Sookie awoke in her favorite place the next afternoon- in Eric’s bed with his arm draped about her waist. With a contented sigh, Sookie removed the lifeless arm and crawled out of bed. She showered quickly and went about her plans for the day.
Picking up the cordless phone in the kitchen, Sookie called Angie and began chatting with her as she went about the house picking up. Eric was meticulously neat, but she knew that the kitchen needed to be wiped down and that Eric’s hamper was overflowing with clothes. Also, she wanted to see if anything of Pam’s needed to be put away or washed. She was firmly set on making friends with Eric’s Child, even if it killed her. She even told Angie so.
“She sounds like a real bitch,” Angie grunted when Sookie told her about the incident with her book.
Sookie sighed. “I agree. Part of me wants to just leave it alone, ’cause it’s not like she’s the first one to pick on me about it. Another part of me just wants to scream at her for judgin’ me so quickly. She doesn’t know I’m a telepath, or how I spent my childhood, or even the last six years! Who does she think she is to judge me?” she ranted.
“Wow, I think that was the most I’ve heard you say all at once.” Angie laughed. “So, why don’t you tell her that stuff? Hell, why don’t you tell me that stuff? Most I know about you is that you’re a telepath that somehow met a vampire and now you’re living with him. How did you meet? Why are you with him? Where’s your family? Why didn’t you learn how to read…? And what the hell has been happening to you the last six years? You wouldn’t have pin pointed it if it weren’t specifically important.”
Sookie was quiet a long time. “I-I don’t know that I want to tell you… I mean, most of my family’s dead. My parents and my gran, at least. I have a brother somewhere, but I haven’t seen him since I was six years old. I think my aunt and cousin are still alive, but I haven’t heard anythin’ ’bout them in the past six or seven years.”
“Woah.” Angie was silent for a while before gently asking, “When did your parents die?”
“When I was eight. Then I went to live with my gran ’til I was 11, but then she died, too.” Sookie could already sense Angie’s next question, and could not bring herself to talk about it. “Don’t ask me anythin’ ’bout after that, though. I met Eric last week, and everythin’s been great since then, so let’s just leave it there, okay?”
“Okay, Sugar… Will you tell me how you and tall, blond and dead actually met?”
Sookie smiled a bit to herself. “I was attacked by two guys outside of one of Eric’s properties. When they got the upper hand on me, Eric stepped in and took me in. I was knocked out, and he brought me home. He told me it was ’cause he originally wanted me as a snack ’cause I smelled real good. Only, I woke up, and we got talkin’ and he actually wanted to know me.”
Angie listened to Sookie’s recounting of her meeting with Eric, and felt a strange confliction. What in the world had this girl been through that had caused her to believe in a man that originally thought of her as “snack food”? Sure, being born a telepath had to have its hardships, but what connection was Angie missing that gave Sookie the capacity to just accept her role in this? “You know, Sugar, from what I know about vamps, and it ain’t much- they don’t really value humans much. Now, your vamp didn’t know you were a witch before I mentioned it, so that means he just thought you were a gifted human. That won’t raise his opinion of you by that much, though. Sure, telepathy’s useful, but a vampire can get the answers he needs with or without you.”
“What are you sayin’?” Sookie asked carefully.
“I’m saying to be careful. The same thing I’d tell any girlfriend that was in a relationship with a rich, powerful guy- dead or alive. ‘Cause, these relationships… Sugar, they rarely have a storybook ending.”
Sookie laughed. “My life has never been a storybook endin’ kind of life… I’ve never felt a reason to explain myself to many people, but I’m gonna try and explain somethin’ to you ’bout me, okay?”
“I try to live in the moment, ’cause there’s nothin’ in the past I want to really keep, and the future is rarely a promise of better things. Most of my life has been startin’ with bad and only gettin’ worse. Then, I met Eric and there were promises. Sometimes those promises mean I have to hold back a piece of myself, and other times, they mean I have to accept things for the way that they are and not cause the stress of questionin’ them. But that’s all fine, ’cause those promises are more than I’ve ever had, or even expected. I can hold back those pieces of myself, and I can accept things I know are wrong, ’cause that is so much better than havin’ the life forcefully squeezed, or hit or drugged out of me. I’ll hold myself back just so I can be myself in whatever way I can.”
