AN: I wanted to respond to a recent guest review. Since it was left as a guest, I couldn’t reply in a PM, so instead thought I’d address it here. The review seemed angry but was strangely flattering nonetheless, as the reader was irritated that I had not updated a new chapter to this story in a couple of weeks (meaning, damn it, she is enjoying the story and wants more!). She (sorry, I am assuming she) was against my somewhat ADD approach to fan fiction (i.e., working on multiple stories simultaneously).
Well, there is a method to the madness. I come from a career background that requires multitasking to the nth degree. Over the years, I have gotten accustomed to writing multiple (nonfiction) things at once, and I suppose I am continuing that tradition here in my fiction efforts. As I experiment with my writing, I find that when I get “stuck” at a place in a story, I switch to another to keep the old creative juices flowing (instead of just “shoveling shit” as Stephen King calls it when the muse has taken a vacation in his wonderful book, On Writing). Is this the best method I am adopting? Maybe not. But…I was stuck about how to handle the next chapter of this tale, as the story arc had reached a zenith with Sookie finally (consciously) meeting Eric. Also, since this story was originally intended to be a one-shot, I really didn’t have a clear plot lined out (though it’s slowly starting to gel).
Please be gentle with me, readers! I welcome constructive criticism from reviewers with a discerning eye, but this ole girl is only human! I write when I find time in between my part time job and being a mom to a very active 5-year old (often late at night on my laptop in bed, much to my husband’s chagrin). I am experiencing growing pains while trying to work out how to become a somewhat decent author of fiction, which is a whole other ballgame from writing the stuff I am used to churning out at my job. Besides, I haven’t been idle…I have written 14 chapters in sum between all of my stories since late May, which ain’t bad!
Sorry for the long-winded AN, but there you have it. I am doing my best not to shovel shit and actually write decent, entertaining fan fiction (I hope!), with as quick of a turnaround as possible (despite my copious use of adverbs and passive voice-arrggh!).
So…Without further ado, here is the next chapter, which is dedicated to my cranky, tough love guest reviewer! xoxo
Sookie stared at Eric for several seconds as he knelt motionless by the bed, the washcloth grasped into a dripping ball, all but forgotten in his hand. Slowly, she pushed herself upright into a sitting position, her back against the old brass headboard.
Eric was fighting the urge to glamour her. The situation was most uncomfortable, and he was experiencing feelings that were…unfamiliar. Instead, he forced himself to remain silent by her side. An eternity seemed to pass between them, as they stared into each other’s eyes.
Sookie was stunned, and on the verge of panic. Here in front of her very eyes was the man her Gran had told her about and shown her in the dream. It suddenly dawned on her as she gazed at his large form and long blonde hair, that this was the man she had seen flying the other night. It was real…her mind had not been playing tricks on her!
She whispered, “What are you?”
He held her blue eyes captive with his as he responded in a deep and decadent voice, “I am a man.”
She took in a long, calming breath. “Yes, you’re a man…but a man I saw flying in the freaking sky! How is that possible?”
He paused, carefully considering his words before responding. “It is possible…for one such as myself.” He stopped, as he wanted to gauge her response.
Sookie slowly nodded, for the moment allowing herself to buy into this surreal alternate reality she suddenly got sucked into.
“Okay. You can fly. You are what…a superhero or something?” She gave a dry chuckle.
A brief, fleeting smile ghosted across his face. “Hardly.”
Sookie stared at him, waiting for him to continue. When she realized he had no intention of explaining himself, she pushed on. “Alright. You’re not a superhero. What does that leave? Alien? I don’t suppose you had jetpacks on the other night either?”
He remained silent and continued staring at her. Sookie felt a chill creep down her spine, feeling as if she was being scrutinized by a lion, a great predator, who was calculating and anticipating her every move as he waited for the slightest movement before pouncing.
She shifted, pulling her legs under her body. “Well, you don’t seem to want to tell me how you were able to defy the laws of gravity. Maybe we can at least start by exchanging names?” She smiled a small, nervous smile. “My name is Sookie, Sookie Sta….”
“Stackhouse.” He finished for her, smirking slightly. The darkness in him, the beast within, was enjoying the game, and he was keenly aware that she was terrified.
“H…how do you know my name?” she whispered. Eric could smell the sweet syrupy scent of her fear that exquisitely heightened her natural honey essence. While the vampire part of him reveled in her fear and compelled him to take her now and ravish her while she screamed in ecstasy, Eric the man wanted to comfort her. He paused for several seconds while he experienced the internal tug of war taking place in his psyche. Id versus superego. Vampire versus man. The man won…for the moment.
