Chapter 52 – Best Foot Forward

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author.  The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise.  No copyright infringement is intended.

When Pam left Slievemore bound for Ballytyne and Eric, she wondered what she’d find. Based on what Sookie told her, Eric was still able to communicate. That was something. Before he’d freed her, Pam felt Eric’s pain leaking through in a way that told her he was undergoing regular physical punishment. At the time, it shook her, but she knew it wasn’t her place to interfere. “Bastard!” she swore softly, thinking of Appius.

Pam reached out again, probing what was left of the bond with her Maker. She found him, but barely. Since Eric freed her, their tie had become increasingly tenuous. It was still there, as it would be until the day one or the other of them ended, but it was more a feeling than the open river of emotion she had come to expect.

While Pam was ready for the severing and had been for some time, the reality of being freed left her feeling lonely. Some part of her yearned for the cozy intimacy she’d shared with Eric. Being bonded with Eric was like having your best friend with you always, ready to encourage or, at times, scold. Sometimes, Eric’s willingness to question her, influencing her in such a direct way had been a pain in the ass, but now, Pam found she didn’t regret a moment. She didn’t want the bond back, particularly knowing Eric’s opinion of Maryann, but, still, she missed the tie they’d shared. ‘Yearning for childhood,’ she mused.

The house was dark as she drove up the driveway. That wasn’t a surprise. The open front door was. It wasn’t like Eric to be so careless about such things and Pam took a moment to look around as she exited the car, checking for signs of danger. There were none. It was a quiet night and the stars shone overhead, bright in the cold air. Winter was near and with it, the cold damp that promised rain. Satisfied, Pam walked toward the front door.

He was inside. She could smell him, and it hit her again. She’d noticed it earlier, standing in the great hall of Sophie-Ann’s court. She’d been placed on the dais, next to Wybert, a sign her first loyalty was now pledged to another. Appius had barely spared her a sneer and Eric hadn’t looked her way at all.

Since the day of her making, Pam hadn’t needed to see Eric to know where he was. The bond tied them together like magnets, moving each around the other, always aware. Tonight, Pam experienced the difference. It wasn’t the bond that asserted itself, drowning out all her other senses. No, tonight, it had been the other way around. The smell of him, the sight of him, was stronger. She watched the proceedings as Appius cajoled, and then bullied the Queen into selling out Eric’s contract. Any moment, she expected to feel her Maker’s boredom, amusement, or anger, but there was nothing. It wasn’t like those times he’d closed off the bond. Now, she had to search, and even when she finally found it, buried deep, what she felt was so thin as to almost be forgettable. Pam stepped in the front door, not bothering to look for the bond and simply called out, “Eric? It’s Pam. I’m coming in.”

Her sharp ears heard the shuffle. He was in the library off to the left. Pam closed the door, engaging the locks before joining him.

Eric sat in one of the large leather chairs, his elbows on his knees, his hands dangling. He was staring past her, in to that place Pam associated with Eric at his most troubled. Sookie’s ring sat on the table beside him. Eric was covered with drying blood. It was so unlike him. It had been at least two hours since this happened, and Pam knew her Maker might act like a badass, but he was picky about being clean. It informed Pam more than words could. Eric might look calm, but underneath he was in turmoil.

Pam waited. He didn’t look up at first. Instead, he whispered at last, “Gone.”

“I know,” Pam replied. “Sookie told me. I offer you my blood. You need to feed.”

Now, Eric looked up, but just as quickly looked away, “No. His blood was the last to feed me. I can still feel him within me. If I feed from you I will no longer feel any part of him.”

Pam approached, walking slowly as she said, “Eric, you’re stressed. I can smell your hunger.” When Eric still avoided making eye contact, Pam spoke more forcefully. “Starving yourself won’t bring your Maker back, Eric. Think! You are all that’s left of him now, his only progeny. It’s not Appius’ blood that’s his legacy, it’s you. You owe it to his memory to continue, to carry his line forward.”

“You are also of his line,” Eric said coldly.

“He didn’t see it that way,” Pam reminded her Maker. “Honor him by honoring the pride he took in creating you.”

Eric turned his empty eyes back toward her and Pam knew she’d said the right thing. “He would wish to be honored,” Eric nodded.