“Woah… Sookie, I never….” Angie stammered for a moment as she tried to collect herself- to try and comprehend the weight of what Sookie had given away, however unintentionally. “Okay. I don’t know that I fully understand it, but okay. This isn’t one of those times that I can give advice. There is no playbook for you.”
“You know, the ladies’ playbook of relationships? Like, no sex until the third date, and stuff?”
“Eric and I had sex the night he brought me here.” Sookie frowned to herself.
Angie was laughing on the other end of the line. “Exactly my point.”
Moving about the house, Sookie got the kitchen cleaned and went to Eric’s room first to gather his laundry after hanging up with Angie. Sookie prided herself at being good at keeping house. Her Gran had taught her to take pride in a clean home, and since Sookie was never in any condition to be in school Gran had taught her to tend to the house, even teaching her little bits of how to read. Though the reading never went anywhere because, as sweet as Gran’s head was, it was too difficult for the young telepath to focus with the older woman’s thoughts in her head.
Now, with Eric’s silence and patience, it was like the few years Sookie had enjoyed with her Gran gave the telepath enough of a jump start, that reading seemed to come to her faster now.
Since Eric’s clothes were a load of laundry on their own, Sookie went up to the light tight spare bedroom upstairs. She frowned when she saw the bed empty and Pam not occupying the room. Shrugging, Sookie figured that there was a hidden spot, just in case, somewhere in the bedroom. Going through the luggage, Sookie found some items that needed to be pressed, but mostly just needed to be put away. Humming to herself in an off key tune, Sookie went about putting away Pam’s clothes and shoes before storing the luggage under the bed and the shoes in the closet. She took the items that needed to be ironed down to the laundry room.
Continuing with her humming, she managed to get all of Pam’s clothes ironed and hung up before she folded Eric’s finished laundry. However, the monotony ended there.
Sookie shrieked with surprise when a hand clamped about her throat, and she was suddenly shoved against the wall of the laundry room. Before she even had a chance to be afraid of the enraged looking Pam, Eric was there, ripping his Child’s hand from Sookie’s throat.
“Pamela!” Eric roared. “What is the meaning of this!?”
“This little snake was in my room during the day!” Pam snarled back. “What were you doing there, you little viper!?” Pam demanded in a cold hiss.
Holding her throat, eyes blurring with worried tears, Sookie pointed shakily at the hanging bar where she had left Pam’s freshly pressed clothes to cool, “I-Ironin’ yer clothes… I put yer stuff away and brought down the more wrinkled stuff.” She sniffled, her body teeming with adrenaline. “I-I’m sorry. I was just-”
“Shh, Little One.” Eric was still holding Pam’s wrist in a vice-like grip, his blue eyes colder than the female vampire had seen in decades. “I believe my Child owes you an apology. That was very thoughtful of you, Sookie,” he ground out as he dropped Pam’s arm.
Pam crossed her arms over her chest as she spat, “My apologies, Sookie.”
“I guess I should’ve thought ’bout what I was doin’… I mean,” Sookie bit her lip, “you don’t know me, and you’re a sittin’ duck durin’ the day… But… You’re a part of Eric, and I couldn’t think of hurtin’ you anymore than I could hurt him.” She shrugged weakly. “I know that don’t mean much comin’ from me-”
“You are rambling, Little One.” Eric smiled gently at her.
“I’m sorry,” Sookie mumbled.
“There is nothing to be sorry about.” Eric soothed back her hair. “Pamela,” he turned to his Child, “how do you plan on making this up to Sookie? Not only did you attack her for being considerate, but she also unpacked your luggage, put it neatly away and pressed your clothes… Quite nicely, I might add.”
Pam’s gaze was steady, but thawing quickly from the frozen glare she had maintained since last night. “Sookie, I apologize for my scathing comments about your illiteracy. You appear to have redeeming qualities as a domestic.” Eric growled, making Pam backpedal. “Let me make up for my attack by taking you shopping. You will have the lovely beginnings of a wardrobe by the end of the evening.” She had the telltale signs of a smirk on her lips.
Sookie backed up into Eric. “You’ll come with?” she whispered meekly.
“Don’t worry, Little Sookie, I won’t bite.” Pam grinned darkly.
