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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chapter 34 ~ Fun and Games

The next day, Sookie woke a little before noon. Thor was asleep at the end of the bed and she was surprised he hadn't awakened her to go out before now. Sitting up and stretching. she saw another note sitting propped up by Eric's fish bowl. After feeding her beta, she picked the note up and read:

My Sookie,
I wanted to make sure you slept well, so I instructed your guards to put your horses out to pasture for you and let Thor out this morning so he wouldn't wake you. Enjoy your lessons and I will see you tonight when I rise. We are not going to Fangtasia. We will be spending the night here. You may choose our activities. Bobby will be coming by today with some of my things I had Pam collect from my house. I will see you when I rise.

She smiled; she was still determined to find a way to get out of this mess, but it gave her hope that Eric was going to ease up on her. Truthfully, she knew if he hadn't made the concessions he had last night about his advances, and hadn't agreed for them to exchange blood separately, she wouldn't have been able to keep herself from giving into him. Her attraction to him was great and factoring in the fuel their joint feeding presented, she would have caved last night.

'Now I actually have a chance. I don't know what's going to happen between us but at least I have a little breathing room now.'

Getting out of bed, she headed downstairs to greet her guards who were in the living room watching TV and eating sandwiches they had just prepared for themselves. She made herself a quick breakfast of eggs and toast as she sorted through her mail that one of the guards had apparently grabbed from the mailbox. Now that Eric was paying her bills, she actually got very little mail; mostly ads and circulars, so she was surprised when she found a letter addressed to her in the pile. It had no return address, she noticed immediately. Hadley and her brother were her only family and all her friends lived in Bon Temps so it was unusual for her to get personal mail. Finishing up her breakfast and looking at the clock to check the time, she found she had about a half hour before Ken would arrive for her training session. 

Tearing open the envelope, she pulled out the folded pages inside and read.

I didn't put my name on the return address so that Eric couldn't stop you from reading this letter. I'm sure the daytime guards you have check your mail for him. I need to explain to you what happened. I need you to understand why I made the decisions I made and what it is I truly feel about you.

 Please read this letter in its entirety. Please try to understand my words. I know I don't deserve your forgiveness, and I know what I'm going to tell you will be hard for you to understand but I'm hoping you'll try. 

It's true that I came back to Bon Temps because I was ordered to by Sophie-Anne, but you must believe me, it was not something I wanted to do. My life from the moment I was turned led me into the predicament of having to carry out the order Sophie-Anne gave me. I will explain it to you if you will take the time to read it.
When I left Lorena's side 70 years ago, I had nothing. As my Maker, she controlled every aspect of our lives. She never gave me a chance to support myself or find a way to make a living under a human alias. She wanted to keep me completely dependent upon her. She was crafty and actually didn't teach me much about the vampire world. She took me around few of our kind and kept me in the dark about many of our laws and ways. She kept us traveling nonstop. We were never in any one place for more than five or six years, and in those circumstances, I truly lost touch with both my humanity and the real world. She was all I knew. For over 60 years I followed her and knew only her way of living. 
I did horrible things to please her in the misbegotten belief that what we shared was love. She raised me in the most savage of ways. She taught me that there is only death in feeding, and as her child, I didn't know we only needed a little blood to survive. She didn't even teach me to glamour. She wanted me to kill as cruelly as she instead of glamouring a human into giving me enough blood to survive and releasing them afterwards, as most vampires do. She did her best to strip me of every shred of my humanity.
However, it did not take me long to realize that she was destroying me. She was turning me into a hateful, soulless beast wrapped in pretty packaging, just as she was. She was destroying me from the inside out, and trying to remake me in her image. I lost myself to despair and had decided to meet the sun to be free of her. Seeing my determination one night, she finally agreed to release me. She let me go and turned me loose to the world. Sadly, previously mentioned, I had no skills or resources to survive and a very limited knowledge of what the supernatural world was like due to the isolation Lorena kept me in.
I returned to Bon Temps in the ‘30s in the hope I could salvage some semblance of my old life. I thought maybe I could start over in some way. Yet, when I returned I found my descendants living in the house I had built with my wife, and I knew there was no place for me there. The very sight of the family living there brought bloody tears to my eyes and sorrow to my heart. I ran from them and stumbled upon the graves of myself and my family in the cemetery and something broke inside me. I fled. I ran all night until I staggered into New Orleans. I spent weeks living in the crypts and sewage tunnels of the city avoiding all human contact as I was determined never to kill another human again. I fed on rats, stray dogs and cats as I succumbed to my grief at what I was, the life and family I'd lost, and all the horrible and unforgivable acts I'd committed at Lorena's side. I was slowly wasting away. 

One night I decided to end it. I crawled from the gutters of the city and took up a resting place in the St. Louis Cemetery on Rampart Street. I sat down and faced the east so I could see the sun rise as it destroyed the abomination I had become. I was determined to end it all; the pain, the sorrow, the guilt, the despair. I wanted to burn as atonement to the lives I had taken at Lorena's side. As you can tell I did not meet the sun, and what happened next pains me to admit. I hope you can see past it and forgive me.
A girl came upon me. She was young, and the favored pet of the queen at the time. She was running away from her and Andre, Sophie-Anne's child, was hot on her tail to drag her back. Sadly, it had been weeks since I fed and the moment I caught her scent I went mad with hunger. It was over quickly, and Andre came upon us just as I was finishing. I was so weakened, and he was so much older, that he, of course, took me into custody with very little struggle. He dragged me before the queen for judgment since I had killed her pet which is not tolerated. I didn't know the predicament I was in but I didn't care. I told her I was more than willing to die. Sophie-Anne found that strange, of course.
She didn't know who I was, as I had not checked in with her when entering the state as all vampires are required to do when they enter a new kingdom. When I had traveled with Lorena, she would always disappear by herself the first night after securing us a resting place. I never knew why until much later; she was reporting our entry to the ruling monarch of whatever territory we had taken up residence in. She never told me she did this so I didn't know the protocol I was expected to follow when I returned to Louisiana. Thus, Sophie-Anne didn't know me and demanded to know if I was a spy for another kingdom. I didn't know what she was talking about and told her so. She was intrigued that I knew so little, and didn't seem to understand how many laws I had broken. She ordered me cleaned up, I was in a pitiful state from living in the sewers, as you can guess, and when I was presentable she commanded me to tell her of myself. So I did.
When I was finished, she laughed. She found my ignorance delightful and set about explaining to me all that Lorena had not. I was shocked to find out how well organized the supernatural community was, and that there were so many other species to it. 

Lorena had led me to believe that vampires were few and far between and they never congregated. Malcolm and Dianne were two of the few vampires I'd met and were wanderers like us. I didn't know vampires could be any other way. Lorena did not tell me there was a whole world of supernatural beings living outside of humanity yet coexisting with it peacefully. The idea that there was an entire civilization of us shocked me. I was baffled and didn't know what to do. 

Sophie-Anne decreed I would repay my debt to her by working for her. She decided I would be her adopted child, as she put it. So since then I have served in her court. I stuck to my pledge to never kill another human and after that would only take as much blood as I needed to survive. I have not killed a human through feeding since that night 70 years ago. Sophie-Anne taught me how to glamour and trained me in the ways of vampire politics.
For 70 years, I have served Sophie-Anne. She found my vow to never kill a human again amusing and I greatly amused her. She called me her gentle orphan, and in a way I was. It was at her side that I met Eric and Pam when they came to her kingdom sixty years ago and she appointed him sheriff. I had dealings with him periodically over the years as the queen's servant. As I had nothing when I came to her side, I owe all I have to her. She gave me every means and resource I have. She taught me how to make a living in this world, and how to support myself. As such, I owe her so many debts it will take me centuries to pay them off. By now you realize how serious debts are in the supernatural world and that they cannot be walked away from.
When Hadley became one of the queen's favorite pets and told her about you, she immediately became fascinated with the idea of using you. We had just come out and the idea of having a human that could read the thoughts of other humans excited her. Your talent would be invaluable to her and other vampires, as I'm sure Eric has made you aware. She had private investigators following you for months to try and determine if your gift was real, but you rarely used it so it was impossible to determine. That led her to her decision to send someone to get close to you. Hadley told us how very fond you were of southern gentlemen, and how your favorite movie was ‘Gone with the Wind’ and you dreamed of having your very own Rhett Butler. The queen believed that, since I did not kill humans and thoroughly embraced the mainstreaming movement, I would be gentle enough for you to accept and allow close enough to learn of your skill. She ordered me to come to Bon Temps and ascertain your value. 
I argued, of course, but she reminded me that I owed her considerable debts, and could not say no to her because of them. Not to mention she was my queen, and as her subject, had to follow her orders. So I came to Bon Temps to find out if your gift was as strong as Hadley told us. At first, my only objective was to find out if you were telepathic or psychic as Hadley claimed. I had no other orders. You proved that first night that you were telepathic and I immediately reported it to the queen. I also reported to her that I had tried to glamour you when you first approached me so I could simply ask you if you were gifted and you did not respond to my call. 

She was ecstatic and ordered I seduce you since you were immune to glamour. I balked and begged her to change her mind. You had shown you were willing to use your gift to help others when you saved me and I pleaded with the queen to let me simply approach you about helping us. She wouldn't hear of it. She said she didn't want to give you the option to refuse. She wanted you bound to us and our world. She commanded me to seduce you. I had no choice. I knew if I refused she would simply order my final death and send Andre to collect you. I couldn't let that happen. He is lethal and truly evil. So I complied. 
That night when I had agreed to meet you, I saw the Rattrays lying in wait for you long before they actually attacked you. My first instinct was to take them out. I wanted to repay your protection and rescue of me in kind. Then I realized it was an opportunity for us both. I did not want to seduce you and make you fall in love with me for real. I thought it would make things so much worse when I had to present you to the queen. I thought that if I forged a false affection between us through the bond and presented you to the queen, then when you found out what my blood did to you, you would understand that you didn't truly love me and it would be easier for you. I also thought that giving my blood to you would get you attached to me quickly and save me prolonged guilt at the betrayal I was committing to you. I know that was selfish but it was my reasoning at the time. So I let them attack you. It is a decision that I will regret to my dying day. I feel only shame for what I allowed to happen to you, and I don't expect or deserve your forgiveness for returning betrayal with your freely given act of kindness.
So I gave you my blood and began my seduction. I integrated myself into your life, and then the unthinkable happened; I fell in love with you. As I insinuated myself deeper and deeper into your life, I saw how beautiful your character was. You have only love and forgiveness in you despite how horrible you have been treated your whole life. You are so strong and brave despite the obstacles you have and do face. You give everything you are for those you care about and bit by bit I fell so madly in love with you that I knew I couldn't let you go. I misled the queen in my reports to her. I let her know our relationship was progressing since I didn't know if she was still having you followed during the day, and didn't want her overhearing you speaking of us to your friends and contradicting anything I told her. If I was caught lying about our relationship she would have killed me and sent Andre.
So I led her to believe that we had become intimate, but that you were still skittish about committing to me. I was trying to find a way out of it all. I was desperate to find a way to protect you from the queen, because I knew if she met you then she would never let you go. She would blood bond you to her by force and you would truly be a slave. I couldn't let that happen. I had a tentative plan in mind to get us out of this mess. I was not going to fly us to Vermont, as I told you. I knew the queen was watching us closely at that point. When I told her we had to go to Dallas for Eric she told me to step up my plan. She knew Eric would be intrigued by you, and informed me if I couldn't secure you quickly she would send Andre to drag you back to her court as a slave. 

So I proposed. I intended to run with you though. I intended for us to board the plane to fool the queen and then glamour the pilot after takeoff so we could escape. It would have been dangerous, but as Sophie-Anne had never shared blood with me nor me with her, she couldn't find me as Makers could their children. Eric had given you some of his blood in Dallas but not enough to track you if she ordered him to once we got far enough away. We would have been on the run for the rest of our lives but we would have been free. 
It was my intent to live out the rest of your mortal life with you and then meet the sun when you passed so we could be together in death. That future is lost to us now. You are blood bonded to Eric and the entire supernatural community knows you exist. Not to mention, the Council has its eye on you. Because of these facts we can no longer run. We would not get far and I'd have no hope of protecting you from whoever they sent after us, but I have not given up. Whether or not you forgive me and still want to be with me doesn't matter. I do now and will always love you. I love you more than I have ever loved anyone or anything else. In my human life or Vampire. You are my sun and I will do whatever I can to save you. I will not let Eric keep you as his slave and then turn you against your will. I will find a way to save you. I do not know how yet, but I will find a way.
For now, I can only offer you what guidance I can. No doubt Eric is holding back as much information as he can to keep you in the dark so he can continue to manipulate you. So I will tell you all I can about your position and what the blood bond means so that maybe you can protect yourself in some way.

