Hours later I was lying in bed with Eric’s head resting on my chest. My fingers were running through his hair slowly and I swear he was purring. It was sweet, actually, and not at all what I had expected at the start of my day. Then again, nothing was what it seemed anymore. Why should this be any different?
“The sun will be rising soon,” Eric said softly, breaking the comfortable silence that had settled after our last round of pretty intense lovemaking about an hour before.
“What does that mean?”
“It means I need to get somewhere light tight. The bedroom in my house is light tight.”
“Is that why you gave me my own room?” I had always wondered about that. At first it made sense because we were just starting out and it was reasonable to expect that we would want our own space sometimes.
“I didn’t want you to wake up and find me dead for the day,” he said.
I probably should have been shocked or something by what he was saying but instead I laughed. Eric lifted his head and looked at me with confusion.
“You find this humorous?”
“I can just imagine,” I laughed. “Trying to do CPR on you and calling 911 for help. They come and tell me you’re dead and have been for a while so they take you to the morgue. Then the sunsets and you’re in a body bag in a refrigerated drawer wondering how the hell you got there.”
I was hysterical with laughter. Tears were streaming from my eyes and I was curled on my side, unable to make it stop. Maybe I’d finally gone over the deep end. Eric looked at me with amusement on his face.
“Can you imagine the poor attendant when I’d free myself?” he asked, and I laughed harder.
That poor person would be sitting there thinking it’s just another night at the morgue and then this six-foot-plus Viking looking corpse lets itself out of the fridge. On top of that it walks and talks, and probably wants blood. The whole thing was just so ridiculous. I seriously started to wonder if I’d lost it.
When I sobered up I asked, “So does this mean that you can’t go out in the sunlight?”
“Sunrise ceases my animation. I might be able to leave to stupor for a short time, but not for long. For instance, I was able to feel your distress today but I was unable to come to you until after sunset. If I had fought the hold on me and gone out into the sun I would have met the true death.”
“I see. So do you sleep in a coffin?” I smiled at that myth.
“Only when traveling. It’s easier to put down roots now than it used to be thanks to hospitals, blood banks and the Internet. I can control my corporation without ever leaving the safety of my resting place, and my resting place is only known to you, Pam and Bobby.”
“But I thought you said you sometimes entertain there?” I reminded him.
“That was because at the time you knew me as nothing more than a successful businessman.”
“So was that a lie too?” I had to ask that question since I didn’t know what was true and what wasn’t.
“No, it’s true that I own several businesses and that I’m in the process of opening a new bar in downtown Shreveport. It won’t be opening for some time, but it’s in the works. Pam, Longshadow and I will partner in that as well.”
“What about food? Can you eat human food?”
“Physically yes, of course I can. I have in some instances to keep up appearances. I cannot, however, digest it so the results aren’t pretty in the aftermath. However, it is possible to season the blood. That’s part of the reason I asked about your diet. Humans that indulge on too many fast foods have a stale taste to them,” he informed me.
“So if I went on a diet of nothing but strawberries you would taste that in my blood?”
“It’s possible,” he nodded.
That was interesting and good to know.
“How did you feel about me feeding from you?” he asked.
I turned on my side so we were face to face. He reached for my hand and held it gently between us. He was warm from being so close to me for so long and I wondered if he found it strange to be warm like that when he wasn’t used to the whole body heat thing anymore.
“I was afraid that it would hurt, but aside from the little sting at first it wasn’t bad,” I admitted.
“Wasn’t bad?” he quirked an eyebrow. “Sookie, my dear, I’m afraid I must call bullshit.”
I scoffed and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Tsk, tsk,” he rolled on top of me, “It’s a good thing we aren’t in play right now or I would punish you for lying to me.”
“Well then you tell me, Mr. Smartypants. How did I feel when you fed from me?”
“Powerful,” he dipped his head to kiss me, “Daring,” he kissed me again, “Orgasmic.”
He was right about all of it.
“That’s true,” I agreed.