Damn skippy,’ Pam thought, glad in the moment that the bond between them was muted. She wasn’t sure she could have hidden her contempt for Appius and it would have confused matters. Steadying herself, Pam schooled her face, and then her emotions. Once Eric fed, he would feel her as he would any donor. Pam knew that in his current state, Eric needed friendship, not judgment.

Pam held out her arm. He struck, and only then did she realize he was missing a fang. Pulling her arm back, she bit it herself, ripping a little to encourage the blood flow. As Eric fed, she stroked his head. The bond would have confirmed it, but Pam knew Eric well enough to recognize shock when she saw it. “Have you called anyone? A cleaner?” she asked.

Pam assumed she’d walked into a blood bath. True, she couldn’t smell much blood in the house, but it didn’t mean there wouldn’t be death. She associated Appius with drained bodies and for good reason. She’d seen Appius’ high spirits as he shepherded Eric from the Queen’s Court earlier. She’d assumed he commanded Eric to pick up a plaything or two for their celebration of Eric’s ‘freedom.’

It was the Roman’s habit, and everyone knew it. As she’d prepared to leave the Court, Pam overheard Andre talking with Sigebert and Wybert, warning them to prepare for human trouble, hissing that he hoped the Roman would show some discretion ‘this time.’ While waiting for Appius and Eric to arrive, Sophie-Ann told Pam Appius’ refusal to live within the bounds of human rules was one of the many reasons the Queen hated him. “I know he’s your Grandsire, but he is the reason people hunt us.” Pam hadn’t disagreed.

Eric detached, “No,” he told her, wiping his lip. “No, there’s no need.” Pam’s eyes narrowed, surprised.

What Pam wanted to ask was, ‘What was your Maker up to?’ but, instead, she asked, “Why don’t you show me where he fell?” Eric gestured toward the room across the hall. When he didn’t say anything, Pam asked, “Do you want me to collect his fangs first?” Fangs were the only thing that survived a vampire’s final death. It was almost impossible to see them, lying atop the dust that had once been a vampire, even when the vampire had been your enemy, and not be affected. If she picked them up first, Pam hoped it would make it easier for Eric to collect himself.

“You can’t,” he whispered, and as he said it, a fine shudder ran through the Viking. “They’re gone, he’s gone. Everything…all gone.” Eric hung his head then, and placing his hands over his face, he cried. His large frame shook, and Pam sat on the arm of the chair, wrapping her arm about his shoulder, offering what comfort she could.

When he calmed, Pam tried to run her fingers through his hair, but couldn’t, the congealed blood making it a sticky mess. “You need to shower,” she scolded. “You know you can’t think when you’re like this,” and she pulled at his shirt. The blood had dried enough that it stuck, pulling at his skin underneath. When Eric didn’t say anything, she added, “Do you want me to come with you?” Pam didn’t think he’d want sex, but she knew Eric found comfort in the act. If it meant her Maker regained his footing, Pam would consider it time well spent.

“I thank you for the offer,” Eric answered, “but, no.” He stood, wiping at his face. Pam trailed him through the kitchen and back to the utility room. She thought of all the times they’d showered here in past, cleaning up after one job or another. As Eric shambled into the bathroom, Pam pulled open the cabinets, taking out towels and clothing. Once the water started to run, she walked back through the kitchen. Opening the refrigerator, she found five bottles of TruBlood. The expiration dates were close, but they would do. Eric needed blood and until things settled and they’d agreed on their story, having anyone out here, even donors, was too great a risk.

 

xxxXXXxxx

 

As the water hit him, Eric sighed. It was as if the blood rinsing from him took the hard edges from his memories down the drain with it. Appius gloating. Feeding his Master and then surrendering to him. Listening to Appius talk about how Eric going to America would be better for both of them. Boasting about the amount of money Robert paid for the arrangement.

Eric still felt the twisting in his stomach, knowing his Maker had sold him. There would be no honor in his life as Robert’s consort. He was chattel, bought and paid. Appius had called Russia, putting his butterflies on speaker phone. He promised his harem he’d return soon, talking in his singsong voice, scolding the chattering idiots as they vied in their descriptions of how they were planning to please him. When Appius hung up, he sighed, and Eric felt how disappointed he’d been in the sex they’d had earlier. Eric shouldn’t have cared, but he did.

Appius had been the first to feel Sookie’s approach. He’d sat up, not bothering to buffer his anger. It was hard to feel her with the barriers Appius placed in the bond, but he had. Eric knew she was angry, but he had no way to warn her.

