I arose to the smell of sweet and salty tears, a soft warm body against mine, and the feeling of heartbreaking sorrow. I opened my eyes to see Sookie sitting next to me, tears streaming down her face. She was staring off at nothing in particular.
I turned on my side as I tried not to startle her and took her hand in mine. She looked down at our joined hands, and then started sobbing. I immediately sat up and pulled her into my lap, wrapping my arms around her.
“Sookie, what’s wrong?” I asked. I couldn’t imagine what could be wrong with her. Carefully, I breathed in the air around me once more and didn’t detect that she was injured in any way, nor were there any unknown scents in the house.
“What’s got you this way, Sookie?”
“You’re leaving,” she whimpered.
“Please stop crying. You know how much I hate it when you cry,” I sighed and pulled her closer to me. I had no idea that she would take my leaving this way, but I would be lying if I said that a small part of me wasn’t satisfied.
She continued weeping in my arms and held me tighter as the minutes ticked by.
“Listen, Sookie, I don’t want to leave, but I must go back and that’s one thing that we need to discuss that we didn’t last night. I would like you to come back to Louisiana. I know that you can’t return with me tonight because I need to be back quickly,” I felt her nod against my chest. “It would not be very enjoyable for you to fly back with me,” I told her, and we both laughed a little.
“I’m going to miss you,” she whispered. I felt my heart swell at hearing her words. I never thought there would be a time when Sookie would actually be honest about her true feelings for me.
“I’ll miss you too,” I softly told her. “There’s something I need to discuss with you, and I want you to think about it seriously before you make any decisions.”
“Okay,” she looked up at me curiously while she wiped her tears away. “I will.”
“I would like you to live with me when you return,” Her eyes widened and her mouth opened in shock, but I continued. “You said that you didn’t want to go back to Bon Temps and have your child grow up in a town that always treated you as if were crazy. I have plenty of room for you and the baby, and once I get back, I’ll clean out a room for you to make into a nursery. Once you learn if the baby’s a boy or a girl, then we can decorate it. I’m sure Pam would be very excited for another reason to shop. She has never had the opportunity to go shopping for baby things.”
Sookie was quiet for a minute and I could feel how nervous she was. She was going to turn me down. I didn’t know what more I could to do to prove to this woman that I loved her, probably tell her I loved her in English, but didn’t my actions speak louder than words? Could she not feel that I loved her?
“I have a question for you, and I’m not trying to make you mad or hurt your feelings. I just need to know. Please tell me the truth,” she said with determination. I nodded for her to continue. “I’m one-eighth fairy with the Essential Spark and that Thing was a full-blooded fairy, so that will make this baby, I don’t know, a whole lot more fairy than I am. This is where I don’t want you to get mad, okay?” I nodded once again. “Will you be able to control yourself around the baby with it being so much more fairy than me?”
I chuckled, and Sookie gave me an incredulous look. “Sookie, I am very old and will be able to control myself, so I don’t think it will be a problem. If I thought that your baby would smell so appetizing that I would want to feed from it, I wouldn’t have asked you to move in with me. Is that the only reason you wouldn’t want to live with me?”
“I thought it was a pretty good and logical reason, but what about Pam? Would she be able to control herself?”
“I don’t really think you have anything to worry about. I mean, you smell good, but it’s that you smell better than most humans. If someone attacks you, it’s because they want to, not because they have no control over themselves. If, for some reason, the baby smells so alluring that Pam cannot control herself then I will command her to not harm or take any blood from the baby.”
“I’m worried how vampires will act or behave around the baby. That’s another thing that had kept me away, but if you say that I have nothing to worry about, then I trust you. Are you certain you want me to live with you? A baby won’t be quiet. There will be lots of crying, and some not so pleasant smells for you.”
“I’ll be fine, Sookie. I told you that I want to be your husband and for you to be my wife, and that simply will not be with almost two thousand miles between us. I want you in Shreveport with me as soon as you’re ready.”
“I think I would like that,” she said with a soft smile. I didn’t think I’d ever been more shocked by Sookie. I never thought it would be so easy to get her to agree to live with me.
“Don’t be so surprised, Eric! I’m really trying to do the right thing and not be so willful . Everything you said made so much sense, and if we want to be married to each other we can’t live apart,” Sookie paused and looked pensive. “Could you be ready for me in three weeks? I have a doctor’s appointment on May 2nd that I don’t want to miss. By that time I should have everything packed and be ready to go. I’m sure we’ll have more to work out once I get there, but we don’t have time for that tonight.”
