Eric’s blood was magical.
It was kind of what I expected it would feel like on hallucinogens or psychotropic drugs. Everything was kind of hazy and there was this blurry glow on anything I tried to focus my eyes on. Somehow Eric and I were on a boat in the middle of the day. I wasn’t dreaming either.
“I don’t know how this is possible,” I said as the boat rocked.
“Me either,” he agreed.
“This has never happened before?”
“I don’t make it a habit to exchange blood like you and I did,” Eric answered.
“Where are we?” The landscape wasn’t at all familiar to me. I had no idea how we even left the bathroom, much less ended up on a boat mid-day. “Why aren’t you burning?”
“I don’t know,” Eric answered. There was a brief glimmer of recognition in his eyes, which at the moment, were as dark as the sea we were sailing on.
The boat was one of those long ones with the holes on the sides for oars and the bow and stern had intricate carvings of what looked like dragons to me. Rather than having row after row of seats, there was just a giant canopied bed in the middle of the boat. It looked like it weighed a ton, so I wasn’t sure how we weren’t sinking, but that was the least of my worries.
I heard a splash and when I turned my head to look for Eric I realized he was gone. My legs carried me to the side of the boat while I yelled his name. As if he fell over the side on accident or some nonsense.
Of course when I looked over the side, Eric was floating face up, naked and smiling up at sun. I couldn’t blame him. It had been how long since he had seen a sunny day? Even if it was a shared hallucination – which seemed highly unlikely – I would do the same thing if I was him.
“The North Sea!” Eric yelled to me.
“What about it?”
“It’s where we are! I am home!” The joy on his face… It was a look I wouldn’t soon forget. “Come swim with me before some sea monster comes along!”
Sea monster, huh?
“I think I’ll stay right here!” I hollered back.
“I’ll protect you!”
I laughed and shook my head. Not that I didn’t believe him, but the whole experience was odd enough without fighting sea creatures. Besides, my eyes were too busy taking in my surroundings. We weren’t adrift on open water. It seemed almost like we were in an inlet or a canal in the middle of a mountain range. Large mounds of jagged, dark rock were blanketed with pure, white snow. Fluffy clouds passed overhead against a bright blue sky. The trees I could see were vibrantly green, as was the grass.
It was stunning landscape.
Something tickled my legs and when I looked down I realized a dress had somehow materialized around me. It was off-white cotton with a square neckline and no sleeves. The fabric was light and airy, the kind that looked crinkled and hung loosely all the way to my feet. How I came to be wearing it was as intriguing as how I ended up in the Scandinavian wilderness.
My Viking companion rose up out of the water, floating above it with his arms outstretched. It was very reminiscent of a religious image I had seen before of Saint Peter walking on water. Somehow I doubted Eric had much use for the comparison.
“It’s beautiful here. I don’t know why anyone would leave,” I said as he floated closer to the boat.
“Like anyone else, I wanted to see the rest of the world. You would love Iceland.” The boat didn’t move at all with the addition of Eric’s weight. “The Northern Lights are spectacular.”
Much like my dress, a towel appeared for Eric to dry off with. I took notice of the steam coming from my mouth when I spoke, but I didn’t feel cold. In fact, I felt perfectly comfortable.
“I don’t feel cold,” I said.
“That makes two of us.”
“Is it your blood doing that?”
“Could be.” Eric wrapped the towel around his waist. It was slightly insane how good he looked naked. My experience with live, nude men was limited but I had seen sculptures, paintings and drawings that didn’t impress me much. Based on those things alone I always kind of wondered what the big deal was.
Of course even I could tell Eric wasn’t the average male specimen.
“So how do we get back to Louisiana?” I asked him, following his long, lean body back to the bed.
Eric stretched out and I lay down beside him. I rested my head on his silent chest. He stared up at the sky while I watched the mountains and trees pass us by. Somehow the boat was navigating itself perfectly without a captain steering it.
“We could stay here,” Eric suggested after a while. “You might like it here. I can teach you to ice fish and climb mountains.”
I smiled and said, “That sounds like fun but I have a job to get back to, plus I have to figure out what I’m going to do about my numskull brother getting mixed up with the Fellowship.”