“I need to hold Eric’s hand,” Sookie mumbled, making Pam quirk an inquisitive eyebrow. “He keeps the thoughts quiet,” she said softly.
Pam looked to her Master for an explanation. Was Eric dating a schizophrenic?
“Sookie is a telepath. She can read all human minds, and occasionally a Were, but vampires are silent to her. If she is touching a vampire, it mutes out the humans’ thoughts so that she can function in public. We are working on building some mental shields so that this contact will no longer be necessary, but they are very underdeveloped,” Eric explained.
“A telepath?” Pam was shocked. No wonder her Master was so intense about this little blonde. “That is useful.”
“She has spared my existence once already by using her gift.” Eric smiled fondly at Sookie. “She is my little warrior.” He kissed the top of Sookie’s blonde head.
“That’s why I can’t read, though… It was too hard tryin’ to focus on learnin’ to read when everyone’s thoughts kept gettin’ in the way.” Sookie cast her eyes at her bare toes.
“Well, Eric, would you like to spend the evening shopping with the girls?” Pam leered at her Maker.
“It would be a delight to see my Sookie frolicking in beautiful dresses.” Eric smirked. “Perhaps we will drop by the jewelry store again and get you a pair of earrings to match your necklace.” Eric traced his finger over the diamond solitaire that Sookie only removed when she showered.
“My ears aren’t pierced,” Sookie told him.
“We could get that done at the mall.” Pam shrugged.
Sookie grabbed her earlobes as she bit her lip. “Does it hurt?”
Pam grinned. “Mine were pierced back in the 1800’s. It was not nearly so pleasant then.”
Sookie whimpered and rubbed her earlobes harder.
“I believe most people complain of a burning sensation afterwards,” Eric reassured her. “Not the miniscule pain of the procedure.”
“O-Okay,” Sookie mumbled. “I’ll get it done.”
“There is no pressure, Sookie,” Eric told her.
“I want to.”
“All right then. We will do that first so that you can take your mind off of it with shopping afterwards.” Pam exuded some underlying excitement. Sookie observed that Pam, apparently, enjoyed shopping, and she had to wonder if this was a gift to her or Pam.
Soon the trio was heading into the mall, and Pam steered Sookie towards a nearby Claire’s. As she sat nervously in the chair, Eric held her hand reassuringly. The woman with the piercing gun smiled at her as she swabbed Sookie’s earlobes with rubbing alcohol, dotted them with a marker, and a few loud clicks later- Sookie’s ears were pierced with a pair of blue studs.
Sookie’s mouth hung open. “That didn’t hurt at all!” Eric laughed as Pam went to pay for the earrings.
“I am surprised that someone your age in these times did not have their ears pierced by now,” Pam said conversationally as the trio began perusing the mall.
Sookie looked to Eric, unsure how much she should share with Pam about her past, and wondering what all Eric would divulge.
“Sookie,” Eric began carefully, “had a very difficult adolescence. She is only 17, but has already suffered more hardships than most humans experience their entire existences.”
Pam glanced sideways at Sookie, suddenly believing her Maker’s statement. It was quite difficult to place what it was about the little blonde, but there was a quiet power about her that Pam was beginning to see at last. Sookie appeared meek and nervous, always looking to Eric before she made any decisions or spoke, but there was something about her that said “fierce when provoked”. The best similarity that could come to Pam’s mind was that of a pit bull that had gone to the ring. A sweet creature that had been hardened physically, but psychologically- would rather give kisses than wounds, but would never forfeit its life in a fight to the death. Pam wondered about this hidden aggression, and delighted at the thought of provoking it. Also, Eric had mentioned that Sookie had already saved his life once, and Pam was curious how this little human had managed such a feat. What had her Master overlooked as a threat that this little idiot had noticed?
The Louisiana Boardwalk was without many high end fashion stores. This displeased Pam, but they stopped into several shops that the vampiress deemed worthy of Eric’s money. They even came away with quite a few nice outfits and dresses of which Sookie was shyly appreciative. However, the telepath could tell by the agitated, sideways glances that Pam kept giving the cheap earrings in the girl’s ears; that Claire’s had been a necessary evil. One that Pam had only allowed for the need of a piercing.
