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.
The sun shone through the leaves. Sookie was sitting at the end of the dock at her parents’ house in Bon Temps, Louisiana, her feet tapping the surface of the water. As the wind blew, the leaves overhead shifted, and Sookie had moments when shadow fell across her, moments when the sun shone so brightly, she had to close her eyes tight against it. She tilted her head back, turning her face like a sunflower toward the sky, rejoicing in the patterns that formed inside her eyelids. ‘Yes!’ she sighed, and then, her body jerked forward. The pond was gone. The light was gone, and she was hurtling, accelerating faster, ever faster until she sat up in her bed gasping, her eyes wide open.
“About time!” Pam scolded, tossing a bathrobe toward her. “Eric’s downstairs with King Stan. He’d like you to join him as soon as you can.” Outside the light tight window, the sky was dark. It had just been a dream, ‘The dream.’ Sookie was vampire and she’d never see the sun again.
It had been almost seven years ago Sookie started this new life, this vampire life. It wasn’t her choice. Bill Compton betrayed her one final time, turning her against her will, Now, nothing would ever be the same.
‘You think I’d get used to this,’ Sookie thought. Her waking still left her disoriented. Most nights, she woke with Eric beside her. Collapsing into his arms helped sooth the nerves that still searched for her beating heart. She drew breath in, not because she needed it, but because it helped her feel normal. She missed so many things. She missed rubbing the sleepy bugs from her eyes and taking care of human needs. She missed shuffling in slippers to make coffee and the joy she felt at the first sip. She missed feeling the need to stretch, hearing joints pop, and feeling the slight ache that plagued her until she realigned herself. Now, when she awoke, she was perfect. She needed nothing, except to feed. Her body felt perfect. Her face looked perfect. She didn’t need to shave her legs or brush her teeth. A lifetime of ingrained self-maintenance skills were now unnecessary, even her scars were gone. There were nights she stood before her mirror, not certain she recognized the person staring back.
Still, being vampire wasn’t all bad. Sookie was pledged and bonded to Eric Northman. The son she bore him was acknowledged as their son. True, they had money problems, but they were together. When he could, Eric delighted in indulging her. They took a trip to Barbados in their second year together, staying at Eric’s home. ‘A honeymoon,’ they called it. Sookie knew Eric had brought others there, including Freyda, but it was his and beautiful, and now it was theirs.
Sookie traveled to other places, most often Boston or Chester, visiting their son, Rick or the people she now considered her family. Traveling vampire was complicated and Eric insisted Sookie take Pam as her traveling companion unless the trip was for a school event, in which case Eric joined her. Eric traveled for all Rick’s school events, Pam staying behind to run the kingdom in their absence.
Sookie wished she could spend more time with Rick, but she also knew the state of their finances. Evenings, when she missed their son most, Eric would find her. He promised her that once their kingdom was settled, they would see more of the world. Eric would describe how, together, the three of them would share some of the places Eric had seen over his long life. When she asked, he laughed, assuring her seeing them again wouldn’t be boring because he would see them anew through her eyes. When she thought of the hours she spent with this man, the love of her life, it was enough. Almost.
“I assume they’re all up?” Sookie groused as she walked to the shower.
“Time will fix it,” Pam answered, rightly guessing Sookie’s frustration with being the baby vamp in any gathering. It meant Sookie was the last to rise and the first to rest. She needed to feed more often, and her emotional turmoil left her exhausted. The pull and burn of those emotions ran close to the surface, which frustrated her. Amy Ludwig, the doctor most supernatural beings in this part of the world used, laughed, telling Sookie she was the only vampire the doctor knew who got to experience the equivalent of menopause. Sookie had been told it was one’s Maker who dampened their progeny’s emotional turmoil, helping them adjust. It was why a newly-made vampire stayed with their Maker for years, sometimes decades, learning to control their instincts. A Maker smoothed the rough edges and taught their progeny all they knew through a combination of instruction and command.
