He hates me…
Worse than any literal monster that goes bump in the night, it was my greatest fear come true. It had been my only thought all day long.
Vampires were real?
I was covered in my own blood, but looked better than new?
The look of hurt I could remember on his face? The sound of anger in his voice realizing I had betrayed him?
That was what had eaten away at me all day long. Knowing he would hate me. Rightfully so. Not that I could blame him. I deserved his hatred. But that didn’t make it any easier to bear. The warmth he once had in his eyes when looking at me had been replaced by nothing but distrust.
He didn’t want to bite me. Even chumming the waters by bashing my head open so fresh blood would flow wasn’t enough to make me palatable to him. I had to beg. And plead. And practically force him into it by giving him the one incentive I knew would work.
He could finally be rid of me once he was done.
And it was enough. To finally be done with me for good, was enough.
The truth of that hurt more than anything I’d ever felt, but I bore it. I stood there and took it. I didn’t beg and plead for his forgiveness like I truly wanted to.
Because it wouldn’t be fair to him. Not when he couldn’t stand me any longer.
Not even long enough to say goodbye.
I’d felt it when he took flight. The fantastical ability of his was just another tick in the column that kept track of all of the ways he’d been my hero. But he would be my hero no more. Not after he’d realized my job with him was just an act.
Even if my feelings for him weren’t.
But he couldn’t know that. Nor did I suspect he would believe me if I’d told him. So I kept my heartache to myself and my mouth shut. Just as my knees were buckling from the pain over his silent departure, I managed to fire the gun out over the water before I collapsed where I stood.
The sobs escaping my chest were real. Just like the terror I was sure could be seen etched on my face when the first of many found me lying in a pool of my own blood at the edge of the dock. Not because I’d been attacked by a monster.
But because I’d been abandoned by one.
My tears died down quickly. I couldn’t function feeling the levels of pain from my first true heartbreak, so I sealed it off with a giant scab I could pick off at my leisure later on. The police were the first on the scene, followed quickly by the FBI. Weiss rode with me in the ambulance all the way to the hospital, but my reprieve was short-lived when we found Latteste waiting for us there. And for the next four days I sold my story. Hawking like it was the must-have snake oil of all time. Telling it over and over again, while reading their thoughts and ‘spontaneously’ adding to it whenever I heard them think of something that didn’t make sense to them. But basically it all boiled down to a very basic scenario. One they couldn’t refute.
They’d said to do whatever necessary to get close to Northman. I took that literally and basically attacked him. It surprised him, but he went along at first. And then I went too far and he turned me down. I got lippy and it got me fired. I stormed off and Callaghan snatched me up. He’d seen me leaving the hospital with Tara. Known it was me who took her. So he took me instead. He’d taunted me for hours. Telling me how he’d been killing for years and that he would never be caught. How he believed consuming human blood would make him immortal. He’d chosen his victims from the casino. Gotten a job there so he would blend in more. He didn’t know I was an FBI agent. He hadn’t thought to frisk me. My gun caught him by surprise just like the bullet that caught his forehead. It was all coincidental. Northman had nothing to do with it.
They didn’t buy it at first, but I held firm never straying from my story. They had sent divers into the water to look for Callaghan’s body, so I wished them luck and told them half of his head had gotten blown off with my bullet. The wind had thankfully been blowing south. Hurricane season had started and an approaching storm had the wind whipping like a bitch that night, so I said it had likely taken the blood spray and brain matter with it. The current was just as strong from that same storm and knowing there were all sorts of sea creatures that would pick a carcass clean, they didn’t have much hope of finding him anyway. But they still weren’t quite convinced of Northman’s innocence, even though I got from their heads that the agents doing surveillance had seen him walking around the casino within moments of me pulling the trigger. But as more time passed. The more my mouth proclaimed his innocence, the more their minds gave in to their human sense of reasoning and knew there was no way he could’ve gotten back from the docks that fast. He had appeared perfectly normal that night. And he had been seen every night since then too.
But I slammed my shields up before I could learn just how normal he’d been acting.
All it would take was me seeing one blond on his arm – or anywhere else on him – and I’d be done for.
Latteste had gotten pissed off learning I’d gotten myself fired, so I gave him exactly what I could hear he expected and got hysterical on cue before quitting my job with them too.
And we were both relieved once the words were out of my mouth.
But I managed to keep a lid on the truth and a lid on my heartache, hoping they’d buy the lie before I broke down for good. It was hard to hide my misery, but my telepathy had given me the practice I’d needed. The occasional tear could be explained away by what I’d been through.
Or rather what they thought I had been through.
I had short moments of reprieve though. A few hours of silence here and there. Time all to myself to do nothing but think.