“I will have to take you to New Orleans some time to expand your wardrobe further.” Pam sighed in faux regret. “This should do you well until then.”
Sookie turned to Eric, ignoring Pam’s suggestion to more shopping, wanting to change the subject before they began a drive to New Orleans that very evening. “Angie invited me to meet up with her witch friends tomorrow night… Would that be okay?” Pam wondered about these witches.
“Of course. I will not be needed for my duties as Sheriff until much later tomorrow evening.” Eric nodded. “Where is this meeting?”
“Some place called Express Yourself?” Sookie shrugged.
“It is Espress Yoself.” Eric chuckled. “A play on words for espresso. It is a coffee house. I know of it.” Eric nodded.
“What’s espresso?” Sookie’s eyes went round with immediate curiosity.
“A type of coffee brew.” Eric held her hand to his lips and kissed it affectionately. “Have you never had coffee, Little One?” he asked and Sookie shook her head that she had not. “I will buy you a cup tomorrow night and we will see if you enjoy it.”
“Cool.” Sookie grinned up at him, squeezing his hand with a jolt of happiness. “So,” she began tentatively, “you have to do your Sheriff stuff tonight, too?”
“I do. It was a sudden request for a meeting.” Eric nodded, smiling as Sookie began swinging their clasped hands lazily.
“Would that ever be somethin’ I could go with you to?” she asked curiously.
“I would enjoy that very much, however, tonight would not be a good time. You are still bleeding, and though I can subdue Pam, it would be uncouth to do so to another of my kind,” he explained gently.
“That’s okay… There’s probably still a lot I have to learn about bein’ ’round vampires before meetin’ any more of them. That Charles guy creeps me out.” Sookie blanched apologetically.
Pam smirked. “I have no prior engagements this evening. Perhaps I can begin teaching your Sookie about our world, and their expectations towards her position,” she offered, delighting in the opportunity to treat Sookie as the mongrel she seemed all too eager to play.
Eric thought for a moment before responding. “I do not wish to have you teach her Pam. She is mine, and I will take on the task of preparing her,” he told her. “Perhaps you could teach Sookie some other things, though. Formal etiquette, make-up, fashion. Those types of things,” he suggested. “Perhaps even some elocution lessons?”
“I would certainly enjoy teaching Sookie about fashion.” Pam grinned. “She’ll be running up your credit card in no time.”
Eric laughed happily as they made their way back to his Escalade. When they were home, Eric gave Pam a glance and she nodded.
“Sookie, I need to speak with Pam for a moment. Please, go ahead inside and start putting your lovely new things away.” He kissed her forehead. Sookie nodded, grabbed her bags and headed inside. “Pam,” Eric turned to his Child, handing her the keys to his Escalade to take inside as he turned towards his Corvette, “I will be making Sookie my Bonded soon.”
Pam let out a long, unneeded breath. “I thought as much. You will take her to meet Godric first, I suppose?”
“I will,” he agreed. “Can you handle the Area for the time of my absence?”
“I can.” Pam nodded. “You will train her some before taking her to Godric’s nest, yes?”
“Of course. Stan would be insufferable if she faltered. Also, while I am out, could you assist Sookie with her reading? She is quite capable with a bit of guidance, and I know she detests those children’s books. She prefers more mature literature, but she gets frustrated with the larger words in them,” he explained.
“I can do that.” Pam nodded again. “I bought her something while we were out.” Pam pulled a tiny plastic bag from her jacket. When she opened it, Eric smirked at the Word of the Day calendar inside of it. “It will broaden her vocabulary as she learns to read.”
“An excellent idea.” Eric approved. “There is another thing, that you should know. This residence is not secure at the moment. I do not have time to go into detail, but I thought that you should know in the event that you wished to find an alternate place to rest during the day.”
Pam’s eyebrows raised at this admittance. “Your security has been compromised? Why-”
“I will explain after my return.” He cut her off with finality. “I shall be back by dawn.” As he opened the door to his Corvette, Eric paused and added, “You know what she means to me, Pamela. You know my intentions towards her. Therefore, treat her the way you know that I wish her to be treated. She has had my blood. I will know if you mistreat her, whether she tells me or not.”
Pam nodded carefully and turned to head inside. The sound of the cherry red Corvette growling to life was the only preamble to Eric’s departure once she was through the garage door.
