ERIC POV, CONTINUED
Sookie Stackhouse latched on to drink from my wrist without any hesitation. She sucked sharply at the already-healing wound, her eyes never leaving mine. And then she bit down—prolonging the wound’s availability to her.
As she continued to pull hard from the wound, my cock throbbed. And then it “shouted out” in the only way it could—all over my fucking jeans!
She bit her lip coquettishly as she lifted away from my wrist—but only after licking up every last fucking drop as if my blood were ambrosia.
“Did I make that mess?” she asked innocently—and so-not-innocently—as she glanced down as the darker shade of blue around my crotch.
“What mess?” I grunted before pulling her to me and kissing her with all the prowess I possessed.
She opened her mouth to me as soon as I “requested” it, and then she proceeded to give me a run for my money—as if she already knew everything I would enjoy the most.
A lick of my fang.
And then a suck of my other fang.
A nimble of my lower lip.
A tickling of her tongue against the roof of my mouth.
It was literally as if I’d written out a list of instructions for her to follow, and I found myself moaning as I tried to create similar moans in her.
Eventually—unfortunately—she had to breathe.
And I needed to pull away, too. I needed to discover how it was that Sookie Stackhouse seemed to know so many things about me.
I needed to understand how she could affect me so strongly.
I needed to kill her!
I needed to fuck her!
I needed to possess her—to make her mine!
I needed to protect her!
I needed to know her!
I needed too many things to keep my head straight about them all.
As she panted to catch her breath, I paced in front of her.
“Tell me!” I ordered her.
She nodded. “You’re going to think I’m crazy. And maybe I am.”
I frowned. “Crazy how?”
She reached for me and took my hand, leading me into the old cemetery. When we reached the grave of Corbett Stackhouse, she stopped.
“This is my father’s grave,” she began. “He was the son of Fintan Brigant—half-fairy and son of Niall Brigant.”
My jaw tensed. “I know of Fintan—and Niall.”
“I know,” she whispered. “Have you ever heard of a cluviel dor?”
“A fairy love token. Granting only one wish,” I commented. “The magic needed to make one is great; thus, they are very rare.”
She shrugged. “Maybe so—but I’ve known about two of them in my life. I even had one of them. Wait—I guess I have it again—sort of—though it’s officially still Gran’s. But, in Life 1, I,” she paused, “used it to save a friend, instead of to protect you from imprisonment.”
“Me?” I asked, very confused. “Imprisonment? Life 1?”
She nodded. “Yes. The second cluviel dor was given to you. And you used it to save me.”
I frowned. “Sookie, that’s impossible. I have never seen a cluviel dor.”
She took a deep breath. “Not yet. But in the future, my life will be—was—destroyed. Yours too in a lot of ways. My demon guardian, Desmond Cataliades, gave you a cluviel dor and asked you to wish something that would protect me—save me. The morning after he asked you to do that, I drank some poison he gave to me.”
“Why?” I asked, placing my hands on the enigma’s shoulders and shaking her a little. “Why would you harm yourself?” I demanded, wondering why I felt such sudden distress at the thought.
Wondering why I hadn’t already dismissed her as insane.
“I was too deep in despair to even want the cluviel dor to work,” she said grimly. “You and I were separated—forever. I tried to move on and even pursued a new life with someone else—Sam. But all of my family was murdered. Sam was killed too. Niall’s enemies were coming for me next, but my great-grandfather couldn’t be bothered with protecting me,” she said with a snarl. “Instead, he arranged for me to be a vampire king’s pet. So I killed myself!” she added passionately. “And I’d do it again in the same situation.”
I frowned, admiring her resolution, but still hating the thought of anyone harming her. Hating the thought of the fiery creature in front of me succumbing to despair.
“What happened after you took the poison?” I asked.
“I fell asleep, and when I woke up, I was here—in the past of my life. It had been December 24, 2007 to me. But I found myself awake and alive—I think I’m alive anyway—on June 12, 2004. That was the night I met my first vampire.”
