Chapter 118: Growing Up

Eric woke up nervous—very nervous—but he steadied himself.  He knew that he would have to be steady for his son.

It was still several minutes before sunset, so he stayed in bed and mentally prepared himself for the night to come.  He had to speak to Hunter about Hadley.  Eric thought momentarily about letting Hadley tell Hunter that she would not be returning to the human realm, but he decided against doing that.  He knew his son, and no matter how much Hadley may have changed, she did not really know him—not anymore.  And, more importantly, his son knew the old version of his mother.  Hunter had been timid and unsure of himself around that version; he had felt shame.

Eric wanted to make sure that Hunter heard his bad news somewhere that he was comfortable—somewhere that he was at his most confident.  Telling his son things that would hurt him was the most difficult aspect of parenthood that Eric had found, but he also knew it was one of the most important.  Hunter would need to have a strong parent to help him stand in the face of great pain.  He would need a calm, constant parent to be truthful and gently show him the options he had to choose from.  He would need a reassuring parent so that he would know that he was loved no matter his choice.  Yes—telling his son things that would pain him in order to help him be strong in the face of that pain was the hardest part of being a father, so he had to stay steady.

If his and Sookie’s plan for them to go to the fairy pool was to be carried out the next night, then Hunter needed to be prepared before it happened, and that meant that Eric would have to tell his son some of the hard truths he’d been keeping from him at his mother’s request.  Hunter needed time to begin processing those truths.

Eric felt Pam wake up.  He chuckled.  “Awake less than two seconds and already displeased?” he asked his progeny.

She sat up on the floor, where she’d had to take her rest, given the fact that Eric had been sprawled out on the cubby’s little bed.

Pam glared at Eric.  “If you ever pull that shit again, you are getting me the entire Dolce & Gabbana spring line.”

“I thought I already was,” Eric deadpanned.

Before it goes on sale!” Pam said, scowling at him.

“What did I do this time?” Eric asked.  “I told you.  I cannot help it when I fall asleep on the bed.  I do not wish to do my work sitting on the floor.”

Pam intensified her glare.  “I’m mad about that too!  The least you could do is scoot your large carcass over enough so that I could share the bed with you; sleeping on this floor every night is demeaning!  But that’s not what I’m talking about!”

Eric smirked.  “What grave offense am I guilty of today then, Pam?”

“You stayed in downtime for an hour after dawn, Eric, and you got the bleeds.  It was disgusting.  And I got them too while I was waiting to make sure you would eventually fall asleep.”

A dreamy smile momentarily spread onto Eric’s face as he remembered his “extra” hour with his wife.  As he heard Bubba stir in the corner of the cubby where he’d been taking his day-rest because of the threat from de Castro, Eric greeted the benevolent vampire with a little nod.

“Come now, Pam,” Eric told his vampire child.  “You need not babysit me.”

Pam rolled her eyes.  “Then don’t act like a fuckin’ baby.”

Eric grinned and sat up so that his feet were on the floor.

Bubba looked at Pam’s expression and then did what he felt was the safest thing.  He sped to the steps.  He turned around and gave Eric a little nod, “Mr. Eric, I’m gonna go check my message from Miss Thalia, and I’ll be checkin’ in with Miss Miranda too.”

Eric smiled at Bubba.  “Thank you, Bubba.”

Pam stood up and put her hands onto her hips as Bubba quickly exited the cubby.

Eric also stood, looking at Pam’s gesture.  “You really must stop doing that around Hunter.  He has picked it up.  Apparently, he does it every time he wants something that he knows he should not have.”

Pam smirked, “Good!  Now—what the fuck was up this morning, Eric?  And please don’t just tell me it was about a piece of dream-Sookie nookie that you could get any ol’ night.”

Eric smirked back.  “I was—as a matter of fact—gettin’ me some dream-Sookie, but in my defense, she did not call me until 142 minutes before dawn.”

