By time you read this I will be long gone, and I don’t know when I will be coming back. The night you drove me back from Jackson, you asked me if I always run when things get hard, and here I am proving I do. I have many reasons for doing what I did, and I wish I could tell them all to you, but I can’t. Not because I don’t want to, but because I actually can’t. It is too dangerous. Both for me and for anyone else who might know.
When I left the day after I rescinded your invitation, I’ll admit I didn’t know where I was running or what I was going to do when I got there. I ran blind, without a plan nor really capable of making one. I was tired, hurt, and, I’m ashamed to admit, broken. It wasn’t the physical pain that broke me, while that hurt, I could withstand the pain, but the emotional.
I’d never had my heart broken before, and I didn’t know how to handle it. I chose to run because I was afraid to stay. Afraid of what I might do. Bill was my first, and I know you probably don’t want to hear this, but I did love him. Or at least I loved the idea of him, an idea I have since found out was a lie. When Bill cast me aside so easily it hurt. I felt humiliated, like I wasn’t worth anything. I couldn’t understand how he could claim to love me and yet still throw me away like garbage. I was worth more than that. I am worth more than that. When you told me about Lorena I was angry, angry that Bill had betrayed me for someone so unworthy, for someone who in turned betrayed him. I’ll admit I don’t understand the working of a Maker/Child relationship; my only reference for it would be you and Pam, and I could never imagine you betraying Pam the way Lorena betrayed Bill.
After I rescued Bill and escaped Russell’s compound, I started to feel a bit of hope. Maybe things weren’t as bad as I thought and we could work things out. I was foolish in believing that, but in my defense… No, I’m not going to make excuses. I was foolish. I let childish dreams and desires cloud reality and logic. When what happened in the trunk of that car happened, something inside of me broke. I lost a part of me; it was taken from me without my consent, and yet I still tried to make excuses for him. He was starving, he’d been tortured, and he didn’t know what he was doing; all good excuses, but all lies. I realize now that by making excuses for him I was condoning his actions. I was saying it was okay. But it was not and is not okay. It’s not okay that he lied to me. It’s not okay that he betrayed and cheated on me. And it’s certainly not okay that he raped and almost drained me. He can claim he didn’t know what he was doing all he likes, but I no longer believe that to be completely true.
Bill had the presence of mind to know I was in that room with him when I freed him. He had the presence of mind to know I staked Lorena, and he had the presence of mind and strength to get himself into that trunk in the first place. Because I think we both know that if he hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to get him out of that building. There is no way I would have been able to carry two-hundred plus pounds of dead weight, even after taking your blood. Bill rested for the better part of the day uninterrupted and unhindered, and that must have abated some of his suffering. I know he had been starved and tortured for a few nights, and I’m not saying he wasn’t hurt or was a hundred percent. But I no longer believe he was completely unaware of his surroundings. If he was as out of control and unaware as he claimed, he wouldn’t have come back to his senses as quickly as he did.
While I don’t doubt my blood could have aided in healing him, I do doubt it could have healed him as it did. I now find it suspicious that he pulled back before he completely drained me. His control returned awfully quickly for someone who supposedly didn’t recognize me thirty seconds before.
You’re probably wondering what had happened that has me questioning Bill like I am. Before I left I would have defended him to my last breath, and I fear if I had stayed I would have continued to do so. I’ve had my eyes open to Bill’s true nature, and I can’t say I like it.
As you probably know by now Alcide was at my house the day I left. I’ve no doubt you questioned him thoroughly in an attempt to learn of my whereabouts. Normally I would say don’t be too hard on him, but given how I left things with him, I can’t find it in me to actually say or write that. But I can truthfully say he doesn’t know where I am, nor will I contact him ever. It’s true, I left with Alcide that day. I was going to leave on my own, but my car had a miraculous breakdown. It was missing a few of its parts and had two flat tires.
Please, if you get the chance tell Bill, I want compensation for the damage he caused my vehicle.
Alcide turned up at my house that morning and offered me a lift when he realized I was leaving, and I accepted. And as you’re aware of by now I took Bill’s database with me. I considered selling it to the highest bidder, but I’ll be honest: the only thing that stopped me was you. I feared you would get into trouble if I did, and I didn’t want you to suffer for Bill’s crimes. So I sent it back to you. I’m only sorry I didn’t get to see Bill’s face when he realized that not only was it missing, but that you had it.
Anyway, I’m digressing. I left Alcide after he got a little distracted with Debbie Pelt. And that is me putting it nicely. Alcide told me he was done with her, and then he practically abandoned me when she showed up. Apparently her shoving me in the trunk with a starving vampire doesn’t matter as long as he can still get laid. Alcide completely forgot I was there.
