Pam drove that minivan like a bat out of hell. I didn’t know who it belonged to. All I knew was that it was the same vehicle in which I’d been transported to Shreveport earlier that evening. I looked at the ignition, and there was a key, so someone had retrieved it from the owner… somehow.
Pam didn’t speak, and neither did Eric. I don’t think they even breathed. Eric was holding me tight on his lap, and he was still raging. He was also fearful, but since he didn’t speak, I had no way of knowing what was on his mind. I was pretty sure the reason for the silence was the fact that they were holding their breath so as not to attack me with the fairy scent that had clung to me. No air to pass through vocal chords, no speech. Simple.
My theory was proven right when we arrived at my house and Eric took me to the bathroom at vampire speed and settled me in the tub, clothes and all. He was trying to be careful with me but still move fast, which gave me a headache from all the sudden stops and starts. He turned on the faucet to the temperature that I liked and waited until the tub was nearly full before he took off my soaked clothes. The whole time I examined his expression and his feelings. Nothing had changed from the car to now. I knew he was afraid he’d hurt me, and I knew he was mad about what happened.
Eric finally looked at me and smiled. Immediately my heart leapt for want of him. He should have been in the bathtub with me, but we wouldn’t both fit. So I let him take care of me. He left the clothes soaking in the tub, by my feet, while he lathered up his hands with soap and began to erase the fairy scent. He was careful with my face, where I still had all the dried blood. He hadn’t trusted himself enough to lick it off me. He took a tentative breath.
“Do I still smell like my family?” I asked, not really wanting to call them fairies. After all, they didn’t call me human. They called me Sookie. Or did they call me Princess Sookie? Good question.
“Only a little bit. I can handle it. How are you?” he asked, leaning close to kiss the eyebrow that had gotten hurt, the one that was now not only healed but clean thanks to him.
“I’m okay. I’m happy my family took care of those witches. They won’t come after you anymore,” I answered meaning it with all my heart. How do you thank your family for such a huge favor? I doubted Hallmark made a card with the appropriate sentiment. Thank you for saving me and my husband from evil witches. I hope someday to return the favor. Yours truly, Sookie. I giggled.
“What’s funny?” he asked smiling. I think my amusement was a feeling that transferred. I explained the Thank You card thing to him, but he didn’t seem to understand it fully. When his memories came back he would laugh. For now he smiled indulgently.
“Do you think that other witch can reverse the curse?” he asked, suddenly looking truly worried.
I shrugged. “Octavia seemed confident. She said it was a simple enough spell. All she wanted was to wait for the new moon, so that Hallow’s power would be at its weakest. I’ll call her tonight and make sure she’s all set for tomorrow night.”
“I already called!” we heard Pam’s voice from the kitchen, which shared a wall with the bathroom. “Everything is set!” Leave it to Pam to eavesdrop. Oh, well. She was never going to stop, so I was starting to get used to it.
“Oooo-kay… so I won’t call,” I said, smiling up at Eric who was washing my legs.
“I need my life back,” he said, staring at one of my knees, but not really seeing it.
“I know, honey. Everything will be fine, I promise,” I said, putting my wet hand on his and holding it tight.
“You have a lot of faith, Sookie,” he said with a sad crooked smile. It broke my heart and I looked down. “I have a lot of faith too, but only in you,” he said, bringing my face up with a finger under my chin. He planted a soft kiss on my lips before continuing to wash me.
Eric’s hands had always been clever, and tonight they had an extra soft touch. I closed my eyes and let him care for me some more, when something he did made me take notice. He spent a little too much time soaping up my lower abdomen. I opened my eyes and found him staring, this time with purpose.
“Honey? Is something wrong?” I asked, starting to guess, but not really wanting to assume anything.
“Our children can’t have a broken father,” he said, mad.
If my heart wasn’t broken before, it was good and broken now. He had this vision of a perfect life, and it just wouldn’t come true. He was mad that our perfect life had been shattered when he lost his memories, when the reality was much different. I made a lightning quick decision, which takes longer to tell than it took to make. I could break his heart and have him share in my own heartbreak, or I could make it better, and at least one of us would be happy until tomorrow night, when everything returned to normal.
“Eric, you will be a wonderful father, no matter what,” I said, and my voice wavered a little. It wasn’t even a lie. If we could have had children, he would have been a wonderful father. I knew he had it in him.
