Chapter 44: The Edge of the Ocean, Part One

A/N: This chapter title (along with the next two) comes from a song by Ivy called “Edge of the Ocean.”

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Sookie had gathered up the few dishes from their dinner and had taken them to the kitchen.  As she warmed another TruBlood for Eric and fixed herself another glass of iced tea, she looked at Eric, who was still sitting at the table, looking a bit shell-shocked.

“Why don’t you go on into the living room, and I’ll be in there in a sec, okay?” she said, her voice stirring him.

In moments, he was up and taking their drinks into the other room for her.  She shook her head a bit as she put the lid onto the big pot of soup.  There was enough left to freeze several portions, she thought happily.

As she sat on the couch opposite the one Eric had chosen, she noticed that they were sitting in the same positions they had been in after Tara had confronted them, telling Eric of all the bad things he’d done to her.  She also noticed that he’d used coasters, a fact that almost had her melting before she’d even begun.

Sookie steeled herself and spoke, making her voice sound as business-like as she’d done with Bill the night before.  “I think it’s only fair to warn you that I have a lot of questions to ask you tonight.”

Eric immediately understood Sookie’s tone.  He was a businessman, after all.  A smile spread onto his face.  “You are being systematic―having a night of questions with Bill and then one with me before you deliberate about your decision. I like this Sookie, by the way, the one that questions and doubts before making a decision.  I hope to be able to answer anything you wish this evening, min kära.  And if I cannot, I will tell you why I cannot.”

Sookie nodded and opened her notebook to the page that contained her questions, an act that gained her a half-smirk/half-smile from Eric.  Sookie looked down at her list.  “Okay, let’s start off easy; tell me all you know about blood ties.  Tell me what they do and the effects they can have.”  Sookie was nervous as she gazed at Eric.  Dream Eric and Jesus had both told her a lot about ties, and Eric’s letter had also given her a bit of insight.  However, Bill had been less than forthcoming.  This question was the first major test to see if the real Eric would be 100% truthful.

Eric began immediately, “Ties are caused by the magic within a vampire.  When given with intent, the blood can be a powerful tool of control for a vampire.  The vampire can feel his blood running through the body of the human who has it.  He can sense the human’s feelings―more and more with each new quantity of blood given―and he can locate the human.  The blood causes the human to want to be loyal to the vampire because the blood work as the vampire’s agent in the human.  There is an efficacy to the blood, an ability to influence the human, just as glamour might, but this kind of influence is much more subtle and insidious.”

Eric looked at Sookie to make sure she was following and then continued.  “This part is important.  A vampire must be careful about whom he gives his blood to.  Any emotions felt by the human for the vampire will be amplified by the blood.  So if the human hates the vampire and wishes him harm before the blood is given, those feelings will be heightened ten-fold.  Vampires generally choose humans to tie with that are already attracted to them or that fear them.  These feelings―when made stronger―are beneficial to the vampire.  But even then, in normal ties, a vampire can work to strengthen the human’s devotion.  A vampire does this by activating his blood to cause dreams in the human;  these dreams generally combine aspects of lust and danger, making the human fear the vampire even as he or she becomes more and more enthralled.  For most vampires,” Eric said disdainfully, “this kind of devotion is thought to be very beneficial.  Have you heard of Renfield?”

Sookie nodded her head.

“This character was based on a real human, just as Dracula himself was based on a real vampire.  A strong vampire who forges a tie and continues to strengthen it by giving a lot of blood and dreams can eventually make this kind of devoted, though certainly insane follower.  This type of individual was often used to protect the vampire during the day.”

“Did you ever have a Renfield?” Sookie asked shuddering.

“No,” Eric said with derision.  “Godric taught me better ways to survive in the day, ways that didn’t involve counting on practically mindless beings.  He always warned that tying a human too tightly would eventually backfire, and the vampire would be vulnerable.  Also, I retained my lessons from my human father on negotiation, and Godric helped me learn to adapt to new situations and stay alive without the use of a Renfield.”  Eric paused and then continued.  “Godric taught me that the blood was sacred and gave his only a few times in his more than two thousand years.  I have voluntarily given my blood to only six beings during my thousand years of existence.  One was Godric, who needed it to heal once.  The second was Pamela, the night I made her.  The third was a Were, whom I was questioning about the tattooed Were pack.  The fourth was you friend, Lafayette, whom I needed to help me sell the queen’s V.”

