Epilogue: A Walking Shadow

Epilogue: A Walking Shadow

This life, which had been the tomb of his virtue and of his honour, is but a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.—William Shakespeare

Appius Northman had asked his driver to take him home immediately and then return to collect Sophie-Anne, Andre, and Nora from the charity brunch later. His interaction with Eric had shaken him, and now he wanted only to sit in his office and get shit-faced until he felt nothing—until he was numb.

He was already well on his way.

He’d lost control that day, first while he was listening to Sookie Stackhouse’s message and then while he was speaking to Eric.

But now he felt better—back in control of the situation and himself.

In contrast to what he’d told Eric, Sookie had not left because her greed had been thwarted.

Far from it.

She’d left so that she couldn’t be used to hurt Eric.

Appius sighed heavily and took a gulp of his scotch. With no compunction, he would have used Sookie to hurt his eldest son. And he would have enjoyed it too, but Sookie had proven her love to a degree that Stella never had. She’d sacrificed everything—her own happiness—for Eric.

And that action had gutted Appius, for it was the one thing that Stella had been incapable of doing for him.

His only consolation had been the fact that Eric was destroyed anyway—despite Sookie’s sacrifice. His son’s eyes had told him the tale. Appius still saw similar eyes in his own mirror when he let himself truly think of Stella, which he refrained from doing as much as he was able. Still—he’d never been able to stop thinking about her completely.

Just as he’d never been able to stop himself from loving her—completely.

Appius poured himself another drink. It took a lot of alcohol to take him to oblivion these days, but—thankfully—between what he’d had in the limo and what he’d had since he’d gotten home, the warmth of the liquor was beginning to travel through his body.

He sat back into his chair and tried to focus on his victory. He had finally found and taken away the one thing his son treasured most. And he’d seen Eric’s eyes—the exact replica of Stella’s eyes—lose their gleam completely.

As soon as Eric had left the limo, Appius had called Franklin Mott and had been assured that Bobby Burnham had been in his home all day and was now, it seemed, “entertaining” a woman. Appius had ordered Mott, who had turned out to be much craftier than Wybert or Sigebert, to transfer his surveillance to Eric for the time being in order to make sure that Sookie was indeed gone and that his son had no contact with her. After seeing Eric’s reaction to the news that Sookie had left, Appius didn’t think it was probable, but he had to grant the possibility that Sookie and Eric were pulling the wool over his eyes. However, he knew that Mott would find out if there was any contact between them.

Appius lamented the fact that the listening device was no longer in Eric’s home and couldn’t help but to wonder how long his son had known about it, but Appius was not one to cry over spilled milk, and he was—even then—arranging to get some next-generation surveillance equipment that would help them to tap into Eric’s cell phone. Moreover, Appius had already set the groundwork for getting someone on his payroll onto the security crew at Eric’s building. So he would soon have both eyes and ears on Eric.

With that in mind, he called his newest employee.

“Miss Pelt,” he said as she answered her phone.

“Mr. Northman,” the female voice responded.

“How is our project going?” he asked.

“I have an interview on Tuesday,” she shared. “And I don’t foresee any difficulties getting employment since my ‘boyfriend’ will no longer be working in the building, and Jiles will need a replacement for him.”

“Don’t get cocky,” Appius warned. “Henry Jiles is an ex-SEAL, and according to my people, he’s very good at his job as head of security at Carmichael Tower.”

“SEALs are pussies,” the woman said with derision.

Even Appius was patriotic enough to want to correct her, but Debbie Pelt had been in Black Ops for the last five years. And as a woman functioning in that capacity in the Middle East, she was obviously one tough bitch. He felt it best to keep her placated.

“Just don’t say that during your interview,” Appius finally said.

Debbie chuckled. “Don’t worry. By the end of next week, I’ll be where you need me to be.”

Appius hung up the phone and took another drink. He closed his eyes. It had been Mott who had researched the guards of Carmichael Tower and then suggested that they employ Debbie Pelt. She had an “in” to Henry Jiles’s crew—after all—since she’d been engaged to one of his employees, Alcide Herveaux, a decade before. It had been easy to convince Pelt to seduce her former fiancé and to influence him to pursue more private security jobs. From there, Herveaux had put in a good word for her with Jiles.