First, you must know that the blood bond ensures you can't run from Eric. His blood inside you will allow him to find you no matter where you go. Even if you were to stop taking his blood this very day, his connection to you would never fade. Do not attempt to run from him! You will not get far and he will punish you severely for trying. Not only because of his possessive feelings for you, but because by running from him you would be publicly shaming him to our world. He would have to punish you in a cruel and open manner to prove to others he has control of you. You do not want that to happen. I know you want to escape. I know your sense of independence is great, but running will only get you in more trouble than you can handle at this point.
I hate that you are in this predicament, but for now you must think every action over and treat the situation carefully. Eric holds total power over you. I don't know why he hasn't moved you to Shreveport yet or why he allows you the freedom he does, but count yourself lucky. Try to please him to keep it this way. Do not incite his wrath or anger. 

Now, as for the bond itself; it is a way for him to control you. He can sense your every emotion through the bond and affect them. Normally Vampires can actually control their bondeds. They can deliver an order through the bond and the human has to carry it out. It is much like Makers and their children. However, since you seem to be immune to glamour and are so very different, he might not be able to control you this way. Try to find out whether you can ignore his commands without getting yourself in trouble.
Now, you might also be feeling sentiments of affection, attraction, and even love towards Eric, but they are not your emotions. He is trying to manipulate you. You must be wary. However, what you probably don't know is that you can feel his emotions through the bond as well. It is a two-way street. More than likely, he keeps his end closed down so that you can't predict him or sense his moods. Eric is a very secretive and in control vampire. He will not want you to have that sort of power or knowledge over him. I'm not sure if you can do this but since you can't be glamoured you might be able to close your end of the bond as well to keep him from feeling your emotions. If you can do this you might be able to block him from tracking you and will be able to run from him. Try. Try to see if you can learn to control the bond. Right now it is the only hope you have. If you are able to keep him from tracking you run as soon as you can. 

I have left $100,000 in cash along with a passport and new identification papers, and a disguise in a box with Sam. I told him not to look inside and to give it to you only if you asked for it. This way he cannot be implicated or accused of going against supernatural law by aiding you. If you can block the bond, take it and flee. Change everything about yourself so that no one can recognize you. Run and never look back. There is a prepaid smartphone in the box as well. It's untraceable, Sookie. The GPS has been tampered with and you can use it without worry you will be found. There's a web based email address in the phone's address book for you in case you ever want to contact me. I've also input an email for you to use with me. I know I have no right to hope you will want me with you if you run, but I hope for it, nonetheless.
For now, this is all I can offer you. I will not stop fighting to get you out of this and I will do all I can to make amends to you. I know the crimes I have committed against you are unforgivable, but believe me when I say I do love you. I regret every lie I told you. I regret not warning you of the queen and running with you in the first place. I regret so many things and I will do all I can to make up for them. 

I have been summoned to come before the queen and do not know if or when I will return. Know only that I love you, Sookie. I love you with all that I am. If there is a way to make this right I will. For now, my thoughts are with you. I ask that you burn this letter as I have revealed to you my intention to betray the queen with these words. If anyone else reads it, my life will be forfeit and I will be unable to help you. 

Please do not discuss this letter with Eric, or if you do please do not reveal my intents of betrayal. It will mean my final death. I know I deserve to die for what I've done to you and if you truly desire it I will gladly meet the dawn, but I beg you to let it be after I help you in any way I can. 
Stay strong Sookie. Stay strong and learn to play the game. It is the only way you will survive in the supernatural world. I will contact you again when I can.
Eternally yours,

Setting the letter down the table, Sookie stared straight ahead at the wall before her. She honestly didn't know what to think. Bill had completely overloaded her brain with his words. She couldn't wrap her mind around what she'd just learned. His words shocked her. To find out he had been a vicious killer once, to learn that he had been a slave his whole life to the will of others, to hear him tell her of the pitiful existence he had led for the past 140 plus years, ate at her. She couldn't make sense of any of it.

'Can I even believe these words? Bill has lied to me time and again since we first met. He's told me horrible lies to help that vicious bitch Sophie-Anne make me into a slave. He took my virginity under false pretenses and was playing me for a fool so how can I believe these claims now? How can I trust he's not trying to manipulate me to get me away from Eric so he can give me to the queen?'

Looking the letter over again to reread some of the worst parts she finally decided that this letter was more than likely the truth. 'Why would he tell me such horrible things about himself unless they were true? He's admitted to being a killer. He knows how much I dislike vampires that kill when they feed so why would he tell me this unless it was true? Why would he endanger his life by admitting to planning to betray the queen unless it was true?'

Having come to the conclusion that Bill's claims inside the letter were fact, Sookie tried to decide what that meant for her. 

'He told me not to run unless I could close off the bond. He told me to play along with Eric. Bill hates Eric so he would only say that if it were absolutely necessary. He warned me of the bond. I knew most of it but I didn't know I could feel Eric's emotions. I didn't know he could close them off either. Is it possible that I'll be able to manipulate the bond like that? Could I be able to close off my end of our bond and keep him from feeling me or tracking me? If I could then I really could run … but if I run I'll have to go alone. I can't risk taking Jason, Tara and Lafayette with me. I can't ruin their lives and as a group we'd stick out more. Could I really run and leave them behind? As Bill pointed out, if I run I'll have to keep running for the rest of my life. I'll have to spend the rest of my days as someone else. I'll have to change my name and my appearance. I'll have to hide everything I am and live the rest of my life looking over my shoulder.'

Sookie felt her heart lurch at that thought. 'I don't want to leave my friends and family. I don't want to spend the rest of my life on the run and terrified that at any moment I'm going to be captured. That's no way to live … but I can't just give up either. And what about Bill? What does this mean for me and him? It sounds like he was in a position where he didn't have a choice. He's right about debts. I've learned that debts are very powerful things in the supernatural world and how much power the queen has over others. I mean look at how powerful Eric is and he still takes orders from her. So I can only imagine how hard it must have been for Bill … but does it matter? Can I simply forgive him for what he's done? Could I rebuild a relationship with him if I manage to get away from Eric?'

She didn't know the answer and doubted she would be able to figure it out any time soon. Nor did she have the time to as at that moment the doorbell rang and she hear Quinn let Ken into the house. Gathering up the pages of her letter she grabbed a lighter from one of the drawers in the kitchen counter and stuffed it into her pocket. 

Greeting Ken in the entryway, she said, "Hey Ken. Let me just go get dressed and I'll be down in a second."

She smiled at Quinn and clutched the letter in her hand as she dashed upstairs. Making her way into her bathroom, she set the ends of the letter on fire and dropped it into the sink to watch it burn. When it was nothing but blackened ash she turned the water on and washed it all away. She knew she wouldn't forget anything revealed in the letter, and no matter how upset she was with Bill she wouldn't keep it to be used against him. She was startled when she heard a knock on her bedroom door.

"Hey Babe, you burning something in there?" Quinn asked from the other side of the door. Not long after Sookie had disappeared upstairs he and the other Weres had caught the scent of something burning and he'd come to investigate it.

Thinking quickly, Sookie replied, "Just some old papers with my social security information on them! I ... uh ... didn't want to just throw them away you know?"

"Oh … alright." Quinn got the distinct feeling she wasn't telling the truth but decided not to press her about it. He was pretty sure she was burning whatever it was she'd been so engrossed in at the kitchen table earlier. He'd headed in there to get a drink and seen her leaned over some fancy paper with elegant writing. She was so involved in what she was reading she hadn't noticed his presence in the doorway and he'd decided to forget the drink and leave her be. He didn't know what it was she'd been reading but she'd taken it upstairs with her and he was fairly certain that's what she had burned. 'So whatever it was she got in the mail she wanted to make sure no one else saw it. I'll just make sure to keep a closer eye on her.'

The rest of the day passed in kind of a daze for Sookie. Ken noticed immediately that something wasn't right and asked her if she was okay despite his dislike for the forwardness of Americans. She'd told him she was fine but she'd been so out of it he'd called an early halt to their lesson and told her to meditate for thirty minutes before her next lesson so she'd be more focused. Her piano and Swedish lessons were much the same and her instructors made it clear she had better have her head cleared for her next lessons. She assured them she would. The only time of the day she actually enjoyed was her riding session. Riding Freya was such a pleasurable experience Sookie couldn't help but lose herself in the lesson. When it was over it was nearing 6 o'clock and Sookie groomed Freya and Balder with Julia's help before putting them in their stalls with their feed. When Julia had left Sookie headed inside to take a bath. She had a good hour before Eric got up and she needed to decide what they'd do tonight.

As she lounged in the tub, with the hot water soothing her once again sore muscles from her riding lesson, she let her mind wander. 'Eric is going to know something is wrong with me as soon as he wakes up and he's going to want to know what it is. He's going to feel my turmoil through the bond and he'll know if I lie. So I'm going to have to tell him that Bill sent me a letter to explain himself. I'll tell him I'm upset by Bill's words, but I'll leave out how he wanted to run with me. I can't let Eric know that because he would definitely report Bill to the queen. I can't let that happen. So I'll tell him, but what do I do with him afterwards? Bill pointed out that Eric is still keeping me in the dark about the bond. I didn't know that I could feel his emotions through the bond and that he was blocking me from doing so. So Eric is still hiding things from me. Last night he insisted that I open myself up to him and he's still holding back. So what do I do about that? If I pull back from Eric he'll just trash our deal and take up pursuing me relentlessly again. I definitely don't want that.'

After thinking it over for a moment Sookie finally decided she only had one option. 'I have to meet him head on. I'm never going to out maneuver Eric with under handed tactics. He's always going to be better at keeping secrets and playing this cloak and dagger game than I'll ever be. I can't keep up with him. My only option is truth. We promised to try and connect and be friends so I'll just outright ask him about the bond tonight. I'll ask him to tell me what it means exactly and how it affects each of us. If he comes clean then I have some hope that he's being truthful about my feelings and needs meaning something to him. If he comes clean maybe I'll have a chance at talking him out of turning me. If he agrees to let me live out my mortal life than I can stay here. I hate that I'll have to work for him the rest of my life, but at least I'll have my humanity and family. I'd prefer that over a life on the run where I'm all alone and live in terror every second of every day.'

Her decision made she finally got out of the tub and dressed in a pair of track shorts with a loose t-shirt and tennis shoes. Since they weren't going out for the night Sookie didn't feel the need to dress up. She figured she'd talk to Eric and see if she could sort this blood bond thing out and then maybe she they'd star gaze for awhile and top the evening off with watching her favorite movie. Heading downstairs she made herself a quick dinner as she waited for Eric to rise.

In the panic room. Eric was working on his laptop. He'd risen about two hours ago and had been checking on his various businesses, replying to his emails, and confirming the travel information with Anubis Air for their trip on Monday. He had also sent a text to Han to let him and Ivan know they could have the entire night off to do what they pleased since he would be staying with Sookie.

He wanted to be up and out of the room the moment the sun set so he could ask Sookie what had been upsetting her so much. He could feel her sadness and turmoil from the bond. He had even woken this afternoon when a wave of confusion, grief, and anxiety had struck her so harshly. It had lasted for about an hour before her attention had been diverted. He'd been tempted to text her and tell her to come down to the panic room to discuss whatever was bothering her with him, but decided against it. He didn't want her to know how closely he monitored her through the bond. He was fairly certain she believed that he only really had a feel for her emotions when they were close and only checked on her periodically. He didn't want her to know he always monitored her. It would only worry her. He was very curious as to what had upset her since her Were guards, save Quinn who didn't work for him of course and didn't make daily reports, hadn't reported anything unusual for her today.

'Why would she be so upset if nothing happened?'

As soon as the sun set, he was up and out of the ground to make his way into the house. Several suitcases and boxes lined the entryway and he figured they were the things he'd instructed Pam to collect from his house for bobby to deliver. He found Sookie standing on the porch while Thor went outside. Making his way up behind her he whispered in her ear, "Hello Sookie."