Pam rolled her eyes again.  “Must I get you vampire Viagra, Eric?  One hundred and forty minutes used to be ample time for you to get that thing goin’.”  She gestured toward his crotch.

Eric chuckled.  “Oh—it had no trouble going.  Several times, in fact.”  His expression suddenly grew serious.  “We also talked, and tomorrow will be the night that we talked about, Pamela.”

Pam’s demeanor changed instantly.  “No—I refuse to let him go, Eric.  You might trust his bitch of a mother, but what’s to keep her from using those fucking fairies to just take him from us?”

Eric’s fangs dropped, “Pamela, I have warned you to show respect to Hunter’s mother and fairy kin.”

“I do!” his child insisted.  “When Hunter can hear me, I do, but Eric,” she stopped mid-sentence.  “Eric, she could take him away from us.  It’s not just you that loves him, you know.”

Eric nodded and drew in his fangs, “I know, Pam.”  He sighed.  “But since I made contact with Sookie through her dreams, you have understood what could be coming.  And some of the others in the house are beginning to suspect something too.  It is best that Hunter learns now of the choice he faces, and I will let him make it himself, Pamela.”

Pam sighed, “But I don’t want him to go.”  She stiffened.  “He needs—uh—us.”

Eric smiled and walked to stand in front of Pam.  “He will always need you, Pam.  Do not forget that he chose you too—chose you as his sister.”  He bent down and kissed her forehead.  Unconsciously, she touched her left hand to her opposite wrist, where she always wore Hunter’s Christmas present.

“Will you be going too?” Pam asked in a small voice.

“Yes,” Eric returned.  “And Batanya as well.  Hunter will be safe.”

She nodded.

Eric spoke softly, “Tell Jesus what is happening, and then ask him to warn the others of what is coming.  He will know how to tell everyone, and he will be discreet if you,” he paused, “are still showing evidence of the bleeds when you speak with him.”

Pam nodded sadly.

Eric continued, “They all deserve a chance to say goodbye in their own ways in case he chooses to stay there tomorrow.  But ask Jesus to make sure that they know to try to guard their thoughts as well as they can.  I do not want guilt to rule Hunter’s choice—whether that guilt be from us or from his mother.  Tell Jesus that I believe we will just make a visit this time.  Tell him that I believe that Hunter will return with me.”

Pam choked out, “You want me to lie to them.”

“No,” Eric said fiercely.  “I think—I hope—that this will be just a visit, but there is a chance that Hunter will not want to leave his mother once he is reunited with her.  I have read books on this matter; most indicate that a child will generally cling more to his or her mother, especially before the teen years.  As Hunter has never really had two parents at the same time before, I am not sure how he will react.  And, of course, there has never been a book written about the situation we find ourselves in.”

Pam shook her head.  “I should have asked Abby about this too.”

Eric smiled a little and tried to comfort his vampire child.  “As I said, I think Hunter will return with me; however, I want the members of this household to be prepared.  But they must try not to accidentally sway Hunter with sad thoughts.  If they cannot help themselves, they should stay away tomorrow.  Make sure Jesus understands this so that he can tell them.”

“Why don’t you just tell Jesus all this yourself?” Pam asked.

For the first time, Eric’s steady resolve faltered.  He shook his head.  “I feel way too,” he paused, “comfortable with Jesus.”

Pam looked at him in confusion.

Eric smiled sadly.  “What I mean is that I trust Jesus to the extent that I leave my emotions unguarded with him in a way that I do with no other—except for Sookie.”

Pam looked momentarily hurt, and Eric kissed her forehead again.  He said gently, “You, my child, must feel my emotions, and I have always and will always trust you with them.  But I know that you would prefer not to feel them.  And I understand that you do not enjoy speaking of them either, min dotter.  I would not have you,” he paused, “uncomfortable.”

She gave him a little smile and then nodded.

He stoked her cheek lovingly.  “I am afraid that I would not be able to hold my steadiness if I spoke to Jesus before I talked to Hunter.  Do you understand, Pamela?”