Sookie had no Maker and, although Eric tried to supply the same services through their bond, she could tell it wasn’t the same. ‘I am better,’ she assured herself. She wished she couldn’t remember those first years with such clarity. They had been a roller coaster of deep lows and jittery highs. There were days she thought her head would explode, the forces within her battling so intensely. Downtime was one of the first skills Eric taught her and Sookie was pretty sure being able to retreat into that nothingness saved her sanity.
For his part, Eric never wavered. He didn’t lose his temper or express any frustration with her, even when she screamed at him, railing at the injustice of their existence. It galled her to admit, but he’d been a saint. He never said it, but Sookie thought his tolerance had to do with how he’d been turned. It had been one of the things that attracted her when she was human, that Eric got her, which hadn’t changed now that she wasn’t.
Sookie started to move more quickly. Stan’s visit was expected. This year it was the Texas monarch’s turn to come here. As Kings of adjoining territories, Eric and Stan visited each other often, renewing vows and checking their alliance. Vampires were suspicious by nature. She’d heard it said often enough, but now, living it, Sookie really understood. Stan was overtly ambitious, which made her natural instincts roar into overtime. Just standing in the same room with him made her want to look over her shoulder and check her pockets. Eric assured her that, over time, her paranoia, like all her emotions, would settle, but it hadn’t happened yet.
Sookie found that, even now, almost seven years later, she was still quick to make assumptions and she battled her twin failings of jealousy and suspicion. She learned to hold her tongue, forcing herself to check and recheck her interpretation of every word and gesture. There was something about being so finely tuned, and it inclined her toward believing the worst in everyone.
“It’s natural,” Eric told her, but when she confessed it troubled her soul to feel this way, he gave her the best advice. “Remember your Grandmother,” he’d said.
And so, Sookie did. She honored Adele in every meeting she held, every party she hosted. She tried to hide her emotions behind the rules and protocols of Southern hospitality. She tried to be kind, paying attention to even the most trying guest, and drawing them into conversation. The effort of making everyone feel welcome had the added benefit of allowing Sookie to forget her own troubles. As she honed her skills, Eric gave her more opportunities to practice. Now, he seldom met trade partners first. Those coming to ask or demand of Louisiana invariably spent their first nights visiting with Sookie. “You charm them,” Eric purred. “You make them wish to do business with us and I’d be a fool not to use it our advantage.”
Stan was different. They’d known Stan before Sookie was turned. Eric told her he owed his place as King in Louisiana to Stan, but Sookie knew the full story. The way Stan manipulated Eric into staging his takeover wasn’t something that made you want to buy the Texas King flowers…
Sookie finished drying her hair and walked through to her closet, pulling first one dress and then another. She settled on the red one, knowing Eric liked the color on her. She considered putting on hose, but decided against it. She no longer had to hide scars on her legs. Slipping her feet into her pumps, she headed back into the bedroom and pushed the button to signal she was heading downstairs to feed. It gave her a few minutes, which was fine. Her jewels sparkled on the small vanity. There were more than a few necklaces and bracelets locked in the wall safe. Sookie didn’t need to think about it too hard. Every piece, to the smallest detail, was locked in her brain. She knew immediately what piece best complimented each outfit. As she slipped in her earrings, she smiled. It made no sense, to miss the luxury of being indecisive about something like selecting the right necklace and yet, she did.
As she left their bed chamber, she saw Thalia approaching, doubtless sent by Eric to check her progress. “I have to feed,” she told their friend.
“Will you need assistance?” It was their code phrase. When she was anxious, feeding could trigger Sookie, making her need for sex unbearable. It was another of the things she’d been told once upon a time, that feeding and sex were intertwined for vampires. She’d thought it was a line used to lure her into bed. Now, she knew it wasn’t.
“I’m not sure,” Sookie shrugged. “I’m feeling pretty strong tonight, but I had the dream. It threw me.”