"Ah!" Spinning around Sookie glared up at Eric and slapped him on the chest as she hissed, "Don't do that!"

Laughing at her annoyance, he asked, "How was your day?"

"Fine? That's it?"

Hearing the unspoken demand in his question, Sookie called Thor to her from where he was trying to dig into one of her pots lining the driveway and turned to head into the house. When Eric had closed the door behind him and stood staring at her, she asked, "Are you using the bond on me right now?"

"I don't use it on you Sookie. It's not a weapon. It's a connection we have, and yes I am feeling your emotions."

"If I ask you about the bond will you tell me about it?"

"Perhaps … but first I want to hear about your day."

She knew there was no point in lying. Eric could obviously feel her upset from her letter. If he had woken before sunrise he had probably been feeling them acutely for the last few hours. She kept to her plan to face Eric head on. It was her only option. "Bill wrote me a letter."


Eric regarded Sookie quietly for a moment. He searched her eyes and monitored her emotions as he pressed, "A letter?"


"And what did this letter say?"

Moving to sit on the couch, with Eric following to take a seat beside her, Sookie explained, "It was actually a really long letter. Lots of pages. He explained it all to me; from the beginning. He told me about his life from the moment he'd been turned until he came to Bon Temps. He explained how it was he came to work for the queen and why he had to come to Bon Temps. He apologized for what he'd done, and told me he had to leave to report to the queen."

Eric could feel rage boiling inside him. He could feel Sookie's shifting emotions in regards to Bill. Her love had been waning for him as her disdain grew due to his betrayal, and now there was uncertainty. He was fully aware of the pitiful existence Bill had led his whole life. Most every vampire in Louisiana was; well every vampire that knew anything about the queen and her court. He could imagine how Bill's pathetic life would tug at Sookie's heartstrings and undo all the hard work he'd done to destroy her affections for that fool. "I'd like to see this letter."

"You can't."

"I'm not asking Sookie. As my bonded, he had no right to contact you without my permission, and I want to read his words to you myself."

"Eric, you can't."

Her refusal was only making him angrier. "Sookie I don't want to force you but I—"

"I burned it."


Eric looked long and hard at Sookie. He could feel the truth of her words through the bond. "You burned it?"

Nodding her head Sookie forced herself to hold his gaze and replied, "I burned it. The letter was to me, and Bill told me personal things. I didn't want anyone else reading it. It was between him and me."

Eric's fangs popped out as he hissed, "There is no you and him Sookie! There is only you and me!"

"Eric I—"

"Be quiet!" Eric leaned close to her and continued in a dark, deadly quiet voice, "I could have his life for this. I could lay claim to the right to kill him for contacting my bonded without my permission. I could send him to his final death. I have plenty of reasons to kill that fool already and you are only providing me more."

Tears filling her eyes, Sookie reminded herself to keep calm. She wanted to yell and scream at Eric that he had better not kill Bill. Eric did not respond well to direct challenges to his authority. If she responded to his anger with her own it would end badly … for her. While she was still very upset with her former lover for his lies and deceit she would never wish death upon him. She kept Han's words of advice in her head and whispered, "Eric you're scaring me again … please stop." 

Eric could feel his beast roaring to life in him. His feelings of possessive fury threatened to overtake him and he remained silent for several long moments before asking, "What did the letter say exactly?"

Knowing if she held too much back Eric would grow suspicious Sookie decided the only thing she could afford to keep from him was Bill's deceit and his promise to continue aiding her. If she held to much back Eric would think she and Bill were hiding something and then he would go after Bill. She couldn't let that happen. So for now she'd tell him everything else.

"He told me the awful things Lorena did to him and the terrible things he did with her. He told me he'd killed people. He told me about how he had decided to stop and would have met the sun if she wouldn't release him. He told me how he came to be in the queen's service and why he had to come here the way he did. He apologized. He told me some things about the bond I share with you and told me not to run. He said if I did you'd make it worse for me. He told me not to trust you. He told me that he loves me and hopes to find a way to get me back."

"And do you want him back?"

She wanted to lie. She wanted to tell Eric she didn't so that he wouldn't feel more threatened by Bill than he already did, but she couldn't. He'd know if she did. He'd feel it through the bond. However, she wasn't even sure of the answer herself. She had no idea where she stood with Bill. Her emotions were all over the place right now. So much had happened and was still happening to her she couldn't catch her breath. So she told him just that.

"I don't know. He lied to me and planned to turn me over to the queen … but I believe him when he says he loves me. At this point I don't know if I loved him or if my feelings for him were a product of his blood in me along with my novelty and happiness at finally being in a relationship. I just don't know anymore. I feel for him. He was in an impossible position … but I still hurt. I gave myself to one man only to find out he was a different man. Parts of what he showed me of himself were true, and parts weren't. I don't know what I feel for him, and I don't know if I'd take him back if I had the choice to. I … I just don't know Eric."

He didn't know what to say to that. He'd felt her honesty from the bond and knew she really and truly was confused as to her emotions towards Bill. There was warmth and affection for the younger vampire but there was also doubt, hurt, betrayal, resentment and anger. Looking her in the eye he asked, "What do you feel for me? How do you see me?"

Looking into her surprised gaze Eric pressed, "Tell me what you think of me. Tell me how you see me and my actions towards you. Tell me the truth."

Sookie was silent a moment before asking, "Will I be punished for anything I say?"


Sookie turned to face him on the sofa and pulled her knees to her chest as she wrapped her arms around them. She looked into his eyes for long moments before taking a deep breath to begin.

"I think you're a man that was born in a world where people were hard and life was harder. As a human you were raised without kindness and love and as a man you were expected to be as hard as the world around you. You took those traits with you into your vampire existence. I think you were turned and led a life of violence, chaos and death. I think you lived and existed by and through the worst parts of the world. I think you surrounded yourself with the worst people, the most terrifying things, and the most dangerous situations you could. Due to that you are what you are; you're a survivor.

"You've trained yourself to look for the worst in the people and places around you instead of seeing any of the good. You've lost all capacity to freely feel. You shut your emotions down until you can examine them logically and decide if it is ok for you to feel a certain way about a situation. If your logic says it's not ok you make the situation go away or you remove yourself from it. You've lost the ability to dream and hope, and live only by your logic so your life is a void with literally only a few bright points for you to focus on as you float around in total darkness."

Tucking a strand of hair behind her ear she continued, "You truly cared for one person and one person alone; Godric. You loved him but you did not explore that emotion with him. Instead you clung to and admitted only to respect, admiration, loyalty and general affection. You built your existence around the belief that Godric was your only constant. You lived your life with the belief that no one and nothing was dependable but him. Everything else you viewed as untrustworthy and ultimately expendable. You lost all faith in anything other than your ability to survive and your connection with Godric."

She watched his eyes narrow but forced herself to continue. "Now he's gone. His death hurt you and you're determined never to feel that emotion again so you're closing off your already deadened emotional self and tossing aside all affection to keep only possession and lust. You refuse to feel anything deeply so that you can't be harmed again."

"You're a vampire in the most literal sense. The dark isn't all there is for you because you can't walk in the sun the dark is all there is for you because you've chosen to banish any and all light from your existence so that you don't have to realize what it is that is missing from your life. You scorn love as weakness because you're afraid to feel it, not that you're incapable of it. You know only how to take because that's all you've ever done. I think the only gift you ever received was from Godric when he turned you. Other than that I get the sense you worked, earned, and took by force everything else. You became an Enforcer to prove yourself the best warrior amongst warriors and in the process you lost the ability to be anything other than a fighter. You don't know how to let things come to you. You don't know how not to take things by force. Just as you said; you see something you want and you do what you have to in order to get it. You don't even think about letting anything come to you of its own free will. You don't think about being chosen. You don't even allow the opportunity. You've trained yourself to have the immediate instinct of take."

Tightening her arms around her knees, she continued, "As for your actions towards me? I think they're cruel, but I understand why you did them. In your mind it was the only way you could have me. You see me as something to take because in your mind that's all the world is; those that take and those that are taken. You can't even imagine actual choice. You say you're giving me a choice but you're not. You've eliminated every other option I could have but you. You've robbed me of every right I have, and are trying to change who I am in every way."

"So basically I see you as someone who is completely lost. I may be naïve about your society and the rules that governs it but at least I haven't killed off parts of myself to fit into a world I don't like. You claim to love being a vampire and yet so much of your world tires you, annoys you, and disgusts you. You like, appreciate, and respect so few of your fellow vampires and yet you claim they're all better than humans. I think you live in denial of how unhappy you really are. You focus on one or two things that bring you joy and then deaden yourself to everything else and are therefore living a half life. I think deep down you're miserable but have lived this way for so long you don't see it, and even if you did you'd have absolutely no idea how to change that fact. I think you've forgotten how to live and won't admit it. I think you've gotten so used to existing you have totally confused the two.

"Now I've come along. You're attracted to me, you're interested in me and I make you see things differently. I think I make you less miserable and therefore you've decided that if you pull me into your world you'll be happier. Damn what I want in the process. You think that by giving me pretty things, nice toys, and eliminating my every day worries like bills and the like that it will compensate for all you're taking from me and I'll be happy with you. You want to turn me to make you feel better, but you don't understand that you're the only one that can make you happy."

Taking another breath she finished, "As for my feelings towards you? I'm not sure. There are some moments when you do things so incredibly sweet I can actually see a future with you. Sometimes you make me feel so special and beautiful I think I could actually love you. Then you turn around and do something so mean and cruel it makes me think you see me as little more than dirt beneath your feet. I trust you to keep me safe, but beyond that I have no idea what you are capable of. I'm afraid and hopeful all at once. I both like and despise you. I hate the way you make me unsure and afraid. I like how you can make me feel like I'm the only woman in the world. I appreciate the things you've done for me and the times you've been strong for me when I thought I would break. I wish that things were different between us. I wish I was free to make the choice to choose you and I wish that your world would allow you the opportunity to give me that chance, but I understand that if you were to let me go now I would only be snatched up by someone worse. I get that I'm in just as much of an impossible position as Bill was and that right now you're the only thing standing between me and total slavery by Sophie-Anne or some other monarch that wants their very own telepath. So in a way I'm grateful, but that doesn't mean I'm happy with the situation … so that's what I think."

Eric could do little more than stare at her. He had expected her to tell him she hated what he'd done to her and rail at him for trying to manipulate and control her. He expected her to accuse him of using the bond to create false emotions within her and blame him for all the bad things in her life currently. He expected her to accuse him of acting as though he cared and faked his gestures of affection towards her in order to further manipulate her. He had not expected her to give him words that made him think; that made him question himself, his actions, or his plans for the future.

Silence stretched between them. Long tense moments as Eric sat staring at Sookie, thinking over her words, while she held his gaze waiting for his reaction. Nearly an hour passed in uncomfortable silence as the two faced off; he still unable to speak and her hesitant to say anything. He decided that most of what she said he was definitely going to have to consider when he was alone and she was not staring at him so intently. Her words made him uncomfortable, but he wouldn't dissect them in front of her to try and determine what he thought of her declarations. At the moment there was only one part of her speech he wanted to address. Finally Eric asked, "You think I'm unhappy? You think I, who have lived and known pleasures you couldn't even imagine for over a thousand years, do not know how to live?"

Nodding her head Sookie replied, "Yes I do. I can prove it too."

Arching a brow Eric pressed, "Please do."

"What makes you happy?"

"Feeding, fighting and fucking."

Frowning at his crude words Sookie asked, "So how much time do you spend doing those things?"

"I feed and fuck nearly every night; usually for at least two to four hours and in most cases at the same time. I fight when opportunity or need arises. The situations are unpredictable. My life here is very sedate and my chances to engage in a true battle are rare."

"Now I want you to think about this … really and truly think ok?" When he nodded she continued, "Do these things truly bring you joy or just satisfaction?"

Arching a brow Eric asked, "What's the difference?"

"The difference is joy makes you feel light and free. You feel warm and happy. You laugh and smile and have only good thoughts. Satisfaction is lesser. It doesn't erase all your woes and let you concentrate on only the here and now; joy does. When you feel joy all your troubles go away and you are simply happy to be alive. Satisfaction makes you feel good but you're still plagued by your responsibilities and hardships."
Thinking on it a moment Eric finally shrugged and answered, "Then I feel satisfaction."

