For the most part, Eric enjoyed seeing King Felipe whenever he came to visit Shreveport for meetings and other related issues that had to do with his Area of Louisiana. They had managed to keep a respectful partnership, and neither one dared to mention the V-word, meaning…Victor. That was the past and both men refused to dwell in the past. That was how they had both managed to survive for so many centuries. In the vampire world, their relationship was the closet thing to being what humans called, being friends. It was very weird because it rarely happened in the vampire world, especially since Eric owed Felipe fealty. The two of them had a lot in common and both knew how to make money. It was a very profitable relationship.
This was one night when Eric wished that he didn’t have a meeting. All during the meeting, he was tense with worry about Sookie. When she had called him, wanting help, he ached to go to her. He knew that he could trust Pam to look out for her, but he was still full of worry. He could feel Sookie’s emotions telling him that she was afraid for her life. He kept glancing over at the phone, to see if it would ring. He expected Pam and/or Sookie to call him, to let him know that everything was alright and that Sookie was now home, safe and sound. Unfortunately, his mind-reading abilities that he shared with Sookie didn’t reach this far of a distance. He kept glancing at his cell phone that he had in his pocket, drawing it out again and again to take a look at the call display. Had it stopped working? He kept shaking it to make sure that it did. He wasn’t going to relax until he heard from either one of them. Once he heard her voice, he would know for sure whether or not Sookie was alright. God help the person or persons, if she wasn’t.
He was distracted. He couldn’t keep his mind on the topics at hand. They were very important topics too. Ever since he had met Sookie, his mind had been distracted like this, but tonight it was completely different. He was paralyzed in fear. He wasn’t sure if it was his own, of if it were Sookie’s that he was feeling.
There was something eating away at him in the back of his mind that wouldn’t shake loose. He could tell that Sookie was keeping something from him. He could feel her close her mind off from him and it puzzled him. What was she hiding from him? The Sookie he knew, was open and brutally honest at times. It didn’t have anything to do with Hunter, he was certain. He knew that she wouldn’t have any problems telling him anything if it had something to do with the boy.
No, this was something that he could sense that was scaring Sookie to the bone. She was very fearful. He could feel through their bond that whatever it was, it was beginning to get to her. He never tried to get it out of her because he respected her as a woman and thought that she did deserve to have a few private thoughts that she kept to herself, but the fact remained…she was scared shitless about something and she had been for awhile.
Eric had his own opinions as to the reasons why, but he kept them locked up. He didn’t want to scare her further. He wanted her to trust him. He wanted her to feel like she could come to him about anything. If she came to him for help, it would mean that she trusted him above anything. He wanted and ached for that to happen, but he knew that she was a very stubborn woman. He would have to bide his time, which was fine with him because he was a patient man. He had waited this long for her to come to realize that she was his-he could do this too. She would come to him soon enough, he was sure of it. He only hoped that it wouldn’t be too late.
He thought about what he guessed might be happening with Sookie. It seemed like there was an increasing amount of suspicious activity lately. There was the vampire who had lurked outside of her bedroom window. Someone had sent her flowers. It all led to one conclusion. Was she being stalked? Who would be stupid enough to stalk his woman? Were they looking for a death wish?
“…is that not right, Eric?” Felipe spoke from his chair behind the desk, jarring Eric back to reality. Felipe was the only vampire that he allowed to sit in his chair. He was his king after all. Felipe appreciated the respect that it showed him.
Eric glanced up, thoroughly confused. He looked at Felipe and the other Sheriffs in his office, who were all staring back at him, curiously. It was unusual for him to behave this way.
“Um…yes, it sounds like a good plan,” he replied, although he hadn’t a clue as to what he was agreeing to. His mind wasn’t on it. His mind was consumed with Sookie and whatever it was that she was going through.
Felipe called the meeting to an end. The other Sheriffs left the room, leaving Eric alone in his office with Felipe. Felipe continued to sit behind the desk, staring at him, curiously.
“We are alone,” Felipe spoke up, breaking the silence that now permeated Eric’s office. “Speak.”
Eric knew that Felipe was concerned, not only because he was one of Felipe’s Sheriffs, but because they were friends. Eric glanced at him, apologetically. “I am sorry. My mind was not on the meeting,” he explained.
Felipe stood up and walked around the desk, then leaned back against his desk. If it had been any other vamp, Eric would’ve told him where he could lean. It would have been on something sharp and made of wood. But since it was Felipe, he ignored the spurt of anger that suddenly arose.
“What is on your mind?” Felipe asked, curiously. He stared at Eric, levelly, expecting to hear the truth. “You are not acting like your usual self. Would you like me to guess? I think I know. Does it have anything to do with your bonded?” He grinned at him, knowingly. Felipe had lived a long life too. He too had feelings for a woman who gave him a lot of trouble. Eric had met her briefly when they had been in Vegas, but Sookie had not.