I blamed myself some for it. Had I known he was considering joining their ranks, I would have told him that Steve Newlin’s number one goon tried to rape me in the church basement. It was a vampire that saved me from it.
“I’ll take care of you.” I was suddenly trapped underneath Eric, his heavy body pinning me to the bed. “You can spend your days lying in the sun of the Swedish countryside, reading books and taking cat naps.”
“That sounds kind of heavenly, but I like pulling my own weight,” I told him. “Gran didn’t raise a princess.”
“Pam can give you lessons,” he offered, making me laugh.
“I’m sure she can.” I wasn’t sure Pam liked me all that much but she was going to have to get over it. With Godric being Gran’s Maker, I was going to be around. A lot. That was to say nothing of my changing relationship with Eric.
I wondered how we were supposed to get back to Louisiana, but then I had no idea how we ended up on an ancient boat in the middle of the day without Eric roasting alive. Any and all thoughts of leaving the boat were slowly erased from my mind by the lusty vampire on top of me, convincing me to stay right where I was one kiss at a time. If I had known exactly what she meant when Pam told me her Maker could be very convincing, I may have given him a chance to sway me sooner.
I spared Gran the details of my day but it was obvious that she knew something had happened. Seeing her with fangs still didn’t quite compute in my mind. It was going to take some time to get used to that.
“Is Godric planning on staying close by?” I asked Gran. She had a tea cup in front of her full of TruBlood that she sipped from instead of leaving it in the bottle like most vampires did.
“For now, yes. He said when I’m ready we’ll do some traveling. I’d like to go mountain climbing or maybe deep sea diving.”
I couldn’t help chuckling at her choices. Gran was taking to being a vampire like a duck to water. I wondered how long the giddiness would last. Jessica had been excited by the freedom at first too, but I also knew she got lonely quite often.
“That sounds like fun,” I agreed.
Gran took a drink from her tea cup and said, “Godric wants me to teach him to cook.”
That was surprising to me.
“What for?” It wasn’t like he ate. I doubted he was planning on making me dinner.
“We’d like to be able to help those less fortunate,” she replied. “Really, it’s an ideal situation. There must be other vampires out there who still believe in Jesus and want to give back. It would be easy to rent a commercial space and make meals that vampires can deliver. Lord knows we’re faster than most cars. Or humans could come to us. I’m not sure how it’ll work yet.”
Leave it to Gran to be turned into a vampire but still worry about how she was going to fill your belly.
“I think that’s wonderful,” I told her. “I’ll be happy to help if you need me.”
“I appreciate it, honey. Where’s your brother? I’ve tried calling him and he hasn’t answered at home or on his cell phone,” she said.
Thankfully I hadn’t had any of Gran’s blood yet so she couldn’t tell I was fibbing to her, but I didn’t have the heart to tell her where Jason was. Not yet, anyhow. I knew I couldn’t keep it to myself forever, but she was only a day old. There wasn’t much Gran could do about it anyway.
“You know, I think he decided to go get some fishing in,” I told her. “You know how he gets when he’s got a lot on his mind.”
Jason’s knee jerk reaction to stress or grief was to get drunk and find a woman to distract him, but when that wasn’t enough anymore, he went fishing.
“How long has he been gone? It’s not like him to not answer the phone.”
“I’m not sure how long it’s been. I think he left Sunday,” I answered.
“Well hopefully he’ll be back soon. He should know that I’ve been turned.”
Oh he was going to find out…
More important, Gran was going to find out where Jason really was. I wasn’t looking forward to that whatsoever.
“Oh, before I forget, Godric is going to have a lawyer draw up the papers to make you the legal owner of the house,” Gran revealed.
“What? No, Gran, that’s your house–“
“It’s not safe for you like it should be, honey. It belongs to a vampire now. It means anyone can walk into it. That magic barrier is gone,” she told me.
I sighed heavily. Gran giving me the house was inevitable, I supposed, but it was a reminder that even though I still had her around, I wouldn’t always have her so close. The training wheels were coming off. I knew I could handle it and that I would adjust to having the house to myself; I just didn’t think I’d have to do it so soon.