Nodding Sookie continued, "Ok. I know you became a sheriff because you didn't want to be totally under the control of others, and I know you didn't become a king because you don't like politics and didn't want that much responsibility. So what parts of your job do you dislike? Be honest."

Eric thought for a moment and replied, "Nearly everything. I hate having to look after others when I feel they should take care of themselves. I abhor the stupidity of my underlings. I dislike having to settle disputes peacefully and miss the old ways of just fighting to the death. Now there is too much talk. I hate having to be on call to those I protect and the queen. I dislike having to participate in politics, but know if I don't I'll lose everything I've built. I don't wish to return to my life as an Enforcer as I was more than bored with it, but know stepping down as sheriff isn't an option. I wish politics weren't such a large part of our world now. I do enjoy the authority I have over others but it doesn't make up for the annoyance of having to look after them poses."

Smiling Sookie replied, "So you spend two to four hours a day being satisfied and the rest of the time you're miserable. Point proven. You exist and your existence is punctuated by points of satisfaction."

Eric mulled her words over for a moment before stating, "You do have a point. A good majority of my life is filled with things I don't like. However you're missing the obvious."

"What's that?"


Eyes widening in surprise Sookie asked, "What?"

Smirking Eric continued, "Describe joy and happiness to me. Describe contentment to me."

Sookie was quiet a moment before answered, "They make you feel whole. They make you feel like no matter what else is going on around you everything at that moment is perfect. When you're happy you don't worry. You're totally in the moment. When you are happy and full of joy you feel warm, complete, calm, and there are no worries in your mind. You're just … well you're just happy. You're totally in the here and now because bad things melt away when your heart is filled with joy. You're not worried about anything you have to do or missing anything because in that moment all your wants and needs are satisfied and you are perfectly content in the moment which makes you happy."

His smirk growing Eric replied, "You make me feel that way. When I'm with you I feel warm and whole. I forget about all my responsibilities and worries and put them off. I'm totally in the here and now and focused only on you and me. Maybe I was existing before you came along. I don't think so but you could be right. Either way the fact remains you make me happy. In my mind all the more reason to keep you."

Shaking her head Sookie replied, "Eric, others can't make you happy. Happiness comes from within. Only you can make yourself happy."

"I have. I've taken you for my own. You make me happy. You make me feel better. You make me smile and laugh. You make me feel good. I've taken you for my own and thus made myself happy. Problem solved."

Releasing a sigh Sookie argued, "Eric … you're not understanding. People are supposed to be happy through their own efforts."

"I am. I worked very hard to get you and put quite a bit of effort into obtaining you for myself. You make me happy. I enjoy having you in my life. You make me forget all of the troubles and hardships I have, and help me to live in the here and now."

"I'm not going to get you to see my side on this am I?"

Smirking Eric shook his head and replied, "No. You're arguing a side that results in me abandoning my plan to make you love me. Your side involves me not carrying out my decision to eventually turn you so I can keep you forever. I'm never going to see that side."

"What about the rest of it?"

"What you think of me?"


Eric was quiet a moment before he shrugged and answered, "I don't know. I'll have to think on that, but I'll do that on my own time. I do wonder how long you've been thinking about that? That was a fairly detailed answer for spur of the moment."

Blushing Sookie replied, "Since all of this has happened I've uh … well I've been thinking about you a lot trying to figure you out so maybe I don't lose all of our arguments."

"And how's that going?"

"Nowhere fast."

Eric laughed at that and reached out to take Sookie's wrist so he could pull her against his side as he said, "You see Sookie? You amuse me. You surprise me. You delight me. You make me happy. I'm sticking with my plan to keep you."

Resting against him as he stroked her arm she asked, "Are you mad at me for what I said? About you and the way you are?"

"No. I'm unsure how to feel about what you said. Much of it was true and much of it I never thought of or considered. I've always prided myself on embracing life. You claim I'm not doing that. I'll have to think it over. Everything else? I'm really going to have to consider it. All I can promise is that our situation won't change. I'm not going to give you up or let you go. I'm not going to let anyone else have you. The only choice I can offer to you is when. I will not allow you to choose who. That choice is mine. I've chosen me for you and you will have to accept that. I will be good enough to let you choose when you come to me. That's the best I can do."

She was lying against his chest and looked up to ask, "Can I choose when you turn me?"

Looking down at her Eric thought for a moment before replying, "I'll promise you to put it off for as long as I can."

"You want me to look young for eternity huh?"

Laughing Eric answered, "Yes, but that is hardly a problem. You shouldn't be concerned with that."

Confused now Sookie asked, "What do you mean?"

Kissing her forehead Eric replied, "Taking my blood every day is truly beneficial. It slows the aging process and rejuvenates you. Bondeds are rare and highly regarded as they are because they are not fleeting as most humans. Vampires have kept bondeds alive and in excellent condition for well over a hundred years. It is rare because it is harder to let the bonded go the longer you have them and most Vampires don't want to become so attached to a human they will inevitably have to let go."

"Why don't they just turn them then?"

"Sookie, eternity is a long time. Turned blood bondeds can never leave their maker. It's not a choice. It is a need. A bonded child will literally feel pain if separated from their maker, and the maker feels that pain as if it were their own. As much as I care for Pam I will not want her at my side for eternity just as Godric did not want me at his side. Nor will she wish to stay as I inevitably wished to leave my Maker. Vampires cannot live with each other forever and turning a bonded is dangerous because it is permanent. The only way to separate a turned blood bonded and their maker is through death. As vampires, we live ever changing lives with our connection to time itself being one of our only constants. Having an eternal companion is a big step."

Looking up at him she asked, "Then how can you know turning me isn't a mistake? How can you know you won't come to resent me being with you?"

Taking Sookie's hand and moving it under his black muscle shirt to lay over his heart he felt his body heat along with hers. He moved his other hand to dip down through the top of her t-shirt to cover her heart as well and the resulting jolt shot through them both. A slow and steady hum thrummed through their bodies and he heard Sookie begin to pant against him. Looking into her heavy lidded eyes he asked, "Do you feel that? Do you feel the spark, the connection between us?"

Hardly able to think straight Sookie stuttered, "Y ... yes."

Shifting their positions so that he could pull Sookie into his lap with her straddling him on the couch he nipped her lips before continuing,

"That is how I know. I've never felt anything like it. I've never heard of anything like it either. Even before I learned we were part of some prophecy I felt deep inside me that you were meant to be mine. I've never, not in all my long years, wanted anything the way I want you. You say I have no emotions, and most of the time you're right. But when I'm with you, when I see you, when I'm near you and can take in your scent, my beast is strong. It wants you. It hungers for you. Never have my instincts beat at me as they do with you. I don't understand why I want you so much. I don't understand why my need to own and possess you is so great. And frankly I don't care. All I care about is the fact that the touch, taste, and feel of you makes me feel alive in ways I've never known. Your presence brings me a sense of peace. I want you too much to ever let you go. I like you happy Sookie, but I want you too much to let you be happy away from me. I'm sorry that hurts you but as you pointed out I'm a taker, and I've taken you. You will be mine, Sookie; you will belong to me for eternity."

Sookie's body was hot from their touching of each other's chest. She was still unaware of her mark but she knew that when Eric touched her over her heart it drove her wild. While the hum had begun to fade slowly the moment their hands moved from over their chests when Eric lifted her onto his lap she could still feel the energy between them. Looking into his heated eyes she felt her sex throb with desire as she whispered,

"Why is everything you say beautiful and terrifying all at once?"

"Because I am both beautiful and terrifying."

She held his gaze for a moment before asking, "Will you tell me about the bond?"

Pulling her forward to tuck her against his chest with her head under his chin Eric asked, "What do you want to know?"


"Well I take it you already know I can feel your emotions and track you anywhere? You know I can affect your emotions?"

"Yeah I know that."
Pushing a hand under her shirt to stroke her back Eric replied, "I can also control you with it. I can issue commands through the bond and force you to do things. I haven't and hopefully I won't have to, but I will if the need arises."

Looking up at him Sookie pressed, "Really? You can force me to obey with nothing but your will?"


Swallowing Sookie whispered, "Show me."


"Show me. I want to see what it's like for you to control me that way."
Arching a brow Eric asked, "Are you sure? You will not be angry at me issuing a command?"

"No. I want to see what it's like … just don't command me to do anything bad."

Smirking Eric teased, "You're definition of bad and mine are very different."

"Eric … you know what I mean. Pick something harmless so I can see what it's like."

Shaking his head Eric set his hands on her hips and remarked, "I'm surprised you're asking for this. I didn't ever think you'd choose to be commanded."

Shrugging Sookie replied, "Well obviously you can do it anytime you want. I can't stop you from it. So I want to know what it feels like."

"Alright. I'll give you a simple command. I've never had a bonded before but I know the basics. I've been told you'll feel a compulsion at first and an immediate need to do what I want you to do. It is supposed to be much like the way a Maker can command their child."

"Will I hear your voice in my head?"

Laughing Eric shook his head and answered, "No. It will just be a need to do what it is I want you to do. Like an idea popping into your mind."

"Well that doesn't sound so bad. Why would I have to do that?"

"You won't…at first. However if you do not immediately carry out the command a pressure will build in your mind until it becomes painful and you either obey the command or I withdraw it."

Biting her lip Sookie replied, "Ok … well … I guess I'm ready."

"Are you sure?" When she nodded Eric looked her in the eyes and focused on what he wanted her to do. He sent her the compulsion to kiss his cheek. He figured she would hold out as long as she could to try to see what the pressure and pain was like. So he sat and waited for her to respond. However when he felt no sense of discomfort coming from her through the bond he asked, "It is not hurting yet?"

Shaking her head Sookie said, "I'm still waiting for the command … I … I thought you were thinking of what to command me to do."
Eric went completely still. He was silent a moment before he sent a sharp command through the bond and waited. When Sookie merely continued to star at him in confusion he asked, "You feel no compulsion? You feel no need to do anything?"

"No … am I supposed to?"

Fangs popping out Eric gripped her arms and sent a fierce command through the bond. The force behind it should have brought Sookie to her knees and had her crying out in pain from the pressure in her head. She did not respond. His hands tightened around her arms as he hissed, "How the hell are you doing that?"

Realizing that Eric had been trying to command her and had failed Sookie gasped, "You … you can't control me!"

Eric could feel his beast rouse itself. The idea that Sookie was not entirely under his control had his instincts kicking into overdrive; his need to dominate and posses her beat at him savagely. Part of the reason he was so at ease with allowing her to remain in Bon Temps and continue on with her life as she did was that he knew if she did something he truly objected to or tried to run he could simply command her to come to him and she'd heel. Now he was faced with the very real fact that he could not do that.

Pulling her closer so they were inches apart he growled, "I don't know how you are denying my commands but do not think for one second it doesn't mean I don't control you; that I don't own you in every way! You are mine Sookie and nothing will ever change that! I may not be able to control your mind as I thought I could, but I still hold control over your body. You go nowhere and do nothing without my approval. There are still a number of ways that I can force you to obey."

Getting frightened now Sookie whispered, "Eric … you're scaring me."

"Say it," he growled. "Tell me I own you. Say that you obey me and only me."


"Say it!"

She felt him in that moment. She felt darkness reaching for him and threatening to overwhelm him. She could feel his beast clawing and tearing at his insides; demanding he subdue her in the most primitive of ways … and Eric was fighting it. His rational mind did not want to force her down and lay claim to her as his beast demanded. His rational mind was trying to hold the darkness back … for her. She could feel the need and desire his beast had for her and it was all consuming. The darkest part of him wanted and needed her in a way that was beyond natural or sane. Yet his rational self, as cold and calculating as it was, needed and wanted her too. She couldn't understand it, but she couldn't deny it either. All parts of Eric wanted her, and even if she was still unsure as to her feelings and acceptance of him in general in this moment she couldn't not reach out to him.

Leaning forward and ignoring the tight hold he had on her arms that was hurting her she kissed his lips softly before whispering, "You've taken me for your own Eric. I'm not going anywhere and no one is taking me from you. It's ok. Where you are I am. You know that. It's ok."

