I stood on the front porch of Eric’s house, indecisive. I wanted to get away, but knew that I’d have to go back in, in order to ask Eric to take me back to Fangtasia to get my car. I was scared to face him, after how I’d just run out of his bedroom.
He must hate me, I thought to myself. What kind of woman treats her man that way after he gives her a great gift like that? Was I going crazy?
“No,” I heard Eric say behind me.
I spun around, surprised to see him standing there. I hadn’t heard him because I was too far lost in my own thoughts and feelings to be able to know his. I stared at him, unsure of what to say. I could tell that he was hurt and angry.
“I’m sorry,” I replied, before saying anything else. “I shouldn’t have run out the way that I did,” I explained. “It’s just that…” I tried to choke back the tears that were threatening to fall once again. “You’re too generous. I don’t deserve it,” I shook my head and tried to explain, hoping that he would understand what I was trying to say.
Eric stood there, looking at me levelly. “So, I didn’t make a mistake?” he asked, just as unsure as me. “I thought that you didn’t like it and that’s why you ran out.”
“How could I not like it?” I exclaimed, shocked that he would think that way. “It’s every woman’s dream…to have a closet full of clothes like that.” I paused. “It’s just that it moved me. I didn’t expect it. I had no idea that you would be asking me to move in with you this soon,” I explained, shaking my head.
Eric stood there, taking in what I’d told him. “I see,” he nodded his head, in acknowledgment. “So, you think we’re moving too fast,” he guessed.
“Yeah, I think we are…not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I haven’t had time to think…about anything,” I explained. “This is all too new, too real, too fast.”
“What if I told you that this is the slowest that I’ve ever moved with a woman? No woman has ever put me through what you have. No woman has held my interest either. I was always able to forget about them after a short while. But you’re…different,” he explained, frowning in puzzlement and confusion. “I’ve always been spoiled, I guess. What I wanted…I usually took. I took things for granted. I guess I was jumping the gun a little bit.” Eric sounded sheepish and embarrassed.
He thought about it some more, but I couldn’t read his mind because he was blocking me out. He continued on. “Okay, how about this…” he paused, making sure that I was paying attention. “What if we take it day by day. If you find that you want to move in, which you will eventually…” (trust Eric to be confidant of that fact) “then we can talk about it at that time. Until then, we’ll just play things by ear. I don’t want to force you into anything that you don’t want to do. I want you to be happy. Do you know what I mean?” He asked, hoping that I understood.
I was relieved. I breathed a deep sigh of relief. “Yes, I do and you’re too good to me. I guess that we’re both trying to figure out how to do things,” I offered, acknowledging that we were both partly to blame. “I should’ve explained things to you and better, I guess, and I’m sorry. Forgive me for running out on you?” I asked, hopefully.
Eric smiled and replied, “You bet. Come here,” he opened up his waiting arms and I went willingly into them. We sealed it with a sweet kiss on the lips.
We stood on the porch for awhile. I wasn’t sure how long, but Eric backed away and looked down at me. “Do you still want to go back to Bon Temps?” he wondered.
I shook my head. “No, I don’t have to work and I think that you could use my help with finding out who Victory Holdings is and what it does,” I explained.
“Okay, let’s get to it,” Eric ushered me back inside his house, where we headed towards his study.
He sat down at the desk and I pulled up a chair that was in the room, but had been placed off to the side. He showed me all that he’d been working on, for the investigation. There was a lot of paperwork that he’d uncovered, let alone the file that Alcide had given us. It was mind-boggling to me.
But the more we went over it, something was beginning to click inside my brain. It wouldn’t be that far-fetched, would it?
“What wouldn’t be far-fetched?” Eric asked, staring at me curiously.
Of course, he’d read my mind again. I rolled my eyes. “Would you please stop doing that?” I asked, frustrated and angry. “I’m just trying to work things out in my brain, that’s all. You don’t have to comment on every little thing,” I was perturbed. Eric began to laugh. I got madder.
“Is this what you go through every single day?” he wondered, grinning at me with a huge smile.
“Yes!” I shouted at him, angrily. “And quit grinning at me like that. I hate it when you tease me,” I explained.
