Chapter Forty-Eight: Faith
“Eric!” I whoop excitedly once my husband arrives in the driveway. I can’t even wait for him to pull into the garage before I’m running out the door and bouncing like a toddler for him to scoop me into his arms.
He seems just as impatient because he throws the car into park, gets out of it and wraps me up into a tight hug. His lips find mine quickly and soon I find myself twisting my arms and legs around him. “I missed you,” he murmurs against my mouth.
“I missed you, too,” I assure him. “Three days felt like forever!”
“How is Camilla doing?” he asks me next as we just stand hugging in the driveway, the car still running and its driver side door hanging open.
“She’s just fine. A little weak from being still for so long and not eating, but she’ll be right as rain by the end of the week,” I reassure him. “Godric’s good, too. Where’s Pam?”
“Pam took a flight to New York to gather her things and make her way back to Shreveport. She is going to stay with Godric and Camilla until the end of the school year. All three of them will come North after graduation,” he tells me.
I pout a bit. I miss Pam. Heck, I miss having another girl around. Hanging with my brother and husband all the time is great, but sometimes a girl just wants her girlfriends. Even though I’ve only been without the two of them for a month now, it already feels a bit lonely.
“Any ideas what’s been going on?” I ask worriedly.
Eric frowns as he nods, “I have some theories. This attempt on Camilla was more than likely meant to have us tip our hand. Although Lorena seemed to have been acting of her own accord, it does not mean it will not have inspired others to try and neutralize us.”
I don’t like the sound of that, but Camilla’s mind can’t be erased. She can’t even be put into that coma thing again. The rest of us can only be hurt, not killed, so I guess I gotta amp up my pain tolerance…
“Sookie, everything will work out,” Eric tells me comfortingly.
“I know,” I whisper. “What makes you so positive, though?”
“Because we have time and experience on our sides. We know a threat is looming and that is all I need to know to protect you.” Though every part of me has faith in Eric, I’m still feeling something like disappointment. “What is it, Sookie?”
“I’m not sure,” I confess slowly.
Eric sighs and presses his forehead against mine, “Go inside and let me park the car, Sookie. Then we will talk.”
Instead of pushing for answers, I do as he suggested and go to the kitchen to make myself some tea. Tea is good. Even if I’d prefer coffee…
When my Bonded arrives in the kitchen, I look up from my steaming mug and wait for him to deliver whatever bad news it is he’s keeping to himself.
“As we discussed before my departure, I am noticing shifts in policies and political positions that are… Telling,” Eric announces as he sits at the counter and pauses. At first I think it’s because he’s trying to emphasize the issue, maybe even increase the drama, but I realize it is because he could hear the family moving to join us. Soon Godric, Camilla, and Jason are all there, so Eric continues, “The vampire community knows our stance. They are aware if they want to take arms against humans, they will be fighting our bloodline and our allies. The attack on Camilla was probably meant to force our hand. If we had any sort of vulnerability, it would have been exploited to allow Camilla to be restored or even to allow Godric to end his and Camilla’s lives.”
Godric gives his Bonded a sheepish, apologetic look. None of us miss the exasperated eye roll she gives him in return.
“Instead, we proved the attack was inconsequential,” Jason points out. “So, wouldn’t that mean they’re gonna have to alter their plans?”
Eric shakes his head, “Alter, yes. Scrap, no. I have taken William Compton on as an informant. We will see if his new loyalty to us is genuine, and take action from there. His current job is tracking Grissom down so we can give him a long overdue staking. With any luck, the attack upon Camilla is separate from whatever plan the rest of the vampire community is forming.”
“Theories?” Godric asks, taking a seat and pulling Cammie into his side a bit tighter. He seems unmoved by Grissom’s death sentence.
My husband frowns and crosses his arms over his chest, “I am not prepared with many, but I am hoping that these political shifts are just advantageous maneuvering. Perhaps the intention is to push laws that would protect the vampire community into the human justice system. I only considered nefarious action because of the attack upon Camilla. Now that I know Lorena is the one who initiated it, I am less certain that it was a purposeful move toward some world changing goal. The fact that Lorena is the one who took the action of glamouring the human who attacked Camilla only assures me that it was not some conspiracy. If multiple vampires had been involved, Lorena would have suggested someone unconnected to Compton initiate the attack. She did not know with whom she could align against us.”