Appius sighed. He hoped that Eric would follow his directives regarding Isabel Edgington, for he was truly tired of interacting with his son in any way. But that didn’t mean that he wasn’t going to be monitoring his every move—even more closely than before.

Debbie Pelt would make sure of that.

And it certainly didn’t mean that he was done constructing scenarios that would hurt Eric. In fact, now that he thought about it, a future with Isabel Edgington seemed too good for Stella’s son—much too good. With that thought in mind, he scrolled through his phone again until he came to the name he was looking for.

“Appius!” the woman who answered said excitedly. “Are you calling about Eric? Have you finally gotten him to come to his senses?”

“Not yet, my dear. But I have a plan of how you two can be together.”

“You do?” she asked with hope.

“Indeed,” Appius said. “But I will need your help.”

The woman’s voice grew pouty. “But I can’t leave here right now. Daddy says I need to stay until the doctors feel I’m well.” She scoffed. “They just don’t understand that Eric and I are meant to be. They don’t realize that that’s why I was following him like I was. I never intended to use the gun I had,” she added with a flippant, though slightly nervous laugh.

“Of course not, dear,” Appius said soothingly. “But now you must pretend that you are over Eric.”

“I won’t lie about our love!” she said fervently.

Appius sat forward in his chair a little. “You will only have to lie to your doctors and your father. You and I will still know the truth about your feelings. And—soon—Eric will recognize that truth, too, and all will be well,” he coaxed.

“Do you promise?” Freyda de Castro asked hopefully.

“Yes. Just do everything that I ask, and Eric will be yours before you know it. You simply must be patient.”

Freyda sighed. “Do you really think Eric will accept me? He was so cruel before.”

“He has been misguided, dear,” Appius soothed.

There was a pause.

“If you will help me to get Eric, I will do whatever you say,” she relented.

“Good. It must be nighttime in Switzerland, my dear,” Appius said paternally. “Get your rest, and—in the morning—you can begin working to convince the others that you are over Eric. It might take a little time, but I know you can do it.”

“I will! And,” Freyda paused, “thank you, Appius.”

“You and my son belong together,” Appius said, placating the woman. “I will call again soon.”

“Good bye,” Freyda said.

“Good night, dear,” Appius responded before hanging up.

He smiled with satisfaction and filled his glass again. Eric might get his shit together and marry Isabel. But Freyda—in all of her obsession—would be an amusing wild card to add into the mix. The fact that she’d been found with a gun when she’d been caught stalking Eric had been kept quiet by the authorities—due in part to a large bribe by Felipe de Castro and a favor called in to the chief of police by Appius.

The elder Northman smiled, thinking about how de Castro now owed him. Sadly, Felipe hadn’t been able to convince the Chinese to deal with Vegas Publishing even after Appius had given Felipe information so that he could offer Guangzhou Press a better deal than Eric. But Appius was certain that he could still find a way to use Felipe and his daughter.

Part of Appius hoped that Freyda might just kill Eric if she got another chance. Or she might kill Isabel. Either way, her presence would certainly be amusing—for Appius.

And hurtful for Eric.

Or—perhaps—Appius could still manufacture the situation so that Eric would marry the delusional Freyda de Castro. As the night went on, Appius’s alcohol-addled mind zipped through any number of outcomes—each one potentially more harmful for his eldest son.

Long after the others in the household were asleep, Appius finally passed out on the sofa in his office. He dreamed of Stella, her beautiful blue eyes dripping with tears. He reached out to her, knowing that if he could just touch her, all of her pain—and his pain—would be burned away.

But he could not reach her.

The End of Touch the Flame, Part II of The Comfortably Numb Trilogy. Burn out the Pain, Part III of the trilogy to follow.

A/N: Hello all! Well—I’ve been a busy bee today and was able to finish this story off. I think I’ll be posting chapter one of Burn out the Pain before I move back to the UN-iverse—just to get us started. So you might expect that in the next couple of days.

