Chapter Thirty-Four: Camilla
“This is Camilla?” I ask while staring at the photo Pam’s handed to me and I feel Eric begin to worry in our Bond. I’ve had the last few hours to mentally train myself to start thinkin’ of this girl as a stranger and now that I have a photo of her, it’s a little easier to reinforce my new mindset.
“It is,” Pam nods impatiently.
“How was she?” I ask, looking to Pam because she doesn’t try to protect me as much as Eric does.
“Funny,” Pam smiles. “Much more aware than I thought she would be. She holds conversations very naturally. We were very lucky that Grissom didn’t seem to have gotten very far in her mental deconstruction. Her memories are gone, but her personality is still very acceptable. She’s funny, sweet, polite, and quite pleasant to be around. She cried a bit, but I did not mind. It seemed appropriate.”
I roll my eyes, “She’s been through some major trauma. I think tears are more than appropriate.”
“I am going shopping for her once the stores are open. You are coming with me,” Pam says, point-blank. “I need you to buy her groceries. She seems to remember foods she enjoyed. Do you recall any she preferred?”
“Her favorite Gatorade was the blue one and I know she liked the banana cream pie yogurt,” I offer, stretching my memory back and pleased to find it’s awkward, trying to think of Zoey. Maybe I could think of Zoey as Camilla’s deceased sister? That works for me. Jason and I have quite a few similar food preferences. Siblings can have a lot in common. “She hated pretzels… She was big on sunflower seeds,” I recall her munching on them constantly in the dugout. “She could wolf down a pizza. I think her favorite was sausage and mushroom. That’s all I really knew about them,” I finish after exhausting my memories.
“She said she likes chicken,” Eric mentions. “Would you mind taking some from last night’s dinner to her?”
I look at my Bonded in surprise, “You want me to see her tomorrow?” This is a bit surprising since he was so adamant about me not meetin’ her just a few hours ago.
Eric nods, “I can feel you are already thinking of her as Camilla. You have already been mentally preparing yourself for this and I will not deny that you are probably the best suited for helping all of us assist her.”
My telepathy, I realize. Bein’ surrounded by vampires all the time has sort of made my gift somethin’ I have and not somethin’ I am. It’s nice to finally identify as ‘Sookie’ and not ‘the telepath.’
“I want to help,” I tell him pointedly.
“I know,” Eric sighs and pulls me into his arms. “I just cannot resist my impulse to protect you from things such as these.”
“It’s a big, bad world out there, but I’ve known that a long time, Eric,” I remind him. “Jason and I have had all kinds of terrible things happen to or around us, but we still grew up to be pretty decent people. Camilla won’t change that any more than all the other unpleasantness. Besides, makin’ someone’s life better helps me remember that even though it can be a big, bad world, there’s a chance at happiness and dreams comin’ true. I don’t mind facin’ the bad things and makin’ them better whenever I can.”
I feel his love for me swell in our Bond, and there is this all-consuming sense of pride and awe. The sensation washes through me, filling me with this consciousness of being some walkin’ Goddess, all because Eric worships me in his heart.
Pam groans and walks toward the stairs, “Sookie, I will retrieve you in five hours. Take a shower afterward, so you are not sticky.”
I roll my eyes while Eric chuckles and lifts me from underneath my bottom. He carries me to our bedroom and flops me down.
“Seriously,” I begin to accuse, “she doesn’t have to comment every time I get the ‘love me eyes’.”
“Yes, she does, because she is Pam,” Eric replies, layerin’ himself over me and kissin’ at my neck. His hands are sneakin’ under my clothes, removing them quickly, but somehow not makin’ his efforts seem impatient. Soon, I am naked beneath him, and his mouth is lickin’ and kissin’ me all over until my nerve endings are singin’ praises to his perfect mouth.
“Eric,” I groan when his hands join his prayer service. They knead my fleshy parts as his mouth continues lickin’ and sucking. My breasts, hips, thighs, and butt are all rubbed down until I feel like molten chocolate, all hot and gooey.
I shimmy a little when Eric splits my legs open and begins lavishing attention on my center. He’s all reverent and slow. He builds me higher and higher until my hips won’t stay in place and his strong hands are holdin’ them still.
“Please, Darlin’,” I moan softly as I feel his tongue snake into me. My fingers comb into his long, long hair and twist it around my fist. God, I love his hair all long and thick like this! They are his reins and I have become a competent rider in our time together. His mouth spurs into action at my sharp, little tug and I cry out pleasurably while I enjoy the benefits of his experience.