“That makes much more sense to me,” Godric agrees. “After all, if some sort of plan for our destruction were intended, it would have been much more difficult to find an unwavering group to take on the task. The second we announced our immunities to the vampire world, they knew any failure would be their death sentence. If this had been an organized attack, we would have been pelted with bombs and fire the second I sought out my progeny.”
“So the war is on us? The war the Ancient Pythoness saw?” Jason asks in confusion. “That doesn’t make any sense. That’s not what I saw at all!”
“What did you see, Jason?” Godric asks patiently.
“Vamps killin’ humans,” Jason frowns thoughtfully, and I see this look on his face that makes my heart ache. Something in the Pythoness’ vision has stirred him deeply. “A lot. In churches, on the streets and just all over. A bunch of ancient vamps were killed too.”
“It is difficult for a Seer to interpret what and when they See, Jason,” Godric tells him gently. “The reflective glimpse you stole from one is not very telling.”
My brother makes a displeased face at his Maker’s point, “I guess that’s true, but why would Diedre and the Pythoness get all worked up and try to force our hand like that if it wasn’t meant to stint a war?”
Because we wanted to keep hiding…
“Because,” I whisper, “we were scared to show off our power. You said yourselves, Endymion was there confirming all these powers. We were just going to keep hiding in the shadows, not really letting anyone know that you guys had your immunities. Endymion, Diedre and the Pythoness want us to be a deterrent. Maybe we are already stopping a war. Maybe our very existence is what really matters, and that others know we exist.”
“That would explain the desperation Diedre was experiencing, as well as her momentary displeasure at the wedding,” Eric considers my point. “She knew that we had every intention of maintaining our secret for the time being.”
Godric interrupts our musings with his own theory, “Perhaps we should make another announcement to the vampire community.”
“Such as?” Eric asks.
The Master of the Bloodline smiles, “With the existence of V addicts and drainers, perhaps we should assure the community that we will protect them from human threats as we would protect humans from vampire threats.”
“What do you foresee that entailing?” Eric raises his eyebrows skeptically.
Godric shrugs, “Stopping a drainer if we happen upon one. Keeping our homes stocked with blood in the event that a weakened vampire finds himself upon our doorstep, and maintaining light proofed chambers if they need shelter.”
My lips tilt into a smile, “I like the sound of that.”
“You do?” Eric asks me in surprise.
“Of course,” I laugh. “I don’t want anyone to be hurt; not vampires, humans, Weres… Anyone.”
“Speaking of two-natured folk,” Jason raises his hand slowly. “We got an unpopped shifter at the school, and he’s adopted without any two-natured support system. We tried calling the Pack Master around here, but he said in no uncertain terms that he doesn’t want anything to do with this kid. I guess his parents got themselves ostracized from the local pack, and now he’s on his own with adoptive, human parents.”
“I see.” Eric frowns and leans back into his seat thoughtfully. “I will have to make a call in the morning.”
I smile gratefully at my Bonded and lean my head against his shoulder. Suddenly the future doesn’t feel so daunting. Even though I’ll have to wait longer than I’d like to have my girlfriends back by my side, it’s not so scary or sad now that a war isn’t about to break out. Cammie is well, and Eric’s taken care of part of the problem. I’m sure Godric will take care of the other part of the problem posthaste.
For the first time I can remember, the “vampire stuff” is a lot less frightening. In a way, it feels justified.
But why is my stomach shrinking at the idea of it? Why is my heart pounding in objection?
After our meeting has adjourned, I look around the room with a bit of annoyance. With so many additional vampires in the house, I know it will be a chore convincing my Bonded to make love, and after so many days apart, I am anxious to do so.
“Eric,” My wife takes my hand and tugs me toward the door. “Will you take me out for some dinner? I’m feeling cooped up.”
I nod as I reach once more for my car keys. “Where would you like to go?”
I follow Sookie out the front door, and she takes the keys from my hand to climb into the driver’s seat. This turn of events makes my body coil worriedly. She has the keys to my Corvette. Gods, please protect my poor mechanical child!
“C’mon, I know a great place,” Sookie smiles and slips behind the wheel. She pulls the adjuster on the seat and I find myself saying another silent prayer. This is happening. This is actually happening.
As I sit in the passenger seat, I stare at my wife with fear and anxiety. The first thing she does upon turning over the ignition is stall the engine. Before I can demand to drive, she gets the car in reverse and takes off down the driveway… Where she stalls again trying to put it into first gear. As I am about to make a demand to change seats, she bolts down the street like she has been suddenly possessed by the spirit of Dale Earhhardt… I love my wife, I love my wife… I think helplessly as images of my car wrecked into a tree spring to mind.
