Disclaimer: I don’t own the characters in True Blood or the Southern Vampire Mysteries. So neither copyright infringement nor offense is meant. I simply want to make the characters do what I wanted them to do for a while. I am especially “unownerly” when it comes to this story. You will recognize a lot of the dialogue throughout as being quoted from Season 5 of True Blood, though I’ve tried to use Eric’s thoughts to make this story “different” from its source. That said, I claim no ownership to the quoted material and have placed it in bold so that it is set apart from my own words.
[Flashback continued: San Francisco, 1905]
It was a time of decadence in the fifteen-year-old state, California. The vampire population was low, but the human population was booming. Favored vampires were given “private” hunting grounds in the city of San Francisco, though older vampires—such as myself—were free to roam where we wished.
Yes. We could do whatever we wished—within reason.
I smiled. Indeed, there had always been something “fresh” about the world at the beginning of a new century. It was as if humans were less inhibited and less limited by old ways. Yes—San Francisco was a great fucking city! It epitomized the birth of the 20th Century.
However, occasionally, there were problems in the area, and that was why Ferdinand had secured my services. I’d made quite a name for myself as an enforcer of sorts, and I’d worked for many kings—sometimes with Godric and sometimes by myself. Ferdinand had given me the official title of “investigator” in his regime, and he paid me well for my efforts.
My current problem had started as a rumor—as most problems did. A whore had been killed in the red light district. Usually such a thing wouldn’t have been cared about by the somewhat laughable excuse of a police force in the city. But the whore had been special; she’d been the mayor’s favorite. And the case had been “odd.”
For the girl appeared to have been bitten.
I sighed as I walked the misty San Francisco streets. I had plans for later that night, and I hoped that I wouldn’t have to break them. I brushed a speck of dust off of my impeccably cut black suit and smiled. If I could hurry through my current task of picking up the trail of my quarry, I would have time to attend a special performance of Mazeppa at the Maguire Opera House. King Ferdinand had personally glamoured the owner to believe that a performance in the dead of the night would be an excellent idea. Mazeppa culminated in the Tartar character being stripped and tied to a horse. Decades before, the male role of the Tartar had been played by a woman—making the production extremely risqué, though the nudity was only simulated back then. I knew that tonight’s production would have no such inhibitions attached to it.
I was intrigued to see the opera—as I’d already formed something of an “attachment” with the young actress who was playing the Tartar. Esmerelda could do the most remarkable things with her tongue!
However, before my fun, I had to track down the culprit or culprits who had chewed into a high-class whore and then left her for dead.
The night before, I’d visited the morgue. Though one might think that such places would be favorites of vampires, one would be wrong. The scent was always horrid—a mixture of rotting bodies and shit, given the fact that humans tended to befoul themselves when they died.
It wasn’t their fault really; it was a matter of gravity. That was yet another good thing about becoming a vampire. We drank the blood of our makers in the last moments of our lives, and the magic from that prevented any last-second loss of bowel control.
I felt my lips turn downward in disgust as I remembered a time in Russia almost 800 years before when I’d been forced to drink from a corpse. The body had been fresh-ish. Only a day’s worth of rotting and a few maggots. But, of course, the stench had been overwhelming to my acute senses.
“Fucking repulsive,” I said under my breath.
But I’d been starving at the time. I’d fucked the “pet” of the wrong vampire, and I’d been put into a silver coffin for two months. And that silver coffin had been placed in a graveyard. Godric had been with me at the time of my transgression against the stronger vampire, and he was the one to free me too. I was so fucking hungry that—in my frenzy to eat—I dug up the freshest corpse in the “joint.”
Godric had looked on with both understanding and disdain as I’d drained the coagulated blood from the corpse. After I was done, I had a fucking stomachache! Compassionately, Godric had led me to a home with a nice, fat family inside, and by the end of the night, I was on my way to recovery.
I’d learned my fucking lesson though! No taking of others’ pets!
However, Godric liked to bring up the episode whenever I was getting “too full of myself.”
I smirked as I thought about my maker. He and Nora were still in Europe—Spain the last I knew. Godric had no trust for extended sea travel, and—in many ways—I felt truly independent for the first time because he was literally on the other side of the world from me.
I couldn’t blame Godric for his reticence about sea travel, however. Though I’d not had to feed on another corpse during my long steamer ride from Japan to California, the smell of the unbathed humans in the steerage section got ranker and ranker during the three-week voyage. But—since steerage was windowless—that was where I’d needed to “bunk” during the day, though I’d enjoyed my nights with the upper crust. After a good bath—of course.
However, despite any unpleasantness, the rocking ship had stirred me in a way that I’d not been stirred since my seafaring days as a human. And I’d been wanting to explore the “New World” for a while.
Exploration, after all, was in my blood.
My eyes narrowed as I caught a whiff of another vampire in the vicinity—one whom I’d met a few times at Ferdinand’s court.
