I don’t know what happened.
One minute I was dancing around in Eric’s kitchen and the next, his tongue was dancing around in my mouth.
Let’s just say, the man had moves that didn’t necessitate a dance floor.
And I was admittedly lost in them for a moment before reality slapped me in the face, like a scorned pimp with a light nightly take, and I jerked back, screeching out, “Eric!”
At the same time, my hands fluttered around his face, certain it would be the last time I would see him alive – or as alive as he was going to get – but nothing happened.
He seemed to be fine.
But since my heart was still lodged in my throat, it took my fear to push through it, so I could yell out, “What is wrong with you?”
He knew about me.
He knew what could happen.
What in the hell had he been thinking?
Did he have a death wish?
Like a really dead death wish?
But he only stared down at me with heated eyes and his voice dropped down to unacceptably sexy levels, as he said, “Whatever is wrong with me, seems to be right with you.”
And as if to prove his point – that he was unacceptably sexy and fine – he pulled my mouth back to his and proceeded to show me just what I’d been missing for my entire adult life.
Turns out, I’d been missing a lot.
But it had been ingrained in me for the entirety of my life that this was an absolute no-no.
Unacceptably sexy vampire sheriff reputations to uphold or not.
So it was likely the only reason why I was able to pull myself away from him, with me trying to catch my breath, while my heart continued to race in my chest.
We won’t even mention what was racing down my thighs.
And I briefly wondered if he thought to buy me any underwear before I really thought about it.
Underwear was probably one of the very few things Eric would deny me.
“How?” I asked, hoping he would understand my novel length question that had been reduced to a single word.
It was the only one I could muster.
He’d slap chopped every other word I possessed to smithereens.
With his hands still loosely gripping my hips, he merely tightened his hold and lifted me up onto the counter before moving to stand in between my legs.
Once we were at the same eye level, mine had nowhere to hide, so I was staring right at him when he said, “The test results came back.”
With the intensity of his gaze and the seriousness of his voice, I felt like I’d been thrust into a cheesy telenovela because his words didn’t make any sense and without thinking it through, I asked, “And I’m normal?”
Ever since I’d stumbled across the word ‘venefica’, while I’d hated the definition – and despite not quite fitting it to a tee – I’d been appeased I’d at least found a label for what I was.
Or what I thought I was.
Instead I was just crazy.
But since he hadn’t thought twice about kissing me, it was the only logical explanation.
I didn’t know whether to be relieved or to check myself in to a psyche ward.
However, thinking back on everything that had happened – as recently as the night before – I didn’t wait for him to answer either of my questions before asking another.
“But how did I heal?”
Normal people couldn’t survive an attack like that.
Not without looking like an extra from The Walking Dead.
And, come to think of it, normal people didn’t normally make vampires explode like Christmas crackers.
I might not have minded it as much if they exploded into piles of tiny toys and candies.
Even a silly paper hat would be better than vampire sludge.
Sighing, he looked a little guilty when he replied, “About that…I haven’t been completely forthcoming about vampire blood.”
I only stared at him because – really – my mind was too jumbled to form a complete thought, much less a protest.
I’d known him for a total of four nights.
Just how much could I expect him to tell me in ninety-six hours?
So when I said nothing at all, he went on to say, “The magic in our blood allows us to heal from nearly any wound inflicted to our bodies. Short of being staked or beheaded, a vampire will heal from wounds that would kill a mortal. But when given to a mortal, our blood can heal them from many wounds as well.”
“So I’m not immortal?” I eventually asked, still trying to make sense of his nonsensical explanation. I couldn’t remember anything of the aftermath of Andre’s attack, but I’d been wide awake after the first one.
None of them had given me their blood.
But as if he’d read my mind, Eric shook his head and said, “When the others attacked you and exploded, you were covered in their blood, yes?”
At my nod, he went on to say, “A topical application of their blood at that magnitude would have healed your bite marks. And I’m sure you ingested some of it as well. I could smell it on you on the night I’d come to your home looking for them.”
I’d remembered all too well spitting the blood out of my mouth, although I must have swallowed enough of it to do the job.
But jeez Louise…
I really didn’t want to think about what else he could smell, so I forced my thoughts out of the bathroom and back into the kitchen, asking, “So that’s how I healed last night?”
Andre had popped like the weasely little asshole that he was, so it made sense.
In a vampire telenovela sort of way.
But the slight shake of Eric’s head brought my focus back to him as he said, “No. I healed you.”
And for the next few minutes he went on to tell me how he’d left the bar not long after me and had been on his way to my house.
How he’d seen Andre dart in through my car window and the end result of his attack.
Pop goes the weasel.
How he’d ripped me from the car. How I’d been on death’s door. How he’d shoved one bloody wrist into my mouth and the other into my torn open neck.
How he’d saved me.
It had been so long since I’d last felt cared for.
Years since I’d last felt close to anyone.
A lifetime since I hadn’t felt all alone.
Tears pricked the corners of my eyes and since Eric was still standing in between my legs, I didn’t have to reach far to pull him into my arms. Wrapping them around his neck, I hugged him to me and whispered out a heartfelt, “Thank you.”