Many, many thanks for all who have been on this difficult journey with me. Without your support, my “writing life” would be a lot less satisfying. So thank you!

There’s a lot to come, and things will be changing a lot for Sookie and Eric as they continue their journey. I hope that you will join them—and me—in Burn out the Pain.

Until then,


P.S. A few of you have PM’ed me on fanfiction.net, asking when Eric and Sookie will be back together in this series. Remember that I am happy to offer spoilers via PM, so if you need them, just let me know.

P.S.S. If you wanna read the summary for Burn out the Pain and see the amazing banner Seph has made for it, click here!

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Banner for Cali Kat's page


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Chapter 1, Burn

39 thoughts on “Epilogue: A Walking Shadow

  1. I have never hated a character as much as I do Appius! Such a fantastic story, amazing writing and I can’t wait for more.

    1. I think I hate Appius too, though my feelings about him are quite complicated since he is base (loosely) on my dad as well as CH’s depiction of him. I really appreciate your comment and your support for the story! And–don’t worry–more will be coming soon.

  2. I tell you I knew that asshole would not leave Eric alone. I hope that they figure out Ms Pelt and use her to feed the wrong info to yours truly I knew this chapter would dry my tears and make me pissed off at Appius. I am tempted at spoilers but I can’t I trust you for a HEA and I will just let it unfold.

    1. Thanks for your trust…and for always reading and commenting. Yeah–it’s hard to have any empathy for Appius. And–nope–he couldn’t just leave well enough alone. The man’s got a little crazy in him.

  3. I’m just loss for words. I just can’t believe what Appuis is doing. Hope Eric and gang find out real soon about Debby Pelt. I have a feeling it’s going to get so much worse for everyone.

    1. Hi–thanks for reading this story! I can definitely say that in some ways it will get worse before better. But in other ways, we will be moving in a happy direction in the next installment. I hope you will join me. 😉

  4. You do write a character that is very easy to hate. I started to feel a bit sad for him as he suffers so much from missing Stella –but then with his continued plotting, that bit of empathy I was feeling evaporated like the morning dew on a 100 degree day. Fry the bastard. Any way you can…as publicly as you can….as deep as you can….
    Can’t wait for the next installment –I’ll try to be patient and not ask for spoilers —you always pull through for us!

  5. Freydaj sounds like the perfect wife for Appius. They both are crazier than crazy. Delusional does not even begin to describe them accurately. They are the perfect pair.

  6. Really enjoyed reading this story. I hope that Appius finally gets his in the next installment so Eric and Sookie can have their well deserved Happily ever after. Can’t wait for the next story.

  7. Wow, I can’t believe we’re already at the end of part 2! And this story has never once dragged or failed to keep my interest. I can’t wait to start part 3!

  8. that man needs to burn in hell and i am so looking forward to his comeuppance… but bringing Debbie Pelt in, damn… and Freyda is one twisted bitch ….. KY

  9. Fantastic last two chapters & epilogue with Appius. He is just so hate-filled. I’ve enjoyed this story so much & Comfortably Numb so I can’t wait for the next part. There’s never been a part of this adventure that I haven’t loved, so I know Part 3 will be just as great!

  10. I want to go back to my start is psychology, pull out my DSM4 (must be a newer diagnostic book from 20 years ago) and start eorking on that disgusting snake filled out he has for a brain. Then even if I find the cause – I still want him dead. Or poor and powerless. Yeah. That might be the ticket.

    And that quote at the top ? I was back in sixth grade when I had to memorize it!!

    Thanks for all your work today. Here’s to keeping the migraines away!!!


    1. Thanks! So far so good with the migraines. That cluster was my first, and I am trying to take lots of breaks from working so that they don’t come back. Luckily, the last bit of TtF was in pretty good shape when I started editing. I had to memorize that quote in 12th grade. LOL. So you had a leg up on me. It’s funny. When I was young, the last bit of the quote struck me most, but now, it is the first bit that seems most beautiful. When I went to name this chapter, “a walking shadow,” just kept moving through my head.