“Ms. Stackhouse…Sookie. Please allow me to properly introduce myself. I am Eric Northman, your new neighbor. I was walking on my property tonight when I saw you in the cemetery…talking…but there was no one else nearby, so I presume you were sleepwalking. I saw you faint and fall on the ground and brought you back here.”
He gazed at her steadily, waiting to see how she would react to his safe and generic response. She seemed to be buying it, so he continued. “I apologize for startling you, but I thought it best to make you comfortable, which is why I placed you here on your bed. I took the liberty of cleaning your face.” He said innocently, “I hope you don’t mind.”
She gave him an appraising stare for several moments. “Ah, then thank you Mr. Northman. For bringing me in. I, um, have had a history of sleepwalking since I was a child. I tend to do it when I’m stressed, and I guess it’s been happening more often since my Gran died.” Sookie blanched as she recalled the recent dream of her grandmother.
“You know…things are getting pretty damned weird. Twilight Zone weird. First I see you flying.” Here she paused, giving a him a chance to respond. When he didn’t she continued. “Then I have a dream where my dead grandmother tells me about you, that you’d be coming into my life…and that I should “let you in.” Give you a chance, she tells me. I sure would appreciate it if you would tell me what the hell is going on, because I sure don’t understand what’s happening anymore…” Sookie burst into tears, hiding her face in embarrassment.
He looked at her and felt…pity. It was obvious she had been under a tremendous amount of stress since the death of her grandmother. He had heard and observed as much in his limited contact with her. She was his woman, and as his woman, this was intolerable. He decided to take matters into his own hands.
“Sookie, look at me.” She continued to cry softly. He reached over with his long arms and gently pulled her hands down. She allowed him to hold her hands, though continued to shed tears as she stared at him.
He held her gaze as he spoke in a velvet soft voice, the cadence smooth and soothing, “You will no longer be lonely and sad…while you will you continue to miss your grandmother, you will be at peace. You are now my woman. You will come back to my residence in Shreveport tonight and we
“Wait a minute,” Sookie sniffled. “What are you talking about? Your woman? Go back to your house?” She eyed him suspiciously.
Eric kept a stoic expression on his face as his mind raced. The woman did not respond to his glamour. Most puzzling. And…maddening! For the first time in centuries, he was actually at a loss. He thought furiously for several seconds.
“Sookie, I was merely suggesting that you have been through a lot and that you need to rest…”
Sookie interrupted him. “No, Mr. Northman, that is most certainly not what you said. And I…I felt a strange sensation in my mind when you were looking into my eyes.” She sat up in bed and gave him a level stare. “As I said before, you need to tell me what the hell is going on. You are…are you a man? I mean human?”
Eric returned her gaze. “I am most assuredly a man…human, though?” He paused before he took the step off the cliff. “Not for over 1000 years.”
Sookie’s eyes widened. “You’re…you just said you are aren’t human. And…how is that possible you are that old?” She began to hyperventilate.
Eric could smell the acrid scent of shock settling over her. That was not acceptable. He would have to intervene, and quickly.
“Ms. Stackhouse, please listen.” When Sookie continued to stare blankly, he sat on the edge of the bed and grasped her shoulders, shaking her lightly. “Sookie! I mean you no harm. I will protect you and cherish you. You will want for nothing…I wish for you to be mine.”
Sookie’s breath hitched as she stared back at him. “Yours? What does that mean? You don’t even know me…and, and you never answered me, you’ve just given cryptic hints. You,” she gulped, “you can fly. You’re over 10000 years old and you’re not human. So…just what the hell are you?”
He continued to hold onto her shoulders as he looked her straight in the eye.
Sookie started to giggle, a nervous and maniacal sound. “Vampire! You’re a freaking vampire! I’ve…I’ve fallen right into a Bram Stoker novel!” She continued to laugh, and Eric knew she was teetering on the knife’s edge of shock.
He looked at her, one eyebrow raised. “You do not believe?”
She continued to laugh bitterly for several seconds before she was able to finally compose herself.
“Oh, God help me! I suppose I do…it’s just that when Gran said I would soon meet my soul mate, she never warned me that he was a vampire!” She groaned and grabbed her head. “Oh, shit! This is just too much! I feel like I’m dreaming but I know I’m not!”
Eric continued sitting on the bed, waiting for her next response. She slowly sank back, onto the mattress. He didn’t hinder her while she closed her eyes and lay curled up in a ball for several minutes. Finally, she opened one eye and peeked at him. She sat up, leaning heavily on one arm.
“Well, I guess we’re quite a match, then.”
