Sookie had fallen asleep on the drive to her home, and—sensing (quite literally) how weary the telepath was, Eric had been content to let her take her rest. After all, they’d already done a marathon of talking that night, and the telepath clearly needed time to decompress.
Of course, being a vampire, Eric didn’t require the same, nor did he need to focus more than a miniscule amount of his attention on driving.
Instead, he was focused on working through strategies to deal with all of the potential threats to Sookie, his retinue, and himself—at least, the most pressing ones.
The Weres: Eric was 99% certain that this problem would be resolved either before dawn or at first dark the next night. It seemed likely that Sookie’s first Were “visitor” had been sent by Lorena—to go through Bill’s house and/or to report on (or kidnap) Lorena’s “competition.” The current group of Weres were probably from the same pack—if not the same cohort within that pack. The Viking had no doubt that one word from Russell Edgington would make them fall in line. The only question would be the “price” needed for Russell’s help. Knowing the somewhat eccentric Mississippi King, Eric figured that a demonstration of Sookie’s telepathy would be fee enough.
Debbie Pelt: Simply put, that bitch’s days were numbered. The Viking had no doubt she’d make her way to Bon Temps to harm Sookie—likely sooner rather than later. However, the vampire also had no doubt that she’d be killed quickly—even if she were unnaturally strong because of any V she’d taken.
Bill Compton: Eric was certain that the ludicrously side-burned leech-on-the-fucking-planet would attempt to re-insinuate himself into Sookie’s life. The Viking wasn’t worried that Sookie would accept him; however, he did know that Bill’s continued presence in Bon Temps would create an uneasy environment for the telepath. Plus, Bill’s true motives were—as yet—unknown to Eric. Was his priority still his work for Sophie-Anne? Or was his current concern centered upon Sookie’s welfare and continued independence? Or was he simply obsessed with her? His behavior in the trunk pointed to the last of these. And—if that was the case—Eric had no doubt that Bill would need to be put down permanently.
The sooner the better.
Queen Sophie-Anne: Of course, Bill’s original puppet master was of larger concern to Eric. Sophie-Anne and her children were formidable. The “Berts”—the common nickname for the almost identical Saxons that guarded Sophie-Anne all the time—were, at least, honorable warriors. Indeed, Eric quite liked Wybert, though he could do without his humorless brother Sigebert. Andre was the larger concern. The weaselly vampire was well-known for being his maker’s henchman. Andre preferred to ask Sophie-Anne for her forgiveness for his more brutal or underhanded tactics, rather than to seek her permission. Sophie-Anne, despite her public protestations, was grateful that Andre took such “initiative.” She didn’t want to dirty her own hands—but didn’t mind profiting from the fruits of her eldest child’s machinations in the least.
Appius: Lorena’s call for and manipulation of Bill had been just what Eric needed to be reminded that his own maker could easily fuck up his life.
The Viking lightly touched Sookie’s arm—but not so much as to stir her. With that touch, he experienced the weightiness of his feelings for her; he simply couldn’t suppress them any longer. Given this truth, it was only a matter of time before Appius began to wonder how such “heavy” feelings were not a burden upon his child—how that mass actually made Eric feel lighter in so many ways.
Yes—Appius would be curious.
The question was whether or not he would also be bored with his current life.
Or worse—jealous. Covetous that Eric’s feelings were not for him.
Given these concerns, Eric knew he needed a safeguard in place—someone whom he could trust unreservedly to deal with the situation if Appius decided to divert himself with a “visit” to Louisiana.
There was only one vampire Eric knew of with the stealth and skill to kill Appius cleanly, if needed—only one whom he trusted enough to have the resolve to do the same to himself if it came to that.
Of course, it would be a lot to ask of her—perhaps, too much. But he knew that he needed to ask it, nonetheless. For allowing Appius to get to Sookie or—even worse—harming his own beloved because of commands from his maker were both fates that the Viking could not abide.
He would die first.
Thus resolved, Eric took out his cellphone—even as he continued to monitor Sookie’s sleep.