We drive easily for a few miles before I note that she is already slowing down. We eventually end up sitting in a parking lot near the bike trails.
“There is food here?” I ask in surprise.
“No,” Sookie replies, “there’s just no vampire family members to eavesdrop on my husband making me cum like a freight train.” I look at her in surprise as she slips from behind the wheel and crawls into my lap.
“Gods, I love you,” I growl as I pull her hips tightly against my own. I grind up against her, and Sookie moans as my hardness quickly grows. Reaching up, I let her perfect breasts rest into my palms. She sighs into my mouth as her hips begin to rock teasingly against my own. Her heat is already warming me, her desire is already flooding me.
“Eric,” Sookie mumbles against my mouth as she takes a breath from our kiss. My fingers give a tightening nipple a hard tug and she squeezes her thighs in response. “Let me feel you, Darlin’.” She kisses along my jaw and down my throat as I reach between us to undo my belt and fly. Soon enough of me is exposed to meet our goal, and the only task remaining is to tear her panties from her hips.
Without warning, I reach beneath my wife’s skirt and destroy the scrap of fabric that keeps me from her true warmth. She gasps against my throat and I feel her approving lust flare in the Bond. My wife loves a little ‘caveman’ primitiveness in our lovemaking.
No longer with a barrier between us, Sookie begins to lower herself upon me. I feel the head of my cock slip between her welcoming folds, and thrust up to meet her. However, she recognizes my intent and quickly raises herself away so I am left unsatisfied. Instead of letting me deep into her pussy, Sookie rocks so that only my head enjoys the sweet suction and squeeze of her heat.
“Sookie,” I grip her hips, but refuse to force her all the way down. She will want it soon herself, and it will be that much sweeter when she gives in. Her resistance is admirable as her full, thick ass jiggles with the quick staccato of her movements. If only I had a mirror to watch her bottom as she rides my tip with such fervor.
“Eric,” she moans loudly as her will power can hold back no more. Her weight shifts and finally I am buried inside of her completely. “Oh!” She arches back and twists her hips frantically. Finally I am able to thrust up to meet her, and she releases a rising cry as I pound beneath her furiously.
Her hand reaches back to plant against my knee, and I know this is her way of telling me to be still. My wife’s eyes lock upon mine, glazed and focused as she finds a new rhythm. She undulates with great intent until her jaw slackens and she seems to go into a trance. At last she cries out, and her internal muscles tighten upon me. Her body bows as those muscles squeeze and release me over and over until the contractions slow. When I feel Sookie’s body begin to relax, I begin my own movements once again.
Grabbing Sookie’s hips, I start pounding upward again, and she braces her hands upon my shoulders. “Yeah,” she mumbles as her second wind has not arrived yet, “yeah, Darlin’, like that!” she says more eagerly.
I reach between us to stroke her clit, but she seems more content to grind against my pelvis when our hips meet.
“Oh, Eric,” she groans as her muscles start flexing again.
As her orgasm causes her body to tighten around me once more, I find my own release. While her body grips at the final shreds of my control, I give her all that I am. All of my lust and love. Every ounce of my essence and being. Finally, to be with her once again.
The following morning after Sookie leaves for school, I break out my black book of Supernaturals.
“Scott here,” The Ohio Pack Master’s voice comes over the phone.
“Hello, Scott. This is Eric Northman-”
“Like I told your woman, I got no interest in-”
“Keeping your position as the local Pack Master?” I finish for him in my most bored tone. Scott remains silent, so I continue, “My wife may not know any better quite yet, but I certainly do. You cannot knowingly ostracize an orphaned two-natured like this. Your kind is not prepared to come out to the public yet, and with vampires in the open, no one is going to overlook a fifteen year old boy spontaneously turning into a house cat or a golden retriever.”
Scott snarls in the back of his throat and I resist rolling my eyes at the ‘big bad wolf’ trying to intimidate me. I am the biggest bad he will ever meet!
“If you are through posturing, I suggest you begin making calls among your pack and see who is willing to volunteer services. I highly suggest the parents of Rick Chandler. The child goes to school with this young shifter, and it would be much easier for his family to spend time with Taylor than others from your pack.”
