For nearly a thousand years I had rose from my day rest alone, excluding the time I went to rest with either my Maker or my Childe and the summer I spent with my little fairy in Öland. I had been more than content to rise alone, after all us vampires are at our most vulnerable while we rest. But this past month rising with Sookie by my side, well most of the time, changed everything. So rising alone while knowing she was in the proverbial lion’s den… I took a deep unnecessary breath, trying to calm myself. That’s when her sweet scent hit my nostril. I roll over and smiled. On her pillow, nicely folded, was one of my shirts, one of my shirts that held my lover’s sweet scent.
Thought you would miss me, so I borrowed your shirt and wore it for a while.
Know that I will think of you constantly.
I sighed before getting dressed. A look at the bedside clock shocked me. I normally rise quite early, a benefit of my old age, but the sun had set more than an hour ago… Could it be that the lack of Sookie… I brushed off the idea before leaving the bedroom for the living. Jessica was sitting on the couch, still in her pyjamas, sipping a bottle of Royalty Blend and watching what appeared to be cartoon.
“Good evening, Jessica” I said, kissing her on the forehead.
I had been reluctant at first when Compton literally dropped his infant Childe on me, asking me to foster her. His reasoning for it seemed quite absurd, it’s not as if he was busier with his job as Investigator than I was with my duty as Sheriff and I’m not even talking about my other duties, i.e. CEO of a multi-billion dollars enterprise (although this was not common knowledge), owner of a small business and now father to my very own human child. But ever since Jessica came to live with us… The young redhead totally changed the dynamic of our little family.
I smiled at the thought. Family… Such a human concept. Sure some vampires adhered to such a thing, specifically the concept of vampire family, Maker, Child and Vampire-Siblings, but a family? A real family? No, most of them preferred Nest over even their own Vampire family. Godric and I had lived in several nests during my formative years as a vampire, but my Maker had never been one to live in such environment. No, Godric was quite the loner, which explained in a way how he could have gone missing for such a long time without anyone realizing it. In a way, I was like my Maker. Being part of a nest wasn’t from me, even though I had been born to a society where clans were the basis of it. But vampires nest where nothing like the Viking clans I had grew up with.
“Good evening… Eric…”
“Is something wrong, Jessica?”
The young girl nervously bit her lower lip.
“I just… It’s quiet tonight. Whenever I rise for the night Gran is always up and humming while doing whatever she does… And Hunter… It was just weird, rising to complete silence.”
I could only agree with her, the silence was unsettling.
“Are you sure Sookie and Gran and Hunter and Jason are going to be okay? I mean, even the pastor back at my family’s church used to say that those Fellowship people were extremists…”
“If I’ve learned one thing in the time I’ve known the Stackhouses, min lilla Röd, is that they can definitely take care of themselves. They’re going to be okay…”
“But you’re not… I mean, aren’t you worried? I mean, shouldn’t you be like… I don’t know, pacing the floor or something?”
“Of course I worry. But what good could constantly worrying about them achieved? You got to have faith, little one. And if something bad was to happen, I promise to bring them all home, safe and sound. I’ll even take special care of Jason.”
I smirked. If the young baby vamp could have blushed, she would be several deep shades of red.
“Alright, if you say so… There’s… There’s something else I wanted to talk to you…”
“Apart from your apparent crush on a certain young male lawyer of mine?”
I knew I was playing with fire, teasing her mercifully and was rewarded by one of the couch cushion being thrown in my face.
“Stop being so mean!” she exclaimed. “I… I’m talking ‘bout Godric…”
I frowned, what could she possibly mean? She had never met my Maker before…
“What I want to know is… Do you think he will like me? I mean… Do you think he’ll be okay with me, with you and Pam fostering me? He’s the head of your vampire family or whatever you call it…”
“Bloodline, Godric is the head of our bloodline. Although technically his Maker is, but he hasn’t heard from her since before my turning… So this is really what has you so worried, min lilla Röd? You are afraid Godric won’t like you?”
“I mean, I’m a stray… That’s what Pam calls me all the time…”
I laughed which causes the young girl to burst into tears.
