Eric couldn’t believe what he had just heard. He rubbed his hands over his face before running one through his hair, trying to process this new information.
“I’m the one you love with your whole heart?” Eric whispered in disbelief.
“Yes,” she confirmed with a small smile. “You.”
“But why did you think you’d never see me again?” he asked, his expression puzzled. “You could have come to me at any time over the years. You knew I was still in Shreveport and you knew that I’d sent Willa to keep an eye on you.” This wasn’t making any sense whatsoever even if her previous words had given him hope.
“Once I was finally done grieving and no longer had vampire blood in my system, I could finally think straight. Months had passed, and there was no sign of you. You hadn’t stopped by and had sent Willa to check up on me instead of checking up on me yourself. I figured you had finally gotten tired of me and my ways, and had moved on with your life.”
Eric lay on his back with his hands behind his head as he looked up at the ceiling and listened to the tiny woman beside him.
“If you believed I no longer cared, why did you think Willa continued with her presence in Bon Temps?”
“We had become friends and you were rarely spoken of so I just thought…”
“That I had gotten over you and forgot about the one woman I’ve ever loved in a non-familial way,” he growled out. “I often forget how young and inexperienced you are with the world. I thought I had made my feelings for you perfectly clear. ”
He scrubbed his hands over his face in exasperation and then continued. “I came to see you when I was infected believing I would die the true death. Even when I had little more strength than a human, I still helped to save your friends when I could have easily met my end doing so.”
Eric turned to look at Sookie and his hard gaze pierced into hers. ”I was determined to get you out of as much trouble as possible before I met my end. When I saw your tears at the thought of me dying, I knew then that I needed to find the cure. I never want to be the reason for your crying.”
Eric brushed away a strand of her hair and tucked it behind her ear. “Then I came back cured, and for a brief moment you were happy for me. You were even happy to see me, but then you needed to find a cure for Bill because of your guilt for infecting him.”
His brows furrowed at the sight of Sookie’s unshed tears threatening to spill from her eyes. He hated that he was now the cause of her sorrow, but he needed to say these things to help her understand why he’d stayed away. Eric turned back to look at the ceiling, but took one of her hands in his.
“I understood you wanting him cured. You have such a tender heart and hate the thought of anyone dying because of you. When he wouldn’t take the cure and you wouldn’t talk to him, I played ‘marriage counselor’ and convinced you to hear his reasons. At the time, I thought you needed to hear them so you would no longer feel guilty. But maybe instead of pushing you off to Bill, I should have let you know how I still felt, or perhaps if I would have accepted your invitation into your home that night, there might have been a different outcome, but I was trying to be the better man and do what I thought was right for you at the time.
“I thought about coming to you once you were finished grieving, and when things had finally settled down with the making of New Blood as well as the reopening of Fangtasia. It seemed as if you were dating the Were. Realizing that was as close to normal as you would get since you could never be with a human, I stayed away for you to live the ‘normal life’ you had always seemed to want. I thought that’s what you wanted but I decided to stay in Shreveport so that if you ever needed me or were in trouble I’d be close. I could live anywhere in the world now that the vampire hierarchy is in shambles and I no longer have a contract with this State, but I chose to remain here for the rest of your existence.”
“I had no idea,” Sookie cried. “I thought you had stayed for Pam.”
“Where would you get that idea? I released Pam when I thought I would die by Russell’s hand. She no longer needs me.”
“I’d heard that you and Pam had become quite close, and thought you two were together,” she said. This time it was Sookie who looked at the ceiling not wanting to see his reaction. “I thought you had moved on and were with her now.”
Eric let out a booming laugh that startled Sookie and caused her and the baby to jump. He watched as she tenderly cradled her pregnant belly with love, making him yearn for the impossible.
“Pam and I haven’t had a sexual relationship for almost a century. She hasn’t liked men in just as long. The last ‘relationship’ she had was with your friend Tara. Why didn’t you ask Willa? She would have told you the truth.”
“Because if it was the truth…”
“It never was. Yes, Pam and I are closer than ever. She almost lost her Maker and even though she never voiced the reason she stayed, I believe she wanted to keep an eye on me to make sure I didn’t do something stupid once again that would jeopardize my life.”
Sookie pushed herself up into a sitting position much more quickly than normal with the shot of adrenaline that burst through her upon hearing his words.
“You wouldn’t…” She couldn’t say it, let alone think about Eric dying.
“Do I have plans to meet the sun tomorrow? No, and I don’t plan to die anytime soon. You need me to keep you out of trouble.”
“I don’t want you to ever die,” she choked out.
Eric sat up and pulled her onto his lap, embracing her, and trying to calm her the instant he saw her tears. His dead heart warred within him as the thought of him dying drove her to tears, yet warmed him deeply inside even though the sight of her tears hurt painfully.
“I don’t want you to ever die either,” he replied from the top of her head.
“It’s different. You’re meant to live forever and I’m meant for a human lifetime.”
“Who said you were meant to live such a short amount of time? You’re part fairy and they live a long time. Don’t count your life short,” he said as he tightened his arms around her a little more. The thought of her dying had always cut like a knife.
