A/N: The talk with Bill happens on Friday night (which is chapter 26); for those who are too impatient to continue, I understand. But to the one or two of you continuing to comment negatively (and anonymously) about the pacing: Your insults aren’t going to make me stop me from writing how I’m writing and it is my policy to delete anonymous, negative comments. I hope that—if you don’t like something—you will make a choice to move on instead of figuratively beating an author up about it. I’ve learned how to take it when I get mean-spirited comments (non-constructive critiques & attacks), but it’s still not fun to read them. I cannot help but to pity those that feel the need to make such comments; if you don’t like the free story I am providing, by all means, look for something you prefer. Thanks to those of you who are supporting me and this story. I appreciate you all the more when I am having to deal with the negative comments in my in-box as well. Hopefully, those will stop. Now—on with the chapter…
“Your feelings are unlike any I have ever felt from you,” Pam said with a mixture of wonder and concern as she entered her maker’s office.
Like the night before, Eric had not chosen to “appear” in the club, and she suspected that his long phone conversations with the telepath had something to do with that—as had his trip to Bon Temps.
Though, strangely, he did not smell of Sookie Stackhouse.
“Should I just remove your throne?” Pam asked with some sarcasm when her maker didn’t respond to her observation. “You know that profits will dip if you continue to hide out from the masses. And they’ll plummet if you don’t fuck one now and then.”
Eric gave his child a serious, annoyed look. “Pamela, as I told you before, Sookie and I will be monogamous. Even if I could still palate the fangbangers—given those feelings you just mentioned—I would not hurt Sookie by disregarding this small request.”
The vampiress scoffed. “Small? Eric, it’s not natural. Vampires are meant to fuck and feed from whomever they want—whenever they want!”
The elder rolled his eyes. “I taught you better than that.”
“Well—obviously—I meant from the willing!” she clarified. “The point is that we aren’t made to be with just one person! So it’s not a small request!”
Eric shook his head. “It is to me. In fact, the thought of monogamy—with Sookie—does not seem like a hardship to me in any way. And I cannot imagine that it will become so.”
“And when it does?” Pam challenged.
He looked at her sternly.
“Okay—if it does?” she corrected.
“I will be extremely surprised,” he responded candidly. “And then I will discuss the matter with Sookie; I will end the relationship without deceiving her.”
“But it would hurt her nonetheless,” Pam cautioned.
Eric frowned. “I truly don’t believe the monogamy will be a hardship. And—if it becomes one—it might very well be Sookie who wishes to pursue another. And that will end the romantic aspect of our relationship,” he responded, looking as troubled as Pam had ever seen one.
“And what if she ends the relationship altogether? How will that affect you—if you still want her?” Pam asked, concern now dominating her features.
“You worry because I am,” he paused, “feeling now?”
Pam nodded. “Yes. Especially if your affection strengthens, I,” she paused, “worry for you. You will be hurt if she,” the vampiress paused again, “moves on from you.”
Eric smiled at his child; it was a smile that a tolerant parent offers a child who has yet to transition into adulthood. “You fear that she will break what is left of my heart,” the vampire observed. “I will not lie. Such an outcome is possible, for—if our relationship ends—I am convinced that Sookie will be the one who does it. I am equally certain that such a dissolution will hurt me deeply.”
“Yet you will still risk yourself in that way?” Pam half-asked and half-stated.
“I already have,” Eric said gently.
The two were silent for a while as Eric thumbed through some invoices and gave his child time to process the changes he was making to his existence. As adaptable as vampires could be, they rarely changed themselves radically, nor did they allow themselves to be vulnerable. Eric was doing both, at least on a personal level. He couldn’t, therefore, blame Pam for questioning him to a certain extent. In her place, he would have done the same.
Of course, he would never allow her to question him publicly or treat Sookie badly; however, the maker had confidence that his youngest progeny, who already liked Sookie, would soon adapt to the changes within him.
Pam frowned, even as he felt a measure of acceptance in their maker-child bond. “I still don’t believe you’re giving up sex and fresh blood for her.”
Eric laughed. “If all goes well, the sex part will take care of itself soon enough. And, perhaps, one day, so will the blood part.”
“Why one day?” Pam asked. “Surely you plan to take Sookie’s blood when you take her to your bed.”
The Viking shrugged. “I’ve vowed not to for the time being.”
“What?” Pam asked incredulously.
“Pamela, Sookie and I are twice tied. You know the meaning of that,” Eric informed.
“Twice!” Pam gasped.
Eric nodded. “Yes. And I’ve assured her that I won’t take her blood again until the tie has faded—unless she and I decide to,” he paused, “bond.”
Pam’s mouth opened and closed a few times—comedically.
“Eric—Master—a bond is . . . .”