Eric laughed some more, not taking what I was saying seriously. It was a good thing too, because I really didn’t mean it. It was nice having not to explain myself to him. I hadn’t experienced it that much, having only met one telepath in my life, other than my cousin’s little boy, but he didn’t really count because he was still so young yet. Now Barry the bellboy, wasn’t even speaking to me. So, this was kind of nice, I thought.
“Okay, this was what I was thinking…” I decided to push Eric’s teasing aside for now. I chose to ignore his wicked, albeit sexy, grin. I tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. “There’s something in a name, right? When you named Fangtasia, you wanted something to do with vampires and fantasy, right?” I asked, just to be sure.
“Yeah,” Eric frowned, trying to follow my logic. “Go on,” he urged, waving his hand.
“Okay, we have Victory for one. Who do you know that has Victor or Victoria for a name?” I asked, curiously.
Eric thought about it for a minute. “Well, the first Victor that comes to mind is Victor Madden. The most recent thorn in my side,” he answered with a growl. He thought about it for a minute. “Okay, I see what you’re saying…but what about Holdings?” he asked, curiously.
“Well…” I thought about it for a minute. “He does what? Does he have any businesses? What are his interests?” I asked, trying to draw it out of Eric.
Eric thought about it for a few minutes. The minutes seemed to drag by until… “Shit!” Eric exclaimed. “It has to be him!” He exploded angrily.
“Why do you say that?” I blinked, from his outburst. “Do you know what he does?”
“Yes, he likes to make money off of tourism. He’s rich,” he explained. “The only thing I can’t figure out is why? Why would he kidnap you? What do you have to do with anything? You’re not really involved in vampire business.” He shook his head. “No, it has to be someone else. Someone who has a grudge against both you and me. Otherwise, what’s the point?” He shrugged his shoulders.
We both thought about it some more.
“And what I don’t get is…who is this Agatha?” I wondered aloud. “I’ve never heard of her before in my life. Amelia and Octavia told me that she has lost a lot of things and needs money, but is that really enough motive to mess with a vampire’s bond the way that she did? Who would want to do that in the first place?”
“Sometimes, people’s motivation would surprise you, lover,” Eric replied, trying to explain it to me. “Maybe she has other reasons besides money. We don’t know,” he shrugged. “One thing’s for sure, we need to find this Agatha and question her.”
“How do we do that?” I asked, curiously. “I have no idea where she lives. Amelia and Octavia told me that Katrina destroyed her home. I only met her at Dimitri’s party,” I explained, shrugging my shoulders.
“Well, I have an idea,” Eric had that look on his face that said that he’d just come up with a bright idea. I liked it. No wonder other vamps respected him. He was a smart man. Very knowledgeable. “Felipe called me right before you came to visit.” He started to explain. “He’s arranged for us to come to Vegas, like I’ve told you about before,” he stared pointedly at me, trying to get me to remember our conversation about it. I nodded my head. I remembered.
“I think that we should go there. Enjoy Felipe’s hospitality, but also do some more digging on Victor,” he explained. “Who else knows him better than his own king? Where did he live before he came here? Vegas,” Eric explained his logic behind his idea. “And if we don’t find out what we’re looking for, then at least we got to gamble,” he joked.
I laughed and rolled my eyes, shaking my head. “You’re right,” I agreed. “Do you know why Felipe wants us to come?” I wondered.
Eric shook his head. “No, but if I was a betting man, I think he just wants an opportunity to know us better. Especially you…his knight in shining armor,” he winked at me and laughed at his own joke. “He still can’t believe that a woman…a human woman at that, rescued him. I think he just wants to show you a good time,” he explained.
“Oh, well, I’ve always wanted to go to Vegas, I heard a lot about it over the years,” I explained.
Eric looked on the calendar on the wall. “Good, because we leave tomorrow,” he explained.
“We…what?” I shrieked. Eric’s hearing was so much better than mine that he rubbed his ear with his hand, when I squealed. “Oh my goodness! I have so much stuff that I have to do before we go!” I exclaimed. I began to rattle of my mental list of things to do. “Okay, I’ll have to let Sam know that I’ll need more time off. I’ll have to let Amelia and Octavia know that I won’t be around for awhile. Tara, I must tell her. I guess I should mention something to Jason, just because he is family….” I continued on.
