I landed outside of Fangtasia in just enough time to witness a vampire feeding on a human on the premises. I was in a dangerous mood, given Sookie’s accusations. Her blood told me she’d said what she did to hurt me. How could she compare a drop of my blood to the volatile attack she’d suffered at Compton’s hands? It didn’t make any sense to me. I was also angry at myself for never having viewed my actions that way.
I cleared my throat where I was standing. The vampire pulled back from her meal with a guilty look on her face. I was very clear about the rules were feeding was concerned. By human statutes, it was illegal to do it in public. By my own personal law, it was forbidden to do it in my bar. The vampire was a young one, new to my area. She was still on probation. Her request to stay would be denied.
“Release him,” I ordered in an authoritative tone.
“Yes, Sheriff,” she turned to the young man she had been feeding from.
She whispered something in his ear, and the fog cleared from his eyes. He looked back and forth between her and me, then disappeared when I bared my fangs at him. I guess I wasn’t his type. At least we had something in common.
“My office, Bianca,” I glared at her.
She moved quickly, and rather clumsily. I knew she’d only been vampire for three years. Her maker had turned her on a whim, and quickly came to regret his decision. He’d released her after only eight weeks. While there were probably lots of things she needed to know about being a vampire in general, I had made it abundantly clear what my standards were for residency in my area.
“Sheriff, I’m very sorry-”
“Stop.” I held up a hand as I closed the door to my office, then moved around to sit behind my desk. “You are aware of the penalty for feeding in bar, are you not?”
“Yes,” her head sank, and red tears began to slide down her fair cheeks.
“Give me one good reason why I should be merciful.”
She wisely didn’t bother to try and justify her transgression on her lack of a maker, or the fact that she was young. Instead, she attempted to bargain for leniency with me. It was a smart move I hadn’t anticipated from her.
“I grew up in New Orleans, Sheriff. My next door neighbor was an older woman who practiced magic. Some people said it was voodoo, but she wasn’t like that. She was kind. She knew things. She…” Bianca trailed off a moment before wiping her tears, smearing her face with red. “One time she fixed my dress. I got in a fight with my brother the night before prom, and he tore my dress. I thought it was ruined, but she fixed it just by saying a few words. I don’t know what she said, but the tears just healed themselves. It was perfect, after that.”
“She was a witch?”
“Yes, sir, a good one, I think. She might be able to help with your recent troubles.”
“Do you have a name for this woman?” I asked her.
I handed her a note pad and a pen. She wrote down the information and handed the pad back to me. I set the pad down on the desk without looking at it. It was too late to be making calls to a human. “You’re dismissed for now. After speaking with the witch, I’ll give you my decision. Report back in two days.”
“Yes, Sheriff. Again, I apologize,” she was up and out of my office very quickly.
I leaned forward to look at the name she’d given me. Octavia Fant. I searched my memory, and tried to remember if I was familiar with the name. It wasn’t ringing any bells, but then I didn’t deal with witches very often. I’d used a shaman to ward my home, and he’d been on loan from the local Weres. I’d call Octavia tomorrow.
I leaned forward and pulled the notebook from the back of my pants. The cover was red, and the edges were dog eared. I flipped the book open. The handwriting inside was mine. I set the book down on my desk. It was a journal. Everything I wanted to know about the last few days was right there. At least I’d been smart enough to write everything down.
I took an unnecessary breath and started to read.
I didn’t need a witch to tell me the spell Hallow had cast was a complicated one. If I had to guess, it was a variation of a love spell, but she’d also done something to fool with my memory. When Sookie found me, I had no recollection of who I was. I didn’t even know my own name. All I knew was that I was a vampire. Everything else, it seemed, had been sucked out. I had no recollection of my human years, or any of my vampire life.
Everything I learned about myself, I learned from either Sookie or Pam. They had each been truthful with me. Sookie, it seemed, had been far more forthcoming with me than she’d ever been in the past. I wasn’t crazy about her pitying me, which she certainly seemed to do. I didn’t need pity. Even in the situation I was in, it was a mistake to think I was helpless.