Still, he tried. That’s when Appius hit him. He knocked him to the floor, sinking his fangs deep, purposely inflicting pain. Too late, Eric tried to control his reaction. Too late he realized Appius was using his pain to draw her in. She was close, in the driveway. He tried to warn her again, but stopped when Appius kicked him.

And she was there. She shone as bright as any fairy. The air practically crackled where she stood, but there was no scent. His Sookie had grown in her magic. He could see her Fae face as she headed for him. He’d tried to warn her with words, telling her to get out, but Appius was waiting. Eric struggled to get up, to defend her, but there hadn’t been time. She’d struck her head and fallen unconscious.

That hadn’t suited Appius. He’d kicked her once, screaming at her. Eric managed to make it to his knees, gathering himself to charge Appius. It was hard, defying his Maker, but Eric was driven by a deeper need, giving him a strength he didn’t know he possessed. Appius must have realized his mistake because he stopped kicking Sookie and whirled, confronting Eric, accusing him of betrayal. For one moment, Eric thought his Maker would end him, but, instead, he nailed Eric in place, using the full weight of his power. Helpless, Eric watched Appius advance. He could do nothing to stop the beating and tearing, his Maker using Eric’s pain to call Sookie back.

Her eyes opened. She told him she was thirsty. It didn’t make sense. He begged, urging her to leave, to save herself. He prayed she would listen, leaving the way she came, but she didn’t. She seemed to be trying to fight and, for one moment, Appius left. She could have fled, but she didn’t. She foolishly stayed, and Eric knew it was her end.

Appius was back. He pinned Eric to the floor with a Maker’s command. Eric fought, struggled, but he was losing blood. He was weakening, unable to stop his Maker from draining his mate. She was Suzanne and the twins who were his first meal and all the people he’d come to love and, despite the love he had to feel for Appius, he felt equal parts of hatred.

And then, something happened. Sookie made her column. It looked like the one he’d seen before, but soon enough, Eric realized it was different. The closest he’d seen to what she made tonight was on the hill last year with Claudine. The light in the column was darker, and the turning and twisting carried the echo of sound. Sookie’s face no longer resembled the woman he knew. Her features were fixed, and he saw a skull form over her bones. Her eyes were hollows and her lips lifted in a rictus. Appius was screaming. He was trying to escape, but this creature who was no longer his Lover, held tight.

Appius had burned. It started from the inside out and Eric felt every second of it. It was like standing in the middle of a raging fire. It was how he’d imagined meeting the sun would be, but it wasn’t quick. He’d called out to Sookie, begging her to stop, but she either didn’t hear him, or didn’t care.

The pain started to recede, something Eric now realized was Appius’s receding life, when she’d severed the bond. It felt like someone running wires through his veins. There had been no place untouched. It hadn’t burned but felt more like electric currents that itched and jumped through his body, picking and yanking until, abruptly, they were gone and along with them, all trace of the bond. In an instant, he’d lost them both and everything he’d known about himself for over a thousand years was gone as well.

“Gone,” he said out loud, leaning his head against the shower wall, willing the warm water running down his back to calm him.

He thought of how she’d looked afterward, standing upright, her regular Fae features pulled back in place, although not quite hiding the monster that lay beneath. She’d come to him, pulling at him, telling him he was free. ‘Sookie.’ Her name sang inside him and he remembered how she’d looked as she held Appius tight: Death, staring at him from smiling eyes. Sookie, who wasn’t Sookie anymore.

He couldn’t think. The shattered bond ached and the empty hole his Maker left was starting to assert itself. He remembered she argued with him and all Eric could hear were Appius’ words. She was trouble. Before her, his life made sense. It wasn’t always easy, but since meeting her, his life was no longer his own. When he’d howled, the turmoil within him tearing him apart, she hit him. He’d snapped, convinced her actions confirmed every bad thing Appius said about her.

Only now, did other words leak through. ‘I never lost hope,’ she’d told him. ‘I love you.’ “Sookie,” he moaned.

She’d returned his ring. He’d called her a mistake. She’d changed. He closed his eyes, willing his thoughts to stop. Somewhere, Pam waited. There was work to do. His Maker was dead. “I am Eric Northman,” he said aloud, and turning off the water, he stepped out to rediscover who that might be.