Eric’s in a particularly giving mood, makin’ me cum over and over again until my body feels disjointed and sluggish. When I can barely move, he rolls me onto my side and slips in gently from behind. I let out a soft, exhausted moan as he moves slowly and smoothly inside me. His large hand is cuppin’ my breast and squeezin’ it gently as he begins to kiss his way up my neck.
I groan when I predict the path of his lips to my ear. Soon he’s suckin’ it soft and slow, and somehow my body manages to experience one last, world-ending climax. It’s so intense and deep that Eric gets dragged over the edge with me, and I suck in oxygen greedily as his cock fills me with his pleasure.
“Mmm, you spoil me, Northman,” I murmur into my pillow.
“I enjoy spoiling you,” he whispers against my sensitive ear.
“Ah, get away from my ear,” I plead once I realize I’m too stimulated to tolerate it. “I’m too tired to cum again.”
He laughs softly and scoots away, rollin’ me onto my back, so he can pillow his head to my breast. I sigh happily when he does and wrap my arms around his head, holdin’ him to me.
“Mmm,” I hum again. “I like lyin’ here this way with you.”
“As do I, Sookie,” he assures me, runnin’ his hand against the softness of my belly.
I feel him become pensive while we lay all cozy and content. He’s still playin’ with my belly, and I know what’s got him preoccupied. I don’t comment, though, because I enjoy this building anticipation in him. Every day, what originally blossomed as relief becomes enthusiasm for the day when I become pregnant. In the beginning, Eric had only been excited to find I could bear his children because he knew it meant so much to me. Now that excitement has truly begun to transform into his very own anticipation. My Eric wants to be a father nearly as much as I want to be a mother. It makes my heart swell with even more love for him.
Eric sucks in a surprised breath when he feels my affection radiate and he nuzzles against my breast.
All too soon, Pam’s knockin’ on our door and I groan in protest. I want to stay in bed with my husband! I give him a pout and Eric gives my lips a gentle kiss.
“One-hour warning!” Pam shouts at me. “Start getting ready!”
When Eric gnashes his teeth at my chin, I groan. Thoughts of mutiny spring to mind, but I know there’s no use sayin’ no to Pam when it comes to shopping.
Turning onto his front, Eric straddles my hips and leans down to cage his arms on either side of my head. His long hair casts a curtain over us, and I inadvertently moan at the intimacy of being in his arms. “She will come in and drag you out from beneath me if we try to resist,” he warns in a conspiratorial voice, makin’ me giggle.
“I need to shower,” I tell him with a gentle peck of his lips. “I’d ask you to join me, but then I’d never be ready in an hour.”
He laughs and rolls off me, floppin’ over to my side of the mattress. Regretfully, I clamber off the bed and start for the bathroom. Quicker than I thought I could, I am ready to begin my day and Pam barely lets me eat any breakfast before she’s shovin’ me into her van.
“This is very good, Camilla,” Godric tells me excitedly after I hand over the paper of math problems he’s given me. “Your math skills are superb.”
“Thanks,” I mumble, embarrassed by his praise.
So far, we’ve done a vocabulary test where he gave me a list of words and asked me to write a definition for each one. I did pretty well on it. Then, there was a chemistry test that started with me listing as many chemical elements and their symbols as I could, though I did less than great on that one. Biology came after that and he said my answers were passable. I don’t think I did all that well. We tried history and nothing he asked sounded familiar to me, but, for some weird reason, The Pledge of Allegiance is still in my head along with “The Star-Spangled Banner.” That’s about all I know. Finally, we did math, and it seems to be my best subject.
“This is a very good thing, Camilla,” Godric tells me with a smile. “It means you only have to relearn history. Your sciences are sloppy, but still at a high school level. I would probably give your vocabulary a college-level comprehension.”
“Um,” I begin slowly, a strange urge compelling me, “are there stories that might teach me history? I think I like to read.”
“Hmm,” Godric becomes thoughtful, “I think we should focus on a classroom style for you to learn history before blending fact and fiction.”
I think he heard the disappointment in my tone because he gives me a comforting smile, “What if I told you my own historical stories? That way, it may feel as if you are listening to a book rather than reading a textbook? You must take notes, though.”
Godric has explained to me about vampires, that he and the other three people I met last night are vampires as well. I don’t know if it’s the amnesia or what, but I didn’t find it all that difficult to accept, especially after he showed me his fangs.
“May I ask you a question, Godric?”
“Of course,” He nods, cleaning up the papers from our little tests.
“How old were you when you became a vampire?” I ask curiously.
“Late teens,” he says without looking up.