I read the journal several times, and wondered what the other version of me had that I didn’t. In just a matter of a few days, we’d fallen in love with each other. I’d been trying for months to get her to take me seriously, and then I go and get myself cursed, and she falls in love with me almost immediately. I didn’t understand it.
What’s worse is, I was jealous of myself. The other me, which was really the same me, had succeeded in getting Sookie to yield to him. Was it really as simple as listening to her, then walking in on her when she was in the shower? I wondered how she would react if I called her my ‘lover,’ as I had done while I was cursed. Would she respond favorably to such an endearment, or would the pet name hurt her? There was really only one way to find out.
While I was grateful to have the journal, since I was sure Sookie would do her best to keep what had happened buried deep, it was also taunting me. She hadn’t willingly confessed to what had happened with Debbie Pelt, even though it was all through no fault of her own. I was only slightly willing to admit that being a smug bastard about the brain matter in her coat probably hadn’t coaxed her into feeling like she could trust me. Why did I even want her to trust me?
My head and my undead heart were locked in a serious battle over what to do where Sookie was concerned. There was a part of me that said I was probably best served by draining her and being done with it once and for all. Then I wouldn’t have to think about her anymore. The problem with that logic was I would feel her death long after she was gone. I would mourn her. I had never mourned the loss of a human in all my years as a vampire. I never felt guilt for a life I took. With Sookie, it was different.
I wanted a way to show her I was sorry for the way I behaved toward her. I needed a simple gesture. Something that would show her I cared, but that I wasn’t trying to buy her affections. Sookie wasn’t impressed by material things, and she didn’t give a damn about how much money I had. Although, she wasn’t even close to being aware of my financial holdings. She knew I owned other businesses, but she didn’t know everything. Knowing Sookie, she would think it obscene, the resources I had at my disposal.
I got on my computer and started to search the Internet, hoping something would occur to me. I was just about to give up when it hit me. A coat. Her other coat had been ruined. Whether it was the witch war that had done it, or her life ending shot at Debbie Pelt, I didn’t know. What I did know was that there was no amount of dry cleaning that was going to get all of the blood stains out of her other coat. Even if there was a way to have it cleaned, it was hideous and well past its prime.
I found another coat, much more suitable for her and placed an express order to have it delivered immediately. I was nearly tempted to put Bobby on a plane to get it himself from the store in New York where I found it. But that would mean Bobby delivering the coat in person, and I didn’t want Sookie to have the option of refusing the item. She would question the package if it didn’t come from a delivery service. Turns out Brown could do a lot more for me than Bobby could, at the moment.
I placed an order for the coat, then locked the journal in my personal vault that even Pam didn’t have the authority, or ability, to open. After that, I went out to the main area of the bar and took my place on my throne. The fangbangers were as dull as ever, and the highlight of my evening was glamouring a man into thinking he was a chicken. A buxom blonde was making eyes at me from a few booths away from the dais where my throne was. I smirked at her, but paid her no further attention.
It was a rookie mistake on my part, since she seemed to take that as an invitation to approach me. She was dressed like a typical fangbanger in a black latex dress, sky-scraping pumps and cheap Gothic jewelry. There was nothing interesting about her except her eyes; one was blue, the other was brown. She was too thin for a woman of her height. I could smell her blood. It was like a vegetable garden was flowing through her veins.
“No,” I said sharply and shooed her away.
She looked shocked, then dejected as she was pulled away by another vampire before she could get any closer to me. That one I would have glamoured and given to Pam. Pam would have enjoyed her immensely.
Pam approached me a short time later to ask why I hadn’t fed yet. I glared hard at her, but she didn’t waver. That was my Pam. She offered to fetch me a meal, but I wasn’t in the mood. My head was somewhere else, and I wasn’t really up for dealing with silly women. There was also something that seemed off about being with another woman after having been with Sookie.
There was unfinished business there, and until I knew without a doubt there was nothing between us, it seemed wrong to touch another. If Sookie doubted my ability to be faithful to her, then it would be a mistake to immediately get involved with another woman. Even if the length of my involvement didn’t last much longer than an orgasm and a snack. I told Pam I would have nothing but Royalty Blend until further notice, which she scoffed at.