Of how it all went wrong.
Of how I wished I’d never deceived him to begin with.
I wanted to go home. I wanted to forget it all ever happened, but I knew that was just another pipe dream. The best I could hope for was to get away soon, so I could go and find the rock I wanted to hide under for the next few years.
The nights were the worst. While I could find a few brief moments of respite during the daytime, my nights were plagued by dreams of him. Dreams of us. Happy. Together. It was worse torture than anything Callaghan had done to me because I went from being blissful to waking up and finding myself still trapped in a nightmare.
One I couldn’t escape.
It was on day three of my private hell in my non-private hospital room, two floors down from Tara’s old room, that a tiny bit of hope flared.
Only so I could be crushed all over again.
A nurse had brought me a flower arrangement and I knew they could only be from him. I hadn’t told anyone. Hadn’t called Gran or Jason or even Tara to tell them what had happened to me. It would’ve only caused me to have to face even more questions that I didn’t want to answer.
And they were from him. Sort of.
The card itself was a generic one. As was the computer printed inscription of ‘Get Well Soon’ and the ‘Northman Enterprises’ ink stamped signature. I wasn’t all that surprised.
I didn’t think I deserved his fancy penmanship or his Mont Blanc ink either.
Even the bouquet was generic. No hidden meanings could be found lurking about the carnations and baby’s breath. The statement he was making was quite clear.
I meant nothing.
I was sure it was just for show. An afterthought of well wishes extended to a former employee. And there was no mistaking my employment status at Northman Enterprises being in the ‘former’ file because included with the flowers were my car keys. Another note in someone else’s atrocious handwriting (I suspected a gleeful Fuckity Fuck’s) told me it would be parked downstairs with all of my things packed away inside of it.
Those lines weren’t difficult to read in between either.
Don’t come back.
I’d already gotten that message loud and clear with the carnations.
But it was in the late night hours of day four that I finally got at least one wish to come true. I hadn’t been one hundred percent sure the FBI would actually give in and believe my story. That they wouldn’t keep the case open and just send another blond haired blue eyed liar to take my place.
Good luck there.
So I was surprised when I turned on the eleven o’clock news and saw Agent Latteste standing at a podium, with the FBI emblem on the front, giving a press conference. He outlined the case of ‘The Vampire Killer’ for the news cameras. Hawked his own snake oil saying how through hard work, due diligence, and a team effort Mickey Callaghan’s reign of terror, no one even knew about until now, had been brought to a close. He didn’t mention my name at all and for that I was grateful.
And it made even more sense when he kept hawking.
At first he’d tiptoed over my faux details outlining Callaghan’s demise. And then he ran them over with a rototiller named Colossus. He chopped up the ‘facts’ and added a healthy shot of ‘no fucking way’. Tossing my magic bullet into his As-Seen-On-TV’s Magic Bullet, he blended that fucker right up and made it sound as though Callaghan had gone down in a hail of bullets, while a full orchestra played a Rodgers and Hammerstein Oscar winning original score in the background.
Somehow ending with Agent Latteste being the one who blew into the barrel of his smoking gun and looked down at the Perp Float Parade in the Gulf, saying, “Yippee-ki-yay mother fucker.”
It was enough. Enough for me to know the case was officially closed. Enough for me to know his secret was safe. Enough for me to know it was safe for me to leave now that those first two were taken care of.
Leave against medical advice, but that was just semantics as far as I was concerned.
I’d bashed my head pretty good and they had wanted to keep me under observation for at least one more night. I’d been throwing up every day. But that was because they kept insisting I eat when I wasn’t hungry. And I still suffered from bouts of dizziness.
But heartache was the cause for my symptoms. Not a concussion.
That wasn’t something they could diagnose with an x-ray, so I signed my name on the dotted line and got into my old Chevy to get the hell out of dodge. I thought for a moment that I should probably call Gran to at least let her know I was on my way home. And then I realized I didn’t have a phone to call her with. I no longer had the one he had given me and I’d cancelled the service on my previous cell after getting hired since it made no sense to have two.
I would’ve kept it if I had known I’d be unemployed less than a week later.
The other big news story that night had been the storm blowing our way had finally arrived. Hurricane season had barely just begun, but the wind was blowing the rain into sideways sheets, so it wasn’t difficult to figure out it had definitely made landfall. It also made it hard to see, but it made no difference when the tears finally started to fall anyway. My hands mimicked my windshield wiper blades, wiping my eyes clean every few seconds, and I couldn’t stop them from falling. Now that I was alone. Alone and leaving – for good – the emotions I’d kept in check for days were finally coming out. They had no reason to hide anymore and the farther I got away from New Orleans – from him – the worse the pain got.
