Eric woke up at 5:58 p.m., precisely 28 minutes before sunset. His advanced age had been allowing him to awaken a bit before sunset for a few hundred years now, but he had been feeling more alert well before sunset on the last few evenings, despite the fact that he’d spent one of those evenings tied up in silver and one of them under a witch’s curse. This evening, as he’d awoken, he felt like he could immediately take on an army by himself.
It didn’t escape the notice of the thousand-year-old vampire that this phenomenon had begun after he’d drunk Sookie’s blood again―more specifically, after they’d completed the first step of a blood bond.
Eric got up and walked to the mini-fridge in the corner and grabbed a bottle of blood before putting it into the small microwave on top of the fridge. While he sat down on his bed and waited for the blood to heat, he couldn’t help but to reach out to their fledgling bond and find Sookie. It had taken everything in him to wait the two minutes and fourteen seconds since he’d first woken up to reach out to her.
He also couldn’t help the sigh of relief that escaped his lips as he found her well. She was happy and clearly enjoying herself. Eric ignored the ding of the microwave as he basked in the feeling coming from her and into him. He wanted nothing more than to be with her in that moment. He’d never felt pulled so strongly to another being before, not even Pam and not even Godric.
Eric shook himself out of his thoughts and took the artificial blood from the microwave. After a year of drinking it almost exclusively, it had become almost tolerable to him, at least until he’d tasted Sookie again.
Eric downed the drink quickly while it was still warm. He still had twenty three minutes until sunset, so he was stuck in his cubby for the time being. The particular safe house that he had spent the night in, though quite secure and one of his most secret residences, had no other light-tight spaces than the room he was in. He glanced at the picture on his nightstand and sighed unnecessarily again, even as he reached for the bond a second time. She was still happy; he found that he was jealous that he was not the one currently causing that emotion in her.
He put these thoughts aside and texted Pam, telling her to meet him at Fangtasia after first dark. He knew that he would need to make up with his child as soon as possible, but he didn’t want her to think that she could ever question his actions toward Sookie, his beloved one.
Eric thought about how he had felt when Sookie had returned after being in what he assumed must have been the fairy realm for more than a year. He’d felt like a part of himself had returned with her.
“Of course, I had to behave like a dick to her right after she got back,” Eric berated himself out loud, with only the walls to hear him. He shook his head as he scolded himself. He had asked her to be his, just as he’d planned to do for months and months, but the way he’d gone about it had been all wrong. “I blame your beautiful fucking body, you know,” he said glancing over at the picture. “You distracted me! How could I be expected to behave rationally after seeing you like that? And Bill’s being there even before me that first night didn’t fucking help matters either!” Eric felt like punching a hole into the wall of his sleeping space.
“You’re a fucking thousand-year-old vampire,” Eric once again spoke out loud to himself. “Why can’t you learn to talk to your fucking woman right?”
Eric sighed and lay back onto the bed. He needed to begin to resign himself to the fact that Sookie was not really his woman, no matter how much he wished it were otherwise. She was her own woman first―a fact that he could not only accept but also embrace. He actually quite loved her independence.
But she’d told him that she loved Bill too, even as he’d told her of his love for her. He’d never told anyone that he loved them like that―not ever. He’d never felt it before her. A thousand years of waiting, and he loved a woman who loved another. If it weren’t so fucking ironic, it would have been pathetic, Eric thought.
Still, as he felt the bond he’d started with Sookie warm his cold, dead heart, he could not regret a single moment he’d been with her―“Not fucking one,” he added out loud. The memories of the last several days were especially precious to him even though he’d not been ‘himself’ when he’d first experienced them. But now he remembered all of their moments together as if he’d been simply a more open and relaxed version of himself when he’d experienced them.
It was the simplest moments of those days that he now treasured most. It was the sensation he’d felt while being tickled by her, a sensation he’d not experienced in over a thousand years. It was the feel of warm, sun-lit water in his hands as he looked at the light in her hair. It was having someone to talk to about his vision of Godric. It was the way she seemed to hold him and not the other way around. It was the way her eyes looked when she made the decision to take his blood when they were in the cubby. It was all these things plus the thousand other redemptive moments he’d spent with her that both warmed him and caused his dead heart to want to break inside his dead body.
She was in love with both Bill and himself. Eric’s logical mind could hardly fathom loving one person, and two at the same time was quite beyond him. Was it Bill’s blood? Bill had once again saved her life when he himself was not there to do it.