Thalia turned sharply as Sookie headed for the stairs. She could take the elevator, but the stairs seemed safer. She was hungry and while it was unlikely she’d find herself in the small space with humans, it was always possible. Stan traveled with more human females these days. Thalia joked the needs of his equipment grew with the size of his territory. Stan had installed a puppet ruler in Oklahoma. Everyone knew it and he was casting eyes toward New Mexico. Although Eric told her she was wrong, Sookie was sure Stan would make a play for Louisiana the moment he detected any sign of weakness. ‘Wonder how big his harem would need to be then?’ she wondered. She’d liked Texas more when he’d hidden his sharp mind behind broken glasses and a nerdy persona. Stan, these days, was a little too polished, always looking as if he was trying too hard.
Instead of heading for the basement where every other vampire in the palace fed, Sookie turned down a hallway on the first floor. It had been something she’d requested early on, a private place to feed. Sookie supposed there would come a day she wouldn’t feel the odd twist of revulsion and shame, though part of her hoped the day would never come. Eric indulged her, as he did with so many things, and she had this room placed near the kitchen, making it ideal. Since they didn’t host many humans, being near the kitchen guaranteed quiet.
When she entered, the woman was waiting for her. The donor had been given her instructions. She didn’t initiate conversation and didn’t make eye contact. She wasn’t anyone Sookie had fed from before, which was good. Injecting any level of friendship or familiarity into this process made it harder.
Sookie walked behind her and carefully licked the woman’s neck knowing her saliva had a numbing quality. She leaned over, trying not to strike too quickly, but then had to back up. ‘Stop over-thinking this,’ she chided herself. She could hear the woman’s heart kick up a beat and she felt terrible, knowing her faltering had triggered anxiety in her donor. “I’m sorry,” she murmured. “I didn’t sleep well and it’s screwing up my concentration. I promise, I won’t hurt you.”
“I didn’t know vampires had trouble sleeping,” the woman answered. She turned to Sookie, making eye contact, and she smiled. Sookie knew the donor meant her actions to be encouraging, but the gesture caused Sookie to see herself as she had been not so long ago, so trusting, and it made her heart hurt.
“Guess we’re like everyone else,” Sookie answered, and getting her head straight, bit quickly and cleanly. The woman’s blood was O positive, the type Sookie found most boring. He didn’t admit it, but Sookie knew Eric monitored her donors. She was sure he’d chosen this blood type purposely tonight, hoping it wouldn’t trigger her too much. When feeding triggered other needs, Eric would join her here, taking care of her itch so she could continue with their evening. It was an enjoyable solution, given the privacy of the room, but not always convenient for Eric.
Sookie drank, counting each draw, holding the blood in her mouth, swallowing. She was allowed the count of four, no more. Eric only needed one, Rick, two, but she, still considered newly risen, needed four. If she’d given into her instincts, she would have drained this woman dry, and maybe another. She understood things like bloodlust now and donor accidents. She hadn’t indulged those instincts and didn’t think she could live with herself if she did, yet she understood them. It was like having a devil on your shoulder, whispering stories about the beauty of blood, reminding you how the warmth of it almost made you feel alive again.
She sealed the woman’s neck and thanked her, reminding her to pick up some juice and cookies down the hall. As the donor passed, Sookie used her enhanced vision to make sure she hadn’t soiled the woman’s shirt. In past, when she was less expert, she’d see drops of blood left near the collar. When that happened, Sookie added a tip to the payment, enough to cover the cost of dry cleaning.
As the woman left, Sookie stared at the far wall. It was habit, turning her back on them, getting her instincts under control. “I’ve warned you about turning away from them, min hustru. You should be more cautious.” Sookie’s lips turned up. Hearing him never failed to make her happy.
“You know me,” she shrugged, turning. “It’s easier and I know the service screens them.”
“How are you feeling?” He lifted his chin and gave her his arrogant look she knew so well. “Frisky?”
Sookie figured Thalia had said something, but it seemed her needs were secondary tonight. Eric wasn’t bothering with hiding intentions. He was letting his desire flow through their bond, making her breasts perk up and her lady parts tingle. “What’s wrong, Eric? Isn’t Stan holding your attention?” Sookie teased. His eyes were on her chest and she felt the quickening. It wasn’t like before when her breath hitched and her skin flushed. In the past, when she’d still been human, her body had registered each landmark along the trail of their mutual arousal. Now, there were no biological tells, but the calling was just as strong, maybe stronger.