“Permanent. Yes,” the Viking said. “And it will be considered with as much gravity as it deserves—by both Sookie and myself—before it is undertaken. However, for the time being, I will not take her blood because I don’t want to preclude the possibility of giving her mine if an unforeseen emergency arises.”
“But—but—what will you eat?” Pam asked.
Eric chuckled. “It is not as if bagged blood is a hardship. Indeed, you yourself have argued that it is better than feeding from most fangbangers.”
“But—uh—you need to bite!” Pam exclaimed.
Eric rolled his eyes. “I like to bite. There’s a difference. Anyway, it will be only a matter of months before Sookie and my blood tie dissipates to the point that feeding will be possible.”
“Well—even then—you’ll be settling!” Pam huffed.
“I just don’t see it that way. Even if I did not care for Sookie, I might select to feed only from her; she is fucking delicious!” he smirked.
Pam rolled her eyes. “Whatever! And way to rub it in! I was talking about variety anyway! How you could settle for first only bagged blood and then just one flavor of human, along with just one bed-partner for the foreseeable future is beyond me!” Pam emphasized.
“Speaking of variety, it would seem that my new day-person has a crush on you,” Eric grinned.
“Nice subject change,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Wait! New? Did Bobby finally break into one of your resting places and try to christen it with you? While you were dead for the day?”
“That thought is disgusting,” Eric scoffed. “And—no. Had he done that, he’d be dead. As it is, I will be glamouring him later tonight and hiring Christa Larrabee to replace him.”
Pam’s eyebrow rose with interest. “The pretty brunette Were?”
“Yes,” Eric smirked. “Variety.”
“Well—in the name of variety, I’d tickle her fancy,” Pam leered.
“I’m sure you would—will,” Eric chuckled. “Just don’t toy with her harshly. I’d like to keep her long-term.”
“Your telepath won’t mind your having a beautiful ‘girl Friday’?” she snarked.
“Miss Larrabee is telepath approved already,” Eric smirked. “She dropped Sookie’s business plan at her home today, and Sookie conducted an interview for me.”
“So—you had her poke around in the Were’s brain?” Pam asked with interest. “Any juicy gossip?”
Eric chuckled. “Nothing beyond the girl’s crush on you and Furnan’s continued attempts to undermine the Colonel.”
“I really do think we should just kill that jackass,” Pam said, her tone bored. Indeed, Eric was getting bored with Patrick Furnan’s ineffective little power-plays too, but he’d yet to do anything truly harmful to Colonel Flood. Furnan’s sudden, suspicious death, on the other hand, might cause legitimate unrest within the Long Tooth pack.
“Yet we won’t kill him unless the Colonel asks us to,” Eric grinned.
“Speaking of the two-natured, why do you smell of panther?” Pam asked, scrunching up her nose.
Eric grinned. “Do you recall Crystal Norris?”
Pam nodded. “Her kind of variety is too crazy for even my tastes, though she is certainly beautiful.”
“Jason Stackhouse thought so too. Unbeknownst to him, Crystal went to Merlotte’s—with her fiancé and two of his friends following—in order to troll for a sexual toy for the night.”
“Ah—the old ‘I’ll make him jealous by fucking someone else’ ploy,” Pam chuckled. “I can’t remember that one ever backfiring,” she added sarcastically.
“It very well could have if I was not scouting Jason’s property to see if one Were guard would be enough to cover the land there under normal circumstances.”
Both of Pam’s eyebrows rocketed up, as she realized that her maker intended to protect Sookie’s family member as well.
Eric ignored his child’s reaction and went on with his explanation. “Long story short—Felton Norris, the fiancé, showed up at Jason’s with ill-intent. Thalia and I took care of the situation.”
Pam pouted. “Why didn’t you call me? I always miss out on the fun.”
“You had several Were toys in the basement only a couple of nights ago,” he reminded.
Pam rolled her eyes. “Does everyone in Hotshot have the surname Norris?” she asked drolly.
“Not quite yet,” Eric answered, as if her question had been a serious one.
He ignored his child’s rude hand gesture.
“So—I was serious before. Should I take out the throne?” Pam asked with an odd mixture of snark and genuineness that only she would have been able to pull off.
Eric could “feel” that she was no longer questioning his decision to pursue a relationship with Sookie as much as she was still mystified that he’d take such a step. Moreover, even though Pam might outwardly complain about fewer profits without him showcasing himself to the fangbangers (and occasionally fucking one), she wasn’t legitimately concerned about profits. After all, Eric had more money than even she would know what to do with, and she had plenty of money of her own too! Indeed, the two had a variety of businesses in the area.
Undeniably, Fangtasia had been an amusing business for them both in some ways, and it certainly made a hefty profit for what was basically a store-front for his Sheriff duties. However, if it went out of business the next night, neither vampire would lose any figurative sleep over it.
“No need to remove it—but you should begin the process of finding someone to fill it.”