Sookie sighed in displeasure at this.

Eric explained further, despite knowing that Sookie would dislike what he was about to tell her, “Selling the V was such a dangerous enterprise that I wanted both Lafayette’s fear and his allegiance to me.  Since he already feared me, it was a perfect scenario.  And he needed to be healed as well, and I hoped that my act would ingratiate myself to you in some way.  My motives were for my own benefit, and I admit that I sent Lafayette dreams to make sure he stayed frightened.”

Eric looked down at his hands.  “I stopped the dreams when I finally was able to get out of the hold of Sophie-Anne, and at this point, very little of my blood remains in Lafayette.  In a few months, I will no longer be able to feel his emotions, and I will lose my ability to track him.  I know that you think ill of me for doing this to your friend.  I had other choices, but that one was the best I had at the time for both doing the queen’s bidding and furthering my goal to make you mine.”

Sookie listened carefully as Eric continued.  “The sixth was your cousin, Hadley.”

“Hadley?”

Eric nodded.  “I was using her to coerce the queen into telling me why she was so interested in you.  It is how I discovered you were a fairy.”

“Hadley knew?”

“Yes―it seems that after tasting Hadley’s blood, Sophie-Anne questioned her about your family, hoping to find out why Hadley’s blood tasted so much better than a normal human’s blood.  After Hadley told the queen about your gift of telepathy, Sophie-Anne posited that you might both be part fairy.  Your having telepathy bolstered the queen’s theory, and she sent Compton to discover if she was right.  Hadley was in the queen’s confidence, and―in turn―it seems that your cousin gave Compton and Sophie-Anne information about you before Bill pursued you.”

The hurt on Sookie’s face over finding out even more about the ways Bill had been able to worm his way into her life was clear.  “Why did you give Hadley your blood?”

Eric sighed, “I bit your cousin in my attempt to force Sophie-Anne to tell me what she knew, and I had taken a lot of blood before Hadley herself told me.  Since she was your cousin, I gave her some of mine to save her life.”

Sookie nodded and sighed deeply.

“Of course, the fifth person I gave my blood to was you.  I guessed that you were attracted to me already in Dallas, but you also seemed to despise me at times, so the bombing actually gave me the perfect kind of opportunity to get my blood in you.  I knew that you would refuse to remove the silver if you truly hated me, but you didn’t refuse.  Your basic kindness prevented you from hating me; in fact, after the church, I was certain you were beginning to trust me, a fact that I’m afraid the bullet trick squelched.  But I was happy that my blood was in you.  I intended to use it to make you even more attracted to me.  The blood also increases the sexual appetite of the human, especially towards the donor vampire.  So the blood tie was an ideal tool in my pursuit of you:  I would be able to feel your emotions to some extent, to track you, to cause you to desire me, and to force you to dream about me.  And you also had some cuts from the bomb and bruising from my falling on you.  As you know, vampire blood heals and enhances the beauty and senses of the human for a time.”

“So you wanted to manipulate me with your blood?” Sookie knew the answer, but the hurt still shone in her voice.

Eric looked her in the eye.  “I am not a good person, Sookie.  For a millennia, I have survived because I put my own needs and desires above all others, except for Godric, perhaps.  I wanted you to be mine―I wanted you with a fervor that I had never felt for anyone else before―so I found a way to get my blood into you.  And I would have used it for my benefit if I had been able to, but as always with you, things did not go as I planned.”

He continued speaking, “That night after you had my blood, I was exhilarated.  I enjoyed knowing you were near; the sensation of my blood in you made me feel something I now recognize as comfort.  I could tell that I was not your favorite person at that moment, but I also knew for certain that you did not hate me.  In fact, I felt that you cared for me.  I have to say that I liked knowing that.”

Sookie smiled slightly, not having heard that part from Dream Eric.

“Then all my grand plans suddenly came tumbling down, as they tend to do where you are involved.  I tried using my blood to make you come to me, but you did not.  And then, I marshaled my strength and sent you a dream.  I’m certain you dreamed of me that morning.”

Sookie nodded in confirmation.