“Eric, has this spell depleted your sex drive?” Pam sounded genuinely concerned.
I growled at her and motioned for her to leave me. While Pam was certainly my most trusted adviser, I wouldn’t be discussing my relationship with Sookie in front of the entire bar. Nor did I feel the need to justify my decision to her. Pam gave me the eyebrow, then went about her business. I had a lot to process. I didn’t want Pam’s help.
I left before the bar closed. I didn’t quite feel like I belonged there. It felt like something was missing. I knew what that thing was, but I refused to give it a name. My car headed the wrong way on the expressway, and before I knew it, I was in Bon Temps. I got as far as Sookie’s driveway before I came to my senses. Stalking her would do me no good. Being persistent would only push her away. I’d wait for the coat to be delivered.
There were three likely options that came to mind: first, she’d ignore me all together. Second, she’d show up at Fangtasia, ranting and raving about me spending money on her. Or, third, she’d simply call me and chew me out, and then thank me at the same time. Her manners wouldn’t permit her to throw the coat back in my face, even if that was exactly what she wanted to do.
I moved about my house for a while before heading to my day chamber. I read the journal again, hoping that some of my words might jog my memory. I went to rest trying to imagine what Sookie’s taste on my tongue must have felt like.
Two days later I was going over some of my stocks when my phone buzzed in the office. “Master, Sookie Stackhouse is holding for you.”
“Put her through.” I grabbed the handset and sat back in my seat. “Good evening, Miss Stackhouse.”
“Eric, don’t think I don’t have something to say about the present you sent me, even if I do appreciate it, but this is a business call.” Sookie’s voice was troubled. She was breathing hard, like she’d run a marathon to get to a phone.
“We have what I assume is a baby vampire here at Merlotte’s without a maker. He just attacked two people in the parking lot.” Sookie didn’t sugar coat it, which I appreciated.
“I’m coming.” I told her, then hung up before she could give further detail.
I didn’t tell Pam I was leaving. I simply walked out the back exit of the bar and took to the sky. I flew quickly, and landed in Bon Temps less than twenty minutes later. I’d never been to Merlotte’s, that I could recall, but my blood told me where to go. I knew I was close to Sookie when I felt her blood starting to call to mine. The baby vampire was restrained with heavy duty silver chains, and snarling at anyone who approached him.
“I tried to give him True Blood, but he bit me.” Sookie stared down at her forearm.
Without a thought, I nicked my finger on one of my fangs and rubbed my blood over her wounds. Her eyes met mine as I healed her, a faint smile on her face.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
“What happened?” I asked her.
“One of the bus boys was taking out some trash and he heard the fight. He came running back inside, screaming about a vampire attacking some humans. A bunch of silly rednecks wanted to stake the kid, but I convinced them not to. Someone had a silver chain, so we got it around his neck to pull him away from the girl. Once he was subdued, I went in to call you. When I came back out, I tried to give him some True Blood to calm him down. He wouldn’t say much, except he looked awfully confused when I asked where his maker was. I made the mistake of looking away for just a moment, and that was when he bit me.”
I bristled at her foolishness, then at the vampire for attacking her. Sookie walked me over to the vampire, who was snarling and fighting his restraints. He was more likely to lose his hands than he was to get free.
“Calm yourself,” I ordered the vampire.
“Fuck you,” he spat back.
“Who is your maker?”
“I don’t know. Get me out of these chains. I’m hungry.”
“Watch your manners, buster.” Sookie chirped from beside me.
“Watch your mouth, or next time I’ll get more than your arm.” The baby vampire threatened.
I crouched down and yanked his head down to burn his lips on the silver. “You will not address her in that manner. She has saved your worthless life. Apologize.”
“Eric, don’t hurt him.” Sookie sighed.
“Apologize.” I demanded a second time.
“Sorry,” came the weak response of the vampire.
“Now if you can be a good boy and restrain yourself, I will have Sookie remove the chains and get you a blood. You will be smart to remember I have more than a thousand years on you, and can stake you before you blink.” I glared down at the boy.