I’d been driving for hours and was barely even halfway home when it suddenly felt like I was literally being torn in two. Before then I’d merely gone through crying jags, but now I’d come up to the area I’d recognized the night before when he’d scared the bejeezus out of me by taking me up into the sky without warning.
Without wings or twin turbine engines either.
Not even a propeller.
I wondered if he was there now. I was pretty sure I could find the house he’d taken me to if I really tried, but I wouldn’t. Not now. Not when he’d all but told me he never wanted to see me again. He didn’t have to say the words. His silence spoke volumes. But it was the thought of him possibly doing god knows what with god knows who at that very moment that broke me. He’d been mine. I’d known it without ever hearing those words either. I hadn’t needed to hear them. His every action up until then screamed the truth at me.
That had been real. And now it was gone.
Now I was nothing.
All I wanted to do was turn around and go back. Go back and find him. Tell him until I was blue in the face that the woman he’d been with. The one with no brain/mouth filter and farty cow pants was real.
That everything I’d felt for him was real.
I was shaking so bad that I could barely think straight, much less drive straight. Made even more difficult by trying to see through the tears and the rain. It was pounding down on the roof like my car was being attacked by a battalion of angry little drummer boys. But the highway at one-thirty in the morning during a hurricane was deserted anyway, so at least I was only endangering myself. I had just thought I should maybe pull over now and go look for my hidey-hole rock when I heard, “Sookie, pull over before you get yourself killed.”
My head turned and saw Claudine sitting in the passenger’s seat.
My mind thought I had truly gone off the deep end now.
My mouth screamed automatically at seeing and hearing my unexpected shotgun passenger.
And my foot jammed down on the accelerator because my night hadn’t been bad enough.
It all happened in the span of seconds. I felt the tires start to hydroplane just as my eyes darted to the windshield to see the oncoming telephone pole. Turning the wheel did me no good, so I turned back to see my imaginary fairy godmother’s eyes go wide in fear. I guessed she must have seen the oncoming Grim Reaper Sickle in the form of a telephone pole too. Which I guessed was why she poofed back to wherever she came from.
Some fucking fairy godmother she was.
Even my suckass imagination didn’t think I was worth saving.
My instincts made me jam both feet onto the brake pedal and slam my eyes shut as I braced for impact.
But there wasn’t one.
Instead I could feel my car go up like it was on a roller coaster and gently come back down again. Maybe if I could have peeled my eyes open, I would’ve seen how that happened. Instead I kept them shut until the ride was over and opened them to find something even more unexpected than taking a ride on an invisible Louisiana Magic Mountain. Flighty fantasy fairy godmothers were long forgotten too because there he was.
Illuminated by nothing more than my headlights, Eric Northman stood a few feet in front of my car being pelted by the wind and rain. But he didn’t seem to notice. Nor did he seem to notice that he was half dressed.
If he’d gone into any 7-Eleven, he’d get no service.
I couldn’t begin to imagine how or why he’d found me until I noticed the dark red stains on his jeans.
No, I didn’t think he was there to fuck me. My aching heart still leapt for joy seeing him again, but noticing his cold stare. Glimpsing his fangs. I realized I had been the one who was duped this time.
I was a patsy, plain and simple.
Flim-flammed by the master.
He’d obviously worn his killing jeans for a reason.
He’d never had any intention of letting me go. He’d even covered his tracks by having my car and things delivered to me at the hospital, so I’d have no reason to return. No reason for him to be looked at over my future disappearance now that he’d already laid the groundwork. He’d have no expectation of my return, so how could he possibly have been the one to disappear me? I even left the hospital earlier than my expected release date which was something he wouldn’t – or shouldn’t – have known.
Now that the FBI had officially closed the case. Now that I’d done exactly what I’d promised – which was also exactly what he’d needed for me to do – he was there to kill me.
It was the only logical conclusion.
He kept saying I couldn’t be glamoured – whatever in the hell that was – but I knew it hurt like fuckall when he’d tried. I had no idea why it didn’t work and thought his magic brain pain power worked quite well, but I surmised from the few words he’d actually spoken afterward it had something to do with altering memories.
But it wasn’t like I could check the wiki-vamp page online to be sure.
For the first time I actually feared him. Of course I felt bad for everything that had happened between us, but I didn’t think I deserved to die because of it. He’d made it sound like a big deal that I knew what he was and I could understand why. I also knew he had no reason to believe that I would keep his secret. He couldn’t have known I would just as soon die than betray him again.
But that didn’t mean I wanted to die right now.
For a brief moment I thought about my Berretta. And then I thought of how it did me no good from whatever evidence locker it was currently sitting in at the FBI field office. It too did fuckall when I tried to use it on Callaghan anyway. But none of that mattered for one simple fact.