  11. Thanks for wrapping that up so beautifully, as much as I always look forward to your updates the announcement or the final installment makes me a little sad knowing the end is in sight on this series. As much as I enjoy the vampire universes it’s the AH that tend to linger in my mind the longest. The motivations and psychological build up of characters becomes so much more intriguing. For example I can’t get myself to hate your Appius like I did in the books. He wasn’t born to be this monster and I enjoyed discovering the parallel of scorned paternal relations with his target and it’s beautiful to see Eric breaking that pattern before he too ends up just like his target.

    1. I can’t wholly hate this Appius either, and for some reason that makes him a “bigger” villain in my mind. I can tell you that Burn out the Pain will be as long as Touch the Flame, so there’s still a lot to go. Thanks so much for reading! Best,

  12. This makes me sad knowing that it’s over but I can’t wait for the next installment !!! I want to see Sookie fight against Appius and I’m sure she ‘ll win ..Eric right now is in not in a good place and I hate what Appius wants to do to Eric …..until then take care kat

  13. This has been a wonderful, though sad, journey and I can’t wait for the next leg. I don’t usually enjoy AH but your stories are the exception. I know that with “Burn..” you’ll somehow make sure that Appius gets what he so richly deserves and that Eric and Sookie will finally have their HEA. Great job so far!!

    1. Thanks for the trust. I definitely have “appropriate” fates in mind for everyone. 🙂
      I’m glad you gave my AH a chance. It is quite different to write them, but the characters still really are interesting to explore in that context.
      Again, many thanks for reading!

  14. I devoured all your posts yesterday as they came in…and aren’t we all in such a sad and lonely place. I am so excited for the next sequel, because I know it will bring resolution…what a great trilogy. I will admit, I was reluctant to get involved with CN because of the subject matter. A huge part of why I have my Ph.D is my own father’s abandonment and inability to see any worth in me. I worked with some gifted therapists. After I had read the B&F universe a couple of times, I decided to take a little taste of CN. It was so sensitively written about especially Sookie’s growth…so much sweetness scattered amongst the pain, that I got hooked. I am proudest of myself that I have never asked you for the story in advance…it’s been hard to do at times. I will admit to frequently checking the character banners to see who might be going to show up😏.

    It took me a bit to process what I wanted to say to you…and I had deleted my email tickler. So I had to enter your site through my bookmark. I just happened to scroll through Home as a point of entry, and it was mind boggling to review your body of work, most of which are completed trilogies ‘ and all of which I have read. I love it that you post in WP because I love how you bring the characters to life through Sephrenia’s character and story banners, but things like the gallery walks through the Met (I spent my first 40 years as a New Yorker) bring your stories to life even more. But the thing that I most want to express to you is my gratitude that you choose to share your prodigious talent with us, that you finish your stories, and that you weave them so skillfully…even though it is soooooo painful at times. I know we are moving towards supreme satisfaction, and I trust you to get us there, unlike TB and SVM who ripped apart any logic in their stories I beyond what I cared to follow.

    So thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your art. Get us started (I am praying that Bobby is smarter than that bitch Debbie Pelt so they can use her against Appius) and then let’s head off on our road trip to plan the undoing of that vile Russell Edgington and asswipe Bill Compton!


    1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and for the compliments. I’m so happy that you are enjoying this universe, despite the difficulty of the content. It always amazes me how many parents treat their children with neglect or cruelty. It seems so unnatural, yet it’s so common. I think that writing about it helps me to deal with things.
      Again, many thanks for reading and for your thoughtful comments. I wish I had time to respond to all of them, but I so appreciate your sharing them.


  15. Crap another viper! Somebody call animal control to get rid of these dang things already!

    I am seriously so engrossed in this story that I don’t even want to get some sleep but I guess I need to use this as a stopping point for now. Sigh.

  16. Wow! What an amazing second story, in this trilogy! I could not put it down! You are such an amazing and gifted writer! Can’t wait to get started on the third story! On to it now….

  17. OMG!!!…..how low will appius stoop in his hatred for eric?…..can’t wait to see how all this works out…..loving this story soooo much!…….thank you for sharing your awesome talent! x

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