Sookie’s hands shook as she held the crumpled piece of paper up to her face. It was a copy of a letter and she’s read it so many times reading the words isn’t necessary; she knows it by heart but the paper offers comfort. With a deep breath, she began . . .
I’m sorry. It’s too late and things have already gone to hell but I wanted you to know that I regret so much: how things ended, not fighting for you, using the Cluviel Dor on Sam instead of you. I hate to say it – but the only reason I have is for all of it is that I was mad. Mad that you kept the contract from me. Mad at Appius for creating the contract in the first place. Mad at Felipe and Freyda insisting that the contract stay in place. Like I said, I was mad.
As you’ve said before, my reaction is to run and I guess I ran from the situation by ignoring it and not talking to you. I don’t know if you’ll ever get this note, but I had to try. Pam said she hadn’t yet worked out a way to communicate to you. I’m not even sure she will send it. I gave her permission to read it and decide if it would do more damage than good at this point.
With this last chance I want to say a few things that I never did. Here goes: Thank you Eric for loving me. I know what Pam told me about your extension of the contract to protect me wasn’t true. I know you didn’t extend your contract to protect an asset; I remember our bond and I know you loved me. Thank you for protecting me and saving my life many times. Thank you for making me feel beautiful and special. Thank you for being my friend. I think we both forgot the friend part at the end. You know contractually, we might be in the same situation but we could’ve respected each other and our relationship and parted on good terms. Stubborn idiots sometimes – both of us.
I wish you the very long life I know you always wanted and I hope you can make the most of the next 200 years living with Freyda. I will think of you often.
Sookie gave that letter to Pam about nine months ago – three months after Eric left. Now she was speaking to him, well his memory. Today was particularly hard since it was the one year anniversary of the last day she saw him. So much has changed in that year.
“So that’s the letter I wrote. I know I’ve read it to you before but I felt like I needed to read it today. One year ago today was the last time I saw you. Not that it was a good day for us – but well it was the last time.”
“I wish you could tell me where Pam is. I miss her but she missed you too much to stay here any longer. I don’t blame her. Hell, I want to leave too. But then, I can’t leave Jason with the bar. He does his fair share but he and Michelle can’t run it themselves – not with the kids. Even with that anchor of a bar keeping me here it’s still better that Sam is gone.” She paused a moment. “I think I’m getting ahead of myself. I haven’t spoken you in a while.” She sighed to herself. “I know I know I promised – but it was harder than I thought. How ‘bout l catch you up on the past few months?”
Sookie shifted to sit down and continued talking. “So you know I dated Sam for a while after you left. He was tolerant about my feelings at first.” She stopped to catch her breath. “But the more time went by and the more I sank deeper into depression over losing you the less patient he was. We fought all the time – and then he’d have the nerve to want sex!” With a giggle over that she continued. “And let me tell you – sex with Sam was ok – but it wasn’t forget the argument good if you know what I mean. Actually, YOU do know what I mean.” She laughed out loud at her comment and even blushed though there wasn’t anyone around to have heard it. “But I shouldn’t speak of sex right now. That’s probably some kind of no-no. Anyway . . . the bar part was going well. I invested my money from Claudine into Merlotte’s and made some changes. Business was really good. The best part of that? Well I made sure to keep the business part as just business partners. I had my half, he had his. When we broke up that really helped. It seemed we were going to be able to work as partners without the ‘romance’ and I was relieved. Things changed though as time went by. I couldn’t shake the depression – the lack of closure Eric. It was . . . “ She gasped for breath. “It was too hard and I felt, well and still do, feel guilty. You’re dead Eric. Finally dead and it was my fault.”
That proclamation started a crying jag that continued for several moments until she could catch her breath. “Pam helped me – you’d have been so proud – either that or pissed at her for helping me. Together we came up with the idea to have the service – the closure that she felt I needed and I think she needed as well (though she wouldn’t admit it). As we started planning the funeral word got out about it and Sam lost it. After that, I knew we couldn’t be friends anymore and doubted we could even be business partners. I believe he thought your final death would kill any feelings I had for you. Eric, if anything they grew. The realization that we would n . . . never be together hit me hard. He couldn’t see why I needed to erect a headstone and have a service in your honor. He was embarrassed that I was still pining for you and he wanted out – out of Bon Temps literally. It’s only been 3 months since he left but I feel better that he moved to Texas and isn’t hanging around just to glare at me anymore. You know that nasty Maxine still thinks I did the wrong thing by letting him go but it wasn’t fair to Sam and really it wasn’t fair to me or you.”
