Sookie and Eric stood on the front porch of Bill’s house. He was slowly making repairs, but the exterior of the house seemed to be lower on his list of priorities. From the outside it would be easy to assume that anyone inside might just be squatting on a depressed property. Sookie knocked on the door, and knew Jessica and Hoyt were inside.
“They’re fucking,” Eric told her and Sookie slapped his arm again.
“Well stop listening, you dirty old man!” she could barely contain the smile on her face. “We should go. Bill’s not even here.”
“The human is finished,” Eric said with a smirk.
“Eric, stop that!” Sookie admonished and started to pull him away from the house. “Jessica doesn’t need an audience.”
Eric reached out and knocked a little harder on the front door.
“Eric!” she whisper shouted at him.
“Jessica, it’s Eric Northman,” he said in a normal tone of voice, knowing she would hear him just fine from wherever she was in the house.
Jessica cursed and then there was some scrambling around going on inside the house. Eric couldn’t help but laugh on the inside over her modesty. Obviously she was young or she would answer the door completely naked without thinking twice. She had nothing to offer Eric that he hadn’t seen before thousands of times over.
“I can’t believe you,” Sookie shook her head.
“Just a minute, Sheriff,” Jessica called from inside the house, and came to the door a moment later in a flannel shirt that was obviously not hers. “Eric what brings you—Sookie!” Jessica smiled when Sookie stepped from behind Eric.
“Hey, Jess,” Sookie said awkwardly. “We’re sorry to intrude.”
If Jessica could have blushed no doubt she would have. Instead her eyes shifted uncomfortably before she said, “Come in, come in. Bill’s not here right now but…”
“Where is Bill?” Eric asked as he and Sookie entered the house.
“New Orleans, last I heard,” Jessica said and closed the door behind her guests. “I haven’t heard from him in a few days, so I assume he’s still there.”
“Did he tell you why he was going to New Orleans?” Sookie asked.
“He said the queen wanted to see him,” she offered easily. “I’m surprised he’s not back yet. Usually when he goes to see the queen he’s back by the next night.”
“How often does he go down to New Orleans?” Sookie asked the baby vampire.
She knew she could pluck the information from Jessica’s mind, but that wouldn’t be a wise decision to make since she would have to reveal herself in the process. The fewer people who knew about this ability, the better.
“Once a week, usually,” Jessica said casually. “He was going every Tuesday for a while.”
Tuesday had been Sookie’s night to close at Merlotte’s, and more often than not she was exhausted by the time she got home. If she saw Bill at all, it was only for a little while. That was plenty of time for him to sneak off after she fell asleep to go down to New Orleans, and it was another reminder of just how little she really knew about Bill. There were so many secrets he kept—too many- and she was glad she had gone with her gut when it told her not to accept his proposal.
“So what brings y’all out here?” Jessica asked, standing awkwardly in the entryway of the house.
Eric could sense the human male’s presence and scent, but he wasn’t in the living room. He was somewhere in the house, but that wasn’t important.
“We just needed to ask Bill a couple of questions, but since he’s not here we can get out of your hair and let you get back to your evening,” Sookie said.
“Is this about the witch?” she asked, which got their attention. “I heard there’s a witch in town that’s bringing back the dead.”
“Where did you hear this?” Eric asked casually.
“Bill told me before he and Sookie broke up,” Jessica said, but then added, “I also overhead Lafayette talkin’ with that boyfriend of his outside the bar one night.”
“What did they say, and why didn’t you come to me with this information?” Eric asked, his fangs extending in a sinister, menacing sort of way.
“Eric,” Sookie said softly, but it was no good.
“Bill told me not to. He said he would take care of it,” Jessica sputtered, obviously afraid of Eric and she had every reason to be. “All I heard was that the witch was bringing back bigger and bigger things. The last time her coven got together she brought back a cow. How in the hell did she even get her hands on one of those?”
“We’re right over the border from Texas,” Sookie pointed out.
“Gross,” Jessica screwed up her face.
“The witch successfully revived a cow?” Eric asked, and Jessica nodded. “When was this?”
“Two days after Sookie and Bill split up,” Jessica blurted out.
“And you’re absolutely certain that Bill is in New Orleans now?” Eric stared intensely at Jessica.
“The last I heard, that’s where he was. We aren’t like you and Pam. We don’t talk all the time and constantly check-in with each other,” Jessica explained.
“Is there anything else I should know, Jessica? Anything you think Bill might be attempting to hide from me?” he stepped closer to her and she backed up.