She found Sookie in Eric’s room, removing tags as she folded the clothes neatly on the bed. “So, you are meeting with Witches tomorrow evening?” Pam asked, standing beside Sookie and picking up a lacy bit of lingerie to de-tag.
“Yes, we met a witch named Angie at a dance club the other night, and she invited me to meet her coven,” Sookie explained. “She says that I have the makin’s to be a powerful witch. I just think it was because of my telepathy, though.” She shrugged.
“I do not know of such things,” Pam admitted. “Witches, real ones that is, are far and in between. The useful ones are rare.”
Sookie shrugged again. “I’m just worried about meetin’ so many new people.”
“Because it is so difficult to block out their thoughts?”
“It’s easier with Eric,” Sookie replied. “But what if they don’t like me anyways? Even if I’m not bein’ weird and jumpy?”
“It has been my experience that when no pleasure is derived from interaction, neither party enjoys the time spent together.” Sookie gave the vampire a blank look and Pam chuckled. “Meaning that if they don’t like you, you probably won’t like them either.” Sookie deflated. “There are billions of people in the world, Little Sookie, I am certain that you can find someone to be your friend.”
“I don’t care much ’bout the rest, but I like Angie. I just want her friends to like me enough that she’ll keep talkin’ to me,” Sookie explained and started packing away the folded clothing. “So, what are we goin’ to do tonight?”
“That is up to you. We could work on your reading, or perhaps I could show you some issues of Italian Vogue that I have? If you’d like, we could watch a movie. What would you like to do?” Pam asked, grabbing the pile of undergarments and taking them to the hamper to be set aside for washing later.
“I don’t know. I think I’d like to work on my readin’. Eric’s goin’ to teach me how to drive once I can read well enough to take a drivers’ test!” She grinned happily. “I’m really excited about gettin’ to learn all of these cool things!” Pam was completely enthralled with Sookie’s enthusiasm. Though part of her found the excitement unnecessary, Pam also was questioning how much she had never considered a luxury; especially when someone Sookie’s age had never even imagined knowing how to do such mundane things.
Cracking open a book in the den, Pam and Sookie sat beside each other- Sookie reading, while Pam helped her stammer out the larger words. They continued reading for nearly an hour before they finally decided to do something else. As Sookie put the book away, Pam asked, “May I ask, how it was that you saved my Master?”
Sookie leaned against the doorframe between the den and the kitchen. “His day man Douglas came around to go over Eric’s place for valuables. While he was here, I heard him thinkin’ ’bout how he needed to get in and get out ’cause a hired killer would be by soon to take out Eric. I found a knife and hid until he showed up. I realized that I couldn’t hear the killer’s thoughts very well, but one of his thoughts was that he could hear a heartbeat- so I knew he wasn’t human. Since I figured I couldn’t sneak up on him, I hit on him instead to get him as close as possible. When he leaned in to kiss me, I stabbed him in the neck and then kept stabbin’ ’til he fell on me. He was a big guy, and broke a couple of my ribs when he fell. I couldn’t push him off, and had to lay on the kitchen floor with him on top of me, bleedin’ all over ’til Eric woke up and found us. He gave me some of his blood to heal my ribs, and yeah… That’s about it,” Sookie explained, leaving Pam with a stern gaze. “Eric said he was a Were.”
“You killed a man for Eric?” Pam was shocked by this little thing that had taken down a Were.
“We’d only been together for a night, but… He’s all I’d ever really had, and I wasn’t about to let someone take that from me. We’ve only been together for a week now, but I’m ready to sit out on the front porch with a machine gun to keep him safe at this point.” Sookie gave her a bemused grin. “Every night, it’s like he becomes more…” She struggled for a word to describe Eric’s hold on her. “I just don’t want to have to live without him,” she finally admitted.
Eric stormed up the ramp in front of the decrepit house before him. Forcing himself to knock on the door civilly, Eric waited with little patience for the twisted old man in a wheelchair to open the front door.
“Bartlett Hale?” Eric asked coldly.
“Yeah?” The old man wheezed back.
“You are the guardian of Sookie Stackhouse?” he asked.
Bartlett’s eyebrows rose. “Have ya found her? Please, come in!” He wheeled back to admit Eric into the house. Eric stepped through the threshold with a sneer. “Where is she?”