“I stayed up into the day to send you the dream, but something happened that I did not expect:  the dream did not conform to my wish to create lust and fear in you.  It did not help me gain a foothold into you at all; in fact, it had the opposite effect.  While you were dreaming, I was able to monitor your feelings, but they were not what I had tried to send through the blood.  They were feelings of affection, camaraderie, and devotion for the most part.  Later in the dream, there was something close to lust, but it felt different somehow, and it was also muted by guilt.  I was so confused by it that I immediately sent Lafayette a dream to test whether I was able to control the blood as I’d been told I would.  Despite my physical distance from him, his reaction was exactly as I expected, so I went to my daytime rest baffled and anxious to discuss the situation with Godric.”

Sookie had heard enough.  Eric’s story and explanations rang with truth, and he wasn’t holding back the parts that might make him look bad as Bill had done.  If anything, he was doing the opposite.  She let him off the hook, “And then Godric made you sit down and shut up after your little tirade.  And then he told you that you’d formed a second type of tie with me either because your motives were selfless or because you loved me,” she smiled when she saw his mouth fall open in surprise.

He composed himself quickly and asked, “Dream Eric, I presume?  Has he let any other deep, dark secrets slip?  You have been testing me, haven’t you, min kära?”

“Yes,” Sookie answered all three of his questions with a single word.

“And how am I doing?”

“So far, so good, but don’t get overconfident, cowboy.  You have a long way to go tonight.”

“Understood,” Eric said, a smile playing on his lips.  “What else did dream me tell you?”

“For one, he told me when it was that you fell in love with me.”

Eric laughed, “Yes, Godric’s theories caused me to become a self-analyst where that question was concerned.  It took me a while to arrive at the answer.”

“So just to confirm, why don’t you tell me again,” Sookie prompted with a sly smile.

Eric relaxed into the couch, putting his arms up on the back of it on either side.  His eyes were sparkling with merriment.  “I fell in love with you on another night when you’d taken on this delicious business-like demeanor.  You were in my bar to help me catch a thief.  You were surrounded by vampires, and you were dressed in a virginal white dress, though by then Compton had unfortunately taken that gift from you.”  Eric’s eyes darkened, “For that act alone, I have fantasized about killing him.”

“Don’t kill anyone on account of me, Eric―ever!”

“I know, min kära.  I know that you do not want me to kill for you, but if something is threatening you, like that Were was, I will kill it,” he said these words with certainty.  “I am a killer; you know this about me, and you saw me do it to the witches when they threatened my kind.  I kill drainers in my area as well.  I cannot apologize for these acts or for the times when I am likely to kill again to keep you, Pam or myself safe.  But I do not kill unless I have to, and I will not kill Compton or others you care about unless they try to kill me or you.  I promise.”

Sookie saw the truth in Eric’s eyes.  She had already resolved to love this part of his nature, along with everything else.  “Just try to keep it to a minimum; as long as it’s for self-defense, that’s okay, but don’t go killin’ anyone because they did something you don’t like or that I don’t like!  Agreed?”

Eric chuckled.  “Agreed.”  He paused, “This is what I fell in love with.  You can be sitting in a room full of killers and you show no fear.  You negotiated for the lives of all the humans you discovered with your telepathy with a thousand-year-old vampire, and you were not going to have it any other way than your way.  That is the moment that something happened to me―that something changed in me.  I did not see it as love until much later, but from that moment on, my main thoughts have been about you and then about us.”

“So is that why you love me―because I’m good at negotiating?”  Sookie knew what Eric’s answer would be, but a girl likes to hear it anyway.

“Oh, you are good at a lot of things,” Eric said suggestively.  “But your fiery, stubborn nature is my favorite.  You challenge me, and though I have always hated being challenged by anyone else, I loved it when you challenged me―right from the start.  When you slapped me that morning at Fangtasia, I admit to practically cumming in my pants.”

“Stop right there, mister,” Sookie said, her face turning as red as her shirt.  “I don’t want to hear that kind of talk.”

“But it is the truth, Sookie,” Eric said playfully as he leaned forward.  “I wanted to kiss you so badly in that moment.  And my fangs did not come down out of anger, I can assure you of that!”

Sookie shook her head at the vampire before her and fanned herself.

Eric spoke again, the seriousness back on his face.  “I love other things about you too.  Would you like to hear them?”

Sookie nodded.

“I love that you are loyal to your friends and those you love, that you would sacrifice yourself for them even though I get frustrated by your extreme recklessness.”