“You look older,” I grimace.
Godric gives me a chagrinned smile, “Most of my adolescent years were very harsh on my body. I suppose it may have aged me. How old do I look?”
I shrug. My brain can’t conjure any images of people to really give an answer. It’s really the most bizarre thing, “I really don’t know. Something about you just makes me think you’d be older than a teenager.” That makes me wonder, “How old am I?”
It’s Godric’s turn to frown now, “Now that you ask, I do not know. I should ask Sookie. She would probably know.”
Why would… OH!
“Did she know me before I was attacked!?” I ask excitedly.
I see by his expression the answer is yes, but I don’t know why he looks saddened by it.
“Camilla,” He sits down across from me and looks me straight in the eyes. “This might be difficult for you to accept, but when I explained what happened to you last night, it was so you would accept there is no recovering who you were before the attack. The girl you used to be, apart from some of your preferences, is gone forever. I do not wish for you to try to be a ghost of your former self.”
“But if you knew who I was, you could take me to my family!” I insist. “They could reteach me who I was, and-”
“Camilla,” he stops me, “you will never be their daughter again. They will cling to the hope that someday you would regain your memory, but it will never happen. I do not want to tell you who you are.”
“Camilla,” he interrupts again, “this is not just about what you want. It is about safety. If it were discovered we allowed you to return to your family after being exposed to the vampire world in such an irreversible way, your memories would be erased again and you would not be sent home afterward.”
“Wh-why?” I ask sadly.
“Because in a few short years, vampires will make themselves known to humans. When that happens, the International Council of Vampires will not want someone alive who could negatively spin the vampire community. If it were found out that there was a vampire out there who physically modified humans, erased their minds, and sold them, our entire race would suffer the consequences. The Council will never allow that to happen.”
I consider Godric’s words for a moment. Does this mean I’ll be his… What? Roommate? Prisoner? Captive? I don’t understand what he’s telling me. Will I ever be free to go out on my own again? Now that I know the truth about vampires and what they’re capable of, will Godric ever let me go?
“Camilla?” he calls my name carefully.
“I think I’m going to go lie down for a little bit,” I tell him while I rise from my seat at the kitchen counter.
“All right,” He looks resigned and it makes my heart clench. I’m a vampire’s captive!
Quietly, I make my way to the bedroom and flop on to the bed while I try to consider all that has happened to me in the past fifteen hours. Longer if you count the hours I can’t remember…
What does he care if I know math and history? Why does it matter if I’ll be in this prison for the rest of my life, no matter how nice it is? Who would help me escape? If I did escape, what could I possibly say that won’t end up with me in a mental facility?
My heart’s pounding in my chest and I think I’m going to be sick. Soon I am off the bed and pacing anxiously. Sure, Godric’s been really nice to me, but so what? He’s still holding me in isolation with him. He’s still refusing to tell me who I used to be. Doesn’t he realize that it’s important to me to know!? I may not ever be able to become that girl again, but it would have been nice to know who I was.
Going over to the mirror, I look at my reflection. My face is still a little bruised, but the incisions are healed by Godric’s blood. He had cut open his fingers and traced the blood against the incisions, healing them almost instantly. Only, his blood would never manage to heal me in the way I desperately wanted it. My heart hurts and as it clenches anxiously, tears spill from my eyes and I watch the stranger’s face cry. It’s ugly and terrified. This stranger’s face does not cry beautifully.
How much of this face is even mine? How much of this body? Who am I really? What’s going to happen to me?
I jump at the knock on my door and quickly brush aside my tears. Tentatively, I open the door and see a taller, blonde girl, standing there with a smile.
“H-hi,” I greet nasally.
“Hi, Camilla, I’m Sookie,” The blonde smiles at me widely and I’m taken aback. She’s got a real nice tan, so she’s definitely not a vampire. I quickly remember that Sookie is the name of Eric’s wife, so I slowly open my door further. “May I come in?” She’s got a container of food and it’s steaming, as if it just came out of the microwave. The smell of it makes my stomach growl.
“Sure,” I step out of the doorway to let her in and Sookie goes to the bed and sits down, like this is an ordinary exchange between friends. “What is that?”
“Chicken,” she says with an impish, little grin. “Eric told me you were cravin’ it last night. Just so happens I made some for Christmas dinner. I hope you don’t mind leftovers. I didn’t know if you were a white or dark meat gal, so I brought a little of everythin’. I could eat a whole chicken myself, so I’ll eat whatever you don’t want.”