They stayed in each other’s embrace not caring how much time passed. For long minutes the only sounds were two heartbeats and Sookie’s breathing.
“I can’t believe we stayed apart from one another because we both assumed the other had moved on, but I understand why you stayed away. I never gave you any indication that I wanted you in my life and with the way I treated you, I wouldn’t blame you if you gave up on me and never wanted to see me again,” she admitted in a voice thick with tearful remorse.
“Shh,” he soothed, knowing that he would never leave her now that he knew she wanted him. “I’m here now and I don’t plan on going anywhere, but I want you to be sure because I’m never going to let you go again once I have you. I want you to be MINE and once you’re MINE, there’s no turning back.”
“I love you, Eric,” Sookie said, turning to kiss his chest. “I’ve loved you for years and I’m right where I want to be. You need to know that I’m planning on this thing between us going slower than maybe you’d want it. No matter how much I love you, and I do truly love you with all my heart, my baby has to come first for a long time. Can you deal with that? And, Eric, I want you to be in his life, too, but I’m not sure if you want to be or how you even feel about me becoming a mother.”
“A boy?” he asked in wonderment reaching out to touch her growing belly but stopped. Eric didn’t want to hurt her, but Sookie grabbed his hand and placed it on her stomach. He sat transfixed as he felt the quick fluttering of the baby’s heartbeat through her stomach.
“I think you’ll make a wonderful mother. You have such a kind heart, and yet you’re fiercely protective of those you love. I promise to protect you and the child until my death. No one will ever hurt either of you on my watch.”
“Thank you, I know you will. How do you feel about being around a baby and then a child? Were you a father when you were human?”
“Much to my father’s dismay I didn’t marry and have children when I was human. Once my family was murdered, I was busy being a leader, trying to find their killer, and fighting in battles. In all of my existence, I had never thought about having or wanting a family until you became pregnant.”
“And then?” She asked nervously.
“And then I wished the impossible,” he replied with a sad smile.
“For me to not be pregnant?” She asked getting upset and stiffening in his embrace.
“No, dear one. I wished that the child you’re carrying was mine.”
“I’m sorry, Eric,” she wrapped her arms around his neck hugging him tightly, and then quietly confessed into his neck, “There have been times when I wished he was yours too.”
“Do not be sorry. We both know that it’s an impossible wish, but I will love him as if he were my own since he is a part of you. He will be mine just as you are.”
“If I’m yours does that mean you’re mine?”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he proclaimed bringing her down to sit in between his legs and kissing the top of her head.
“We’re really doing this?”
“Only if you want, but once you agree there will be no turning back.”
“I want to!” She exclaimed looking over her shoulder at him. “I just can’t believe how easy this was.”
“Easy?” He questioned with a slight eyebrow raise.
“One simple talk about how we really felt… If we had done this years ago we could have been together all this time,” she stated as tears filled her eyes once more.
“Please don’t cry, älskling. We must not think of the ‘what ifs’ now. I’d like to think of our time apart as the time we needed to grow, to prepare ourselves for better things. We now both know that we don’t want to live without our mate in our lives.”
A tear streaked down her cheek, but Sookie had a broad smile lighting up her face until she saw how much her tears visibly pained him.
“You’re going to have to get used to the tears,” she said with a chuckle. “My hormones and, therefore, my emotions are all over the place these days and I cry at every little thing, be it happy or sad. Maybe you want to rethink your offer of giving me blood. You might not want to feel my rioting emotions.”
“I want nothing more than to get my blood into you so that I may know that you are safe at all times, but also because I miss feeling you. If you were not pregnant, I’d ask you to exchange blood with me so that we would be one step closer to having a permanent bond,” he responded. Upon seeing her curious expression, he continued, “That is a discussion for another time. You are tired and in need of rest. Dawn will soon be here and I have a couple of calls I need to make. Will you please take my blood Sookie?”
“You promise you’ll tell me about this bond that you want later?”
“I promise. We have plenty of time to talk about it and it will be your choice,” he replied bringing his index finger to his mouth.
“Then I’ll take your blood, but no complaints about my crazy emotions.”
“No complaints,” he smiled, his eyes glittered with anticipation.
Sookie heard his fangs snick down before his bleeding finger appeared in front of her.
Wrapping both of her hands around his wrist, she paused and looked over her shoulder at him again.
“I love you, Eric,” she proclaimed once more before she had his blood in her. Sookie wanted him to know that she loved him with or without his blood pumping through her.
“I love you, Sookie.” Eric said with a beaming smile.
Sookie pulled his finger to her mouth, wrapping her tongue around the bleeding wound and sucked his thick, sweet blood as she maintained eye contact. She felt Eric grow hard against her back while he watched her with love and contentment in his eyes.
When his wound healed, she kissed first his finger and then the palm of his hand.
“Now it’s time for you to get your rest,” Eric said as he shifted her to lay down beside him. “You’ve had a lot of stress this evening and it can’t be good for the baby.”
Looking down at her, he placed one hand on her stomach and a lingering kiss to her forehead.
“Good night, älskling.” He moved to snuggle up behind her as she turned on her side and yawned a sleepy goodnight.