Sookie snorted as Eric continued, “You have a warrior’s heart that rivals my own.  I love that you ran out of Fangtasia to save me from burning despite what I had done and what you must have thought of me.  I loved the expression on your face as you shot Russell with the light in your hands and told him to watch his ‘fucking language.’  I love that you make me laugh and that you understand my humor, which is―difficult―for some to get.  I love that you sat in the sun today with me in mind so that you would smell of its light.  I love that you think about me like that; nobody has cared for me in that way―ever.  I love the quiver in your lips when I say something you like, like right now, but I do not like your tears, even when they fall in your happiness, so I’m going to stop talking now.”

Sookie looked at Eric. Her lips were indeed quivering and tears were threatening to fall.  “In the first dream I ever had about you―the one you tried unsuccessfully to manipulate―I told you that all your cold-heartedness was an act.  I told you that you were just a big faker.”

“I am, Sookie, but only with you.”

“That’s what you told me in the dream too.”

Eric chuckled, lightening the mood a bit, “I think I would like this Dream Eric character.  He seems to be quite smart.  Is he as good looking as I am?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Sookie said teasingly as she wiped the tears from her eyes.  She got serious again, “Do you also love me for the taste of my blood.”

Eric nodded.  “I do.  Blood, for better or worse, is my lifeline.  It is the conduit of the magic that animates my body, and yours is the best I have ever had in my life, but when I take it, it is not just about nourishment or physical pleasure, Sookie.  It is hard to describe, but when I’ve taken your blood―all three times I have tasted you―I felt as if our very essences, what makes us who we are, have linked together.  I love your blood’s taste, to be sure, but it is the feeling that your blood gives me that stirs me most.”

“Good answer, Northman,” Sookie murmured.  “I liked yours too, you know.”

“My blood?”

“Yeah, the taste and the way it made me feel.”

“What does it taste like to you?”

“Ironically―given the fact that you can be an arrogant, high-handed, and downright frustratin’ ass―it’s sweet, kinda like dark chocolate.”

“And you like dark chocolate?” Eric asked, his eyes twinkling.

“Yes, very much,” Sookie grinned at him.

“So, may I ask you a question, or is it just your show?” Eric asked.

“You may ask,” Sookie said rather formally, her voice teasing him.

“When did you fall in love with me?  Was it in the basement of Fangtasia when you saw my not so little companion?”

Sookie’s blush was back.  “No!  Your gracious plenty did not make me fall in love with you!”

Eric actually roared in laughter, “Oh, min kära, it has been called many things in a thousand years, but that has to be my favorite.”

Sookie looked sternly at Eric, “You need to learn to keep your ego and your little ‘companion’ in check.”

“With labels like the one you just gave me, Sookie, that’s going to be very hard.”

Sookie giggled.

“So if it was not seeing my ‘gracious plenty’ that made you realize you loved me, when was it?” he asked again.

“It’s embarrassing,” Sookie said, looking away.  “Dream Eric asked me this same question last night, but I wasn’t sure then.  I spent all my time in the sun today figuring it out, and it’s just too embarrassing.”

“Oh, now I must know then,” said Eric, his eyes dancing.

Sookie looked at her hands.  “I can’t believe I’m going to tell you this.  It is like the worst time that I could have fallen for you, but I’m certain this is when it happened.  It’s just so ‘f’-ed up!”

Eric looked at her seriously.  “You don’t have to tell me if it upsets you, Sookie.  It’s enough that you loved me.”

“I do love you, Eric,” Sookie said significantly.

“Present tense, min kära?” Eric asked softly, his voice almost shaking.

“Yes, present tense.” She smiled at him.  “It was not just the blood.”

Eric smiled, a sincere, beautiful, heart-rending smile.

Sookie looked at that smile and spoke, “I knew that I was in love with you the moment you told me that you cared nothing for me when we were in Russell’s mansion.”

Eric looked surprised.  “Then?”

“Yeah, I told you it was screwed up.  But it had been coming on for a while.  You were right; after Dallas, I really began to care about you.  Then in the days before I left for Jackson, I knew that I really did like you―that I enjoyed your company, that I felt safe with you.  And then when you said you didn’t care, it broke my heart.  It couldn’t have been broken like that if it wasn’t already yours, so that is when I knew―even though, like you, I kept trying to push it to the side.”

She continued, “When I came to your office at Fangtasia, you were wrong when you told me that I was only there to find out about Bill.  I was not pretending to care about you; I was pretending not to care.  And then you kissed me―as if you were kissing me goodbye―and I felt like my whole world was gonna fall in on itself.  And then, of course, you had to go and screw things up.”