“Sookie?” Eric shrugged. “You could say that.” He knew that Felipe would eventually get it out of him. Maybe that was just what he needed? Another male to bounce his suspicions off of.
“And how is your bonded?” Felipe grinned, charmingly. “I hope that she has not had any more troubles lately.”
“She is…good,” Eric hesitated. Maybe Felipe would like to hear about the whole thing. “She and I are planning on adopting. A little boy.”
Felipe blinked at him, startled and surprised. “You are?” He asked. “How did all of this come about? You never mentioned anything about this to me before.” He frowned, as if he was trying to remember a previous conversation where he and Eric had talked about it, but he couldn’t remember.
Eric knew that he wouldn’t remember anything because it hadn’t happened…yet. This was the first time that he had bothered mentioning it to anyone who didn’t owe him fealty. Eric decided to tell all. Felipe listened while Eric explained everything. Eric even told him about his suspicions that Sookie was keeping something from him and his suspicions that she was being stalked.
“Do you know who it might be?” Felipe asked. He had moved from leaning against the desk and now sat in a chair next to Eric.
“I know that she knows that it was a vampire,” he replied, shrugging his shoulders. “But I know there is something else. I can feel her fear and that scares me. I want to protect her, but how am I supposed to do that if she does not tell me what or who she is afraid of?” Eric asked.
Technically, Eric was older in age, but Felipe had a lot more experience when it came to members of the opposite sex.
“Women,” Felipe complained, shaking his head. “No matter how much time has past, they are still the same strange creatures.”
“What am I supposed to do?” Eric asked. “I suggested that she should move in with me, but she uses the excuse that she needs to work to earn money for Hunter. I told her that I would provide her with whatever she needs, but she still refuses. What am I doing wrong? I know she is stubborn, that is why I hired her a lawyer behind her back. What should I do?” Eric was at a loss.
“It would help greatly if you found out who might be stalking her. And you do not have to convince me, I know that your bonded is being stalked. The signs are all there,” Felipe offered.
“True,” Eric agreed, nodding his head. “But knowing Sookie as I do, she will not tell me about it, unless she absolutely has to. I can only hope and pray that it will not be too late.”
“Would you like some friendly advice?” Felipe suggested.
“Anything,” Eric replied, relieved. That was why he was telling Felipe about any of this. Usually, he was smart enough to figure it out in his own way, but he was at a loss as to how to deal with this.
“First of all, I can not afford to have you distracted like this. You either have to sever your bond or you would have to resign from your position as Sheriff. I know that is the last thing that you would like to hear, but those are your options.”
Eric really didn’t like those options. “Is there not another way?” He asked, hopefully. “How about if I talk to her and make her see? She will not be able to adopt the boy without my help and finances. I can not leave my position as Sheriff because that would mean that I would be as good as dead. I can not protect her if I am dead. You know that as well as I do. Do you not have any other kind of advice-some that I can actually use?”
Felipe chuckled. “You must love your bonded very much,” he replied. “You are not willing to give up either one.”
“That’s right,” Eric replied back, stubbornly. He refused to think of giving up anything that he had fought so hard for and won.
“Okay…let’s see…” Felipe mulled over it in his mind. “I suggest that you use any means necessary to ensure that she obeys and that you do not take no for an answer. I am sure that you are up to the task, you have never struck me as the type to sit back and let things happen.” He paused once more. “I think I have a perfect solution!” He exclaimed, after a couple of moments of deep thought.
“Why not get married?” Felipe suggested. “You love her. She loves you. If her stalker is a vampire, he would be forced to give up because the marriage would be binding. It gives you legal rights.”
Eric laughed at this suggestion. “You are suggesting that I…a man who has vowed to remain a bachelor…get married?” He thought it was absurd. He couldn’t stop laughing.
“Why not?” Felipe asked. “My kingdom would look kindly towards the match, especially considering how she saved my life. We would leave you alone. You can stay on as Sheriff. You would have your bonded. The stalker will leave you alone. Besides, if you are planning on adopting a child, the human courts would look more kindly towards you. What is wrong with that?”
Eric shook his head. Felipe just didn’t understand. “You have met Sookie. Do you think that I might be able to convince her that marriage is the only answer?” He laughed, shaking his head. “We had a hard enough time getting to the point where we are today. I know that she will only fight me on the matter.”
“I thought that you were a man of war?” Felipe pointed out. “You grew up in an age where wars were most common. This war is no different, except it would be for matters of the heart. Those are the best wars, in my opinion.” He grinned at Eric.
Eric thought about what Felipe had suggested. Would Sookie go for that idea? He really had no idea.