She nodded again and then straightened up.  “Of course.  I’ll talk to him for you.”  Eric could see the red tears prominent in the corners of her eyes.

Eric tenderly wiped the tears away.  He spoke sincerely.  “I will try my very best not to stay up past dawn again, Pamela.  I see how the strain of my actions has caused you to have the bleeds.  Later, I will make sure that Jesus understands that they are my fault.”

Pam huffed and brushed her tears away.  “See that you do that!  Now I have to go and feed before I talk to Jesus.”  Pam quickly zipped up the steps and out of the cubby, and Eric followed at human pace, knowing what he would find at the top already.  Hunter, Odin, and the cat sat expectantly near the cubby entrance as they did every night.

Hunter grinned and ran to hug Eric.  “Cat wants to eat, Daddy,” he said.

Eric chuckled as always and picked up Hunter into his arms for a hug.  “Then we must feed the beast,” he said dramatically as he tickled his son before swinging him to his shoulder.  “So what happened today as I slept, Son?”

Hunter giggled.  “Well—Godric started crawlin’!  It was so cool!  He was just lyin’ there one minute, and I was learnin’ about subtractin’, and then all of a sudden, he was crawlin’ across the room like a little snail.”

Eric snickered.  “Miranda would not be happy to have him compared to a snail.”

Hunter giggled.  “Is it true that Godric’s gonna be a lion one day—just like Miranda and Jarod?”

Eric smiled and put Hunter down so that he could quickly feed the cat.  Then he held out his arm.  Hunter had taken to swinging on it like a little monkey, and Eric knew it was helping the boy gain arm strength for their sword work.  “Don’t forget that since Jarod is a shifter, he chooses to be a lion so that he can run with Miranda.  But you are right about Godric; when he reaches his adolescence, he will be able to become a lion.”

Hunter smiled and swung.  “That’s so cool!  Emma’s gonna get to pick what she wants to be too—just like Jarod picks a lion and Sam picks a dog and Luna picks a horse!  Did you know that?  Once Emma gets to her,” he paused and worked the next word through his mouth carefully, “ad-o-les-cence time?”

Eric chuckled.  “What do you think she will become, smár rekkr?”

Hunter swung again and then landed on his feet with a thud.  “She doesn’t know right now.  She asked me what I thought she should be since we’re gonna get married and all.”

Wishing that Sam had been there to hear that remark, Eric hid his laugh.  “And what do you think?” Eric asked as Hunter started swinging again.

“I’m still thinkin’,” Hunter shrugged, “but she’s so pretty that I told her she should be somethin’ pretty.”  He paused for a second.  “All I said was that I didn’t want her to be an elephant or a gator ‘cause they aren’t pretty.”

Eric chuckled.  “And what did she say to that?”

Hunter shrugged.  “She said she didn’t wanna be one of those anyway, so it worked out okay.”  Hunter was thoughtful for a moment.  “Maybe she should be a horse like her mommy.  That white horse that you brought here for us to ride on for Halloween was real pretty.”

Eric smiled, “That was a beautiful horse, Son.”

“Maybe Emma can be that.”  He smiled sweetly.  “But I’m sure she’ll be real pretty whatever she picks―even if its an elephant or gator.”

Eric smiled knowingly, “I’m sure you will always think so.”

Hunter once again grabbed onto Eric’s arm and swung.  “Are we really gonna have our own horses soon?”

Eric nodded.  “As soon as Scott prepares their home, we will bring two here, and then I will teach you how to ride them.”

“And they’ll be here by my birthday, right?”

Eric nodded again, hoping with every fiber of his being that Hunter would still be there then as well.  “Absolutely.  Do not forget that they are to be your present.  Of course, they’ll be here by then.”

Hunter laughed as he continued to use Eric as his own personal jungle gym.

“So, my son, what is on the agenda tonight?”

Hunter talked excitedly.  “Uncle Lala left some Aunt Sookie soup that he made on the stove!”