We talked for a while longer about the places Gran wanted to visit and the things she wanted to do, but figured it was too late in her life for her to do them. The more she talked, the happier I was for her. Gran was so excited about all of the possibilities in front of her. I couldn’t find it in me to burst her bubble.
When she finished her TruBlood we moved on to the living room to catch the nightly news. It had been a few days since Gran saw the news last and she was a stickler for keeping up with the rest of the world. She sat in a cozy looking armchair and even though I knew it wasn’t polite to stare, I couldn’t help but look at her.
The little age spots that had started to form on her cheeks, arms and the backs of her hands had all disappeared thanks to the infusion of Godric’s ancient blood. Her silver and white hair seemed silkier and fuller than it was before. There was less pink in her cheeks but her skin had smoothed out some as well. Gran looked a good five years younger, at least in her face.
“I can feel you starin’ at me, Sookie,” Gran said when the news went to commercial.
“I’m sorry,” I apologized. “You just… I didn’t expect bein’ a vampire to agree with you so quick.”
Gran’s head turned toward mine and she smiled at me. It was the same smile I had been seeing my whole life. No fangs to change it. Gran’s eyes seemed a little brighter, less watery than they usually were because of her allergies to pollen. Then without warning those fangs popped out and cut her bottom lip.
“Oh fudgepuddles,” Gran cussed and licked her lip. The little cut was gone in a matter of seconds. “You know I might be able to fly? Godric and Eric can and so could Godric’s Maker.”
Now that would be a sight I wasn’t sure I’d recover from right away.
“Have you tried?”
“Not yet. I’m still getting used to how fast my legs go now,” she admitted. “Although could you imagine if I just landed in front of Maxine? She’d probably mess her britches.”
For a moment I just sat there, jaw slack, staring at Gran. It seemed it wasn’t just her body that had undergone a transformation; her personality was different, too.
“Who are you and what have you done with my Gran?” I asked her.
She chuckled for a few seconds.
“You know I don’t like judgin’ other folks on account of that bein’ the Lord’s work and all, but Maxine needs a little reality check.”
I didn’t disagree, it just wasn’t like Gran to take matters into her own hands like that.
“I can’t argue with that,” I agreed.
The news broke in through the commercial with a special report.
“This just in to the CBS newsroom, it is being reported that the S.S. Elizabeth of Blood Vessel Cruises has been sunk off the eastern coast of Texas this evening. The ship departed from Galveston at sunset and was bound for the Caribbean. Planned stops along the Gulf Coast included New Orleans and Biloxi before the ship would move further out into open waters. Cruise line officials note that the passenger list totalled just over two thousand souls, 1,211 of which were human. Blood Vessel Cruises has become the largest vampire/human cruise line in all of North America. At this time it is unknown what caused the damage that ultimately caused the sinking of the ship. So far only nineteen survivors have been confirmed, but rescuers are hopeful that number will increase overnight. For more information we turn now to our sister station in Houston. Grace, what new information do you folks have down there?” The anchor wore her best concerned face as the female anchor from Texas appeared on the split screen.
“Right now it is pure chaos just off the coast, Tiffany,” Grace said. “Early reports indicate that this may have been the work of a terrorist organization while others are speculating that it was a government attack or perhaps even vampires themselves, wanting to point fingers at fundamentalist Christian groups like the Fellowship of the Sun, based out of Dallas only a few hours northwest of here.”
“Is there any evidence to support the claims that the Fellowship might be involved?” Tiffany asked.
“Not at this time, but officials are just getting their investigation underway. Witnesses on the shore noted that there was a loud boom and then windows on the ship exploded, suggesting bombs were placed throughout the boat. Until the injured have been pulled out of the water it’s hard to say what type of bombs those were. Officials have yet to release any information based on the statements of survivors,” Grace answered.
“This is a terrible tragedy,” Tiffany commented, shaking her head. The images on TV changed to live pictures from Galveston where it was possible to see law enforcement enforcing a perimeter to keep spectators at a safe distance. Rescue boats were in the water and helicopters were overhead, illuminating the wreckage floating in the Gulf. “Our hearts here in Louisiana sure do go out to the families of the passed on.”