“You think so?”
“Absolutely. Look how well you’re taking care of me. You’ve been a great maker to Pam, and your people love you and respect you. You’re a great man. Even my great-grandfather seemed to hold you in high esteem.” I threaded my fingers into his and kissed his hand. “I love you, Eric Northman,” I said, looking into his eyes so he could see it as well as feel it.
His lips parted in a perfect smile. In fact, he was beaming with happiness. Later he would have to forgive me for not wanting to break his heart now.
He got me out of the bathtub, telling me to leave the wet clothes, and that he would take care of them. He wanted to prove to me that he could be sweet and loving, and that he could take care of menial tasks. I let him. It was nice to be pampered. He even helped me dry and dress.
“Why don’t you shower too, while I eat?” I said to him. I really wanted to talk to Pam. I knew she’d heard the whole conversation we’d just had. Eric agreed and I joined Pam in the living room, where she was watching “What Not to Wear.”
“They still show that on TV?” I asked, sitting beside her.
“Yeah… it’s Tuesday. There’s nothing else to watch,” she said, waving a hand at the TV. She turned to me, eyeing me up and down, and then threw herself at me in a hug. She hadn’t done that in a long time, not since my abduction. “I’m happy you’re safe,” she said, and returned to the way she’d been sitting.
“Thank you, Pam,” I said, still dazed. Pam’s displays of affection always left me befuddled. “I’m sorry Eric took you while you were still sleeping. That must have been an awful shock.”
“Yes it was. And cold. And windy. My hair is a mess. But enough about me. What was that in there?” she asked, jerking her head in the general direction of the bathroom in my bedroom.
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. Please go along with it. It’s just one more night and then he’ll be back to his old self. I can’t,” I took a deep breath, “I can’t break his heart, not now.”
Pam took my words seriously. “You’re good to him, Sookie. No wonder he loves you,” she smiled. “It might actually be fun to watch him gush all over you… more than usual.” She waved her hand, as if the subject was closed and not worth talking about. “Tell me everything that happened today.”
I made her wait a couple of minutes until Eric emerged, smelling fresh and clean and looking gorgeous. He made me sit on his lap, not that I was going to object. After the day I’d had, all I wanted was him.
I told them everything, omitting one fact: how Hallow had been able to find me. My own theory went like this: Hallow knew Eric had a human girlfriend named Sookie Stackhouse, and was actually able to see I was in Bon Temps. That had been my mistake. I’d forgotten to wear the brooch the night Eric and I went out to play in the snow. Once they knew I was in Bon Temps, and failing in their attempt to capture me at the grocery store, they went to the house of another vampire, probably to see if Eric was spending his days there. They failed to find Eric, but found information Bill was keeping on me. That information was what I wanted to get my hands on. I wanted to see for myself what he had on me, before Eric ripped him to shreds or burned his house down. It would be his right, but I had something else in mind.
The kitchen was stocked, so I made myself something quick for dinner. I wasn’t in the mood to wait for anything too complicated, since I hadn’t eaten all day. So I settled for boiling some pasta and tossing it with butter and parmesan cheese. Lots of pasta, with tons of butter and heaps of parmesan cheese.
Pam eyed my plate with one raised eyebrow. “There are no vegetables or protein in that meal,” she commented.
“I know, but I’m too hungry,” I said, between bites.
“Eric, you must take better care of your wife. She cannot skip meals, or eat meals that aren’t nutritious, not if you’re thinking of having babies,” she said. I looked up and she was smiling widely.
I frowned, watching as Eric got up immediately. “Eric, what are you doing? Sweetie, you don’t know how to cook,” I said, turning in my chair and watching him open cupboards.
“It cannot be that difficult,” he said, stubborn. I rolled my eyes and looked up at the ceiling, silently asking God for patience.
“Fine, Eric. Let Pam do it. She knows how to cook,” I said, thanking God for that idea. Pam’s eyes widened in fear, but then she composed herself and stood up, moving regally to the fridge and taking out a steak that I had left there. I had planned on eating it tonight, but my plans had changed. I guessed they were back on.
Eric sat, looking a little pouty. I leaned close and put my hand on his cheek. “You didn’t know how to cook before. Pam likes to read magazines that teach her these things,” I said to him, watching as his expression changed. He looked relieved. I had remembered that Pam was an avid reader of “Better Homes & Gardens,” as well as “Dear Abby.”