Eric raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
Sookie chuckled under her breath as she said, “In my dream earlier, Gran told me I wasn’t completely human either…she said something about my grandpa being a “fae” or something like that. I don’t know what she was talking about. She called him Findon or Finnon or something. That wasn’t my grandpa’s name!”
Eric froze motionless. He was thunderstruck. Ah! But now things made more sense! Her intoxicating scent…her delectable blood…his woman was part fae! And he believed she was referring to Fintan. Fintan fucking Brigant, son of the fae prince. He kept his face neutral while fighting to keep his fangs retracted. His only betrayal to his thoughts was the slight twitch of one eye.
Sookie, ever observant, noticed the twitch. Her eyes narrowed. “You know something. You have heard of fae. What the hell does that mean?” She sat up higher in bed, her temper starting to flare, a match dropped into a pool of gasoline.
Eric returned her fiery gaze, unfazed. “The fae are what you would refer to as “fairies.” They are a magical race, near immortal, and reside in another realm parallel to ours, which they call “Faery.”
Sookie’s mouth popped open in shock. “I can’t believe this! So I’m part…fairy.” She huffed, “And my dead grandmother came to talk to me tonight in a dream and told me she made a wish using a magic fairy thingie, a clue door or something, before she died. She told me she wished that I would no longer be alone, and for me to meet my soul mate. And it turns out he’s a…you’re a…vampire.”
Eric, who had over a millennium of experience, was once again shocked speechless. He had heard of such talismans, but they were exceedingly rare and beyond price. How did her grandmother come into possession of such a treasure?
Sookie whispered, “I can’t read your mind for some reason, but I saw on your face that you are about as shocked as I am. I don’t know what all of this means, but I…”
He interrupted her, his eyes boring into hers in their intensity. “What do you mean, you cannot read my mind?”
Sookie gulped. “I…well, I’m telepathic. I can read people’s thoughts. Some easier than others, but I can’t read yours.” She began to babble. “I know that’s pretty weird and all, but in the grand scheme of everything we’ve been talking about tonight, I guess it’s not that strange. I mean, you’re a vampire and you can fly…and…and you’re over 1000 years old. And I guess I’m part fairy, which I suppose would explain my mind reading….” She attempted to smile but only managed a tight grimace. “I’m losing my ever loving mind, I swear to…” she muttered under her breath.
She inhaled deeply. “The bottom line, no matter who are what we are is this…My grandmother, who I see now loved me more than I ever thought possible, made a wish as she lay dying that I meet my soul mate. So her granddaughter wouldn’t be lonely…so I wouldn’t die alone.”
A lone tear trailed down her face. She looked at him with a strange, indefinable expression. “Based on what she told me, it looks like that might be you.” She laughed weakly. “Lucky you. Lucky me, huh?”
Eric smiled and chuckled under his breath. “Indeed, I am lucky. You are exceptional. I thought you to be long before I learned about your heritage…and your gift.”
Sookie looked confused. Uh oh. He covered up quickly by standing. He said, “It is late, and you must be in need of rest. This has been an…eventful night. I will leave you now but I will return at sunset…if that is agreeable to you?”
Sookie paused before answering. “Um…I have to work tomorrow night. But maybe we can meet afterwards? I…” her voice trailed.
Eric cursed inwardly at the thought of his woman degraded again in that shifter’s shithole bar. The thought of her going in to work after his confrontation with Merlotte was not…optimal. He did not trust that the shifter would heed his warning to keep his fucking mouth shut, even after Eric had nearly squeezed the life out of his scrawny neck.
He didn’t want to alienate her by giving her an ultimatum…yet. He had noticed that she appeared to have a bit of a temper. Since he could not glamour her, he would have to handle the situation more delicately than he originally intended, as far as she was concerned. How he planned on handling Merlotte was another story, however…
He nodded his head. “Yes, that would be fine. I will pick you up after your shift. What time does it end?”
She gave him an apologetic smile. “Well, it will be late. The bar closes at 2am, but I’ll ask Sam, my boss, if I can leave a little early if we’re slow.” She paused. “I guess you’ll be up at that time, huh? Is it true…that you can’t go out into sunlight?”
He shrugged. “Yes, that is one aspect of legends concerning vampires is actually fact based.”
“Um, not to be rude, but uh, what about garlic?
“It is not a repellant, unless it is breathed on me…it makes for most unpleasant halitosis,” he joked, smirking at her.
She giggled. “Ok…what about mirrors? Can you see your reflection?”
“What about crucifixes?”
“We are immune, they do not harm us…that is, unless they are made of wood and thrust through our hearts. Wooden stakes? I’m afraid that is another truth.”
Sookie’s eyes widened, fascinated with the bizarre topic. “So wooden stakes…what else can harm you guys?”