“I’m glad now though. Glad that I have this place to talk to you – even if I haven’t been here for a while. You being close – well your headstone being close keeps me connected to you. And I’m sure Gran doesn’t mind having you as a neighbor – well not you but your trinkets since I didn’t have any part of you to bury. I don’t miss that ugly afghan – it’s better buried in the ground here under your headstone. I mean – I had to put something in the ground since I was being charged the regular price including digging the hole. I’m too cheap to pay that fee for nothing. I still can’t believe Mike Spencer couldn’t cut me a break!” Lovingly, she caressed the gravestone to calm down from her little tirade on Mike Spencer. “It was worth every penny to have you near – even if it was just a nightly glance in the direction of the graveyard. I wish something could have helped Pam. Without her link to you in the bond she was lost. Eric, she was literally in pain. I’m so worried about her. Does that go away? The pain I mean. God, I hope so.”
Before continuing, she traced the writing on the stone. It had his name of course and underneath it the words, ‘Lover’, ‘Friend’, and ‘Maker’. Recalling the argument about what to put on the stone with Karin she sobbed and laughed out loud at the same time. “Karin thought it would be more appropriate to put ‘Master’ – but you know how I feel about that. Pam and I won. Don’t you go worrying – it was a friendly ah ummm . . . discussion. You know, next week Karin leaves. I’ll be fine though. Bubba’s been around too. I think I’ll invite him to just stay.”
She glanced over her shoulder towards Bill’s house. “And of course there’s Bill. He’s always sniffing around likely just waiting for me to be ready to move on so he can come in and sweep me off my feet. HA! Like that’s gonna happen. He’s kind and nice to have as a friend – but there’s just too much there you know? I bet that I’m even keeping him as a friend makes you mad – and you’d be within your rights. In general, I’m a pretty forgiving person. For some reason that never extended to you. Why you put up with me, I’ll never know. I mean really, now I’ll never know. I held you to a higher standard than everyone. I turned a blind eye to Bill’s deceit, Jason’s childishness, Sam’s possessiveness. You? I held you accountable for everything – even things that you had no control over. For some reason I was always at war with my feelings for you and it wasn’t until you left that I realized what I’d done. I guess you don’t really know what you’ve got til it’s gone – huh?”
“Oh – I was talking about Bill and got off track. His computer program is doing well and he’s expanded into creating virtual games based on Vampires and Weres. They’re pretty bloody from what he’s shown me. It’ll be another year before he’s ready to go to market. Strange how anxious he seems about it; it seems like he really needs the money. I wonder how those will go over. He always was the computer geek though. You know, he and Karin kinda hooked up a few times. I never asked anything more about it. I just don’t get it – but whatever. It’s not like you can come and tell her you don’t approve. I guess the big Bill news is he took over as Sheriff after Pam left. At least Russell was kind enough to let Pam out of the contract due to her grief. I don’t know or really care how he’s doing as Sheriff. I think given his lack of strength it’s a mistake, but we’ll see. He does operate his Sheriff business out of his home right here – so I have to say I don’t like all the extra vampires in the area but it’s his right to do that. Octavia came up at his request and warded my whole property against vampires unless I invite them in at the barrier; it’s been up for three weeks. That was nice of him, though I think his motivation was purely selfish. He knows he can’t defend me from all the vamps in the area and he didn’t want my scent or reputation putting me at risk since I don’t ‘belong’ to anyone. If I had a dollar for every time he told me and warned me about that – I’d be rich Eric!! ‘Sookeh, you should ba mahne!’ Man can’t even say it correctly. He keeps trying and I keep saying NO.” She giggled at the statement. “But enough about Bill – it’s bad enough he comes into the bar all the time.”
“So the bar – here’s where Jason comes in. He and I bought Sam out of his half of the business and we run it together. In fact, just this week the new sign for the bar is up – we’re officially called Stackhouses. Jason’s really proud. Oh – and I’m going to be an aunt again! Being an aunt has helped keep me in Bon Temps. Michelle’s children with her first husband – well Jason loves them and I do too. It’s nice to be around little ones. I bet you figured I’d have kids with someone . . . I thought I wanted that once. Turns out I wanted you more and I was just too stupid to see that. We could’ve adopted if it really became an issue.”
