Chapter 23 – The Line

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.

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Within twenty minutes, Eric regretted his offer to answer the boy’s questions. When he sat down, the Viking felt warmly toward the youth. ‘My son’, he thought. That didn’t last long.

Eric anticipated Rick’s questions would be mostly about Eric Northman. That’s what most humans asked. They wanted to know about his age and they usually asked if he’d been present at various historic events. Those who knew him longer asked about his role in vampire hierarchy.

That was not what Rick asked.

“So, where are you taking my Mom?” the boy demanded. The shamed expression that Rick wore in the house was gone now. The boy’s chin was up and his lips were pursed.

“I am taking your Mother back to the Palace in New Orleans,” Eric replied. Eric wasn’t sure why Rick asked. Pam had already shared this plan with the boy, but Rick seemed intent on verifying the information he’d been given. Rick’s eyes lowered and he looked away. Eric nodded. It was good. The boy was satisfied, and Eric found himself thinking of what lay ahead.

Eric thought about the large tub in the royal suite back at the Palace. It would be lined with blankets and bubble wrap to protect and cushion Sookie’s body. Eric would spend the next seventy-two hours tending her as she transformed. The blankets would be changed frequently, and Eric would wash her, so she stayed clean. Eric knew what he faced, the smells and the fluids. Eric had joined Pam in the ground during her transformation. By the time he made Pam, he knew that leaving one’s progeny alone wasn’t the only option open to a Maker. When he’d made Karin, he had only Appius’ example to follow and he wondered if some part of Karin’s hard nature came from that experience.

Facilitating a turning where dirt wasn’t there to absorb the inevitable was not something many Makers did, but Eric couldn’t stand the idea of his Sookie, whom he knew struggled with being in darkness, waking up under the ground. He was sure that his staying with her wouldn’t be pleasant, but Eric wanted to do this. It was more than the love he felt for her. Eric felt an obligation to Sookie Stackhouse. Had he not ordered the takeover, had he not allowed two nights of score-settling, perhaps Sookie wouldn’t have ended up in Compton’s hands.

“So, what then? Can I stay with her there?” The questions caught Eric by surprise. The Viking had assumed the boy was done with his questions, but he could see now that wasn’t the case. The boy wasn’t looking thoughtful. He was looking angry. There was no particular awe or respect in his attitude nor his tone.

“No,” Eric answered, and even to his own ears he could hear how short his answer sounded. As soon as the word came out, the King saw Rick’s protest forming, so he tried to get ahead of it by adding, “Your Mother will not be conscious. Her body will be changing and she…”

“Will be pretty gross, yeah! I get it!” Rick cut the Viking off. Rick’s eyes were hard and his voice got louder. “But why can’t I help her? I’m her son. You’re…”

“She is mine!” It slipped out. Rick stopped talking, and Eric almost retracted it, seeing the shock on the boy’s face, but then he didn’t. Eric wasn’t sorry he said it. Just hearing the words out loud, how right they sounded, brought a smile to his face. It wasn’t for Rick that he added, “And she is mine to care for now.”

Rick’s look shifted again. If he’d been a cat, his ears would have been laid back. The boy leaned toward Eric and he poked the air with his finger, punctuating his words. “Listen, Buster!” he hissed. “I don’t know who you think you are, but where have you been the past twelve years? I’ll tell you where! Nowhere! You never came to find us! You never came looking for her! And now you’re just going to step in and take over? I don’t think so!” The boy was standing, and even his hair seemed to bristle.

“Buster?” It backed Eric up. It was Sookie’s word and the Viking found he couldn’t be angry with this child. Eric could see that this was anger masking fear, so he tried explaining things so that Rick would understand. “It is more than just the physical transformation. There is the matter of her Maker’s death.”

“So, what does that mean?” Rick challenged. “Why does Compton’s death matter?”

Now Eric stood, too. He tried to remain relaxed as the boy paced, “During the journey from human to vampire, the bond with your Maker is a constant. It pulls you forward.” Eric remembered the pull he’d felt as he lay under the ground, his feelings toward Appius Livius Ocella, an impossible tangle of loathing and love. “Because her Maker was killed, there is no pull for Sookie, your Mother. She will feel disoriented…”

“Could it hurt her?” Rick interrupted again. Eric could hear the fear in the boy’s voice now. “Mr. Hermosa said sometimes turnings go wrong. Could losing her Maker make things go wrong?”

“Sookie is strong,” Eric answered. He felt pleased that the boy was calming down and seemed to be grasping the situation. “She would not have wanted Compton as her Maker. She…”

And the boy turned on him. He pulled himself up to his full height and he glared at Eric. “But this could really screw her up, right?” the boy’s voice was rising again. “And you couldn’t wait. You had to kill the other guy because…why? Because my Mom is ‘yours’? Jeez, you really are an asshole, aren’t you?”

Eric felt his eyes go flat. For his enemies, it was the last thing they saw, but this was ridiculous. This boy, Sookie’s son, was no threat. He was a child, but he seemed incapable of listening to reason. “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Eric growled, and he knew he was done talking. There was no end to the child’s ignorance and dawn was approaching. There was much to do. “There will be more time for talk later,” Eric announced, and turned to walk away.

“Is this what you did to her, too? You’d just tell my Mom what you wanted and leave her guessing about the rest?” Rick challenged.

“I always told your Mother what she needed to know,” Eric growled, but the boy’s words stung and Eric recognized that feeling when someone had struck too close to a truth the Viking didn’t wish to consider.

“Yeah, well, I may be a kid,” Rick snarled from behind him, “but I know a lie when I hear one!”

“We are done,” Eric said. He found himself walking, then vamping back to Compton’s house. The others were waiting. The coffin holding Sookie was now sitting next to the van that would take them to the airport. Eric could hear the boy’s feet slapping the ground as he tried to catch up. The prospect of this angry child stomping around the Palace while everyone else rested was not appealing.

“Rubio, I have a favor to ask,” Eric leaned over his friend.

“I owe you my life,” Rubio replied. “There is nothing you can ask…”

“Pam suggested that Rick…” and Rubio saw something he never thought to see on Eric’s face. His King looked guilty. “Pam thought it might be better to have Rick stay with you, just until Sookie completes her transformation. I think it would be a good idea, too,” and Eric stopped talking and leaned forward. “I want you to take Rick home with you.” Rubio’s eyes widened, “I realize this will not be convenient for your wife, but she is human. He is awake during the day. It would not be good for him to be in a vampire palace at this time.”

“You don’t think…” Rubio started, then seeing Eric’s expression, he bowed his head and said, “Of course. I’ll call Lily. George is home. They’re friends.” Rubio glanced past Eric, and the Viking assumed his friend was looking at the rapidly approaching youth. “But, you will arrange for Rick to be in New Orleans in time for his Mother’s rising?” Rubio asked.

“I…” and then Eric stopped talking. He felt caught out. When he’d thought about Sookie opening her eyes for the first time as a vampire, he imagined her surrounded with flowers and candles, and in his dream, it was just the two of them.

“I’ll bring him to New Orleans,” Amy Ludwig spoke up. “I can pick him up and have him in at the Palace in plenty of time.” Eric was startled. The Doctor rarely put herself out for anyone, but when he saw the look she was giving him, it made him feel uncomfortable.

Rick reached them and the daggers he was throwing at Eric with his eyes made clear to everyone how well his talk with his Father had gone. “So, what now?” the boy challenged.

“You’re coming home with me,” Rubio answered.