“Bill Compton,” I observed.
She took a deep breath. “Yes. The first time around, I was in awe of Bill. And I was amazed that I couldn’t hear his thoughts! Even that first night, I was so naïve that I let on to him that I was a telepath, which would have confirmed what Hadley had told the queen. Bill took up residence over there,” she said, pointing toward the other end of the cemetery where the dim moon illuminated the roof of the run-down dwelling Compton had been at the night before.
Sookie continued. “One thing followed another. René killed two Bon Temps girls—girls who had had relations with vampires. Maudette was the first one. Then one of my coworkers, Dawn. My brother was implicated because he’d been with both girls. Bill escorted me to Fangtasia, where I planned to listen for clues about the killings. But I met you instead.”
She sighed. “So many things happened quickly after that. Gran died,” I sniffled.
“Adele?” I asked with concern. I seldom liked humans, but I did like her.
“René killed her; she bled to death in the kitchen,” she whispered. “But I was his actual target,” she added guiltily, her eyes haunted. “I was dating Bill by then—you see?”
“Bill? Dating?” I asked with a frown.
She chuckled ruefully. “Yeah. Needless to say, Bill acted differently during Life 1—when he learned that I was ‘special’—than he did last night. And telepath + virgin = vulnerable,” she said pointing to herself. “And an easy target. As you know, the queen sent Bill. Once he realized I was telepathic, he went about getting his blood into me and making himself my hero. After that, I fell in love with him quickly—at least I thought I did. He manipulated me; he lied to me. And I wasn’t smart enough to question him.”
Unbidden, my fangs extended in my anger.
Sookie smiled up at me with adoration in her eyes and raised her hand up slowly to stroke my cheek—as if to quell my anger.
Anger which I didn’t understand the source of.
I leaned into her gentle touch. “Thank you,” she whispered.
“For what?” I asked, pulling away—with difficulty.
“For caring,” she said matter-of-factly. “But I’ve already changed things with Bill—at least I hope so. Like I said, the first time I met him, he was real interested in me because of the way I acted around him. So Bill engineered a situation with a couple of locals to make himself seem like the victim of an attempted draining. Telepathically, I ‘heard’ their plans. I saved him on the night I met him.”
“Saved him?” I asked intrigued—impressed.
She shrugged. “At least that’s what I was led to believe. He offered me blood that first night—the blood the drainers had already taken from him. I said, ‘no.’ Not long after, the drainers attacked me and beat me to within an inch of my life. Bill rescued me and gave me some of his blood—after licking my wounds.”
“A blood tie,” I said.
“Not unlike the one we just began,” she smirked. “Except this time, I knew all the effects beforehand. But you really are a cad for not telling me about them,” she chastised playfully.
“Blood sharing was your idea—remember?” I smirked.
“And you are the king of opportunity,” she scoffed, rolling her eyes.
I agreed with a slight shrug. “So because of the cluviel dor that I supposedly used, you have traveled back in time—to right the wrongs in your life?” I asked, trying not to overthink the implications of that question. If I truly had successfully used a cluviel dor, it could mean only one thing: that a future me had loved the woman in front of me.
Truly. Deeply. Loved.
“Time travel is just one of my theories,” she said, looking suddenly pensive.
“The others?” I asked.
“I might be insane—in a padded cell somewhere. Maybe all the deaths around me finally caught up to me and,” she paused, “broke me. If that’s true, then I’m just imagining this whole world—this whole time,” she finished sadly.
“Well,” I commented—strangely wanting to comfort her, “if you are that far gone, I hope you get to stay in your imaginary world, Miss Stackhouse.”
She smiled a little. “Thank you. Me too.”
“What are your other theories?” I asked.
“I might be in Hell,” she said matter-of-factly, “being given a taste of the ‘good life’ again just so that it can be ripped away from me. If that’s the case, people will eventually start dying again—no matter what I do.”