Pam outdid herself, even going so far as to cook some frozen veggies for me. She even got the steak right, leaving it exactly medium, the way I liked it. “There, I cooked,” she said, pointing at the plate. I was already digging in. “But Eric cleans,” she said, smiling wickedly.
I couldn’t help it! I snickered, and only just managed to keep the food inside my mouth. Eric raised an eyebrow at Pam, but seemed to think it was a fair exchange for getting off cooking. “Agreed,” he said, and started cleaning up right away.
As soon as I finished every morsel of food I began to feel groggy. I bid goodnight to Pam, making sure to extend the invitation to stay here during the day if she wanted to. Eric walked with me to our bedroom, helping me undress, getting my nightgown. He was being careful with me. I think it was a mixture of knowing I’d had a bad day, and wanting to care for the future mother of his children. He followed me to the bathroom and watched my bedtime routine. That was very “Eric” of him. He would have stayed while I used the toilet, if I’d let him. He was always fascinated by my human needs. I still had no idea why.
I slept like the dead for about four hours. I awoke to find that I was the object of Eric’s affections. He was naked beside me, and had already disposed of my panties. His hand was rubbing my center, getting me ready. From the little thrills I was feeling, I was very nearly ready for him.
“I’m so sorry, Sookie. I was trying to be good, I swear. But I want you so badly,” he whispered in my ear. He kissed my earlobe, sending sweet shivers all the way down to my toes.
“I’m yours,” was all I could say.
Eric moved slowly under the covers, to position himself between my legs. With one hand he reached between us and guided his gracious plenty inside me, letting out a low moan. I sighed. I couldn’t deny him this, not even if I was about to fall asleep under him. He kissed me over and over, soft loving kisses on my face and on my neck. He whispered things, things I couldn’t understand in a language as old as him. I trembled as I came, too tired to do much more than sigh a little more. Eric’s own pleasure was also subdued, choosing to curl into me as he trembled above me. He collapsed, but I took his weight. I was used to it by now. I felt safe, and cherished. His face was so close to mine that he puckered up to kiss my jaw, over and over.
He left my side about half an hour later, when it was time for him to get inside the cubby hole. As soon as I knew he was dead for the day, I grabbed my phone and called Jason. I knew he would be awake already and getting ready for work. Jason was many things, but for sure he was a hard worker and barely ever missed a day from work. He went early and stayed late.
“Sookie? Are you okay?” was the first thing he said when he answered the phone.
“I’m okay. I need your help for a few hours. I would never ask this of you, but it’s important. Can you come?” I asked. He would have to take time off from work.
He took a deep breath. “Of course. Let me make some phone calls and I’ll come over.”
We hung up after I thanked him, and went to take a quick shower and get dressed. Breakfast was almost ready when Jason let himself in the house.
I explained the witches, leaving out Eric’s amnesia, and I told Jason that some friends of the vampires had come to rescue me. He was properly taken aback and enraged. But there was one more thing he needed to know. The one thing I needed his help with.
“The witches said they found me by looking inside Bill Compton’s house. He’s keeping information about me and I need to know what, and if possible take it away from him,” I said, studying Jason’s reaction.
He frowned first. “Vampire Bill is keeping information on you?” he asked.
“Well that is some fucked up shit! What the fuck is he doing stalking my baby sister?” There! Yes! That was what I wanted. Jason in protect-o-mode.
“So you’ll help me?” I asked, just making sure, though I knew he would.
“Yeah! And if he does have something…”
“We’re filing a complaint with the vampire sheriff,” I said, interrupting him.
He flared his nostrils in disgust. “Fine, we’ll file a complaint with Eric.” I gave Jason a meaningful look, and he caught on. “Eric will kill him, won’t he?”
“It depends on what we find,” was my answer.
Jason tapped the screwdriver forcefully with the hammer, popping the lock rather easily in my opinion. I was truly surprised.
“Don’t worry. You can’t do this to the locks in your house,” he said, waggling his eyebrows. “I changed them a long time ago.”
“Good to know,” I mumbled as he opened the door to Bill Compton’s house. I knew what we were doing was illegal, I really did. But dog nab it! Bill had stuff on me and I wanted it back.
The house was musty, but clean. It seemed he was still in the middle of making repairs and hadn’t furnished it completely. Jason and I stood in the middle of a large foyer, with a grand staircase off to the right, and what looked to be several rooms with several entrances. The light of day filtered through the sheers that had been installed over every window. I had only glanced at the downstairs the night Eric and I brought Bill back from Mississippi.
“Where do you suppose he keeps an office?” I asked Jason.
“Come on,” he said, leading the way to the first room to our right. It was a plain living room with a sofa, a chair and a coffee table. Nothing else except the curtains on the windows. Jason checked under the cushions of the chairs and checked to see if the coffee table had a top that lifted, but nothing was amiss.
I followed him to the next room through a doorway from the living room. It was a dining room, and there was no furniture whatsoever. The only thing that gave it away as a dining room was an old chandelier hanging from the middle of the room. The poor thing was missing several crystal pieces, and the fixtures were crooked. We moved west and found a small kitchen that looked to have been renovated, with new appliances and a small breakfast table. Jason couldn’t help himself and opened the fridge, only to find that it was full of True Blood. He made a face and closed it. I giggled.
“You don’t have that much blood for Eric in your fridge,” he observed.
“Eric only drinks about a bottle a night. Bill is much younger. He probably drinks three or four bottles, less if he has someone to feed off of,” I explained. Again, Jason made a face, but regained his composure and started looking in all the cabinets and drawers, not finding much.
The fourth room on the main floor looked like a den, with a couch and a TV, but nothing else. Jason still checked under the cushions and inside the TV cabinet, just in case.
“I guess we’re going upstairs,” Jason said, going to the staircase.
I’d already seen the upstairs, and I knew Bill couldn’t have spent days in his bedroom, which was just as well. It wouldn’t be locked and we’d be able to get inside. I led the way straight to Bill’s bedroom. The room was bright with the early morning winter sun, but that wasn’t what made Jason and I gasp in tandem.
There were mountains of papers strewn here and there on the bed, and photos tacked onto the papered walls. Photos of me. There was one of me standing next to Eric after the meeting of the DoGD when Bill spoke. The only way I knew I was standing next to Eric was the fact that I was looking up smiling into a chest covered by a navy blue shirt. Eric had been cut out of the picture and I had been zoomed into. There were a few pictures of me in my Elvira dress working at Fangtasia. There was another of the night Stan Davis had his party in Dallas, presumably before the attack on his house. There was one more, one that made me see all shades of red. It was as if Bill had taken the picture with an infrared camera while Eric and I were making love. In my bedroom. I was in profile, straddling Eric.
I tore it with a grunt, and then tore each and every picture from the wall. “If I knew where he was right now, I’d kill him,” I hissed.
Jason’s own face was turning purple as he looked at the papers on the bed. “He knows everything about you. All your bills, your insurance on the house, he even has your birth certificate and a copy of your driver’s license… the deed to the house… Gran’s obituary, contact information for Uncle Bartlett. He has my information too.”
Jason and I looked at each other for a brief moment, exchanging the same idea, before we started gathering all the papers on the bed.
“We need to check the other rooms,” Jason said, once all the papers were gathered into two neat piles. I’d hidden the photos in between other papers.
Jason and split, Scooby Doo style, and checked the rest of the bedrooms and the bathrooms. We found nothing else amiss. We gathered the papers from the master bedroom and started to head out. Jason stopped at the top of the stairs.
“Attic?” he asked, looking at me beside him.
I shrugged. I hadn’t thought of it. “Worth a try,” I conceded.
We set the papers on the floor and I followed him to where he’d seen the attic stairs tucked into the ceiling over the east wing of the house. The cord was pulled all the way into the stairs, so Jason went and grabbed a chair from the master bedroom, stood on it, and tugged. The stairs opened silently, as if they’d been oiled recently. Jason and I had come prepared to enter a vampire’s house, and each had a flashlight. We ascended into the attic and flashed our lights this way and that.
Bill had set up his office here, and wonder of wonders: a casket. My heart was already going fast from being so mad, and now it was doing somersaults. I felt my face flush. If Bill was inside the casket, dead asleep, I just might kill him. After everything I’d done for him when his mom tortured him to near death, and that’s how he repaid me? Moreover, he hadn’t had those photos up on the wall or those papers on the bed when we’d brought him home. Obviously this had been a new development.
“Do you think he’s in there?” Jason asked, moving closer to the casket.
