Tonight we meet:
Gyllene said it needs this:
Chapter 10 – Hurt
As planned, Eric woke secured in the private plane with two of his trusted employees from the island. Per his instructions, two additional employees were on his private island making final preparations for his and Sookie’s arrival. The team of four stayed in the Bahamas year round ensuring his property was protected and ready for Eric or a guest at any time. Three of the employees were Weres who also served as guards, the fourth was a witch. At Eric’s request, everyone would leave the island when he landed and return with Sookie before sunrise. That gave him most of the night to work through some of the anger, pain and frustration that had been building since Godric’s death.
Knowing the suitcases Pam packed would be delivered with Sookie later; he simply took off from right outside the air hangar. It wasn’t huge, but it was secluded, warded by a witch, included a few miles of roads and most importantly, contained a special gift from Godric. The vault below the house held two boxes, one was for Godric if Eric met his final death and the other was for Eric from Godric if Godric went first. While he had the island to himself, he planned to open his gift.
Eric took a quick flight over the island, but then chastised himself for his stalling tactic. As he continued to reprimand himself, he went directly to the vault in his underground chamber. There he first placed Godric’s shirt in a bag to protect as much scent as possible then reached for the container holding the final gift from his father.
The box was old, hand carved by Godric almost 600 years ago. To preserve the carving, it was held in a plain locked container inside the vault. He had the key, as Godric had one for the container Eric had prepared. In all these years, he’d never seen the box his father had made for him. Then he realized that Godric would never see the box Eric lovingly made. That caused the first of many tears that Eric would shed that night. He unlocked the outer container to discover that Godric had carved a Viking longship in the top of the box. Immediately, he was reminded of the many nights he told Godric stories of his times at sea. His father knew how much he continued to love the sea, even after all these years, so Godric’s selection for the carving was a perfect example of how well he knew his son. For several moments he traced his fingers over the carving; feeling every ridge and valley. He noted how every cut was perfectly detailed and smooth. From making his own carvings, he knew how much time it took Godric to reach that level of perfection. After his very careful inspection of the box, he was frozen on the next step: opening it.
With a huge breath he didn’t need, he pulled up the lid and laughed. The first item was a figurine of a Viking, complete with a horned helmet and a tag around the neck. It read:
I know how much you hated that Vikings are associated with these horrible horned helmets and you’ve always blamed the images of Thor with his wings that were interpreted as horns. When I found someone who could custom make these figurines, I could not resist. I placed this at the top of your box because I want you to remember how much we used to laugh together Eric.
He flipped the note over and laughed yet again, his father had attached an image of Hagar the Horrible to the back of the tag. When the comic first came out, Eric was enraged at the images and tried to have it banned from his local paper.
He moved the figurine to the side and removed the next item. It was wrapped in a protective paper and when he finally saw it, he almost dropped it. It was his mother’s antler comb; he had carved it for her himself. There was a paper tucked under it with Godric’s cursive writing:
I am sure you are shocked. After you were turned, we were able to grab some things from your home and I know they gave you great joy. I saved this one for you for just this moment. I hope it gives you that same joy, as I know you are grieving as you go through this box.
With the comb held reverently in his hand, Eric recalled the day he decided to make it. His family had just celebrated the return of the longships from the raids and his mother was especially excited that both Eric and his father, Ulfrik had returned unharmed. When they arrived home from the celebration, his mother announced she was expecting a baby. Eric was the first born, and while his mother had given birth to two other children after Eric, neither had survived; they were all excited for another chance. Wanting to show his mother how much he cared for and supported her; he carved the comb and gave it to her two days later. His mother, Astrid, was a strong woman so he was shocked when she cried at the gift. At first, Eric was crushed thinking she didn’t like it, but his mother called them happy tears.
A concept he still didn’t understand.
In his home in Shreveport, he kept several of his favorite things; he decided when he eventually went back, the comb would go with him.