“Would you let me do it again?” he asked.
“I’ll think about it. How often are we talking here?”
“I’m an old vampire so it doesn’t take as much for me as it does a newborn or even a vampire Pam’s age. I can go for days without feeling the hunger.”
“But if I let you feed more often than that?”
“I would never jeopardize your health,” he said sincerely and I believed that, too.
“How have you been feeding?” I asked. “I only remember you taking my blood once.”
“I run a sex club that includes members that are interested in blood play,” he explained. “Feeding and sex are closely related for vampires. Sexuality is such a broad spectrum. Most humans stop at defining themselves as gay or straight. There are the few who are willing to explore beyond that, but most are too locked in the mindset of what it considered ‘normal’ to try something new because someone might think it’s bizarre.”
“Like blood play?”
Eric nodded and continued, “What we engaged in was a form of that, but it only partially served a sexual purpose. Yes, we both derived sexual pleasure from it, but in going through with the experience you also provided me the nourishment. Blood is power, Sookie, and you shared some of yours with me.”
His fingers started to trail slowly over my body and those perfect lips of his brushed against my neck.
“This beautiful neck of yours was made for biting,” he said quietly. “Your blood runs so hot and sweet. It was hard to stop drinking. You taste good everywhere.”
My heart was thudding away in my chest by the time he was done and the sultry tone of his voice had me hoping for one more round before he had to go for the day.
“Where will you go before sunrise?” I asked breathlessly as he laid open mouth kisses on my skin, slowly trailing down my chest to my stomach.
“I’ll dig a hole in the woods. It’s too late to go back to Shreveport. I won’t make it in time,” he said as if it was no big deal that he was proposing that he spend a day in a self-dug grave.
“Couldn’t we convert a room here?” I suggested. “Cover the windows and stuff something under the door to keep the light out? My brother’s old bedroom across the hall gets northern exposure during the day so that cuts down the direct sunlight right there.”
Eric lifted his head and said, “You would let me stay here with you during the day while I rest.”
“Of course. You asked me to trust you. I guess now I’m asking you to do that same.”
“I have never rested beside a human I couldn’t glamour,” he said. “Not once in my thousand years have I trusted someone with my life that way.”
“I have no interest in staking you or watching you slowly burn to the true death, Eric. First of all, it’s rude to kill a house guest. Second of all it sounds like a great big mess to clean up and I’ve got better things to do. Wait, do you just disappear when you die or is it like Buffy when the vampires poof and turn to ash?”
“Buffy?” he looked at me curiously.
“You know, the vampire slayer?”
Eric shook his head. Then I realized that such a thing might be offensive to his kind. What if there really was a vampire slayer? Holy cow!
“Sookie, I know nothing of this vampire slayer you’re speaking of, but I think I would enjoy meeting her,” he grinned. “Then I could show you my skills with a long sword.”
I snickered and said, “I thought that’s what you were doing for most of the night.”
Eric growled and in the blink of an eye his face was above mine.
“You tempt me, little minx,” he said and then laid the mother of all kisses on me.
When he let up so I could breathe I found myself lightheaded but deliriously happy. I liked him like this, sexy and playful with just a little bit of danger thrown in since he was basically talking about killing someone to impress me.
“You know, you don’t need to rack up a body count to get my attention,” I said.
“But it’s fun,” he wiggled his eyebrows.
My heart sank at that and my smile faded. It hit me hard for the first time that Eric was a killer. He’d murdered Pam to turn her and that led me to wonder if he had the same fate in mind for me.
“Are you planning to turn me?” I asked him.
“Is that something you want?” he asked.
“No,” I said quickly. “Eric I like being human. I like sunshine and being able to drown my sorrows in Gran’s honey pecan pie on a bad day. I like having a fully functioning body and not having to worry about finding a safe place to go before the sun rises.”
“That’s understandable,” he said calmly.
“So you’ve never thought about turning me?”