Slowly, I make my way over to sit across from her on the bed, eyeing her nervously, “You’re the one who knew me before…”
Her smile falters, “Yeah, I did.”
“Do I look very different?” I ask, looking at the chicken hungrily.
“I wouldn’t have recognized you,” she says apologetically. “You look real nice, though. Even with the bruises, I can see you’re a very pretty girl.”
“Was I pretty before?” I ask curiously.
“You were pretty,” she says with a soft smile, but quickly changes the subject, “I brought some groceries. Everything’s in the fridge or pantry.”
“Thank you,” I say softly.
“I was wonderin’ if, after your face isn’t so bruised, you’d like to go shoppin’ with me?” She pushes the container of food at me, and I slowly reach for a leg.
“Just you and me?” I ask in surprise. No vampire guard?
“Well, you, me, and my brother. I don’t drive yet,” She grimaces in embarrassment.
I stare at her a moment, “I have amnesia and I know how to drive.”
Sookie giggles and tells me, “My brother and husband like drivin’ me around, and Pam can’t stand humans drivin’. She says we’re all way too slow.”
I begin to eat the chicken I’ve picked up, and, at the first bite, I feel like dissolving into a puddle of goo. So goooood…
“My Gran’s recipe,” Sookie must have noticed my eyes rolling into the back of my head. “I was happy when I heard you wanted chicken. Comfort food is kinda my thing.”
“It’s definitely your thing,” I agree and quickly devour the entire container of chicken. It’s only when I’m scraping the meat off the last bone I realize I didn’t leave her anything. “I’m sorry! I just couldn’t stop eating!”
Sookie laughs again and shakes her head, “No big deal. I’ve got plenty back home.”
We sit quietly for awhile, me licking my fingers clean, and her watching me expectantly. After I’ve run out of distractions, I look at my cleaned hands, and mumble, “So… What can you tell me about myself?”
She shrugs, “I don’t know, Cammie. I guess we gotta figure that out together.”
“But… You knew me before…” I trail off. It hurts having to ask a stranger about myself.
I feel her take my hand and I look up into her big blue eyes, “Why do you want to learn about a total stranger whom you’ll never meet? You are a brand-new person with a world waiting for her, Camilla. You don’t have to meet any expectations of a ghost. You only owe yourself happiness. Will knowing who you were make you happy? If it will, I will tell you everything I know, but if you only want to know that stranger’s life to try and become her, then maybe you should let her go. Tryin’ to be someone you’re not could be awful taxing.”
Am I not who I was? If I’m someone new, then who am I?
“I just don’t know what to do…” I finally whisper my confession. “Searching for my past just seems like a direction.”
Sookie nods at my explanation, “How about we start with finding out what you like?” She pulls a small rectangle with headphones from her pocket. It takes me a second to recognize it as an MP3 player. “I put a bunch of different music on here. I even had Pam help me get a good mix of genres. Why don’t you take this and when you feel like it, listen and pick out songs you like?” I nod slowly while I accept the music player. “Oh, and I brought a whole bunch of movies. Classics, romances, comedies, thrillers, the whole cinematic experience.” She takes the movies out of her giant purse and puts them on my bed, followed by several books.
When there is a mountain of media on my bed, and I am in a daze, trying to figure out how it all fit into her purse, Sookie looks at me with a smile. “Start here,” she says, “See if any of this fills some of the void you’re feelin’ right now. Next week, you, Jason and I will go out and do the human thing. Just give this a week, Camilla, and if you’re still feelin’ lost without your past, I’ll tell you as much as I can, but for now? Will you try to discover a bit for yourself? Please don’t make me tell you who you were or who you need to be now?”
I do not want to tell you who you are, Godric’s words ring in my ears. Oh! Tears spring to my eyes. He hadn’t meant that he wanted to keep secrets from me! He just doesn’t want to influence who I am or who I’ll become! That’s what all of this is about… Not making me feel as if I need to be whoever I was. For the first time, I appreciate the burden they have kept from weighing on my shoulders. Finally, I realize no matter whose face I saw in that mirror, it would be a stranger’s.
These vampires and this woman are protecting me. They are letting me become my own person again after having my identity stripped away from me completely. I don’t have to be anyone but myself, whoever that may be…
A sob escapes my lips just as all these realizations come barreling through me. It is one of gratitude and relief. Suddenly, I fling my arms around Sookie and she just holds me while I cry. I don’t know how long it lasts, but with every tear her shirt absorbs, it’s a weight off my overtaxed mind.
“Who’s Camilla?” I ask of my Bonded while we lay naked in our bed back in the Shreveport condo.