“I could be ready for you in less than a week. I’ll return for you the night of May 2nd. We’ll talk before then to make any arrangements to get your things back to Louisiana,” I sighed, knowing that our time was nearly up for the night. It would be a long three weeks. “Do you still have your cellphone?”
“Yes, I’ve had it off this entire time. I didn’t know if it could be tracked or not, but I still wanted to have it in case of an emergency.”
“Good, then I will call you when I get back to Shreveport. If it’s too late, I’ll send you a message so I won’t wake you.”
“Can you message me tonight when you get to wherever you’re going so that I know you’re safe?”
It had always amazed me how she could be so worried about me when most of the time her worry wasn’t for herself. “If that is what you want, I will text you before I go to ground for the day.”
“You’ll have to go to ground again? Why?”
“As I said before no one knows that I came to find you. Well, Pam knows, but she doesn’t know where you are. She will be more than shocked to hear the news that you’ll be returning and that you’ll be living with me. I won’t tell her about the baby yet. We’ll let that be a surprise,” I said with a chuckle. “I didn’t want anyone to know where I was going, and I didn’t expect you to give me a very warm reception. I thought I’d be lucky if you spoke to me at all, let alone get an invitation into your home.”
“Eric, you’ve always been welcome. Please text me tonight once you arrive at wherever you’re going,” she sighed, looking down at her hands in her lap. When she looked up, she was blinking back tears that were welling in her eyes. “You’re going to have to leave soon, aren’t you?”
“Unfortunately, yes. We’ll talk as soon as I’m back in Shreveport. It won’t be long before we’ll see each other again.” I stood and held out my hand to her. She looked up into my eyes before taking my hand. I hated feeling how sad she was, but there was nothing I could do. Once she was back and living with me, I’d make sure that she was never sad again.
She walked me to the door slowly. After opening the door, she looked at our hands that were still joined. “Good bye, Eric,” she whispered to me.
I cupped her face with my hands and kissed her lightly on the lips. I wish I could have done more, but there was no time. “I will see you soon, my Sookie,” I said, and then kissed her forehead before I turned and walked out the door. Right before I took off into the sky I heard Sookie open the front door and yell my name. I turned around to see her running toward me. She launched herself at me, and I caught her in my arms, her legs wrapped around my waist, her arms around my neck, and her lips crashed into mine in the next moment. I felt her tongue begging for entrance and when I opened my mouth, she slipped in. When I felt her tongue caress against my own, I moaned into her mouth. Gods, I’d missed this! She tasted and felt so fucking good. Our kiss was passionate, urgent, and unfortunately short. Once Sookie needed to breathe she pulled away to rest her forehead against mine.
“I love you, Eric. I’m going to miss you,” she said against my lips.
“I know. I’m going to miss you too. Jag älskar dig. Be safe,” She lowered herself back down to the ground and started to head back inside. Right before she hit the steps, she turned around with her head tilted to the side. What was she doing? She had a puzzled look on her face.
“Do you sense anything?” She asked me. I scanned the area with my acute senses, but found nothing.
“No. Why, did you?”
“I thought… for a second there was another void, but I must have been mistaken.”
I walked back to her and she wrapped her arms around my waist hugging me. I held her head against me for a moment, but then stepped back. “Have you ever sensed a void since you’ve been here?”
“No. Never,” she said as she shook her head.
“I’m sure it’s nothing, but I’ll fly around and check the area before I leave. Please be careful.”
We said our goodbyes, and I watched Sookie walk back inside her house and shut the door. I knew that she didn’t want to see me leave. Hell, I didn’t want to leave. I quickly flew around the area, but I didn’t see anything. I headed back toward Shreveport. I had some things to take care of before Sookie came back and I thought she would be pleasantly surprised.
I walked back inside the house without looking back. I couldn’t stand to see Eric leave, it was hard enough knowing that I wouldn’t see him for another three weeks. At least we would talk on the phone. How could I have been so wrong about him? I thought that the reason he hadn’t come to save me was because he didn’t care. Never did I think it was possible that he was being held against his will. He had felt my pain along with his own while sending me his strength to get through my torture. I should have known that I was wrong after I talked to Niall when he said ‘he’s a good man/vampire, he loves you’ that he was talking about Eric.