 

xxxXXXxxx

 

“Ready to walk me through what happened?” Eric’s eyes flicked toward her. The shower and TruBlood seemed to have done their job. His eyes were darting around as he became the scheming, angry Eric Pam knew. Angry Eric wasn’t easy, but he was easier than the lost, hollow creature she’d found earlier. Angry Eric brooded, and his mood was changeable, but this brand of volatility Pam could deal with. The self-loathing vampire from earlier tonight was someone Pam had never met before and he frightened her.

Eric sniffed and leaned back. He’d resumed his position, sitting in the library chair. Even though he was in almost in the same position he’d occupied when Pam first arrived, the attitude of his slouch was markedly different. “I can remember each word on each page,” he mused, “but I still want the feel of the book in my hand. Why is that?”

“It’s a different kind of comfort,” Pam shrugged, cataloguing the room. “Your books aren’t lost, you know. They’re just packed. I could send for them if you wish. They’d be here by tomorrow night,” and Pam gestured at the empty bookcases. As her eyes swept back his way, Pam realized Sookie’s ring wasn’t on the table any more.

“No need,” Eric answered. “I don’t intend to remain here.” He cocked an eye her way and said in a voice that sounded more like himself, “Thank you, Pam.”

Pam knew what was expected. They’d played these roles many times before. Tilting her head and checking her hip, she slipped into official mode, listing off the things they needed to address. Official paperwork needed to be filed, but neither of them had a laptop. It took a minute for Pam to recognize what seemed wrong and then it hit her. Eric hadn’t pulled out his phone.

“It went with Appius,” he said shortly when she asked.

“Then, that’s first,” she answered, her fingers a blur as she ordered him a replacement. “I think we can wait on filing the death certificate until tomorrow night.” Eric was watching her, and Pam knew what he was thinking. Once notice of Appius’ death was registered, there would be an avalanche of reaction. Appius had been the oldest of their kind, save one. It didn’t matter that Appius wasn’t liked, he was a walking legend and his passing was news. Everyone would want to know the story. Friends and strangers alike would ask to see Appius’ fangs, demanding that Eric, as Appius’ progeny, tell the tale. “Have you decided what you’re going to use as cause of final death?”

Eric stood and Pam followed him back into the living room. “An accident,” he answered.

They walked through the doorway and Eric jerked his chin toward the area in front of the fireplace. The furniture there was tossed about, chairs tilted and the rug pushed to one side. There was blood on the rug and spatter on the furniture. Closer to the door where Eric had fallen, a fair-sized puddle of blood was congealing on the floor and Eric’s scent hung heavy in the air.

Pam walked toward to the fireplace, sniffing, trying to detect what other scents would be discovered by investigators if they came to call. She found Sookie, although not as clearly as she’d anticipated, and of Appius, nothing at all. ‘Never existed.’ The thought sprang into her mind and she felt a fine shudder run through her. “I thought you said you didn’t clean,” she pressed.

“I didn’t,” Eric confirmed. He stood where Pam assumed he’d been damaged. His eyes were fastened on a spot near her feet and he was jiggling something in his pocket. His eyes rounded and he started to resemble that lost vampire again.

Better nip this in the bud!’ Pam thought, and using her most sarcastic tone, drawled, “Then I don’t understand, Eric. You say it was here, but there’s no sign of him? What will people say? You going to say it was magic? Sookie…”

“Keep her out of this!” Eric hissed. “No one needs to know she was here!” His fang and a half had dropped, and he winced. Pam winced as well. She knew she’d have to extract the broken tooth for him if it was to grow back properly and it was a job she wasn’t looking forward to performing.

“Fine!” she snapped back, using Eric’s anger to keep him focused. “We keep Sookie out of the report, but that doesn’t mean I don’t deserve the truth!” Pointing at the floor at her feet, she said, “How?”

He pulled himself straighter and made a point of looking at her face. “She was something else, something new. Appius had her by the neck. I was powerless…” and his jaw clenched. His shoulders tensed and Pam could see his hands fist in his pockets. “She used magic, new magic. When she was done, he was gone.”

Pam looked back at the floor at her feet. Around this area the floor had all the normal marks of wear and tear, but here, the wood floor looked brand new. The varnish shone, making the area stand apart from the wood floor around it.