“Oh?” she asked with intrigue.
“Yes. A new piece or two of fangbanger bait to satisfy the masses—unless you want to take up the throne yourself,” he smirked.
“Oh—hell no!” she cried with mock horror. “But I will start fishing for a new zoo exhibit—or two. Now—back to your feelings,” she teased. “Would you like for me to read you a Dear Abby column I think would apply to you?”
Eric rolled his eyes and stood up. “Oh—hell no!” he mimicked her earlier exclamation. “I have somewhere I need to be.”
“Bon Temps?” she smirked.
“I’ve already been there tonight,” he responded enigmatically, winking at her before speeding out of the club.
In truth, Eric may very well have stayed to listen to what the human advice columnist had to say about relationships had his blood not “felt” an unmistakable presence nearing.
He left his car at Fangtasia and flew off into the night, following his blood until it found his first child close to a small creek that was—quite literally—in the middle of nowhere.
His honed senses had not picked up another being for miles, so he landed without circling the area.
“Karin,” he smiled softly. “You have come earlier than I thought you would be able to.”
She approached her maker and knelt before him.
“You need not show me such signs of obedience,” Eric said softly as Karin rose to her feet. Indeed, his first child had not made such a gesture since he’d released her fully from his command.
She moved closer to him—close enough for an embrace, though the two did not touch. She breathed in his scent.
“It pleases me to see you again; it pleases me to show my respect for the one who made me,” she said.
He leaned in to give her a brief kiss on her forehead. “Seeing you pleases me as well, Karin.”
She nodded an acknowledgment and stepped away a bit, her eyes tracing the sky above—as if she was looking for a particular star. “My loose ends for my last assignment were tied quickly, and I was anxious to be here.”
“I am glad to have you nearby,” Eric said softly. He did not need to remind her that he was especially glad that she’d be close enough to kill him if Appius arrived on the scene and tried to compel him to harm Sookie. “Do you need aid finding lodgings?”
She shook her head. “No. I have already settled into a dwelling place.”
Eric nodded, not surprised that his independent-minded child had seen to her own needs.
“I wanted to see you tonight—to greet you in person,” she said after a moment, though her eyes were still on the sky above. “But I will remain unseen from this point on. Unless Appius Livius Ocella is near,” she spat out the name, “I see no need to track you often, though I will certainly hone my skills at doing so.”
Eric nodded. “I have informed Thalia that you may follow me from time to time. She needed to know that you are necessary—and no threat to Sookie. Indeed, she will likely try to track you in order to hone her own skills,” he smiled. “However, she has no idea that you are my child—and she will not—unless you decide to reclaim your place at my side.”
Eric looked at Karin closely, wishing that he could take in her scent as she’d taken in his. But part of her stealth was wrapped up in the spells she used to change and cover her scent. “Have you decided what you wish to do regarding Appius?”
Eric could see the uncertainty in Karin’s eyes as she finally turned her gaze toward him again. And—though he could no longer feel the nuances of her emotions because he’d released her irrevocably—he could sense her mixed feelings.
“I have not,” she responded. “I would like to see him dead; however, I’ve not yet determined whether I wish to change my existence enough to be,” she paused, “Isolde again. And—since you have stated your preference that Appius not be killed unless I decide to be her or he misbehaves—I will simply watch and wait for now.”
The older vampire nodded in understanding.
“It would still be easier if I could just kill him regardless,” Karin stated flatly.
“I know,” Eric acknowledged. What held him back from telling his child to hunt his maker down and finish him was still a mystery to the Viking, given the dread he had for Appius. Likely, it had to do with one of the commands that Appius had never lifted from him—that he could never cause his maker any harm.
“I will be finding out where Appius is and making sure that he is watched,” the vampiress informed. “Do you wish to have reports of his activities and whereabouts?”
Eric shook his head. “Not unless they threaten to affect me and mine.”
“I have found a fairy in the area,” Karin informed, changing the topic.
“Have you indeed?” he asked. “You have been busy in your short time here.”
She shrugged. “A night is long when used well.”
He nodded. Given the fact that he’d been the one to teach her that saying—albeit in another language at the time—he could not argue.
“There is a strip club called Hooligans,” she relayed. “From what I can tell, a fairy runs the place and is its strongest draw. There is magic,” she paused, “discouraging vampire patrons—as you might expect.”
“I am aware of the club and its Supernatural elements,” Eric shared. “But I thought keeping my distance was best. It is good that they have spells keeping other vampires away.”
“I mention it only because you thought you might need to contact Niall. My connections tell me that Claude Crane—one of Hooligan’s proprietors—is related to our old fairy friend.”
Eric considered her words for a moment. “I will mention this to Sookie and take my cues from her on the matter. She is undergoing so many changes in her life that she may wish to wait a while before learning about her Fae heritage—if, indeed, she is part-fairy.”