“The thought has crossed my mind but I wouldn’t turn you if you didn’t consent to it,” he told me. “I didn’t obtain Pam’s permission before I turned her but I knew she would adapt quickly to this life.”
It was still difficult for me to understand how Pam could be grateful to Eric for essentially murdering her, but then Pam didn’t see it as murder. She saw what Eric did as being a great gift. There were plenty of differences between Pam and me, but from the things she told me in the car that one night, the biggest difference is that she was unhappy in her human life. I’ve had my tragedies and crosses to bear, but I very much like being alive.
“If I changed my mind someday would you turn me then?” I asked Eric.
“Yes,” he said without hesitation.
“You’re sure about that?”
“You would make a good vampire, Sookie.”
“I would? Why?”
“You’re clever, for starters. You have a determination to you and you enjoy life. It is no good being a vampire if you don’t enjoy living. Eternity is a long time to be bored with yourself.”
I couldn’t imagine being alive for as long as he had been. A thousand years was a long time, to put it mildly. I didn’t think I could do it. Watching the people I love get old and die while I stayed the same and just kept living year after year, on and on and on for the rest of time. Besides, wouldn’t people start to get suspicious after a while?
Obviously I couldn’t stay in Bon Temps forever if I did. I would have to move on after a few years so no one would get wise that I wasn’t aging, but wouldn’t that eventually catch up with me, too?
Gran always said the weight of lies would bring me down. Good old Johnny Cash had once said, “What’s done in the dark will be brought to the light.”
Sooner or later someone would find out my secret. It had happened to Eric and he was experienced at keeping his true identity a secret, but he’d been forced to reveal himself to me. A thousand years of hiding out completely ruined by one little barmaid from backwater, Louisiana that couldn’t be glamoured.
But the something important occurred to me.
“You wanted me to find out the truth about you, didn’t you?” I asked him.
“How do you figure?” Eric asked, but his half smile suggested I was right.
“Because you could have just left me in the parking lot at Merlotte’s the night we were attacked. You could have let me bleed to death or you could have just taken me to a hospital to let them fix me up, but you didn’t. You healed me, knowing I was going to have questions. You wanted me to see you. All of you.”
“That wasn’t part of the original plan,” he admitted. “I knew even before you were officially a member of the club that you couldn’t be glamoured.”
He nodded and said, “When she interviews people we know by the end if a membership offer is going to be extended. If it is she glamours them into knowing the location but prohibits them from being able to give that location to anyone that isn’t also a member. Members need to seek clearance before bringing someone new to the club, and we do a preliminary search on the person beforehand to make sure they aren’t a danger to our kind. Only then are they allowed to bring the new person in.”
“Very sneaky,” I smiled at him. “I thought it was strange that she was looking at me so intensely, but I didn’t question it since she can be a little intimidating anyway. Didn’t it worry you that she couldn’t glamour me?”
“Some humans are more resistant to it than others. We thought that perhaps you just needed an older, more powerful vampire to do it.”
“Uh huh. So is there any way for sure for me to know that I haven’t been glamoured?” I asked him.
“The only way I can think of I’d if we became bonded, but that is a big commitment that shouldn’t be made lightly. The effects you’re feeling of my blood now will fade. Over time the connection between us will fade if you don’t take more of my blood, but that is something for us to discuss another time.”
Yes it was. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Eric being able to keep tabs on me all the time. Generally speaking I didn’t live a dangerous life. The most danger I had been in recently was when I was with him. To my knowledge, I only knew three vampires and Pam had been forbidden from harming me. There was Longshadow but I couldn’t think of a single reason he might have to hurt me. I had to assume there were many more vampires out there in the world, so maybe it would be smart to try and see if there was something different about the ones I knew that would tip me off that I was in the presence of a vampire. But there was time for that later, too.
“So do you want to try to block out the light in Jason’s old room? The bed is small but it’s better than burying yourself in the ground,” I suggested.
“Do you have tin foil?”
“I’m sure we do. What else do you need?”
“Tape or maybe thumbtacks and probably a heavy blanket if there aren’t any curtains in the room.”