“What?” Rick stared at Eric and his mouth opened and closed before he could get the words out, “But, my Mom…”

“Is going to New Orleans tonight. Rick, she’ll be sleeping for three days,” Rubio explained. “She won’t be able to communicate. She won’t be sure what’s going on, and there’s going to be a lot of work involved in keeping her comfortable, but don’t worry. On the day of her rising, Doctor Ludwig is coming to get you. You will be there in plenty of time to be beside her when she opens her eyes for the first time,” and Rubio looked at Eric, clearly waiting for his agreement.

“Yeah, sure,” Rick swallowed, his face coloring, “If he lets me be there!” and Rick drilled Eric with his eyes, willing the vampire to feel his fury.

“This is for the best,” Eric huffed. It was hard to understand how his talk with the boy had gone so badly. He was sure Sookie wouldn’t approve of where things stood between himself and Rick, but he couldn’t think of how to fix it. If she were here, Eric was sure Sookie would know what to do, and he found his gaze shifting back to the coffin that held her.

“Of course, you’ll be there when she rises,” and Thalia stepped forward, placing her hand on Rick’s shoulder. It was so unusual for Thalia to interfere, Eric couldn’t help staring at her. The others stared as well, but Thalia ignored them all as she told the boy, “Sookie would want to be surrounded by her family. You are her son, and one of us. It is your right to be at her side.”

“Of course,” Eric stammered. Thalia’s words shocked him and he felt doubt. For the first time, the Viking wondered if he was in the wrong and if Rick was the only one Sookie would wish to see. It was a humbling thought.

“I have not explained things as I should,” he told Rick. “You are probably right. I’m sure I didn’t explain things well to your Mother, either, but this I promise you,” and Eric bowed. “I will try to do better. I am not at my best,” and Eric couldn’t help turning his eyes to the coffin where she rested. “Your Mother’s… This turning… While I wish to accept what you have told me, that her beliefs have changed, your Mother told me many times that she never wished to be vampire.”

“Then, you don’t know her very well,” Rick leaned into Thalia, and that gesture caused Eric’s chest to clench. “My Mom’s a fighter! Nothing gets her down! I have faith in her and you should, too.”

Eric looked again at the coffin. ‘He is your son,’ he thought. Eric turned back to Rick, “This I pledge to you, I will do what I can to comfort her during her change. I will ease her passage in every way that is within my power but, when it is time, I will make certain yours is the first face she sees.” Eric walked over to Rick and laid a hand on the boy’s shoulder, “I think she will be most happy to see you,” and Eric forced a smile.

“I want to see her before you take her away,” Rick had his chin up and his chest thrown out, but his brave front was betrayed by the single tear that slipped over the boy’s cheek. On instinct, Eric caught the tear, bringing it to his lips. When he caught Rick’s startled look, he nodded.

“Allow me one minute first,” Eric told him, then ran away toward the cemetery.

“You okay?” Amy squeezed Rick’s arm.

“I don’t know,” Rick shrugged. “I guess,” and he looked away, pulling himself together.

Rick glanced over to where Mr. Hermosa was now sitting in the wheelchair. He was on the phone and he seemed to be talking a lot. Rick was pretty sure it was about him. He remembered George saying how his Mom didn’t want the two of them hanging out together anymore, and Rick felt more alone than he had ever felt before.

“You sure can piss him off,” Pam walked close beside him. “I’m not sure what you said, but you were under his skin in no time.”

“I’m not trying to make him mad,” Rick swiped another tear away. “She’s my Mom. No one seems to remember that.”

“Vampires are possessive,” Pam shrugged.

“I’m a vampire,” Rick snapped. “And I’m not all grabby, grabby, mine, mine! My Mother taught me to share!”

“Your Mother didn’t teach you to be a vampire, then,” Pam sniffed.

Thalia nodded at him and looked as if she’d say something else, but then Eric returned. He walked over to the large coffin Rick knew held his mother and raised the lid. He had a blanket Rick assumed he’d taken from his Mother’s house. He laid it in the coffin and Rick realized his Mother probably wasn’t wearing any clothes and the Viking had considered Rick’s feelings long enough to get something to cover her up. Eric’s hand hesitated inside the coffin before he looked up, and Rick knew he was being summoned.

With each step, Rick found his feet seemed larger and heavier. He wanted to see her, needed to see her, but he was so worried she’d look different, but she didn’t. The face that was there was his Mom’s, the same way she looked whenever she fell asleep on the couch…well, almost. “Mom!” he whispered. He didn’t bother trying to hide his tears now and his fangs snicked down. It didn’t matter. “I love you!” he told her, then he reached out to touch her because he had to know she was real. Her skin was cold, so cold. “It’s going to be okay,” he said as much for himself as for her. “I don’t know if you can hear me, but I’ll be there when you wake up. And I know you will! You’ll show them all!”

Eric’s hand was on his shoulder, “We must go,” he told Rick. “Dawn approaches. You will see your Mother in three nights. I have promised you.”

Rick leaned over the coffin and kissed his Mom’s forehead and then near her eye. His fangs refused to retract, so he could barely feel her skin against his, but the sensitivity of his teeth made him want to rub against her. It was weird and he stood, rubbing his eyes dry. “Three days,” Rick told Eric, and then turned and walked away, his back straight.

Rubio was waiting for him next to the transport van. “You ready to go?” Rubio asked. When Rick shrugged, Rubio said, “George is happy you’re coming. Would you like to talk with him?” and he held out his phone.

“I’d really like to talk with my Aunt Lora and…” Rick almost said Aunt Fran, but he stopped himself. There were so few people in this world now who wanted him, he thought sadly.

“Where’s your phone?” Rubio asked.

“Some thug in New Orleans took it,” Rick told him.

“At the Palace?” Thalia was suddenly beside them. When Rick nodded, Thalia brought out her own and texted faster than Rick had ever seen anyone text before. “They will find it if it can be found,” she assured him. “In the meantime,” she reached into an inside pocket of her jacket, “you may use this one. It has no passcode.”

“Thanks,” Rick told her, but when he looked up, Thalia was staring away. Rick saw that Pam was also staring in the same direction, and so he looked.

Eric Northman was naked and he was lowering himself into the coffin that held Rick’s mom. For a big vampire, the Viking was being very careful in the way he did it. It gave Rick an odd feeling. “Don’t judge him too harshly,” Thalia said from behind him. “He may tell you she is His, but we know the truth.”

“What do you mean?” Rick asked.

“Eric Northman belongs to your Mother,” Thalia snorted, “but don’t repeat that! It will only make him deny it and that kind of lying isn’t good for anyone!”

While they watched, the lid lowered. “He’s really going to be with her for three more days?” Rick asked.

“Yeah, three days wrapped around stinky, rotten, changing carcass,” Pam snarked.

“Time to go!” Rubio interrupted. “Come on, Rick, we have a ride ahead of us, and I’d like to fall into my day death in my own bed.” Pam gave them both a lop-sided smile, and finger-waved once they stepped into the van. There was a travel coffin strapped in the back, but Rubio and Rick sat on the seats affixed to both sides.

“Why don’t you call your Aunt Lora?” Rubio suggested. “I’m sure she’s been worried about you.”

The van started moving. Rick stared at the phone in his hands, not sure he wanted to call without having some privacy, but then Mr. Hermosa moved down a couple seats, and put his own phone to his ear. After Mr. Hermosa shifted to face the back of the van, Rick took a deep breath, pulled out his wallet, and called the first number Aunt Lora’s numbers gave him.