“Trust me, I would not be surprised if she was keeping things from you, only as a means of protecting you. Cheer up, I am sure that you will figure it all out.” Felipe looked at his watch on his wrist. “I am sorry. I am afraid that I have to return to Vegas. We have some pressing issues that I have to deal with there.”
“As you wish,” Eric bowed his head. “Thank you.”
“No…what is the human phrase…?” Felipe tried to remember. “…problem?”
Eric laughed. “Yes, I believe that it is what they say,” he agreed. He walked Felipe out of his office and saw him out to his waiting limousine. Eric walked back into his office and tried calling Sookie’s number. After a few rings, her voicemail picked up. Eric was scared. What if Pam didn’t do as he had asked? He tried calling Pam’s number too. There was no answer. He left messages at both numbers, and hoped that one or the other would get back to him soon.
He thought about what Felipe had suggested. He wondered if maybe Felipe was right. Eric could see his life with Sookie by his side.
Clancy knocked on his door, interrupting his thoughts. “The fangbangers are here,” he informed him. “Would you like me to show them in?”
“Yes,” Eric motioned for Clancy to bring them in.
The pair walked into his office, wearing skimpy clothing. They looked like they had bite marks on their necks, testament that there were vampires who used them often. He could tell that they enjoyed being shown into his office. He had seen them in Fangtasia before. He had always avoided them, since he knew what they were ultimately after. He detested fangbangers almost as much as he detested the Weres. They were obnoxious and had no class. They were beneath him.
“Sit,” he motioned for the two of them to take a seat in each of the chairs in front of him. He stared down at them, and looked into their eyes. “You will tell me the truth…” he began to glamour them. “What do you know about V being sold in Fangtasia?”
As soon as Eric was finished with the fangbangers, he told Clancy that he was leaving. He needed to see Sookie in person. He needed to find out the truth. He left a note for Bobby to run a few errands for him in the morning.
He flew instead of drove because it was a lot faster. He landed at her doorstep, surprised to see his child sitting on the porch swing. Pam had a frown on her face. He knew that she was troubled about something.
“What is wrong, my child?” He asked, as he sat down next to her. He could tell that she was hiding something from him. Why were the two women he was closest to, hiding things from him all of a sudden?
“Nothing,” Pam replied, evasively.
If Pam was anything, it wasn’t evasive. It made him wonder what she was thinking about. As her maker, he could practically read her mind, but she was keeping it closed off from his. He knew all of her feelings, like he knew Sookie’s and he could communicate to her without the need of words. Sookie and he had a bond very similar to that of maker and child, except for the fact that Sookie was still not a vampire, much to his chagrin.
“It’s a nice night outside,” Eric commented in the dark. “I am disappointed. I thought that you would reply back to me. I left you many messages,” he gently scolded her.
“I am sorry, Master,” Pam replied back, lowering her head in shame. “I know that you were worried, but I figured that you would come here regardless.” Pam explained all that had happened earlier in the night with Sookie. “As you can see, I have a lot on my mind.” She finished, after she had told her tale.
Eric had never been the type to force words and explanations out of Pam’s mouth, unless he had lost all patience. He was the maker that every vampire dreamed of having.
“And what troubles you, my child?” Eric asked, curiously.
“A little of this…a little of that.” Pam replied. “You see…I am in a predicament. I know something that you should know about that concerns you, but I can not tell you because I have made a vow.”
Eric just stared at her. “And who have you made this vow to?” He asked, curiously.
For the first time since Eric had arrived, Pam chuckled. “I made this vow to your bonded, of course.” She replied, as if it were a foregone conclusion. “And if you wanted to…force it out of me, you could.” She turned towards him. “But I should warn you that Sookie is the closest thing that I have to being a friend. I am not sure I would like it if I broke this promise to her,” she explained.
Eric could understand. He decided to let the matter slide for the moment, while he picked Pam’s brain as to her thoughts about marriage. “What would you think if someone you knew, who was a confirmed bachelor, decided to suddenly marry?” He asked curiously. “Hypothetically speaking, of course,” he added. He didn’t want Pam to know the details until he had spoken to Sookie herself.
“Oh,” Pam was startled at the sudden change in subject. “Am I close to this person?” She asked.
“Yes, very close. In fact, you are close to both the bride and groom.”
Pam looked at him, suspiciously. “You are not saying that you-”
“I am not saying anything,” Eric interrupted. “I am merely trying to get your opinion, that’s all.”
Pam tried to keep a grin from forming on her face. “Well…it depends. Are the bride and groom in love? Do they have a lot in common?” She asked.
“Yes, I believe they are and they do,” Eric nodded his head in agreement. “But here’s the rub…the marriage is only being done because it would help to alleviate some other problems in their lives. If it were under normal circumstances, I am not sure it would be happening.”