In general, his phone was quite secure, for it was equipped with anti-tracking and anti-hacking software which had been designed by Molly, a young, incredibly brilliant vampire in Area 5. In addition to those security measures, however, there was an “app” that offered an extra layer of privacy, for it—quite literally—randomly encrypted the electronic signal of his calls (what Molly called the calls’ fingerprints) so that there was no way to trace them or even know that he was the one making them. Of course, too much security would have been seen as suspicious to anyone monitoring him, so he used the encryption “app” only occasionally.
Now—it was needed.
“Karin,” he said softly as the individual he was calling picked up.
“Eric,” his older child greeted, curiosity clear in her tone. “It has been a long time since you have contacted me.”
“I need your aid,” Eric admitted.
“I am ready for any task you have for me,” Karin replied somewhat formally.
“Thank you. But you should listen before you agree.”
“I am listening.”
“You are the only one I fully trust to do this thing,” Eric said softly as he looked over at Sookie. “I need you to kill me if I become a danger to someone I love.”
The phone line was silent for a moment.
“Explain!” Karin demanded icily.
“I was recently reminded of how powerless a vampire child is when being commanded by his maker.”
“Appius!” Karin hissed. “Is he near you?”
“No,” Eric assured. “But I find myself to be truly,” he paused, “happy right now; I have never felt this way. I am,” he glanced at Sookie, “in a relationship with a human—Sookie. She excites me, challenges me. Soon, I might even be . . . .” His voice trailed off.
“In love with her?” Karin finished when her maker did not.
“Yes. I likely already am,” Eric disclosed. “I do not know because I’ve never been in a,” he hesitated, “situation like this. But—if I do love her or if I grow to love her—then Appius may very well come. I need someone that I know will take care of it. Nid ydym wedi gallu i fod yn agos am beth amser, ond hyderaf nad oes neb yn fwy na chi, merch [We have not been able to be close for some time, but I trust no one more than you, daughter],” he added in Karin’s native language.
She paused for a moment. “I will come. But—just to be clear—you are giving me leave to slay your maker—yes?”
“Or me—if there is no other way to protect Sookie.”
The vampiress was silent for a moment. “I do not accept that outcome.”
“Yet I need you to agree to it,” maker said to child. “Otherwise, I will have to contact someone else—someone who will not be able to do the job as efficiently or cleanly.”
Again, the line was completely silent for several moments. Eric gave his child the time she needed.
“I will kill Appius now—before he is a threat to you.”
Eric ran his left hand through his hair. He was tempted—sorely tempted—to take his child up on that offer. But a part of him could not.
“I want to avoid his death—if possible,” he said softly.
“Your loyalty to him is illogical,” Karin responded gruffly.
“Some might argue the same about yours—for me.”
She huffed. “That would be a ridiculous comparison!”
“I was not the best of makers to you, Karin.”
“You taught me how to be a vampire—how to stay alive and thrive. And you did so without cruelty.”
“Appius taught me much as well,” Eric reminded. “Some of those lessons were passed down to you.”
“Some of those lessons are why you felt the need to free me—to separate from me,” she spit out somewhat bitterly.
“Do you regret my freeing you?” Eric asked curiously.
The phone was silent for a moment.
“You have never asked me that before,” Karin said at such a low volume that her sire had to strain to hear her words.
“I did not offer you true independence from me solely because Appius was a potential threat to you,” Eric conveyed.
“I know that,” Karin said as if exhaling the words. “But—for a while—I felt that you did it for yourself. I thought you did not want to face the harm he would do to you.”
Eric frowned. “Isolde, oedd nad yw byth fy mwriad [Isolde, that was never my intention],” he said in her native tongue.
“Rwy’n sylweddoli hyn – nawr [I realize this—now],” she responded.
“But not always,” he sighed, returning to English.
“No. mae’n ddrwg gennyf [No. I am sorry].”
“There is no need. I should have done more to reassure you at the time—to let you know that I thought only of your safety and preferences when I freed you forever from my command.”
“I know,” she said after a moment. “And it is what I felt I wanted—to be completely free. To not have to answer to anyone—not even you. But I have sometimes regretted the high price—the connection to your life. I have envied my sister,” she admitted.
