Last Time: “A thick, dark quilt, double folded—at least—and hammered over the window. Duct tape around its edges and another quilt under the door. Get the Weres outside to help, and it’ll be done within ten minutes,” Aphra smiled.
“Huh?” Sookie asked, confused.
“I had a relationship with a vampire once. We were together for a few years, in fact. He was just over five centuries old, so that’s how I know about the getting up early thing. And we often stayed in regular hotels, so I learned all about how to temporarily light-proof places,” she responded.
“Oh!” Sookie said with realization, glancing anxiously at the clock. “I can get Mustapha and Onawa to help,” she said, after “finding” their brain patterns nearby.
“Shall we meet again next Saturday then? Same time, same place?” Aphra asked. “Unless you need me earlier. Then just call me.”
“Oh. Okay. Yes. Thanks!” Sookie responded.
“I will see you then,” Aphra said as she picked up the sphere. She did not turn it off right away though. “Until then, enjoy this time. Young love is precious, Sookie.”
The telepath nodded. “I will.”
“Good,” Aphra smiled as she ran her finger over the orb. Its pale blue light immediately dissipated and then it—and Aphra—literally disappeared!
“Okay—well—that’s one way to make an exit!” Sookie commented before moving into action. She had just the quilt in mind for a quick light-proofing job: the thickest one in the house, of course. And she’d put a dark tarp over it.
“I can’t be too safe with him,” she mused.
Eric woke up feeling the same concern he’d felt when he’d fallen into his day-death.
Concern for Sookie Stackhouse.
Immediately, he used his blood to access Sookie’s blood that was within him, and the magic that linked him to her enlivened.
She had been numb the night before, her emotions weathered like an old ship that had been abandoned at sea—tossed-about and broken, but somehow still floating.
In truth, he had no idea what to expect from her emotions now.
“Hey,” her voice spoke from right beside his resting place, even as he registered her scent above him and ascertained with some surprise that her main emotion was anticipation.
She was anticipating—him.
“Hey yourself,” he answered, his voice echoing through the floorboards to her.
“You can come out,” she said, “if you want, that is. Onawa and Mustapha helped me to light-proof the room so you won’t have to stay in there till true dark.”
Her mood turned somewhat anxious—embarrassed.
He would not have her feeling either—not about him.
Not about something she did for him.
Though he did not know how she’d made the room light-tight, he trusted that she’d done an effective job and immediately unfastened the latch.
He was met with a lovely sight—her smile, though a tentative one.
“Hi,” she whispered shyly.
Eric smiled at her in return and looked at the room as he climbed out of the cubby before reaching down to pull her up from where she sat on the floor. Immediately, she placed herself into his arms and held him tightly.
“Are you well this evening?” he asked after a few quiet and comfortable moments.
He felt her nodding against him. “Yeah. Thank you. I still don’t know exactly what came over me last night. Um—I’m sorry; I made a spectacle of myself.”
He leaned back a bit and lifted her chin. “There is no need for you to apologize, Dear One. However, I can smell that the Britlingen has been here. Did you not discuss with her why you became overwrought last night?”
She shrugged. “We did. A little. But we—uh—mostly talked about other things.”
Wishing the doctor had helped the telepath with her “Bill baggage,” Eric frowned momentarily, but quickly recognized that Sookie had leave to discuss whatever she wished with Aphra Smith. “Did you find it beneficial to speak with her?”
“Yeah,” the telepath smiled. “She’s the one who suggested how I could light-proof the room quickly.”
Eric nodded. “That makes sense. Aphra was once with a vampire for an extended period of time. That was, I will admit, another selling point in her favor.”
“Because she’d talk me into being with a vampire?” Sookie asked somewhat playfully.
Eric chuckled and smoothed a strand of hair behind her ear. It did not escape his attention that she leaned into his touch.
“In truth, she might be more likely to talk you out of vampires,” he chuckled. “After all, she ended her relationship with her vampire because she did not wish to bond with him. Her vampire is a friend of mine, Duncan, and he has not been the same since she ended her relationship with him.”
“Do you know why she ended it?” Sookie asked, though she felt conflicted in doing so. After all, was it really any of her business?
“Duncan never told me the specifics, for—as you know—vampires are, by rule, quite wary of allowing their emotions to show. It was clear that he would have preferred for the relationship to progress—for a bonding to occur. But that is all that I know.”
“How sad,” Sookie sighed.
“I believe he did grieve the ending of the relationship for a while,” Eric said softly. “However, I also know that he bears the Britlingen hybrid no ill will.”