“You should slip off your dress,” he whispered with just a hint of growl. “That is, if you’d like to wear it again.”
“Who’s acting like the newborn, now?” Sookie flirted, but she did as he asked. She was wearing matching red underwear, the lace cups barely containing her breasts, and Eric growled, long and low, in appreciation. It was a true growl, not the watered-down version he’d given her in past. Had human Sookie heard this sound, she might have run. Vampire Sookie felt her own growl form in answer. She tipped her head back and waited, allowing him to stalk her, his hips rolling, and his smirk firmly in place.
When he got closer, he stopped just short of touching her. He inhaled, breathing deeply, letting his expression and pupil-blown eyes tell her how much he appreciated her. Finally, he leaned forward enough to touch his cheek to her hair and he rubbed first on one side, then the other. He was coating himself in her scent. She understood it, the sensuality of being immersed in her Lover’s scent. “Eric!” she breathed.
“You don’t mind if I replace the underwear?” he asked, and then didn’t wait for her answer before snapping the sides. Sookie didn’t know what Eric saw in ripping clothing from her, but he did it often. In her rational moments, she supposed it was part of his claiming ritual, but in times like these, she found it matched her mood. He spun her, sliding his hands down the smooth length of her back, cupping the globes of her bottom, and then reaching beneath, parting, stroking. “Lean forward,” he whispered. Sookie could hear his zipper. She closed her eyes, imagining what he looked like, stroking himself, stroking her. She leaned forward, placing her hands against the wall. She widened her stance, angling so the heels did their job, presenting herself to him. His hand was gone, and he growled, “I love how you taste,” and then, his hand was back. He leaned against her, his thighs and hard length rising and falling, working himself through the cleft of her ass while he stroked and plucked, causing her to inhale, if only so she’d have the air to moan. One finger was inside her, and then another. He scissored and angled, finding the place he knew so well. “Touch yourself, Lover,” he instructed, removing his fingers and lining himself to her, pushing home. It was Heaven, the feel of him. Her nerve endings were so sensitive, she swore she could feel every vein, every ridge, as he slid within her. Her breasts ached and she rubbed her clit harder as he began to thrust, the stimulation accelerating her own journey toward completion.
“I want to feel you cum on me,” he purred. She could feel his fingers, squeezing himself as he stroked her, and then he pressed his thumb to her rosebud. The sensation quickly sent her into overload and when he started to move his thumb in counterpoint to his cock, Sookie couldn’t help the sounds she made, and she didn’t care. She was lost in a sea of sensation, the whole world centered on their joining. Her orgasm was loud and profane. She roared his name, then he paused, allowing her to calm before he pulled her upright and started moving again, somehow bending over enough to sink his fangs into her shoulder. He was cumming as Sookie did again, the waves and tremors of her release leaving her gasping.
“God, you’re good at that!” she stammered, her inner muscles clenching him so hard Sookie thought they’d be joined forever.
“No one is like you,” he chuckled. “No one. You unman me!” And she felt it, his love for her. Even though they were bonded, there was still a seemliness to what they shared with one another, but in moments like these, when all Eric’s defenses were down and it was just them, the purity and strength of his devotion left her breathless.
He kept her wrapped in his arms. He pressed forward each time she pulsed, waiting until their bodies stilled and he dropped from her. Their juices ran down her thighs and Sookie shivered. “We really should get a shower installed down here,” she sighed.
“For what?” and he spun her around, hoisting her to sit on the small table before dropping to his knees.
“What’s Stan going to think about you leaving him alone? Didn’t he just arrive?” Sookie asked, her words ending in a gasp as Eric’s tongue found its mark.
Eric didn’t bother to answer. Instead, he took his time, using tongue and lips to clean her and when she felt that familiar tightening, he used all his skill to tumble her into one last orgasm, which he drank greedily.
Finally satisfied, Eric laid his arm across her legs and, balancing his chin, picked up their conversation as though they hadn’t paused. “I’m sure Stan is jealous I have such a demanding partner, Lover,” and then Eric’s expression became more thoughtful. “He will his move against New Mexico soon, I’m sure of it. He’s boasting about little things, demanding attention. He’s not subtle. I tired of it, so I let him think you were commanding my special talents,” and Eric gave her his best pirate grin.