“Absolutely they do,” Grace agreed.
I just sat there shaking my head. I was so engrossed in watching the broadcast that I didn’t notice Eric and Godric had come into the living room. Obviously they had heard everything Gran and I had talked about, but at least they had given us the illusion of privacy. I knew Gran wouldn’t do it intentionally, but I understood that as a baby vampire her impulses could override her common sense. If she drained me in a fit of hanger, she’d never forgive herself.
The camera on scene in Galveston swept across the beach and then suddenly came to a stop. I looked at Gran and saw that she had paused the television, something we never could have done at home with our old TV that still had a knob to turn. It was a miracle that old hunk of junk still worked, to tell the God’s honest.
“I’ll skin him,” Gran hissed.
“Skin who?” I asked, looking from the TV to Gran. Whatever she saw, I didn’t.
“There.” She got up like a shot fired out of a cannon and pointed at a shadowy figure on the screen. “Just what in tarnation is my grandson doing in Galveston?”
My plan had been to wait a few days before telling Gran about Jason’s radical new way of thinking, but that was all out the window. Of course the big dummy stuck around to see the aftermath of his work, assuming he was involved in what had happened. Being that he had been filmed with Steve Newlin just days before, my guess was that Jason had a hand in the mass murder of more than a thousand people.
If Gran didn’t skin him, there were plenty of other vampires who would be happy to do it for her.
“Sookie?” Gran prompted.
I slapped on that emergency smile that had gotten me out of a lot of jams with average Joes, but Gran knew me better than that.
“Start talkin’,” she demanded.
So I told her. I told her about how I had tried to go through Jason to find her when she went missing and about how his house was way too orderly and whatnot for someone to have just gone fishing for a few days. I told her about seeing him with Steve Newlin on the news and his enrollment in the Leadership Academy. By the time I was done, Gran had crushed the remote control in her hand.
For my safety, I supposed, Eric stood in front of me. Gran may have been pissed, but she was no match for a thousand-year-old vampire who may have been blood bonded. I still wasn’t too clear on all that, but I didn’t feel like I was on a leash. As long as it stayed that way, I’d be fine with it.
“Adele, calm yourself,” Godric said gently.
“I’m goin’ to Dallas,” Gran replied just as evenly. “I don’t care what you say, I’m goin’. That boy needs a good cuff upside the head and I’m not lettin’ any grandson of mine become a murderin’, hateful bigot.”
I watched as Godric tried to calm her down and get her to see reason, but if there was one trait that ran strong in our blood, it was stubbornness. Godric could talk until the end of time and Gran wouldn’t change her mind. He was wasting his breath– so to speak.
“That’s all very nice, Godric, but I’m going,” she told him.
Gran started to march toward the door but she didn’t get far.
“Adele, as your Maker I command you to stay in this house until I tell you to go,” Godric said.
Gran stopped in her tracks. She turned around and I couldn’t recall ever seeing so much rage in her face in my whole life. Gran launched herself at Godric, making me scream as Eric pulled me out of the way. It was almost like one of those cartoons were two characters are fighting and they just become a giant dustball because they’re moving so fast it’s impossible to differentiate one move from the next.
Eric took me out of the house but I could hear all the bangs, crashes and things breaking inside. I worried about Gran, pacing along the porch while the fight wore on inside.
“She’ll be fine. Godric won’t hurt her,” Eric promised me.
“Is that normal? Gran’s not usually the violent type.”
“In the beginning it is,” Eric confirmed. “We had our fight as well. In time her impulses won’t be so sharp.”
I hoped he was right. He was living proof that he was, right?
“I’m going to kill my brother if he had anything to do with that ship sinking,” I muttered.
“It seems the line forms to the left, Lover,” he replied. Eric reached into his jacket pocket and the little smirk on his face disappeared when he saw what was on his screen. “Stay out here.”
Eric went into the house without telling me what he had been sent. The banging and crashing came to a sudden stop. Moments later the front door opened. Both Eric and Godric looked grim, although Godric looked far more disheveled than Eric.
“Isabel was killed. Pack your bags. We’re going to Dallas,” Godric announced.
To be continued…