She sat quietly for several moments; the idea of never having children still hurt sometimes but losing Eric hurt more. Because of poor choices, now she didn’t have either. Feeling the despair coming in, she shook her head to stop the thoughts and kept talking.
“Speaking of being an aunt, Tara is expecting again – but only one this time. Her shop is doing great. We changed the uniforms at the bar and get them through her shop. She started a side catalog business for uniforms and she’s doing well. Since her business orders in bulk, she can get the items cheaper and then splits the savings with the customers. She outfits most of the restaurants, some medical facilities, and other businesses in the area that use uniforms. It was smart – and get this – it was JB’s idea. He was complaining about the cost of the uniform for the gym where he works and it took off from there. Well, I guess you don’t want to hear about my friends.”
Sookie was quiet as she sat on the grave that held only an old afghan, the silver bullet she’d sucked out of Eric’s chest and a wooden ship from his Fangtasia office – that was Pam’s contribution. Inside her were more words begging to come out. More apologies, more guilt, more, regrets more hurt, but she dared not say them out loud. What would be the point? Nobody cared about that pain now. She was a Stackhouse – she was expected to dust off her skirt and move on. Yet she couldn’t – well didn’t want to move on. Some would say they hoped she’d learn from this – that she was young enough to find love and live that full life. What choices did she have though? A human she could hear all the time? A Were? They were just as transparent now to her, especially when in physical contact. Another vampire? No; she didn’t think she could truly trust another vampire. Thinking about moving on from Eric was pointless and not just because she didn’t have options. Moving on from Eric was pointless because he had been the love of her short life, they had their time and it was over. Realizing she was wallowing in that hopeless feeling again she wiped her face, adjusted her legs since they were falling asleep and continued her talk. It was just now after dark and she hadn’t sensed any vampires around – she had time to finish catching Eric up.
“Who haven’t I covered – OH Thalia! She’s gone! She told Bill she was leaving the area and would not disclose her planned location. The strange thing is she stopped by that night – only to the edge of the barrier of course. I came out though. She was very, if you can believe this, friendly. Asked how I was doing since I hadn’t seen her since the funeral. Then she said, ‘See ya around Sookie’. Maybe she forgot she was leaving the area or something. Who knows? Indira is still around, she even pops into the bar once or twice a month. Eric, she really respected the funeral and closure thing. She dressed plainly in white – a tradition of the Hindu faith and read some of the prayers for you, then promised to hold a memorial at the one year anniversary of your death with me.”
“Another three months or so and it will be that year. I still can’t believe you attacked Felipe at the summit last year. We both know you were strong enough to kill him; hell, you did but there were repercussions. Since you were in Mississippi, Russell had no choice but to act; you were staked minutes after killing Felipe. Now, Russell and his husband Bart rule Mississippi, Nevada, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Arkansas. Thankfully, he’s extended protection to me. You know your widow sent someone last month to kill me? She was dense though – she sent Weres. I guess she didn’t know I could hear them and I guess she thought I would be unprotected during the day. Course I was but they were so loud in their thoughts about the mission that I heard them coming and shot them from my bedroom window. Well, alright, ONE got in but he was wounded and I was able to finally fight him off. No need to worry – this was before Octavia set up my barrier so it can’t happen again. At least Karin believed me when I told her what I heard. She came and retrieved the wounded one and apparently he was used as a witness. That reminds me, your widow’s trial was last week over that incident. With Pam away I guess I won’t hear the gossip – Bill won’t tell me about vampire politics even though I think I deserve to know what happened to her for going against Russell’s protection order. Since you were killed, I guess she thought she was safe to attack me but I don’t really know.”
Sookie was quiet again for a while. More thoughts than she cared to share ran through her head. It was her night off from the bar – she and Jason had worked out a pretty fair schedule. Honestly, it didn’t really matter to Sookie. She never did anything on nights she didn’t work. Lately, she hadn’t really even kept up with the house. Nobody every came over so what was the point?
“You know Eric; sometimes I think it was just suicide disguised as murdering Felipe. You knew you would be attacked. Was it Eric? I mean, I can certainly understand that. I struggle with getting out of bed many days myself. I don’t have anything or anyone to call mine. That’s funny considering all the grief I gave you over that word – guess it has new meaning now.”
