When they got upstairs Eric found that Pam and Chow had managed to get padded silver restraints onto Lorena. Until she was no longer an immediate threat to anyone they had no choice but to keep her contained. Sookie’s eyes went wide, and Eric could feel her discomfort at seeing the vampire writhing about on the floor. Someone had wisely gagged Lorena so the sounds she made were nothing more than pathetic moans and whimpers while she tried to free herself from the restraints.
“Let me play, Master,” Pam said with an evil glint in her eyes.
“You’ll get your chance,” Eric said with a hint of a smirk. “Chow, you will guard Lorena since you are closer to her age. Pam…”
The smile on Pam’s face was borderline psychotic, but her thirst for blood and loyalty to her maker prevented her from being anything but giddy about the possibility to getting to seek revenge for what had almost happened. Never mind the fact that Pam could have been infected herself. With vampires being as possessive as they are, it would have been a bloodbath between the three of them for Yvetta’s affections, and Eric would have easily slaughtered the two younger vampires to claim that fool human for himself.
“Yes, Master?” Pam asked with hopeful eyes.
“Clean up the mess,” he said, and felt Sookie’s emotional flinch. Pam’s fangs dropped into place and Eric reminded, “Don’t drink her blood unless you want to end up like this one.”
Pam didn’t bother with a verbal response, but her expression said it all. Lorena’s eyes fixed on Sookie and she seemed to come out of her madness just long enough to try and launch herself in Sookie’s direction. A swift kick from Pam prevented Lorena from getting very far.
“Sookie,” Eric said from the doorway, and she quickly turned to follow him out of the office.
Once again Eric led her out the back exit of the bar, but rather than scooping her up as he had the night before he led her back to the BMW to drive her home. There were things to discuss, and it would be much easier to talk in the car than it would be in the air. Eric could feel Pam’s fury over what had happened and while he had learned long ago not to let another’s emotions in his blood impact his mood it could sometimes be difficult to keep that level of control. To that end, he decided it was best to tamp down the bond he shared with Pam.
She was bordering on the edge of bloodlust, and the last thing Eric needed was to feel something that powerful when he was around Sookie. He had already taken quite the chance by kissing her earlier in the evening. That had certainly been an experience worth remembering, and definitely something he would like to repeat in the future, but not in the throws of bloodlust. He didn’t regret kissing her the way he did, but he wished it had been under different circumstances.
The most interesting thing about it was that she had kissed back. She hadn’t shoved him away, tried to slap him or even yelled at him for kissing her. She had responded, and if anything she had been sad when it was over. It was a favorable reaction, but not at all what Eric had been expecting. Thankfully he had centuries of experience in appearing to have his shit together while his mind was going in a thousand different directions. He needed every one of those skills when he had gone upstairs only to find fucking Lorena waiting in his office.
“I’m going to go to Marnie’s shop tomorrow to do some research,” Sookie announced after they had been in the car for about ten minutes.
“No,” Eric said, but Sookie’s head whipped around and she gave him a challenging look.
“You’re not the boss of me, mister,” Sookie said rather petulantly. “Besides, we need information on what Marnie is plannin’, and the only way that’s gonna happen quickly is if I go and read her mind.”
Eric growled at the idea, but Sookie was right.
“I don’t like the idea of you going in alone. If she discovers what you’re doing it could be a very dangerous situation for you,” Eric explained to her.
“Unless she’s a telepath too she won’t even know I’m in her head,” Sookie said, even though there was no way for her to know for absolutely certain that was true.
“You’re certain of this? No other human has ever known when you were reading their mind?” Eric asked.
“Nope,” Sookie said, but then paused.
“What?” Eric asked, and waited for her to respond.
“If she’s a medium she might be able to sense it,” Sookie said, and that got her an eyebrow quirk from Eric that prompted her to explain, “When I met with Lafayette I tried to read his mind and he could feel me in there.”
“Sookie…” Eric trailed off.
“It’s our best chance, Eric. She doesn’t have to know I’m digging for anything. For all she knows I just can’t control my disability,” Sookie shrugged.
“Disability?” Eric repeated.
Was she serious?
“Yes, my disability!” Sookie huffed. “Do you have any idea what it’s like to constantly be hearing things you don’t want to hear? All day long all I hear is what’s really going on in people’s minds. Their mouths say one thing but their heads say another. It’s easier now since I can block thoughts, but when I was a child it was awful. I would answer questions that people were only thinking, and because of it people looked at me funny. They were afraid to be around me because they didn’t want me gettin’ in their heads, like I had a choice in the matter.”
Eric thought for a moment about what she was saying and then commented, “And that has caused you to have a difficult time trusting people.”
He could tell by the reaction in her blood that he must have hit the nail on the head.
“There are other reasons,” she said softly, staring down at her hands.
“Bill?” Eric asked, and Sookie lifted her eyes to look into his.
“I thought that I could trust him,” she confided, and Eric nodded. “He… he saved my life when he didn’t have to, and not just once. I really thought that he cared about me. It felt real. Now I don’t know what to believe. Even if it’s true that he loves me, I don’t know if I can look beyond the lies anymore. I don’t know if I can ever trust that he would be telling me the truth when I need to hear it the most. I can’t marry someone like that.”