Scott snarls some more under his breath and I change my tone to reflect that I am absolutely through with his bullshit, “Or I will be contacting every last one of your pack that I can find and inform them that their leader is risking their exposure.”
“I’ll talk to the Chandlers and get back to you,” Scott finally utters and then hangs up.
I put my cell phone down, a bit of smugness tugging at my ego before I mentally check off my first task of the morning. Next, I pull my keyboard closer and begin drafting the mass e-mail that will assure the vampire community that they still have allies in the Gaul Line. When the message is complete, I send it to Godric for notes and revisions. We send it back and forth several times before we both seem content with the letter.
Mostly it is a statement about our bloodline’s intention to protect the vampire community from human attacks. We offer our assistance toward investigating any human related grievances, taking care to address the infantile organization known as the Fellowship of the Sun. It is a relatively new group, but they have ‘zealots in the making’ exuding all from their demeanor.
Finally, I open a fresh composition and address it to Russel Edgington of Mississippi, Caroline Greer of New York, Joan Scooner of Minnesota and finally Diedre Thorn and the Ancient Pythoness. In my letter to them I explain the blatant, yet futile, attack on the Gaul Line, and its concerning possibilities. I ask my allies to please keep their informants aware of any news regarding future attempts on my family to prevent any future hinderances.
Hopefully none read too much into my request. The last thing I need is for them to believe we have vulnerabilities that could be exploited. Russel can be quite a Wild Card when he gets bored.
Sookie has been very distracted these past weeks and every time I bring it up, she merely shrugs. At one point, she brought up the unpopped shifter again and I assured her that a member of Scott Smilie’s pack had already agreed to come assess the boy as well as speak to his human guardians about the situation.
However, even after a mentor of sorts was found for this lost shifter, Sookie did not brighten or appear any less distracted. At first I thought it was the new job, learning to balance the closeness of her new colleagues as well as her career, but the level of this distraction never fluctuated. She was never more uncomfortable at school than home.
If only she would let me in on these concerns. After she continually brushed off my worry and questions, I asked her brother, Camilla, and Pam if she had mentioned anything. Nothing.
Everything feels as though it is making her sad or unhappy and it has felt that way for nearly two months now since I returned from Louisiana and Camilla had regained consciousness.
A creeping, terrifying realization hits me. What if she felt my gloating and amusement while Pam tortured Compton? What if she felt my vindication while I gave Lorena her True Death?
That thought nearly paralyzes me and my mind tries to think of a way to coax understanding from her. Yet, I cannot fathom how I could make her understand, nor a reason why I would want her to. Instead, I try to think of how to earn her forgiveness and I get to work preparing my groveling.
If only I knew what this mood was about! I think desperately as I flip through her family cookbook for her favorite food. When I find her ‘comfort food,’ I make a quick run to the grocery store before I get to work cooking. I know it will not be as good as when she makes it for herself, but hopefully it will be good enough to open her up.
When Sookie arrives home from school and sees me in the kitchen, she smiles and comes to lean into my side.
“What’s the occasion?” she asks when she sees me frying chicken for her.
Kissing the top of her head, I reply, “You have been melancholy lately. I thought this might help?”
“Really? I’ve been so down you’re fryin’ me some chicken and you bought a chocolate cake?” Sookie looks at me guiltily.
“I wanted to make you smile,” I whisper.
“You do. All the time,” she tells me as I take the chicken off the pan and let it set on a plate of paper towels as I have seen her do so many times in the last four years.
“It has been a smile of consolation these past weeks. I feel you hiding from me, Sookie,” I tell her in as gentle a tone as I can manage. I do not want her to feel attacked. “At first, I thought it was the new job. Then I thought it was the shifter boy. Now, I am worried that it is me.”
“It’s me,” Sookie confesses as she turns her back against the kitchen counter and leans against it. “I keep trying so hard not to worry so much about the future, but-” she takes a nervous breath, unable to finish her statement.
“Tell me?” I plead gently. “I ache knowing you feel this way and I am unable to make it better.”
Sookie looks at her feet and I hear her murmuring her confessions, “I felt like it was fair that you killed Lorena. I feel like it’s right that you beat it out of Compton.”
“And that upsets you,” I note.
“It makes me confused about the sort of person that I am,” she whispers.
“How do you mean?” I frown and take her hands.