The phone only rang twice before his Aunt answered, “Hello?” Rick was startled. It was so late, he figured his Aunt would be sleeping.

Instead, she sounded anxious, so Rick quickly said, “It’s me, Aunt Lora. It’s…”

“Rick! Oh, thank God! I was going out of my mind with worry!” she exclaimed. “Are you okay, Honey? Did you find your Mom?”

“I’m fine,” Rick nodded, “and we did find her. She’s…okay,” he said carefully.

“You’re not telling me something!” Aunt Lora scolded. “Has she been hurt? Has your Mom been injured somehow?”

“I don’t think it’s that, exactly,” Rick stammered. “She’s going to be a vampire, though.” He said it as though it was no big thing, but as the shock of tonight wore off, it occurred to Rick that it was a big thing. It meant things would change for all of them.

“Oh,” Aunt Lora said once, and then, “Oh,” again. Rick figured Aunt Lora was thinking it was a big thing, too. Then she said, “I have someone here who wants to talk with you.”

“What did you tell your Aunt?” Aunt Fran demanded. “She looks like her dog got run over by a car!”

“Aunt Fran?” Rick stammered, his voice loud enough that Mr. Hermosa turned and looked at him. “Aunt Fran!” Rick repeated, his voice lower, “You’re there? You’re all right?”

“Well, you’re talking to me, aren’t you?” his Aunt challenged.

“Where are you?” Rick asked.

“In my own house,” Aunt Fran answered, as if Rick was being foolish to ask. “I didn’t like the hospital and they didn’t like me, so they kicked me out.” Rick was pretty sure that wasn’t the case, but then his Aunt went on to say, “That Doctor Ludwig is pure evil. She wasn’t ready to let me go, and so here I am! So,” then his Aunt’s voice dropped, “why don’t you tell your Godmother what happened?”

“Mom was turned,” Rick said.

“Did Eric Northman do it?” Fran snapped.

“What? No!” Rick exclaimed, “No, it was some vampire she knew from before. She got captured, somehow. We were looking for her. I found my Father, Eric, I mean, and we drove all over Louisiana.” Rick swallowed, then he hunched down into himself, “Aunt Fran? I was so scared. I thought for sure she was dead, and I’d never see her again.”

“But she isn’t dead, is she?” Fran’s voice was strong over the phone. Rick could almost see his Aunt’s dark eyes, challenging him.

“No,” he shook his head, “No, she’s not, but she’s on her way to New Orleans and I’m going to stay with Mr. Hermosa.”

“Why aren’t you with your Mother?” Fran demanded.

“Because Eric thought it would be better for me to be with humans until she rises. Doctor Ludwig says she’ll come and get me so I can be there for…you know.”

“Your Father decided to send you away?” Fran asked. She used that tone she got when she wanted to give a person the chills.

“I’ll be okay,” Rick said weakly. “George Hermosa will be there. At least I’ll have someone to talk to.”

“Why aren’t you talking with your Father?” Fran asked.

“He’s not a good talker,” The more Rick talked about it, the more miserable he felt.

“Well, then, your Father is an asshole!” Fran declared, and Rick laughed out loud to hear his Aunt use the same word he had. “Seriously, Sweetheart, how are you doing?”

“Not great,” Rick admitted. “I miss home. I miss my Mom. I miss being with people who want me around.” Fran took in a sharp breath and Rick worried that she’d had another episode. “Aunt Fran? Are you okay? It’s not that bad! Really, it’s not. It’s just been a really long night and I’m tired. It’ll be okay.”

“Stop bullshitting me!” Fran growled, and Rick realized she was angry. “It’s bad enough you break every rule and go high-tailing it down there, and there will be repercussions for that, by the way. You make it all the way, find your Father, and he’s mean to you?”

“Not mean, exactly,” Rick shrugged. “He… He just doesn’t seem to have a lot of time for me. I don’t think he knows what to do about me. Everyone down here keeps telling me he isn’t himself, that Mom being missing, and then turned is distracting him, or something.”

“Everyone?” Aunt Fran asked.

“Everyone, like Pam and Doctor Ludwig and Thalia.”

“You’ve met the famous Thalia?” Aunt Fran asked. It was hard to impress Aunt Fran, but Rick could tell that Thalia did it. “And you’ve met Pam? She’s your sister, isn’t she?”

“Yeah,” Rick nodded, “Her and B’etor.”

“Who?” Aunt Fran asked.

“Lursa and B’etor. My evil step-sisters, you know, from Star Trek.”

Aunt Fran was laughing, “I know who Lursa and B’etor are!” she chuckled. “I’m just trying to figure out how you know about them!”

Fran knew Rick did not grow up with a television, but Rick laughed, “George! He talks about that show all the time, so I made him stream it for me. I had to! It was self-defense!”

“I get it,” Fran chuckled, “and as for Karin and Pam? I guess they do have the teeth in common.” After a moment, she said, “I guess you’re telling me the vampire side of your family isn’t exactly welcoming you with open arms.”

“I wouldn’t call them family,” Rick shrugged.

“Well, then, there’s the answer,” Fran told him. “You hold tight. I’ll be making a few calls of my own. If there’s one thing I know about your Mother, it’s the importance of being with people she considers family, and from what you’re telling me, we’re it. It will take a little bit to get this organized, but I’m coming to Louisiana.”

“Do you think you should?” Rick asked. “I mean, you sound good, really good. I was so scared for you. If something were to happen… Do you really think you should travel?”

“I do sound better,” Aunt Fran cackled. “And I feel better, too. That Doctor Ludwig found me some kind of magic potion in her bag of tricks, and while I won’t say I’m dancing, I’m getting around again.”

“I’m really glad you feel better,” Rick said softly, “but don’t put yourself out for me. I’ll be okay.” He felt his throat catch a little on the lie he was telling. “I miss you,” he told her.

“Well, you won’t be missing me for long,” Fran assured him. “I miss you, too,” and she disconnected the line.

“I could chew nails,” Fran snarled to Lora. “Can you imagine the balls on that bastard? His own flesh and blood… Sookie’s flesh and blood, and he’s dumped him with strangers!”

“The Hermosas aren’t strangers,” Lora replied, but her voice was still strained, “They are George’s parents. You know, George, Rick’s best friend from school.”

“He’s not with his Mother,” Fran growled, “and that’s what counts.” Fran pulled the blanket around her legs. She hated the wheelchair, but she hated being stuck in bed more. “Call Amy Ludwig,” When Lora looked startled, Fran barked, “Get her! She offered me that hoo-doo juice and I’m ready to take it!”

“It’s addictive,” Lora cautioned. “You know what she said!”

“Oh, please!” Fran scoffed, “Like at my age I’m worried about becoming a junkie? I should so live long! All I need is to get where I want to go and right now, that place is with my Godson in New Orleans.”

 

xxxXXXxxx

 

The van pulled up to a regular white house in a regular suburban neighborhood. The lights were on inside and there was a light on over the garage, illuminating the driveway. Rick’s eyes felt as if they had sand in them, and Mr. Hermosa looked exhausted, too. Almost before the van stopped, the front door opened, and Mrs. Hermosa walked out with George right behind her.

The van driver got out and walked around, but Mrs. Hermosa pulled open the van door, meeting her husband as he walked down the steps. “Rubio!” she exclaimed, wrapping her arms around him and kissing his cheek.

“I’m fine, Lily, just tired,” Mr. Hermosa purred. He turned a little and said, “You remember Rick.”

