Sookie had discovered something wonderful about taking a shower as a vampire. It had felt like a million fingers were lightly tickling her as the drops fell onto her skin. And then those tickles had become caresses as each drop streaked down her body. She’d stayed in the perfect oasis for two hours, discovering her vampire body in the seemingly endless warm rain.
She was cooler to the touch, even in the spray of the hot water.
But she was also so much softer. Her skin felt like some kind of expensive cloth. And she was much stronger too.
She could feel her muscles rippling under her soft skin. Years of waitressing had strengthened her shin and calf muscles, as well as her arms. Her muscles tingled as she thought about things she now knew she could do. She knew that—if she wanted—that she could punch a hole through the beautiful shower wall. She knew she could rush back into the bedroom and hit Eric, causing him to be pushed across the room. She knew these things with the instinct of a predator.
Somewhat reluctantly, she pushed those destructive impulses away. She focused instead upon each drop of water her eyes could take in. As a human, she would have called water, “clear.” But as a vampire, she realized that it was anything but. It seemed to have a million muted shades of red, green, purple, gray, and white. And even more shades of blue.
She closed her eyes and recalled the blue she’d seen earlier—in Eric’s eyes. His eyes made the water seem “clear” again, unvaried and plain. Like the eyes, the man himself was complicated—so fucking complicated.
As she had lain dying, she’d heard him remind Bill about her choice not to become a vampire. She’d heard Bill insist that she be turned. She’d trusted Eric to make sure that her wishes were upheld.
That was, she realized, why she was so angry at him. But she also realized that she shouldn’t be mad at him. He—like her—had been rewarded few choices in the situation. Still—her anger wouldn’t go away.
She took an unneeded breath.
Eric had said that being extra-emotional was a “newborn trait.” And Sookie had certainly seen such a thing with Jessica.
“Okay then,” Sookie whispered, her voice sounding so much richer to her vampiric ears. “You hate that you were turned,” she reasoned with herself, “but you don’t have to hate the time you are like this. One month,” she said. Eric had promised that one month was all the time she’d have to be a vampire. “One month,” she repeated, truly reconciling herself to the notion.
She turned off the water, only to discover that her flesh hadn’t pruned at all. She smiled a little and wrapped a towel around her body before going out into the bedroom.
Lounging on the bed, Eric was reading a book.
“Dubliners?” Sookie asked, looking at the title.
Eric nodded. “One of my favorites. Short stories by James Joyce.”
“I’ve never read it,” Sookie said, “or anything else by him.”
Eric smiled and threw her the book. With her new reflexes, she caught it effortlessly. “Try it later. Meanwhile, will you tell me what just pleased you?” he asked hopefully.
“What do you mean?”
Eric smiled and closed his eyes. “A maker can feel everything his child experiences—if he wishes it. And I have been enjoying your discoveries, but you had a different sensation a moment ago. It wasn’t about discovery; it was about,” he paused, “acceptance. I would very much like to know what it was about.”
“You could order me to tell you,” she stated flatly.
“But I won’t.”
“My skin didn’t prune—despite my long shower,” she said after contemplating for a moment. “I think it was the first time I saw a real benefit to being like this instead of a human.”
Eric chuckled, but then his expression sobered. “Thank you—for telling me. Now—would you like to stay here or venture out?”
Sookie looked pensive. “I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
Eric nodded. “Then—let’s make sure you are full.” He went to the refrigerator and took out the last half bag of blood. He warmed as much as would fit in the glass and then handed it to her.
“This is real blood?” she asked.
“Yes. It is type B-positive.”
“I love it,” she sighed, taking a drink. “It tastes better than even the human blood—though I liked that better. How is that possible?”
“The experience of taking it from the source made it better,” Eric explained, “but you like this flavor—or type—better. I am the same. So was Godric. So is Pamela.”
“So—uh—B-positive is the bomb?”
Eric chuckled at her colloquialism. “Yes. Just wait till you drink it from the source.”
“You purposely made sure the donors tonight wouldn’t be my favorite flavor?” she asked.
He shrugged. “I guessed. No one in our bloodline particularly likes A-positive. Of course, Bill being your co-maker of sorts was a potential complication to that theory.”
She nodded in understand as she took another gulp.
“Right now you are drinking without your fangs down. You are feeding without truly ‘eating,’ so the experience is hollow in a way—despite the fact that this will fill you and the fact that it tastes good. When we feed from humans, the experience is more,” he paused, “complete.”
“What about TruBlood?”
Eric smirked and took two bottles out of the refrigerator. He warmed them. “These are B-positive, supposedly like the flavor you are drinking.”
He handed her a warmed bottle, and she took it like it was poisoned.