Sookie shrugs weakly as she looks at our joined hands. “Four years ago, I could never fathom condoning a murder. Now every action we take seems gray and foggy. If I can’t feel the difference between right and wrong anymore, how am I supposed to teach it? In four more years, what more of my moral compass will point away from North?”
“Four years is a short time, Dear One. I am certain that life will slow down shortly, and you will not find yourself needing to make such compromising decisions.”
“In four years, I’ll be the same age that version of me who could have your babies was when she first got pregnant,” Sookie rambles out quickly.
Babies! I think bewilderedly. Why do I keep forgetting about the babies!? I am going to be just as terrible a father in the twenty-first century as I was in the eleventh!
“So, these past weeks you have been worrying about becoming pregnant and that you will be too morally compromised to raise them right?” I ask, tugging her toward the kitchen table to talk more comfortably.
Sookie nods as she sits meekly in her seat.
“It could never happen,” I tell her truthfully. She takes another shuttering breath and I take her hands to squeeze comfortingly. “Sookie, the fact that such a thought occurred to you and you are responding like this is testament to the fact you are not compromised.”
“But I’m so confused,” she whispers and looks at our joined hands like they can ease her concerns. I know that children have been a point of conflict with her for a few years now, but every day I can feel a mild impatience brewing more and more inside of her. As much as she fears being a bad mother, she also anticipates the day she finally becomes pregnant.
“What do you mean?” I plead for these answers that seem to evade me.
“I want my certainty back,” she explains in a voice that squeezes my heart like a vice. “I want our family to be safe! I feel so lost, Eric. My spirit feels weak, and I don’t know how to fix it.”
I wrap Sookie into my arms and let her cry against my shoulder. Sometimes, having a love like Sookie’s keeping me bathed in light, I forget that I am a callous bastard. I forget she gives me more than her love, more than her body, and that more than anything, she gives me a long-lost conscience. She is my moral compass long-lost, drifted into my hands, and where she points, I must follow her direction.
“You are at a spiritual conflict,” I tell her. “I am sorry that I did not recognize it sooner.” I should have recognized it sooner.
Sookie leans away and looks at me in surprise, “Eric-”
“I forget often what a good, Christian woman you are,” I smile as I pull away and play with the strands of hair framing her face. “Perhaps we should be spending some time searching for a new church. Will going back to services help you?” I ask gently.
“I don’t know,” she confesses and squeezes my hands. “That’s where all this is coming from, I think. I’ve met the Voice of God, Eric. Everything I’ve ever believed in, everything I held close to my heart is chipping away and crumbling. The more I learn, the less I know, and I just feel so… lost…”
Suddenly I realize something very saddening. Every year more and more of her beliefs have become more impossible than the last to reconcile. All of us forced mountains of information into her without context. Now my wife is adrift in this sea of fairy tale and magic, and she cannot find where her own beliefs remain.
“Sookie, the Voice of the Pantheon does not negate the existence of your beliefs. I wish I knew more to say to help you, but my own existence has never relied on my beliefs. Even as a human, belief was found more in myself than stories of the Divine.”
My wife takes her hands from mine and gazes at her upturned palms. I can feel some objection in her, but her lips refuse to move. She resists the urge to voice her worries or concerns.
I try once more to ease some of the burden on her heart, “Do not think of Lorena as a retribution. Her True Death was one that was necessary for the safety of our family. That is all, Sookie. There is a threat against our family, and Godric and I are merely protecting our family. Our child will know that your true heart is family. He will feel loved and safe.”
“So, it’s gonna be a boy?” she teases as she pushes away the last of her drying tears.
“The first will,” I tell her with certainty. “I do not know about any after that, but I know our firstborn will be a son.”
“And how do you know that?” she laughs.
My shoulders lift as I rise from the table and go to the stove to retrieve her cooled chicken. It is still warm, but no longer scalding. Setting the plate in front of her, I confess, “It is just a feeling I have.”
“What are we going to name him?” she is still teasing, but there is a name on the tip of my tongue. I think she can read the hesitation on my face, or perhaps in the Bond. “Eric, do you have a name picked out?” Her voice is so earnest and patient.
On one hand, I am hesitant to let her change the topic while it is unresolved, but on the other, I do not think we can go any further today. The Bond is telling me that she feels emotionally drained by the topic. All I am able to do now is hope that having her talk about her crisis of faith is enough to let her begin healing.
“Leif,” I whisper and I feel bashful? “It was my brother’s name.”