Sookie tutted, running her fingers through Eric’s tumbled hair, “Not nice. You know you shouldn’t play with him, Eric. Thinking I’ve got the ability to demand sex is going to get him wondering why he doesn’t have someone who can do the same.”
“Who knows, maybe that is your special talent,” and Eric kissed the inside of Sookie’s thigh before standing up in one fluid motion and offering his hand. “I can’t help it. Watching his greediness makes me want to feed it. He makes himself foolish by his actions.”
“Still, we can’t afford to insult him,” Sookie scolded. Talking of Stan’s tendencies triggered her own, “He hasn’t mentioned Rick, has he?”
After Eric became aware that Rick was his biological son, he’d come to a decision. He acknowledged Rick’s birthright and had Amy Ludwig publicly confirm the legends. Now everyone in the supernatural world knew with old age came the ability for male vampires to procreate biologically with human females, creating dhampirs. The fallout was still revealing itself. Female vampires were not pleased since the ability had not been confirmed for them. There were only two female vampires old enough to test the theory and neither had any interest. For many male vampires it was received as welcome news, one more thing that could be used to set one above the other, although for some others this new ability was looked upon as a travesty, a betrayal of the blood. Very few humans knew, but those who did know seemed undecided. Sookie heard plenty of opinions on the matter, not all of them positive.
Then there was Stan. Eric’s age had always made the Viking a target for Stan’s jealousy. Now, finding out Eric’s age allowed him to create a true son was a topic Stan brought up often, making jokes and feigning interest in Rick. Sookie wasn’t fooled. She recognized the danger and she worried.
“He asked me whether our son was home,” Eric shrugged.
“I haven’t heard from Rick lately,” and Sookie stopped short. “You don’t think…”
“He’s fine! Rick’s in Boston, my Lover” Eric assured her. “Stan isn’t plotting against him. I just heard earlier Rick’s planning on spending his winter break here with us.”
Eric hadn’t admitted to it, but Sookie was sure he’d placed spies around their son. While a part of her wanted confirmation, Sookie knew enough not to ask. What she didn’t know, she didn’t have to lie about to Rick. “I wish he’d call more often.” She knew how she sounded, but it was true. Rick had always been independent, but when he returned to Chester and started attending boarding school after her turning, things between them changed. Lily Hermosa, Rubio’s wife, assured her it was the same with all teenage boys, but Sookie worried her turning had lost her son to her forever.
It was easy to reach such a conclusion. Their calls became shorter and shorter. Even when they were together, they struggled to find topics in common. Where once they’d snuggled, talking long hours about everything and nothing, now the only subjects Sookie could find to generate more than one-word answers were Rick’s studies and his friend, George Hermosa. If Karin, Eric’s oldest progeny, hadn’t moved north to take up residence with Rick’s friend, Peter, it would have been far harder, but Karin did move. She and Peter saw Rick often, at least once a week, when Peter and Rick played music together and she provided Sookie with regular reports for as long as Rick remained in Chester.
Sookie hadn’t really gotten on with Karin, but the vampire’s consistent correspondence left Sookie grateful. She still wondered why Karin chose Rick’s friend. Peter was a long-haired, free-spirit who ran the B&B where Rick and Sookie had lived. He and Karin met when Peter visited New Orleans the summer after Sookie’s turning and Thalia reported they were devoted to each other. Pam explained the romance as Karin’s ability to talk meeting Peter’s silence. Sookie had held onto her doubts. She really thought Karin had been ordered to keep an eye on Rick, so when Rick returned north, Karin used Peter to stay close. For several years her theory worked, but when Rick moved to Boston to attend college, Karin remained in Chester with Peter. Karin still reported, but more about the schools and friends Sookie made than Rick. Now, when Sookie was looking to fill in the blanks in her son’s life, she turned to Fran.