Pam continued to grin. She knew her master well. She could tell that he was trying to get her opinion in his own kind of way, without admitting to anything. It was a good idea. Pam had always liked Sookie. She wondered how Sookie might see it. An even bigger grin appeared on her face now. This would be definitely interesting because Eric had never cared about any other woman long enough to get even half-way serious about that woman. And Sookie was too independent. She may see this as Eric’s way of trying to take over her life. Pam was suddenly gleeful at the thought. At least, things would be entertaining and interesting again. They always had been that way since Sookie had entered Eric’s life. It was definitely something that Pam would enjoy.
“I would have no problems with a marriage if it were to really happen.” She replied, trying to stifle back a laugh. “Tell me, does the bride know about this…indecent proposal yet?” Pam asked, curiously.
“No, she does not.” Eric gave her a stern look. “And no one is allowed to let her know until the time comes. That is why I will not mention any names.”
Pam had to stifle another laugh. As if she didn’t already know who Eric was talking about. She couldn’t wait to share this news with Amelia.
“And another thing…no mentioning this to anyone,” Eric replied, already knowing where Pam’s thoughts had taken her. “The less who know about this, the better off things will be.”
Pam’s grin quickly fled after hearing that. But she didn’t care. Was Eric going to actually take the plunge? He had always ridiculed it in the past. He had always vowed that he would always remain a bachelor.
“Getting back to your dilemma.” He switched the topic back on to her own problem. He was glad that his bonded and his child were so close. “Does this promise have to do with her stalker?” He asked.
Pam stared at him, surprised. “Oh, so you know.” She replied. “She did not tell me that she had told you that she was being stalked.”
“She did not have to tell me. I know what has been happening. I know that she is afraid,” Eric replied. “I just do not know who,” he frowned.
“Sookie thinks she knows,” Pam hinted in the dark. “She may be in danger in a way that would surprise you.”
“She does?” Eric asked, incredulously. “And who, pray tell, is number one on her list?”
Pam shook her head. “Unless you order me too…”
“I would never think of making you break a vow when you have no close friends,” he shook his head. “Do not worry, I will find out who Sookie thinks is stalking her and…make that person pay.” He vowed.
“Even if that person is someone that you know and owes you fealty?” she asked, curiously.
Pam had piqued his curiosity. “Who?” He tried asking, just because he was impatient sometimes. “Again, I know that you promised her. I will not let Sookie know that you broke that promise…if you tell me.”
Pam shifted around in her seat. She stood up and motioned for him to follow her. “I may not be able to tell you…but I can sure as hell show you.” She started to walk off into the woods, towards the cemetery. Pam had found a solution to her dilemma.
Eric reluctantly followed. He knew that Pam was a smart woman and vampire. He had taught her everything that she knows. He wondered where she was leading him.
They crept through the woods, not minding all the insects that swarmed in the darkness. To any humans, they would have gotten eaten alive by mosquitoes and other insects. She led him through the cemetery, through the woods and out on the other side. Eric began to walk slower. No, it couldn’t be, he thought to himself.
Pam stopped just on the edge of the woods that bordered Bill’s property. She raised her arm and pointed at Bill’s house.
“The person who lives there…may be Sookie’s stalker, but you didn’t hear it from me.” She explained. “I did not actually speak his name, so I did not actually tell you this.”
Eric could feel Pam’s guilt already beginning to build at breaking her promise to Sookie. “Thank you, Pam.” He patted her on the back, reassuring her that she had done a good deed. “Return back to Sookie’s house,” he ordered. “I have a few things to say to Bill.”
The look in his eyes would have told Pam that he meant business, even if she weren’t his child. “You are going to confront him right now?” She asked, incredulously. “I will stay with you.” She wanted to see what Bill had to say.
“No,” Eric shook his head. “This is something that only I can do,” he explained. “Besides, I need you to watch over Sookie just in case all of us are wrong.”
Pam reluctantly returned back to Sookie’s house, leaving Eric alone in the woods on the edge of Bill’s property. Eric walked up to Bill’s door and knocked on it out of sheer politeness. Every instinct wanted him to barge in the door with a battering ram (if he had one). He could feel his temper rising and tried to wrestle it back. He wondered if Sookie was right about Bill stalking her. He wouldn’t get his answers unless he talked to Bill personally, he thought.
Why wasn’t Bill opening up the door? Eric growled impatiently. Eric detected a slight movement behind him. He turned towards the sound. Bill stood there, looking rather surprised to see him at his door.
“Good evening, Bill,” he greeted him, cheerfully. “I decided to pay you a visit to find out how your investigation is going.” Eric tried to keep his expression blank, so that he wouldn’t tip Bill off that he was suspicious.