I’d felt distaste for her from the start. Oh—she was beautiful. But she had a wild look in her eyes, and rumors of “bad” behavior followed her into the city like a shadow. She had told the king that she was “just visiting” and wanted to enjoy the “flavors” of San Francisco for a year or two before moving on. She’d paid the appropriate fee for her “holiday,” so she had been accepted at court.
My instincts had told me that she might be trouble, so I’d reached out to some of my contacts on the East coast via coded telegrams and the telephone—an excellent new invention in my opinion. I’d glamoured many a phone operator to make sure my conversations with colleagues were kept private. Through those means, I’d learned that Lorena was something of a miscreant and had been kicked out of more than one kingdom for leaving bodies in her wake. It was also rumored that she traveled with a child that she’d never registered with the Authority.
It was also clear that Lorena’s beauty and charm had gotten her into the door of many a new kingdom, and she seemed to have the uncanny ability to flee it before a king could take her undead life.
The corpse I’d seen the night before fit Lorena’s modus operandi to a “T.” It was painfully apparent that no effort had been made to cover up the draining. The whore had multiple bite marks on her. Neck, thighs, ankles, arms, breasts, pussy—they had all been pierced by fang. And the woman had obviously been fucked roughly before, during, and/or after her death.
I felt pity for the whore. She’d been lovely, but even the least lovely of creatures deserved a less horrifying death than the whore had gotten. To cover the crime perpetrated by my kind, I’d taken and burned the young woman’s body. Then I’d glamoured the man who ran the morgue so that he’d forget all about me and the whore. I’d also taken the paperwork about the woman; it said her name was Simone. I’d burned the paperwork with her.
Then I’d tracked down the detective in charge of the case. I’d glamoured him to believe that the fang marks on Simone’s body were made by a small dagger, perhaps an exotic one with an ivory blade. Then I’d gone through his case file and taken anything that could have pointed to the existence of vampires.
Regrettably, it had taken up most of my night.
Oh well. It was my job—after all.
I slipped through the San Francisco streets, following Lorena’s scent. My own sense of smell had developed greatly during the last quarter of my millennium of un-death; thus, I figured I could follow her from far enough away to not be detected.
The detective’s case file had told me that there had actually been two victims—the mayor’s favorite, two nights before, and another girl from the same establishment, killed only three nights after Lorena had arrived in the city.
Naughty. Naughty. Indeed.
I scowled as Lorena’s trail disappeared, but I wasn’t that upset. Clearly, Lorena wasn’t particularly discreet. Given that the opera wasn’t to begin for a couple of hours, I decided to visit the whorehouse where she’d chosen her victims—to see if I could pick up the scents of vampires there and to get the lay of the land.
The Comstock Brothel was in the red light district of Barbary Coast. I’d heard of the establishment, but had not yet had the chance to visit. The brothel was known for its “clean” girls—both well-bathed and disease free. The Madame, whose name I had learned was Pamela Swynford de Beaufort, had been the “best” whore for Rutherford Comstock, who’d struck it somewhat rich during the gold rush. After that, he’d been wise enough to invest in a truly enduring business: prostitution. Comstock’s only son had decided to go into “legitimate” business, though he still took a percentage of the brothel’s profits. Ms. Swynford de Beaufort had run the place since Rutherford Comstock’s death eight years before.
Now at 34 years of age, Pamela would be considered old for a whore. However, I’d learned that she still entertained a few select clients. I’d also learned that her “skills” in bed were considered unparalleled.
I was intrigued.
I sauntered into the main reception area of the Comstock, handed the hostess fifteen dollars, and told her that I just wanted a decanter of wine and a quiet corner for the evening as I studied the girls and prepared to make my choice.
The hostess did as I asked with no protest. I was certain that she had heard odder requests than mine.
It didn’t take me long to figure out who the Madame was. As I sat in the corner watching, I saw that Pamela was looking carefully around the room. And she obviously wasn’t looking for “company” for the night. On the contrary, even as she ate her simple meal, she seemed to be cataloguing the whereabouts of all her girls and gauging the “quality” of her patrons. Understandably, she had the concerned eyes of a Madame who had recently lost two girls to a killer—or killers.
But—she had the eyes of a person who did care, nonetheless.
She also had the eyes of a woman who was tired of her life. I’d seen the look thousands of times during my thousands of days.
I didn’t like the look on her.
Pamela drank down a large gulp of her Campari, which had been served by a man named Nicholas, who clearly respected her. I saw a pretty brunette approach her. She asked for a boost, and Pamela gave her one—out of a pretty ring on the ring finger on her left hand, the finger that would have held a wedding ring if the Madame’s life had progressed in a more socially acceptable direction.
The brunette informed Pamela that Claire had been in room number three for almost an hour. It was pretty clear that the Madame was half-pissed and half-worried as she wiped her dainty hands and went in search of the wayward Claire. I followed stealthily, but I didn’t need to follow all the way to Room 3. I smelled the fresh corpse as I entered the hallway. And I smelled vampires: Lorena and another.
Someone who shared Lorena’s blood.
I sighed, knowing that another trip to the morgue would be called for.