“There are, but they aren’t light tight,” I said. I got out of bed and went across the room to slip into my robe.
Eric put his jeans back on and followed me down to the kitchen. I got him the roll of foil we had, as well as a hammer and some nails since we didn’t have tacks. While he went up to the bedroom I went to the linen closet and found an old wool blanket that no one ever used because it was scratchy and uncomfortable. But it was perfect for blocking light out of a room.
By the time I got upstairs Eric already had the window covered the way he wanted it. Just to be on the safe side he nailed up the blanket as his second layer of protection. He did good work and I hoped that it would be enough to keep him safe. I hated to think of Eric being buried out in the woods all day long.
“Will you close the door please?” he asked politely, and I reached behind me to do that.
The room was a little musty, in spite of the fact that I cleaned it once a month. I changed the sheets once in a while since Jason had a habit of spending the night every now and then and no one wanted to sleep on dusty sheets. It was a full size bed, the same as mine, so it would be a little small for someone Eric’s size, but it beat a hole in the ground.
“Will this work?” I asked him.
“Yes, I think so. I’ll just need to stuff a towel under the door. You’re sure no one will open the door during the day?”
“Positive. Gran never comes up here anymore unless she’s desperate for something in the attic and can’t wait for me to get it down for her.”
I just realized that Eric had managed to get my mind off of Gran for a while. I was thankful for that. Worrying myself sick wouldn’t bring her home any faster.
“You could move the dresser in front of the door if you want. That would block the light and stop someone from coming in,” I suggested.
“Not a bad idea,” he said and then pushed the very heavy old dresser across the floor to block the door. He moved it the way a child would a toy car and that was certainly impressive.
“Just how strong are you anyway?” I asked him as Eric moved the dresser again so I could leave the room.
“Well that’s vague.”
“Okay then take your car, for instance. I could easily tip it over unassisted. In fact, I have seriously considered doing it on more than one occasion.”
“Don’t you dare, buddy!” I stared daggers at him.
“You asked,” he smirked.
“Yeah, well, you keep your Hulk strength away from my car unless I get stuck in the mud or something.”
Eric laughed at my admonishment but I was as serious as a Baptist minister on Sunday. If he fooled with my car he’d be one sorry vampire.
“How much time until sunrise?” I asked.
“Maybe another ten minutes.”
“Well if you leave your clothes in the hall I’ll wash them while you’re… resting.” That sounded so much better than dead. “I might go out during the day but I’ll make sure I’m back before sunset. Do you want to park your car around back, or are you okay with where it is?”
Eric had parked in the front but I didn’t want to be in charge of moving it for him. With my luck I’d somehow ruin the transmission or end up with a flat tire.
“I can move it if you think you might have company,” he said.
“With Gran missing that’s possible, but I was told to go to the sheriff’s office and Jason probably won’t come by here once I let him know I haven’t heard anything.”
Just then Eric’s head cocked like he was listening for something, and then he zipped out of the room like his britches were on fire and the nearest water was a mile away.
“Northman,” I heard him answer his phone. Eric entered the room moments later and asked, “Do you know anyone in a town called Red Ditch?”
I thought about it but the name didn’t even sound familiar to me.
“No, I don’t.”
“That’s a negative, Abe. Understood. Keep me posted,” Eric said and hung up. “He’s in Red Ditch but has to stop for the day.”
“No sign of her other than her scent, huh?”
“Not yet. He’ll find her, Sookie,” Eric assured me.
“I hope so,” I sighed. “Thank you, again, for everything, Eric.”
“You’re welcome. Now go get some sleep so I can tire you out again later,” he winked at me.
I could have argued that he was being presumptuous but he was probably right. I blew him a kiss and then went across the hall to my own room. Eric’s shirt was on the floor and after a minute of debating with myself I picked it up and put it on instead of my robe. After that I closed the curtains and heard Eric close the door across the hall. The dresser was being slid into place as I got into bed, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Eric and I went to rest at the exact same time.