More tears fell as she realized how true her statement was. What did she really have to live for? She’d never marry, never carry a child. A bar – her legacy was a bar. Was living for her brother and his kids really enough? Hell, even Pam moved away. The thoughts in her head scared her when she realized what she was actually thinking – considering! Was suicide something she could actually do?
“Maybe I should have talked to you sooner or maybe never. I can’t decide if this chat has been good for me. Talking to a stone?” She shook her head. “I need you, not the memory, not a stone. If I could only talk to you one more time. Say the things I wrote in the letter TO you and hear you respond. I know Pam sent it but what did you think of it? Can you even hear me now? What would you say to me after all this time? After all this shit happened? What would you say?”
Sookie froze. “Great. Now I’m hearing things.”
“You aren’t. Turn around.”
Instead of listening to the voice, she cast out her mind and found three voids, three familiar voids if she remembered correctly. Her voice was merely a whisper. “It can’t be.”
“It CAN be Sookie. Turn around.”
Her movements were painfully slow as she spun around but she already knew he was there. He’d moved to be right behind her and had her in his arms. “Eric.” It was all she got out before she lost herself crying. His arms felt real enough but Sookie thought she really was hallucinating. That didn’t stop the crying. Whether he was real or imaginary, he was holding her, shushing her, and wiping her tears with an endless supply of hankies. He either was a dream or he finally caught on that she was a crier and coming back from the dead would be a big catalyst for tears.
After a few minutes her breathing became erratic – like she was panicking. “Sookie?” He picked her up and headed to the barrier around her home.
“Wha . . . What’s going to ha . . . happen when I wake up?”
“I’ll still be with you.”
“Oh, OK.” That was the last she got out before she fainted.
Waking up is a bitch. Especially when it’s such a good dream. Sookie groaned at first and felt something soft under her. ‘When did I move from the cemetery?’ Her head felt a little wet but whatever, she thought maybe it had rained on her. This was one of those times when she didn’t want to open her eyes. In her dream, Eric had shown up at the cemetery. Maybe if she closed her eyes, she thought, she would go back to that dream. No such luck. Now there was a bug walking on her face. Without opening her eyes, she started waving a hand near her cheek but she hit something MUCH BIGGER than a bug. Then she heard chuckling and Pam’s voice. “Master, what is she doing?”
Eric laughed a little too while he answered. “I think she’s swatting a fly away.” Her eyes opened widely at the conversation and she saw Eric and Pam staring down at her. Fear was her first reaction and she started pushing herself backwards on the couch. “SOOKIE. Calm down.”
“No. No, no, no, no. I’m seeing things.”
“You aren’t Sookie. I’m here. Pam’s here. Thalia’s here.”
A new voice joined the group. “So you are. Care to explain?”
With a knowing smirk, Eric replied. “Ahh Billy Boy, I was wondering when you’d make an appearance.
Trying to appear protective of Sookie, Bill stomped into the house with his fangs extended. “You’re obviously scaring Sookeh. You need to leave. How did you get in the barrier anyway?”
“I’m not the one stomping around with my fangs down Bill. Pam and I share blood with Karin; she’s already been invited in. Thalia is waiting outside for an invitation.” With a glance back to Sookie he continued. “Now, if you’ll let me focus on Sookie, she fainted and is struggling to regain consciousness.”
Eric met Sookie’s eyes and he saw her squinting like she was trying to figure it all out. Suddenly, they brightened and he knew she was realizing the truth. “You . . . you’re really here.” Her hand moved up to touch his face. “You’re really here.”
“I am Sookie.” The look in his eyes took her back to a happier time. A time when they spoke of love, a time when they still joked and laughed with each other, a time when they enjoyed wild monkey sex. It was a time when she wanted to live; now it seemed like it could happen . . . if they had chance. The thought overwhelmed her and she started crying again.
“I knew she was going to leak more than usual over this.”
Keeping his focus on Sookie, he ordered Pam, “Nuärinte tid fördinsnark. Ta bort alla och ge oss lite privatliv. Jag kommer att ringa tillbaka.” (Now is not the time for your snark. Remove everyone and give us some privacy. I will call you back.)
“Let’s go Bill.”
“Not until I know how and why you are here. You’re in my area now. I demand an explanation.”
Yet another voice responded from the yard. “You might want to hold your tongue Compton; since you don’t know the whole story. I believe Pam asked you to leave.”
“Are you guys sure I’m not hallucinating? I could swear I hear Russell.”