Why did I underestimate how much he cared for me? Since the beginning, Bill was always poisoning my mind about the type of vampire Eric was. Yes, he’s a very different type of vampire from Bill. Eric embraces what he is. He doesn’t try to hide his vampire nature. He doesn’t try to hide anything about what he is except for his feelings. Bill had once told me that Eric and I were similar in that we both had the same zest for life. Why was I always trying to run from Eric? He had always been there for me when I needed him. He actually listened to me and had always tried to make my life easier and better if I would only allow him. I mentioned one time that I didn’t have money for a new driveway and the next day, I had a new one. He noticed when I was not wearing a heavy enough coat, so he investigated the reason, and then bought me a new one.
I always thought Eric wanted something in return for the things he was giving me. I thought I would be indebted to him or he would want sexual favors when all he really wanted was to help me. Why didn’t I see all this until it was too late? I’d wasted so much time, and if I had listened to him and wasn’t so stubborn, I wouldn’t have been kidnapped and tortured. He wouldn’t have had to come up with excuses for DeCastro. He wouldn’t have been punished or gone through all that pain and torture because of me.
From that moment on I would be better, I vowed to myself. I would accept the things Eric wanted to give to me and I would accept my feelings for him and his feelings for me. I was going to learn how to read the bond and accept it. Eric saved me from Andre so I wouldn’t have had to spend the rest of my life with him trying to break me or, worse, Andre turning me and having to spend an eternity with him.
He wanted to be married to me. I was the wife he had chosen. I thought I would never get married and there I was, married to a vampire. He wanted me to accept this marriage, but how could I? Shouldn’t you love the one you married? I knew that I loved him, but I wanted my husband to love me in return. Could he love me? I thought back to the conversation we had last night when he asked me why I would protect him and I told him because I love him. ‘Exactly,’ he said.
Did he mean that he loved me too? I always felt a strong feeling of warmth coming from him when we were together. Was that love? I didn’t know, but I sure hoped it was.
I’d been sitting there on the couch for I don’t know how long. I guess it was better for me to be thinking about how wrong I’ve been and how I wanted to change than to be thinking about Eric leaving. I got up and went into the kitchen to make myself a little snack before bed.
After eating my snack, I got ready for bed. I tried to get comfy in bed, but I missed Eric. One night with him in my bed and I already felt as if I could never sleep without him. It was going to be a long three weeks. Luckily, I fell asleep pretty quickly thanks to the growing baby inside of me. When it was finally time for me to get up for the day, I checked my phone to see if I had a message from Eric. I had woken up twice last night to go to the bathroom, and each time I looked only to find that there was no message. This time there was. He told me that his flight was uneventful and that he was going to ground. He would call or text me tonight once he got home.
Eric had called me on the third night after he had left. It was too late for him to call me when he finally arrived home. I had been packing the little I had accumulated in the house, but mostly I was missing Eric. He would call me every night when he rose, before he had to get ready to go to Fangtasia. He had a great deal of paperwork to take care of because he had been gone for almost a week.
I had told him that I had felt a void a couple of times around the house, but that when I looked outside, I couldn’t see anything. The void never got too close to the house, but I knew there was one out there. Eric mentioned that maybe the vampire was visiting someone, but just to be on the safe side, not to go out after dark. I wasn’t too thrilled with not being able to go out, but I certainly didn’t want to run into an unknown vampire. Eric was too far away to be able to do anything.
I was sitting in the living room reading one of my pregnancy books from the library, which had come in this week when I heard a noise outside my window. I dropped my shields to see what I could pick up, and the only thing around for me to find was a vampire void. I tried to continue reading, but the noises became louder and louder. All of a sudden there was knock on my front door. I checked to see who it was, and found that it was my neighbor who had been gone all week. I knew she had been gone all week because every time I dropped my shields I could never “hear” her. I decided I would try to read her before answering the door.
What I found when I peeked inside her head was not good. She’d been glamoured. Her brain was all foggy, and that was the only thing I could read. I ran into the kitchen to get my phone, and then closed myself off in the bathroom to call Eric. My heart felt as if it was going to beat out of my chest waiting for him to answer. He answered in two rings, but it felt like forever.
“Hello, dear one. Are you missing me already?” He asked me. It had only been about two hours since we had last spoken with each other.
“Eric, that vampire is outside. I started hearing noises outside, and then my neighbor knocked on the door. I wanted to check to see what she wanted since I knew that vampire had been out there tonight, but she’s been glamoured. I can’t get anything from her. I’m so scared. What am I going to do?” I whispered frantically.
“Fuck!” Eric yelled. I could hear some noises in the background. “I’m trying to find a flight, but they all have layovers and I wouldn’t make it until tomorrow. Where are you?”
“I’m in my bathroom. What should I do?”
