Last Time: Through their bond, Sookie could sense that Eric was trying to make a decision. Though he was filled with caution, he answered Salome’s question.
“Bill Compton was a rival with me for Sookie’s affection—when she was a human,” he said. “And he’s never been my biggest fan.”
Dieter chuckled. “What? Are you afraid that he’ll command your child to kill you or something?”
“He might try,” Eric said soberly. “He is not above such things. And I do not want my child to feel the pain of disobeying him—even if his bond with her is weak.”
“How horrible,” Tavio commented, looking at Sookie compassionately. His warm brown eyes immediately put Sookie to ease, though he’d not said anything else during the meeting.
In fact, she found that she instinctively “liked” several of the vampires in the room, while others made her wary. It was as if their minds had an aura about them, and—though she couldn’t hear their thoughts, nor was she trying to do so—she could still sense their intensions toward her in some way.
Tavio and the vampiress next to him, whom Sookie recalled was named Nora, both seemed “nice.” Surprisingly, Nan seemed “friendly” too.
Dieter and Kibwe were both regarding her with curiosity. Rosalyn didn’t seem interested in her at all, though she was eyeing Eric hungrily.
Meanwhile, Hyun-ae and Salome “felt” like enemies, while Margeaux made the hair on the back of Sookie’s neck stand up.
Roman seemed almost protective—for lack of a better word—though Sookie could also sense his lust for her.
In fact, she’d never felt more lust directed at her. In addition to Roman, she sensed lust directed at her from almost all of the vampires in the room, with the only exceptions being Rosalyn, Nora, and Nan.
With surprise, she realized that her body wanted to respond to that lust—at least in regards to the males in the room, especially Kibwe, who was very attractive to her. In fact, her body seemed to be leaning slightly in his direction as he gazed at her with warm, earthy eyes.
She sensed immediate jealousy from her maker as she stared back at Kibwe and worked to tone down her own body’s reactions. Indeed, vampires were possessive and sensual beings.
Sookie sighed. It was a lot to get used to.
Again, Sookie marveled at the speed of her vampire brain. Her assessments of the others as well as her carnal reaction to some of them seemed to occur in seconds as the others looked at her.
“And how do you feel about Bill Compton, Sookie?” Dieter asked curiously. “Would you have preferred him as your main maker?”
“No,” Sookie answered simply. She refrained from adding that she would have preferred not to have been “made” at all.
“Still—it seems unfair that he has no say in her,” Hyun-Ae remarked. “After all, a maker ought never be separated from his or her child—especially not at first.”
“I am her maker,” Eric said evenly, though Sookie could feel anger and fervor from him.
“Of course you are,” Roman said, alleviating the growing tenseness in the room with a wave of his hand. “Still—it is an almost unprecedented situation.”
“Yes,” Eric agreed. “And my progeny will—I’m sure—wish to speak with Compton, but I want to allow her to do this in her own time. Meanwhile, I request that he stay under silver.”
Hyun-Ae scoffed but said nothing.
“That seems a bit unfair—does it not?” Salome asked.
Roman considered for a moment. “Not when his plans against Nan are taken into account.”
“He should be tortured. Perhaps, he wished to kill Nan because he is aligned with the Sanguinista faction,” Dieter commented, licking his lips as if he liked the thought of Bill’s pain. And then he licked them again in Sookie’s direction as if he wanted to torture her in a very different way.
Roman nodded and looked at his mate. “Salome, you will question Compton tomorrow night at midnight.” He looked back at Sookie and Eric. “Child, you should see him before that time, or be prepared to wait a few nights. My mate is excellent at her work.”
Sookie gulped, the human reaction again feeling odd to her.
“Well!” Roman said with a clap of his hands. “I say that we all share a dinner!”
Sookie felt Eric’s other hand come to her other shoulder, and his hold on her tightened.
“Roman,” he said, “we are honored by your hospitality, but would you please excuse Sookie and me? She has expressed a desire to learn how to tell the difference between her blood-fueled desires and what she truly wants. I believe that she might lose her control with so many feeding all at once,” he paused, “not to mention the after-dinner activities.”
“Why should she not embrace her vampiric desires?” Salome asked.
“I am certain that she will,” Eric responded carefully. “But I would rather she do this out of choice—not because she cannot help herself.”
Salome scoffed. “The Book of Lilith is clear that a vampire’s impulses to feed and take pleasure are sacrosanct and right. She should follow her instincts, not try to stifle them.”
“She is,” Eric responded. “It is her instinct to be careful as she begins her new life,” he added with an edge.
Salome went to speak again, but Roman interrupted. “We will miss you at dinner—of course—but as her maker, we will respect your decision, Eric,” he said with a mixture of disappointment and conciliation as he leered at Sookie.
Eric nodded and bowed before reaching for Sookie’s hand. “Come.”
Sookie obeyed, though, in truth, a part of her—a part she was frightened of—wanted to stay in that room. She felt herself panting as they left it.
“We will get you blood as soon as we are back in our room,” Eric said, gripping her hand tighter.
