I woke up to a tickling sensation running up and down my arm. When I opened my eyes, I was shocked to see it was Eric’s nose that was the culprit in tickling me.
“What are you doing?” I said sleepily. Had I only been asleep for a few minutes? The last thing I remembered was asking Eric how long it was until dawn.
“Smelling you, trying to wake you up. You need to get up and take a shower. We are meeting the witch once the sun’s down. While you’re in the shower, I’ll order you some food. How does that sound?”
“That sounds fine. Can I lay here for a couple of minutes first and wake up?”
“Anything you want,” he said.
I yawned and stretched my body trying to wake up before settling down on my side once again to look at Eric. “Why were you smelling me? Do I smell so bad that I need a shower?”
Eric chuckled at me and flopped onto his back. “Far from it. I love the way you smell, but I was smelling you for a simple reason. It relaxes and calms me,” he said with a shrug.
“Are all vampires like you?”
“In what way? Smelling humans?” he asked with a smirk on his face.
“Well, that and nice, sweet, and caring?”
“No to all of the above. Vampires rarely smell humans because most humans smell foul, and most vampires you encounter will treat you with more respect than they do other humans, but they will not be nice, sweet, or caring. It’s not really the vampire way. Also, if a vampire acted that way, it would be disrespectful toward me. As my wife, I’m sure you wouldn’t like it if I treated another woman like I do you.”
“No, I probably wouldn’t,” I said after I thought about it for a moment.
“Then why do you act the way you do?”
Eric smiled at me before answering, “You need to get into the shower and get ready. I will answer your question while you’re eating.” He quickly got off the bed, and I heard the water to the shower turn on before I even had a chance to get off the bed. That was going to take some getting used to.
I came out of the bathroom ready to meet Amelia and to see if she could fix my hair. Maybe I’d find out a little more about vampires from her and see what she thought of Eric. I was a little worried about if I still had my telepathy or not. So far, I hadn’t heard anyone, but Eric did warn me that Amelia was a ‘loud broadcaster’.
I walked out in the living room area of our hotel room to find Eric wheeling in a cart of food that smelled delicious. Once my nose got a good whiff of the food, my stomach decided to agree by growling loudly.
When I lifted up the lid to the dish it smelled even better, if that was possible. Eric quickly took the lid from me and sat it down on the cart.
“I ordered you steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, and green beans. There’s also bread and butter for you.”
“Thank you, it smells delicious.”
We sat and ate in silence for a few minutes. I was too busy stuffing my mouth to even talk. I noticed the bottle Eric was pouring his blood out of was different from what he had last night. It was a dark red color and had a fancy label on it. I pointed at the bottle sitting on the cart.
“Is that different than what you were drinking last night?”
“It is. This is Royalty Blended. It has royal blood in it with a very small amount of synthetic blood. It tastes much better than True Blood,” he said with a sigh. “I may start buying it for at home as well.”
“If it tastes better than why don’t you drink it at home?” I asked him. It made sense to me to drink what tasted better.
“It’s a lot more expensive and has a shorter shelf life than True Blood. Before I only drank a True Blood while you were eating meals that we shared or occasionally at our bar, Fangtasia,” he said swirling the glass of blood in his hand and took a sip. “However, now that I won’t be drinking from you, I’ll invest in a couple of cases of Royalty.”
I took another bite of my steak and chewed it before I asked my next question. “Do you breathe? I’ve noticed that occasionally you sigh or something like that, but your chest doesn’t move up and down most of the time.”
“No, vampires don’t need to breathe to survive. That’s one of the things that make us dead,” I scowled at him, and he chuckled. “I know you don’t think of me or any vampire as dead. It’s very endearing that you still have the same belief as you did before. Vampire’s breathe only to take in smells, and occasionally we take in a deep breath or sigh. It’s a very human action that some of us have not lost during our time as a vampire. I believe I only do it when I’m around you,” he said with an amused smile.
“While you finish eating I’m going to take a quick shower. If you need anything you know where to find me.”
We had only been on the road, headed to Amelia’s house, for a couple of minutes when I asked Eric if he’d answer my question from before about why he acts differently than other vampires.
“I haven’t always acted this way,” he said with a glance toward me. “I certainly didn’t before I met you. I would have to say that you bring out the best in me. You have brought out the humanity and the goodness in me that I hadn’t acknowledged for many centuries. I told you about how we would have to act differently in front of others. Remember?” I nodded my head. “The same would be true for other vampires.”
“So you’re saying that some vampires that I encounter may be nice, but I’ll never see it.”