“You may be as connected to my life as you wish,” Eric said sincerely. “Pam did not yearn for her independence. She never resented the fact that I could control her actions.”
“As I did,” Karin admitted flatly.
“Yes,” he agreed as he looked at the telepath. “Sookie reminds me of you in some ways; she, too, is independent. I have had thoughts of turning her.”
“Of course, you have,” Karin said as if the idea was self-evident. “You have affection for her, so you would naturally wish to keep her.”
Eric shook his head, though his child couldn’t see the gesture. “It is not something she wants. She does not wish to be controlled—ever; she would resent it if I curbed her behavior with my command—even when she was a youngling.”
“Just as I resented you at times.”
Karin scoffed. “I was young. I got over it.”
Eric chuckled. “It always took you a while to forgive me, however. Luckily, I did not have to command you often.”
“And you never did it to hurt me,” the vampiress commented with rare affection in her tone. “True independence is a good thing, but there has always been something unsettling about it too. It is difficult to describe. I am just grateful that I can still feel your existence and—when I am near enough to you—your stronger emotions.”
“I am grateful for those things too, Karin,” Eric said sincerely.
The two were silent for a moment.
“Who will know I am there?” she asked.
“Only one vampire here might be able to pick up your trail. Do you know of Thalia?”
“I have heard the name. What will you tell her?”
“Only that you are a safeguard for me. Given the magic you employ to alter your scent, she will not be able to pick up that you are my child, so there is no need for her to know of that.”
“And Pam?” Karin asked.
“It is better that she not know you are near, Karin—unless you wish to become a more public part of my existence.”
“If I choose that, I will have to kill Appius,” she emphasized.
“I know,” he responded. “However, unless required, I do not want that step taken for me,” Eric reiterated. “But—if you want to be closer—do it for yourself, Karin.”
“You would not mind?”
“If the choice is his continued existence or your happiness, dottir, there is no choice,” Eric stated honestly.
“I would have to change my existence,” she mused. “To do what I do now and live a more open life would be too dangerous.”
“Yes,” Eric agreed.
“I could retake my own name.”
“Yes. You could.”
“I will think about what I want while I watch over you,” Karin decided after a moment. “Perhaps Appius will make things easy by making any ill-intent he has for you or your Sookie known before he actually acts against you.”
Eric chuckled darkly. “Perhaps he will. He is not above boasting about his plans. I wonder sometimes if he was the inspiration for the stereotypical James Bond villain.”
Karin chuckled before getting back to business. “If he does not seek you out soon, I will plan to stay in Louisiana indefinitely—through your Sookie’s lifetime if necessary.”
“You’d stay that long?” Eric asked somewhat incredulously.
“Yes. I will stay as long as you need me there,” she returned evenly.
“Thank you,” the Viking conveyed earnestly. “Your being here will be a comfort to me, Isolde. I do not think Appius will leave the situation for too long, however. If he is intrigued, he will be impatient to make a visit.”
“What do you speculate he will do from there?” Karin asked.
“Hopefully, he will simply observe Sookie and me for a while, preferably from afar. However, if he finds himself jealous—either because I have given to Sookie what I chose not to give him or because he begrudges my being more content than he is—then he will likely try to destroy that which makes me happy,” he relayed. “That is when I’ll count on you.”
“You think that twisted fuck will command you to harm your Sookie,” Karin observed.
“Mentally, physically, and/or emotionally,” Eric stated evenly, confirming that he did—indeed—believe that his maker was capable of doing just that. “He would view it as a new game—a new way of testing me with the purpose of ‘curing’ me for once and for all of what he has always viewed as my ‘weaker emotions,'” he finished in a low tone. “Through his orders, he would make it impossible for me to kill him. He would also not be reticent about commanding me to make Pam do his bidding. Thalia is formidable, and she would likely be willing to try to eliminate Appius for me, but I need to know that she is focused on Sookie.”