‘Fran.’ Sookie thought of her friend and mentor. She remembered the last time they were together in Boston. It seemed a miracle Fran was still among the living. She looked terrible, old and bent, but her spirit remained. Her eyes still snapped and her wit was just as sharp.
Fran never traveled now. She’d pretty much stopped, only leaving her home on rare occasion. In fact, it had been months since the last time Fran left her brownstone. She’d traveled in a luxury van to Chester for Rick’s high school graduation. She’d spent the entire weekend being pushed in a wheelchair, cursing and snarling the whole time. Now, the ancient witch held court in her Boston brownstone. The elevator carried her up and down to her library and her rooms. Lora, their friend in Boston, spent most days with Fran and some nights when her husband could spare her. Rick was a frequent visitor, too. ‘I’ve retired,’ Fran told Sookie. ‘Now the world can come to see me!’
When he’d been accepted to Harvard, Rick petitioned the school to allow him to live with Fran. He proposed moving into his Mother’s old bedroom, but even Fran’s influence couldn’t convince the school to bend their rules. First year students lived on campus, learning not only their studies but becoming a part of the Harvard community. Still, it was only a quick walk across the Charles River to see Fran, so Rick did. Sookie soaked up Fran’s recounting of dinners and adventures. As for Rick, the weekly phone calls had been reduced to texts and now, the only time Sookie heard from Rick was when she originated the contact.
“He’s fine,” Eric assured her, pulling her from her thoughts. The Viking walked around her, helping straighten her dress. They could both smell their activity, which meant Stan would, too.
“You really are bad!” Sookie scolded, but when he turned down her suggestion of a shower, Sookie shrugged. “We should go find Stan before he finds trouble.”
“I left him with Thalia,” Eric smiled broadly.
“You really are in a bad mood!” Sookie sighed. “You know Thalia has no patience for him. She’ll end up doing something, then we’ll have to suck up twice as hard to make up for it.”
“Thalia’s not in an insulting mood tonight,” Eric shrugged himself.
“No?” Sookie huffed, heading toward the door. “Well, if she’s not up for talking, it probably means she’ll just snap and we’ll find Stan’s head on the floor.”
“A vampire can hope,” Eric chuckled before catching up with her and drawing her arm through his. “But, of course, I don’t truly hope that. I rely, rather, on your ability to charm.”
“This would all be so much easier if I was still a telepath,” and Sookie couldn’t help the surge of emotion she felt.
Eric stopped, drawing her into his arms. For so many years, Sookie had seen her ability as a disability, but now that her ability was gone, it left a hole in her life. ‘You never know what you’ll miss until it’s gone.’ It was ironic. She’d told herself from the time she was little that finding silence from the minds around her would bring her peace. Now she had it and Sookie found it fed her paranoia.
“You worry too much,” Eric soothed her.
“And you get a wild hair across your ass and decide to set up situations that can only end in disaster,” Sookie countered. “You know what it takes to play Stan! Why can’t you just follow the rules? He’s here, we toady, he feels he has at least one set of friends in this world, and he leaves! Instead, you get bored and decide to screw with him!”
Eric didn’t quite hide the flavor of guilt she felt through the bond, but she didn’t need to feel it, she knew she was right. “Stan makes it too easy,” Eric said in his easy way.
“I know you don’t really want to be King,” Sookie answered, repeating the conversation they’d had before. “It doesn’t change where we are. You are King here. You haven’t figured out a way to not be King without all of us losing everything in the process. I can’t believe I’m the one to say this to you, but as long as we’re here, Eric, we need to make the best of it.”
“I’m sorry I missed all those years you spent in your charming little town,” Eric purred. “It changed you. You are wiser than you were.”
“If you mean boring, it wasn’t because I lived in Chester,” Sookie smiled. “That was because you made me a mother. Nothing like facing the day to day of child rearing to knock the silliness off you!”
“And yet, you still smile,” and Eric stopped them to pull her against him again. “I am happy because you are with me, Lover. I can stand all of this because you are finally here, beside me.”
“Yup, too late to throw me back,” Sookie laughed, then, detaching herself, she tugged his hand to get them moving down the hall that would lead them to their guest.