“Sookie is at my home right now. I found her living on the streets,” Eric replied in a clipped tone.
“Sookie’s a disturbed kid.” Bartlett tried to pull his face into a pitying expression. “Hope she hasn’t been too much trouble fer ya.”
“She has been a complete delight to have around,” Eric snapped back. “I enjoy her company greatly. However, some things I have discovered about her past have compelled me to come to this hovel. But before I exact her revenge,” Eric caught Bartlett’s gaze, “tell me everything that you know about Sookie and her family.”
“What is it, Pam?” Sookie saw Pam tremble slightly.
“Eric is not happy right now. I have not felt this kind of ferocity from him in a long time,” she replied then shrugged. “I feel intrigued over how a fledgling pissed him off that thoroughly.” Sookie giggled, but Pam could feel where Eric was, and it was nowhere near his usual dwellings for his Sheriff duties. Wherever Eric was, Pam was already preparing an alibi for him in her head. “Sookie, in the event that Eric was forced to take some sort of extreme measure this evening- you must vow to say that he was with you all evening.”
“O… Kay…” Sookie frowned.
“Your inability to be glamoured will work in his favor,” she explained.
“You think Eric killed a vampire tonight?” Sookie tilted her head curiously.
“Perhaps.” Pam shrugged.
“Well, if he needs me to lie for him, then all he has to do is ask.” Sookie shrugged back and returned to flipping through the magazine Pam had given her.
Pam chuckled. “You have killed for him, and you would cover for him when he has killed.”
“Eric has done more to earn my loyalty than anyone I’ve ever known,” Sookie replied darkly. “He could have anythin’ he asked from me. All he needs to do is ask for it, and I would do whatever I could to make it happen. I don’t have anythin’ to offer but my loyalty to him.”
Pam nodded approvingly. “Your loyalty is a fine thing, but you have much more to offer him than just that. As his Child, I can feel his emotions so long as he does not close his end of the bond, and he has been happier the past few evenings than I have felt in a very long time. Even those were fleeting and superficial, however. With you, he seems to be in a consistently good mood, and I can sense that it runs deeply,” she confided.
Sookie leaned her chin on her open palm. “He’s the only one that ever showed me any respect… Pam, how will I need to act in front of other vampires? I get the feelin’ that I’m not actin’ right ’round you, but it’s only okay ’cause you’re Eric’s Child.”
Pam became thoughtful for a moment. “Eric has decided that he will be the one to train you in the ways of interacting with vampires. And it’s “around” not “’round” and “because”, not “’cause”.”
“So, you won’t tell me anythin’?” Sookie asked.
“Okay… Just one question?” Sookie asked, her expression as endearing as she could muster.
“I do not fall prey to what you humans call “puppy eyes”.” Pam smirked. “Your questions can wait for Eric. I can feel he will be returning shortly. He is satisfied.”
Sookie nodded and went back to looking at the magazine in front of her. As Pam had predicted, Eric was back in the house not even thirty minutes later.
Leaping up from the couch, Sookie ran over to greet him, and she swooned when Eric swept her up in his arms and spun her in a hug. “Good evening, my little marvel. What have you been doing this evening?” Sookie did not miss the prolonged time he spent holding her, or the way he seemed to breathe in the scent of her hair as though he had craved the smell of it for months.
“Pam and I read for a bit, and she showed me some magazines. I don’t think I get fashion at all. I don’t know how women move in some of the clothes they were wearin’. There was this dress that looked like it had a metal frame holdin’ it in place.” She made a face and Eric laughed as his arms remained wrapped about her waist. “I think clothes should move with a body, not the other way around.”
“Master, I am going to find my meal for the evening. Do you need me at all?” Pam asked, rising from the sofa and interrupting the pair.
“That is fine, Pam. Enjoy.” Eric nodded to her and she was gone before Eric had even set Sookie back on her feet. “Come now, Little One.” Eric lead her to the kitchen and sat down at a barstool. “You should eat.”
Sookie nodded and made herself a sandwich as Eric watched with interest. “Eric, can we talk a bit?”
Eric chuckled, “This could be interesting. What do you want to know?”
“Well, you said that there are certain rules and stuff… What will I have to do when I’m around vampires other than you and Pam?”