Sounding and feeling weary, he continued, “I have fought Appius’s commands before—when he ordered me to harm someone I cared for. I would fight him again; however, he is stronger than I, and I could succumb. Or,” Eric frowned, “he could simply give up on ordering me and do the harming himself. He is a master at mind games and could manipulate my life in all kinds of ways, perhaps even seeking an ally in my queen. Jag kommer inte att tillåta Sookie att vara hans offer, Isolde [I will not allow Sookie to be his victim, Isolde],” he ended passionately, slipping to both his own first language and his child’s first name.
“You really do love your woman,” Karin stated after a moment.
“She would not like you calling her that,” Eric said with a slight smile as he glanced at the still soundly-sleeping telepath.
“Independent indeed,” Karin commented with admiration in her tone.
“She has fire inside of her,” he stated. “There is something about her that calls to me. To my very soul,” he added softly even as he acknowledged the fact that he still had a soul; it had been a very long time since he had.
“Good. You will be kept on your toes by her,” Karin commented with a hint of mirth in her voice.
“I have a blood tie with her,” Eric shared. “I want to make it a bond. Maybe even pledge eventually.”
“The last two are rare steps to take with a human.”
“She is likely not fully human.”
“Interesting,” Karin commented, clearly intrigued. “What is she?”
“I cannot be sure. She is lovely and has allure to other Supernaturals. It is uncommonly easy to trust her.”
“A siren?” Karin asked. “Eric, I caution you to stay away from those creatures,” she firmly warned.
“I do not think she is that, though I will admit to considering it. Unlike a Siren, Sookie is extremely worthy of any trust given to her. Plus, she has no,” he paused, glancing Sookie’s way again and smirking, “discernable singing ability.”
Karin chuckled, but almost immediately became serious again. “How do you know she can truly be trusted?”
“Overwhelming evidence in the form of examples. Sookie is a telepath. However, not only does she go out of her way to keep others’ secrets to herself, but also she has not used her talent for any kind of personal profit. She is a rare and honorable creature, Karin.”
“You love a Dae?” Karin asked incredulously, clearly having come to the conclusion that Sookie had to be of that group, considering Eric’s continued description. “Of course, they make good and trustworthy allies, Eric, but you could never stomach her blood!”
The maker chuckled. “I thought Dae too, but—as you say—their taste is almost unpalatable, and Sookie is sweet. In fact, her blood is the best I’ve ever had.”
Karin considered for a moment. “You are thinking Fae then?”
“You were always wise beyond your years—beyond me,” Eric complimented. “Yes, I am leaning towards her being part fairy—unless the gods have made a new kind of Supernatural being just for me,” he added with a smirk.
“Of course, you’d be full enough of yourself to think that,” Karin deadpanned.
Eric chuckled. “The problem with my theory is that I have never heard of a fairy to be telepathic. Have you?”
“No. But they are secretive about their gifts,” Karin returned.
“Yes—especially with vampires. I could contact Niall—ask him about telepathy,” Eric mused.
“That asshole?” Karin asked.
Eric laughed loud enough to cause Sookie to stir for a moment. Once she was asleep again, he spoke. “You are just bitter at Niall because he didn’t let you fuck him or allow you to eat his child.”
“His half-human whelp was careless,” Karin sulked. “And—if I remember correctly—you were the one who stopped me from killing Fintan with one of those commands I disliked so much.”
Eric smiled as he recalled that long-ago night. Karin had been just a “whelp” herself—barely a year old. Fintan had been careless that night, but—in the boy’s defense—he had not yet been in complete control of his magic.
“I still don’t know why you stopped me from draining him,” Karin continued her complaint.
Eric chuckled quietly at his child’s tone. “Yes, you do. I owed Niall and wanted to clear the debt. Plus, a vampire drunk on fairy blood almost never survives the night.”
“You would have pulled me into the ground if I had been too inebriated to do so myself,” Karin reminded.
“Only if I could have controlled my own bloodlust once I smelled the halfling’s blood,” Eric stated. “Also, do not forget that, at his death, all of Fintan’s blood-kin would have known of his passage into the Summerlands. They would have come to collect his remains immediately—and, even if we’d made it to ground, they would have hunted us and staked us in our day-death. Or worse!”
Karin scoffed, but then relented, “I know.”