“Correct, but all vampires that were turned before the reveal learned to hide their emotions. We were taught how to survive and to survive we needed to be cruel and ruthless. Vampires that were turned after the reveal have not learned the hard lessons that their ancestors did, but there are not as many that have been newly turned. Also, I don’t think many of them have met a human like you to remind them of their humanity,” he said with a smile as he glanced over at me. “To bring out the good in them. I believe our bond has helped me get in touch with the human emotions that I’d long since buried.”
“I’ve really done all that for you?”
“Indeed you have, min älskare.”
We had pulled up outside of an apartment building with red brick, iron railings, and lots of hanging plants and flower boxes on the railing. I was once again nervous about meeting Amelia.
“What are you nervous about?” He asked.
“What if I can hear her thoughts and can’t block them out?”
“Then we’ll quickly talk to her about a spell or potion and then we’ll leave. I will not have you in distress if I can help it. Trust me,” he said.
“I trust you,” I said while giving him a small smile and looking at him.
Eric pushed the button to release my seat belt and was quickly at my door with his hand out for me to take. As we walked along the sidewalk, I tried to take in the surrounding building.
Off to my right, there was an archway, and beyond that was a little courtyard with flowers, plants, vines growing on the walls, a rocking chair, and a small table with chairs. When we reached the door, I noticed a strange smell coming from inside the apartment.
“What’s that smell?” I asked.
“Magic,” he replied, looking down at me. “Are you ready?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” I said with a hesitant smile.
Eric knocked on the door, and we quietly waited for Amelia to answer. After only a few moments, a pretty redhead with green eyes opened the door.
“Sookie, it’s so good to see you!” Amelia exclaimed as she threw herself at me. As Amelia wrapped her arms around me and hugged, my body stiffened.
“Witch, get off of her. She doesn’t know who you are,” Eric said with a growl.
Amelia quickly stood back and apologized. I moved to stand closer to Eric and wrapped my hand around his arm. I looked up that him to confirm that my action was okay. He smiled down at me and gave me a slight nod.
“Please come in,” Amelia said.
“Are you going to be able to help my bonded?” Eric asked getting straight to the point.
“Yes, I’ve spent the day going through my spell books, and I’ve already made the mixture. I have to put it on the area where we want the hair to grow and then wait for it to grow to the correct length. Once it’s at the length that we want, we’ll wash off the mixture, and it will stop the growth. This will likely take at least a couple hours.”
“Can you give us a minute?” Eric asked her.
“Sure, I’ll go get the mixture. Let me know when you’re ready,” Amelia said.
“Sookie, if this is going to take a few hours then I need to check in with the Queen. I was going to wait until we were done here, take you back to the hotel, get you some food, and then go check in. I’m sorry I didn’t mention this sooner. Would you be okay if I left you here while I check in? Are you comfortable with Amelia?”
“Why can’t I go with you?” I asked, starting to feel very uncomfortable and a little panicky.
Eric pulled me close to his body, brought his lips to my ear, and whispered, “This is not something we should discuss here. The Queen doesn’t know of you. I’ll explain later,” he pulled back to look me in the eyes. “Please understand,” he said with an imploring look on his face.
“You’ll explain later?” I asked. He nodded his head. “I’ll be fine… Just don’t leave me any longer than you have to.”
“I won’t, and I’m sorry I have to do this.” He turned and walked toward what looked to be the kitchen. “We’re ready,” he said to Amelia.
Amelia walked in with a bowl in her hands. “We’re going to put it on in the bathroom, so if you’ll follow me, we can get started.”
I silently followed Amelia down the hall into the bathroom. She sat the bowl down on the counter and motioned toward the toilet. “Sit,” she said as she stirred the mixture with something that looked like a paintbrush. I looked over at Eric, and he gave me a small nod, I sat down and waited for Amelia.
Eric stood in the doorway of the bathroom, his large frame taking it up. Amelia looked to Eric, “I’m ready. Can we begin?” He gave her curt nod.
Amelia came and stood in front of me with the bowl and paintbrush in her hand. “Can you turn your body a little to the left?”
I turned my body to the left, and all I could see was her shower. She started painting the mixture onto the left side of my head. I knew something was happening when my scalp started to tingle.
“It’s starting to tingle,” I said a little nervously.
“That means it’s working,” Amelia said with a big grin on her face. She continued to paint the mixture on and hummed to herself for a few more minutes. “All done. Now all we have to do is wait,” she said. “It’s going to take a few hours since your hair’s so long. Can I get you anything to eat or drink?”
“Not right now, but thank you.”
Amelia quickly rinsed out the bowl in the sink and then we all went back into the living room. As soon as Amelia and I sat down, Eric spoke.