She felt his hold on her arms loosen and she pulled them free from his hands to wrap around his neck and shoulders as she tucked herself against him. She kissed the underside of his chin before burying her face into his neck and soothing, "It's ok Eric. You might not be able to command me but that doesn't mean you don't have sway over me. You're here with me and it's only us. It's ok."

Eric was fighting with everything he had. The mere notion that he did not control Sookie, that she did not belong to him in every way, had the darkness in him demanding release. He was fighting to keep it under control, because he knew if he lost it he'd take Sookie by force. He had hurt many over his long years, he had done unforgivable things and did not give a damn, and while he hurt Sookie from time to emotionally and struck out at her pride and independence he would never do to her what his beast was railing at him to do now. He would not rape her. Wrapping his own arms around her to hold her tightly against him he growled, "I won't let you go Sookie. I will never let you leave or be taken from me. Know this with everything you are."

Kissing his neck Sookie replied, "I'm right here Eric. It's ok." She pushed a hand under his shirt and let her hand stroke his Mjolnir. She could feel the battle raging inside him. She could see both sides of him fighting for control and she saw the intentions his darker half had. She could see clearly in her mind's eye how the beast in Eric wanted to throw her down, rip their clothes away, and claim her brutally. She saw snapping fangs biting into her as Eric pinned her to the floor and took her over and over. She saw his hands holding her wrists down as she cried out in pain beneath him from his forceful invasion. She saw the pleasure his darkness would take in claiming her at long last…and she saw the softer side of him cringe away from that. Eric wanted her … but not like that.

Nuzzling under his chin as her fingers continued to stroke him softly she whispered, "You're better than that Eric. Much better. That's not our destiny. You want me willingly Eric. You want me to choose you … and I want that to. Let me come to you Eric … don't take that away from us. Not from me. Not from you. Don't rob yourself of the satisfaction of me willingly coming to you."

Her words and her touches slowly eased the beast inside him. She was stroking them both. She was encouraging the rational side of him while soothing his darkness with her assurances. She knew him. She knew what he needed in this moment. He could slowly feel his beast fall dormant inside of him. When he was once again completely in control of himself he kissed her temple and said, "You please me Sookie."
Feeling his feelings and thoughts fade away from her as she was cast out of his mind and inner self to once again be left guessing Sookie asked softly, "What is that? Why does it keep happening?"

Pushing a hand under her shirt as well to stroke her back he replied, "That, Sookie, is why I keep myself closed off. I've always been different. Even as a human. I went berserker in battle a few times and killed anything that came near me. I was greatly respected and feared by my men. When Godric turned me I often lost myself to my beast. It was he that encouraged me to be an Enforcer and traveled with me around the world so I could fight. I had to fight. It took me centuries to learn to control the darkness inside me. I took on monsters and armies to satisfy my need for the kill so I wouldn't sate my blood lust on innocents. I might not care for humanity but even I wouldn't subject them to my beast in full battle rage. My instincts, my emotions, they are dark. You call to that part of me and it is hard for me to control myself."

"Why does that part of you want to hurt me?"

Tightening his arms around her he answered, "It's not about hurting you Sookie. It's about owning you; claiming you. That part of me has only ever cared for blood and death. Even Godric was not safe from it. There were a few times in my blood lust I turned on him and he had to use the call of a Maker to their child to bring me back. He helped me learn to lock it inside myself. Now that part of me cares only about having you. It has been beating at me from the night I met you. It gets harder and harder for me to control that part of myself around you."

She was quiet a moment before she whispered, "You're really never going to let me go are you?"

"No, Sookie, I'm not. I'll kill everyone and everything I have to in order to keep you." They were both silent a moment before Eric asked, "You're going to run aren't you?"

"Wouldn't you?"

"My first instinct is always to fight."

Smiling softly Sookie replied, "I can't fight you Eric … I doubt few can."

"I'll punish you Sookie. If you run from me I'll get you back before you get far and I will punish you in ways you will not soon forget. I'll force you to your knees before me at Fangtasia and make you swear obedience to me in all ways. I may not be able to control your mind as I thought I could, but I still have my new gift. I can move your body at will. If you run I will humiliate and demean you in front of many and I will spank you with a paddle before all the vermin at Fangtasia."

Pressing closer to him as a shudder of fear ran through her at his words Sookie said, "I promise I'm not going to run unless I think I can make it…and I don't really want to run. I don't want to leave my home and family. I don't want to spend the rest of my life always looking over my shoulder and terrified that at any moment you're going to jump out at me. I want to find a way to be able to stay here." Moving back from his chest to look up at him she said, "If you promise not to turn me I'll stay. I won't like being owned by you but it's better than running."

Shaking his head Eric replied, "No Sookie. I cannot and will not give you that promise."

"I thought as much." She was silent a moment before asking, "Why can I sometimes feel your emotions and sometimes not?"

"I keep my end of the bond closed off so the majority of the time my emotions are unknown to you."

Looking up at him Sookie asked, "Can I do that? Can I close off my end?"

Fangs popping out Eric answered, "I don't know. You can ignore my commands so it might be possible … but you are forbidden to try."

"Because I said so." Looking straight into her eyes with his own hard gaze Eric continued darkly, "I warned you before you are not to attempt to hinder or sever the bond between us in any way. I meant it than and I mean it now. If you ever attempt to close off your end of the bond my retribution will be swift and final. I will rip you out of this life and drag you back to Shreveport. I will lock you inside my lair for the rest of your mortal life and you will only leave it at my side … and I will keep you in chains."

"Eric I…."

Fisting a hand in her golden curls to jerk her head back so he could lean over her as she straddled his lap Eric hissed, "Do not do it Sookie! There will be no forgiveness or mercy on my part if you try. If you stop me from feeling you I will show you just how cruel and controlling I can be. Run if you like little one, but do not fuck with our bond. Do you understand?"

Nodding her head as much as his hold in her hair would allow Sookie whispered, "I … I understand … but why can you close off your end? Why is that fair?"

"Little between us is fair Sookie. We are not equals. However I will tell you I do not keep my end closed purely for my benefit. I do it to protect you."

"Protect me how?"

Moving both of his hands to cradle her hips as he held her gaze Eric continued, "My emotions would frighten you Sookie. I do not feel things like you do. Your emotions are strong but not terrifying. You feel strongly of love and warmth and comfort. Your darker emotions like anger and rage are always hesitant and fragmented; like they're not a part of you, like they don't belong there and they are always fleeting. In fact I've never even felt hate from you. Not even in New Orleans. Your emotions are fresh. Mine are not like that. How I feel would frighten and possibly hurt you."

"But aren't those feelings that darker part of you? Don't you keep them locked down all the time?"

Shaking his head Eric replied, "Not all the time. I might seem cold and unfeeling to you most of the time, Sookie, but I'm not. You rouse emotions in me at all times and many are like those my beast has. I'm just able to control them better."

Holding his gaze for a moment Sookie finally asked, "Show me."

Arching a brow Eric asked, "Are you sure? It will frighten you."

"I don't care. I want to know how you feel the way you feel me."

"Very well." He opened his end of the bond.

Sookie gasped and jerked in his hold. She could feel lust, need, desire, possession and tenderness inside him. It was a whirling jumbled mess. They were dark and coiling inside him in an endless mass of spiraling darkness with brief spots of light and goodness. She felt his need to own her, his driving obsession to rule all that she was, his consuming lust and desire for her. He wanted her in ways she didn't know were possible. He truly felt ownership towards her. He felt a fundamental right to everything she was. She felt his determination to keep her … but she could feel tenderness there as well.

She could feel how soothing she felt to him in his hold. She could feel how much her scent comforted him. She could feel his desire to hold and touch her softly, and she knew it was an entirely new sensation for him. She could tell he was just as awed by these lighter emotions within him as she was to find them. He was right; his emotions did frighten her, but they comforted her as well. They showed her that Han was right. Eric did care greatly for her. He was confused about his emotions, but there was feeling there for her. She was heartened by that. As he slowly closed off the bond, she whispered in awe, "You really do want me, don't you?"

"I told you I did."

"Yeah but I just …." her words trailed off as she found it hard to admit that she just didn't get why he would want her. She was just Crazy Sookie. No one ever really wanted her. Not even Bill had wanted her at first. She had been a mission to him.

Shifting her from her straddled position over his lap so she was cradled in his arms bridal style Eric said, "Sookie I know you doubt yourself. You doubt your worth because of how you've been treated your whole life, but you shouldn't. The people of this town are nothing in comparison to you. You have great worth. Your gift alone sets you apart and above them, but it is not why I want you. You could lose your gifts tomorrow and it would change nothing. I would still pursue you as diligently as I am now. I would still turn you when the time comes so I can keep you for eternity. Truthfully I cannot say why I desire you the way I do. I've never experienced the things you make me feel, but it doesn't matter. You don't need to doubt yourself or my affection for you. You do not need to doubt my intentions for you."
Sookie was quiet for a moment before she remarked, "This doesn't mean I'm not going to try to find a way to be free and to keep you from turning me."

"I would expect nothing less from you Sookie. You are every bit the fighter I am. Try all you like but be prepared for disappointment when I win."

"We'll see about that." Standing from his lap she said, "Come on Viking and I'll help you unpack your stuff. You can put your things in the guest bedroom. Or Tara's old bedroom if you like. The hall bath can be yours."

Standing as well Eric replied, "No. I shall share your bedroom and bathroom with you."

Spinning around to face him Sookie gasped, "Eric you can't move into my bedroom with me! Just because you're staying here doesn't mean we're … well … you just can't!"

"Watch me," Eric said as he walked past her to pick up the majority of the boxes and suitcases leaving two of the smaller ones for Sookie to carry upstairs; vampire strength really did come in handy.

Grabbing the other two bags Sookie stomped up the stairs after him as she growled, "Eric we're not done talking about this! You are not moving into my bedroom with me!"

"Ooohhh … I love it when you take charge Sookie," Eric teased as he shoved her door open and stepped inside to set the boxes and bags down.

Coming up behind him Sookie dropped the two smaller suitcases she was carrying on the floor and put her hands on her hips as she hissed, "You are not doing this Eric!"

Putting his boxes on the bed he opened them up and grabbed his favorite sandalwood bathing set out from the top and headed for Sookie's bathroom. He kept dozens of these sets at home so he knew that he wouldn't be lacking in supplies when they stayed at his house. He'd have to remind Sookie to buy extras of the things she used and pack some spare clothes for them to leave in his lair for her use. "Stop arguing and help me unpack Sookie. You aren't going to win this one. I've made my decision."

He stored his things in the appropriate places in the bathroom before coming back out to face Sookie who was standing by the door with a look of outrage on her face as he continued, "Besides what's the problem? We made an agreement last night. I agreed to give you time and space to come to me on your own, and to stop seducing you so aggressively. My sharing quarters with you won't change that. You agreed to be more open and closer with me. This is a natural step in the direction."

Finding no rational point to argue to counter his claims Sookie stomped her foot and hissed, "Fine! But you'll clean up after yourself! I had to clean your bloody clothes up off the bathroom floor the other day and I'm not doing it again! There are hampers in every bathroom of this house; learn how to use one!" Reaching down to grab a suitcase and toss it on the bed so she could open it up she added, "And don't think you're allowed to share anything else with me but space! I bathe alone!"

Chuckling Eric moved to help her unpack his things as he replied, "For now. One day you'll look forward to sharing your bath with me. You'll love all the delicious things I can do to you there."


A smirk on his face Eric laughed, "Just doing a little future predicting of my own. Come let's finish unpacking so we can enjoy the rest of our evening. Did you plan anything?"

"Yeah. I figured you could show me more of the stars and then we'd watch my favorite movie and play a game afterwards."

"Gone with the Wind?"

Looking up at him as she pulled out several of his shirts and moved to hang them up in her closet Sookie asked, "How did you know that?"

Eric hesitated for a moment before replying, "The queen mentioned it in passing."

Sookie stiffened and froze as she was reaching for a hanger in the closet before she finally whispered, "Hadley has a really big mouth."

Grabbing several pairs of boots and shoes to toss in the bottom of Sookie's closet along with hers Eric said, "Indeed. I can arrange for her to have an accident if you like?"

Spinning around to face him as he came towards her with his shoes Sookie gasped, "Eric no! No killing! Ever!"