“Where is he now?”
“Vermont. He is the king there,” Eric responded. “From the night vampires came out of the coffin, he has made it his mission to charm every human he meets—so that they will accept and embrace vampires. Indeed, when it comes to vampire-human relationships, Vermont is quickly proving to be the most progressive state! In fact, if you are amenable, he could be one of your earliest clients.”
“Do you know many kings and queens?” Sookie asked curiously.
“The majority of them,” the Viking responded. “Such is the effect of living a long life. There are a few I have not met, but I make sure I learn of anyone who takes a vampire throne.”
“That’s probably smart,” the telepath chuckled. “Are you friends with many? Like you seem to be friends with Russell Edgington and—uh—Duncan?”
“There are about half a dozen monarchs in the United States that I would call myself friendly with,” he observed.
“Is Sophie-Anne one of them?” Sookie asked.
“No. Not really. She and I are not on bad terms—at least, not on my part; however, I find it better to stick with work where she is concerned. There was a time when she seemed to be interested in me sexually, but a sheriff fucking a monarch hardly ever turns out well—for the sheriff,” he shared.
Neither of them mentioned the jealousy that momentarily shot through the telepath.
“So—uh—you rejected her?” Sookie asked.
“I just let it be known that I would not bed her as her sheriff. Ultimately, she was more interested in my service to Louisiana than me, a fact that has suited us both for decades.”
“Until I entered the picture,” Sookie frowned.
Eric lifted her chin so she met his eyes. “No—until she decided to listen to Andre and circumvent the very authority and dominion she bestowed upon me, but—as we’ve discussed—I believe our conflict has been resolved.”
“So—uh—Aphra knows about bonds?” Sookie changed the subject after a few silent moments.
Eric nodded. “Yes. You could speak with her about them if you wished,” he said softly.
“Okay,” the telepath said. “But would you mind if I asked you some things about them? You’re stuck here till the sun goes down anyway,” she added, biting her lip.
“I will answer any questions you have about bonds,” Eric said as he led them over to the only piece of furniture in the room—a bed. Despite the fact that they’d lain together in Sookie’s bed the night before, both were a little hesitant about climbing in.
“This is silly,” Sookie chuckled after a couple of seconds, even as she lay down and then patted the spot next to her in order to encourage the vampire to do the same.
As soon as Eric got settled, she repositioned herself to lay her head on his strong chest.
“Thank you for last night,” she said softly. “I’m glad you were with me when I fell apart.”
“So am I,” he agreed.
The two were silent for a few minutes.
“A bond is a huge deal—isn’t it?” she finally broke the silence.
“Yes,” he responded.
“And we’re just one exchange away from one?”
“It sounds like a permanent version of a tie—right?” she asked.
“Yes—for the most part, but it allows for a more,” he paused, “mutual relationship—a more equal one.”
“What do you mean?” she asked, her fingers beginning to trace little circles over his shirt.
His lips twitched into a slight smile due to pleasant feeling of her touch.
“When a vampire completes a bond, an exchange of magic occurs,” Eric explained, “at least the kind of magic that animates vampires. Other species can make different sorts of bonds. Even humans have their own kind—and some would argue theirs are no less magical.”
The telepath lifted her head. “What bonds do humans make?”
His eyebrow rose with his question. “Do you not know, Dear One?”
“Love?” she asked softly.
He nodded as he brushed her hair from her face.
“But other beings love—not just humans,” Sookie pronounced, even as Eric felt something odd from her in their blood tie.
Something that seemed to be a part of her emotions meant only for him.
“Some Supernaturals believe that any love we feel is inspired by humans—by the bonds we see them make,” the Viking explained. “Others argue that, while Supernaturals who are close to humans genetically—like the two-natured—have the ability to love, the rest of us don’t.”
“What do you believe—about love?” Sookie asked somewhat hesitantly.
“I believe it is gift,” he spoke softly. “A year ago, I also believed that it was one that vampires could no longer experience as humans do.”
“And now?” Sookie asked, biting her lip somewhat nervously as she did so.
“I have changed my mind,” Eric shared openly.
“Why?” she asked, looking up at him.
He shook his head and spoke softly—carefully. “Sookie, you asked that we take what is happening between us slowly. And—it was just last night that you had your closure with Compton. If I tell you why I have changed my mind about the possibility of vampires loving in a romantic sense, I believe that taking things slowly will be impossible. And I am also concerned that you will—one day—worry that I have taken advantage of your vulnerable state to influence you to . . . .” He stopped midsentence.