Her lips split into a smile, “I like it.”
With my twenty-third birthday comes the day I’ve anticipated the most in months.
Pam, Camilla, and Godric are moving up north to the same subdivision as Eric, Jason, and me. Pam’s moving in with Jason while Cammie and Godric are getting their own place. I can’t contain myself as I bounce around the airport, waiting for my best friends to come home!
Though I just saw Cammie last month for her college graduation, it feels like forever! When her wavy brown hair springs into view, I hop, skip, and jump into her arms. We hug and squeal and jump like schoolgirls as our vampires just watch us. Pam looks a little put out that I’m not squealing all over her, too, but I know she’s a little relieved as well. She still has trouble accepting that she’s one of the girls and doesn’t have to be so solemn and cold.
Jason greets Pam with one of their usual cheek kisses, but Cammie and I are clinging to each other like we’ve been apart for decades.
I can’t understand how all vampires don’t live in larger nests! As much as I love my husband and brother, I miss having my girlfriends around and I miss having the one man who can make Eric express any form of humility. I missed Pam’s teasing remarks and quipping abilities. I missed Godric absorbing some of the heavier conversations.
As I look at the three members of my family who have been missing, I realize I’ve missed the outlets they provide. Eric and I are always so serious lately. Our conversations, our silence, even our sex life, I miss the teasing and the playfulness!
“Are we splitting ways?” Eric looks at me with raised eyebrows as I still haven’t let Cammie go.
“Yeah,” I laugh with a bit of embarrassment. “I want to catch up with my girls!” I finally tug Pam into the group hug she’s been holding out on and watch as Eric smiles and nods. The guys just laugh and go to the luggage carousels to start bringing all the bags home while Pam takes the keys to Jason’s truck from him. We three ladies are soon piled into the pickup and tearing through Columbus instead of heading back to the suburbs.
“So,” Pam looks at me sideways and smirks, “I take it you missed us?”
“Soooo much,” I confess with exasperation. “Everything has felt way too huge without you guys.”
“How do you mean?” Cammie asks, leaning in between us from the small seat behind us in the truck cab.
I go into an epic tale of the past eight and a half months. Soon they know all about my baby fears, the stress of the Were community and our family, the fact Eric’s been tracking down these political shifts, Jason’s fang throbbing obsession with some student he knows better than to actually go after, and the fact I feel ready to explode at any moment.
“Who is this girl?” Pam asks curiously and I roll my eyes. Of course, Pam would focus on a delicious female.
“She’s a Freshman and Jason’s been complaining that her scent is making his fangs want to pop. Eric told him its perfectly normal. Sometimes a human smells tastier than others and they can be harder to resist. Jason’s resisting and everything, but he looks really agitated at lunch. I think this girl might be in his third or fourth period class,” I explain.
Pam grins and I see her hands flex a bit on the steering wheel, “I might need to do a little drive-by on Monday,” she declares.
I laugh at her statement as she pulls into the mall parking lot and we all spill out of the truck we packed into. Pam leads the way toward the main doors and starts scouting out the wears of her new home. I know by the end of the week she’ll have found us a new spa and salon, but right now she needs to know what sort of shoes and clothes are at her disposal.
“Your hair looks like a rat’s nest,” Pam comments as she examines the ends of my hair. “When is the last time you had it cut?”
I blanch apologetically, “Umm, whenever it was you dragged me to get it done last?” I confess.
Pam rolls her eyes, “We will find a place to get this cleaned up. This is what you could be looking like, Sookie,” She gestures gloriously to Camilla and my friend does a little spin.
I smile, “It wasn’t the same going without you guys.”
“You’ve started shaving instead of keeping up on your waxing, too,” Pam accuses when she looks at my legs.
I groan, “I’m sorry.”
“There are no women in Ohio with whom you could become friends and at least have a monthly spa trip?” Pam keeps nagging at me.
“It’s hard,” I mumble. “Everyone is so… Un-relatable,” I finally admit. It’s a hard truth to confess, but it is a truth nonetheless. Officially, I have very little in common with humans. In six short years, I have forgotten what exhaustion feels like. I have forgotten what it feels like to “have no time.” I have never worried about aging or missing out… Only, now I feel like I am missing something. I feel like I am missing connections. I am missing the opportunity of knowing others, and it only brings back the unforgettable burdens of my crumbling beliefs.
“Sookie?” Camilla takes my hand and I feel her take a sharp breath.