“That will happen regardless,” I reminded, “at least to the mortals in your life.”
“I know, but I’m talking about violent deaths that I’m the cause of,” she clarified.
“You think your Hell would offer you the illusion of hope and then leave you in more despair than ever?” I queried.
“Can you imagine a worse Hell?” she asked.
“No,” I concurred. “But do you think your god would be so cruel?”
“But it wouldn’t be God doing it,” she said with some confusion.
“Ah—but he would be allowing it to be done,” I responded, unable to imagine that the woman in front of me would have been capable of doing anything that cost her an eternity of torture.
She bit her lower lip. “Well—that brings me to my last theory.”
“What is that?” I asked.
“I—uh—could be in Heaven,” she sighed.
I laughed heartily. “I doubt I would appear in a Christian Heaven.”
“What about the Summerland?” she asked playfully.
“I certainly wouldn’t be invited there,” I grinned, showing fang. “Unless it was vampire heaven.”
She giggled. “I could be in Valhalla. How do you know that I’m not a follower of Norse gods?”
“Are you?” I smirked.
She shook her head. “No. I’ve learned about them though—because of you. I know you love Freyja most of all. And you are still pissed off that a Valkyrie didn’t show up to kick Appius’s ass.”
My mouth gaped. “I’ve never told anyone that.”
“You told me,” she smiled sadly. “Almost two years from now. I was tortured by Neave and Lochlan.”
“The fairy assassins,” I gasped. They were well known even among vampires for their cruelty.
She nodded. “Yeah. I almost died. But you healed me, and—eventually—I started to feel alive again. One night, I told you that I was worried because I didn’t see a ‘white light’ when I thought I was dying. And you told me about not seeing a Valkyrie. We were quite a pair of skeptics that night.”
I shook my head in disbelief. Through the new blood tie, I could feel that Sookie was telling me the truth—the whole truth—about things I had supposedly done in the future.
Things that didn’t seem like things I would do.
I shook my head again—this time to clear it a little. To think that I’d told her about my disappointment over not being saved from Appius by a Valkyrie was both unimaginable and comforting.
“Well,” I said after a few silent moments, “I think we should operate according to the time traveler theory.”
“Why’s that?” she smirked.
I shrugged. “If this is Heaven, then you are living out your paradise, and nothing we do will really affect that. Things will work out for the good no matter what.”
“Makes sense,” she nodded. “And if it’s Hell, it’ll all fall to shit no matter what.”
I nodded. “And if you are insane, then nothing is real.”
“But if I’m a time-traveling part-fairy?” she smiled.
“Then we have work to do,” I grinned back.
Work to do.
That was putting things lightly. After Gran had fallen asleep, Eric and I had trekked back inside, and I started his “debriefing”—as he called it.
It quickly became apparent that Eric didn’t give a damn about messing with the space-time continuum—or whatever fooling around with the future was called.
And—honestly—I didn’t care either. I’d already proven that with Bill and René.
Screw Star Trek—which was where I think I picked up the idea that “time” shouldn’t be messed with. But they were hypocrites; they messed with time too by bringing back the humpback whales—right? Or maybe it was another show or movie that cautioned against changing the past. Frankly, I didn’t give a damn about the butterfly effect! Why else had I been brought back if not to change things?
“What’s that?” Eric asked. He’d been listening to me speak for hours with little talking of his own. Mostly, he’d just asked the occasional follow-up question. I had taken a break, however, to drink a cup of hot tea since my voice had started cracking with fatigue.
“Huh?” I asked inelegantly.
“You said, ‘Frankly, I don’t give a damn.’ What are you referring to?”
I chuckled. “I was thinking about the effects we might have on the future.”
“Surely, you don’t want things to be the same as before,” he asked somewhat cautiously.
“No. I want things to be totally different,” I emphasized firmly.
“So—then—what don’t you give a damn about?”
“It’s a quote—sort of—from a movie I used to like: Gone with the Wind.”