“You can smell the difference already—yes?” he asked with a chuckle, even as he took a drink of his own.
“It smells—uh—fake. Like plastic.”
“Try it,” he said, though he didn’t make it a command.
She looked skeptical, but raised the TruBlood to her lips. Her nose crinkled with her first drink.
“Store-bought peaches,” she muttered.
“Huh?” he asked.
She chuckled at his inelegant noise, but answered anyway. “My favorite food is—was—peaches. There are some peach trees at Gran’s house.”
“I know,” he said. “One had been destroyed during the Maenad business, and I had a devil of a time finding one of similar size to transplant.”
She looked at him carefully. “Why? Why did you do all that to my home? All the repairs? Why did you buy it in the first place?”
Eric closed his eyes. “Feel,” he ordered, even as he opened up the maker-child bond fully and let Sookie into him in a way he’d yet to do—with anyone.
Sookie gasped at the emotions she found in him—the life.
“You love me,” she whispered after a few moments.
He chuckled. “Yes—but you knew that already.”
“I didn’t understand,” she whimpered. “I don’t think I can return that—what I feel from you. I don’t even think I can understand it.”
He chuckled louder. “Isn’t it ironic that I once told you that I didn’t know what love was?”
“You loved Godric,” Sookie whispered. “You love Pam.”
Eric nodded. “Yes. But it is not like this,” he clarified, sending her his emotions again—this time with a purposefulness that would have taken her breath away 48 hours before.
She had to sit down on the bed due to the impact.
“This is new to me,” Eric admitted. “And it is difficult to control,” he added, as he pulled back his emotions before he hurt his child.
“When?” she asked.
“When did you start feeling that?”
“The moment I laid eyes on you is when it started. But it kept growing. It became more-less like this when you disappeared from this world last year. That is why I bought your house. It was a place where I could let myself safely experience this feeling—this agony and ecstasy. Your home was what Dr. Phil might call an ‘outlet.'”
“Dr. Phil?” Sookie asked incredulously.
“Even broken clocks are right twice a day,” Eric said with a chuckle, before becoming more serious again. “Every inch of your home became a moment of history that I could share with you. Had there been a millimeter you’d not visited? Occupied?”
She shook her head. “No.”
“I thought not. Thus, I made sure that every corner—every nook—was taken care of. And then I saw to the yard and property. There, I replaced whatever was needed—and I took the liberty of adding a few things too.”
“What did you add?”
“I was told that the magnolia was a coveted bloom. And I have always liked weeping willow trees,” he responded. “But the trees I added are still small—and back toward the line of the woods—in the corner of the backyard. You might not have seen them yet.”
“They could be taken out,” he said somewhat stiffly, “if you find them not to your liking—if you decide to live on past the month.” He shrugged. “Perhaps you will never see them—given the situation. But you were saying earlier? About the peach?” he asked, reminding her of their previous subject without letting her comment on the trees he’d added.
Sookie tilted her head to the side to look at him. “You are a complicated creature—aren’t you?”
His eyes softened. “The peach?”
She relented. “Peaches from a tree taste amazing—sweet and juicy? But tart too. A perfect balance. And peach skin is so,” she paused, “unique in texture, and it is delicious as well! I used to pick peaches from the trees and eat them till I was sick.” She chuckled, but then frowned. “For grocery stores, peaches are picked unripe. Otherwise, their shelf-life would be very short. But peaches picked before they are ready never really ripen. They never develop their true flavor. That’s what this reminds me of,” she said, lifting the TruBlood. It tastes bland—unripe.”
“Yes,” he sighed in agreement. “But—believe it or not—they are getting better. The first of them tasted of horse-dung.”
She smiled and laughed. “And you’ve tasted horse-dung? When?”
“You’d be surprised what can happen in a thousand years. And that is nice to see,” he said motioning toward her smile.
Her happy expression immediately dropped. “I’ve agreed to a month only, Eric. But after that, I’m not gonna stay like this. No offence, but being a vampire is not what I want to be. So—uh—it’ll be your choice whether to keep those trees.”
Eric said nothing, but his eyes lost a little of their light.
Sookie turned and went into the closet, where she found clothing that would fit her. Quickly, she dressed.
When she came back out, Eric was on his feet and by the door. His face was a mask. “Well—for your month, we will make the best of things. Why not—huh?” he asked.
“Why not,” she responded.
“Good. I will try to do my best to make it a good month for you, Sookie.”
She nodded. “I’m gonna trust you one last time—trust you to make sure I don’t kill an innocent while I’m like this.”
He nodded. “I promise you.”
Sookie ignored the TruBlood and drank down the rest of the glass of real B-positive. “I can’t believe how much I like this. It’s so,” she licked her lips, “gross to think that I’m drinking blood.”