“I knew I shouldn’t have said…”
“I’m not laughing at you, little one. Pam calls you a stray, but… It’s a pet name, she calls you that affectionately. I can feel it through our Maker-Childe bond that Pam loves you dearly.”
“Well I don’t have a bond with her so I don’t know! How I could I know that she wasn’t being mean whenever she…”
I took the young girl in my arms, rubbing smoothing circles across her back.
“I’ll let Pam know that she should find you a new pet name, little one. As for Godric… Do not worry, my Maker will love you, Jessica, just like we all love you.”
Her frown told me she wasn’t so sure about it, but I was telling the truth. I knew my Maker would love the young baby vamp and that he would see the potential in her that her own Maker had overlook. Who knows, Jessica might leave Dallas with a third foster-Maker.
I looked over at the television, an animated animal – a coyote I think, was trying to catch what looked like an ostrich and failing miserably.
“That animal is probably the most stupid thing ever!” I said, unable to control my laugh.
“That’s Wile. E. Coyote and the Roadrunner” explained Jessica. “He’s always trying to catch the Roadrunner, buying Acme stuff that never works. I watched it at my aunt Lauren’s when I was younger… We didn’t have a TV back at home, daddy said it was the Devil’s box…”
There was once again this strange melancholia that always inhabited Jessica whenever she thought of her human life. I was sure she didn’t miss it, properly speaking. Who could miss being abused by a deranged father? No, from what I had gathered from Pam, Adele and Sookie there wasn’t much to missed apart from her mother and younger sister. But I recognized the melancholia, I had experienced it a thousand years ago after the murders of my family.
“Enjoy your cartoon, little one” I said, dropping a kiss on her forehead. “I’ll be back later.”
I went down to the bar and ordered a glass of AB neg. I wasn’t really surprised to find Compton drinking from a buxom blond donor in one of the booth.
“What was it you said you were doing, Compton? Mainstreaming, right?” I asked, setting my glass on the table and taking a seat.
My arrival put a stop to his feeding and he quickly dismissed the young woman.
“You didn’t need to stop on my account.”
“Your sense of timing, Northman, is impeccable as always… I’m surprised to see you without your p… Sookie.”
“As you know this trip to Dallas isn’t a leisure one. Sookie is currently attending some businesses in regard to the disappearance of the Area’s Sheriff.”
“Yes, of course… The missing Sheriff of Area 9… It amazed me that the vampires of this area asked for your help in locating him. I didn’t know you had tie to Texas.”
I smirked, Compton was really pathetic if he thought I wouldn’t notice the way he was trying to get me to give him information without asking me out front. But I had nothing to hide, my affiliation to Godric was no secret, I just didn’t shout it out loud from every rooftop that he was my Maker.
“Well for your information, Compton, the Sheriff of Area 9, Godric, happens to be my Maker.”
“Your Maker?! But then he must be very…”
“Old? Yes, he is. One of the oldest in America. You now understand how important it is for me to find him. Wouldn’t you do the same thing for your own Maker?”
The sudden change of posture and the look of utter desperation now plastered on Compton’s face told me that the Sword of Damocles was still hanging high above the former Southern gent.
“As I told you… My relationship with my Maker… There’s no lost love between us, at least on my part… You… You didn’t contact her, didn’t you? I mean, you did threaten…”
“You’re keeping your mouth shut about a certain piece of information, aren’t you? Well, then I don’t see any reason for me to contact Lorena. Why?”
“I… I have this strange feeling… As if she was close by… Which is completely unexplainable since she released me and cut our Maker-Childe’s bond… But I can’t escape the feeling… It’s as if she could come and knock at my door any night and…”
“Well if she does it won’t be because of me. We have a deal, Compton, and unlike some of our fellow vampires I always stick to the deal I make. You stay silent, I don’t call Lorena.”
He nodded before excusing himself to go back to his room.
“Jessica is in our suite, you know? Sookie told me you had come down to Dallas to spend time with her…”
“I… Yes… I’ll see… Good evening, Northman.”