Eric considered for a moment. “1939: a good year for movies.”
“I got the impression you hadn’t ever watched the movie before—when I told you I loved it—uh—in Life 1.”
He looked at me somewhat guiltily. “Oh—I tried to watch it. Pam was forever dragging me to movies back then. The Wizard of Oz was a particular favorite of mine.”
I let out a snorting laugh. “What? Really? I wouldn’t think that you would have liked that one.”
He smiled softly. “The moment it went from black and white to color was,” he paused, “stirring. It was one of the earliest films to effectively depict the color of the sunlit sky—at least, as I remember it.”
“Oh, God!” I blushed. “I should have thought about that!”
He waved off my reaction. “Don’t let it trouble you. The film was also an interesting metaphor for the Supernatural world.” His eyes gleamed mischievously. “Or, at least, that’s what I convinced Pam to believe. She still argues about it with others vampires.”
I laughed loudly enough to worry that I might wake Gran, but her mind stayed in sleep mode. “So what? You fell asleep during Gone with the Wind?” I asked sarcastically.
He shook his head. “No. And—for the record—the colors in that film were nice too. But I just couldn’t stomach it, so I left.”
“What couldn’t you stomach?” I asked curiously.
“Scarlet seems so independent and spirited, but she is inexplicably fixated on a man who is unforgivably weak.” He shrugged. “I didn’t want to watch more of her self-debasement. So I left.”
In that moment, I recast myself as Scarlet in my mind. Bill was Ashley Wilkes. And Eric was Rhett Butler. I shook my head because everything seemed to “fit.” In fact, I wanted to kick myself because the comparison was too close for comfort.
“What if I told you that I acted like Scarlet for a long time? What if I told you that I was enamored by an Ashley Wilkes—except that mine was not only weak but also fake?”
“Compton?” Eric asked.
I nodded. “Yeah.”
“Then, was I your Rhett?” Eric preened a bit. “Even though I left the theater before the movie was finished and haven’t watched it in the subsequent years, I have learned through popular culture that he was a cad. And a scoundrel,” he added proudly.
I chuckled. “Yeah. You were my Rhett,” I confirmed before frowning.
“Why do you frown?” he asked.
“Rhett finally gets tired of Scarlett’s shit and leaves her—right at the moment when Scarlett finally sees the light. And his last words to her were, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
Eric was the one to frown in that moment. “I left you. In your future,” he commented.
I’d already told him about Freyda and Appius.
“You had to,” I said.
Eric looked down at the list he’d been writing based on the things I’d told him. We’d agreed to a “his to-do list” and a “hers to-do list,” with a few things overlapping. His list was longer because, frankly, we both felt it would be best if it didn’t become widely known that I was a telepath. Plus, there really wasn’t a lot I could do about people like Sophie-Anne and Felipe.
Eric seemed lost in his thoughts, so I got up to fix him another TrueBlood. I knew he didn’t want one, but I felt momentarily better going through the motions of getting it for him as I thought about the previous hours we’d spent together.
Eric had—unsurprisingly—been a wonderful “co-conspirator,” giving me all kinds of ideas. He was all for taking every advantage that could be taken—from betting on the Super Bowl outcomes I remembered to eliminating all enemies before they could become problems.
However, with every situation I told him about—with every item he wrote down on the list he was making—he grew more thoughtful. More silent. More and more introspective.
And more angry.
I knew that he wasn’t angry at me, however. I also knew that he was already plotting and planning.
I brought the TrueBlood to him, and he downed it in one giant gulp—no doubt just to be polite, based on his cringe.
“I should go,” he said. “Unless there’s more.”
I glanced at the clock: 4:44 a.m. “Funny,” I commented.
“What?” he asked.
“Gran used to tell me that I could make a wish when all the numbers on the clock were the same,” I said.
“Then make one,” he said with the slightest of smiles.
The clock turned to 4:45 a.m. “Too late,” I whispered.