Tossing his shoes at the bottom of her closet, and watching in amusement as she rolled her eyes before kneeling down to put them in straight lines along with all her flip flops, sandals, dress shoes, and tennis shoes, he replied, "Sookie you need to get over your aversion to killing. Whether you like it or not killing is a big part of the supernatural world. I will shield you from much of it but you need to know it's going to happen. Survival in the supe world is not common."

Finished straightening his shoes, Sookie stood up and turned to face him as she said, "No. I don't accept it and I won't. Killing is horrible and it should always be the very last resort after everything else has failed. You guys kill too easily. It's your first response to everything."
"It's the easiest and most efficient."

"How can you say that! Killing destroys people. Life shouldn't be taken away Eric! It's sacred and should be protected!"

Smiling at her innocence Eric turned back to finish unpacking and replied, "We'll just have to agree to disagree again won't we Sookie? Let's finish and I'll show you some of my favorite deep space objects."

It took them about a half hour to unpack all of Eric's things and get them settled. Sookie had to clear out a drawer for him in her dresser for his socks and boxers, but other than that they managed to get everything in. He did remark that he shouldn't have ordered such a feminine bathroom built now that he was going to be sharing it with her and mentioned he might have it redone again, but Sookie refused. She loved her pink marble bathroom and didn't want anything about it changed.

When they were done Eric collected the telescope from the storage closet in Sookie's hallway while she grabbed a picnic blanket to spread outside then went into the back yard with Thor trailing after them. Eric set the telescope up while Sookie spread the blanket out. When she was done she asked, "What are you going to show me?"

"I intend to show you a number of my favorite sights in the sky."

"What are you going to show me first?"

Finished setting up the telescope tripod and turning it on so he could program in the object he wanted it to locate Eric replied, "A Messier Object called M51, or the Whirlpool Galaxy."

Moving to stand next to him as Thor laid down on the picnic blanket Sookie asked, "What's a Messier object?"

"A Messier Object is an astronomical object listed by the French astronomer Charles Messier. He was known for searching for comets but was frustrated by object in his lens that looked like comets but didn't move so obviously weren't. So in the late 1700's he compiled a catalogue of objects in the sky. His list had 103 objects at his death but as science and technology increased and the range and accuracy of telescopes increased the list grew. We are also able to see that they are not exactly objects but things like distant galaxies, Magellanic clouds, black holes, and quasars. As he was from France his list only includes things from the north celestial pole to the celestial latitude of about -35.7."

Shaking her head Sookie laughed, "You really do know everything!"
Smiling back as he held his hand out to her so he could pull her in front of him before the telescope Eric replied, "Not everything. Just the good stuff … take a look."

Sookie bent down to look into the telescope and gasped, "Oh my gosh! It's beautiful!

Setting his hands on her hips Eric leaned over her to whisper in her ear, "This is M51. Commonly known as The Whirlpool Galaxy since it was one of the first discovered and obviously one of the most beautiful. It's 23 million light years away and part of the Canes Venatici constellation … and yes. It is beautiful."

Sookie shuddered at his touch but didn't attempt to pull away as she looked at the swirling mass of red clouds and bright stars in the night sky. It was one of the most beautiful things she'd ever seen. Looking at Eric over her shoulder she asked, "Can you take a picture of it for me?"

"Of course." Eric put a hand on Sookie's waist to pull her back against his chest so he could reach around her and punch in the command on the keypad to photograph the image.

When he was done Sookie smiled up at him over her shoulder and asked, "Show me another one?"

Pleased by her enthusiasm Eric typed in another location and nodded at her as he said, "Look."

Leaning down Sookie whispered, "Beautiful."

"This is M106. It's also located in the Canes Venatici. It is another spiral galaxy. Due to the unusual emission lines it is believed to be falling into the supermassive black hole in the center. That is why it looks so unusual and unstable."

Still looking into the telescope Sookie asked, "Why is it so many colors? Why does it look like that?"

Laughing Eric replied, "Many scientific reasons that even I do not understand. I can tell you that it is unstable and emits numerous light, x-ray, and radioactive waves which cause it to appear the way it does."

"It's so pretty."

"Indeed." Pulling her back against his chest again he programmed the telescope to photograph the image for her. "Do you wish to see another one?"

Nodding her head and smiling softly at him Sookie agreed, "Heck yeah."

Typing in the next constellation Eric waited for the telescope to adjust and beep that it had focused the object. "Take a look. This is one of my all time favorites."

Leaning forward again Sookie looked into the telescope and marveled at the sight before her. "What is it?" she asked with awe in her voice.

Knowing exactly what she was seeing as he had gazed upon all these objects hundreds of times before Eric answered, "This is M42 or the Orion Nebula. It is on the south end of Orion's belt. It is one of the brightest objects in the sky and under the right conditions you can see it with the bare eye. It is one of the oldest and most photographed objects amongst the stars."

Reaching around her to program the telescope to capture the image Eric pulled Sookie back towards the picnic blanket where Thor was snoring away as he asked, "Did you like them?"

Following him as he pulled her down on the blanket Sookie replied, "Of course I did. They're beautiful. I've never seen anything like them. I always thought stars were white. I didn't know they would be so colorful."

Laying down on his back and pulling Sookie to lay against him with her lying in the crook of his arm with her head on his shoulder Eric said, "The sky is full of many beautiful and colorful things. Each year we are able to see more and more of them. I make hefty donations to NASA quite often to aid in the pursuit of exploring the stars. It is an investment for my future living amongst them."

Sookie felt total contentment in this moment. Her front was pressed against Eric's side as she watched him look up at the sky and she said, "You really do love the stars don't you?"

Smiling softly as he gazed up into the sparkling darkness above them Eric replied, "Oh yes. You told me Godric was my only constant. In a way you were right … but I had the stars as well. No matter where I go or what I do they are with me. They comfort me."

A comfortable silence stretched between them before Eric said, "Tell me why you don't like alcoholics." 

Immediately he felt a sharp spike of grief, fear, pain, betrayal, and guilt through the bond before Sookie went numb.

Pressing closer to him as she rested a hand on his chest to toy with his fang necklace Sookie whispered, "Let's just lay here … I'm enjoying this moment with you."

Determined to know what it was that caused her such pain Eric replied, "I'm glad you are taking pleasure in my presence, but this is something I wish to know. Someone has hurt you and I wish to know who and why."

Biting her lip as she continued to play with his necklace Sookie finally answered softly, "My mother."

Tensing beneath her Eric began stroking his fingers through her hair as he pressed, "What happened?"

Sookie was glad she couldn't see his eyes. She tucked her head further against his shoulder as she began, "I told you it was hard for my parents because of me. My dad worked and my mom stayed home. I … I cost them both a lot because I was so messed up back then. People stopped being friends with them and avoided them like the plague. It was especially hard on my mom because she was the high school sweet heart, captain of the cheerleading squad, prom queen, and the whole nine yards. She was always popular with people. Then I come along and by the time I can talk I'm saying things I shouldn't, knowing things no one else should know, and screaming in pain whenever anyone touched me. It freaked everyone out. People slowly stopped coming around, stopped inviting my parents to bar-b-ques, avoiding eye contact, walking on the other side of the street to avoid running into them, and people basically turned their backs on my parents."

Tears filling her eyes Sookie continued, "My mom started to drink during the day when my father wasn't home. When I was younger and not in school I'd be alone with her most of the time since my Father went to work and Jason was already in first grade. At first it wasn't too bad. She'd put me in my room and go about her day. Then as time went on and more and more of her friends shunned her things … well they got worse. She didn't mean what she did. She was just alone so much since my dad worked two jobs to support us. She was alone with me and didn't know what to do. Her friends left her and she turned to alcohol. My dad suspected she had a drinking problem but he never confronted her. He was just glad she hadn't run off by then. She was pretty good at hiding it though. It was only with me that she was open with her drinking. The worst of it was when I started school."

Feeling her pain in the bond Eric asked gently, "Why? Wouldn't the time apart have been better?"

Laughing bitterly Sookie replied, "We weren't apart that much. I told you I couldn't control it back then. Those first two years of school were brutal. Kindergarten and first grade were terrifying for me. Before that I was rarely around a lot of people at once. It was mainly my parents, brother, and Gran, and they knew not to touch me. Then one day my mom dumps me at the school for kindergarten and kids are pushing and pulling at me, their thoughts are everywhere and I was all alone.

"All the kids knew I was Crazy Sookie that their parents whispered about and they … made things hard for me. I met Tara there and she was the only one that would be my friend. I got sent home early nearly every day because I'd break down from the touching and thoughts. My mom despised me those times. She'd have to come up to the building, her breath stinking of mouth wash to hide the booze, and she'd have to walk in there and have everyone looking at her; knowing she was my mother. She found it embarrassing and degrading. When she'd get me home … she tried not to hurt me. She knew it wasn't my fault but she'd be drunk, angry, and humiliated … she never hit my face though. But it wasn't her fault. She was in a bad situation and didn't know how to deal."

That was it. Eric was out from under Sookie and standing a ways away from her with his fists clenched. He faced the cemetery as his beast rose up in him demanding justice. He fought for control as he ground out between clenched teeth, "She beat you?"

Sitting up to stare at his back Sookie whispered, "It was never bad … she … she never broke anything or took it to far … she just … she'd just be so mad at everything … she was always sorry afterwards. She'd sit in my room with me, keeping her distance because she knew it hurt to touch me, and she'd cry and tell me how sorry she was. She'd tell me she loved me and didn't mean it. She'd promise me she wouldn't drink anymore."

Wiping the tears from her eyes Sookie watched Eric turn to face her as she continued, "I knew it was a lie though. I knew the next morning as soon as Dad had left for work, and Jason and I were gone she'd be in the bottle again. I didn't blame her. She needed an escape. She hated how her life turned out … I was just glad she and my Father hadn't sent me away."

Fists still clenched as he looked down on her Eric asked, "And your Father? He never wondered about your bruises?"

Dropping her gaze to her lap Sookie replied, "He never saw them. Like I said she never hit my face. My clothes hid most of them, and he kept his distance from me as well. Other than my fishing trips with him and Jason on Sundays I only saw him a few times a week. He did work a lot to support us. Mom couldn't work because she had to take care of me so much so he worked himself to the bone to keep us afloat."

"Why do you defend them! They abused you Sookie! Your mother beat you and your father abandoned you to a drunk! Why do you go around letting people think your parents were good, decent people when all they did was fail you?"

Flinching from his words Sookie wrapped her arms around herself and whispered, "It was my fault Eric. I drove my mother to drink and forced my father to work … it was my fault our family fell apart the way it did. I wasn't right and everyone else paid for it. The least I could do was keep their secrets."

He was before her in the blink of an eye. Kneeling in front of her to pull her against his chest by her arms Eric hissed, "Do. Not. Say. That. Again." Shaking her gently he pressed, "Would you do these things to a child? Did your grandmother? No. Your parents were in the wrong. Not you!"

Shaking her head as tears continued to spill down her cheeks Sookie cried, "It was my fault! You say I'm gifted but that's only because I've learned to use my curse. Back then I was nothing more than a burden. I hurt everyone I came in contact with. Everyone had to sacrifice to keep me around and all I did was destroy their lives!"

"Sookie that is ridiculous! Your parents suffered because they treated your gift as a shameful thing! They didn't try to help you learn to control it. They left you alone. They locked you in a room and expected you to learn to survive on your own! They failed you! Not the other way around! If their misery was all your fault why is it that your grandmother was able to take you in and help you learn to control your telepathy in only a year? I'll tell you why; it's because she gave a damn! She didn't treat you like a dirty little secret. She didn't shy away from you in fear. She loved you and guided you as a parent should! I swear if your parents were still alive now I'd spend weeks torturing them to death before I rid the world of the stain of their existence!"
Shaking her head Sookie gasped, "Eric! Don't say that! And why are you so angry about this? You told me you were beaten as a child and you act like it's nothing! You told me you weren't close with your father. Why is this so different?"

"Because it's you damn it!" Shaking her again Eric continued, "And it wasn't my birth mother that beat me. It was a filthy whore my father married that wanted nothing but power. My father wasn't close to me because back then there was no option to be. He spent what time with me he could just as I did my children, but most of our time was eaten up by sheer survival. Your parents? Your parents just didn't do their damn jobs! They didn't protect and cherish you because they were spineless cowards that couldn't face the truth their daughter was gifted in unimaginable ways! They were every bit the fools as that idiot Newlin and his wife are! They were sheep like all the other vermin of this town and others littering the world these days. Idiots that didn't deserve you! And you will not defend them anymore!"