“I smell it,” Eric said with a smile.  Although Lafayette hadn’t quite found the right ratio of ingredients, Eric knew that he was trying to recreate Sookie’s soup with both him and Hunter in mind.  Hunter had taken a strong liking to ‘Aunt Sookie’s veggie soup’ on Christmas Eve and was always asking for it―though Eric suspected that Hunter’s asking might have as much to do with himself as his son.  Still, he appreciated the gestures of both Hunter and Lafayette.

“Uncle Lala said it needs to,” Hunter paused to get the words right, “sit in a little love for a while.”

Eric swung Hunter up onto his shoulder and started walking upstairs.  “So what is on the agenda for after our practice tonight?  Bikes?  Emma’s desk?  Games with Jessica and Uncle Jason?”

“Hmm,” Hunter sounded.  “Emma’s birthday is exactly one month and one day before my birthday.”

Eric chuckled, “You are right, son.  We need to get going on her desk if we are to finish it in time.”

“Jarod helped me sand the pieces for the chair today!” Hunter said excitedly.  “I like the wood we are usin’.  It’s pretty.”

Eric laughed louder.  “Pretty like Emma?”

“No!” Hunter said seriously.  “Emma’s lots prettier.”

Eric walked up one step at a time, trying not to think about how this might be the last time he took Hunter up the stairs like this.  Batanya, as always, followed.  At least, Eric knew that the Britlingen could stay with his boy—and would stay with him—into the very depths of the fairy realm if needed.  Time had very little meaning to Britlingens, and they had very few restrictions when it came to which realms they could enter.  Eric would continue paying for Batanya’s contract—no matter where his son was; that part of this situation, he could control.

Eric continued up to the third floor, which had become a kind of workroom for the witches.  However, in the evenings for one hour a night, it had also become the place where Hunter and Eric would practice—at least until the weather warmed.

Eric set Hunter onto his feet.  As always, he uttered the words, “Show me.”

Hunter quickly became serious and moved to the stance they always began with to warm up.  Eric followed his son’s movements, checking him for his posture and his preciseness.  Eric remembered his own father, who had sharply criticized him, even when he had made only a slight error.  Remembering the pain of that harsh critique, Eric had chosen a different approach with his own son.

Instead of openly correcting his son, Eric would get Hunter’s attention and subtly show him an adjustment.   Plus, Eric always remembered to praise the right movements that his son made.  He knew from a thousand years of experience that one word of critique would outweigh a thousand words of praise, so he simply modeled any corrections or let Hunter come to them himself through repetition.

Tonight, Hunter was moving through the warm-up flawlessly and gracefully.

“You practiced earlier today, my son,” Eric stated.

Hunter nodded.

“You always do very well,” Eric said proudly.  “You are much more coordinated than I was at your age.”

Hunter smiled.  “Miranda helped me when Godric was takin’ his nap.”

Eric nodded his approval.  “She is very graceful, Hunter.  You must always look to the strengths of others; you are wise to learn from them.  You show her grace tonight.”

Hunter smiled wider even as he continued his movements.  Eric settled into his own body movements, calming himself.  The talk he was about to have with Hunter was going to be a difficult one for them both, so he was glad for his own calming moves as well as for the energy coming from his son.  Both of these things worked equally to steel him.

Hunter ended the warm-up with a little bounce that Eric had come to associate with the fact that his son was feeling especially happy and proud.  Eric looked down at his boy confidently and ruffled his bangs―those perpetually too-long bangs.  Eric refused to dwell on the thought that his chances to do that might be quickly waning.  He would let himself face his fears later that night when Sookie called him.  For now, he had to be the father, and Hunter needed to know that everything—no matter what he decided—would be fine.

“Sit with me for a while,” Eric said, as he gestured toward the mats that he’d gotten for their practices so that he could eventually teach Hunter simple rolls and defensive moves.