Eric berated himself for giving into bloodlust during the fight with the witches and for leaving the side of his bonded.
“My bonded,” he said quietly to himself. In a thousand years, he’d never even considered forming a blood bond with another. But as he sat on his bed, he couldn’t find it within himself to regret the bond the other Eric had started in even the slightest way. He’d entered it without his memories, but that didn’t matter to him. The feelings that drew him to her were the same whether he was his whole self or just the shell that the memory loss had left behind. Either way, for him, she was like the North Star that his people always navigated toward on their way home.
His only consolation was that he knew his own blood could not have caused her love for him. The few drops she’d had of his blood in Dallas had given them a much stronger and longer- lasting tie than he’d thought possible for such a small amount. However, he’d never been able to use the magic in his blood to influence her in any way; God knows, he’d wanted to try. And when she’d chosen to take his blood in the cubby―the exchange that had transformed their tie into a bond―he was quite sure that she already loved him, at least the him that had no memories and that acted nothing like he normally did.
He lay back and groaned in frustration. So if she still felt love for him―even now that he was back to being himself―and that was a very big “if,” then at least that love was coming all from her.
He could not be certain about her love for Bill; that love had seemed to come back only after Bill had made the tie between them stronger with the new infusion of his blood. Eric almost shuddered at the amount of blood Bill must have given Sookie over the year and a half they’d known one another―which was actually only six months of real contact. From what he could gather, the attack by the Rattrays had been a brutal one, and she’d needed a lot of Bill’s blood to survive it. Since he’d found out about it, he’d wanted to end Bill’s undead life for manipulating Sookie like that. And then he’d seen how much blood Bill had given Sookie after the Maenad attack, and it was more than Bill had needed to.
From Lafayette, he’d learned about the attack by Bill on Sookie after they escaped from Russell’s mansion; Bill, in a bloodlust, had almost drained her, so he must have given her a lot of blood then too. Eric’s fists tightened and his wall did receive a hard punch as he thought about what he’d like to do to Bill for that episode.
Moreover, he’d seen the surveillance tapes after he and Russell had fed from Sookie. He had taken as little as he could, but Russell was a greedy bastard. Though Sookie had fainted, she would have lived; he had made sure of that before he even walked out the door of Fangtasia that morning. Her pulse had been steady, and her blood was already replenishing itself. But Bill had given her his blood then too―again more than he needed to. And, of course, there was the latest incident. She’d been shot because of Eric’s own lack of control. He gave himself no leniency because of his amnesia either. “Your fucking instincts should have kicked in and kept you next to your bonded one!” he criticized himself. “And the result was that Compton could once again be using his blood to try to control the woman you love!” The wall received a second punch at that thought.
Eric also knew there wasn’t a damned thing he could do about it. If he tried to tell Sookie about his theory, she would only think that he was trying to influence and manipulate her too.
Then, of course, there was the worst-case scenario in his view. What if Sookie’s love for Bill had originated only from her own feelings? What if it was never her blood tie to Bill that had created that love? What if she’d realized that she loved Bill again―and loved Bill more than she loved him―when she saw him ready to stake Bill at the Festival of Tolerance?
Eric sighed. He wanted nothing more than to go to Sookie as soon as the sun dropped, now in 4 minutes, but he had determined to let her make the first move, no matter how much that went against his nature―both as vampire and as Viking.
And as soon as he did see her, he knew that he’d have to tell her about the bond and how it was different from a normal blood tie.
He worried that she would hate him for it, blame him for not telling her the implications before he asked her to take his blood. Even if she did not blame him due to the amnesia, she might be able to use her side of the bond to tell that he was happy about the bond, and she might resent him for that.
With Sookie, he knew that so many things could go wrong, but he was also certain that he didn’t deserve her. And in a thousand years, he’d always thought that he’d deserved the very best of everything. But memories or not, Eric had been truthful when he’d told Sookie that he couldn’t bear it if he snuffed out the light in her. What if being with him would do just that?
Therefore, for the first time in a thousand years, he would not just take what he wanted. He had asked. He had made his desire for her clear. He had told her that he loved her. And now, he would have to wait to see if she wanted him too. And if he really did love her as he professed, he would have to accept it if she chose Bill, even if he suspected that Bill’s motives in wanting her had less to do with love and more to do with Sookie’s blood.