"Eric don't talk about my parents that way! You didn't know them! I did! I saw in their heads. They loved me … they … they were just afraid of me more … they did what they could."

Seeing in her eyes and feeling through the bond that she wasn't going to see reason Eric stood with her in his arms and carried her towards the house as Thor followed with his tail tucked between his legs. He'd woken when they began shouting at each other and had laid low as the dangerous energy swirling around Eric tinged his senses. "Your love for these people blinds you to the truth. I will not argue with you over what cannot be changed. Know only that I am right and your parents are damn lucky they're already dead or I would visit the worst possible tortures upon them before snatching the life right out of them."

Deciding that arguing with him anymore would only anger him further Sookie laid her head against his shoulder and asked, "What about my telescope?"

"I'll collect it later tonight after you go to bed." He also had plans for the pictures of the images they'd captured tonight along with the one they'd saved of Sookie's star the first night he gave her the telescope. When they were inside Eric set Sookie on her feet and said, "Get your movie ready and I'll get you some ice cream."

Eyes widening Sookie asked, "Ice cream? Why?"

Making his way into the kitchen Eric called over his shoulder, "Ice cream makes you feel better and keeps you from crying. This cold food makes you feel better for some reason. You are crying now and I'm going to end it."

Smiling at his misconstrued notions on how to make females feel better Sookie headed into the living room to get the movie. Lafayette had bought her the deluxe DVD edition of Gone with the Wind to replace her VCR tape soon after their little shopping trip as a thank you for all she'd done for him. Unwrapping the plastic wrapping and tossing it into the small trash can in the living room she moved to her new theater system she had yet to use that her brother had set up for her and put the DVD in. She sat down on the couch just as Eric returned with a massive bowl of Rocky Road ice cream. She couldn't help but laugh.

"Eric … I can't eat that much ice cream!"

Eric shrugged as he replied, "We'll see. You can throw away whatever you don't eat. I checked the freezer and there are 15 more cartons so I doubt you will be running out any time soon. When you do begin to run low alert Bobby and he'll fill it back up."

Accepting the bowl Sookie laughed and took her first bite as Eric turned off all the lights so the room was lit only by the glow of the 60 inch flat screen. Eric kicked his feet up beside her as he took the remote and began navigating the menu of the DVD and asked, "What kind of movie is this?"

"It's a tragic love story set in the Civil War. I love this movie. I've watched it so many times I pretty much know every line. Scarlett is my favorite character."

Looking at her in the darkness Eric scoffed, "A love story? You are going to make me watch a love story?"

"It's either this or the Princess Bride, and that is definitely worse."
Selecting play on the menu Eric said, "I can tell from the title, next time I'll pick the movie."

Swallowing the bite of ice cream she'd eaten as the beginning credits rolled Sookie asked, "Oh really? And what would you pick?"

"Bad Boys 2. One of the best movies ever made."

Sookie couldn't help but laugh at that. "Bad Boys 2? Really?"

"Epic movie."

Shaking her head at that Sookie replied, "The movie is starting. Just so you know this is three plus hours, but we're watching the whole thing."

"But of course, my pet."

After that the movie started. Sookie ate half of her ice cream before setting the bowl on the coffee table. After she did Eric took her in his arms and held her against him so she was lying across his chest. He stroked her arms and hair through the movie and they watched it together in silence.

When it was over and Sookie stood to take her ice cream bowl into the kitchen he followed her. Leaning against the doorway he asked, "You enjoy this movie?"

Washing out her bowl out Sookie answered, "Very much."
"It does not have a happy ending."
"Not all stories do. Doesn't make them any less great."
As Sookie began to dry her bowl Eric remarked, "You are strong like Scarlett but nowhere near as devious. I would not liken her to you."
Facing him as she dried the bowl with a dish towel Sookie replied, "I know."
"Then why do you like her?"
"I just do. She's different. She stands up for herself. I don't like her tactics and think she's childish sometimes, but I still like her. And she does fight for what she wants."
"She loses everything in the end."
Finished with the bowl and putting it up Sookie added, "She does, but she learns a lesson."
"And what lesson is that?"
"Learn to appreciate what you have before you go looking for more—so did you like it?"
Thinking for a moment Eric replied, "I liked Rhett."
Laughing Sookie replied, "I knew you would, but what about the rest of the movie?"
"It was tolerable. I will watch it with you as many times as you'd like but I prefer more action in my cinema."
Smiling at that Sookie offered, "How about we switch off. I'll pick then you. So next time is your turn."
It was only a little after midnight now and they still had plenty of time to spend together. Sookie had a few other ideas for how to spend the night. However in keeping with their deal she stepped forward and swept her hair off her neck as she asked, "Do you want to feed now?"
Heat and satisfaction rushing through him as his fangs popped out Eric purred, "Oh this was definitely the way to go. You offering yourself to me is much better." Wrapping an arm around her waist he pulled her against him as he lowered his mouth to her neck. He grazed his fangs along her pulse as a steady growl built in his chest, "Ask me to bite you."
Her body shuddering at the dark desire in his voice Sookie tilted her head further and whispered, "Bite me Eric." He sank his fangs into her. "Eric," she moaned as her eyes fluttered closed and she fell against him. She could feel her stomach flutter and her heart race as his mouth moved against her neck drawing her blood.
Eric wrapped his other arm around Sookie to pull her tightly against his chest as he drank deeply. The sweet taste of her flooded his mouth and he groaned against her while he fed. He could feel his cock harden as his beast purred in satisfaction. The feel of her against him, the pleasure he could sense in her through the bond, all of it drove him wild. He took as much as he dared before forcing himself to pull back and lick her wounds closed. Nuzzling her neck he said, "You taste so fucking good Sookie…I've never tasted anything like you."
Completely boneless in his hold as she tried to regain her senses Sookie asked, "W—why is it like this? It wasn't like this with …"
"Don't say his name," Eric growled. Nipping at her ear he continued, "Never speak another's name when we are like this … and it is different because we are destiny. What is between us is more significant than anything you had with that fool or with anyone else."
Feeling strength slowly return to her body Sookie took a deep breath and pressed against him so he would know she wanted him to release her. He kissed her neck one last time before letting her go. She stepped back and blushed as he smirked darkly at her and stuttered, "Uh … so … do you want to play a game?"
"What do you want to play?"
"How about Battle of the Sexes?"
Arching a brow as his smirk grew Eric asked, "Battle of the Sexes? And how would we play this game?"
Shaking her head at his suggestive smile Sookie laughed, "Not in any way you're imagining. It's a card game. There are a little over a 100 cards. They're divided into blue cards and pink cards. The blue cards are guy questions and the pink are girl questions. I ask you the girl questions and you ask me the guy questions. Whichever one of us is able to answer the most wins. It's supposed to show who knows who better."
"What do I get when I win?"
"What makes you think you'll win?"
Shrugging Eric answered, "I've studied you extensively from the moment I met you. You cannot say the same. It goes to reason that I will know more about you than you will know about me."
Smirking Sookie replied, "It's not like that. They're broad general questions about our genders. Literally guy and girl questions. Like one of the guy questions you might ask me would be what's a socket wrench? I know that by the way. And a girl question I might ask you is how to double stitch in sewing."
Scowling Eric remarked, "This game seems like it deals with human things. You have an unfair advantage."
"Welcome to my world Eric," Sookie laughed. Taking his hand she pulled him towards the living room and continued, "So about what the winner gets … I say if I win you have to let me have my chair back at Fangtasia."
Watching Sookie pull the cards from the desk drawer and return to his side as she directed both of them to sit on either side of the coffee table Eric argued, "You agreed to be more open and close with me. That goes against that agreement."
Opening the box to sort the cards Sookie replied, "Me wanting my chair back isn't about me not getting close to you Eric. It's about me being comfortable. I feel really uncomfortable being like that in public. Not to mention the death glares your fan club sends me. I'll sit closer to you than I did before, but I want my own chair back. Besides we're living together now. You just moved all your stuff into my room and bathroom. We're fixing to go to New York together and after that on vacation for two weeks. How much closer can we get?"
Thinking it over for a moment Eric agreed, "Fine. If you win, you can have your own chair. If I win I want you to pose for a professional photo for me. That way I can keep a copy in my wallet and one on my desk."
"Ok. I can do that."
Eric smirked at her easy agreement. He knew she had no idea just what kind of photo he'd want from her. He decided he was going to have do his damndest to win. He wanted that photo. "Let's begin."
Smiling Sookie handed Eric the blue cards and said, "You read me the guy cards and I'll read you the girl ones. If I get it right you give me the card and vice versa. If I get it wrong set the card off to the side and I'll do the same. Whoever has the most of the other's cards when we're done wins. Ok?"
"I understand. You go first."
Drawing her first pink card Sookie read, "How many pairs of panty hose comes in a standard pack?"
Scowling Eric growled, "That's not fair. How would I be expected to know something like that?"
Giggling, Sookie teased, "As you so bluntly pointed out Viking, nothing is fair between us. Ain't it a bitch? Your answer please?"
Annoyed at her smug expression Eric replied, "I don't know. Four?"
"Nope. Two! Your turn."
Drawing his first card Eric read, "How often to you change the oil in a standard American car?"
"Every 3,000 miles!"
"Everyone knows that. I demand this question be voided."
"Oh quit being a sore loser! Hand me my card, you big baby!"
Sliding the card over to her Eric complained, "This is cheating. I am not human."
Shrugging Sookie replied, "You were, and you've been around us for over a 1,000 years. Not my fault you never paid attention. Now for your next question." Drawing another card she read, "How often does a woman's normal cycle occur?"
Smirking Eric answered, "Every 28 days."
"You would know that one wouldn't you?"
"But of course. I've been keeping close track of yours. You should start your next bleeding in four or five days. I am more than eager."
"What? You know I love your blond, and I crave your body. The mere notion of your blood between your thighs makes me hard. One day you will let me drink my meals from your..."
"Fine … prude." Drawing another card he read, "What is the core of an engine?"
Sookie thought for a moment before shrugging as she replied, "I don't know."
"The cylinder … my turn."
Picking a pink card to read to him Sookie asked, "What kind of nut is used to make marzipan?"
Clearly shocked, Sookie pressed, "How did you know that?"
"I had a human woman in the 50's that ran a bakery. I kept her for a few weeks before I got tired of her. She was always droning on and on about that useless information. I would have gotten rid of her sooner but back then we had to be more discreet with our feeding habits since Pam and I had settled down in this area for good and couldn't draw too much attention to ourselves."
Glaring at him Sookie asked, "I thought you said you never dated before me?"
"I didn't. I kept her. I picked her up when I wanted blood and entertainment and dumped her when she bored me…which was often. It was not a relationship in my mind. It was a convenience."
"What was her name?"
"I don't remember."
"You don't remember? You remember that almonds are used to make marzipan but you don't remember her name?"
Chuckling Eric replied, "The woman was forgettable. The way I dismissed her was not and caused me to remember the almonds."
"How did you dismiss her?"
"I had just picked her up from her home so I could take her to a party the local vamps were holding. Back then donors were not as plentiful and if you wanted to be assured a meal you needed to bring your own. So I was bringing her. I'd already decided it would be my last night with her due to how thoroughly she was boring me, and was trying not to be too aggravated at her annoying voice. We were driving down the road and she was going on and on about the shipment of almonds she'd gotten being bad and she wouldn't be able to make a marzipan layer for some wedding cake she was making. She wouldn't shut up about her ridiculous human food. I just snapped and threw her from the car and went to the party alone. Luckily Pam had secured two companions for the night and shared with me at the party. I never saw the woman again … though Pam did have to do some glamouring to get the woman to leave me alone and rid us of the police when they came to investigate why I threw her from the car. She just had to file a police report … troublesome humans."

"Eric! You threw her from the car?"
Seeing her outrage Eric shrugged and replied, "What? I slowed down a bit first. She didn't die."
"Eric you shouldn't treat women like that! She was a person and had feelings!"
"I've had thousands of women. Tens of thousands possibly. There's simply no way to keep track at this point. She was of no importance to me." He felt the sharp burst of envy, possession, and jealousy shoot through Sookie and teased, "Jealous?"
Glaring at him harder Sookie denied, "No … just curious."
"Your emotions say otherwise." Leaning over the table he purred, "You're jealous. You don't want me with other women … admit it."
Refusing to answer that Sookie replied, "You're the one that gets jealous. You won't even let me talk to other men."