Hunter took up the cross-legged posture that he always did when Eric wanted to talk about something before he showed it.  Eric brought out his father’s sword, which was now housed in a special lock box, along with Hunter’s wooden sword and the ones Batanya had brought them.  Eric placed the sword between them on the mat as he also sat down.  Hunter straightened, understanding intrinsically that the presence of that sword also meant the broaching of a big topic.

Eric smiled at Hunter, “You know this is to be your sword one day.”

“Yes,” Hunter answered nodding his head and looking into his father’s eyes.

“You know that you will always be my son and that I will always love you.”

“Yes,” Hunter answered again, now getting a little nervous.  “I love you too, Daddy.”

Eric smiled.  “I am thankful every day for your love, min son.”  Eric looked at Hunter proudly.  “And I have good news.”

Hunter tilted his head in question, and Eric noticed that the boy looked very much like Sookie as he made that gesture.

“If all goes to plan―tomorrow night, you and I are going to visit Aunt Sookie and your mother at the fairy pool.”

Hunter looked at Eric with big eyes, “Mommy feels better?”

“Yes, she is feeling better,” Eric answered confidently.  “And she is anxious to see you.”

Hunter’s smile lit up his face.  “So I get to visit Mommy!”  He tilted his head again.  “Will she get to come home with us?”

Eric looked at Hunter closely.  “Son, what I am about to tell you will be difficult for you to hear, but I want you to know that I am here and that if you have any questions, I will answer them.  You must also remember that your mother loves you and that I love you.  Nothing will change that love, Hunter.  Do you understand?”

Hunter nodded, clearly nervous now.

“Good,” Eric said smiling confidently at his son even though his own heart was in turmoil.  “Your mother can no longer leave the fairy realm, Hunter.  She was made to eat a kind of food that will keep her in that place.  She is also going to have a child—a fairy child―your sister.  These things will make it impossible for her to live with you in this realm.”

Hunter looked down at the mat, his eyes now threatening to spill over with tears.

Eric continued, “Your mother wants to visit with you at the fairy pool so that she can see how you have grown in the past year and so that she can talk to you about these things.  She loves you very much.”

“But she can’t ever be here with us?” Hunter asked in a quiet voice.  “But we made her a chair for next to the fire, Daddy.”

Eric shored up the pieces of his heart that was now ready to break for his son.  “We will ask Niall tomorrow if we can take that chair to her for her new home, Son.  She will be very proud—as I am proud—of the good work you did on it.”

Hunter sniffled.  His intelligent eyes looked into Eric’s—straight into them as if he could see Eric’s thoughts written out clearly for him.  Only Sookie and Hunter could see him like that, Eric thought.  And it was possible that after the next night, he would be left with neither of them.  Eric put that thought to the side, however, and kept himself as steady as he could.

In that moment, Hunter knew the truth that Eric would have protected him from―if he had been able.  Hunter spoke softly, “Mommy can’t ever live with me here, can she?”

“No,” Eric said simply.

“And you can’t live with me there?”

“No.”  That answer was just as simple, yet Hunter burst into tears when he heard Eric say it.

Eric pulled Hunter’s little body into his arms.  As difficult as it was, he let his son cry as long as he needed though he wished only to take away his pain.

When Hunter stopped sobbing, Eric wiped the boy’s eyes with his own shirt.  He smiled at him as best he could.  “Do not fear, Son.  Tomorrow, we will go see your mother, and you will get to speak to her and spend time with her.  You will get to tell her of your life here, and she will tell you of her life there.  And you will meet Niall and Claude too.”

Hunter nodded but he didn’t look excited at all.

Eric continued.  “Do you remember what I promised you in the plane, min son?”

Hunter nodded again.

Eric smiled.  “Tell me.”

Hunter stammered through fresh tears.  “You said that I could always live with you—that I could live with you as long as I wanted.”

Eric nodded.  “And you can, Son.  This home—any home with me in it—is always your home too.  But you have a choice to make now.  You have two parents—your mother and me—who love you.  And you may now choose to live with either one of us.”