“Do you feel up to meeting our hosts?”
Sookie sighed. “Okay. I think I need to see Bill, too. I need to know if he can command me like you can.”
“Things would be less complicated if Bill just stayed in silver during your month,” Eric said with a little smirk.
Sookie gave him a look. “Since when have I ever done anything the easy way?”
He chuckled. “Never.”
Sookie’s nose seemed to be drawing her to the right, but Eric led her to the left when they reached a fork in the seemingly endless corridors that made up the Authority safe house.
“What was that?” Sookie asked almost breathlessly.
“O-negative,” Eric responded. “Would you like to try some later?”
“Yes!” Sookie answered enthusiastically before looking up at him. “Please.”
Eric chuckled. “My second favorite flavor—actually. I think you will like the spice of it. That is the difference between positive and negative—you see. Positive, at least for me, is likely the equivalent of good, old-fashioned salt and pepper for humans. With some blood—you want the spice only to augment. For other blood, you want a more complex spice—like a curry, I suppose. For me, O-positive is slightly bland, though perfectly adequate. However, I prefer it with a kick. O-neg has a kick.”
“Do all vampire kids prefer the same kinds of blood as their makers?” Sookie asked.
“Actually, no,” Eric said with a smirk. “Only very strong vampires pass along that kind of taste.”
“And you are sayin’ that you are very strong?” Sookie intoned.
“You tell me,” he chuckled, “after you have tried everything—of course.”
In the next instant, Sookie’s fangs went down.
“Vampires,” she said, panting a little and pointed toward the end of the corridor.
“Yes,” Eric agreed. “At least seven. They are the ones that we are going to meet.”
Eric looked down at Sookie as she looked up at him.
“What you are feeling is quite natural,” he said in a whisper. “But you needn’t fear this meeting. I’ll look after you. I swear it.”
She nodded even as she nervously bit her lip, drawing blood.
He looked at the red liquid as if it were manna from heaven and went to kiss the wound before stopping himself.
“Lick your lip to seal your wound,” he whispered. “You still smell very good—and your blood continues to carry some of what had marked it as part fairy before.”
Sookie quickly obeyed.
“Now. Put your fangs away,” he said.
“I don’t know how,” she responded.
“Use your mind, Sookie,” he instructed. “Your willpower. I have said that you are safe, and safe you will remain tonight. Trust that.”
“But what if the situation changes?” she asked pensively.
“Listen for this sound,” he responded, his own fangs clicking downward. “If you hear it, then we are in danger, and you should fight alongside me. If you do not hear it, I want you to try to keep yours in your gums. Okay?” he smirked.
She nodded even as his fangs clicked upwards.
She raised and lowered her head several times as if trying to force her own fangs away.
“I can’t do it,” she said with frustration.
“I think of something disgusting—Svenna’s horrid breath,” he said.
“Svenna?” she asked.
“She was the first woman my father tried to match me with. She had rancid breath and about two teeth left. Thankfully, she died of consumption before the match could be settled upon.”
Sookie snorted. “So I just have to think of something gross to get my fangs to go away?”
“It always worked for me,” he smirked.
She closed her eyes, and soon there was a click as her fangs clicked upward.
She looked at him. “Don’t ask.”
“But I must know,” he said, his eyes piercing her.
“You said you wouldn’t command me to do things,” she reminded.
“I know, but I must know!” he smirked. “What were you thinking about?”
She glared at him. “Bill.”
“Bill?” he asked.
“He’s got a pimple on his butt,” she clarified. “I didn’t think vampires were supposed to have such things.”
“It’s likely a scar from his human days,” Eric responded, barely holding in his laughter.
“Well—it looks like a pimple, and it’s kind of disgusting,” Sookie returned.
They looked at each other—until neither of them could hold back their laughter.
Finally, Eric took her hand. “Are you ready, min dottir?”
“Daughter?” Sookie asked.
He nodded. “Yes. You are my mother, my sister, and my daughter now.”
She looked at him curiously. “How so?”
“It was a concept Godric taught me,” he said with a faraway smile. “It is something he said that he always wanted to keep in mind—in order to be a good maker. Sometimes, it is you who will teach me. Sometimes, it is I who will teach you. Sometimes, you and I will be equals. If we are open to all of these things, then the bond between us will not just be about blood. It will be about,” he paused, “more.”
“For the next month,” she said.
“Yes. For the next month,” he echoed.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this chapter. I’m not sure when I’ll have the next chapter of this, but I’ll keep it in mind. My drafting of Inner is going well right now, and I have a head of steam there. And one NEVER fights one’s muse. 😉
Until next time,