“You will need to be quiet, keep your head down, never speak unless spoken to, but never before receiving my permission to speak.”
“So… I should act like one of those service dogs? Like a Leader Dog for the Blind?” Sookie tilted her head curiously.
“I suppose that would be an accurate assessment.” Eric did not approve of the idea that Sookie was thinking of herself as a dog.
“Then… I’m like your pet.” Sookie slumped visibly.
“That,” Eric began slowly, “is exactly how the vampire community will view you. However, once we are Bonded, you will be elevated from that rank.”
“When a vampire chooses a human to be his or her Bonded, it raises the appraisal of that human. It is like a stepping stone between human and vampire. Most vampires who choose to Bond intend on transforming their Bonded from human to vampire at some point in the future.”
“Why don’t they just change them and not do the Bondin’ thing?” Sookie munched on her sandwich.
“Different reasons. However, Bonding is a very rare occurrence,” he explained. “Most vampires do just go ahead and change a human to vampire. However, I want you to have many experiences before we were to go to that step. Also, I wish for you to be certain that it is what you want as well.”
“I’m not sure about becomin’ a vampire,” Sookie admitted. “I really like bein’ able to hang out in the sun. Back when I was…” Her eyes shadowed over slightly. “I used to sit up in this old tree in the backyard. It was almost dead, and I’d lie on one of the branches and just let the sun soak into my skin. It was like someone was givin’ me a hug.”
Eric rose from his seat and wrapped his arms around Sookie. “I wish my arms could offer you that warmth,” he whispered in her ear.
“Your arms warm me in a different way.” She tilted her head back for a kiss, and he did not leave her waiting. There was a moment of silence before Sookie asked slowly, “Did you kill someone tonight?”
“Yes,” he replied without hesitation.
“Do you need me to lie for you at all? ‘Cause- Because we should probably get our stories straight now.” Sookie looked up at him, unfazed.
Eric was surprised. “You would offer to be my alibi?” he asked.
Sookie shrugged. “Of course. I wouldn’t want you to get in trouble with the other vampires-”
“I killed a human this evening.” Eric understood what she meant. Apparently Pam had told her, and prepared Sookie to be his alibi.
“Oh…” She frowned for a second and then seemed to realize, “You killed Bartlett, didn’t you?”
“Yes.” Eric waited for her to respond verbally as he sifted through the cacophony of emotions that swirled within her. Relief was the number one feeling he could discern.
“I lit the stove and blew out the burner. I held him over it until he succumbed to the fumes.” He explained while silently cursing forensic counter measures. He had so desperately wished to torture the monster physically as well as psychologically, but that option was too difficult to erase the evidence of. There was the added annoyance that he could not risk letting Bartlett’s body be discovered and the suspicions to be shifted toward Sookie. The mental torture via glamour would have to sate the bloodlust with which Eric wished so desperately to succumb.
“So, it will look like an accident?” Sookie tilted her head curiously.
“Yes… Are you angry with me?” He knew that she was not angry at that moment from his one sided connection.
“Not at all.” Sookie shrugged. “He was a monster.”
“Yes, he was,” Eric agreed. “I questioned him before I killed him.”
Eric nodded. “He was a vile old man.”
“Yeah- Yes, I know.”
“There are things he did to you.” Eric her held the girl tighter. “Things you did not tell me.” He could hear Sookie’s heart accelerate.
“You know them now…” Sookie covered her ears. “Don’t bring them up… It’s over. It’s done. Please, just let me forget now.”
Eric sighed. “I wish, for the first time, that you could be glamoured; that I could take those memories away for you.”
“It’s easier to bear now-a-days.” She smiled weakly. “’Cause I know that I’ve walked through hell, and that bein’ with you is my reward for that.”
Keeping his arms braced around her, Eric nuzzled her throat before letting out a pleased sigh. “I want to make you my Bonded, Sookie,” he told her with as much emotion as he could express. “But first, I need you to meet my Maker. To do that, we must travel to Dallas, and before we can even consider taking you into such a nest, there are things I must teach you.”
Eric waited as Sookie stared into his eyes. Without hesitation, she answered his unasked question. “Teach me everything. To fight, to behave… Whatever it takes for us to be together.”