Ms. Swynford de Beaufort seemed to know what she was going to find behind the door of room number 3, but she still gasped when she saw Claire’s body. I could smell the salt from her quickly formed tears.
“Goddamn them,” she cried.
“Them?” I whispered, knowing I wouldn’t be heard. I wondered, then, if the Madame knew who was killing her girls. Perhaps she’d been glamoured not to interfere with the vampires or to speak of them—but had been left to remember the horror of them. Such things had happened before.
Or maybe the Madame was simply smart enough to know that powerful beings were targeting her people. Maybe, in her business, it was practical to believe in the monsters of the night—for most of those monsters were, indeed, humans.
I kept studying Pamela as she went to her “office” and arranged for a particular policeman—someone who was obviously a client as well—to be sent a message. After that, the dead girl was removed quietly and quickly, and the room she’d died in was cleaned and set to rights within half an hour. Five minutes after that, another girl was entertaining on the same bed where her colleague had died.
The whole business had taken less than an hour.
I had to respect the Madame’s relentless ability to move forward.
Ten minutes after the Comstock had closed, I followed Pamela as she left the brothel. She’d changed her clothing—since her own had gotten stained with blood. But she looked no less put together—or beautiful—when she took to the streets.
Unbeknownst to her, I wasn’t the only one following her as she quickly made her way to the apartment of the detective who was investigating the murders of her girls. I listened through the window as she asked him—for what was likely the third time—to keep her brothel’s name out of the newspapers. She also asked that he place undercover detectives into her establishment.
He agreed to her first request, but not her second. However, predictively, he agreed only after she paid him with money and her body. Again, I found myself appreciating Pamela. She was a savvy businesswoman—willing to do whatever it took to stay ahead, even if that meant fucking the policeman who’d just fucked her over.
After what sounded like what must have been a disappointing fuck—for her—it didn’t take Pamela long at all to set her appearance to rights. When she set off on the way back to the brothel, she once again had two beings following her.
This time, Pamela sensed the human stalking her. But she didn’t run or yell for help. Instead, she turned around and faced her pursuer.
“May I help you?” she asked in a challenging tone.
The man told her that she was beautiful. He wasn’t lying.
Pamela told him that she was “off the clock.”
I grinned again. She was full of piss and vinegar.
She turned to saunter away after telling him to come see her after her establishment opened the next night. Unsurprisingly, the man pulled out a knife and attacked, pushing her against a brick wall.
“That’s right, whore! I like it when you struggle,” the attacker said, his voice having taken on a sociopathic edge.
She deserved better.
I flashed to the scene and quickly killed the would-be killer with his own knife. I was an expert at killing and managed to do the job without getting a single drop on my pristine white shirt, ivory waistcoat, and ivory tie.
Glancing at the beauty using my peripheral vision, I decided to test Pamela’s mettle. Perhaps, once I’d taken care of the vampire problem at her brothel, she might take care of me. It would be nice to have a lover who knew what I was again, and Pamela seemed able to keep a secret. She also seemed to be in no position to tell one.
I licked my fingers and tasted the would-be killer. A-positive. Not my favorite.
“I’m no stranger to dead bodies,” she responded, her voice shaking.
Of course, I already knew that.
“The streets can be dangerous at this hour. A lady should really be more,” I paused, “careful.” I worked to wipe off my bloody hands with my handkerchief as I waited for what I was certain would be a pithy remark from her.
Despite the fact that her voice was still quivering, she’d not disappointed me. And that was unusual when it came to humans.
I walked over to her. She was wearing tall shoes—very tall shoes—so I didn’t need to look too far down to look her into the eyes. But it wasn’t her eyes that I was looking at. It was her cleavage. Though I’d managed to keep the blood off of myself, her dress had sustained some damage.
Unbeknownst to her, I knew that it was her second bloody garment that night.
“That is a,” I paused, “lovely dress.” I finally looked her in the eyes, knowing that I’d enthralled her without the need for glamour. “I’m sorry about all the blood,” I said sincerely, wondering if she was sharp enough to figure out that it wasn’t just the dress I was talking about. In that moment, I hoped that my eyes were making the promise that I already intended to keep: to rid her establishment of predators such as Lorena.
She looked longingly at my lips, but I did not kiss her.
I gave her a few coins. “This should cover it,” I said, knowing that the money was enough to clean both of her bloody dresses.
“Mister?” she said to me with wide eyes. I knew I wouldn’t want to answer any question she asked, so I zipped away, though I didn’t truly “leave” her until I knew she was safely in her room for the night.
I had to miss most of Mazeppa to make sure that Pamela Swynford de Beaufort had no additional problems that night; however, I still arrived in time to see the climactic scene. And—after that—I was able to have climactic moments of my own with Esmerelda and that amazing tongue of hers.
Overall, it had been a productive night.
A/N: I hope that you are liking the story of Eric and Pam’s meeting from his POV. 🙂
As always, thanks to Sephrenia for the character banners! Her banner for Pam–below–is what inspired me to include this story of Eric’s time in San Francisco in 1905.