Eric paused for a moment.  “This will be a difficult decision for you to make, min son, so you may spend all the time you need thinking about it.  But I want you to know that if you decide to live with your mother in the fairy realm, I will love you the same as I do now.  And this home will always be waiting for you to visit.”

Hunter pulled himself tighter into Eric’s arms.

Eric continued speaking, making sure to keep his voice even and calm.  “I have recently figured out the best thing about being a vampire Hunter.  Do you know what it is?”

The boy shook his head.

“The best thing is that I can live so long that the time differences between here and the fairy world will come and go, and I will still be here.  If you decide to live with your mother, I will still be here no matter when you come home.”  Eric fought hard to keep his voice from choking up at his own words.  He fought hard to keep from Hunter the fact that a long life would also mean extensive periods of loneliness without his son.

“What if I don’t wanna leave here?” Hunter cried.

“Then you do not have to,” Eric said, making his vow to his son.  “Before we go to the fairy world tomorrow to see you mother, Hunter, I want you to know three things—and I want you to know them well.”

Hunter looked up at Eric with ready eyes, waiting to take in his daddy’s words.

Eric smiled with pride at his brave, beautiful son.  “First, you must know that whatever happens will be your own choice, Hunter.  I will be going with you tomorrow night, and Batanya is coming too, and we will make sure that nothing happens that you do not choose.  Plus, Claude is coming—just to take you to the fairy pool safely.”

“Aunt Sookie’s brother?” Hunter asked.

“Yes,” Eric confirmed.  “Claude will also make sure that nothing bad happens to you.  And Niall is coming too.”

Hunter nodded.

Eric continued.  “Second, you must remember that I love you, Hunter.  You are my son, and you will be my son forever.  We chose each other—remember?”

Hunter nodded again as the tears once again flowed freely down his cheeks.

“Good,” Eric said, once more using the tail of his shirt to wipe his son’s tears.  “Whatever you decide, Hunter, you will have my love, and you must decide for yourself and not for anyone else.  Can you promise me this?”

Hunter nodded.  “Yes, Daddy.  I promise.”

Eric barely contained his own tears as he heard Hunter’s ‘R’ in the word ‘promise’ sound more like a ‘W.’  It reminded Eric of that night on the plane—the night Hunter had made him ‘Uncle Ewic.’

The vampire inhaled a deep and completely unnecessary breath, feeling his lungs fill with air that was not needed there biologically, but that was essential in that moment nonetheless.  Eric continued speaking.  “And your mother will love you too—no matter what you decide.  And you will still be able to see us both at the fairy pool.  You have fairy blood, Hunter.  And that blood will allow you to go to that place whenever you want.  It you decide to live in the fairy realm, you don’t have to eat the food that would make you stay there forever, and you would be able to visit here whenever you wished.  Even the time difference would not take me from you, Hunter, because I am vampire.”  He paused, “If you decide to stay here, then you would be able to visit your mother at the fairy pool when you wished.  You will lose neither of us.

Again, Eric did not mention the fact that the time difference would be brutal for him.  It was only his son’s happiness that he was concerned with in that moment.

Hunter―ever the thoughtful one―began to ask questions, each of which Eric had prepared for in the lonely moments of his nights during the last several weeks.

Just like his father, Hunter started by questioning practical things.  “What about Emma’s desk; if I go to live with Mommy, what would happen to it?” Hunter asked.

Eric assured.  “You have already chosen the wood and the design.  I would finish it and present it for you.  And she would know that you had been the one to suggest the gift.  She would love it.  Plus, if it is what you decide, this is just a first visit, Hunter.  Even if you choose to live with your mother eventually, you would have time to still finish Emma’s gift before you moved there permanently.”

“What about the horses?”

Eric spoke softly.  “Scott will finish the stables, and the horses will come as planned.  They will wait for your visits if you stay in that world.  And I will ride them so that they will get their exercise.  You needn’t worry about them?”

“But what if I’m gone a long time?” Hunter asked astutely.