Sookie nodded and didn’t say anything else until they were back in their room and she’d already drunk a glass of blood.
“Why was that dinner thing such a big deal?” she asked.
“Feeding with other vampires is not just about feeding,” Eric informed.
“Wait!” Sookie exclaimed. “They’re gonna have an orgy or something?”
“Yes,” Eric nodded, “and many of them very much wanted you to participate.”
“But I wouldn’t want that!” she said, even as her eyebrows scrunched together. “But, then again, part of me does!” she added almost fearfully.
“Yes,” Eric said as she looked at the door with longing.
Eric went to the dresser and turned on the device that would prevent them from being heard.
“Sookie, if you choose—now that you have fed and can make a rational choice—I will take you back.”
“What?!” she exclaimed, looking up at him with wide eyes.
“I promised to make sure you didn’t have sex with humans because of your ability to hear their thoughts. And I promised to ensure that you didn’t choose sex with anyone because of mere bloodlust. I can command you not to kill or have sex with any of the donors, but if you want one or more of the vampires—we will return.”
“What?” Sookie gasped.
“If you want those men who so clearly want you, we will go back. If you want the women who desire you, we will go back. It is your choice, dear one.”
“You’d let me do things with all of those people?” Sookie asked, sounding both horrified and intrigued.
“Not all of them. Some of them will pair off after they feed. For instance, Nora and Tavio are the vampire equivalent of a married couple. Likely, they will feed with the others, but then they will have sex with only each other. I am not sure of the others’ preferences.”
“What would happen—if we went back?”
Eric sighed. “Specifically?”
Sookie shrugged. “You don’t have to go into gory detail, but yeah. I need to know what I would do.”
“Likely, the group has ten to fifteen donors who will join them,” Eric began. “The donors will be there voluntarily, and they will likely be dressed provocatively—if at all.”
“Do you want me to go on?”
“Feeding, as you experienced, increases lust. Some of the vampires will feed their lust by fucking the donors. Others will feed it by fucking each other. I would ensure that you did only the latter if we returned.” He paused. “You would not be able to control yourself—not in the presence of so many who want you, especially not after your own lust is stimulated by feeding from a live donor.” He closed his eyes. “You are already intrigued by some of the others. I felt you recognizing their interest in you.”
“But I didn’t want to be interested,” Sookie said, not really. “At least, I’m not sure if I want to be or not.”
“And that’s why I turned the Guardian down. So that I could bring you back here. So that you could find your control again. So that you could consider your choices.”
They were silent for a few moments.
“I could command you to avoid being with the ones you know you don’t want: some or all of the other females, for example. And I would, as I said, command you to not kill any donors.”
“But I’d have sex with Roman? Kibwe? Dieter?”
“Yes. You were attracted to all of them—correct?”
“I don’t know,” she sighed. “Yes.”
“You would be attracted to them as a human too—I imagine, but vampires feel things more. So our attraction runs deeper—stronger.”
“What would you do—if we went back?”
“I’d get my ass kicked,” Eric chuckled.
He sat down on the bed next to her. “If I saw you with others, every jealous impulse that I have regarding you would be amplified, especially in an environment like that. I would want you for myself and would try to prevent the others from having you. In fact, several of us would fight—with Roman winning since he’s oldest.”
“You’d be hurt?” she asked, frightened.
“Oh, yes,” he said with a chuckle. “But not too badly. Likely more donors would need to be called in. I would drink and heal. And I would probably continue growling in your general direction as Roman had his way with you. But I would eventually have to release my lust somewhere, so I would fuck someone else—probably Salome—so that I could reestablish more equal footing with Roman.”
“He screwed what’s yours so you would screw what’s his?” Sookie asked with disgust.
“Something like that.”
“After Roman had had you, there would be many others in line for your affections—myself being among them. Of course, if I’d commanded you not to accept certain advances—including my own if you chose—you would reject them. The others would understand that you were indicating your preferences and would stay away.”
“Yes,” he chuckled wryly. “You would quite literally snarl out your rejection if someone unwelcome tried to touch you. Unless a vampire wanted to force you, he or she would get the message.”
“What if someone tried to force me?” she cringed.
“I would likely go berserker,” Eric chuckled.
“How can you find any humor in this?” Sookie asked dumbfounded.
“It is the nest mentality. I have lived in nests before.”
“Is there always fighting?”
“No—not always. Mostly just when new things are introduced,” he smirked. “Some of the women would likely fight over me too—and maybe Dieter as well. He was eyeing me just as much as you, after all.”
Sookie gasped. “So—uh—since I’m the new girl, they all want me?”
“I’m sure they’d want you again,” he said musingly, “but the first time would be more of a frenzy.”
“And I’d enjoy it?” she asked.
“Until it was over and I started thinking about what I’d done.”
“‘Aye—there lies the rub.'”
“Hamlet,” she said.
He nodded. “To go or not to go. That is the question,” he added with a smirk.
“Do you want to go?” she asked.
“I will tell you after you have made your own choice, dear one. Not before.”
She nodded. “I know that the human me wouldn’t want it, but I’m not feeling very human right now.”