“Where’s his dust, Eric?” Pam asked. “His fangs? Did you pick them up?”

“There was nothing to retrieve,” Eric said and his words ended in a growl. “Gone!” and Pam watched Eric’s mood erupt in anger. “Sookie destroyed everything!” He started to stalk back and forth, his jaw working. “She left nothing of him, not even the fangs that made me.”

Better head him off before he gathers steam,’ Pam thought. She planted her feet and cocked her head, “So, what are you telling me, Eric? Am I supposed to believe after she ended Appius, Sookie went out to the garage and got her dustpan and broom? I know you think she’s obsessed with cleaning, but really?” Eric stilled, and she saw his mouth work. Pam was pretty sure Eric trying to cover a smile, so she piled it on.

“What next?” Pam allowed the sarcasm to drip, “Are you going to tell me she grabbed a hammer and smashed his fangs before pulling out the vacuum?”

A full-blown smile was hovering on Eric’s mouth, but Pam could see the moment he caught himself, “Enough!” and Eric pulled himself together. “Sookie is not what she appears. She…she was hiding something. She tricked me! She tricked us all. Appius knew what she was and now he has met his end, and we will all find ourselves in trouble because of her!”

Pam’s grin disappeared. “But that’s not how you want to report it, is it? I get it. She’s to blame, but you don’t really want to call Sookie out, do you?”

“No,” Eric sighed, and his shoulders fell. His fangs retracted with a click and Pam saw him wince again. Turning, he stalked back into the library, throwing himself back in to his chair. “How can I continue to worry about her?” he said aloud. “She killed my Maker. What kind of Child protects a person like that?”

Pam followed him. “I’ve never heard of magic strong enough to destroy a vampire.”

“No one has,” Eric agreed. “Niall may know what it is, but it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. There was no sound, no smell, but he burned, Pam. He burned and she smiled.”

“Good,” Pam nodded, and when Eric exclaimed, she added, “Don’t expect me to be sorry that The Roman is gone. I’m grateful to Sookie.”

“For what?” and Eric’s anger was back. He hunched forward, gripping the arms of the chair, “Why would you be grateful to her? She destroyed my Maker!”

“She found a way to save you,” Pam explained. “Eric, you need to accept that Appius hated you. I don’t know what he shared through your bond, but you need to come to terms with it. When did he ever do anything to help you?”

“He made me!” Eric snarled.

“So what?” and Pam leaned forward, touching her Maker. “You were made for this life, Eric, but any vampire could have brought you over. What you are, who you are, is not because of Appius Livius Ocella. You are the vampire you were born to be, in spite of that old bastard, not because of him!”

“And what about my duty to my Maker? I should forget it? Is that how you feel about the duty you owe me?” Eric glared at her. “What honor would I have if I was willing to curse my own sire? What kind of child doesn’t mourn the death of his father?”

“The kind whose father was The Roman,” Pam replied. That’s when she noticed it. “Where’s your bond with Sookie? Why don’t I smell it?”

“Sookie destroyed it, too,” he answered. Eric couldn’t help himself. He found himself searching for it, probing in the same way he kept running his tongue over his missing tooth. He knew he shouldn’t miss it, shouldn’t miss her, but he did.

“I don’t believe It!” Pam protested. “Nothing can destroy that kind of bond, only final death. Maybe it’s blocked. It could be the shock of everything that’s happened has created some temporary impediment, but I’m sure it will return.”

“Sookie destroyed it,” Eric repeated, thinking of how he’d felt when it pulled from him, thread by thread. “She burned it, the same way she burned Appius, from the inside out.” Eric looked back toward the living room, “Appius was right. I make a bad habit of impossible relationships. I shouldn’t stray from our way. I shouldn’t have agreed to take her. She was a mistake and it’s cost me everything.”

“I don’t think you really believe that,” Pam pressed.

“I’m not sure what I believe any more,” Eric answered, and he looked almost grey with exhaustion, all the fight drained away.

Pam walked him downstairs to his chamber under the stairs. Without a word, she changed the soiled sheets on the bed and when the room was tidy, she pushed Eric toward the bed, tucking him in as she would a child. “I’m going back to Slievemore tonight. You’ll be here when I return tomorrow?” she asked.

“Are you sure your human will let you come back?” he sneered. It was a petty thing to say. Pam could see he felt her hurt, her motions laid bare through her blood. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled. “Appius used to do that, use his words to hurt. I’m sorry I did that to you.”