“Hey, Bro!” George greeted from behind his Mother.

“Hey,” Rick returned the greeting. It was good to see George, but Rick held back, not wanting to get his friend in more trouble.

Mrs. Hermosa detached herself from Mr. Hermosa, though, and wrapped her arms around Rick. “I owe you big time!” she told the boy. “Thank you for finding my husband!”

It wasn’t the reception Rick anticipated, and he blushed a little. “It wasn’t…”

“Well, it just was!” Mrs. Hermosa cut him off, then hugged him again. She released him and wrapped her arm around Mr. Hermosa’s waist, “Now, let’s get inside before we wake the neighbors.” She looked at Rubio, “I have donors here and that’s your first stop.”

Mr. Hermosa looked shocked. “Lily, I couldn’t!” he exclaimed.

“Don’t you give me any crap about this, Rubio Hermosa!” she scolded. “You need blood, and lots of it to flush that silver out of your system. Doctor Ludwig and I had a long talk. Just think of it as taking your medicine, and I’ll be right there, so it’s not breaking any promises.”

Mr. Hermosa stopped walking just short of the door. He pulled Mrs. Hermosa close and nuzzled her. There was no other word for it. Rick and George stopped short, too, and Rick could hear the adults whispering to each other. After a few moments, Mrs. Hermosa just laughed and pushed against Mr. Hermosa, “No such thing!” she protested. “Besides, you wouldn’t let our guest eat by himself, would you?”

Rick was shocked, but Mrs. Hermosa gave him a warm look and George pulled at his arm. They walked into a small living room. It was furnished nicely, not Rick’s style, but homey. There were two people sitting there and they both rose. “It will probably be easier in the dining room,” Mrs. Hermosa was saying. “Rick? Would you like some human food, too? I have some leftover pulled pork and I could make you up a sandwich.”

Rick’s stomach squeezed, but his fangs were itching more. “That’s okay,” he lisped. “I’m pretty tired. I can wait for later.”

Lily waved the two people Rick knew were donors toward the dining room, and they both took a seat on the wooden chairs. Mr. Hermosa walked behind the man, leaving a young, attractive woman for Rick. George was staring, but he left after Mrs. Hermosa called him out to the kitchen. “You know what to do?” Mr. Hermosa asked.

Rick nodded, “Eric showed me.” He leaned over, licked the woman’s neck, and her scent tickled his nose. When he sank his fangs into her, Rick felt her shift a little and he worried he’d hurt her, but then she made a noise that didn’t sound hurt at all. Rick was standing close to the back of the chair and he became hard. It was difficult to concentrate, her blood was so appealing, but he slowed down and counted to calm himself, pulling out his fangs, and licking her neck.

The woman’s head leaned back, her eyes closed. “Too bad you’re so young,” she sighed. Rick pressed himself against the back of the chair, enjoying the sensation. Then he caught Mr. Hermosa’s eyes watching him. Rick felt embarrassed and his reaction faded a bit.

“I appreciate you coming so late,” Mr. Hermosa was saying. “There will be a generous tip for both of you on the account.”

“Happy to help,” the man said, and he and the woman left through the front door.

George and Lily came back into the room, and Mrs. Hermosa said, “George, why don’t you show Rick where he’ll be sleeping?” George motioned and Rick followed him down a hall to a room where there was a single bed and decorations aimed for a much younger child.

“We figured you’d be more comfortable in Frank’s room,” George told him. “Maddie’s room is vomit pink and filled with Disney Princesses. I thought it would have been perfect for you, but Mom thinks this one is better,” and George laughed.

“Yeah, thanks,” Rick stammered. There were pajamas already on the bed, and Rick looked around, needing to find a bathroom.

When he looked back, it was to find George smirking at him, “That for me?” Rick’s friend teased, pointing at Rick’s pants.

“Shut up!” Rick growled. “It happens!”

“She was hot,” George smirked.

“She was old enough to be…”

“What? Cougar bait?” and George laughed. When Rick opened his mouth to protest, George held up his hand, “Okay! I’ll stop. Look, it’s late and it looks like you really have to take care of that thing. Bathroom is second door on the right, and wipe it off the shower wall before you leave. I don’t need my Mom having to take care of that.”

“You’re a dickhead!” Rick dropped into their usual insulting banter.

“Butthole,” George answered. “Seriously though, thanks for finding my Dad. He told my Mom he wouldn’t have made it much longer. You saved him.”

“You’d have done the same for me,” Rick shrugged. George nodded, and Rick grabbed the pajamas and headed to the bathroom. He turned the shower to hot, leaned against the shower wall with one hand while he handled himself with the other. It didn’t take long. It never did, but as he recovered, panting, the night came back to him. ‘Interesting times,’ ran through his mind and he knew why the Chinese proverb called it a curse.

 

xxxXXXxxx

 

Rick figured it was pretty late when he opened his eyes. The bedroom was flooded with indirect light. Buzz Lightyear was staring at him from the bookshelf across the room. There was a Lego Star Wars vehicle he recognized as Jango Fett’s Slave One hanging from the ceiling. Things were quiet around him and it occurred to Rick that this kind of quiet would be how every day was in a vampire house. Then he heard a noise and knew somewhere in the house, someone was moving, and it made him feel better.

There were some fresh clothes on the dresser, George’s probably, but the pants were too small. Rick pulled on the pants Eric had found him at the Compton house and the new shirt. He almost left the room before remembering to make his bed. He picked up his clothes off the floor and folded those, too, then made his way to the hallway and back toward the main part of the house.

Mrs. Hermosa was standing at an island in the kitchen, drinking coffee, and looking at something on her notepad. “Hungry?” she smiled.

“Always,” Rick shrugged.

“I have another donor coming for you in about an hour, then there will be more when Mr. Hermosa rises. In the meantime, there’s some bagged blood in the refrigerator. Or, I could make you some scrambled eggs.” Rick had to hand it to her. She rattled off the choices like it was no big thing, and from what he could see, it wasn’t.

“Eggs would be great,” he told her. As she moved around the kitchen, Rick did open the refrigerator door. Mrs. Hermosa had cleared out a vegetable drawer and there were the familiar blood bank bags in stacks. He took one out and headed to the microwave on the counter. Mrs. Hermosa pulled out a glass and set it on the counter beside him, and just kept going, whisking eggs in a bowl, and asking if he’d like to watch some television.

“That’s okay,” Rick told her, and it struck him again how normal everything felt. Even when he’d been in Chester, it hadn’t felt quite like this. Rick had restricted his blood drinking to his room. There was never any talk of donors. It was as if his being part vampire was a secret he kept with his Mom, and he guessed it was. It hadn’t occurred to Rick that there was anything wrong or strange about how they lived until now.

“Where’s George?” he asked as he sipped the warmed blood.

“My Mom, his Gran, came home with me. She doesn’t get to see him much, so this was a good excuse for them to visit.” Mrs. Hermosa glanced at the clock, and Rick realized it was already past noon. “They went out to the mall for a bit. There’s a game place down there. George waited, but I figured you needed your sleep.”

“Thanks,” Rick mumbled, then “Thanks,” again when she slid a plate of eggs, sausage, and toast in front of him.

“So, you know you boys are in some trouble,” Mrs. Hermosa said, her eyebrow raised.

“My Aunt Lora is pretty mad,” Rick nodded. “I’m sorry we worried you.”

“I didn’t mean me or your family,” Mrs. Hermosa replied. “Your school is not happy about your little stunt. You are both on academic probation. They could have expelled both of you, but, under the circumstances, they’ve decided that you can get yourselves back on track by attending summer school.”