Karin looked at her maker with intensity. “I hate why I have come—the duty you have asked me to perform for you—but I am truly glad to see you. Eric, I . . . .” She stopped midsentence and took a step toward him again.
Her eyes were bright with affection, and Eric could discern that her thoughts had turned amorous. The two had once enjoyed a sexual relationship for a time—especially during their early years together—and it was clear that Karin would enjoy reconnecting in that way.
“I am sorry, but I cannot join with you,” he denied softly.
She looked away to cover a flash of rejection.
“No, I am sorry,” she said, shaking her head. “I know that I am here because you have found great affection for another. I should not have presumed that we could,” she paused, “be as we once were.”
Eric lifted her chin in an affectionate gesture. “At any other time in my existence, I would be honored and pleased to be with you in that way. However, doing so now would cause much unhappiness—for Sookie, for myself, and for you.”
Karin nodded. “I understand. I was simply overwhelmed by seeing you again—overwhelmed because I feel that we have . . . .” Her voice trailed off.
Eric waited patiently for her to speak again, intuiting that she needed to be the one to express her emotions, though he could sense some of what she was feeling.
“We have resolved things between ourselves—have we not?” she finally asked. “We have overcome all that has kept us distant over the years.”
He smiled softly down at her. “Yes. I believe any misunderstandings are now gone. I remain,” he paused, “regretful, however, that my complete release of you would have ever been interpreted as rejection.”
“I now understand fully that you were trying to protect me from your maker,” Karin said, her features softer—more vulnerable—than Eric had seen them since she was a youngling.
Eric nodded. “It seems as if—throughout my vampire existence—I have always been trying to protect myself and those I care about from Appius.” He dragged his fingers through his moonlit hair. “I pray to the old gods that I knew as a human that he will stay well away from my life—for at least as long as Sookie is a part of it.”
“And if you turn her?” Karin asked.
Eric stilled completely at that thought.
He had once gone to desperate measures—severing his “maker status” with his first child—in order to protect Karin from Appius. He’d had to, for he cared too much for his first child to trust that Appius would treat her well. Eric had then gone to great lengths to keep Pamela at something of an arm’s length from himself—from his stronger emotions—so that Appius would never understand the depth of his feelings for his younger child.
If Sookie were to become his child, there would be no keeping her at arm’s length. But could he release her as he’d done with Karin? Could he let her go?
He frowned deeply at the thought. “Sookie is content with staying a human, and I am not anticipating that her preference will change any time soon.”
Karin nodded, intuiting that her maker would give the topic more thought, but that he was not yet ready to talk about it with anyone.
“It is very nice to see you again, my maker. My behavior aside,” Karin said somewhat abashedly, “I hope to meet your Sookie—eventually.”
Eric smiled softly at his progeny. “I hope you do too, Karin,” he said, bending down to kiss her forehead again.
She looked up at him and allowed her affection for her maker to show in its full force; she also pushed her feelings into what remained of their child-maker bond. Though he would never be able to command her again, he could feel something of the depth of her love for him in that moment. He sent his own affection and pride back to her.
She nodded in acceptance of his “message” to her and then slowly returned her feelings and her expression to neutral. Eric knew that he was watching his child, Isolde, turn back into Karin the Slaughterer, a persona she’d adopted for practicality, empowerment, and self-preservation.
“I will be nearby,” she said before flying away.
“Thank you,” Eric said, uncertain if she could still hear him, but hoping that she could still feel his gratitude.
He turned to look at the small creek. In asking his child to kill him if it was the only way to stop Appius from making him a weapon against Sookie, Eric was well aware that he was asking much of Karin. He dragged his hand through his hair.
“May it not be too much,” he prayed quietly, wondering if his old gods were even listening.
He’d not allowed himself to have much faith in them for a very long time. But—for several months now—he’d found himself contemplating them again and wondering if they might not be watching over the world after all.
It was not a mystery to him why he’d suddenly found his willingness to believe in higher powers again.
“Sookie,” he said before propelling himself into the night.
A/N: I struggled with whether or not to have Karin make sexual moves on Eric, but ultimately decided that—given what we had learned about vampires up to Book 3 of the novels (where The Trunk starts), it would be odd if Karin didn’t make an overture. Whether she makes more isn’t set in stone yet. However, I can promise you that Eric won’t respond to her in that way. He is, however, pleased to see her and is happy about reconnecting with her. Hopefully, she received the message about just how much he has changed because of his interest in Sookie. Pam is getting that message too. I was thinking about just how odd it would be for both of Eric’s children to witness such changes in him as he begins to embrace having feelings. I wanted to show some of that in this chapter and also introduce you to Karin. Plus, I was missing Pam at this point. Hope you enjoyed reading this. Please comment if you have the time and inclination. And so sorry for the delay in posting.