“You’re tired,” Pam replied. “Rest, Eric. Let your body heal. Perhaps you should feed again?” and Pam lifted her arm to bite it herself.

“No,” and Eric restrained her. “No. Tomorrow, we can arrange donors. I will have a plan by then.”

Pam kissed Eric’s forehead as she would a child. As he slipped into downtime, she watched him reaching out. ‘Sookie,’ she thought. He realized what he’d done and rolled to face the other side. He brought his knees up, curling around his pillow and in a second, the great Eric Northman was gone. It was the first time Pam could recall her Maker falling into his day death before her and it made Pam sad.

 

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The garage door was open when Pam returned the next night and the scent of smoke lay heavy in the air. It was damp, and Pam wondered how much gasoline it had taken for Eric to burn to rug. ‘Smells like things are back to normal,’ she thought. The idea Eric was back to scheming made her feel better, but on finding Eric back in the library, Pam’s optimism faded.

He was sitting in pretty much the same slouched position he’d assumed yesterday, staring moodily at his empty bookcases.

“I meant what I said,” Pam told him, throwing her jacket over the back of the companion chair. “Ian can have them all back here tonight. I’ll even have him unpack the boxes.”

“I thought Ian would be working for someone else by now,” Eric answered.

“Good help is hard to find,” Pam shrugged. “He does jobs for me and Sookie keeps him pretty busy.”

Eric looked as if he was going to say something, but then changed his mind. “I don’t intend to stay here very long,” he replied. It was what he’d said last night, and Pam thought he meant keeping the house in Ballytyne. But then he said, “I expect to leave Ireland soon.” Before she could ask, he gave her a smile, and held out his hand, “You wouldn’t think something that tactile would be so important,” letting her know he was talking of his books again.

She could see him, the old Eric. He hovered just at the edges, a quick smile, a brighter eye. He winced again, and Pam sighed. “Let’s get this over with. You have pliers in the back?”

“Nothing has moved,” Eric nodded.

“Let’s go into the garage,” and Pam walked toward the utility room. The drawer holding their interrogation tools was hidden under the false bottom of a clothing drawer. Eric was behind her, pulling off his clothes and together they headed into the garage.

A vampire’s fangs were extraordinarily sensitive. As sharp as razors, they could detect every nuance in their host’s state. Stroking fangs was guaranteed to get a positive reaction. Punching fangs got a reaction as well. “We’ll call for donors after this,” Pam said, trying to keep her emotions in check. She knew how an extraction felt and that knowing made her cringe.

Eric threw her a weak smile before leaning against the trunk of the car and opening his mouth.

She was fast, but something like this was never fast enough. Eric roared and a string of words followed. Most, Pam recognized. Eric had an inventive vocabulary when it came to swearing and he was exercising it now. ‘I would, too,’ Pam thought as she dropped the tooth in the trash.
As he headed back to the shower, Pam pulled out her phone. “Calling for those donors. I’ll make sure they don’t mind the knife.” The tooth socket would heal, but in Eric’s stressed condition, it might not close as quickly as it would when he was fully himself. Having a donor willing to be cut would make feeding easier.

Pam walked back into the living room. Things had been set to rights. There was even a different rug covering the odd patch in the floorboards. Pam walked back and forth, trying to catch odd scents, but there were none. Eric had done well.

“I’ve been thinking about the story,” he said as he joined her.

“You probably shouldn’t have done this,” Pam replied, indicating the room. “Appius’ death is a big deal. Andre will want to send one of his Sheriffs. He’ll want an official report.”

“I was the Sheriff,” Eric growled. “I taught those puppies!”

“You know what I’m saying,” Pam huffed. “I’m not saying Sophie-Ann won’t be throwing a little party with her friends, but she’ll still feel obligated to complain.” Pam shrugged, “If you’d play by the rules, she might even reinstate you.”

“I don’t wish to be reinstated,” Eric replied, moodily.

He stared at her and Pam stared right back. When time stretched, she decided to let it drop, “You said one of the bedrooms upstairs is light tight?”

Eric almost cut her off, his answer came so quickly, “No!” but then, he looked guilty and amended his statement, “Yes, to the left of the stairs. I…” and Eric’s jaw worked.