Rick’s fork suspended mid-motion. “Oh,” he said. School. Chester.

“What is it?” Mrs. Hermosa asked.

“I don’t know,” Rick stammered, “I guess I don’t know if I’ll be going back at all,” and suddenly he didn’t feel hungry and the blood in his stomach roiled.

It all seemed too much, and Rick stared out through the window over the sink. How could he go back to his regular life now? His Mom couldn’t live in the house in Chester anymore. They’d be vampires living in a place where there were no vampires, and then there was Eric. He didn’t look as if he’d be willing to move, and Rick didn’t think he’d be wanting his Mom to go too far away. Rick remembered the way his Mom looked when she returned from Denver, the way she’d stare off and smile, and he had a feeling she wouldn’t be too anxious to leave the big vampire, either.

Rick thought about Chester, the trees and the music and all his friends. Almost every good memory he had was made in that place. They danced every May 1st for his birthday, and he knew where he fit into his life there. Now, it was all different, and Rick swallowed, trying hard not to cry in front of Mrs. Hermosa.

Mrs. Hermosa walked up behind him and laid her hand on his shoulder, “I don’t think you should worry too much,” she told him. “Just because your Mom is becoming a vampire, it isn’t the end of the world. One thing I am sure about, your Mom is going to want to do what’s best for you. She won’t make decisions that would hurt you.”

“But, everything’s changed now,” Rick said carefully.

“Why? Because she’s becoming a vampire? People do. It’s not like the old days. No one expects vampires to give up their families and live apart any more, and I don’t think your Mom would anyway. I saw how she was with you, and I know what my kids tell me. You are the most important thing to her, and that’s not going to change.”

Rick shrugged, “Becoming a vampire does seem like a big thing,” he said gloomily. He’d been thinking it for awhile now, and saying it out loud made the thought sting a little less.

“I suppose it is,” Mrs. Hermosa told him, “but we do lots of big things in our lives. We buy houses. We get married. We have children. That doesn’t mean we leave our pasts behind. You know,” and she pushed the plate toward him, urging him to start eating again, “Mr. Hermosa and I have a plan. George and all our children can tell you about it. When Frank graduates high school, Mr. Hermosa is going to turn me. Our kids will be able to drive and there won’t be so many things that will be daytime-only events then.” Mrs. Hermosa clasped Rick’s hand and squeezed, “Of course, I want to be with Mr. Hermosa forever. I love him just as much as your Mom loves your Father, but our children come first. Now, your circumstances are a little different. Your Mom’s turning wasn’t when she chose, but sometimes those things happen. What I don’t doubt is that once she rises, she’ll figure out how to make this work best for you.”

It made Rick feel a little better, the way she said it. When he started eating again, Mrs. Hermosa said, “It’s not as hard as it seems. What I do know is that when I married Mr. Hermosa, I had each of my babies tell me what things were most important, what things they felt were the things that made them happy. That way, Mr. Hermosa and I were able to plan around those.” Mrs. Hermosa picked up a pad of paper from the counter and a pen and set it down beside him.

“Why don’t you make a list? That way, when your Mother rises, you can let her know what things matter most to you. It will help her figure out how to organize things, so that everyone is happy. Now, there will need to be compromises. For one thing, she can’t come out in daylight anymore.”

“I know that,” Rick said, but as he said the words, the real meaning of them started to sink in. His Mother wouldn’t be able to watch the sunrise with him for May Day. She wouldn’t be able to sit with him on the dock at home, watching the sun dance on the waves.

Mrs. Hermosa must had seen it, because she said, “It’s good to know in your own head what matters most, and you have some time to figure that out. There’s a nice covered patio out back and the day is warm. You want to head out there to work on it?”

Rick walked his dishes to the dishwasher, then headed out with the paper and pen. As he settled, his phone buzzed in his pocket. It was a text from his Aunt Lora. She and Aunt Fran would be flying to New Orleans tomorrow, and Amy Ludwig wasn’t coming for him; Uncle Desmond was. He would be there first thing in the morning, and the text asked him to inform his hosts.

 

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66 thoughts on “Chapter 23 – The Line

  1. Making a list, a good way to keep him distracted, and allow him to think about what he wants. George’s mother is a wise woman, and her behavior towwards Rick is just what he needs right now. Parents try to do the right thing for their children, but in this case, Sookie’s decision to keep what he is a secret didn’t allow for the kind of normal he might have had. Hindsight is always 20/20, and we all learn from our mistakes. I think Rick will find he is surrounded by love. Have to laugh a bit at the things he says and how much his reactions are reminiscent of Sookie. I think Eric is going to have his hands full, and Pam is going to have so much fun having both Sookie and Rick around to keep Eric on his toes.

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    1. So glad you liked the dialogue I gave Rick. I wanted him to sound and act like Sookie, but at the same time carry a little bit of the Eric swagger too. I thought a long time about how Sookie would set things up for her son. Of course, keep in mind she was in denial about his being Eric’s for a while, and even after she found out, she was hoping he didn’t become too vampire. Even had she accepted all of this with open arms, though, what could she really have done? If she’d gone public earlier, they would likely have been in danger. Felipe really help them without trying to get something out of it for himself? Not likely! Rick will end up okay, but he will need to figure out a new normal.

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      1. Sookie’s actions under the circumstances do make perfect sense, especially since she was in denial about Eric being Rick’s father (and who could blame her, not supposed to be possible is it?). She was protecting her child in the only way she knew. I know this story is almost at an end, I’m going to miss it..

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  2. Eric sure isn’t used to someone speaking their mind to him! Like mother, like son! I had to laugh when Rick called him Buster!!

    I’m glad that Rick will be making his way to the palace sooner rather than later and that he’ll be surrounded by loved ones.

    I’m very anxious for Sookie to rise. I hope she’ll acclimate quickly to being a vampire!

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    1. Even Pam doesn’t throw Eric’s words back in his face. Only Sookie did that, and now his son as well. Particularly now, being King and all, having a scrawny teenager finger-poking couldn’t sit well! (Never did with me!) So, Eric has to adjust, which being Eric he will… in time. Of course Rick needed to be with his Mother when she rose, but you could see Eric having some little scene worked out in his head about welcoming her, and that not including a bunch of witnesses.

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    1. Bill as Sookie’s Maker would have been a real mess! I can’t imagine… well… actually I can and it quickly takes me to a dark place. As for Sookie rising? This is a life-changer, like having a child or getting married. Any major life event should include your family, and it starts to (slowly) dawn on Eric that Rick is more family than Eric at this stage.

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  3. Oh, this evoked memories of my father and brother in his teen years. Two alpha males. So glad you have Fran as a character to combat Rick’s feeling of isolation. That Thalia stepped in just in time, too. Can’t wait for an update

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    1. Eric is lucky in his friends. They are willing to risk his irritation to save him from himself in the matter of his son. They know that Sookie would rip Eric a new one if he managed to keep her son from her. They’ve shared with Rick their admiration of Sookie’s independence and their acknowledgement that his Mother is her own person, not an extension of Eric Northman or anyone else! They are two alpha males, and you just know there will be more fights in future.

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  4. You sure captured that middle school brain. Eric thinks Rick’s questions will be about his long life. Middle schoolers don’t give a shit. They are on stage and have their own agenda. Rick’s concern is his mother.