We hadn’t known each other for very long at all, but there’d always been something about Eric that had put me at ease. Something that made me trust him, in spite of his nature or his position.
That he would go to the lengths he had to save me told me my instincts hadn’t been wrong.
Eric’s arms snaked around me and for a brief moment I allowed myself to believe all was right in the world.
In our little world, it sure felt that way.
But my brief moment of respite came to an end when I heard him say, “How you healed is the only part of the story I have answers for. How your blood managed to kill the others is still a mystery.”
“The tests,” I mumbled, remembering his soap opera-esque line from earlier, and pulled away to look at him when I asked, “What did the doctor say?”
“That every blood panel shows yours as being completely normal. Completely human.”
And then staring at me like he was about to tell me I’d had amnesia and had woken up, with the memories of my evil twin replacing my own, and that I was pregnant by his evil twin (with twins!) – because that was what happened in cheesy telenovelas – he added, “But you’re not.”
“Just spit it out,” I huffed, ready to either change the channel or turn the damn TV off.
And then he did.
And he really needed Closed Captioning subtitles, if I was supposed to understand any of what he was trying to tell me.
Getting down to the nitty gritty of his explanation, I asked, “My blood ate the other blood?” feeling like he’d grabbed the remote and switched to The Nutty Professor when I wasn’t looking.
Hercules! Hercules! Hercules!
I might have been able to laugh about it, if they emitted a fart sound instead of the little wisps of smoke he’d described.
But I would cry if they formed into a Dark Mark, like in Harry Potter.
I didn’t want to be Lady Sookie-mort.
So while my mind wandered, creating menacing swirling forms made of Sookie-mort smoke, he went on to add, “Your blood obliterated every blood sample it was put against. Vampire, Were, shifter, human, fairy. It acted like acid to all of them, with one exception.”
And I almost expected for there to be a commercial break with how long he’d waited to add, “Mine.”
Nodding, he explained, “When I healed you our blood mixed over your wound. Your saliva coated my skin when your mouth sucked the blood directly from my open wrist.”
And then grabbing a hold of my shoulders, he peered directly into my unfocused eyes, adding, “Sookie, while there is definitely something different about you, it appears your blood – at least – is deadly. To everyone but me.”
“But why?” I asked, with the images of the final moments of everyone I’d loved streaming through my mind.
My father finding me crying over the small scrape on my knee and doing what came naturally to any good parent.
Kissing it to make it all better.
Right before he fell to the floor dead.
Tara’s laughing face as she playfully yanked the bubblegum bubble from my lips – the gumballs having decorated the tops of my birthday cupcakes – and shoving it into her own mouth.
And then falling to the ground dead.
Even my cat Tina hadn’t been spared when I couldn’t reach her in time before she’d licked the rim of my half-empty milk glass.
But I stopped myself from remembering the circumstances surrounding my Uncle Bartlett’s death.
And then there was Gran…
I’d learned to be extra careful after Tara’s death. As much as I loved her, I was afraid to even hug Gran. She’d understood my fears, but she’d never been afraid of me and had simply believed me to be traumatized, instead of toxic. But because I’d avoided any direct contact whatsoever, she had taken to taking her hugs from me when I wasn’t expecting them.
And facing away from my bedroom door, I hadn’t expected her to lean over my bed and kiss my tear soaked temple, too lost in the perpetual pity party of my life.
It had taken me most of the night to drag her body back to her bedroom and get her in her bed before I finally called for an ambulance.
But the paramedics could have been on standby in my bedroom and it would have already been too late.
I’d killed her the moment her lips touched my tears.
“I’m not sure.”
The unexpected sound of Eric’s voice pulled me from my thoughts and I had no time to react when he unexpectedly leaned forward and repeated Gran’s final act by kissing away my tears.
I gasped at the gesture, be it from the ghost of Gran’s memory still fogging my head or from my surprise he would do such a thing. But when he stared back at me with nothing but compassion in his eyes, I was sure I made the ugly-face cry when he said, “But you can be sure you’re not alone anymore, Sookie.”
I sobbed like a baby against his chest, hearing him voice my biggest fear out loud.
That I would be alone.
I don’t know how long we stayed that way – a vampire and a snot sobbing maybe-venefica – before I finally settled down.
But he managed to make me chuckle when I pulled away from him, only to watch him pull his shirt out and away from his body, while he stared down at my mucus masterpiece and mused in a playfully disgusted sort of way, “It appears I’m not endangered by this type of secretion either.”
“Sorry I slimed you,” I smiled, before jumping down from the counter to wash my face in the sink. Only when I turned around, with the dish towel still pressed against my damp cheeks, I felt them flush red seeing he’d removed his shirt.
It was ridiculous, considering I’d already seen all of him earlier that night.
But that was when I still believed I was toxic to everyone.
Now, though, that theory had been disproven.
Something his roaming eyes – roaming my t-shirt clad body – told me he was aware of too.
But in actuality, Eric had never acted like sex wasn’t an option for us. I’d been the one to label him as just a friend and it had been my beliefs that kept him locked into that role and my legs locked at the knees.
So now what?
I wasn’t sure.