“Well—we’ve likely used up our allotment of wishes—for now,” he said, his eyes beating into mine intensely.
“Yeah. Um—so—I think I remembered everything,” I said, gesturing toward his list.
“Thank you,” he responded, folding the sheet of paper and putting it into his back jeans pocket. Based on his economic scrawls, I knew that the list wasn’t that detailed, though I’d not read it. However, I also knew that his memory was perfect—so perfect that the list wasn’t needed. But it somehow made me feel better to know he had it nonetheless.
The vampire rose, and suddenly I didn’t quite know what to do.
“Um—any other questions?” I asked, fingering the pendant he’d given to me.
“No. I believe I have all the information I require,” he answered somewhat formally.
I walked with him to the door, but stayed inside as he stepped out onto the porch.
I wanted to walk out with him—to throw myself into his arms and to kiss him.
But telling Eric 2 about our experiences together didn’t automatically mean he would want me. In fact, in telling him about “us,” I’d likely discouraged any interest he might have had in me. And—now—I’d given him a map to how to avoid me and other problems that would be coming his way.
In short, he no longer really even needed my telepathy.
Plus, I loved Eric 1. So wouldn’t being with Eric 2 be cheating? I shook my head, thinking that I really could go crazy if I kept thinking about my situation.
“Good bye, Eric,” I said softly, trying to smile a little.
“Stay safe, Sookie Stackhouse. I do,” he paused, “give a damn.”
I smiled a little, but his words still seemed like a goodbye. Maybe even a final one.
“Thank you,” I whispered.
“You will do well in your new life,” he said firmly—confidently—before taking off into the sky.
I did step out onto the porch after Eric left, trying to catch one more glimpse of him as he flew away into the night. But I saw nothing in the graying sky.
Feeling as tired as I’d felt at the end of Life 2, I turned and went back into the house. I checked all the locks on the doors and windows before straightening the dining room—where Eric and I had sat.
When the evidence of his visit was gone, I turned off all the lights and went to the living room to sit on the couch. Though it was a warm night, I pulled the afghan from the back of the couch and wrapped myself into it.
I looked at the fireplace.
And missed the fire.
Would I ever see Eric again? His final words had sounded—and felt—so final. I’d so wanted to beg him to stay—or, at least, to ask him to return soon. But Eric had done so much for me already. The “other” Eric had given me a new future—wishing it into existence with the power of his love. And the Eric in this time had given me his trust and his help—already.
In turn, I would trust him—and accept whatever he chose to give to me.
Even if that was nothing else.
I sighed and closed my eyes, enjoying the heat of the blanket.
The world was already different. Thanks to me and Eric, four lives would already be spared, if poor little Tina was included.
I smiled into the dark.
Maudette—I didn’t know her well and she wasn’t particularly nice to me when I did see her, but she didn’t deserve to die because of her taste in men!
Dawn—she could be a pain in the ass and was pretty self-centered at times, but she also had a streak of kindness in her that would grow if she ever found herself in a comfortable situation. I knew from her mind that her family had “gone without” a lot, and she didn’t apologize for taking advantage of her good looks in order to make better tips and keep food in her stomach.
Gran—I couldn’t even begin to process the fact that René wasn’t going to get to her this time. There would be no puddle of blood in the kitchen. No look of horror on her usually serene face.
Tina chose that moment to jump up on me, burrowing into the blanket as well. “You too,” I whispered to her as tears fell in large circles from my eyes. She purred and I stroked her soft fur for a long time—appreciating her life.
JUNE 14, 2004
As expected—since the rumors had had more than a full day to circulate—René Lenier’s crimes and confession were the talk of the town when I went to work the next afternoon.
But—to me—the most important part of the day came when Maudette walked into Merlotte’s around 5:00 p.m. In my “first life” she would have been dead already. But she was alive and well!
I took a minute in the walk-in so that—hopefully—my tears would freeze in my eye sockets. I’d been so close to crying all day that it wasn’t even funny!