“What is it?” Pam couldn’t imagine what was grinding him, but it was clear something was.

“I planned on destroying that bed tonight,” Eric said shortly.

Pam knew the story of the bed. It was specially made for Sookie and Eric as a pledging gift by Niall Brigant. Pam had seen it. The posts were carved to have the slightest curve and the canopy floated above it. “You know Niall,” she scolded. “He may decide destroying his gift is an insult. You know how sensitive they are about those things.”

“I don’t want it here!” Eric growled.

“Destroying the bed won’t make Sookie go away,” Pam guessed, and the quick curl of Eric’s lip told her she’d guessed right. “She wanted to come with me tonight,” Pam continued. “I told her I didn’t think it would be a good idea.”

“She was the bad idea,” Eric sniffed. “Now, it’s over. This loss has taught me a valuable lesson. I will stick to my own kind.”

Pam tried not to snort, but it was hard. “I’m putting my things upstairs, Eric. When I come back, you can tell me the official story we’re filing. I called for donors from the palace. It won’t take long.”

When Pam rejoined him, Eric was ready. “We’ll say it was an accident,” he told Pam. “We’ll say the place was unfamiliar. He tripped and was impaled on a broken chair.”

Pam laughed, “An inglorious end to an inglorious bastard!”

Eric growled, and Pam stopped laughing. When she looked sufficiently chastened, Eric nodded, “Simple is sometimes better.”

“What about Sookie?” Pam asked. “The palace knows she was looking for you. Apparently, she went there first. She said she talked with a guard and Wybert. They’ll remember.”

He dropped his eyes. Pam knew he was running scenarios through his head. Usually he was still during these times, but tonight, he was playing with something in his pocket. After a minute, he nodded before saying, “There’s no proof she came here. We can just say she gave up and went to Slievemore.”

“No one who knows her will believe that,” Pam replied, but when Eric looked rebellious, she added, “Someone may ask her to corroborate. You’ll have to tell her so she’s ready.”

“You do it!” Eric snapped, then moderating his tone, added, “I’m done with the Seelie. I’m leaving Ireland and I don’t intend to return.”

“And where will you go?” Pam asked, but then, she stilled. Outside, the sound of car wheels on driveway was clear. The donors had arrived.

They were both female, although their driver was male. Eric pushed the blond toward Pam before taking the brunette by the hand. Pam knew he was making a point by taking her upstairs, but they returned too soon for there to have been much more than feeding going on. After the donors left, Eric grumbled, “She smelled off.”

“You don’t have to explain yourself to me,” Pam shrugged. “That’s something you should save for your wife.”

Eric looked guilty. It wasn’t a good look on him. “Another loose end!” he growled.

Pam straightened the runner on the table in front of her, making of point of not making eye contact as she said, “Not to Sookie.”

“Enough!” Eric roared. “No more!”

Pam stared at him, his burning eyes and broken fang. It hurt her heart. “Fine,” she nodded. It only took a minute to retrieve her laptop and establish a link using her phone’s hotspot. “Let’s get started.”

It took two tries to file the death notice. They were on a call with Mr. Cataliades when the call from the Queen’s Court came through. “Andre,” Pam hissed.

Eric nodded before continuing his conversation with Desmond Cataliades. “No, I don’t know the identity of my Maker’s attorney.”

“I will look into it,” the attorney assured them. Eric considered taking the phone off speaker and walking into the other room, but then he decided against it. Pam would find out anyway.

“My Maker may have recently filed paperwork. He told me he concluded arrangements for my joining with another.”

“I will be discrete,” the attorney guessed. “You have my email. I will need your statement authorizing me to act on your behalf. Once I locate his attorney, confirming your status as heir under his will should be a formality.”

“Who?” Pam asked as soon as the line ended.

“Robert,” Eric told her.

“Fuck a zombie!” Pam hissed, and then, just as quickly, “You wouldn’t!”

“If there is a contract, I am bound as the child of my Maker to honor it,” Eric answered. Eric’s hand closed around the ring in his pocket. His feelings for Sookie made no difference. If the contract existed, he would divorce her. He would go to America and pledge as his Maker wished. He would do his duty.

“Let’s call Andre,” Pam sniffed. Her mind raced. She knew Eric. He was too proud. Even if it killed him, he would do what he felt was the right thing. ‘Fucking Appius!’ she growled inwardly. She had no doubt the paperwork binding Eric existed. Appius was nothing if not thorough.