“I need to check in with the Queen,” he said to Amelia. “I’ll be back as soon as I can. Do not let anything happen to her.”
Eric strode over to me and then knelt down in front of me, taking both my hands in one of his. Once again, I felt a small bit of electricity flow between us. “You’ll be fine, remember I can feel you through our bond,” I nodded. “The Queen’s compound is not far from here, I can be back here if you need me in under two minutes,” he said and then picked up my left hand and kissed the back of it.
He stood and gave Amelia a pointed look. “She’ll be fine I promise. I won’t let anything happen to her,” she said with a wave of her hand.
I watched Eric as he left and then finally took in my surroundings. Amelia’s living room had hardwood floors, paintings and pictures all over the walls, and lots of doors leading out onto the balcony.
“You really don’t remember me,” she asked with a slight pout.
“I don’t remember anyone,” I said with a shrug. “I can remember what things are but that’s about it,” I said as I continued to look around the room. “Have I been here before?”
“Yeah, a couple of times. Mostly I come to Shreveport though. Come on; let’s go out onto the balcony, that will help us from having to smell the potion,” she said with her nose scrunched up.
We walked out one of the doors that led to the balcony. It was dark out but on the railing, there were twinkling lights trailing along it. We each sat down in chairs and looked out into the night.
“What do you do when you come to Shreveport?” I asked and looked back over at her.
“I’ve put wards on businesses and houses for Supes.”
“What are Supes?” I asked her.
“Supernaturals. Supes,” she said with a grin.
“Oh, what do the wards do?”
“Mainly the wards I perform keep out anyone who has ill intent,” she said.
My eyes widened in surprise, “Wow! That’s really cool you can do that. Can all witches do that?”
“If they’ve trained they can,” she replied with a proud smile.
“Are we friends?” Amelia nodded and gave me a big smile. “What can you tell me about Eric?”
“Everyone knows not to mess with Eric Northman. He can be cruel and ruthless like all vampires, but he is also known to be honorable and loyal. He’s someone you want on your side that’s for sure,” she said with a smile. “He’s a good boss. He pays well, and I know that all the employees at your bar have health insurance and are paid more than most waitresses. I don’t know of any other place that gives their waitresses benefits.”
“What do you think of him as a vampire? Do you know any other vampires?”
Amelia laughed so hard she was doubled over. Once she calmed down, she said, “Of course I know other vampires. I’m a witch, and I deal with all kinds of supernatural creatures. I have to say, for a vampire, Eric Northman is a good one. There aren’t many of those.”
“That’s what Eric said. I mean about other vampires, not many of them are good. I haven’t been around any others except for Eric, and he seems really nice.”
“Well, I’m pretty sure you get a totally different Eric than the rest of us, but anyone can see that he loves you, and I’ve only been around you both a few times. I can tell you that’s not common in the vampire world. You’re a lucky girl.”
“Why’s that?” I asked.
“You’ve got one of the strongest vampires there is who would do anything for you. There are rumors that he’s a sex God,” she said while moving her eyebrows up and down.
I blushed from my head to my toes or at least it felt like it. “I’ll have to take your word for it.”
“What are you waiting for?”
“It’s only been two days, and I don’t know him. I know that we’re married, but I don’t remember it. I have to get to know him first.”
Amelia took my hand from across the table and patted it. “I’m sorry this happened to you. You’re the nicest person I’ve ever met, and you don’t deserve this, but at least you have Eric to help you. Let’s head to the bathroom. Your hair looks like it’s just about the right length. If it’s a little too long or short we’ll just trim it,” she said with a reassuring smile.
Amelia helped me wash the mixture out of my now long hair. She thought it was a little uneven and decided to give it a quick trim. When she was done, she left me in the bathroom so I could dry my hair.
Once I was done drying my hair, I walked into the living room to find Eric standing there. I didn’t know what came over me, but I rushed over to him, wrapped my arms around him in a hug, and laid my head on his chest. Eric’s arms enveloped me, squeezing me closer to his body.
After a moment, he pulled back and looked down at me. “Are you okay?” He asked.
“I’m fine. Sorry, I don’t know what came over me, but I’m glad you’re back. Did everything go okay?”
“All is well,” he said as he lifted a piece of hair from the left side of my head. “Thank you for your service, witch,” he said as he passed her a thick envelope. “Did you eat?” He asked me.
“No, we just talked but I am getting a little hungry.”
“Then we must get you something to eat. Any recommendations?” He said as he looked over to Amelia.