When I returned to the floor, Maudette was the object of most of the customers’ talk since René had confessed—loudly—that he would have killed her next. Maudette enjoyed being the center of attention for a change.
Ironically, another of René’s “victims,” Dawn, was her waitress, and she and Maudette talked about going to Fangtasia together since Dawn had “missed” the tall blond vampire during her first trip. Maudette told her that Mr. Northman was aloof, but definitely worth seeing.
I tried not to hear what both Dawn and Maudette wanted to do to and with Eric. I wondered if Dawn would succeed the next time she went to Fangtasia. Looking at her—so pretty and confident—I didn’t doubt that Eric would be as interested in her as everyone else was.
Just as he’d been interested in her before.
I shivered as I recalled Eric—Eric 1—telling me that he’d tasted her.
Forcing myself to focus on Maudette in order to get my mind off of Eric and Dawn, I determined that Maudette was really cute too—just in an understated way. Eric 1 had once said that she wasn’t worth his time, and I found myself offended on her behalf.
Yes—that was much easier than imagining him with my coworker!
After Maudette had finished her conversation with Dawn, Sam went over to talk to Maudette for a while. When she mentioned that she was now a little nervous about working at the Grabbit Kwik late at night because she was all alone there, Sam brought her an application.
And—to add to the “dead” people in the equation—Lafayette cooked Maudette a special version of his famous burger that he saved for people he liked and, apparently, for people who survived a serial killer.
I was already trying to figure out how to make sure that Lafayette didn’t end up dead. The Maenad had been on the list Eric had made, and—seemingly—it had been her influence which had caused the violent orgies to begin with. I was hoping that Eric could figure out a way to either keep her out of Area 5 completely or to placate her from the start. Still—I intended to keep an eye on Lafayette.
And another on Mike Spenser!
Following the “old timeline” to a certain extent, Sam had finally gotten up the nerve to ask me out on a date earlier that day. Just like everyone else, he was shaken up by the René thing, and he was thinking about how a long life wasn’t guaranteed to anyone—not even to vampires.
He was right about that.
Sam had spent the better part of the evening working up his courage, and then he’d asked me out for a “proper dinner” when I’d been on my break.
The sentimental side of me had wanted to say “yes” to Sam. But I didn’t say yes. I told Sam the truth: that I thought we were better as friends. I also told him that I wished like hell he had trusted me with the fact that he wasn’t human. Unsurprisingly, he’d blamed Eric for spilling the beans. After Sam had “shifted” the blame for his omission, I’d decided to “shift” the blame to Bill—horrible double-pun intended.
Still—I assured Sam that I would always be his friend. However, I also made clear that I didn’t want more with him.
Perhaps I was too cold—too ungrateful—regarding Sam, considering what he’d been willing to settle for with me during Life 1. But I honestly didn’t want Sam to have to “settle.” Didn’t he deserve “better” too?
I thought so.
I hoped so.
Despite my rejection of Sam, we seemed to regain our comfort-level with each other before I left for the night.
Again—I hoped so.
Part of me expected—no, wanted—for Eric to be waiting for me when I got home. I could picture him waiting on the porch—his long frame stretched out on the old swing. Or maybe he was inside, making Gran giggle with his attentions.
But he wasn’t there.
Still—I couldn’t be disappointed. Gran was there.
She was alive and well and about halfway done with her Viking-era romance novel.
She was disappointed when I told her I’d not heard from Eric that night, but I reminded her that he knew I had to work.
I reconciled myself with that tidbit of information too.
And I hid from my sadness.
There was too much to be grateful for to be sad, after all.
A/N: So—Sookie and Eric are saying “screw you” to the butterfly effect. I think this choice is well in character for them both. They are, simply put, not going to be afraid to change things if they think it’s for the better, but we’ll see that both are cautious in doing things.
And—of course—it wouldn’t be a Sookie/Eric story if they communicated about their feelings openly and honestly from the start.
Bring on the angst.