At sunset, Eric climbed the steps of his resting place―something that he’d probably always think of as a cubby now since he’d heard Sookie use the term for the one at her house―and took a quick shower. He arrived at Fangtasia an hour before opening, but the line was already quite long, and everyone was in costume. Eric then remembered―at midnight it would be October 31, the day humans called Halloween.
He smiled at the oddity of the human holiday but was thankful for the tie they’d made between it and vampires. That meant that both tonight and tomorrow evening would be very profitable, even more so because both nights were weekend nights. Eric’s smile grew a bit wider. He’d always loved a good business.
Eric entered the back door of his club for the first time in more than a week. As he walked into his office, he was struck by two things: first, the neatness of his desk and second, the contriteness of his child, who was on her knees and bowing before him as soon as he walked in the door.
From her appearance, Eric could tell that she hadn’t changed from the night before. She also had red tear streaks on her cheeks. He’d have to do some quick damage control.
“Pamela,” he said in a strong voice. “Rise immediately.”
She did, her blue eyes looking into his as if begging for forgiveness.
Eric spoke. “You will remember your place from now on and will obey me. I know you felt that what you were doing was right, but I cannot have you risk my bonded one.”
“Bonded one?” Pam whispered.
“Yes, Pamela. Sookie and I began a bond while I was staying with her.”
“But how many exchanges? You can still break it, right? You weren’t even ‘you’ when you did it! Surely, she will agree to break it!”
“Pamela!” Eric’s voice boomed. “Listen carefully, and remember what I’m about to tell you. I do not want to break the bond with Sookie. I want it. I will consider breaking it only at her behest. You are to do nothing to upset her or to try to influence her regarding the bond―is that understood?”
Pam nodded before Eric added coldly. “And you will never―never―disobey me. If you do so again, I will expel you from my sight. Is that understood?”
“Yes, master,” Pam said quietly.
Eric nodded to his child. To her credit, she had not begged for forgiveness or tried to justify her actions.
He touched her cheek lightly and spoke to her in a softer tone. “Pamela, I know that you do not care for Sookie, or any human for that matter, but I care for her―I love her―and would not have her endangered by anyone. If you cannot learn to accept that, you will have to go out on your own.”
“I can learn,” Pam said with certainty.
“Very well,” he said. “Now go home and get yourself cleaned up and be back here as soon as you can. This human holiday tends to be a bit rowdy, and I will need you here.”
Pam brightened. “Yes master,” she said as she zipped through the door.
Eric also brightened. He did not like fighting with his child. He enjoyed her presence and dry humor too much to want to be separated from her for any length of time.
He looked at the Fangtasia clock and noticed that it was almost 8:00 p.m., almost opening time. He once again talked himself out of going to Sookie.
Instead, he dived into the neat pile of paperwork that had been building up in his absence. On top of the pile was the deed of sale for Sookie’s house that he’d initiated the night of her return, right after he’d done that insipid television spot for Nan Flanagan. He quickly signed it and faxed it to his attorney, whom he instructed to file the paperwork to complete the sale immediately, preferably the next day, despite the fact that it was Saturday.
Almost immediately, his attorney emailed back to say that he normally wouldn’t be able to file until Monday, but he had a friend willing to do it right away and back-date the paperwork so that the sale would officially take place as of earlier that afternoon.
Eric gave the okay for that, and his lawyer replied that he’d have a copy of the official deed of sale messengered to him as soon as it was notarized; the sale would be official as soon as Sookie signed that paperwork.
He had mixed feelings about returning Sookie’s home to her. He’d always intended to do it, but now that he had his memories back, he was unsure if he’d even be invited back inside.
Eric sat down to begin his other work but stopped short as he checked the bond; Sookie was frustrated about something―very frustrated. He fought the urge to go to her immediately and then fought the urge to call. Instead he sent a text. There was immediate anger from her, followed by calm. Then there was a one-word response to him, “Thanks.”
He smiled, not so much because of the text he’d received but because of the fact that his words to her had somehow calmed her. He resolved to keep the promise he’d just made to her, but he also knew that she needed to know about the bond immediately; otherwise, she’d hate him for keeping secrets from her.
He once again put aside his work and wrote her a short letter, which he’d have Bobby deliver to her the next day.
Finally, after completing that task, he began his paperwork.