Hearing those words from her would normally be grounds for gloating, but being able to feel the hurt, betrayal and sadness flowing through her made gloating a difficult thing to do. Sookie had exposed a weakness to him, and the predator in him wanted to exploit that and use it to his advantage, but it wasn’t the time for that. Attempting to prey on Sookie now wouldn’t yield him the kind of results he was interested in maintaining in the long run. She could use him as a distraction from her hurt, but when the hole was filled her need for him would be gone.
Eric was quite certain, although he wouldn’t admit it out loud, that once he got a real taste of all the things Sookie Stackhouse had to offer there would be no going back. Once wouldn’t be enough, and if she ever saw fit to leave him it would cause him some serious trouble.
“Even though I’ve been hurt by vampires I don’t want all of you to die. That isn’t right, and I can’t just sit around doin’ nothin’ when I know I could be doin’ somethin’,” Sookie reverted to their earlier topic. “I can’t exactly wait and bring you in with me. I’m sure she’ll figure out you’re a vampire and that will only piss her off, especially if she’s already got a bone to pick with you.”
“Sookie, I could drain her dry before you blink next,” Eric pointed out, but that just made her angry.
“Why does it have to be like that, Eric? You don’t have to kill her,” Sookie argued.
“I’m a vampire, Sookie. She deals in blood magic. She is a necromancer. She is a threat to my kind, and a threat that cannot be ignored,” Eric hissed and looked over at Sookie. “She doesn’t just wish to exterminate me, but all vampires. Who knows what she’s already done to set that plan in motion? This is not something I can just look the other way on.”
“I’m not saying she isn’t dangerous; I’m saying there has to be another way to deal with her other than killing her,” Sookie sighed in frustration. “So what was Lorena doing in your bar anyway? Did you call her again?”
Eric didn’t appreciate Sookie’s tone, but given the fact that he had called Lorena in Dallas he couldn’t quite blame her for being suspicious.
“She came of her own volition this time,” Eric started. “She had a proposition for me.”
“What kind of proposition?” Sookie turned I her seat a little.
“It seems as though Sophie-Anne is working with Russell Edgington, the king of Mississippi, in the hopes of securing you. I wasn’t aware that Lorena is the king’s child, but it seems he has commanded her to call Bill to her side. Bill called me early this morning to remind me that you are still his, and that he is planning on traveling with you in the very near future,” Eric informed Sookie, who scoffed as her anger spiked.
“I’m not going anywhere!” she insisted, even though Eric already knew that. “That sneaky son of a… Did he say where he was planning on taking me?”
“No, he didn’t, but now that I’ve spoken with Lorena I can only assume he meant Mississippi. The call of a Maker is something a vampire cannot deny for long,” Eric explained.
“Yes, I know. You called Pam when she came by my house to deliver the payment for my assistance in Dallas,” Sookie told him.
“When it suits her Pam is quite expedient about answering my call,” Eric said with a smirk.
“If she didn’t answer right away?” Sookie asked, and he could feel the curiosity in her.
“Over time the body would compel her in my direction. My call to her would become stronger and stronger until she had no choice but to answer it. It surprises me that Bill is so eager to answer his Maker’s call when he has been so… lax in the past,” Eric said, and then steered the car toward the exit ramp that would let them off the highway in Bon Temps.
“But how is that possible?” Sookie asked as the car slowed, and then came to a stop at the stop sign at the end of the ramp.
As Eric made a right hand turn he said, “It depends on the persistence of the Maker. I don’t know the intricacies of their relationship, but I do know that if Godric had summoned me he would expect a timely response, or I would face punishment.”
“And Lorena isn’t the type to dole out punishments?”
“I don’t know what her methods are of correcting Bill’s behavior,” Eric glanced over at Sookie. “What I do know is that a Maker is responsible for their child. Pam is a reflection of me, just as I am a reflection of Godric. I chose to stay close to my Maker, something not all vampires choose to do. He taught me well, and I respected him greatly. While I was compelled to give him my loyalty as his child, I gave it freely because he had earned it many, many times over.”
“You loved him a great deal,” Sookie’s hand tentatively rested on Eric’s.
Had it been anyone else he would have hissed and pulled away. While Sookie would never fully understand the depths of the feelings Eric had for his Maker, she had also been there to see him in a moment of utter despair. She had been kind, compassionate and understanding with him at a time when she had every right to revel in his devastation. Instead she had looked beyond her own pain and chose to rise above it.
“Can I ask a question?” Sookie asked somewhat hesitantly.
“Of course you may ask, but I reserve the right not to answer it,” Eric told her as he navigated the streets.
“Did you feel it when he died?” she asked, and Eric internally flinched.
“No,” he whispered so quietly Sookie almost didn’t hear it. She remained silent and he added, “Godric had closed off our bond long before that. That was the reason we needed your assistance in locating him.”
Sookie said nothing, but he felt her sympathy.
Because the subject was still uncomfortable for him Eric changed the subject at least somewhat and said, “You should know that the queen has a penchant for turning bonded children. If she does manage to get her hands on you, you can guarantee she will force you into a blood bond and then turn you so that you will be at her side for the rest of your undead life. Most Makers release their children after a century or two, but when you’re a bonded child such a thing isn’t possible. Just being apart for a few hours would be physically painful, and if the Maker died the child would be compelled to meet the sun.”
Sookie’s jaw dropped, and her head spun. She sputtered for a moment before five crucial words left her lips, “Eric, what’s a blood bond?”