It was so easy to mess up with Compton that it was getting tiresome. If Adele had been here, she would have scolded me for being mean to the younger vampire and would have probably slapped me behind the head. Adele Stackhouse likened the Maker-Childe relationships to that of human parents and their own children. She would probably remind me that I was lucky to have such a good Maker and that not every vampire had this luck. Thinking of my lover’s Grandmother got me to, unconsciously, check our bond. My little faery was annoyed and bored at the time, which was good, in a way.
I finished my drink and headed toward the elevator, but stopped in my way. Standing near the front desk, looking out of place, was a tall bulky man dressed in plaid. I frowned, where had I seen him before?
“Mr Northman! Good evenin’, Sir… I… I’m Hoyt Fortenberry, we met in Bon Temps at the Descendants of the Glorious Dead…”
Yes, now I remembered. Fortenberry, the son of that awful woman.
“Mr Fortenberry, of course. And what are you doing so far from Bon Temps?”
“Well, Mrs Stackhouse came by Merlotte the other night and asked Lafayette to watch her dog and… Vampire Bill came later and said that y’all were goin’ to Dallas… By y’all I mean you, Mrs Stackhouse, Miss Sookie and… Miss Jessica…”
By the blush on his cheek as he said Jessica’s name, I understood. I invited him to the bar, ordered myself another glass of blood and a beer for him. After one or two sip, he was starting to relax. That’s when I took the opportunity to glamour some information out of him.
“Tell me, Mr Fortenberry, what did Vampire Bill told you?”
“He said y’all were goin’ to be in Dallas… I asked him if Jessica would be there too and he said yes. I told him I really liked her and he said to go and spend time with her.”
“So you want to spend time with young Jessica…”
He nodded, his eyes completely blank under my glamour.
“I really liked her, sir. She’s nice and sweet and so pretty. I asked her out on a date, but she said she’d need to ask you about it since you were like her stepdad or somethin’.”
“So you want to date Jessica?”
He nodded. “I’m a nice guy, sir. I would be very respectful of her…”
“What about the obvious fact that Jessica is a vampire?”
“That ain’t botherin’ me! Though we’d have to keep it quiet, you know, since my mama ain’t a big fan of y’all…”
Still holding him under my glamour, I tried to contain my anger. He wanted to date Jessica, but keep it a secret from his mama? No fucking way! Min lilla Röd deserved better than that.
“You will go back to Bon Temps right now. You will tell your mother about your infatuation with Jessica and deal with it like a man. Only when you will act like a man and not like a scared little boy will I allow you to court Jessica. Am I understood?”
“Yes. I will go back to Bon Temps and tell mama. I will act like a man.”
And with that he was gone. I sighed deeply, this night couldn’t get worse. But it did… Isabel was pacing the lobby of the hotel, apparently waiting for me.
“Northman! Explain why your human decided to go against our plans and ditch my human?”
“Good evening, Isabel.”
“Don’t you dare ‘good evening’ me, Northman!”
She muttered some Spanish curse words before sitting down on one of the lobby couch and looking up at me like the Infanta she had been in her human life. Some other people, even some other vampires, would have felt belittle by it, but not me. After all I too had been royalty in my human life. And although she had been a granddaughter of the great Queen Isabella the Catholic, I was the grandson of Eiríkr Anundsson, legendary ruler of Sweden and I, myself, was Eiríkr inn sigrsæli.
“Your tantrum is over?” I asked, taking a seat beside her. “As for you question, Sookie thought she wouldn’t be able to pull an act with your human. She’s a good actress, hell she’s a lawyer after all, but not that good. If she had known Hugo for a little longer, she might have been able, but since she only met him last night…”
“Well, Hugo was highly disappointed when he came here this morning and was told by the hotel staff that Miss Stackhouse, her grandmother and her child had already left for the day. Which brings me to my second question. A child, Eric? Sookie has a child?”
I nodded. “Yes, Sookie and I have a child.”
“Sookie and… Are you trying to make me believe that you fathered a child? Eric, mi querido amigo, I wasn’t born yesterday!”
“Biologically speaking, you are right. Hunter was born through a surrogate, but he is mine and Sookie’s son in every way that counts.”