“Eric, stop,” Sookie whisper shouted from behind him, and he could feel her agitation with him. “Jessica was just doin’ what her Maker told her to do; she was followin’ orders.”
That got Eric to back off a little. Truly, it wasn’t Jessica’s fault and Sookie was right about that. Bill was a lousy Maker who was setting his child up for a long, difficult life if he didn’t start telling her the full truth about what it meant to be a vampire. Hell, Eric wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Jessica didn’t know how to feed properly, since Bill seemed so intent on keeping her on a synthetics only diet. In the short-term that would work but no vampire was going to want to maintain that diet forever, Bill included.
“If you hear anything else in regards to that witch, you are to contact me immediately, am I understood?” Eric asked.
“But Bill said—”
“Did he command you?” Eric cut her off and she shook her head.
“No, at least, I don’t think so. What does that have to do with anything?” she looked from Eric to Sookie and back again.
“A Maker has the ability to command their progeny. If I chose, I could command Pam to wear nothing but stripes and polk-a-dots at the same time every day for the next decade and she would have no choice but to do it,” Eric said, and Jessica had to fight a smile. Sookie didn’t bother.
“You should do that just for the entertainment value,” Sookie offered from behind him, but then buttoned her lip when Eric gave her a stern look over his shoulder. Apparently it wasn’t playtime.
“When a Maker issues a command the child is compelled to comply with whatever that command is, and will continue to follow the Maker’s orders until such time as the command is lifted. If Bill had commanded you not to tell me anything about the witch, then you would have been physically unable to get the words out of your mouth when I asked you about her,” Eric explained.
“He can really do that?” Jessica’s eyes went wide. “He never said… I didn’t know.”
That wasn’t a surprise to anyone in the room but Jessica.
“Come to Fangtasia the night after tomorrow and speak with Pam. I’m sure she can fill in all sorts of gaps your Maker has neglected to fill for you,” Eric said, and then turned to leave, reaching for Sookie in the process.
“Eric, give me a second, okay?” Sookie asked when they got to the door.
He stared Jessica down as a warning, but then went outside to give the two women a minute alone together.
“How’s Bill really been?” Sookie asked with concern on her face.
“He misses you,” Jessica said sadly. “I know he’s kinda mopey to begin with, but it’s been worse since you two split up. He really loves you, Sookie.”
Sookie took a deep breath and considered her words carefully before she said, “Sometimes that’s just not enough. I hope you never have to learn that the hard way.”
“Me either,” Jessica downcast her eyes.
“How’s things with Hoyt?” Sookie asked.
“Alright. He’s just… well, he’s the sweetest boy I’ve ever met and he… he loves me. He’s too good for me and it scares me to death that someday he’s gonna figure out he deserves something better than me,” she confessed with sad eyes.
“I don’t think that’s true. I’ve seen you two together and—”
“And he’s human like you,” Jessica said as her eyes lined with red. “He says it doesn’t matter, but I know someday he’s gonna wanna be a daddy, and I can’t give him babies any more than Eric can give ’em to you. I can’t go for a walk with him on a beach on a warm, sunny day. Even if the AVL somehow manages to get it passed that vampires can adopt human children, I won’t ever be able to walk them to school, or go on their class field trips. Face it, Sookie, my relationship with Hoyt has an expiration date and every day that passes, I love him more but I know it’s one day less I get to have him in the future.”
Sookie reached out and gave Jessica a hug. No doubt this was her first serious relationship and Sookie was all too aware of the feelings Jessica was experiencing, but she was used to feeling it from Hoyt’s side.
“You should talk to Hoyt about this, Jess,” Sookie urged. “Bill and I never talked about this. He always tried to put us into this fantasy life where he was a human again, and I let myself get swept up in that notion. I think if y’all make some good decisions about your future together there’s no reason why this can’t work, unless you don’t want it to.”
Jessica wiped her bloody tears from her cheeks and said, “You’re right. I just… I love him so much, Sookie.”
“I know,” Sookie said sympathetically. “Go on, go talk to him. It’ll be okay.”
“I hope you’re right,” Jessica said and opened the door for Sookie. “Should I tell Bill you were here?”
“Don’t lie to him. He’ll more than likely be able to smell that we were here, so it’s not worth gettin’ yourself into trouble over when he can command you tell him the truth,” Sookie pointed out.
“Good thinkin’,” Jessica smiled faintly. “You take care of yourself, Sookie.”
“You too, Jess,” Sookie smiled back, and then left the house to return to Eric.