“You do Lover. He’s part of the story.” As Bill reluctantly followed Pam out of the house, Eric helped her sit up; then asked. “Do you need anything? Water?”
“Water would be good.” Eric left her side and returned quickly with her drink that she slurped down loudly. Sookie noticed he didn’t speed down the hall and in fact, he looked stiff almost.
“A little. I’m still confused.”
“Can I explain everything in a few minutes? First I . . . Sookie will you . . .”
“Eric, what is it? It’s not like you to be unsure.”
“I don’t know if you’ll let me hold you and I want that right now.”
“I think I want that too.” He smiled and moved towards her but she stopped him with a “No.” A giggle erupted when she saw his confused face. “I meant No – I know I want you to hold me.”
“Are you done teasing me?” She shook her head no. “I was afraid of that. His voice sounded grumpy but he was smiling as he lifted her to his lap with her face pressed to his chest just under his chin. The contact was immediately soothing for both of them. Sookie chuckled when she heard and felt him inhale at her neck. It brought back nice memories. “You feel and smell as wonderful as I remember.”
“You as well. I’ve missed you.”
“You had a funeral for me.”
“I thought you were gone.”
“I’m sorry for that – hopefully you’ll understand when we talk more.” He pulled back so he could look at her face. “What did you actually bury there? Pam only told me about the ship she put in.” The heat from her blush was strong enough that he felt it through his shirt. “Why does that have you blushing?”
“Why? Did you bury my red bikini underwear in there? I know you kept them in your own underwear drawer.”
“What were you doing snooping in my underwear drawer? Were you on panty raids?”
He boomed out a laugh. “Hardly, I would occasionally sneak new ones in.”
“I knew you did that. Did you think I wouldn’t notice the brands were different?”
“It’s not like I was about to start shopping at Target or Wal-Mart.”
“So, back to my grave. Did you bury my flip flops in there?”
“No, your feet are so big they would’ve charged extra to dig the hole for the flip flops to fit.”
He laughed, but he was out of ideas and said as much. “I don’t know what you could’ve buried that would make me laugh.”
“I buried my Gran’s afghan, the one you had in the hidey hole – the one . . .”
“I know the one. Is the ground offended? Because you have to admit it was an ugly thing.”
Her tinkling laughter warmed him. “It was but for some reason when you were cursed, you liked it.”
“I liked it because you thought I looked cold and you gave it to me. I didn’t know anyone or anything at that point and you gave me something of yours that you thought I needed. You cared for me even when I didn’t deserve it.”
“You took care of me before that – even though I didn’t deserve it. Your care is the other thing that’s buried there. I kept the bullet from Dallas. You know when I sucked it out.”
“You kept it? Why?”
“I don’t think I can clearly explain, but it was important to me – some part of me knew you were important to me. You put yourself in front of that bullet for ME Eric. Back when I was still Bill’s; back when I treated you like dirt. Why did you do that?”
“I don’t think I can clearly explain it but it was important to me – some part of me knew you were important to me.”
She smiled at his use of her own words. “Is that still true?”
“Yes. And for you?”
“Sookie, you were thinking about killing yourself just before I spoke to you in the cemetery, weren’t you?”
She gasped. “How long were you there?”
“I rested near-by and arrived in time to hear you telling me about Thalia. Don’t distract me. You didn’t answer my question.”
“I was thinking about it – and scared that I was thinking about it at the same time.”
“You said you had nothing. Do you mean that?”
The truth hurt when it occurred to her at the headstone and it still scared her now. Her face was wet with tears when she whispered. “What did I have to live for Eric?”
“You said DID, does that mean you aren’t thinking about it?”
“I don’t know – my head is spinning. I really didn’t want to think about it earlier either but I felt like I could never be happy again.” The whole thing scared her – how close to that true nothingness she felt. What if Eric hadn’t come out of the woods?
“I don’t like that you felt you had nothing to live for. I want you to be happy. Truly happy. Can we try to turn that around, can we work on that together?”
“Are you back? What’s going on anyway?”
“I’ll call the others in to explain, but Sookie I want to discuss something first while it’s just you and me.”
“Everything you’re about to hear that I did, everything that happened, I did for you. I didn’t do it to HAVE you; I did it FOR you. I would, however, like to be part of your life if you’ll let me, but you’re under no obligation, real or perceived, to jump in my arms and pick up where we left off.”
“That’s good Eric because I don’t want to do that.”