“Don’t use that empathy touch on me,” I ask her, wrenching my hand away. At first, the magical exercise was a sweet, beautiful thing, but now I feel like it betrays my inner turmoil that I have no right to feel.
“What’s wrong?” Pam seems to finally realize that something is just not right with me and she stops to stare.
“Cammie, how did you feel when Compton called Godric with Grissom’s location?” I ask Camilla desperately.
“Well,” Cammie frowns as she considers my question, “I was a little worried people would realize we were connected to Grissom…”
“It didn’t bother you that Godric,” I pause quickly. I know better than to insinuate a murder in public.
“Nope,” Cammie shrugs easily.
“And you didn’t feel guilty for not feeling guilty?” I press.
Pam’s shoulders finally relax as she guesses one of my many problems, “Sookie,” she places her hands on my arms, “these things effect everyone differently.”
“What’s wrong with me?” I demand sadly.
For the first time in my life, Pam pulls me into an unasked-for hug and holds me tight, “We all know, Sookie.”
“Know what?” I whisper into her chest.
“We know you have been having a crisis of faith,” Pam replies, pulling away to look me in the eyes.
“I don’t,” I confess. “I don’t know why it’s effecting me like this!”
Pam pulls me back against her chest and I feel Cammie wrap herself around me from behind. We must look like the strangest group of women ever to shop these parts.
“We can’t tell you how to feel, Sookie,” Cammie mumbles against my ear.
“Or how to act,” Pam continues for her. “But you cannot shut yourself away to find your answers. Ever since the incident with Lorena, you have been hiding away with Jason and Eric this whole time instead of exploring the world. Find yourself, Sookie. You have all the time in the world to do so.”
“Eric’s been tellin’ me that from the beginning,” I mumble into Pam’s chest. “Why does it only seem wise when you guys say it?”
“Because he’s your husband,” Camilla laughs. “They’re meant to sound placating, not wise.”
“He’s over a thousand,” I laugh as well and our little group hug breaks apart at last. “And yours is over two. Shouldn’t we take them at their word?”
Camilla’s nose scrunches, “Where’s the fun in that? That’s like playing poker with all the cards facing up.”
I let out a laughing sob as I begin wiping my eyes free of tears.
“You don’t have to hide from your humanity or beliefs, Sookie. There is nothing wrong about not being callous,” Pam tells me. “However, you do not have to hide from making connections with mortals. In a way, the more people you know and remember, the more they become immortals as well. Isn’t that a little amazing? Isn’t that a wonderful gift to give?”
The poisonous feeling inside of me begins to slowly recede. I can finally feel the excitement of my gifts again. Here, I’ve been paralyzed by my lack of empathy for an enemy and terrified of the losses I’ll experience. During all that, I forgot that life is experiences, the good and the bad. Enemies are not always meant to be mourned, and I can remember the friends I’ve made and lost, the family I’ve had and the new one I’ve made. There’s been fear and sadness, but it doesn’t make me cherish those connections any less. I loved Tara like a sister, even though our friendship ended in an unhappy fashion, I’ll always remember the good times fondly.
“Immortality is really confusing,” I tell my friends.
“It is even more confusing when you experience several new awarenesses simultaneously. Still, you get used to it,” Pam shrugs.
“Or you spend more time as an immortal than you did as a mortal and it just becomes natural,” Camilla teases. “I just cheated a little.”
The three of us laugh and finally fall into our shopping groove. Pam finds a suitable salon and I get my hair cleaned up. Cammie finds a New Age store that she walks into and immediately back out of with wide, disbelieving eyes.
“Is that what they think witches are like?” Camilla asks worriedly as she looks back to the shop in disappointment. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocator for essential oils, but damn! The way they talk, you’d think they could cure cancer!”
We all chuckle and continue wandering around, letting Pam persuade us about what we need in our closets. At one point, we stop into a restaurant and Pam surreptitiously glamours a server to bring her a True Blood with a stalk of celery to make it look like a Bloody Mary.
“Can you believe a Bloody Mary costs less than a bottle of that synthetic crap?” Pam grumbles as we leave the restaurant.
“I can’t believe you actually drank it,” Camilla replies with a laugh.
As my two best friends laugh and lead me through the mall, I feel a weight finally leaving my shoulders. For the first time, I think I finally realize the truth about marriage and family. I love my husband and I love my brother, but sometimes a girl just needs her friends.