Poor Sookie,’ she thought, handing the phone over to Eric, but, even as she sat back, listening to the Queen’s Second insist on coming to the house to see where ‘the great one’ fell, a plan started to form.

 

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20 thoughts on “Chapter 52 – Best Foot Forward

  1. I have been on tenterhooks all week waiting for this update. Thrilled it focused on Pam and Eric’s POV. What a rich chapter. Thank you for giving us hope in the last sentence.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I wanted to provide the two views, Sookie’s and Eric’s. Pam’s role is pivotal. She believes, and isn’t afraid to manipulate when she thinks it’s for the best. Sorry for the delay in commenting. I finished writing, and, as always, it makes me a little weepy. I hate to finish these, even when I know there’s another story just around the corner. Have a great week.

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  2. Right now I’m going to put my trust in Pam and you. Surely something can be done to repair all the damage and get Eric and Sookie at least talking to each other. They just need that first step to get the ball rolling. The love is still there or he wouldn’t have protected her even now.

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    1. Of course, he loves her, but he’s caught now between what he should do and what he wants. Will it be duty for Eric, or his heart’s desire? For someone like him, raised to put emotions second, it’s a real conversation. Thank goodness for Pam!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. Just because someone dies, it doesn’t mean the consequences of their actions die with them. Pam is the key, but she’ll have plenty of help. Have a great week.

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  3. I love the description Eric gave of Sookie’s transformation. (Is she a Demon?) That must have been some scary sight. Eric seems to be doing a little better. He needed Pam by his side. He’s been playing with Sookie’s ring in his pocket.

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    1. Oh, that ring. He just isn’t happy unless it’s beside him or on his person. Even though he shouldn’t think of her, he does. Sookie had become something more, and he’s right to be worried. Pride is also playing its part, and maybe a touch of chauvinism. Eric can kill with abandon, but when Sookie does it…? Have a good one.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup, people can tell all kinds of lies to themselves. If she made no difference, he wouldn’t be holding onto reminders of her. Pam knows, and she’ll do what’s needed.

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  4. At least Eric can finally think. Looks like Pam is thinking hard, too. That he doesn’t want Sookie’s name brought into it says that Eric still loves her. He doesn’t realize she is suffering as much as he is. She sees herself as a monster. I seem to remember Claude’s hand around her throat recently. I wonder if the monster might pop back up. It’s something she needs to learn to control but control is difficult when someone is trying to kill you. I look forward to seeing how the situation with Robert is resolved, or if he meets monster Sookie. Great chapter.

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    1. For someone who is over Sookie, he sure spends a lot of time thinking about her. He turns things back and forth, telling himself how over he is, while he keeps her ring either on his person or beside him. This coming chapter picks back up with Sookie’s side, and some more info on what and who she is becoming. You are right. Power is beguiling, and Sookie enjoys the feeling it gives her – maybe too much.

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    1. Sad, but hopeful. Eric has gone through a dark time, but even now, he can’t stop thinking of her. He protects her, he denies her, he carries the token he gave her. Pam will help hold a mirror so he can see the truth anyone else would recognize.

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  5. Thank god for Pam! It’s a good sign Eric has Sookie’s ring in his pocket. He doesn’t want to forget her! Even though he still seems brain washed by Appius, you can see bits of the old Eric struggling to break free. I wonder what plan Pam is cooking up to get Eric out of this horrific contract his bastard of a Maker made. Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be a good one. Can’t wait until next week!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Eric can’t forget her. How do you ever forget your true love? He can deny and deflect as much as he wishes, his actions tell the tale. He keeps her token with him, and she is never far from his thoughts. Pam will set the wheels in motion, and you can rest assured, Eric will do the rest.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Is Mr. Cataliades a friend of Sookie’s in this story? I wonder about his role in The Appius contract with Robert. Will he help Eric divorce Sookie? Is he a friend of her grandfather’s? I reread his conversation with Sookie and she held back from trusting him.
    I miss Thalia in this story. Hoping she will be a major character in the second part of Turnings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thalia will be making a return in Full Circle. I miss her too. As for Mr. Cataliades… he has a more neutral role here. He does the bidding of who pays him. He may have sympathies one way or the other, but he won’t emerge strongly in any direction. Not in this story, at least.

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