“That’s why you need to make a considered choice. Many vampires follow their instincts without apology or regret. Pam was like this—especially at first. But I think that you are a very different kind of child. Still, it is best that you choose for yourself.”
“I already did—earlier,” she said. “I asked you to stop me from having sex with people I wouldn’t choose in my right mind.”
“I know. And so I have.” He paused. “Before you had not realized the possibilities that are open to you here—the options that have been set before you.” He sighed. “And I did not prepare you because I did not know this Guardianship was a nest. I thought that—with mainstreaming—it would not be. I was wrong. Now, you have the right to make up your mind, given this new information. As your maker, I felt it was important to bring you here—to explain this new option—and to see if you wanted to pursue it.”
“What if I do and then regret it?”
“For some, regrets are as much a part of the vampire existence as the human one.”
“Did you—uh—like living in a nest? When you did in the past?” she asked.
He contemplated for a moment. “To be honest? Sometimes. I’ve lived in several throughout my long years—usually smaller ones. To feed Pam’s appetites, I lived in one with her for about a decade. All nests are different. Especially centuries ago, some nests killed their human victims, but I always chose nests that did not follow that practice—or, at least, tried not to. Here, Roman will be careful not to let the humans be killed.”
“Because he runs the nest?”
“Yes, he’s the oldest here.”
“But if Salome ran it . . . ,” she began.
“Death all around,” he finished with a wry smile.
“I can sense negative things from some of them, Eric,” she said softly. “I can’t read their thoughts, but I have a sense of their intentions toward me—and you.”
“Whom do we have to worry about, dear one?”
“Salome and Hyun-Ae—definitely. And I think Margeaux too.”
“Are there any we can be certain about?” he asked.
“Nora, Tavio, and Nan,” she said, adding the last name reluctantly. “And I think Kibwe. It’s too soon to tell about the others.”
Eric sighed. “Will you let me command you—if it is to ensure that you keep a few secrets?”
Sookie nodded. “Okay.”
“I command you not to speak of what I am about to tell you, unless I give you direct permission,” he said firmly, authoritatively.
Immediately, she felt the tendrils of his will entrap her own. “I won’t speak of it,” she said obediently.
He smiled softly at her. “I want you to know that this command is not out of mistrust. It is merely so that you cannot be compelled to speak. Do you understand, dear one?”
She nodded. “Yes. Thanks.”
“Okay then. Here is what you need to know. Nora is my vampire sister. Godric was her maker too.”
Eric nodded. “You are right about Nora, Tavio, and Nan being our allies here. Kibwe too. They are all with Roman. You are right about Salome and Hyun-Ae too—and likely Margeaux. They are Sanguinistas?”
“Yes. It is a group that is against mainstreaming. Basically, we have been recruited by Nan to figure out if others are betraying Roman. I am to use my skills as a spy and a tactician to figure out how far the Sanguinista Movement has spread.”
“And I’m to use my telepathy,” she sighed.
“Yes. And it seems Salome will make her move soon.”
“Thus the month timetable,” Sookie said, shaking her head.
She looked up at him almost lovingly. “Thank you, Eric, for telling me this. It’s nice to know whom to trust.”
“Be careful not to show your trust or your mistrust openly. Others will see.”
She nodded. “I won’t.”
They were silent for a minute.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
“For what this time?” he smirked a little.
“The lust I felt—the desire to go to that orgy and . . . .” She stopped midsentence. “It’s not gone, but I know it’s not what I want. I don’t want sex to be meaningless. I don’t want to have multiple partners in one night and lose myself to lust, and that’s not just my Christian upbringing talking. That’s me deciding the kind of person—human or vampire—that I want to be. The kind that I’m comfortable being.”
She sighed and continued. “I not judging them for how they live, but I don’t think I’m nest material. And I certainly don’t want to be fought over and pawed over just because I’m the new girl on the block. Plus,” she smiled up at him, “I don’t want you to have to get your ass kicked by Roman.”
He chuckled and leaned in to kiss her forehead. “I appreciate that very much, dear one.”
For a moment, it was clear that Sookie wanted to lean upward and capture his lips.
“Hungry again?” Eric asked, quickly taking her cup to refill it.
He handed it back to her with a smile and then went to get one of his own.
“Will you tell me now? Did you want to join them?”
He looked at her with passion, but he took a step back from her. “To know that I would likely get to have you tonight—even if it was after getting my ass kicked—was a tempting thought. But I was tempted for only a moment. I would have gone with you—and been the maker you needed me to be—but I am glad you didn’t choose to go. I do not want any others, Sookie. And I do not want any others to have you,” he said possessively.
“Eric . . . ,” she started, but then couldn’t complete her thought.
“It has been a long night, min dottir,” he said, almost paternalistically, the passion leaving his eyes. “Why don’t I teach you the benefits of down-time?”
A/N: I hope you liked this chapter! I’m not sure when I’ll be back w/ another. I’ll try not to be too long, but I tend to work on this one when I get blocked on others. I know a lot of you are looking forward to the Bill confrontation. I’m still working out how that will be, however.