“By chaining you up in the basement.”

“Yes―why did you do that anyway?”

“When Pam called me out of the office after our kiss, she begged me to do something―anything―to save myself.  She told me to give you to Russell, but I refused.  I was truthful later when I said that I would never have given you up to him like that.  But then she suggested that I figure out a way to use you, and in that moment, I did.  I knew that I could entrap him with the promise of your blood.  I knew from Bill that your blood would indeed let us walk in the sun, but only for a few minutes.  So for you and for the memory of my family, I resolved to remove the Russell problem.”

“Even though you knew you’d have to kill yourself in the process.”

“Yes,” Eric said quietly.

“Why didn’t you tell me?  I would have helped you.”

“I know, min kära, but I had a few reasons.  First, Russell is one of the oldest vampires I know of, which makes him difficult to deceive.  I was almost caught by him several times, and if you gave the plan away, we all would have died.  I am sorry; I should have trusted you.  I know better now, I hope,” he finished contritely.

“Why else didn’t you say anything?”

“I could feel your emotions to some extent, remember?  I didn’t know if you loved me then, but I could feel that you cared for me.  I knew that you would have tried to stop me if I told you what I planned.”

“Damned straight!” Sookie said.  “I don’t want you sacrificin’ yourself for me, and it’s a bad habit you have―first at the church in Dallas and then with Russell.”

Eric chuckled.  “See what I mean?  You would not have let me do it; you would have tried to save me and would have ended up dying.  No―by not telling you, I made sure that you wouldn’t do anything heroic.  Plus, it would have been easier for you to hate me rather than care for me if I had died.”

“So when you chained me up in Fangtasia, it was to try and protect me.”

“Yes.”

Sookie reached over and slapped Eric’s arm.  “Well stop doin’ that kind of thing!  I mean it!  You don’t get to decide how you want me to feel about you.  You don’t get to try to keep me from talkin’ you out of meetin’ your final death, and you don’t get to make decisions that will take you away from me―ever again!  We could have planned to do what I did anyway―run to your rescue after Russell had fallen for your trap.  And we could have had donor blood ready for you to make sure you got enough to heal.  We could have been better prepared!”

Eric smiled.  “You are the most stubborn woman I have ever met, but you are also right.”

“Well, you are the most high-handed man I have ever met, so I guess we are even.”

“Like I said, min kära, I have learned my lesson from the encounter with Russell.  It is always better to have you fighting by my side.”

“Damned skippy!”  She paused for a moment as they shared a smile.  “Okay.  I have more questions.”

Eric chuckled, “I had no doubt.”

“These next few won’t be pleasant for either of us.”

Eric nodded and gestured for Sookie to ask them.

“Did you call Lorena to come to Dallas?”

“Yes,” Eric answered with no hesitation.  “I knew that she was a possessive maker and that her fixation with Bill bordered on the insane.  I thought that she would take him and that you would be left alone.  I was willing to do whatever it took to make you mine, as I said before, and she was just a means to that end, or so I thought.  But she turned out to be an error in judgment on my part.  She wasn’t able to re-bind Bill to her side, and I soon realized she might be a danger to you when she barged into Godric’s home.  I would have killed her if Godric had not banished her.  And then, like a bad penny, she reappeared in Mississippi, again a danger to you.  Calling her was a mistake because it put you in jeopardy, and for that, I am sorry.”

“But you don’t regret doing that to Bill, do you?”

“No,” Eric answered truthfully.  “To be honest, I don’t like Bill―never have.  I went to him before the Maenad attacked you to request your help in Dallas, but he refused, even though you had promised me your services in exchange for our agreement about humans.  I had been showing him a courtesy by approaching him first, but he showed me none, and I was his sheriff.  It was then that I began to suspect that he was not being perfectly honest concerning his intentions toward you.  He had talked about the need to protect you as if it were some kind of edict before, so I began to suspect Sophie-Anne’s involvement―though I had no proof until much later.  Even on your porch that night when I forced his confession about the queen, my charge about the drainers was purely an educated guess.”

Eric paused to let his point sink in and then he admitted, “So my calling Lorena was partially motivated by my desire to pay Bill back for his disrespect of me and my position.  Perhaps this was a petty reason, but then again, as Pam likes to say, all men really are 5 year olds in some ways.”

Sookie nodded in agreement before asking her next question, “What would you do if I chose Bill or Alcide and not you?”

