Alcide felt like a rebound to her as well. He seemed like he’d be a great guy to help her get over Bill and Eric, but at the end of that, she wondered what would be left between them except hard feelings.
Also, she knew that if she tried to have sex with him, that the emotions and the pictures from his mind would be especially hard to ignore, and the thought of having to keep her shields tightly in place during sex wasn’t something that appealed to her. And she knew as sure as she was sitting in Lafayette’s back yard that he’d eventually think of Debbie during sex because she was the one Alcide really wanted, whether that was what was best for him or not. She could feel the bile rise in her throat at the thought of having to deal with his thoughts about her all the time.
Plus, Sookie had seen flashes from Alcide’s mind of how he thought it was a pity that Sookie had slept with vampires―as if she’d somehow tainted herself. He had decided in his conscious mind that he liked her enough to overlook her past, but the subconscious often fed people’s thoughts, and she knew that Alcide would unintentionally―but inevitably―hurt her with his negative thoughts about her past lovers.
He was also so concerned about not passing on the Were gene that he wasn’t even thinking that Sookie might be concerned about not passing on the telepathy or the fairy gene. He didn’t want a Supe child with Debbie, and she knew from Debbie’s thoughts the other day that Debbie had been insecure about that and really wanted kids. Debbie was proud of what she was, and for that, at least, Sookie had tried to like her. Debbie was also head over heels in love with Alcide; she was just really frightened and tended toward self-destruction as a defense mechanism.
Sookie wondered if Alcide would really want kids with her once he seriously thought about it. Their kids would not be “normal” if they inherited from Sookie. And Sookie wasn’t sure if she wanted kids anyway. Given the danger she was constantly in now, she couldn’t imagine bringing kids into the world, and even if she somehow managed to escape and find a “normal” life, she would always fear that the fairies might find her and take her children. And, of course, if she had kids with Alcide, she’d be able to hear all his thoughts about them too, and she knew first hand that people’s thoughts about their children were not always positive.
No―she didn’t see herself as a mother in the foreseeable future. She’d imagined once or twice during the nights that she was holding Eric after making love with him that they could have kids. She saw beautiful blond-haired, blue-eyed boys toddling around in the yard as she and Eric looked on, but she knew that this particular fantasy was for naught, so she had put it out of her mind. Still, in all her life, she’d never imagined having anyone’s children until those thoughts about Eric. She realized that she didn’t have the same kind of thoughts related to Alcide; simply put, not only did she not want to have children at that time, but also, she didn’t want them with Alcide in particular.
As much as she might like Alcide, something felt off with him; maybe it was the fact that he seemed to hate all vampires just because of what they were. Maybe he did have better reasoning than what he had conveyed, but Sookie didn’t operate in that way. She refused to judge all members of a group by the actions of one―or even most―of the other members of that group. For every Russell, there was a Godric. For every Queen Mab, there was a Claude. For every Cooter, there was an Alcide. For every Rene, there was a Hoyt. For every Marnie, there was a Jesus. For every bad thought, there was a good one. That’s just how she looked at the world. She didn’t see Alcide putting aside his preconceptions enough for her to be comfortable having a life with him. Heck, even Eric had shown that he could put aside his prejudices and work with other “species” more openly than Alcide had. Eric seemed to be equally guarded with everyone at first, no matter who they were. In that sense, he really was like Mr. Darcy. But he gave trust to everyone that he felt deserved it, no matter what their “species”; his behavior toward Jesus, Lafayette, her brother, Bubba, and even Alcide showed her that.
She sighed. Choosing Alcide would not be the best thing for her. The only question was whether she should tell him that right away. After thinking for a few minutes, she decided not to. Maybe it made her a bad person, but she didn’t want Alcide to have to guard her after she told him. It would be awkward for both of them. She resolved to ask Eric to find someone different for her if she needed to be guarded after she had made her choice on Friday. She’d make sure that Eric paid Alcide’s father’s debt no matter what though. She just hoped that she and Alcide could remain friends after she let him know that was all she wanted.