After I’d finished my long list, Eric replied, “Done, done, done…are you sure you want that done? Done, done, I wouldn’t worry about that.”
I gave him a stern look. “It seems to me like you did a lot of things without my knowledge or consent,” I glared at him. “I am my own woman, you know. I can take care of myself,” I explained, bitterly angry. “You shouldn’t assume that I’d agree to go with you because you never know…I may not.”
Eric laughed, as if I’d just told him a joke.
“I can’t believe you’re laughing at me,” I accused, still angry at him for assuming that I’d go with him to Vegas.
Eric laughed once again. “Oh, my lover…did you know that you’re a very funny woman? You’re sexy when you get angry like that too. A real turn on. Those are some of the many things I love most about you,” he mentioned, after his laughter had died down. “You make me laugh and smile every day. You have no idea how long I waited for someone like you,” he laughed, once more, shaking his head in disbelief.
My anger for some reason evaporated. I could see his point. Eric definitely was sexy when he was acting perverted and naughty. I liked how smart and generous he was. I had often liked his sense of humor too. “Yeah, well, I love your sick, perverted sense of humor too,” I admitted. “But don’t let that mean that you can make decisions for me,” I lectured him, sternly. “It’s not the same thing at all.”
“Okay,” Eric raised up his hand as a peace offering. “Truce?” He asked, hopefully. “I won’t assume that you will agree to anything I want and you will agree to go on this trip. How about that?” he asked.
I smiled at him. “That’s better. And yes, I’ll go with you to Vegas. Just don’t get any bright ideas about getting married or anything, okay? I’m not sure if I want to be married yet and in Vegas by an Elvis impersonator,” I explained, shuddering at the thought.
Eric laughed. “Yeah, well, maybe if Bubba was in his right mind, we could have him marry us, himself?” he joked.
I laughed too, because the thought of it was so hard to comprehend. “Can you imagine? Being married by him?” I joined in the joking mood now too. “Sookie, do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband? Oh wait, there’s a cat…one moment please while I go kill it,” I joked.
Eric burst out laughing. “Oh man, I can certainly picture that,” he agreed, still laughing. Then he sobered up. “Not that we’re going to get married…but it would be funny.”
I couldn’t keep the feelings of hurt at bay after hearing his words. So, Eric didn’t want to get married, huh? I wondered why. Not that having our blood-bond was anything different. That was more like a vampire marriage. But hearing him say those words kind of did hurt, even though I knew that I wasn’t near ready for anything that serious yet. But it made me wonder and wish for something like that with us. I wondered if it would ever happen…probably not, I figured.
“Yeah, it would be,” I agreed, instead, shoving aside my feelings for now. It would sound completely insane for me to tell him that while I might not be ready to move in with him, it would be okay to marry. Who thinks that way? Does everybody get this confused when they fall in love?
It was strange to me, because I had never felt remotely anything like this with either Bill or Quinn. What made Eric so different? Was he the one and I was only fighting myself?
“Okay, so we know where to start, right?” I asked, just to make sure that we were on the same page. “We go to Vegas, ask people questions, including Felipe and see if they tell us anything more about Victor. Then, when we get back, we somehow, some way, find this Agatha bitch…oops, sorry, I mean witch and see why she would want to get involved too.”
“Right,” Eric agreed, staring at me. “You know…you’re smarter than I once thought. Are you sure you are as innocent as you claim to be?” He asked, teasing me.
I smiled and nodded my head. “Of course I am. I learned everything from you,” I winked at him. “Aren’t you proud of me?”
“Yes,” he laughed, but then grew serious. “That’s why I think you’d make a great vampire,” he replied.
That quickly wiped the smile off of my face. “But I don’t want to be a vampire,” I replied back, shocked that he would think such a thing.
“We’ll see…” Eric winked and grinned, then stood up from behind the desk. “Come, I just realized that I haven’t given you a proper tour of my home,” he held out his hand to me, so that I could hold it. Mine clasped on to his and he led me out of his study.