Eric looked down, the look of defeat―like he’d had in her dreams―brimming in his eyes.  “I would do the hardest thing I would ever have to do in my life, Sookie.  I would accept your choice and back away from you.  I would stay close in order to make sure you were protected, using resources like Bubba, but I would try not to be near you or to make you uncomfortable in any way.  I would watch from the sidelines as you gave your love to another.”

Eric was quiet a moment before continuing, “I have thought a lot in the last few days about whether I would even be the wisest choice for you.  Perhaps someone like Alcide is more appropriate, someone you could enjoy your sunlight with, someone who could father children for you.  That is not possible for us, min kära, and you must think of these things.”

“I already have,” Sookie said quietly, “and I don’t want Alcide.  For one thing, I can hear his thoughts too often, and I don’t always like what I hear.  And he doesn’t want Were children, so I wonder if he could even accept any children we would have if they carried on my traits.  No―I have decided that I cannot be with a human or a Were romantically; I don’t want to spend my life having to keep my shields at full strength.  With you, I can relax and just be.  You and Bill spoiled me to this.”

“And children?”

“I won’t rule out artificial insemination or something like that, but I cannot imagine being intimate with a human or Were.  The touching and emotions would make my shields non-existent.  It just wouldn’t work.  And right now, I’m not sure that I want children; it doesn’t feel right puttin’ a child into the middle of the danger I face from fairies and other Supes.  And I don’t know if I’d want to risk passin’ along the telepathy.  I know you see it as an asset, but it has always been kind of a curse too.”

Eric nodded.

“And don’t worry; I’m not going to choose Bill either.  I don’t love him.”

Eric looked relieved.  “So when the tie went away . . . ,” he started.

“. . . the love went away too,” Sookie completed.

Eric smiled.

Sookie hurriedly said, “Don’t get cocky again.  I still haven’t decided if I want any man right now, okay?”

Eric nodded again, though he was still smiling, “You cannot stop me being a bit ‘cocky’, Sookie.  After all, you have just told me that I am the one that you love and that the others who would have your affections have no shot at getting them.”

Sookie sighed in mock frustration.  “Okay, but I still have more questions for you.  For example, can you be faithful to me if we are together?  Can you avoid sex and blood from others?”

Eric’s expression sobered as he answered immediately, the sincerity washing over him, “I will be faithful to you, Sookie.  I will not have another woman―or man―as long as we are together.  I will never need one if I have you.  As I said before, I am ruined for others.  And I am an old vampire and can exist on less blood than others.  If we are together, I will feed on no others.  I will have TruBlood, and if you will allow, your blood, but nothing else unless it is in battle or in the case of an emergency when I would die otherwise.  I have not slept with another since we were together, and even before that―after you disappeared―I have had very few encounters in the last year or so.  I have wanted only you for a long time now, and others are mere shadows.  As far as blood goes, most humans’ blood now tastes as dull and unappetizing as TruBlood to me.  It is a way to get nourishment, but it is not satisfying as it once was.  So I am ruined in that way too.”
Sookie was struck by Eric’s answer and the sincerity behind it.  Of all the things she thought she’d never see, one was a monogamous Eric Northman.  She smiled.  Just as she was about to speak, Eric’s phone rang.

He cursed in Swedish and looked at the number, “Bubba?” Eric answered as he picked up the phone.  “Yes, come in,” he said after Bubba said a few words.

“Sorry, Sookie, but Bubba wishes to come in for a moment; he has smelled someone around your home this evening, which is very odd because I have not.”

Sookie looked worried, but Eric reassured her.  “Do not fear, min kära.  I will not allow harm to come to you.”

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Bubba knocked on the door.  Eric answered and stepped to the side, allowing Bubba entry.  The King of Rock smiled fondly at Sookie and gave a little bow to Eric.

“I’m sorry to interrupt your evenin’, but I had not heard any noise in here all night, and I wanted to check to make sure you were all right.  I smelled another vampire had been outside when I got back from huntin’, and I wanted to check on Miss Sookie.”

“That’s good, Bubba,” Eric said.  “Did you recognize the other vampire’s scent.”

“Sure did,” Bubba said proudly.  “You know that I’m a good tracker.”

“Yes Bubba,” Eric agreed.  “That’s what makes you an excellent guard.”

“Thanks,” Bubba said even more proudly.  “The other vampire I smelled was King Bill.”