Indeed, Eric had seen firsthand the destruction that fairies would wreak upon the vampires who killed their kin. They especially enjoyed catching a “guilty” vampire while he or she was still “drunk.” They would then torture that vampire for weeks before throwing him or her into the sun to burn. However, even if there was a delay to their retribution, a “guilty” vampire did not often escape it. That was why wiser and older vampires knew to stay far away from the temptation that the Fae offered.
“In truth, it matters little what Sookie is,” Eric conveyed, bringing them back to the subject at hand, “beyond what her lineage might mean for her safety.”
“And if your Sookie is the curious one?” Karin asked.
“Then I will see what Niall is willing to do to help her find her kin,” Eric answered simply.
“Just be cautious with the Fae, Eric,” Karin cautioned.
“And just who taught you that lesson?” he smirked.
“Whatever,” she huffed.
They were silent for a moment.
“Unless you need me immediately, I will be there in four nights’ time. I have an incomplete assignment that I would like to see to.”
“Do not put yourself into jeopardy by rushing. I have felt no movement from Appius as of yet. That means he is still in Eastern Europe.”
“I won’t rush, but I will hurry,” she returned somewhat stubbornly. “I will contact you as needed, and—of course—you will feel when I am nearer.”
“Yes. Remember—if it comes to a choice between my life and Sookie’s . . . .”
“I will kill Appius,” Karin said firmly.
“If you can,” he agreed. “But—if that is not possible—you must end me.”
“You ask so much,” she whispered.
“I know I do, but I am,” he paused, “afraid. To lose Sookie would be to lose more than I could live with giving up.”
“Will you tell your Sookie about me?” Karin asked after giving her maker an unasked-for moment to steady himself.
“She knows about you already. But I will refrain from telling her you are in the area unless necessary. She should not have to worry about something that may not come to pass. Of course, if you decide to change your circumstances, I will tell her all.”
“Regardless, I hope to have the chance to meet the woman who won your heart.”
“Found it. She found my heart,” Eric corrected in a whisper so low that Sookie could not have heard him even if she were not lightly snoring.
“Then I will like her—even if there is no reason for me to meet her,” Karin stated.
“You honor me by agreeing to come like this,” Eric said after a moment, his voice full of affection for his eldest vampire daughter. “We have not always had an easy relationship.”
Karin chuckled. “You think you were broken when you made me. Maybe you were. But you were also exactly what I needed. Exactly. I have never wished for a different maker, Eric. I will be nearby soon, and I will do what you have asked of me—all of it,” she finished, her voice laced with emotion. Eric heard a quiet sob right before she disconnected the call.
As he put away his own phone, Eric sighed loudly, causing Sookie to stir and awaken.
“Anything wrong?” Sookie asked, wiping away the little bit of drool that had pooled on the side of her mouth.
“Just adding an extra layer of protection,” Eric said honestly. “For the both of us.”
Immediately, the telepath looked pensively at him. “What protection?”
“I hope it’s not needed; I’ll tell you if it is—okay?” he requested cryptically and somewhat pleadingly, not ready to share the nature of the phone call at that time.
The telepath took a deep breath and then took in Eric’s serious expression. Pre-trunk Sookie would have demanded he tell her—called him high-handed and/or underhanded if he didn’t. But she just wasn’t that girl anymore.
“Okay,” she responded. “Tell me what you can when you can. I trust you.”
The vampire smiled softly and took Sookie’s hand, bringing it up to his lips for a soft kiss.
Of course, he kept one hand firmly on the steering wheel and one eye on the road—for her benefit.
Sookie had a feeling that his call was also ultimately for her benefit. And, looking at his strong hand needlessly gripping the wheel, she was certain that his decision not to tell her was not about keeping her in the dark as much as it was about keeping her from freaking out.
She’d take it.
She’d take him.
A/N: Hi everyone! I hope you enjoyed this first look at Karin/Isolde in this version of the SVM world. It’s always fun to bring in characters that occur later in the storyline from where I picked it up. I can really adapt & change them a lot. I think you will like this Karin. She’s actually similar to Thalia in some ways. Of course, in my opinion, I can never have enough badass women in a story!
Anyway, if you celebrate, enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday.