Pam appeared in front of Sookie’s house, stealthy as a cat, but still unable to surprise her maker. Eric was sitting on the porch swing, leafing through a book after carefully reading each page… at vampire speed. It was late, nearly four in the morning, and Pam wondered what had kept her maker from joining Sookie in her bedroom. Hadn’t they gone to “school” that night?
“Are you studying?” Pam asked, climbing the porch steps and sitting next to Eric.
“In a manner of speaking,” Eric answered, never taking his eyes off the thick volume on his lap. He was a man on a mission.
Pam leaned over enough to read the very top of one page. “Shakespeare sonnets? I thought you were studying chemistry tonight?” she asked perplexed. Ever since Eric’s memory had returned she had found him doing more and more bizarre things. Going back to college had been one. Forgiving Sookie had been another. And now he was studying sonnets? What was the world coming to?
“We did go to class tonight, but I realize that Sookie needs more from me. She deserves better. Therefore the book,” Eric answered and sighed.
Pam frowned at Eric’s lovesick-puppy expression but couldn’t contain a small exasperated breath of her own. “Sookie deserves better, you say. Better than you? There is no better, and she should know that. I hope she’s not comparing you to our King,” she said with derision.
“She’s not one to make comparisons. But she does deserve the best of me, what she saw and experienced when I lost all my memories. That is the part of me she deserves. I don’t know how to be that man again, not entirely.”
Pam swallowed a snort, taking in Eric’s obvious distress and wanting to help, if only for his sake. “I know Sookie is not looking for this,” she said pointing at the book. “She cares for you, and this book was written by another man. Besides, I’m pretty sure that, even though she grew up here in this podunk town, she knows enough Shakespeare that you won’t be able to get away with using his words as your own.”
“That wasn’t my intention,” said Eric rolling his eyes. “I have never needed to be romantic and I need to learn.”
“Just buy her something,” said Pam dismissively.
“And be like Bill?”
That question effectively made Pam shut up. Eric had a very valid point. The horrible dresses, and jewelry, and the way Bill had made Sookie dress up like a doll bordered on the ridiculous. Even Pam, who liked the finer things, knew that Sookie was her own woman with her own style and that a man had no right to change her no matter what silly outfits she chose to wear for herself. Plus, gifts would get a man only so far. The rest was up to the man.
“Alright, you’re right,” Pam conceded. “I saw you be so different for the very first time in my life. That’s part of who you are, isn’t it? When you lost your memories, you didn’t lose your true personality, did you?”
“No, I didn’t. I lost the things that have made me vicious. I went back in time to when things were simpler in my life, when the worst thing I’d ever done was that I did not heed my father’s wishes and marry. I wanted to love my wife the way my father loved my mother, and I hadn’t found someone like that.”
“Eric, I hardly know what to say to make this better,” Pam said in a tiny whisper, knowing her maker was suffering. “Does Sookie not love you?”
“She says she does, but I’m afraid I might lose her.”
“What makes you think that?”
“Herveaux was here earlier today. I’m sure he’s been trying to have Sookie now that his bitch is dead.”
“I don’t trust that Were.”
“I don’t either, and now less than ever. After all, it was Sookie the one that killed Herveaux’s mate. Sookie, of course, doesn’t see the threat. He does have what it takes to talk her out of a relationship with me. And now he’s the new packmaster in Shreveport.”
“Perhaps I don’t know Sookie as well as you do, but I never thought she would be lured by power. Otherwise she would have gone back to Bill in a heartbeat, or would have dumped him in the very beginning to be with you.”
Silence descended upon maker and child as they contemplated Eric’s self-imposed dilemma.
“Give her the house back,” Pam said out of the blue.
“Yes, already thought of that and I’ll be working on it soon. Sookie will just see it as a handout. Today she mentioned the rent she thinks she owes me,” Eric said, feeling all hope drain from his heart.
“Okay… so don’t give her things, give her experiences. What does she like to do?” asked Pam, reaching for straws.
Eric blinked, thinking. “I honestly have no idea.”
“Well, that’s pretty simple to figure out: glamour her brother and ask him. I could do it for you.”
“Even if we did, do you really think that her brother is the best source to find out more information about Sookie?”
Pam thought for a moment. “He appears to be self-centered at best,” she paused. “Ask Jessica. She talks to Sookie and they used to work together. Maybe she will know.”
Eric didn’t hesitate and sent a quick text message for Jessica to meet him the next night. If she could shed some light on how Sookie worked, he’d put up with the baby vamp once more.
“Let me ask you something,” Pam began, watching Eric fire off a text message to the obnoxious progeny of Bill Compton. “Before you lost your memories, what were your thoughts on Sookie? What made you buy her house and fix it when everyone thought she was dead and gone?”
Eric looked up from his phone, unwilling or unable to answer. He locked eyes with Pam who waited patiently for his answer.
“You don’t have to tell me, Eric. I can feel you, remember? Why don’t you tell her?” she asked and pointed over her shoulder at the house.
Jessica stared at her phone with open curiosity. Eric had never reached out to her on purpose. She was quick to send a question back, asking what he wanted. She would not meet with him simply because he ordered her to. Sure, Eric was the sheriff of the area where she lived, but her maker Bill was the king, and that gave her certain advantages.
The response she got back from Eric was not to be believed: “I need help with Sookie,” he had texted.
She blinked in shock. Why would Eric, of all people, need help with Sookie? The only kind of help Jessica could imagine Eric would ask of her would be of the dating kind. Bill had mentioned something about Eric and Sookie being together, but maybe things between the two weren’t going as well as everybody thought.
Either way, it was decision time: help Eric’s conquest of Sookie and forget about Bill’s yearning, or honor Sookie’s wishes and help her forget Bill in favor of Eric? Jessica wasn’t blind. She knew well that Bill had hurt Sookie beyond what she could tolerate or forgive. After her own break-up with Hoyt, she saw things much more clearly. Sometimes, no matter how much people loved each other, it simply wasn’t enough to help the relationship continue. And was Bill truly in love with Sookie, or merely obsessed? Jessica loved her maker, but an unhealthy relationship like the one he’d had with Sookie needed to stay broken.
Jessica entered Bill’s office where he was wrapping up the kingdom’s business for the night. “Can I ask you something personal?” she said and plopped on a chair.
“Of course, though I may not answer,” Bill said and smiled at his child. He could feel her apprehension, and more than likely would answer her question honestly.
“It’s about Sookie,” Jessica said, watching as Bill’s smile faded at the same time that he averted his eyes. Obviously the subject was still a source of pain. “Why did she break up with you, exactly?”
“Ah…” Bill began, understanding the question and knowing it was time to come clean with his progeny. Besides, he didn’t want Jessica to repeat the mistakes he’d made. “I was Sophie-Anne’s procurer, as you know, and I was sent here to Bon Temps to procure Sookie for her. I deliberately misled Sookie, and she couldn’t forgive me once the truth came to light.”
“How did the truth ‘come to light’?” Jessica asked, framing the words with quotation marks in the air.
“Eric told her.”
“That was mean of him.”
“It was right of him,” Bill corrected. “Sookie did need to know, and to his credit, Eric didn’t say anything to Sookie until I betrayed him.”
Jessica shook her head in disbelief. “I still don’t understand how you and Eric can still get along after everything you’ve done to each other.”
“It’s a truce of convenience, for now. We’re both in trouble with the Authority, and until we resolve this problem we need each other to cover our backs. I have my position as king; he has insider knowledge from sources he trusts. In this way we make sure to safeguard not only ourselves, but also those we care about,” Bill said, walking around his desk and tweaking Jessica’s nose.
“Do you love her?” Jessica asked without any more preambles. “Are you still in love with her?”
Bill leaned against his desk and studied his child for a moment, trying to frame his answer. But what was his answer? Did he still love Sookie? Had he ever loved her? The answer was yes, of course. Was he in love with Sookie, or in lust with Sookie’s blood?
“I don’t know,” he answered sincerely for the first time. “Her blood is like ambrosia, and she is a beautiful woman, but I don’t know if I was ever in love with her. I love her enough to want to do right by her after all the wrong.”
“So you’re not mad that she’s with Eric now?” Jessica asked, trying to tread carefully. Sookie had been nice to her, and Jason was Sookie’s brother… plus Sookie had saved Bill from sure death at the hands of Marnie when she’d taken over Lafayette’s body. Jessica felt like she owed Sookie some measure of happiness, even if it was with Bill’s enemy.
“I’m disappointed that she’s with Eric, but not mad. I didn’t know Eric’s true nature, and neither did Sookie, not until he was cursed. If he could be less like the sheriff and more like what she needs, then she should be happy with him. Why are you asking this?” Bill asked, studying Jessica.
“I just wanted to see how you were coping, what with having Sookie back from wherever she went, and now she’s with someone else… and I don’t know. Hoyt was my very first boyfriend ever, and I feel a little lost about relationships. Now I feel attracted to Jason, but I don’t want to make the same mistake I made with Hoyt,” Jessica said, approaching whiny and she knew it, so she cut herself off.
“I may not be the best one to give you advice about relationships, but I meant it when I said you should simply tell the truth. I learned that the hard way myself. I could have had a meaningful relationship with Sookie, but… alas, it was not to be, and it was my fault.” Bill looked down, folding and unfolding his hands and silently saying goodbye one last time.
Sookie woke up with the feeling that there had been somebody in her room, but when she opened her eyes her room was empty. It wasn’t creepy to think that Eric might have watched her sleep, and that was a revelation. Besides, he was still in the house, ever since he had decided to spend his days in the cubby. She didn’t mind. She found it a comfort.
It was still very early, past dawn but just by a few minutes. She still had plenty of time to get ready to go to work. She could even go to back to sleep for a couple more hours, but something stopped her. As soon as she turned her body, she saw it.
On Sookie’s night table was a simple vase that had belonged to her grandmother, and old one that had been given to a Stackhouse bride many years before. In it were wild flowers: a few purple asters framing a beautiful orange daylily. Right in front of the vase was an envelope with her name written in Eric’s neat hand. Sookie smiled widely, unable to contain her joy at such a simple yet thoughtful gesture: the vase had been inside a cupboard in the kitchen, one that had remained there because Eric made it so. The flowers had to have been picked by hand from the surrounding area. The note… what could Eric tell her that she didn’t know already?
It was true that the night before she had acted distant towards Eric. Alcide’s visit the morning before had left her thinking about everything she could lose by being in a relationship with another vampire. But Eric had shown patience and had let her remain alone with her thoughts, never pushing and never asking. It was one of the best things about him and had always been his strength: patience. Now, knowing that she had been in that introverted, thoughtful mood, he had simply left her flowers. It was a message that he was still there, and that he still cared.
Her heart warmed and sped up as she sat up in bed and reached for the note. The last time Eric had written something specifically for her, it hadn’t been exactly romantic. A note on a new porch door and on a new microwave wasn’t something that would set any girl’s heart aflutter. But this time it was different: flowers and a note. This time it meant something.