He showed me around the main floor, but it was the museum-like room that I was most interested in seeing. I didn’t want to alert him to the fact that I’d snooped around before, so I kept my thoughts and feelings to myself, by closing off my mind from him. I could tell that he was puzzled, but he didn’t question it.
“I hired an interior decorator to help me pick out the fabrics, furniture and things like that,” he explained. “I told her, that I wanted it decorated with you in mind.”
“How did you know that we’d…one day be together?” I asked, surprised by his foresight.
He shrugged. “I don’t know…I just thought that I’d grow on you and that you’d eventually come around,” he explained. “I basically told her what your Gran’s house looked like, so it’d give her a better idea of what styles you’d like.”
“I hope you decorated it with things that you liked too,” I replied, pleased that he’d do all of that for me.
“Don’t worry, that’s why I had that games room and the home theater put in,” he winked at me. “A man, even though he’s lived as long as me, has to have some modern enjoyment too.”
We walked upstairs. I hoped this would be when he would give me a tour of his museum. I was right.
“This is kind of like my version of a photo album,” he explained, looking around the room. “Since cameras weren’t invented until the late 1800’s, I saved things to help me remember…where I’d been and what I’d seen. While some things and styles, I didn’t want to remember,” he grimaced, as he looked at a mannequin on display wearing tights and some sort of outfit that looked like it belonged in Shakespear’s day and age. “I figured that maybe someone might want to borrow something for a costume party or something,” he explained, shrugging his shoulders. “That…and I’m pack rat. I can’t throw anything out,” he joked.
I laughed. “I’m sure that’s because you didn’t have all of this while you were alive,” I pointed out, waving my arm through the air.
“True,” he agreed. He looked around the room and I could tell that with each item that he looked at, brought back some kind of memory to him. Sometimes he’d smile. Sometimes he’d frown.
“I was wondering…” I hesitantly began. “How did you become a vampire? What was your life like before you were made into one?” I finally had the courage to ask.
Eric looked at me from across the room. He had moved on from year to year, while I had followed along behind him at a much slower pace.
Eric thought about it for a minute before he sighed. “I was wondering when you’d ask me that,” he replied.
“If it’s too hard for you…I’d understand,” I offered, because I could tell that it wasn’t the easiest thing for him.
“No, it’s alright,” he replied back. “I want you to know. It’s just hard…dredging up all those memories…you know?”
“Take all the time you need. I’m not going anywhere,” I assured him, puzzled by his behavior. It really must’ve been horrific for him at the time, I figured.
“Well…I guess it’d be easier to start at the beginning,” he began. “I was born into a family of twelve, the third oldest, which meant at the time, that I had to go through life on my own terms. I was okay with it because I really wasn’t a farmer, like my father was and his father before him.”
“We had lived near a town that was near the coast. The water had always beaconed to me. I don’t know why,” he explained. “but I found that as soon I was of age, which at the time, was the ripe old age of fourteen, I joined a merchant, who bought and sold his goods off in faraway lands. I became one of the crew on board. We traveled to all these amazing places. It was really an awesome experience, except for the scurvy and other diseases that were carried on board during long voyages. Every year, we travelled further and further away from home, until one day, we landed in this far off land that was wild and untamed. That land was called, Newfoundland. It’s a part of Canada now,” he added. “I kind of liked it but…” he frowned, “I’m not sure why I settled here and not there.”
“Every so often in these faraway places, especially if we were running low on food and gold, we would pillage and take what we could if we couldn’t negotiate for them.”
“Did you ever rape, like they said that the pirates did?” I asked, very interested in hearing his story.
Eric gave me a look. “Do I look like a man who would need to rape?” he fired back, surprised by my question. I could tell that he wasn’t insulted by it, just that it hadn’t ever occurred to him. “Some of my fellow crew…yes, but I wasn’t one of them. For some reason, they always didn’t mind it if I was the one who took them to bed,” he thought it over, then he grinned. “That’s when I knew that I must’ve been handsome and had luck with the ladies,” he joked and winked at me.
I laughed and rolled my eyes. Eric always knew that he was good-looking and used it to his own advantage. He still hadn’t changed. “Go on,” I encouraged him to continue.