So I was grateful his next words were like a bucket of ice water to my potentially overheated thoughts and his actions mimicked the crux of them when he handed me a bowl of rocky road, just as he said, “The queen made an appearance in the bar tonight.”
Shoving a heaping spoonful of the ice cream into my mouth to stop the scream of terror I could feel building, I didn’t bother to remove it and asked around the handle, “What did she say?”
Thankfully my bad manners worked out in my favor because I’d needed that flavorful spoon to keep from choking on my own tongue when he went on to tell me about pissed off fairies and portals into other worlds. By the time he was through, I had a bowl full of melted rocky road that was probably very similar to my mushed brain by that point.
If only he had x-ray vision, I could ask him to confirm my suspicions.
Instead I only asked him to confirm if we were on the same page by asking, “So what do you think?”
Because in my mind that queen of his was two flapjacks short of a stack.
But then, who was I to talk?
I was the real life Buffy.
No stakes necessary.
And Eric seemed to play off of my internal musings by saying, “I think they’re talking about you. They just don’t know it.”
“What?” I asked mid-slurp, having repurposed my bowl as a cup to drink my chunky milkshake. “You think I’m some sort of fairy weapon? Sookie Stackhouse, Vampire Slayer?”
By the look on his face, he seemed to at least acknowledge how ridiculous that sounded. But he remained steadfast in his beliefs and nodded, “Yes. There is something about you that is attractive to my kind. More than just your obvious beauty.”
“Pfft…” I snorted. “Beauty?”
I was surely a sight to see, what with my puffy red eyes, rocky road mustache, and the potential to cause farty wisps of smoke that would leave a Dark Mark in any vampire’s underwear.
Any vampire but Eric, apparently.
So would that make me a contender for the centerfold spot in the vampire version of Bon Appétit?
Or maybe just Bon Temps Appétit?
But it would, however, explain why Eric still gave me the time of day, all things considered.
I seemed to turn into Miss Piggy around him and he didn’t seem to care about that very much.
His eyes rolled like a Las Vegas slot machine before meeting my own again and he sounded much more concerned when he said, “Yes. Your beauty. But more than that, it’s your natural scent. Your sun kissed skin and your sky blue eyes. Everything about you mimics everything a vampire has had to give up due to our very nature. Daylight.”
“I’m not the only blond haired blue eyed girl, walking around with a tan,” I argued.
But I had no argument when he said, “Perhaps not, but vampire have been biting into those for centuries and yet you’re the only one I know of with a built-in defense against it.”
“Son of a bitch,” I sighed, dropping my head in defeat.
My life’s legacy was for me to be the equivalent of a can of Raid.
Kills Everyone Dead.
Moving to stand in front of me again, Eric tilted my chin until I looked up at him and said, “I will stall them for as long as possible, but even without the fairy equation added to the mix, the queen won’t give up her search into finding out the cause for Andre’s death.”
“I’m sorry,” I apologized again, realizing it wasn’t just me caught up in this mess.
If he’d still been wearing his messed up shirt, I might have remembered sooner.
“You’re taking a huge risk for me and here I am just bitching and moaning, but I really do appreciate it.”
I half-thought about making him take me home, if only to keep him from getting caught up in my ridiculous drama. But from what I gathered, he would be forced to go searching for the just as ridiculous sounding fairy portal regardless of where I stayed. However that got me to thinking of another way we could throw the vampire queen off of my vampire-scented trail.
The fact she was already eying two other vampire kingdoms as possible suspects helped, but there were others who could just as easily shoulder the blame, so I asked, “What about drainers?”
“What about them?” he asked, looking shocked I would even bring them up.
“Realistically, couldn’t a drainer be just as good of a suspect in Andre’s death as another vampire monarchy?” I replied and added, “I would think there’d be a lot more of them than vampire kings and queens.”
“Realistically, yes,” he eventually conceded. “But first we would need to find a drainer to lay blame to. One who had the realistic resources to be able to subdue a vampire as old as Andre.”
That I could easily do.
Since my only real view of the outside world came from television and the internet – and I had nothing but time to go between the two – I’d gotten really good at finding whatever struck my fancy. And when vampires had first revealed themselves to the human population, my fancy had been struck.
In the months afterward, whenever my curiosity strayed to the fanged crowd, I would do a little more research and in doing so had stumbled across a variety of online chatrooms. Most were filled with their adoring fan base – the fangbangers – and on the opposite end of the spectrum were the bible thumpers, touting the apocalypse was nigh because the creatures of the night would drink us ‘til the last drop.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Maxwell House coffee was a staple in every Fellowship of the Sun congregation for the subliminal message alone.
I didn’t know if it made me an even worse Christian than I’d originally thought, but the thought of blaming a drainer for my sins didn’t faze me in the least.
If not Andre, they were certainly guilty of killing others.
Maybe even others as kind as Eric.
So I didn’t feel any hesitation when I looked up at him and said, “Point me to the nearest laptop and I’ll get you at least one name you can blame for Andre’s death.”
He was on his own when it came to finding any fairies and their magically ridiculous doors into other worlds.
But maybe if I asked nicely, he’d bring me back a unicorn once he found it.