Before he could assume she meant those words exactly, he checked. “You’re teasing me again, aren’t you?”
She smirked. “A little. Eric, I want to start over. Do you think maybe . . . maybe we could I dunno, do something CRAZY like go on a date? And not one where I’m suddenly meeting my Great-Grandfather or wearing the dress you bought me to an obligatory meeting at your boss’ bar.”
“I did kinda screw up on the dating front didn’t I?”
“Well, you made up for it with mind-blowing sex – but I want it all this time: dating, sex, romance, and friendship.”
“Then you shall have it all, Lover. We will start over.” He touched her face and guided it to look directly at him. “Will you allow me to woo you properly? I want to be able to give you gifts without you worrying that I’m turning you into a kept woman.”
“Hmmmm, my stubbornness did get in the way of us didn’t it?”
“Yes, but you made up for it with mind-blowing sex.” They chuckled together. “This time we shall both have it all.”
“I like that. Now tell me this story.”
Eric called to Pam through their bond and Russell, Pam, Bill and Thalia joined them in Sookie’s living room (after Sookie issued invitations to Russell and Thalia). Eric started. “Your letter gave me the motivation to act. Freyda and Felipe had no idea the breadth of alliances I had built, Russell being the key player. I just needed a kick in the ass to know I had something to act for.”
The older vampire chimed in. “Eric got word to me and I was happy to step up. Honestly, Sookie – Bart and I rule 5 states as a result. Win – win. And I know it took some time, but I think this is a win for you as well. He SHOULD have gotten me involved sooner but I believe you both know all about that.”
“How did you fake your final death? Pam’s reaction wasn’t faking.”
“Russell and his guards helped. We were close enough to the summit to be witnessed but far enough away to trade out my actual body with a dummy built to turn to goo when Russell struck the chest. There were about a dozen of his loyal subjects involved. I led Felipe to the outdoor garden and killed him, Russell’s vampires were waiting to step in, fight with me for a bit, bring in the exploding dummy and get me out of there in the fray. It worked, even with some of the elder vampires watching that had very enhanced vision. Russell had tested the distance with his eyesight ahead of time.”
“But that was so long ago. Pam was in pain Eric, in pain.”
Pam moved to sit next to Sookie and in a huge show of friendship, took her hand. “Sookie, my favorite breather, I can assure you it was all worth it. There’s more to tell.” She looked at Eric and he nodded. “Eric had himself hurt with silver to cause my reaction. I didn’t know he was doing anything so when I felt pain in my chest then the bond was gone I assumed he was dead. Karin felt it too, but she was alone in your woods without witnesses. I was at Fangtasia – there were dozens of witnesses.”
“So you had silver poisoning? That’s why you look stiff.”
“Yes, that was part of the delay. I’ve been convalescing at Russell’s. You needn’t be jealous of all my donors though – you know he only keeps men.” She smirked at him. “Now that I have Pam and Karin I will be fully healed quickly.”
“But the bond?”
“A witch was able to suppress it. It’s back now.”
“Silver poisoning was part of the delay – what else?”
Eric informed her. “We needed Freyda to move on you. With our spies in Oklahoma, we knew she wanted to act but she was trying to be patient so it wouldn’t appear that she was involved.”
Almost chuckling, Russell added. “I practically had to hand her the plan to have you executed so we could find her guilty of breaching the agreement. You see, the contract with Freyda and Eric kept protection over you from her actions even in the event of his death.”
“I didn’t know that.” A realization came to her. “You had this loophole in mind the whole time.”
“Yes, but like I said, I needed the kick in the ass to know I should do it.”
“Who kicked you in the ass?”
“Bubba, after he delivered the letter. He knew it was from you and he was relentless at pushing me to do something.”
“I knew I loved Bubba for a reason.” Her face screwed up in question though then she glared at Russell and spoke. “You risked my life though, having Freyda send Weres.”
The monarch explained. “I had a sharpshooter here – stayed just out of your telepathy range. You’re a good shot Sookie, but he got two of them – you got the other three.”
“That was easy, thought I was about to be in real trouble for a minute.” Adding to the effect, Russell even mocked the need to wipe sweat off his brow, like he was really worried.
“Nah, not after everything you did to help, Russell. Thank you. Oh, what happened to Freyda?”
“Found guilty, one year of torture followed by her final death.”
“Okey dokey.” With a pointed look at Bill, she asked. “I think you have your answers, do you need to be here any longer?”