Next, he pulled a small velvet flocked box out and opened it. A pendant representing Freyr and Freya was enclosed, and again, Godric had included a note:
Someday I hope you find the right person to wear this pendant. It is not an original, as I am sure you have guessed. The original, called Sacred Wedding, was found in Helgo, Uppland, Sweden. You kept the wedding ring bequeathed to you by your Grandmother many years ago. You told me you kept that ring in the hopes that one day you would fulfill your promise to marry as your human mother and father wanted. I know you kept it because you long to find your other half. My plan was to give this pendant to your bride when you marry. Now, you will need to offer this gift from the father-in-law she will never meet.
Eric struggled with this item and the note. Godric was right as he always was. Eric wanted to marry since his human parents desired to see him marry for many years, but he was too busy having fun. Eric also wanted to marry because he did want to find that special person. At the moment, he was hopeful he’d found her, but now was not the time. She needed time; he would simply wait and be there for her when she was ready. While he had been crying when he first read the note, one thought stopped the tears: Godric had met Sookie. Godric told Eric to pursue Sookie; Godric believed that Sookie was perfect for him. In that moment, Eric was certain Godric knew he’d met his daughter-in-law and he was comforted by that fact somehow.
Though two more items remained, Eric put them to the side, anxious to get to the letter at the bottom of the box. Part of him wanted to wait for Sookie to read the letter with him; but another part realized that could actually be dangerous. His control over his emotions was fragile and if anything in the letter made him angry, he feared he could scare or hurt Sookie. Knowing he needed to read this alone, he broke the wax seal and carefully unfolded the thick paper. It was dated July 2000, so it wasn’t that old. It was something they’d both agreed to when making the boxes: the contents and notes would be updated as time went by.
After a moment of mentally trying to prepare, he started:
My dear son:
First I want you to know something: right now, I am happy. I am happy that you are still alive to read this letter. If I had to read your letter, I would be devastated because it would mean you were gone. I am unsure how I have left you and I hope we had a chance to say goodbye. If we did, then this letter may be a repeat of that conversation but indulge me, my son, and read it.
Creating you was the best thing I ever did. I know I have told you this; but it is worth repeating. I watched you in battle several times. When you fell, I could not let you die. I am forever grateful that you said yes to my request to turn you. We had hundreds of years together: years of hunting, friendship, high-jinx, prospering, and women. I know we talked about adding intimacy to our relationship many times and we never did. Please know that I do not regret our decision. I loved you as a son, never as a lover and I believe that was best for us.
My fondest memory was the night you discovered you could fly. You were so excited to be up with your Odin’s ravens, the eagles, and other birds; you had the golden raven claw necklace made for me as a gift for turning you. Eric, as I told you then, I did not give you the gift; you were the gift to me. That night was when I knew my decision was right. You, my son, were born to be a vampire.
Now, onto my instructions for your life; you knew this part was coming. There is only one thing I have ever wanted for you and it is because I truly believe you want it as well: Eric you need a mate, a wife. It is the only regret remaining from your human life. Out loud you tell me that it is because your human parents wished you to marry. I know you my son; finding the right woman is something you have always wanted for yourself. It is why I supported our separation about 200 years ago; I hoped you would have found her during that time. Our time living so far apart was hard for me but it gave you Pam and I believe she is a wonderful child for you. While she is truly a great vampire, she is not your mate. So keep looking Eric. I know she is out there.
As for me, we have both always known that while I enjoy the company of women, my true love was my human wife, Belvin, and for me, there will never be another love. You stopped that loneliness for many years and I was able to be happy again. I wish we made it a priority to see each other more than a few times a year in these recent decades. Maybe by the time you read this that will have been the case. If not, do not worry, I am content with my life in Dallas and happy knowing that you have carved a wonderful life out for yourself and Pamela.
Finally, I ask you to live for both of us Eric. Find your mate and love her for eternity.
My only child, I love you.