“Try to stay calm. I’m going to make a few calls to see if I can borrow a private plane. I need to get off the phone with you for just a little while. I’ll call you as soon as I can. It shouldn’t take me long. Just stay where you are until I call you back. Can you do that for me?”
“Yes, please hurry!” I whisper-yelled.
“I will,” he said and hung up.
The knocking started up again, but this time they were louder. Whoever was out there with my neighbor wouldn’t stop pounding on the door. I thought the vampire was going to break down my door, but eventually he let up, and I followed his void until it was out of range. I should probably check on my neighbor, but I was too scared and I needed to look out for the baby and myself, first and foremost.
I sat on my bathroom floor trying to be as quiet as I possibly could for the next twenty minutes while I waited for Eric to call me back, just in case this unknown vampire came back. When he finally called back, I nearly jumped out of my skin.
“Hello,” I whispered.
“Sookie, are you ready to come back to Louisiana, or do you just want me to come to check out the threat?”
“I want you here because I’m scared, but I’m ready to come back. What can we do?” I implored.
“I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to send Alcide. There’s no possible way for me to get there before dawn, and then you would have to wait the entire day. There’s a flight leaving here at 11:00pm and arriving there at 7:45am. He will then have to rent a car to drive to and from the airport. The drive should take about an hour. Once he gets there, you should have about two hours until you would need to leave for the airport. Alcide will have your ticket. I’m not telling him why he’s going, just that it’s urgent. You should be here by 10:00 pm tomorrow night. It’s going to be a long day so you should try to get some sleep. I’m going to try to call someone who can watch over the house. He won’t bother you. I’m going to tell him to only watch and let no one go into the house. I’ll have him call me once he’s there, and then I’ll text you to let you know he’s there. Is this okay with you?”
“I guess with the flight times it doesn’t sound very good for you. Send Alcide and I’ll see you tomorrow night.”
“I’ll have him take you to Fangtasia. I don’t want him to know where our house is. I’ll text you after I get ahold of my friend and Alcide. I want you to text me once Alcide gets there and when you arrive at the airport. Everything’s going to be fine. Please try to get some rest, dear one, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” I told him and hung up. I went through the entire house making sure every door and window was locked, turned off all the lights and closed all the curtains. I tried to lay down and sleep, but I was too scared. I just lay there on my side with my phone in my hand waiting for the messages Eric would send.
First, he sent me one telling me that Alcide was on his way to the airport, and then to let me know he had gotten ahold of his friend James. He wanted me to know his name in case I would need to talk to him that I would know his friend’s name. I drifted in and out of sleep the whole night. The last text I got was from Eric it was just before dawn for him. He wanted to let me know he would see me soon, and to see if I was okay. I let him know I was all right and I couldn’t wait to see him.
The doorbell rang around 9:00am, waking me. I felt as if I had just gone to sleep. This was going to be a long day. I hoped I would be able to sleep on the plane. I was still in the same clothes as yesterday so I hopped out of bed with a groan to answer the door for Alcide. This should be interesting.
I opened the door to Alcide’s shocked face. “Sookie?” He asked while looking me up and down.
“It’s me,” I said while letting him inside. “Please come in. Do you want some breakfast?”
“Sure. Is this where you’ve been?”
“Yes, I’m sorry, but I’ll be right back,” I said, and then ran to the bathroom. There was no way this baby was letting me have another minute without going to the bathroom. I washed my face and hands, and brushed my teeth before I came back to make breakfast. I was making eggs, sausage and toast while Alcide sat there staring at me. Once I was done cooking he finally talked.
“Can you tell me why you left and stayed gone?”
“I left because I couldn’t shield myself from everyone’s thoughts, and I couldn’t take hearing what everyone thought happened to me when I was kidnapped and tortured. Also because I needed to heal. Then when I was going to come back, I found out I was pregnant. I didn’t want to go back to Bon Temps where everyone would think I’m a whore since my baby doesn’t have a father. I thought Eric wouldn’t want me on account of me being pregnant and he would think I cheated on him.”
“You want to tell me why I’m here? I get a call from Northman last night telling me he needed me to fly to Maine and I’d be leaving in an hour. I was given an extra plane ticket for the flight back, but he wouldn’t tell me anymore than that.”