“Why don’t we go someplace more comfortable?” Eric suggested. “You look uncomfortable, just standing there listening.”
“Okay,” I agreed.
He led me towards his bedroom, where we laid down on the bed next to each other. I curled up against him, my head on his shoulder.
“Okay, you can continue now,” I coaxed him to continue on with his story.
“Where were we? Oh yeah, that’s right. I was telling you about what a ladies’ man I was,” he grinned, wickedly.
I laughed and rolled my eyes.
“Okay…let’s see,” he began to continue on with his story. “Sometimes, I’d come home, but more and more, I began to see that I didn’t have anything in common with my brothers and sisters. They were all busy with their own lives. They got married, had many children. Their wayward brother didn’t somehow belong anymore.”
“That was when I decided that if I were to settle, I’d settle somewhere else, but I never got the chance,” he explained, frowning as the memory came to him. “I was in what is now called, St. Petersburg, in Russia, when I met this woman. She was intriguing to me. I couldn’t get her out of my head. Every time I saw her, I wanted more,” he explained.
I somehow knew that this woman was his maker, although I felt a little bit jealous that this woman had this kind of effect on him.
“She and I agreed to meet at her house one evening, when she suddenly showed her fangs to me. I got scared. I somehow knew that I was going to die,” he paused, as the recollection haunted him. “She must’ve used glamour on me because the next thing I knew I was lying naked in her bed, with lots of blood all around me. I knew that it was mine. I was chained to the bed. I knew that there wasn’t any hope or any chance for escape. She used me in every single way imaginable. I felt violated and used, not to mention that I was now somehow hungry for blood. She brought in her maid, who she let me feed off of and I killed her, without meaning to. I had no control over my newfound strength.”
I could tell that Eric felt so much guilt and anger over this. I rubbed his chest with my hand, trying to comfort him. “What was her name? What did you do after that?”
“Her name was Anastia. I soon gained my strength after killing the maid, then broke free of the chains. I ran and ran. I knew that I couldn’t ever set sail on a ship ever again, so I made my way west, until I was in what is now called, Germany. From there, I moved around a lot. Never staying in one place for very long,” he replied.
“Did you ever see Anastia ever again?” I asked, hoping that he’d been able to find some kind of way to break free from his maker.
Eric nodded his head. “Yeah, she eventually tracked me down in Paris. By this time, I’d gotten stronger and stronger, from killing so many people in order to survive. But because she was my maker, I had no choice. I had to do what she told me. The joke was on her though, we met some vampires, who managed to stake her in a fight. You met one of them…”
“Who was that?” I asked, puzzled and amazed.
“Dimitri. He killed Anastia. We had both had one thing in common. We both hated our makers. He asked me to do the same to his, so I did,” he finished telling me his tale. “We vowed never to mention it again, because the vampire world still didn’t know that we’d had a hand in their deaths. Whenever someone would question us about the whereabouts of our makers, we’d make up some kind of lie. Now that Dimitri’s dead. I’m the only one who remembers.”
“Then how come Dimitri used me to get to you? Do you think that he wanted to reveal your secret?” I wondered.
“No, it wouldn’t look good for him either. We’d both have to pay. That’s why I couldn’t figure out why he kidnapped you.” He paused. “Maybe he was jealous? Maybe he’d always wanted to find someone to have a blood-bond with, but couldn’t find one. When he found out, which wouldn’t be hard to do, that I had exchanged blood with you…maybe he wanted to blackmail me into giving him something that he wanted?”
“Oh,” I didn’t know what to say to all of that. All I knew was that I appreciated him telling me, trusting me enough to tell me about all of this. “Well, I’m glad he’s gone. No offense, but he was weird. I don’t know how you two could’ve been around each other for very long.”
Eric laughed. “Yeah, he was weird, but now that’s all water under a bridge. I’m free. I don’t have to worry about him any longer. I just have to worry about you,” he kissed my forehead. “Well? Did I bore you to tears?”
I grinned into his body. “No, it just answers a lot of questions that I had about you,” I replied.
“Good,” Eric tucked me in, closer along his side.
I fell asleep with visions of Eric’s story floating around in my dreams.