I was sitting on the cold, hard floor of the apartment you broke into, wondering what the hell I was going to do, when I received a visitor.
I’m not sure how much I should put in this letter, or how safe it will be, but I feel like I owe you an explanation. But more than that I want to give you one.
My visitor, Stella (that was her name) had a message for me, one I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear, but I didn’t really have a choice. In the ten minutes I spoke with her in that cold, empty apartment, I learned more about the supernatural world than I had in all the time I’d know you and Bill. And that’s not a dig at you, just Bill.
Stella gave me a choice, and I made it. And while the past few months since I left have been painful, they have been worth it. I have learned so much in such a short amount of time. I have learned about the supernatural world, its power structure, and the different races. But more than that I have learned about myself. I’ve learned who and what I am. I’m more than just a telepath. I’m more than just a human. I have Supe DNA in me, and to be completely honest, it both terrifies and exhilarates me. I can’t tell you what I am yet, but I hope to be able to one day.
My otherness is both unique and common. Which in itself is not possible, but then they use to say vampires weren’t possible, just stories.
By now Bill is probably kicking up a fuss and more than likely blaming you for my disappearance. We all know the real reason I left is because of him. Because of what he did. Please feel free to remind him how he pensioned me off. I am not his, nor will I ever be again. In fact, would you be so kind as to pass on a message to him next time he starts throwing a tantrum. I have included a note for him in the envelope. You can read it, I don’t care…
You read it, didn’t you?
You’re probably wondering what it means. As I mentioned earlier in the letter, and boy am I rambling, I realized my love for Bill was a lie. The idea of him was a lie. It turned out it was a lie from the beginning. I found out the truth though. Bill was sent to Bon Temps by your Queen to procure a telepath and unfortunately that telepath was me. I’ve been told you weren’t aware of this, and also that Sophie-Anne wouldn’t have approved of the methods he used. I don’t blame you, Eric, not for anything that has happened. I trusted the wrong man and I got burned. But I survived, and that is the main thing. I survived to fight another day.
I do have a favor to ask of you though. You’re probably marvelling at my cheek right about now. I disappear for a few months and then write to you and ask a favor.
I worry about Jason. I’m told he is safe and relatively happy, but I can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong. I don’t know how to explain it. I fear for him, and I wish I could be there to take care of him myself, but that is not possible at the moment. I’m told I have many enemies who would just love to get their hands on me. So for now I have to stay where I am, but I fear they will target Jason to try and draw me out. And I’m not just talking about Bill, although I wouldn’t put it past him. I’m not asking you to watch him personally, or constantly, but can you please check, or have someone check for you to make sure he is safe. He’s the only family I care about.
Tell Pam, I’m sorry I can’t make her Halloween party; I was looking forward to it. I was going to dress up as Tinkerbelle.
I hope to see you again one night Eric. I would tell you not to look for me, but I realize that would be pointless. You will search for me regardless of what I say. I’m afraid you won’t be able to find me though. But rest assured I’m safe. I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I ran, I wasn’t running away. I was running to something.
Eric ran his finger over the letter, well worn from repeated readings, before folding it up and slipping it back in its envelope. He placed it in the small wooden box in which he’d kept all Sookie’s letters. A few years ago, if someone had told him he would be saving letters like some kind of lovesick schoolboy, he would have laughed in their face and then drained them dry. But here he was, over two years after Sookie disappeared, doing just that.
He knew she would run; he could see it in her eyes that night just before she rescinded his and Bill’s invitation. As she said in her letter, she was broken. He could see it in her eyes, and he wanted to rip Bill’s head off because of it. That look should have never entered her eyes. When he rose that next night, he knew she was gone. He didn’t need the small bond he had started to develop with her to tell him that. It wasn’t the blood that told him she was gone, but his very soul.
But in true Sookie fashion, she still managed to surprise him. He had expected her to run; he hadn’t expected her to take Bill’s database with her. Until the day he met the true death, Eric would never forget Bill’s reaction when he found out that not only had Sookie taken it, but also she had returned it to Eric, and he had in turn presented it to Sophie-Anne. If it was possible, Eric swore Bill would have shit himself.
Sophie-Anne had been furious that not only had Bill lost the database, but also a human who he claimed was his had stolen it and returned it to one of her Sheriffs. Once she learned of all that had happened and why Sookie had taken it, Sophie-Anne had almost sent Bill to his final death. The knowledge of how badly Bill had hurt Sookie had troubled Sophie-Anne greatly, and she regretted sending him to procure Sookie for her. When Sophie-Anne had told Bill to procure the telepath, she had meant procure her services, not procure her as in own her. Despite being an old vampire, Sophie-Anne loathed the mistreatment of humans. Her own pets were all well looked after and happy to be with her.
