The sound of my cell phone ringing woke me up. Shit it was nearly 10 o’clock!
“Sook, thank God! I’ve been trying to call you non-stop!”
I sighed. “Hey, Jason! Sorry, I was sleeping, you know traveling across the globe and being in a different time zone…”
“Sorry sis! I completely forgot… Did you all made it safe to Sweden?”
“Yeah, we met with the vampire King, Gustaf, last night… We’re heading to Äre tonight.”
“Cool! You got any closer to finding Eric?”
“We think so… Jason, not that I don’t appreciate you calling me, but…”
“Oh, yeah! I was calling to let you know that I ran into Bill last night when I went to check on the farmhouse. That fucker glamoured me!”
“He fucking glamoured me to tell him where you went! I’m sorry, sis…”
I wasn’t really surprised. Glamouring information out of people was up to Bill’s standards.
“So you told him I went to Sweden?”
“Yeah, I didn’t really have a choice, you know. But then Jessica appeared out of nowhere and… Shit Sook, you should have seen her! She was this close to rip his head off! And him… He looked just like Hoyt when his mama caught us looking at an old Playboy. Well, Jess was pissed as hell and told him she was done with him and that she was glad you were done with him too, since you went looking for Eric. Anyway, I brought Jess back to my place since she refused to go back to Bill’s place and… Well Violet went bat-shit crazy when she realized I let Jess drink from me…”
“You allowed Jessica to drink from you? Jason! You know how territorial vampires are with their humans!”
Damn my dimwit brother!
“She had been starving herself, Sook! She feels guilty ‘bout that whole thing with Andy’s girls. I wasn’t gonna let her starve to death!”
“So what happened next? I mean with Violet?”
“Well, I rescinded her invitation into my house when she broke a chair and was ready to stake Jess. And told her we were done. I mean, I’ve known Jess longer and she’s… well she’s Jess, you know. I really love her.”
Wow, did my tomcat of a brother just admitted to loving Jessica?
“And I’ve already told you ‘bout how Violet’s been denying me sex. I mean, I went down on her everything freaking night since that whole Vamp Camp disaster and not once did we have sex! It’s been me and my hand for the last six months!”
Yeah, it had been too good to be true.
“But it doesn’t change the fact that what Jess and I have is bigger than what Violet and I have.”
Maybe there was some hope…
“Wait a minute, wasn’t Jessica with that Jim Morrison look-alike vampire?”
“She was, but she’s not anymore. Jess didn’t say a lot, but apparently thing went South between them… Anyway, just wanted to let you know ‘bout Bill. To give you a head start in case he tries anything.”
“Well thank you for the head’s up, but I think I’ll be okay. It’s not like he can do anything, being back in Louisiana and all. And I got Royal protection so if he tries anything he’ll have to face the wrath of not one but two Vikings, three if you count Eric when we’ll find him…”
“Other Vikings? You sure know how to surround yourself, sis!”
I laughed. “If only you knew. King Gustaf is Eric’s cousin from their human lives, so he was a Viking too and so was his son Thorfinn. Listen Jason, I gotta go, but I’ll try to keep you posted, okay? Love you…”
“Love you too, sis. Be careful, okay?”
And with that I hung up. I quickly changed into a pair of jeans and a warm sweater, Gustaf did say that Äre was located in the mountain, before heading out. I was meet halfway down by a rather enthusiastic Brynhildr.
“Good evening, Sookie! We were waiting for you. Thorfinn has the helicopter ready to take us to Äre.”
“Come, father asked the cook to prepare some food for you and Lafayette!”
She led me to a dining room where Tara, Willa and Lafayette were already seated with Thorfinn and Gustaf. Her idea of some food was a freaking complete buffet!
“Sorry to have you waiting on me” I said. “I received a call from my brother back home…”
Lafayette frowned. “Bad news?”
I sat down in the empty chair next to Gustaf, grabbing a yummy looking croissant.
“Not really… Bill tried to stir some shit, if you allow me the expression. Glamoured him into telling him where we went. Jessica caught him red handed and… To make a long story short, she moved in with Jason and Violet is out of the picture.”
“Then it explain why I rose to a message from King Compton ordering me to hand back his asset” said Gustaf with a smirk.
“What? His asset?”