He was young, perhaps in his twenties. He was dirty, suggesting he had just risen. I tried to get a scent on the maker based on his blood, but I didn’t sense anyone familiar. He’d been made and dumped. His maker had risen before he did, which was the way it usually worked. That way, the maker could help its child from the earth. Only this maker hadn’t stuck around. This maker had simply disappeared.
“My name is Kevin. I am- was- a student at Tulane, home on winter break. The last thing I remember was having a few drinks with some friends at a bar in Baton Rouge. When I came to this evening, I was buried in the woods. I have fangs. Am I a vampire?”
I looked to Sookie, who simply sighed and headed into the bar, presumably to get a bottle of blood. “Yes, Kevin, you are a vampire. You have no recollection of how you were turned?”
“No,” he shook his head, his eyes wide with fear. “I never wanted to be a vampire.”
I snorted at that. “Most of us don’t get a choice in the matter. You’ll adapt.” I stood and made a call to Pam. “Bring the van. We have a newborn without a maker.”
“What?” Pam was clearly as dumbfounded by this as I was.
“Bring the van and some bagged blood. There should be some extra in the basement.”
“I know where it is. I’ll be there soon.” Pam hung up, as did I.
Sookie came back with two bottles of blood and handed them to me. “Can you remember the manners your mama raised you with?”
“I’m sorry I attacked you.” Kevin genuinely apologized, his bloodlust having faded a bit.
“Apology accepted. Now hold still. This is going to hurt.” Sookie knelt down and unwrapped the silver slowly, taking bits of Kevin’s skin along with it.
The baby vampire howled in pain, not that I blamed him. Having silver removed from the skin was like being skinned alive. It was a very painful process, and it would take him a while to heal from the injuries. After Sookie had removed all of the silver, I handed over the first bottle of blood. Kevin drank it down quickly, and reached for the second.
“Where are the ones he injured?” I asked Sookie while Kevin nursed his bottle of blood.
“They were taken to the emergency room in Monroe by one of the customers, since calling the police could have caused a real problem for everyone. Turns out the kids that got hurt were underage and from out of town. Since no one wants Sam to get in trouble for this, we went with the story that they were found near one of the swamps.”
It wasn’t bad, as far as stories went. New vampires just wanted blood. They didn’t care how many bites it took to get it. They weren’t fixated on arteries since they didn’t know proper feeding techniques. Sookie stood beside me, her arms wrapped around herself while she shivered. I removed my coat and put it around her shoulders.
“Where’s your coat?” I asked her.
She glared up at me and said, “Inside. I didn’t want to get blood all over it and give you a reason to send me another one.”
“So you like the coat?”
Her eyes narrowed and she looked away before admitting, “It’s lovely. You didn’t need to do that, though.”
“You needed a new coat. Besides, I’m sure that shade of red looks lovely on you.”
“You don’t need to buy me things, Eric. I can take care of myself.” Stubborn to a fault, she was.
I laughed and said, “Yes, Sookie, you have made that quite clear to me. However, you could simply say thank you, since I was merely trying to be nice. My gesture wasn’t meant to undermine your independence.”
She looked chastised for a moment, even though there was anger in her blood. “You’re right. Thank you, Eric. Your gift was very thoughtful.”
“Think nothing of it,” I winked at her, which got me a frustrated groan.
“Which, dear Sookie, is why we’re so evenly matched.”
She snorted and rolled her eyes. “I wouldn’t go that far.”
“I would,” I leaned closer to her, knowing Pam would be pulling in shortly. “And someday, my sweet, you won’t think it so scandalous.”
Her breath caught, and I felt longing in her blood. She wanted to say something, but instead thanked me again for coming when she called. She handed me back my coat and begged off to get back to work.
“You take care now, Kevin.”she said politely.
“Thank you, Sookie.”
She simply nodded and headed for the door.
“Sookie?” I called to her.
“Yes, Eric?” she looked over her shoulder.
“We still need to have a chat. I will see you soon.” I warned her.
She merely nodded, then went back inside to leave me waiting for Pam with the baby vampire.