Just then, Sookie’s cell phone rang.  She looked down at the number and saw that Bill was calling.  Eric gestured for Bubba to be silent and then told Sookie to answer it, “Bill?”

“Sookie, thank God you are okay,” Bill’s voice said on the other end of the line.  Eric’s sharp ears caught every word.

“I was informed by my guards that Eric’s corvette was at your home this evening.  I had told them to do a routine security check of your property since Bubba is notoriously apt to wander off.”  Bubba looked upset at that, and Eric put his hand on the other vampire’s shoulder in a silent gesture of support.

“I’m just fine, Bill.”

“Well, when my guards told me about Eric’s presence, I wanted to check on your welfare, so I asked that they knock on your door.  Nobody answered, and I became concerned, as you might imagine, given Eric’s violent history.”

“Bill, I’ve told you Eric won’t hurt me.”

“Perhaps not the Eric that had lost his memories, but we cannot forget how Eric is generally.”

Sookie shook her head and then lied, “Don’t worry, Bill.  I am home now and just fine.  In fact, Eric did come by earlier this evening, and we did leave the house to take a little flight, but I got cold and we returned.  Then, he got an urgent call from Pam and left quickly.  He said he would come and pick up his car tomorrow evening.  He was here for only about twenty minutes all told.  He didn’t even stay for dinner!”

Eric’s eyes grew bigger at every lie Sookie told.

“In fact,” Sookie finished off, “I was just headin’ for bed, so I’ll see you Friday evening, Bill.”

“I shall look very forward to that, Sookie.”

“Bye Bill.”  Sookie hung up before Bill could say anything else.

Sookie was fuming, so Eric went into command mode.  “Bubba, I want you to go outside and do a quick sweep to make sure no humans nor vampires are currently on the property or within sight or sound.”

Bubba left the house quickly and came back in about a minute.  “Ain’t nothing out there, Mister Eric.”  He turned around to a still fuming Sookie and said sincerely, “And Miss Sookie, I just want you to know that I would never wander off if I was protecting you.  Mister Eric gave me an hour to go off further into those woods back there to do some huntin’ while he was visitin’, so I knew you were safe and sound the whole time.  Otherwise, I would have caught King Bill’s smell right away.”

Sookie put her anger to the side and then kissed Bubba on the cheek.  “I know Bubba; you did just as you were supposed to.  Thank you.”

Bubba beamed as Eric said, “Bubba, you can go back outside now, but stay close for now.  And let me know if anyone else comes into range of the house.”

“Sure thing, Mister Eric,” Bubba said before zooming away.  Eric walked out of the front door, closed his eyes and inhaled deeply.  Sookie saw him look quickly into the direction of Bill’s house before he turned around and rejoined her inside, latching the door behind him.

Eric looked at Sookie carefully, “In a moment I want you to tell me what has you so angry, but for now, I will tell you what I smell outside.  There have been no human guards on your property tonight.  There are currently five humans on the perimeter of Compton’s property, but they have not gone beyond his property line.  The only fresh human scents I smell are from you, Lafayette and Jesus.  Alcide was here today, as you know.  Compton’s scent is very clear, and it is fresh―obviously from tonight.  He circled the house a few times, probably about half an hour ago―well after I had arrived.  He did not step onto your front or back porch, though he was close to doing so.  I don’t know why I didn’t smell him while he was here or why he misled you on the phone, but I’m hoping that you can help me with those answers.”

Sookie nodded.  “Jesus came by today and put a spell up around the inside of the house.  It is designed to prevent people from hearing or seeing inside, a kind of privacy spell.  It must still be working, and it must go both ways, keeping you from smelling what’s outside too.”

Eric nodding, understanding Sookie’s anger.  “So you think he came over here to listen to us―to spy on us―but the spell thwarted his efforts?”

“Yes,” Sookie said bitterly.  “I think he guessed that you would be coming here tonight as he did last night.  Bill did everything he could last night to convince me that he was the good guy and you were out only for yourself, but he’s the one that lied to me, and let me tell you, he’s not a good liar.”

“No, he’s not,” Eric agreed.

They looked at each other and said at the same time, “His eyes twitch!”

They laughed.

The mischievous glint back in his eye, Eric smirked, “So you told him a story that would support my having a lack of care for you and one that would also explain the continued presence of my car.”

“Yes,” Sookie said conspiratorially.

“Clever.”

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“The Edge of the Ocean,” Ivy (Youtube.com) 


 

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