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    1. They are fairly predictable, aren’t they? ‘What about me?!” is that middle-school refrain. Eric has his own ego issues to deal with. Folks have deferred to him for a long time and he’s forgotten that there are people out there who won’t try to jolly him into being considerate – they’ll just call him on his shit, and Sookie was one of those people. Now, her son is too.

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  5. I have a feeling this will be Fran’s last hurrah.
    I can just see how guilty Sookie feels for keeping all of this hidden from both Eric and Rick, but with her feelings being in turmoil she doesn’t know which end is up just yet.
    I know they’ll have their HEA, you’ve said so :D, but I just can’t see Sookie being happy about being a vampire and trying to hide that fact from everyone who matters to her.
    I can just see the look on her face, too, when/if Eric suggests she take some of his blood so he’ll better be able to monitor her. And I can hear her refusal using the old arguments, too *sigh*
    Three more weeks, three more weeks, three more weeks. Gah! It’s not working! I want to know how it ends NOW! Grrrrrrr, lol.

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    1. There’s an old Amish saying ’round some parts of PA: “We get too late too smart.” It’s been many, many years, and as a mother, Sookie’s had to accept things about her son she could never accept about his father. Also, what a person may adamantly believe or feel strongly about at 28 usually tends to be a whole ‘nother thing after 40. It’s amazing what emotional maturity will do to a person… She’s already proven herself to be a bit wiser than before. I’ll bet Sookie will still fight Eric over things; she’d hardly be Sookie without that temper of hers, and they just wouldn’t be who they are without their tempestuousness, their passion, and, of course, their ways of making up! Still, I can’t see her objecting to an unlife with Eric and being able to remain in her son’s life forever, especially if she discovers she’s getting that second chance she wanted. 🙂

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      1. Great saying! It is the premise of the story, and in this case, there was some trouble to navigate, but there are second chances on the other side. I couldn’t agree more about growing up! I am a different person than I was at 28. I look back on some of my decisions now and wonder! When people ask me if I’d like to go back and relive those days? No! Frankly, in spite of a slowing body and wrinkling face, I’m happy with where I am and who I am. Make mistakes? Don’t we all, but the experience I bring is so much richer.

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    2. Fran got that second lease of life, thanks to vampire blood. I agree. She would not want to linger indefinitely. She’d want to take charge and make decisions about her own destiny, and she’ll discuss that.
      It is inevitable that Sookie will be in turmoil on her rising, and on many fronts. Maker-less. Cheated out of her choice as to whether to turn or not. Tortured again. Never told Eric about Rick. Left her son without being able to speak with him first. She’s got a trailer-full of baggage that will need sorting, and by extension, her son will too.
      Change (or turning) is never easy, but if you meet it head on and get help if you need it, you can emerge even better on the other side.

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      1. I know this point is moot since this IS Sookie we’re talking about! And she’s the queen of self imposed guilt trips!
        She shouldn’t feel guilty about leaving Rick without talking to him, that was her reason to go to Bill’s, to borrow a charger for Rubio’s phone so she could talk to him.
        In some ways Bill was just as bad as Appius. Appius didn’t care about his progeny’ feelings on a given issue, as long as the child did as told to do. Bill didn’t care about Sookie’s feelings on turning: As long as Eric didn’t, and would never, have her, that was all that really mattered.
        I’ve often wondered if Appius did cut out the scars, then healed them so his child would look as perfect as possible.

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  6. Now that Lily has Rubio back she can think clearly. Can’t blame her for her fear and anger when she didn’t know when George was kidding and Rubio was probably dying or dead. I think Eric is right to not let Rick be around as Sookie turns. He doesn’t need to see that. Eric’s presence may comfort Sookie, especially if he stays next to her. I remember how wild Jake was in the book and wonder if it’s safe to have Rick there when she wakes. I guess if Eric can get blood into her fast enough she should have some control. I like how Thalia supportive of Rick. She is old enough, not only to have recognized what he is, but to understand how rare he is. He has already proved that he can be useful. Lursa and B’etor. Perfect. I imagine Pam will get a kick out of that, Karin may not.

    I can see having a full body lift and some liposuction before being turned, but only if you are unconscious for it.

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    1. Ha! I’d take that full body lift & liposuction! 🙂 Or maybe all that vampire blood you have to drink beforehand would fill all that in & lift & separate once more? Wishful thinking?

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    2. Full body lift and lipo? I’ll take it now!
      Lily is thinking more clearly now, and she loves her husband enough to forgive Rick. Even though I know my kids aren’t angels, when they got themselves into scrapes, my first instinct was always to want them to cut ties with those ‘bad kids’ that aided and abetted. I figure Lily would be similar.
      As for Eric? Sending Rick to stay with humans during Sookie’s transformation is right in some ways, but so wrong in others! Does Rick really know the Hermosas? Did Eric make sure it was okay with Mrs. Hermosa? If Lily was not the forgiving type, Rick’s stay would have been terrible. Eric really is not doing a very good job at this Father stuff… but then again, why would he?
      As for rising and lack of control… I will finesse that. My theory is that Jake rose with all kinds of issues: no Maker, Were, never wanted to be a vampire, left alone in a closet… name the issue. I’d be frenzied too!
      Thalia stepping in for Rick: I leave the broad hint that her stepping forward is prompted by her conversation with Rubio. We never hear what’s said , but she steps in after that. My feeling is that Thalia does recognize what Rick represents, but more in terms of what he represents to Eric and Sookie personally as opposed to anything that is personal to Rick. Of course, he does have an amazing talent that will likely cause him to be sought after by some and hunted by others.
      I think Pam would get a kick out of the reference. I saw a great picture of the two Duras sisters and it just made me giggle. Of course, Rick would quickly find himself the butt of any number of jokes, something he might not think was so funny. Like most teens, Rick can dish it out, but he’s not so great at taking it!

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  7. Emotilnal chapter. Incredibly written Natsgirl. You make the scene feel so real, so raw, with your details and the emotions and internal monologue involved. Case in point where Rick was viewing Sookie’s body and kissing her cold skin.

    I also loved the banter between George and Rick, eg, “Is that for me?”, and the bit about wiping it off the wall so George’s mother doesnt have to… hilarious and again, so real!

    Your writing is amazing, you really should consider writing professionally!

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Thank you. Appreciate it. I am considering taking a stab at the original fiction thing. I write nonfiction in support of my profession, but fiction feels different.
      I have two sons and it’s amazing how their speech patterns change when they think there are no adults around! One of the things that will change for Rick is his increased awareness of his own sexuality. It’s something that happens naturally at this age, but with the added dimension of vampirism, it goes to a whole new level. It will be part of the underlying reason for why Rick makes the choices he does.

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    1. Even Eric agrees, when he finds himself (like many a parent I know) wondering how things came to his present impasse. Sookie, as the parent who has spent the most time with Rick, is in best position to get Father and Son on better ground, and knowing Sookie, she will.

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  8. Great chapter. I loved how Rick called Eric (buster) and it made Eric think of Sookie. Glad Aunt Fran is coming to NO and Rick will be near his mother sooner than expected. Looking forward to Sookies Rising and hoping with here being part fairie she will be a day walker.

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    1. Like Mother, like Son. Rick is a chip off the old block and as Pam observes, he’s going to give Eric a run for his money. Don’t place hopes on Sookie’s Fae heritage cutting her special exemptions when it comes to being a vampire. She’ll be the garden variety, and that means she’s going to have to make adjustments.