In punishment for flaunting her orders and not only losing a valuable asset, but also almost losing her database, Sophie-Anne had given Bill to her favorite child Andre to re-educate. Eric doubted Bill had learned anything from his punishment, but he certainly suffered for his treatment of Sookie. Bill had been stripped of his position and forced to remain in Bon Temps. A place he was no longer welcome after Jason had raged at him for abusing his sister. Everyone in Bon Temps knew that he was responsible for Sookie leaving, even if they didn’t know the particulars.
“Knock, knock,” Pam called out as she barged into the office. She raised an eyebrow when she saw the familiar wooden box sitting on the desk. “Which letter are you reading this time?”
“The first one,” Eric answered truthfully, seeing no point lying to her. It wasn’t the first time she had caught him rereading the letters from Sookie. Hell, she had once walked in on him masturbating while holding a picture of Sookie in his hand. After that he figured her catching him just reading her letters was nothing.
“A good letter,” Pam replied, having read them all herself. She would never admit it aloud, but she missed her telepathic little friend. The letters, regardless of how infrequent they were, maybe half a dozen over two years, gave her hope she would see her again, and she knew they gave Eric the same hope.
Life was dull without Sookie around. She had a way of brightening the dreariest of nights. Her smile was infectious and both Eric and Pam longed to see it again. The only good thing that came out of Sookie’s leaving was that now Pam could torment Bill. Which she did almost on a nightly basis. She loved rubbing it in that Sookie in a way was still in contact with Eric. Although Eric couldn’t contact her directly or at all, the letters still showed he was on her mind.
Just as Sookie suspected he would do, Eric had tried to find her; and like her letter said, he had no success. Wherever she was, she was far beyond the reach of anyone. Eric just took comfort in the fact that she was safe.
“Did you want something, Pam?” Eric asked as he leaned back in his chair.
“Compton is in the bar,” Pam replied as she smoothed down her outfit. “He wants to know if you have heard from Sookie lately.”
“And what did you tell him?” Eric asked, knowing full well Pam had already dealt with Bill. Dealing with him, or tormenting him as the case may be, was one of Pam’s favorite hobbies.
“Same as I always tell him when he asks,” Pam replied as her lips curled into a wicked smile. “That it is none of his business…”
“I don’t think you were that polite about it,” Eric remarked.
“I may have mentioned a stake, his ass, and castration,” Pam mused, “but my tone was polite.”
“I am sure it was,” Eric said with a chuckle. “What is he doing now?”
“Acting out his woe is me routine and trying to entice a fangbanger,” Pam snorted. ”Apparently they love his little I’m all heartbroken act.”
“As long as he refrains from raping them and blaming it on being starved I don’t care,” Eric replied dismissively. “What else?”
“The bar is full and we are doing good business,” Pam reported. “Thalia has refrained from attacking anyone, although I briefly considered allowing her to attack Chow and one of the waitresses.” Seeing Eric’s raise an eyebrow, she explained, “Chow seems to believe that because he owns a stake in the bar, the rules don’t apply to him. He had Belinda blow him behind the bar while he served.”
“Instruct Thalia to take Chow down to the basement and chain him up,” Eric ordered frowning at the disregard for his rules. “I will re-educate him myself later. Anything else?”
“Yes,” Pam replied after a pause. “The Queen rang. She wants you to call her as soon as you can.”
“Which Queen?” Eric questioned as he reached for the phone on his desk. “Sophie-Anne or the bitch that Appius has tried to sell me to?”
“Sophie-Anne,” Pam answered blandly like he should know. She never referred to Freyda as Queen.
Dialling the number to the palace, Eric waited for the call to be answered. “This is Sheriff Northman,” he said once it was connected. “I am returning the Queen’s call.”
“One moment please,” a voice said.
“Eric,” Sophie-Anne greeted, her tone warm and inviting.
“Your majesty,” Eric replied. “I am returning your call like requested.”
“Good. I’m afraid I have some good news and some bad news,” Sophie-Anne said, her voice taking on a serious tone. “I have spoken to the Queen of Oklahoma, and Freyda is insisting you honor the contract that Appius brokered. And as you know Appius is also demanding you honor it. He claims that as your Maker he has the right to broker any contract he likes with or without your permission.”
Fucking Appius, Eric cursed. After not seeing his Maker for nearly three hundred years, he turned up out of the blue and told Eric he was to wed the Queen of Oklahoma, something Eric had no desire to do. Appius had not issued a Maker’s command for Eric to honor the contract. He had wanted to prove he had complete control over Eric without having to use it. Eric wasn’t sure what Appius was getting out of the contract with Oklahoma, but Eric doubted it was anything good for him.