“Only one way to find out,” I said. Jason and I used each of our free hands to open it, and sure enough: there was Bill.
The first thing I did was punch him right on the nose with all my might… which was actually mightier than usual after taking Eric’s blood two nights before. “You’re a pervert, Bill Compton!” I shouted. Obviously, he didn’t move.
“Well said, sis,” Jason mumbled, still looking around the attic. He’d found a desk with Bill’s PC. “The computer is on,” he said, and turned on the monitor. “What kind of idiot doesn’t password protect his screen?”
“The kind of idiot who’s been around too long to realize that things aren’t what they used to be. Some vampires have a hard time adjusting to the new status quo,” I said, looking over Jason’s shoulder at the computer monitor. It looked like a search screen, the kind that prompted you to search by last name, first name, et cetera. On the top of the screen was the name of the program: VampGo, powered by LexisNexis. I hadn’t spent countless hours at the library to not know that LexisNexis was a database for people who did research.
I reached around Jason and typed in Eric’s name in the boxes, then clicked on “Search.” In about a second the computer retrieved a picture of Eric (the one from his driver’s license, actually), date of turning (circa 980 C.E.), sire (Appius Livius Ocella), preternatural powers (flying at great speed), child (Pamela Ravenscroft), profession (owner of various businesses), political offices (Sheriff of Area 5, Louisiana, U.S.A.), and countless other tidbits of information… including the very unusual tidbit that he was blood bonded and married to one Sookie Stackhouse. Each item was underlined, meaning there was a link that could be followed. I clicked on my name. The same database returned my picture from my driver’s license, and a bunch of N/A next to the standard vampire information… except preternatural powers, where it appeared that I was a telepath.
“Oh, boy!” Jason said, pointing at that line in particular.
“Yeah… I don’t think the Queen of Louisiana wanted to share that information with anybody,” I said. I looked down at the actual PC. “Is this running off a disk or off the internet?”
Jason looked around. “Both, it seems.” He pulled on a plug for the router. “Go ahead and do a search.” I did and the program said that the internet server hadn’t been found. “Okay… you probably need the disk to get the information off the internet,” Jason explained.
I nodded. “Can we take the disk?”
Jason opened the DVD-ROM and examined the disk. There was nothing written on it. “We’ll probably need a password or internet key to use it, sign an end license agreement, and so on. Without it this might not work.”
I thought about it briefly. “Bring it anyway,” I said, and turned back to the computer. I minimized the program and opened a new document in Word. I wasn’t a genius at computers, but I had composed the odd letter for Eric recently. I changed the font size to 48, made the letters bold, and in all caps wrote: EVERYTHING THAT’S MISSING HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR SHERIFF. SINCERELY, SOOKIE NORTHMAN.
“Let him go complain to Eric,” I mumbled under my breath.
“He might go complain to that Queen of theirs,” Jason noted.
“The Queen won’t like it that Bill is stalking a sheriff’s blood bonded. She holds my union to Eric in high regard. She even sent us a Christmas card, in her own writing,” I said, holding my chin up.
“Do you mind?” Jason asked, pointing at Bill as we made our way past the casket and down from the attic.
“Not at all,” I said, and turned towards the stairs. Jason had very little self control, and the fact that he had asked was proof that he’d changed his ways. If he wanted to beat up Bill, more power to him. Jason had been spied on too.
“Are you going to show Eric these things tonight?” Jason asked, helping me get everything in my house.
“Not tonight. We have a thing,” I didn’t want to go into specifics since Jason didn’t know that Eric had lost his memory. “Why do you ask? Do you want to be there?”
“Hell, yeah! I wanna see how mad Eric’s gonna get at Bill. You have to give me that, at least,” he said, trying to reason with me.
“You’re right,” I said, because he was. “I’ll call you before I do it. In the meantime, help me put this upstairs.” We stowed everything away in what used to be Jason’s bedroom and he left to go to work.
Ultimately I was glad that Jason had been there with me. I think I would have been more scared than mad at what I’d seen, and my plan would not have worked. The part that hurt me the most was the fact that I’d cared for Bill when his maker had reduced him to a bloody corpse. I’d even argued with Eric about giving him the blood without choking him. Eric had to swallow his jealousy when I stayed to help clean Bill of blood. And this was how he repaid me? By stalking me and taking pictures of me naked? While having sex? With my husband? Nu-uh! That was sooo not going to work.