Eric raised an eyebrow. Here he was, not only revealing the secrets of his kind, but also telling her how to end him…was this prudent since he couldn’t glamour the memory away? He slowly responded. “Well…of course, we cannot be exposed to sunlight and are also repelled by silver.”
Sookie mused in silence for a while, before she said weakly, “And blood?”
Eric studied her closely, searching for the reemergence of signs of shock. When he saw that she seemed to be handling the turn in topic fairly well, he answered her.
“Yes, we do not eat food or drink…wine.” He chuckled at the Dracula reference. When he saw that she didn’t laugh or smile in response, he said quickly, “Sookie, I am afraid that is truth. We are forced to survive on blood.”
She closed her eyes and shook her head. “I…let’s not talk about that right now…it’s too much. I’m already on overload right now.”
He gave her an understanding smile. “Of course.”
Sookie breathed a sigh of relief. “Uh, one more thing…I was wondering, is it true you have to be allowed permission to enter a home? I mean, if I was passed out and all, how’d you get in here?”
‘Shit,’ Eric thought. ‘I cannot glamour my way out this one!’ He stared at her face for several seconds, not wanting to outright lie to her despite his recent attempt to glamour her. It was strange, but he felt compelled to tell her the truth.
Realization slowly dawned on her as he sat musing.
“You…you’ve been in my house before! How?” Her voice rose several octaves as she became more alarmed.
“Ms. Stackhouse…Sookie. I…must admit, I have recently been in your house, but…”
Sookie screeched, “What! When? Was I here?”
“Yes, I asked for admittance, which you granted.” In his head he had a mantra chanting “don’t ask, don’t ask, don’t ask…”
“I granted you “admittance”? What the hell are you talking about?” She paused. “I was sleepwalking, wasn’t I? You freaking asked to come in while I was asleep.”
Eric winced inwardly but otherwise kept a stoic expression on his face. “Perhaps.”
Sookie’s face turned bright red in embarrassment and rage. “That’s…that’s just wrong! You took advantage of me! You…you’re a vampire…didn’t you know I was sleeping?”
He sheepishly shrugged, a nonverbal acquiescence.
She quickly rolled to the opposite side of bed and stood with her back to the wall, facing him. “Well, if my verbal “admittance” was given while I was asleep and completely vulnerable, I want you to be absolutely aware, and it to be crystal clear when I tell you to leave my house. Consider yourself “unadmitted.”
At her words, a silent wind began blowing in the room, as Eric’s feet unwittingly began sliding backwards, towards the stairs. Sookie followed him at a safe distance, still furious, but drawn like a moth to the flame while she witnessed the unseen force moving the large man. She continued to watch as he floated down the stairs towards the door, which slammed open on its own accord.
Eric had a look of dismay on his face as his fingers grasped the doorframe. “Wait, Sookie…I can explain…”
She followed down the stairs and stood just outside of reach as he was forced onto the porch.
“There’s nothing to explain. You took advantage of me!” Her face looked crestfallen as she whispered, “Gran was wrong…,” closing the door in his face.
Eric cursed under his breath as he stood on the porch. Damnation! He was angry with her as well as himself. He hadn’t meant for the conversation to take such a turn, and he had planned on relying on glamour if things did not go smoothly. Once that weapon was removed from his arsenal, he was left with limited options.
He thought for a moment. Well, he could kidnap her and take her back to his Shreveport home. She would be unable to escape his underground lair, which had access codes and retinal scans as safety measures. She would eventually grow accustomed to her new life with him, but…he supposed that would irrevocably further harm her trust in him. He wanted her to…want him as much as he ached for her.
He sat on the top porch step and continued pondering the situation. A horrific thought suddenly occurred to him. He would have to…court her, win her trust somehow over time.
But how? He had no experience in these matters and was not a patient man. In the past, if he wanted a woman, they came of their own free will to him, and quickly at that. He had no shortage of women throwing themselves at him, such as that ridiculously pompous real estate agent who sold him the property. When they no longer amused him (generally once he sated his appetites) he would use glamour to make them forget him.
He would have to call his child for some advice, despite his dread of her ridicule. Standing up, he turned and gave one last lingering glance at the front door, where he could see Sookie peeking out of the window. He bowed while maintaining eye contact, as he said, “I will be back, Sookie,” before shooting straight into the sky.
Sookie watched in awe as Eric flew away in the blink of an eye into the night.
She rested her head against the window as she whispered under her breath. “Shit, Gran…what have you gotten me into?”
AN: I know, I know, it sucks that Sookie rejected him, but honestly, he deserved it a little bit, don’t you think? He needs some punishment for being such a naughty boy, doesn’t he? ; )