“Hmm?” he murmurs, knowin’ it’s my night for sleep, not wantin’ to break the spell of my enforced fatigue.
“Godric was so adamant about not namin’ Camilla, but all of a sudden, the name seemed so valuable to him, at least significant enough to break down his resistance. So, who was Camilla?” I ask once more, still keepin’ my eyes closed.
Eric remains quiet for a long time, but eventually he sighs, holding me closer, “Camilla would have been Godric’s Fellow Child. It is a term we use for progenies sired by the same Master.”
“Would have been?” I ask curiously.
“Godric murdered her before she could be turned,” Eric whispers, then kisses the top of my head. “Livius, Godric’s Maker, was a sadistic fuck,” I flinch whenever Eric uses that word out of anger. Its use is always accompanied by a surge of an unidentified emotion I have yet to comprehend. “He did things to Godric, unspeakable things. Aside from the sexual abuse, Livius branded and tattooed Godric, turning his body into a personal canvas. Once Livius was satisfied with his mutilation, he made it immortal.”
I swallow hard, “How long?”
“As a mortal, Godric survived probably more than four years as Livius’ doll. He cannot be certain because of the glamouring he was under, but he recalls the annual festival he was purchased at occurring at least four times while he was mortal. That is why he is not certain of the age he was when he was finally turned. He knows he was thirteen when he was bought, so he thinks he might have been seventeen or eighteen when he was turned, but he may have easily lost memories of several festivals while under glamour.” I can feel through our Bond that Eric isn’t very comfortable sharing Godric’s past with me. He probably feels it isn’t his business to be telling me these things.
“And Camilla?” I whisper, my eyes open, staring at him anxiously.
“Sookie, you will never fall asleep at this rate,” he chastises.
“It’s okay. School doesn’t start for a little while yet,” I remind him, propping myself on my elbows to watch him intently.
With a rueful smile, he tells me, “Camilla was Livius’ new doll. He only had her a week before Godric managed to kill her.”
“Godric could not hope to overtake his Maker,” Eric stops my interruption. “Instead, he took the only opportunity he had and stopped Camilla from being abused and tortured in the same way he had.”
“He killed her,” I whisper. “He couldn’t free her body, so he freed her soul.”
Eric blinks at me in surprise, “Yes.”
“So, our Camilla is something like Godric’s second chance at saving a girl being hurt by a sadistic vampire? From her being turned into a ‘doll’?” I ask.
“I believe so,” Eric nods.
“Why ‘doll’?” I ask, worryin’ my lip between my teeth, not truly wanting the answer.
“Simply because they are entertainment or collectables. They are meant to be played with or admired, to be done with as seen fit by their owners,” Eric’s voice is becoming darker, more intense. The emotions in our Bond are swirling with anger and distaste.
“Have you ever owned a doll?” I ask in a quiet tone.
“Because of Godric?”
“No, because I do not collect. I have never been a collector,” Eric spits. “I have never pretended to be an innocent, Sookie, I never will. In my human years, yes, I fought for land and honor. I led men to their deaths and many times I fought in those grim valleys for my own life, right alongside them. I toasted the glory of a win and I mourned the loss of fallen brothers. Yet, my Maker never had to teach me the wrongs of stripping away another’s identity,” Eric stops abruptly after I subconsciously shift away from him.
We are silently staring at one another and I feel him in our Bond, searchin’ the way he always does after he tells me horrible things. I’m so frazzled, even I’m curious as to what it is I’m feelin’.
“Please do not be frightened of me,” Eric whispers after another eternity of silence. “I am sorry-”
“Shh,” I press my finger to his lips. “You just got real intense, and… I felt The Viking. I’ve never had a real glimpse of him, y’know? It shocked me to feel that, not just because it was so frightening, but because it’s as though there’s some ancient emotion attached to it that doesn’t exist anymore. It was intense and dark and, yes, very scary. Incomprehensible,” I finally determine. “It’s scary because I don’t even know how I could ever begin to understand it.”
“I hope you never do,” Eric whispers into my hair and starts runnin’ his hands through it soothingly. “There are ways I felt as a human and when I was a fledgling vampire that have no purpose in modern society.”
All I can do is lay there and silently absorb all I’ve learned and felt over the past twenty minutes. Godric, Livius, and the Camilla of the Roman Empire, Eric with his Viking heritage and pride; I believe that’s what the whole thing came down to for him back then, pride. I don’t want to think about it or try to justify it. Those were not my vampires.
Who Eric, Godric, and Pam are now; that’s what’s important. They are the ones I have chosen to let into my heart.