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  9. I feel so bad for Eric and Rick! Sookie really did them both a huge disservice by keeping her secrets. I love Fran but I hope she doesn’t show up and give Eric to hard of a time, he is totally out of his element in this situation , I feel like Sookie was very one sided in her recapping of their history together, and I think he is being treated and judged unfairly by Rick and Fran. It would be great if someone would just lay it out for them and tell them what Sookie was really like before Rick was born, maybe in a way they can understand.

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    1. Perfectly summed up my feelings there hjr949806, I feel for both Eric and Rick too. Pam was right, Sookie never taught Rick how to be a vampire – but I’ll cut her slack since it’s not like she knew how to be one. However it feels as if Rick was being groomed to hide who is, be the ‘closet secret’, which is such a shitty thing – something Sookie knows all to well about because doing so didn’t work out too well for her when she tried to deny her specialness. She also sorta doled out information to Rick, Fran etc in the same manner she didn’t like Eric doing, pot/kettle n all that. Desmond is not a fave of mine so that bundle of judgmental joy is coming soon too. Eric might as well paint a bulls eyes on his chest. Not implying Eric is an angel in all this either & he is just learning how he was painted by Sookie to all, even his son. Boy do the Three of them have some big talks coming soon! Hopefully without the two cents of Fran, Desmond, Pam and Karin.

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      1. You are spot-on about Sookie grooming Rick to hide his special-ness, and it is not her best moment. She thinks she’s helping him. She isn’t, and Rick gets that when he’s at the Hermosa’s and there’s no hiding. It feels different, and he gets it. I believe that all of us are conditioned with small prejudices and preconceptions, and it takes effort to see them in yourself and to try and change them. Rick will help Sookie strip the blinders from her own eyes on this one.
        Desmond isn’t going to suffer too much for his behavior, but people will call him on it all the way around, and Fran may surprise you. She’s Sookie’s friend, but she’s Rick’s Godmother first, and that will become apparent.

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    2. Sookie had good reason for keeping her secrets! Don’t forget that Sookie was not allowed to contact Eric under the edict by Freyda, and she could not enter Oklahoma or she would be killed. How do you think her child would have been received, if they would have even believed her? Vampires are not supposed to be able to procreate, remember? Warren & Mustapha told Rick many stories about his mother, but no one wants to really come right out and hurt him, and children will believe what they want to believe. After awhile, they’ll shut down if the talk is too negative.

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      1. You’re right that she couldn’t tell Eric, but I’m left felling less than sympathetic towards her. I feel like she could have been more open and honest with Rick. Not only about Eric but also about herself, and how she was before,so that her prejudices towards vampire’s wouldn’t come back and take him by surprise later. Even as a young boy surely he is smart enough to see that everyone else seems to be saying the same thing and it doesn’t match what Sookie told him. I just hope the Viking doesn’t have to deal with to much more hostility from partially informed people. It was never his desire to leave Sookie, yet he’s being treated like the bad guy.

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      2. Thank you for speaking up for Sookie!

        It is so easy to blame her, I feel as though she is the whipping girl of the fandom unnecessarily. All she endured throughout her life should not be negated. Her decisions regarding Rick and his upbringing were entirely reasonable considering what her personal experience of supe behavior. It’s no wonder she moved away to build a new life. Plus, I firmly believe that Eric must work HARD for her affection, so that receiving it means something.

        Sorry, I get so spun up on the topic of Sookie, and defending her from those that just want her to be a puppet for Eric. Forgive me please.

        xo,
        Joyce

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    3. I can’t disagree that Sookie holding secrets is not serving anyone well at the moment, but I also feel, in all fairness, that Sookie was in a tough place in terms of making decisions. What if she’d told Eric in Denver? What could either one of them have done? Would Freyda have accepted visits from her Consort’s biological child? How long before Rick met with an unfortunate accident? And how much do you really share with a precocious teenage boy about his sire? Rick thinks nothing of taking risks. How long before he got it into his head to try and contact Eric in some way, or to just sweet-talk some acquaintance into getting him a ride to Oklahoma to check it out? I believe Sookie’s actions were in line with a protective mother who has a history with supernaturals and the dangers they present.
      Now, should Sookie have been a little kinder about her history with Eric? Yes. She did allow old grudges and heartache to color what she told her son.
      I think Rick is getting an idea about his Mom, and he certainly knows she’s not all butterflies and sweet things! He knows she refused to live with his Father or admit to their marriage. That doesn’t say very nice things about her, and Rick is listening. But, in the end, she’s still his Mom and the only parent he’s ever known. That cuts a lot of slack for her in his eyes.

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  10. I really can’t believe this story is ending. I feel that Eric and Ricks relationship is just beginning . And how will E/S realationship fix in only 3 chapters? So maybe I don’t want it to end. Rick showing the Sookie Buster trait was funny. I like that Rick called out his dad on the half truths. I’m nervous about the turning too, I hope Eric can help.

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      1. Perhaps. I am well into writing the next story at the moment. Unlike many of my fellow writers, I don’t have the mental band width to juggle multiple stories. I believe in starting and finishing. I won’t count out returning to Rick in the future, but it’s not on the radar right now.

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    1. Rick calling Eric on his poor communication does resonate with Eric, as you’ll see. In this regard, Eric learns something from his son. Of course, Rick would use Sookie’s words! I thought about his using ‘Cheese and rice’ but it was always such a silly catchphrase, so I went with something more subtle.

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  11. Gosh the talk between Eric&Rick didn”t go to well 😦
    But that was expected : for Eric the concept of being a “father” to a preteen is completely new;for Rick instead being around vampires is way more complicated than he expected to be!
    I guess Fran is going to give her two cents when she meets King Northman….don’t wanna be in Eric’s shoes.
    Liked the interaction between Rick&Mrs. Hermosa.
    Is Sookie’s rising in the next chapter?
    I’m biting my nails for the angst :O
    Great chapter.
    Jackie69

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    1. It has been my experience that for every talk between a Father and Son that goes well, there’s at least two that don’t. Okay, maybe I’m being a little cynical!
      I wanted Rick to have an opportunity to see how living in a fully open vampire/human household might look, and the Hermosa’s are that. There will be some more conversation in the next chapter and some more stories about how the Hermosas see Eric and Sookie’s relationship, and Rick will get a little more history about his parents. So, no… one more chapter as he arrives in New Orleans, and then it’s off to the Palace in Chapter 25.

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  12. Oh my, I see a confrontation between the elderly witch and Eric. He better keep the family jewels tucked safely away. Would Fran be interested in “eternal life’? I can see a close relationship with her and Thalia and Amy –I think they’d get along like best bids. And I just have this gut feeling that Fran would be good for Karin –something of a straight shooter mom figure to her. I had to laugh at the “buster” remark and I’m sure Eric would have cracked a smile if he wasn’t so concerned about Sookie.

    It’s the three of them now–Eric has to change his mindset –it’s not Sookie and Rick or Eric and Sookie –but all three of them in this together. Rick needs his friend George to keep him grounded. Hopefully they all will relocate to NO and continue their friendship.

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    1. Well, it seems to me that Eric has his own axe to grind. Fran was supposed to be protecting Sookie. What happened there?
      Interesting you should mention Fran becoming a vampire. Watch for Rick to extend the offer.
      Thalia and Fran could develop a mutual admiration society, but it would depend on the witch’s relationship with Eric. That’s where Thalia’s first loyalty lies, and if Fran and the Viking are spatting, don’t look for Thalia and Fran to get too cozy. And Amy Ludwig? Job’s done? Amy moves on! The Doctor maintains that aloof exterior because she avoids entanglements.
      It is the three of them now, whether they realize it or not, and that will form the basis of what makes it all okay for Sookie.