"You belong to me. Not the other way around. Now back to your jealousy over me: why can't you just admit you want me and don't want me with other women?"
"Why do you care? You'll manwhore around town regardless."
"Manwhore? Taking comfort where I can when you so coldly turn me away is not quite manwhoring in my book."
Shrugging Sookie replied, "You call it what you want and I'll call it what I want. The point is you're loose."
Throwing his head back and roaring with laughter Eric scoffed, "Loose? You call me loose? Women are loose Sookie. Men are just that damn good."
"I hate that double standard crap!"
"Take it up with your fellow humans. Vampires do not share the same views on sexuality. It is not a shameful thing as humans see it. We take pleasures as they come and enjoy ourselves."
Biting her lip Sookie asked, "I'm not saying I'm going to, but if I did get with you how would our relationship be? You've told me I can't be with anyone else, but what about …"
"You can have women. You can have as many women pets as you'd like. I'll get you some now if you'd like. Just point out the ones you want and I'll give them to you."
"Eric! I don't want women!"
"Come now Sookie, have you even tried? Don't knock it till you try it. I thoroughly enjoy women and I'm sure you would to. I would love to see you lying naked on a bed with a girl between your…"
Chuckling Eric waved his hand dismissively as he said, "Fine. No women … for now. You were saying?"
Scowling at him Sookie continued, "If we did get together what would it be like? You said there will be no one else for me but you. Can I expect the same?"
Shrugging Eric replied, "I doubt it. I have never been one for monogamy. You will always be satisfied I assure you, but I will enjoy as many women as I please."
"What! That's not fair! And it's not right! If we get together I'd expect you to be faithful to me!"
"I will be faithful to you. You will be the only woman I have a relationship with. Sex is not a relationship. It's simply something that I do and enjoy."
Crossing her arms over her chest Sookie hissed, "So what? I'm supposed to sit at home and wait for you like the dutiful little woman while you're out there screwing anything in a skirt?"
Sending soft waves of calm through the bond Eric soothed, "Sookie you will never doubt my affection or regard for you. Other women are nothing but bloodbags to me; useless sacks of flesh for me to vent my lust upon. You are so much more. When I take another woman, I am taking them to satisfy my own lust. Their pleasure means nothing to me. They simply achieve it in the process of me taking mine. You, however, I will give the upmost care and attention to. I will never allow myself release until you are thoroughly satisfied. I will make love to you, as you call it. I fuck other women. Though I intend to fuck you quite often as well, you will have your gentle love making as often as you want it. In the bedroom you will be able to make demands of me. No one has ever had such liberties with me. None of those vermin have ever or will ever be given such attention from me. It is only for you."
"Eric that doesn't make me feel any better. I can't be with a man that doesn't respect me."
"I've already told you I respect you."
"Eric you don't respect me if you're going around sleeping with other women. That would shame me."
Shaking his head Eric argued, "That is because you are stuck on the human belief that sex is tied to emotions. That is not the case. My care and protection of you is proof of my emotions. You've seen how little regard I hold for those women I use. You need to shed these ideas about monogamy. They are foolish."
Crossing her arms under her chest Sookie asked, "Well if that's the case why can't I have other men?"
"Because the thought of another man touching you makes me want to kill things. I will allow you your own female companions but there will be no man for you but me."
"How is that fair?"
"It's not, but that's just the way it is. Besides would you even want multiple lovers?"
"Of course not! I'm not that kind of girl! It's the principal of the thing! If I'm yours you should damn well better be mine too!"
"So you want me to be yours alone?"
Smirking Eric purred, "How very delightful. I am yours for the taking Sookie."
Realizing she'd walked right into a trap Sookie hissed, "You did that on purpose!"
"Perhaps … but I felt you through the bond. You meant your words. You want me to be yours."
"Not if you're going to be getting up from our bed to go to some other woman's!"
Eric regarded her for a moment before he asked, "You would really spurn me due to my taking of other women? You would deny yourself something you want so much, and I know you desire me greatly, because of this?"
"Damn straight."
He thought it over. He did not think he would be capable of monogamy. He truly didn't. He could not remember a time when he did not have multiple lovers. Even as a human he'd known many women. However there was no arguing that lately Sookie was the only woman he thought about or seemed to be attracted to. He'd never been that way. He'd never been so focused on one woman so much that he couldn't truly enjoy others. Even now it had been three days since he'd fucked another woman due to his staying at Sookie's. He was spending all of his time with her. That, in itsel,f left him no chance to take pleasure in an available bloodbag as he would not fuck a woman at Fangtasia while in Sookie's company. Yet despite this lack of physical satisfaction, he was not rushing out to find a woman at the first opportunity. Sookie was still the only one in his thoughts. She was the only one he seemed to be able to think about.
'It's gotten to the point that I get a quick hard fuck off some bloodbag and am done with her in minutes. I even have to close my eyes and pretend it is Sookie I'm fucking in order to get off. Not to mention Sookie's scent has spoiled me and the stench from those human whores is practically intolerable. I doubt I will be satisfied with just her as my own sexual partner for long, but I could maintain monogamy long enough to get her used to being in my bed; long enough to reshape her views on sex. I can sate myself with her body so that she is not the only woman I can focus on, so that I am not so obsessed with her, and then return to my normal sexual patterns. Yes. That will work.'
Deciding to mislead her he offered, "So if I give up other women you will come to me?"
"I can't promise that. I can promise I won't come to you as long as you're sleeping with other women."
Shaking his head Eric replied, "I will not commit to celibacy, Sookie. I will not sit around and wait for you to decide to be with me. However, I will stop fucking other women when you come to me if that is one of your conditions to being mine willingly."

He just didn't mention that would only be a temporary change in behavior. He would keep her as his only lover for as long as it took to rid himself of his total obsession of her and her alone. As soon as he was able to actually enjoy being with other women he would return to doing so. If she had a problem with it that was fine. She could be upset but once he had her in his bed, once she willingly surrendered herself to him, he would have no problem bombarding her with lust to keep her there with her legs spread for him. She just didn't need to know that yet.

For her part Sookie considered his words. 'I guess he has a point. I can't really demand he be faithful to me if we're not technically together. I guess it's enough that he's willing to be faithful when we do get together … IF … if we do get together. Damn! I can't believe I'm actually considering this.' Nodding her head Sookie replied, "I guess that's good enough."
"So do we go upstairs? Plenty of night left for me to satisfy you."
Arching a brow Sookie asked, "Did you really think that would work?"
"It was worth a shot."
"Long shot, and you missed." Indicating his cards she said, "It's your turn to read me a card."
"Very well," Eric answered as he picked up his next card. "What are the dimensions for a basketball court?"
Releasing a sigh Sookie replied, "I don't know."
"94 feet by 50 feet."
Picking up one of her cards, Sookie read, "How many …."
The game continued for another two hours. The game stretched out as long as it did because Eric kept arguing over the fairness of the game, Sookie kept teasing him about being a baby, and throughout it all they spoke of different matters or told each other stories. All in all they both enjoyed the game. Most of the questions were absurd, but they each seemed to hold their own. Finally it was down to the last question that Sookie had for Eric. If he got it right he would win the game. Holding the card in her hands Sookie asked, "What does sending a single red rose mean?"
Laughing in triumph, Eric replied, "It means I love you."
"How did you know that?"
"The sending of flowers as messages is an old tradition. I am a very old vampire. Of course I would know that…and I believe that means I won the game. You owe me a picture."
Gathering up the cards Sookie replied, "Yeah, yeah. I'll give you your picture."
Standing to let Thor out while Sookie finished gathering up the cards Eric said, "I'll have Bobby set up your appointment for when we get back from New York." After letting the dog out and coming back inside he saw that it was half past 3 and decided it was time to give Sookie his blood and then get her to bed. When she was asleep he'd collect her telescope and retrieve the saved images so he could send them to Bobby, and after that he'd use her small dojo for his daily training. When he was done with that he'd retreat to the panic room to get more work done on the computer.
Moving to take Sookie's hand he ordered, "It is time for you to take my blood and then you need to go to bed."
She let him lead her upstairs and when they were in the bedroom and he sat down on the bed to remove his boots and clothes so he could lay with her Sookie said, "I'm going to change into my pajamas and brush my teeth. You stay in here."
"But of course."
Sookie grabbed her overgrown Cowboys football jersey nightshirt before heading into the bathroom to change and brush her teeth. She emerged few minutes later to find Eric sitting on the bed in a pair of boxers with his back against her headboard as he waited for her. She crawled onto the bed and asked, "You're not going to punish Bill for contacting me are you?"
Disgruntled that she had brought that fool up while they were together in her bed Eric growled, "I doubt I'll need to. I'm sure the queen will punish him enough for his failure to secure you for her as he was ordered to." He saw Sookie flinch at that. He'd purposefully pointed out Bill's true purposes for getting with Sookie in the first place. "I don't want to talk about him though."
Sookie didn't object as Eric moved to situate her on his lap sideways. She watched as he bit his wrist and offered it to her. She leaned forward and latched her mouth over the wound and began to drink. Just as always she could taste the power in Eric's blood. She could taste the raw animal wildness that was Eric. Her hand wrapped around his arm and her eyes closed as her body began to hum and come alive at the taste of him.

'Why does he always taste so damn good!'

Eric could feel Sookie's emotions through the bond. He knew she was becoming addicted to the taste of him just as he was her. While he continued to take other women to fulfill his lust he had not fed on anyone but Sookie since they'd made their arrangement and he doubted he would. Even when he had only been feeding from her a few times a week he didn't drink from anyone else. He would simply wait until he saw her again. At 1,000 he only needed to have blood once or twice a week to survive, but he enjoyed drinking from Sookie nightly.

Nuzzling his face into her hair he thought, 'Our bond grows with each passing night. She has asked for time and space but I doubt it will take much longer for her to succumb to both of our desires.' When Sookie whimpered and tried to hold onto his wrist as he drew it away from her after she'd had enough he mused, 'I give her another week. Two at the most. Then she'll be mine for good; in every way.'

Sookie felt Eric licking the few drops of blood from her lips before he moved them to lie on their sides under the covers. She sighed in contentment as he pulled her back against his chest so her body fit into the curve of his. Feeling him bombard her with soothing waves of calm and comfort through the bond to cool her body from the heat his blood caused she whispered, "Thank you."
Nuzzling her hair Eric replied, "You're welcome. Sleep little one. You've had a long day."
"Good night Eric."
And so it was.


  1. Wonder if she'll tell E about the letter from scumbill? Too bad her being tricked and lied to by everyone isnt mortal enough danger as her life is in the balance......sigh. Great chapter. Doubt Eric will fess up about the bond....but i could be wrong. WOW That was a superb speech by Sookie. Hee Hee for making him really think a bit. Oh wow He just admited he feed/fuck every night? Glad they could acutally have a reasoned talk without threats or punishments. he actually listened and didn't dismiss her outright. Wow way to scare her more about turning. ROFL for not being able to control her through the bond. Well at least she got part of a nice conversation. Still think her gramps is a pussy for making her go through this alone. Even with tara and all, she is alone....everyone else seems to be on Eric's side. No killing hadley....a couple of real good right hooks though she deserves. The astronomy lesson was sweet and cool. Wow her mom was a piece of work. He just had to slip in the pet comment huh? One step forward, two steps back. Does E know about Uncle Bartlett? When will she learn to think about the scummy deals he wants before agreeing to them. Kinda knew what he would say about are so predictable. What's good for the goose is never good enough for the gander.

  2. i loved this chapter he actually spoke to her as a human being most of the time..... granted he still schemed but he was actually behaving .... Kristie

    1-"I'll have t hide everything I am and live the rest of my looking over my shoulder.'" missing the O in to, "have to hide"
    "Now that part of me cares only about having you. It has been beating at me from the night I might you" not might "met you"
    3- "If you run I will humiliate and demean in front of many and I will spank you with a paddle before all the vermin at Fangtasia." "demean you in front" missing the YOU
    4-"For now. One day you'll forward to sharing your bath with me. You'll love all the delicious things I can do to you there." missing LOOK "you'll look forward"