“However, I have managed to argue the fact that you’re contractually obligated to me as Sheriff,” Sophie-Anne continued. “That as your Queen I have certain rights as well. I have managed to wrangle a hearing with the Council. We will have the opportunity to put an argument before a jury at the upcoming supernatural conference in New York. Unfortunately, Oklahoma and Appius will be able to argue their case as well.”
“That is somewhat pleasing news,” Eric replied carefully. “I appreciate you challenging the contract as you are.”
“It is nothing,” Sophie-Anne said. “You’re my best Sheriff. Only a fool would let you go without trying to fight for you first. You have been loyal to me for years, and I am simply repaying that loyalty. I don’t wish to lose my favorite Sheriff.”
“Nor do I wish to go,” Eric admitted.
“I have Cataliades fighting this, Eric. If anyone can defeat that bastard you call Maker and the whore of a Queen, it is him,” Sophie-Anne assured. “The conference is in six weeks and until the hearing the Council has passed a ruling that you’re to stay in Louisiana, and that Oklahoma can’t try and force you to honor the contract. That includes having Appius use a Maker’s command. The Council has placed a sanction on him as well. If he tries to command you to marry Freyda in the next six weeks he will be sentenced to the true death and Freyda will be chained in silver for a hundred years, only freed after the contract has run its course.”
“That is unusual,” Eric remarked. “They don’t usually interfere in Maker/child relationships.”
“They’re not messing around,” Sophie-Anne replied. “It is in our best interest to show a united front from now until the conference.”
“Agreed,” Eric said.
“Good. My office will arrange transportation to the conference. We will arrive united and showcase our strength,” Sophie-Anne said. “Send me a copy of your travelling party and tell Pam to be on her best behavior, or at least maim Compton when no one is looking.”
“I will pass on your message,” Eric replied, smirking at his child who was barely holding back her laughter.
“Good,” Sophie-Anne said before disconnecting the call.
“Appius will be pissed,” Pam remarked gleefully as she watched Eric put the phone down. “Such a shame.”
“It is,” Eric agreed. He wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t receive a visit from Appius soon. Eric knew Appius was staying in Oklahoma. Appius had made no secret of that; he had practically advertised he was organizing the wedding of Eric and Freya personally. Appius wouldn’t like the Council’s interference and Eric was sure he would make him pay for it in some way. “If and when Appius shows up again, I want you out of his way,” Eric added. “I would not put it past him to hurt you as a way to get at me. Or make me harm you.”
“Understood,” Pam replied softly. She knew full well what Appius was like and how he would use her to hurt Eric. He had done it before, shortly after Eric had turned her. She still remembered the pain he had inflicted on her just so he could hurt Eric. He had made Eric watch while he whipped her with silver for no other reason than Eric had turned her. She had managed to avoid any of his punishments when he visited with news of the contract, but only because Eric had forced her to stay in the company of Thalia at all times. Appius had been cautious around the ancient vampire, knowing she was both older and stronger than him.
Dismissing Pam, Eric closed his eyes and let his head fall back. He was grateful to Sophie-Anne that she was fighting the contract as hard as she was. He had no desire to go to Oklahoma and marry Freyda. He knew if he did, he would have no real power, despite what both Appius and Freyda were claiming. He would be nothing more than Freyda’s consort, her whore. She would demand his services both physical and sexual. She would expect him to defend her from threats and satisfy her sexually, something he suspected Appius had bargained for. His Maker loved making Eric submit to those he didn’t want to. He had done it when he was first turned and continued to do it whenever their paths crossed. Eric was surprised Appius hadn’t forced to him to please Freyda when he told him about the contract and introduced him to the Queen of Oklahoma. Eric only hoped the jury at the supernatural conference would decide in his favor. He didn’t want to spend the next hundred years in Oklahoma.
Opening his eyes, Eric reached for the wooden box that held Sookie’s letters. Her words always could soothe his agitated state. Spreading the letters on his desk, Eric picked up random letters and let the words calm and relax him. He smiled as he read them, some of them just a few lines long, others, like the first one, long rambling letters. She told him everything and nothing. There was no mention of where she was or when she was coming back. Many of them contained nonsense: little snippets of her thoughts, how she had watched the sunset, or how she had learned to ride a horse.
Picking up the last letter she sent over three months ago, Eric ran his fingers over the words. It was short, only three words, but to the point.
I miss you.
“I miss you too, Sookie,” Eric whispered into the empty office. As he folded the letters up and put them back in the wooden box, Eric recalled the words he whispered to her the night she rescinded his invitation.
I could love you.
Those words were no longer true, he realized sadly. Her letters changed everything. It was no longer, I could love, but I love you. He had fallen completely in love with Sookie Stackhouse and she wasn’t even around to see it for herself.