“I say… go to Broussard’s. Its open late and caterers to vampires. The address is 819 Conti Street,” she said and looked over to me. “Here’s my number if you’re up tomorrow and want to get lunch, let me know. You can call me anytime, now that I’m one of the people you know.”
“Thank you, Amelia, for helping with my hair and I’ll give you a call sometime. Maybe even tomorrow for lunch if I’m up,” I said, giving her a small smile.
I liked Amelia. She was nice, and she seemed to be telling me the truth about Eric, but I didn’t feel a connection with her like I did with Eric.
Eric and I went to Broussard’s and sat outside in their courtyard area. We each received menus, but I noticed that Eric’s was different. His was tall but only one page. I had no idea what I would like so I had Eric order for me. He ordered me the Blackened Louisiana Lump Crab Cake and the Pecan-Crusted Jumbo Gulf Shrimp and a Royalty Blended for himself.
Eric certainly seemed to know what foods I would like. Everything that I ate was delicious. I told him that I had asked Amelia about him, but he wasn’t shocked. He even praised me for it, that I was acting like my old Sookie self. Although I liked Amelia, I didn’t feel any sort of connection to her like I did with Eric. I had a feeling that made him happy if the small smile on his face was any indicator.
When we arrived back at the hotel, I got ready for bed. Although I liked the hotel, I wanted to go home and get reacquainted with my surroundings. I knew I needed to get on with my life even if I couldn’t remember it. And I’m pretty sure that Eric did too.
When I walked back into the bedroom, Eric was lounging on the bed with only his sleep pants on. I sat down on the bed with my legs crossed and tried my hardest to keep my eyes on Eric’s face and not his chest.
“Can you tell me now about the queen?” I asked him. I couldn’t understand why this queen didn’t know anything about me if we had been married for four years.
“As a sheriff I work for her. Each state has a king or queen and every vampire in that state owes fealty to their king or queen. We must do whatever he or she demands of us. We both decided when I learned of your telepathy that we’d try and keep you off her radar. She cannot take you away from me since we are married, pledged, and bonded, but she’s very unpredictable.”
“Now that your telepathy seems to be gone, and you can’t read anyone, I don’t see a problem with her learning of our marriage.”
“Then why didn’t you have me come with you tonight? We could have gone after my hair was fixed.”
Eric sat up on the bed and moved so that our knees were touching. He grabbed my hands in one of his and placed a kiss on the back of each of them before looking back up at me. I could feel myself blush at the contact of his luscious, pink lips.
“Lover, you have been through a lot these last couple of days,” he said and then sighed. “I think we need to wait for you and the queen to meet until you know who you and I are. It certainly wouldn’t look good for us to say that we’re married, and you know none of it. It shouldn’t be a problem, though. I am rarely called to visit the queen. There are seldom problems with my area and when there are they are handled quickly and efficiently. Also, Area Five makes more than all the areas combined except for here in New Orleans. I do my job, and I do it very well. I don’t expect to hear from the queen for quite some time.”
“Why did you have to check in?”
“I couldn’t risk any vampire seeing me in the area and not check in. It could look like I was trying to hide that I was here. Vampires are very distrustful of each other, of anyone. The only vampire a vampire can trust is the one you make. It’s known how old I am, so it would be no problem for me to kill the queen and takeover. We don’t want anyone to think I have anything to hide.”
“I guess I understand. You’re just letting her know you’re in the neighborhood. Did you tell her why you’re here?”
“I told her I was here to discuss some ideas that I have for cleaning up New Orleans. We’ve had a few hurricanes hit New Orleans, and it has never gotten back to it’s old glory. I think that if we can get all the houses and businesses repaired and opened, it will bring back much of the cities previous inhabitants and bring tourism back to our state.”
“Did you already have ideas to do this?”
“Yes, you and I have actually talked a lot about it, and you helped come up with some of the ideas yourself. If she listens and does half of the ideas that I told her, the area will be back to making quite the profit. And that will make her majesty very happy.”
“I guess it’s a good thing we talked about it so you’d have a good excuse. I only wish I could remember,” I said and looked down at our joined hands. “I wish I could remember you,” I whispered.
“I do too,” he replied as he cupped one side of my face. “You’re still my Sookie. You may ask more questions now, but that’s to be expected. You asked lots of questions when we first meet and got together since not many outside of the supernatural community knew of our existence.”
“So you don’t mind all the questions?” I earnestly asked him.
“No, min älskare, I don’t mind. I have told you to ask me anything you want. Any time. We can pretend that this is just a do-over. The hard part’s already over.”
“What’s the hard part?” I asked him.
“That a vampire as old as I, has opened up his heart and fell in love.”