“Wow… A child? I never would have… You’re the last vampire I would have…”
“I’ve always known that Sookie would want to experience motherhood and being a vampire I also knew that I wouldn’t be the one to give her this gift. I have to admit that I, too, wished to experience the opportunity to be a father. And unlike you, Isabel, I never enjoyed being a parent in my human life.”
The Spanish woman rolled her eyes.
“My niños were nothing more than political pawns, Eric. I never wanted kids, but being a woman, a woman of royal blood, it was expected of me. I’m surprised you never were a padre in your human life. You’re sure there are no little Northmans running around modern Scandinavia carrying your blood?”
I laughed. “I’m sure. My line stopped the night I was turned.”
I had always been careful. Bastard children were nothing back then, but I had a duty. I was the son of the Chieftain, the king. Both my parents had installed strong values in me. I could take my pleasure from any willing woman, but no child could result from such encounter. Although if there had been a child, he would have been welcome in our household and raise alongside any other children I might have had with my lawful wife and treated just the same. My uncle Ring had had two sons, Erik Ringsson – named after our common grandfather and his father, and Emund. Emund had been a bastard, born to a nice buxom milkmaid, but he had grown up alongside his half-brother with the same privilege.
“Well you are full of surprise, Norseman. Settling down with Sookie, raising a child. Are you planning on turning Sookie? I mean, she won’t stay the young perky little thing she is for much longer…”
“No, I don’t plan on turning Sookie. At least not now.”
Or never. We didn’t know how her faeness would affect her aging. Corbett hadn’t looked a day over 35 when he died.
“It’s the same for me and Hugo, you know. I never plan to turn him. I’m not ready to be a Maker. Oh, I do enjoy his company. And between you and I, it had been a while since I had that much fun having sex with a human. But I have to admit… Seeing him age, losing his youth… He is my personal science project.”
“I feel bad for you, Isabel.”
She smiled. “We can’t all have an epic love like yours and Sookie, Eric. You do realize that you are one lucky bastard, don’t you?”
I nodded. Yes, I was lucky. Lucky that after a thousand years I had finally found the half of my soul, the one person that completes me.
“Well, well, well… If this is how you’re planning on getting our Sheriff back, you are a lazy bunch.”
The night truly was getting worse and worse by the minute. I turned to greeted Stan, standing in all his glory dressed like one of those clowns riding bull in rodeo.
“Don’t stop on my account, Northman. You and Isabel seemed quite cozy, chatting away while Godric’s still missing.”
“We are waiting for words from Sookie, dear colleague of mine” said Isabel. “She’s been at the Fellowship since the morning, getting information.”
The cowboy grunted. “You want to know what I think?”
“Even if we didn’t want to know, I’m pretty sure you would tell us.”
“Shut up, Northman! Look at you, allowing a little human to do what you should have done! What a disgrace!”
It was getting harder and harder not to rip his head off.
“And what would do in my place, Stan?”
“Storm that fucking church and kill everybody standing in my way! And you know what? I think that’s what I’m gonna do!”
We were now standing toe to toe. It was rare for me to have an opponent as tall as I was, but the 2 inches difference between us was enough for me to dwarf him.
“You do that and you’ll be responsible for not only Godric’s True Death, but Sookie’s as well. And that I will never be able to overlook.”
“Humans are nothing, Northman! You would go against one of your own over an insignificant little girl? What the fuck did Godric taught you?”
“My Maker taught me that every life is important. Be it human or vampire.”
“For fuck’s sake, Northman, you’re so weak!”
I didn’t have time to answer his accusation. I felt the harrowing and painful tug in my dead heart, as if it was ripped in two. I knew that feeling, I had felt it the night I found my lover on the side of the road, dying. Sookie was in danger.
“I have to go…”
“Northman! Where are you going?”
I didn’t turn and went outside. I was getting ready to take the sky when Isabel stopped me.
“Northman? What’s the matter?”
“I have to go… Sookie… The Fellowship…”
“Alright, you go ahead, we’ll be right behind you.”
In a flash I was in the air, making my way toward the Fellowship of the Sun compound.