The sadness Eric felt as he read the letter quickly turned to hurt and then rage. He ran from the vault, through the house and to the trees. A screech of anger came from his mouth as he flew high in the sky, simply to go – leave the place that just caused his pain. He’d never flown as high as he did but it didn’t matter. Distance would never make this pain go away; he doubted time would either. His trip back was more of a free-fall and he only took control of the flight once he got close to the trees and even then, he flew in and out of the dense growth not caring that he was cutting himself and his clothing in the bark of the palms. Inflicting the physical pain continued for a while but it didn’t help. He was starting to believe that nothing would help and he desperately wanted this hurt in his heart to stop. At the moment, he was at a loss for how to relieve his anguish. In his frustration, he ripped three palm trees out from the roots and threw them into the ocean as if they’d caused his anguish. When he turned back from the beach he saw the cottage Pam had built on the property. The anger grew; it was irrational and part of him knew this, but he couldn’t help it. In his emotional state, Eric believed he should have never left Godric’s side and the cause of that was Pam. Perhaps if they had never parted those centuries ago; Godric wouldn’t have been alone and easily captured. Pam’s house suddenly became the symbol of that mistake so he flew to it and started ripping it apart, screaming in anger the entire time. The sun was coming and he found that he didn’t even care; in that moment, he didn’t want to go on. In that moment, he suddenly thought of the only way to stop the pain and he made a decision.
Eric’s employees greeted Sookie and Thalia as they deplaned in The Bahamas. With a huge smile, Sookie breathed in the air and exclaimed, “It smells wonderful here!”
“Miss Stackhouse,” One of the men chuckled and said, “Wait ‘til we get you away from the plane fumes.”
“Please call me Sookie, and you are?”
“I’m Billy; these are my brothers, Cory and Doug Mickle. We are all guards and caretakers of Mr. Northman’s island. My wife, Diana, also cares for the property and protects it with her wards.”
Sookie shook each person’s hand and smiled. “Well I’m thrilled to meet all of you. What happens now?”
“Now we take a seaplane to the island.” Cory gestured to the plane in the water. “We’ll need to take off right away to make it by dawn.”
“Wait! If there’s a risk to Thalia, shouldn’t we stay here?”
Thalia calmed her immediately. “The plane is equipped with a coffin. I will be fine if we are delayed.”
“Still, maybe it would be safer . . .”
Thalia suddenly realized Sookie wasn’t concerned about dawn, or at least she wasn’t only concerned about dawn. “You don’t want to get on that plane.”
With a look of fear Sookie replied, “Is it that obvious?”
“It is now.” She reached for her hand. “You did well on the flight here.”
“Big difference though! This plane is like a windup toy car compared to a Hummer.” She glanced at it again. “Actually, do we need to wind it up?”
Thalia sighed. “Sookie, this is the fastest way to the island. These guys have been flying planes back and forth for years. It’s Eric’s personal plane and you keep it running well, right?”
Doug answered. “I see to the maintenance personally.” He moved a little closer. “Miss, we make this trip at least three times a week. It’s safe.”
Knowing she needed to get on the plane, Sookie took a second to herself then blew out a big breath before she answered. By the time they’d walked to the dock, she’d calmed down and smiled weakly while responding to everyone. “OK, I trust you.”
Once Sookie was strapped in and looking out the window, they took off towards Eric’s. With it being night, she couldn’t see much unless there were lights on houses or other buildings below them, but that didn’t stop her from staring out the window the entire time. Thalia tapped her on the shoulder after a while and told Sookie they were close and Sookie prepared for the landing. Much to Sookie’s relief, they landed and pulled up to the dock and stopped. Her relief only lasted a moment since when the engines cut off; they heard terrible bellows of pain and rage. Thalia looked at Sookie in concern and ordered Billy to take their bags to the guesthouse. “Sookie, it sounds as if Eric is working through some of his anger right now. You will stay with me tonight.”
After glancing at her watch, Sookie started to panic. “But Thalia isn’t it close to dawn? Shouldn’t I ensure he gets to a light tight location?”
“Even in his condition, he will know that sunrise is coming. Do not worry.” Thalia wanted to distract her for a bit. “Come, help with the bags.”
Everyone grabbed some bags and they made it to the guesthouse quickly; Sookie checking the time and the horizon continually. They could still hear Eric and it didn’t seem like he was slowing down so she made a decision. “I have to check on him.”
Thalia shook her head. “I’m here to protect you and I can’t let you go.”
“You’re not here to protect me from Eric though.”