“Eric found me a little over a week ago. I was supposed to move back to Louisiana in a couple more weeks, but since Eric left, there has been a vampire hanging around here. In all the time I’ve been here, I haven’t seen one vampire. Last night my neighbor came over after being gone for the week. When I tried to read her, she had been glamoured. Earlier I had heard some noises outside and the vampire was out there. I called Eric and he couldn’t get a flight to get here before dawn. So my choice was for him to get here during the day, and then not be able to leave until tonight or send you. I chose for him to send you. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Of course I don’t mind. I’m glad I could help and that you’re coming back,” he said giving me a warm smile.
“Thanks, I appreciate your help. You’ve always been a good friend,” I said and gave him my most genuine smile.
“So does that mean you and Northman are together?”
“It does. We are married by vampire custom, and he wants us to live as husband and wife. We still have some things to work out, but I love him.”
“You know I don’t like you with vampires, but he’s probably as good as they come. He’s the only vampire that I trust. Maybe now that you’ll be back he’ll be in a better mood. I’ve heard he’s not been a very tolerant sheriff since he’s been back.”
“Thank you, Alcide. I know you don’t like vampires, so that means a great deal to me. I know you don’t see it, but he’s different with me. He really cares about me.”
“I know he does, and thanks for breakfast. So do you have all your stuff you want to take? You should probably get ready so we can go soon and catch our flight. There’s about an hour’s drive to the airport.”
“Yeah. I have a suitcase in my bedroom and a backpack. After I wash these dishes, I’ll take a quick shower, get dressed, and then I’ll be ready to go.”
I slept for most of the flight to Atlanta. On our flight to Shreveport, Alcide filled me in on what he knew was going on in Bon Temps and Shreveport. He informed me that he and Amelia had started dating about two months after I left and that he really liked her. He had been coming around to see if she had heard anything from me and they hit it off. I told him I was happy for the both of them. I was happy that both my friends had found someone because each of their last significant others had been killed.
The closer we got to Shreveport the happier I became. I was so excited to be back and to see Eric. I felt like I had missed him more this last week than in the entire five months I had been gone. By the time we touched down at the airport, I could feel Eric in the bond and he was feeling just as happy as me.
We found Alcide’s truck in the parking lot and he put my suitcase in the back. After a few minutes of driving, Alcide finally turned to look at me.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so happy before. You really love him, don’t you?”
“I really do. I’ve missed him so much this week, more than I thought I ever would,” I said and smiled out the window while I watched the landscape start to become something familiar to me once again.
When we finally pulled up in front of Fangtasia, I didn’t even wait for Alcide to get out of the truck. I just hopped out and started heading for the door. Alcide ran up to me laughing at me. Pam saw us and waved us forward. She was smiling until she got a good look at my stomach and then her mouth hung open for a few seconds.
“Hello, my favorite breather. It’s good that you’ve made it back safely. It seems that you’ve picked up some carry-on luggage.”
“It’s good to see you too, Pam. Yes, I’ve picked up a little something,” I said, resting my hand of my stomach. “We’ll talk about it later.”
“Oh, you are correct. We will be talking about it,” she said as she let us in the front door. Alcide and I walked in, and I immediately started searching for Eric. Where did I find him? Sitting on his throne. I could see him sitting up looking straight in my direction, but he hadn’t seen me yet. I worked my way through the crowd and once Eric saw me, he had a big smile on his face, not typical for when he was at Fangtasia. He stood up and walked toward me meeting me on the dance floor.
“I’m happy you’re finally home, dear one,” he said while cupping one side of my face with his hand. “Come, let’s sit for a little while. Would you like anything to drink?”
“I’ll have some water. Thank you,” I said as we sat down at his booth.
“It’s no problem,” he said and looked at Alcide. “You can place her things in my office. I owe a great debt to you for going to get her when I could not.”
Alcide and I didn’t know what to think about Eric saying he owed him, but I knew it was a big deal. Eric didn’t like to owe anyone.
“No debt is owed. Sookie is my friend and a friend of the Pack. I’m happy to help her anytime. I need to get going now though. Sookie, don’t be a stranger now that you’re back,” Alcide said with sincerity.
“I won’t. I’m sure I’ll see both you and Amelia very soon. Don’t tell her my news. I’d like to tell her myself,” he nodded, and then walked away.
“Thank you for sending him. Thank you for everything,” I said to Eric and leaned up against him, placing my head on his shoulder.
“You are welcome. I wish it could have been me, but I know you trust Alcide and that he would help. Did you get any sleep last night?”
“Not much, but I slept on the first flight, so I feel pretty good right now.”
A waitress brought over a glass of water for me and a TruBlood for Eric. We sat quietly as we sipped our drinks. It felt so good to be sitting here with him. I was finally here and we were going to start our lives together.