“SOOKEH, we don’t know the true intentions of this farce. This should be reported to the council.”
“Compton, as your King, I order you to shut the fuck up. Your services as sheriff are no longer needed, in fact, they were always meant to be temporary.”
“I have a contract.”
“Which you breached.”
“I did no such thing.” He stood firmly with an indignant look on his face.
“Compton, I’ve had surveillance in your home since you were made sheriff. I know about the orders you have for the vampires in the area to sell V to cover your overly high tribute requirements.”
Compton’s face gave him away. His mouth hung open for a moment before he responded. “I did not order it – I suggested to anyone who could not keep up with the required tribute could sell their blood.”
“And you just happened to have dealers ready.”
“I was providing options.”
“Enough. William Compton, as the King of Louisiana, I hereby find you guilty of forcing vampires to sell their blood for money. A penalty punishable by the final death.” He moved to stand before Bill. “Do you have any last words?”
“Last words? No trial?”
“Why waste the time?”
“RUSSELL!” Sookie screamed as the ancient vampire approached Bill.
Bill foolishly believed she was going to fight for him and he actually looked relieved. “Sookeh, I knew you wouldn’t allow it.”
The look she gave Bill was scathing. “Russell, if you wouldn’t mind taking that outside? It’s gonna make a big mess in my living room.”
“Of course Miss Stackhouse. Let me just conclude our business and I’ll be on my way then. You remain under the full protection of my monarchy Miss Stackhouse. Eric Northman, as we discussed, you will take over as my Regent for the State of Louisiana.”
“As we also discussed, I appoint my children as Sheriffs; Pamela will run Area 5 and Karin will run Area 3. I’ll shuffle the others around as needed after I have their initial reports.”
“Very good.” Russell grabbed Bill like he weighed nothing and walked out the door with him. Bill cried and kicked the whole way out – calling for his SOOKEH to save him.
Eric cleared the room quickly. “Pamela and Thalia, go announce that you are the Sheriff and Second of Area 5. Text Karin to do the same, she should already be in place in her Area.”
“Yes Master. I will see you tomorrow?”
He nodded. “At your Shreveport office; 2AM or so.”
“Very good.” Pam moved to stand in front of Sookie. “It’s good to be back Sookie. I hope to see you very soon.”
“It’s good to have you back Pam,” She leaned around Pam, “You too Thalia.”
“Thank you Sookie.” Thalia answered – long conversation for her.
Eric moved to stand by Sookie and took her hand. “And now Sookie, I will take my leave but I have a question first.”
“You’ve had an eventful night and it is almost 2AM now. You need to rest. Besides, we’re starting over, right? I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to spend the night.”
She was a little disappointed and excited at the same time. “Of course. What’s your question?”
“May I take you out to dinner and dancing tomorrow?”
She smiled and was almost giddy at the thought. “You may.”
He smiled in return and confirmed. “Then I will be here, just after first dark.”
“I’ll be waiting.” He approached the door, his hand still in hers. “You know, I think a goodnight kiss is appropriate.”
He sighed and made a face like he was put out. “If you insist.”
“I think I do.”
“Anything m’lady wants.” He bent down to capture her lips. It may have been a while, but it wasn’t any less powerful or hungry than their kisses had been. Sookie almost felt electricity in the contact. Goosebumps rose up on her arms as he stroked her tongue and rubbed his hands on the exposed skin of her back. Eric reacted just as much, his cock rose as she slipped her hands under his shirt to stroke his chest and toy with his nipples. He backed off. “If I have any chance of remaining a gentleman, we need to stop now.”
“You’re right Eric. It’s hard for me to resist you but I do want to go slowly.”
“Of course. I’ll see you tomorrow night. Until then my future lover.”
. . . . . .
. . . . . .
Sookie woke to banging on her front door. She was tired when Eric left but with everything that had happened she couldn’t sleep. So even though it was two in the afternoon, she’d still been in bed when the knocking started.
“When she got to the door she saw the flowers before she even saw the delivery boy holding them. “Flowers for Miss Stackhouse.”
“Thank you let me get . . .”
“Tip has been handled Ma’am. Enjoy these.”
The arrangement took up a huge section of her dining room table and it was all light blues and cream. The card was in Eric’s handwriting:
Prepare to be wooed.
With a loud squeal, she ran to her room in search of her outfit for the night. Being wooed by Eric sounded just perfect to her.