The king nodded. “Yes, he left a rather infuriating message to my daytime assistant, Kristen, who recorded it. There was a lot of screaming, several ‘Sookeh is mine’ and what I think was an attempt at sounding menacing. For me it sounded more amusing than anything else.”
“I’m so sorry for any inconvenience it might have…”
The king took my hand in his and squeezed it lightly.
“Do not worry, my dear. In my thousand years I have faced more worthy opponent than King Compton. I am not afraid of such an insignificant so-called monarch. I told you last night, you are my kinsman’s woman, Sookie, I’m honoured bond to serve and protect you. If King Compton thinks I will hand you to him so he can use your gift as he see fit, then he’s suicidal.”
“Amen to that!” said Lafayette, raising his glass. “You Swedes are sure a bunch of scary motherfuckers!”
“Scary motherfuckers?” asked Tara, laughing. “You didn’t sound so scared of Miklos last night…”
“Scary motherfuckers, but sexy motherfuckers, cuz!”
We all laughed… Well they all laughed, me… Me, I thought about my own sexy Swede.
“I think Sookie is getting impatient, father” said Thorfinn, with a smile.
“I’m sorry… I… I just want…”
“No need to apologize, Sookie! We all know how you long for Eric. Father, Thorfinn, maybe you should…”
“Brynhildr is right” said the king.
Bryn, Lafayette, Tara and Willa all exchanged a look.
“Father, if it’s alright we would like to stay.”
“Really? Don’t you wish to see your cousin, dotter? Willa, don’t you wish to see your Maker? And you, Tara, it is more than probable that your own Maker is with him…”
“Your Majesty” started Willa, “Tara and I already talked about it and we think it would be better if Sookie went alone with you. We both miss our Makers, but as much as we miss them… Sookie misses Eric even more.”
Willa’s kind words sent tears to my eyes.
“As you wish. I’m sure Brynhildr, Jorund and Miklos will be more than willing to entertain you in our absence.”
The goodbyes were swift and soon I was sitting next to Gustaf in a giant chopper that looked just like Marine One, except it was painted with the color of the Swedish flag and adorn with what Thorfinn explain was a Valknut, the symbol of Odin, the Norse God. The trip to Äre is quiet, I spend most of it looking at the window of the chopper, amazed by the views offered to me. When we finally reached our destination I was completely blown away.
“Welcome to Äre, Sookie.”
The chopper landed next to a large cabin, nestled in the mountains.
“Wow… It’s so beautiful…”
We were welcomed by a nice couple in their sixties.
“This is Olga and Oscar, they are Eric’s housekeepers” whispered Thorfinn.
Gustaf and the two housekeepers were in deep conversation. I obviously didn’t understand Swedish, but was able to catch some words, like Eric, Pamela and my own name. I didn’t need to understand Swedish… From the look Olga and Oscar were giving me I knew that Äre was a dead end.
“He’s not here…”
“But he was” said Thorfinn. “According to Oscar, it was just before the avalanche.”
“Can… Can you ask him to think about it, I mean… To think just in image…”
Thorfinn relayed my idea and Oscar took my hand in his. I saw Eric, completely broken, coming to the cabin and leaving almost immediately for the mountain. Then I heard it, a heart wrenching cry before the avalanche. It sounded… It sounded like my name being screamed by Eric.
A handkerchief appeared in front of me and Olga wiped away my tears. She reminded me of Gran in that moment. She spoke softly.
“She’s saying that she’s glad to finally meet the one holding Eric’s heart” translated Gustaf.
She continued talking while Gustaf kept translating.
“She says that Pamela arrived the next night and went looking for Eric almost immediately. When they came back to the cabin, Eric was badly burned. They stayed a week before departing one night without a word. She doesn’t know where they might have gone…”
And we were back to square one. I tried hard not to burst into tears, but to no avail. I fell to the ground, a sobbing mess. Gustaf wrapped his arms around me and held me as I cried. I must have dozed off, because I woke up in a strange bedroom. I was alone, but the scent… The scent was so familiar, it was… Eric’s scent! I deduce that it must be his bedroom. I looked around and smiled. A leather jacket was lying on a chair. But what surprised me the most was the picture on the nightstand. It was grainy, but I recognized it. It was a security camera shot, taken on my first visit at Fangtasia. I took it in my hand, bringing it to my heart.
“I’ll find you, Eric… I promise.”