“There will always be horses for you here, Hunter.”  Eric’s voice did catch this time, but he went on speaking.  “And there will always be a dog and a cat—even though time may force the presence of different ones.  I would stop time if I could, Hunter.  I would stop it just for you, but I cannot.”

Eric looked into his son’s eyes, and he knew that the hardest question was about to come.  He steeled himself so that he could answer it without letting his son fall apart because of the pain it would cause him.

Hunter’s voice came quietly—unrelentingly.  “If I stay with Mommy—even for a few weeks—what will happen here?  What about Uncle Lala and Uncle Jesus and Uncle Jason and Sissy and Jessica and Tara and ‘Melia and Tray and Miranda and baby Godric and Jarod and Bubba and Thalia and Emma and Coby and Lisa?”

Eric gave his son the truth as gently as he could.  “Your Sissy, Jessica, Bubba, Thalia and I will stay as we are because we are vampires.  The rest will get old and eventually pass away into whatever afterlife awaits them.  You may meet their children one day or their children’s children, but you may not meet them again if you go to the fairy world with your mother.  This is a hard truth that you must face, Hunter.  But you deserve that truth.”

Hunter again pulled himself into Eric’s arms and wept in their protective circle.  Eric cradled his son in his lap and rocked him slowly.

Eric continued.  “Remember, Hunter―you must decide for yourself, not for those you would leave behind.  For everything you would lose here, something would be found there.  That is―I have discovered―the way that the world usually works.  You would be with your mother there.  You would have a new sister.  You would get to know Claude and Niall and many others—most of whom share your gift of telepathy.  And—remember—you need not decide everything in a day, min son.  After our visit, we can both return home while you think things over more.  Or—if you want,” Eric had to make a Herculean effort to keep his voice even, “you can stay there in the in-between place or even go with your mother into the fairy world.”

Hunter held him tighter.

Eric continued to console his son.  “But you will not have to choose tomorrow, Hunter.  We will go there, and we will have fun visiting, and then what happens next will be up to you—that I promise.”

Somewhat reassured, Hunter looked up at Eric.  “You have never broke a promise to me, Daddy.”

“No,” Eric said, biting his lip with his blunt teeth to still his own tears.  “I have never and will never break my word to you.  Tomorrow, you will visit your mother, and I will visit Aunt Sookie, and then we will talk about what you want to do after that.  You need not feel sad or scared or pressured, my son.  Batanya will stay with you as always―even when you spend time with your mother.”

“And you’ll be with Aunt Sookie?” Hunter asked, now wiping his tears from his eyes.

“Yes,” Eric said, “but if you need me, you need only call, and I will come.  I will be nearby the whole time.”

A smile forced its way onto Hunter’s tear-stained face.  “You like holdin’ Aunt Sookie’s hand, Daddy.”  He paused and seemed to come to an internal decision of some kind.   “I’m glad that you will get to see her—and not just in dreams and stuff.”

“And I am glad that you will be able to see your mother,” Eric said as he wiped away Hunter’s tears again.

With that, that vampire ruffled the boy’s bangs, reestablishing a bit of the normalcy both needed.  “And now, we have our practice to finish.  And we have to work on that desk a bit.  And then there will be dinner.  And I will finish the story about Thor tonight.  And tomorrow will be like any other day.  You will have your lessons with Miranda and your playtime.  And then we will visit your mother, and all will be as it,” Eric paused, “should be.”

The vampire managed to sound much more confident than he felt as he rose to his feet.  He picked up his sword and strapped it to his back before pulling down Hunter’s wooden sword and helping the boy strap on the little scabbard that he’d made for it.  As one, the two silently went through the movements Eric had been teaching Hunter.

Eric watched Hunter closely.  That night, the vampire found no flaws whatsoever in his son’s practice.


Cast of CBTM


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4 thoughts on “Chapter 118: Growing Up

  1. Heart-breaking , such a powerful connection between father and son , that they are able to discuss the bad and still able to resume daily routines so not to dwell on what is inevitable . So emotional .

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