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  13. Such a difficult scene between Eric and Rick, but oh, so wonderfully written! I felt so torn and twisted inside as I read. And like everyone, I think, I loved the finger pointing and the “Buster” comment. But, while Eric had such a hard time communicating to Rick, his love for Sookie is very apparent in his wanting to care for her. I do think it’s wise to have Rick be the first face she sees upon rising, even if Eric wanted it to be his. 🙂 Happy that Lily welcomed Rick and Rubio back, though I was wondering if Dr. Ludwig contributed to that. I agree with an earlier comment that this might be Fran’s last hurrah, which makes me sad, as I have loved her character in this piece. But, she is needed for Rick and Sookie both, with her no nonsense approach and her blunt, tell-it-like-it-is manner of speaking. Again, natsgirl, you’ve done a wonderful job and have drawn me in with this wonderful story. Next weekend can’t come soon enough!

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    1. Eric is putting Sookie first, but he’s learning it probably shouldn’t be to the exclusion of their son. Hard lesson, especially when you’re stressed – which Eric is. And let’s face it… estranged Lover or beloved Son? No question who Sookie would want to see first!
      I’m sure Doctor Ludwig filled in any holes in the story Lily heard about how her husband was rescued. After all, she was there and saw what Rick and the others did for Rubio.
      Thanks again.

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  14. OMG when Rick’s Aunt Fran and Aunt Lora make it to Louisiana they will give the Viking hell for treating Rick so poorly or as they interpreted what Rick said. My heart broke as Rick approached his moms coffin, how awful for any child even though she will rise in 3 days. I loved Rick’s description of Pam and Karin (Lursa and B’etor) that was priceless! When Sookie rises she will be surrounded by all her loved ones, it kinda feels like Dorthy in the Wizard of Oz when she woke up in her bed surrounded by her loved ones. Eric has a lot of explaining to do in order to make Rick understand why things happened the way they did over his 12 years. I can hardly wait for the next chapter.

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    1. Do you think Eric will ever totally explain things to Rick? I have to tell you, I have things I did before my kids were born that I’ll probably never tell them. If Sookie accepts Eric, it will close the book on their past except to the extent people tell stories, prompting Rick to ask questions.
      Having Rick see his Mom in the coffin was hard. He had already almost lost it, just thinking of her in the box, but he’s brave like both his parents, so he demands his right to see her – even though he dreads it.
      Sookie will have her family beside her and her family close, but look for some jockeying about that.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I really like that Rick isn’t holding back with Eric. I think it’s good for both of them. I understand Eric’s thoughts on having Rick stay with others right now but I also understand that Rick feels a bit rejected and just wants to be near his mom. However, I think Mrs. Hermosa is the right person for him to be with right now. She can give him some perspective that not even Fran or Lora can. As much as they love Rick I hope they won’t make things worse by going to New Orleans and stirring up things before Sookie rises. Mr. C could be a loose cannon too just due to his history with Eric.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eric made the right choice for the wrong reason! It is the best place for Rick right now, and it allows him someone to talk with who does understand, so in hindsight, Eric gave his son a gift. It doesn’t feel that way to Rick, though, and why would it? He’s alone in a strange place, being shuffled around and his Mom is still in limbo, which has to feel terrible.
      I think you’ll find that as far as Rick’s extended family, it makes a difference between who puts Rick first and who puts Sookie first!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m feeling like each of them just isn’t seeing the whole picture or trying to put themselves in each other’s shoes. That goes for Rick, Eric, Fran and even dr. Ludwig and mr. C. They each have fears and a definite way they want to see this play out.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Thank you for this chapter. It frustrates me that I follow your blog, but I never get email updates. I find out in Twitter. Anyway, I feel for Eric. I’m sure it is not pleasant being in a small area and Sookie changing. icky…. Love this story. I hope you write a sequel. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. WordPress: There is a site on Facebook called WordPress Whisperer. Robin, who admins the site, is a genius about WordPress and I bet she has the answer!
      Eric really is going the extra mile on this one. I find that when the other person is someone you love dearly, you don’t notice the unpleasantness of sickness in the same way you would with anyone else. Thanks again. As I mentioned in another comment, I am a one story at a time gal. I’m writing away on the new one, and until I finish that, I won’t be thinking about another. Doesn’t mean I won’t return to Rick at some point in the future – just not now.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. It’s nice that Rick is seeing how “normal” life is for the Hermosa’s in their home. Understandably, Sookie was not able to have that, vampire living out in the open kind of home for their safety, but it’s nice for him to know that he doesn’t have to hide what he is now. Mrs Hermosa has been most kind to him. I was worried about her initial reaction to him but glad that she seems to be helping him deal with things.
    I’m glad Thalia, of all people!, was there to say what Eric should have to Rick. I understand Eric not wanting Rick there when Sookie first rises. Who knows how she’ll be. Baby vamps are unpredictable. Although I think his reasons for not wanting Rick there were probably a bit more selfish. Sookie is his as far as he’s concerned, and I’m sure he wants to be the first one she sees when she rises. I think Thalia’s words got through to him though. Poor Eric, he’s all over the place emotionally right now. So many huge things have happened in the last week, he’s now King, something he never wanted, he discovered he has a biological son who is a dhampir and then discovers that the love of his life was kidnapped and then turned by Bill! Even for someone who is over 1000 years old, that’s a lot to deal with in such a short amount of time. I’m sooo sad that this story is almost over😩 My Sunday’s won’t be the same once it’s done!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t know. Did Sookie really have to hide him in his bedroom? Would it have been so hard in this age of mainstreaming, to explain to guests that her son was a vampire? What if he had become a vampire the usual way? Would she have treated him the same way? I believe, that like Sookie, there are some things that are buried so deep we don’t question them, but they speak to our prejudices loud and clear. Rick’s time with the Hermosa’s is revealing for him, and it allows him to see things can be different, and like all children, I think we can count on Rick educating his Mom on the point.
      I agree. Eric’s decision is the right one, but for all the wrong reasons. He wants her to himself. He wants to control the situation and have her first moments alone. Thalia’s words are a big slap of reality, and it forces Eric to consider that between a former lover and a beloved son, he probably is in the second position these days, and you can bet that didn’t sit easily. But you have to hand it to him. Eric loves her enough to get on board, and that’s saying a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. It was a sad chapter. Eric is being selfish and is not or does not know how to put Rick first.
    It’s very sad for a child to feel ostracized by the one person he always dreamed of knowing. For that it is good that he is not cutting his father any slack.
    Once sookie rises and learns of the strain between Rick and Eric there will be hell to pay as (her words) she put her trust in eric to do right by him. Thus far he has not regarded Ricks feelings at all in this situation. I love that Thalia is stepping up for Rick. Goodness knows someone has to because his father is too busy being possessive….he has never really had to share Sookie before…..hmmmm

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s odd, the expectations we build for those we want to meet but never knew. Rick had all kinds of preconceived notions about who and what his Father would be, and instead he’s finding an all-too-human vampire who makes mistakes and has no idea what to do with a young son.
      I think we can count on Sookie to do the right thing by Rick, and that should include finding a way to have his Father a part of his life. Of course, the fact that Sookie has kept her love for Eric all these years throws a sweetener in there, at least for her.
      As you point out, Eric has never had to share anyone he wanted. He either took, or he walked away. Now, things are different.

      Liked by 1 person

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