“Influence me to love you,” she whispered a finish for him.
He nodded. She sat up in the bed and turned toward him, moving her legs so that she was sitting cross-legged. In return, he sat up from his reclined position and leaned against the headboard.
“What if I already love you?” she asked anxiously.
He looked down for a moment and then reached out to take her hand. “Then we would have a human kind of bond already,” he said matter-of-factly, making it clear—even without speaking the words of confirmation—that his feelings mirrored her own.
They were quiet for a moment, content to let silence encompass them as they looked at each other.
“When I told you that I wanted to take things slowly, I thought I would need that time—to be sure about—well—anything,” the telepath stated. “Now, I don’t know.”
Eric was contemplative for a moment. “I believe you know that I want you, Sookie. Badly.”
She blushed and nodded.
“I believe that I’ve proven I care for you.”
She nodded again.
“I don’t want to take things slowly,” he admitted, even as he caressed her cheek softly. “I’ve lived a thousand years. And I am an incredibly patient individual for it. However, I don’t want to wait another second—for you.” His voice trailed off.
“Why does it sound like you’re about to say, ‘but’?” she asked.
“Because I am. I want you to be as sure as I am,” he indicated gently.
“Can’t you feel my emotions? Feel how certain I am?”
“Yes,” he relayed. “However, you also feel overwhelmed.”
“I agree,” she responded, looking up at him. “But I think I’m overwhelmed because of how sure I am about you—about us.”
“It is very fast to be so certain,” Eric cautioned.
“But you’re certain,” she reminded.
He nodded. “Yes. I tried hiding—suppressing—how strongly I felt for you, but I could not when I felt your distress.”
“When I was in the trunk,” Sookie observed.
“Yes. That one event changed all paths forward in my existence,” he reflected.
“What do you mean?”
“Without that event, I would have continued trying to hide what I feel—trying to convince myself that I did not like having feelings.”
“But you do like it?” she asked with some surprise.
Eric took a moment before nodding, his eyes shining with sincerity.
“I find that I,” he paused, “love it.”
She smiled. “I love it too.”
Both looked down at their entwined hands, which were stroking each other playfully, as if they had minds of their own.
“Your hands are cold,” she whispered the obvious.
“Yes. But less so now—than when you took hold of them,” he observed, his words seeming to apply to much more about him than his hands.
She returned her gaze to his eyes, noting what seemed to be a hundred shades of blue in them. “You never finished telling me about bonds.”
He nodded. “We got sidetracked on human bonds.”
“And the magic in them,” she whispered. “What kind of magic does a vampire bond have?”
He smiled softly. “I can speak only about what I have heard when it comes to vampires bonding with humans. No vampires I know of have ever bonded with fairies—not even hybrids—so I can only speculate that your heritage might change things a little.”
“Did you want to find out for sure that I’m a fairy?” she asked. “Uh—before we even think about bonding?”
He shook his head. “Speaking with them about this would change nothing. No one I could speak with would know what to expect—if you are, indeed, Fae—for, as I said, no vampire has ever bonded with a fairy.”
“What about a human and vampire?” Sookie returned to the “known” part of the topic—since Eric was right about the “unknown” part being unknowable.
Unless she and Eric bonded.
Until she and Eric bonded—the thought changed in her head.
Eric looked at her a little funny for a moment—as if he’d felt that slight shift in her and wanted to mark it for himself.
To remember it.
“I’ve seen two types of bonds between humans and vampires; one kind is something I find deplorable.”
“What do you mean?” Sookie asked.
“Renfield—from Dracula—is based on a real human, just as Dracula is based upon a real creature.”
Sookie’s eyes widened. “Dracula’s real?”
Eric nodded and chuckled. “I’ve convinced Pamela that I have a fan-crush of sorts on the count. Every year, she tries to get him to come for a visit in order to surprise me.” His eyes twinkled. “In actuality, I’ve met Vlad a handful of times. He’s quite boring, and the inspiration for Renfield wasn’t even his creature. He belonged to a different vampire.” He frowned deeply. “The first known ‘Renfield’ was created by my own maker!”
A/N: Hi all! I hope you had a good week. Eric and Sookie’s conversation will continue with the next chapter. I hope you liked this one.
Please comment if you have the time and inclination. I’m finally done with all my work from the Spring semester, but I’ve caught a cold. I’m taking a couple of days to rest. I think I’ll watch movies for the next couple of days until my nose decides to be on my team again.