“Sookie, it’s not safe.”
“Not for you either. I’m going. Is someone going to direct me to the fastest path over there?”
Cory moved forward. “I’ll drive you. We have vehicles on the island, it’s the fastest way. If you really think he’s in danger, we only have about twenty minutes until sunrise.”
She got in a topless Jeep and Cory started driving quickly while trying to talk her out of her mission. “He can still find shelter in time Sookie.”
“I can’t help feeling like I need to be there. I know he’s not himself but I also know he won’t hurt me. If he meets the sun and I didn’t try to help him, I’ll never forgive myself.”
Eric’s employee immediately respected the woman riding in his Jeep. He, his wife, and brothers deeply cared for and respected Eric because of their years of history. This woman was new to Eric’s life and she was ready to risk injury or even death to help him. “I understand.” Cory navigated the dark road quickly and after a few minutes finally started slowing down as the road narrowed. “Sookie, I believe you are correct and he won’t hurt you. At least I hope I’m correct based on what I’ve heard from Pam about you and Eric. Unfortunately I can’t be sure that I’m safe.”
“I understand Cory. I’ll go on my own.” She listened for a moment. “We must be close.”
“We are close to the back of Pam’s house. It sounds like he’s ripping it apart.” He pulled off the road and said. “Can you see the deck there?” She nodded. “I’ll stay here with the car running. Come back if you need to.”
“Thank you Cory.”
Sookie ran towards the deck using the headlights from the Jeep to see. The crunching and banging had stopped and the momentary silence sent a shiver up her spine. The noises had been nonstop since they’d gotten off the plane and she was a little hopeful he was seeking shelter, but she was more worried he wasn’t. Then she heard a new noise and her heart broke: he was sobbing. As she rounded the house, she saw a lone figure sitting on the beach and she somehow knew he’d reconciled himself to meet the sun. She took off towards him yelling his name. “ERIC!” Nothing, no reaction at all. As she got closer her voice became more desperate. “ERIC!” It came out as a screech. “You can’t leave! You promised me you wouldn’t leave.”
That finally got him to turn her way and she saw a face full of anguish. “Go Sookie. I don’t want you close when I burn.”
“You aren’t going to burn. You promised me. You promised Godric.”
“I promised him what Sookie? That I would protect you?” He stood to move toward her but stopped about twenty feet away. “I’ve done that. Thalia will take over for me; you will be fine.”
“But I’ll be without you. That’s not fine Eric.”
To Eric, Sookie simply didn’t understand the pain. A 1000 years ago he had watched his human father die in battle; to lose a second father was too much to bear. He didn’t want her to get hurt or see his final death so he begged her, “Leave Sookie. Please.”
“NO. If you’re going to do this, then you’ll have to take me with you.” She was about ten feet away and approaching him like you would a scared animal.
“Why? Why are you being so stubborn?”
“Because I keep my promises and Godric asked me to take care of you. I promised I wouldn’t leave you. I can’t turn my back Eric.”
“I’ll run further from you so you won’t be harmed.”
“Don’t you want to see where we go Eric? I was excited and I thought you were too? Do I mean so little to you?”
“Of course not, you mean everything to me. This isn’t about hurting you Sookie, I promise.”
By this point, she’d made it next to him; at least he hadn’t run like he threatened. “I know that. It’s about a relationship you had with Godric that I will never fully understand because I can’t. It was beautiful, it was full of love, and it was yours. I want you to tell me about it. Come in before the sun rises Eric and give us a chance.”
“I can’t Sookie. I don’t want to go on.” The sobs returned and she touched his face.
“Not even for me Eric? Can you give me a day Eric? If you still feel this way tomorrow morning, I won’t interfere, I promise.”
She even boldly grabbed him and tugged. He looked at her tiny hand around his wrist and asked. “Why are you doing this?”
“Because you’re my friend and that’s what a friend would do. Let me rescue you this time.” He looked up to her face and saw that it was wet from her own tears as she begged. “Please Eric. Give me your hand and come with me.”
A/N: See ya next week!
(hmm, though it isn’t, really . . . right?)