I’d seen him twist it back into shape like it was plastic bendy straw. I didn’t have a chance in hell of stopping him if he wanted to eat me.
‘Me first!’ Betty chimed up for the first time in days, finally lifting the black veil that had been covering her face since our last night together.
Now’s not the time, Betty!
‘He’s shirtless! And he’s wet! And shirtless!’
I couldn’t really be that fucking whormoronic, could I? Maybe I was already dead? I could’ve hit that telephone pole after all.
One could hope.
Just to be sure, I threw my car in park and got out.
I could feel the rain pelting my skin. Check.
The wind whipped my hair around and plastered it to my cheeks. Check.
His unemotional stare made my heart race. Check.
Three checks said I was still alive. Shooting for an even four, I called out, “Eric?”
If he snapped, ‘Mr. Northman!’ at me then I’d know for sure I wasn’t dead.
But then my life flashed before my eyes anyway because he was suddenly on me like white on rice. I didn’t even have the chance to scream before he picked me up like a ragdoll and hugged me hard enough that my ribs creaked in protest.
“Du är rädd. Det finns inget behov. Jag är här nu,” he murmured against my neck.
“What?” I squeaked out.
‘Oh yeah… Say that again big fella…’ Betty purred.
He jostled me around so that he could inhale the other side of my neck and said, “You are frightened. There is no need. I am here now.”
I waited. I wasn’t sure for what. Maybe to see if I’d wake up. But feeling his fangs scrape along my neck, followed by the goose bumps shooting up all over my body, told me I was definitely awake.
And Betty could have been mistaken for a hummingbird hyped up on a case of Red Bull.
“Eric?” I asked again. “What are you doing here?”
In your killing jeans…
“You called me,” he answered mid-sniff.
“No I didn’t,” I weakly protested.
Weakly, because what he was doing felt really good.
“I don’t even have a phone anymore.”
Because you took it back like you took yourself back. Even E.T. was better off than me. At least he had some Reese’s Pieces and could phone home.
“You did,” he argued back distractedly. Distracted by my collarbone. “Your blood called to mine. You were sad. I am here now, so you can be happy.”
Double fucking what?
I had assumed it must have been his blood that somehow healed me when I woke up without any physical evidence of the attack that couldn’t be washed off. It even made sense when I remembered looking flawless after our first kiss. But he hadn’t explained anything and I got the distinct impression questions weren’t allowed. So how in the hell did my blood Carly Rae Jepsen him to me?
“I don’t understand,” I admitted.
Any. Fucking. Thing.
“You smell so good,” he purred and then pulled back enough to look at me. “You are more beautiful than I could have hoped for. I have chosen well.”
“Chosen what?” I asked, confused as all hell.
As much as I enjoyed being in his arms again, I didn’t know what was going on.
And if I was honest, I was still more than a little scared of him.
‘Take off his killing jeans!’ Betty suggested. ‘We’ll both feel better.’
The last time I’d seen him he had barely wanted to look at me much less touch me and now he was touching me like it had never even happened.
Did that mean he forgave me?
But then why was he wearing his killing jeans?
“You, of course,” he finally replied.
That cleared up absolutely fucking nothing.
“Erriiicc…” I whined in frustration. It was late. I was tired. My head hurt like a mother fucker from crying so much. And now I was standing in the middle of a hurricane with a cold wet vampire acting like I was the sizzle rock to his snake in the grass.
‘That’s what I’m talking about!’ Betty cheered.
Shut the fuck up Betty!
I’d meant if he was going to kill me, I’d much rather have him take a page from Nike and just do it!
“My name…is Eric?” he asked. His eyebrows pitched forward in concentration for a few moments like he was deciding whether or not he believed me.
Going a little overboard on the distrust thing, aren’t we?
Before I could call him out on it – or maybe call him a dick for doing it – he shrugged and asked, “Woman, what is your name?”
I could only stare at him. Try to see if there was a twinkle in his eye. A spark of amusement. A fang with my name on it, waiting for me to be lulled into a false sense of ‘I’ll see tomorrow’ and asked, “Is this a joke?”
If it was, it wasn’t nearly as good as him singing Copacabana.
“I do not understand,” he said. He stared at me hard like he was the telepath in this pairing before shrugging his shoulders again, which only made me lift up and down from being trapped in his anaconda arms. Squeezing me like he expected the last dollop of Crest to shoot out of the top of my head, he buried his face against my neck again and sighed out, “Names are not important. You are mine. As I am yours. That is all that matters.”
Triple fucking what?
I still wasn’t sure if he was kidding. But if he wasn’t, I at least knew one thing for sure.
We had a very distinct difference of opinion on what was important.