Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest. Thank you, SeriousCrush. I love you so! This chapter is inspired by the of Montreal song ‘Noir Blues to Tinnitus’ from the Daughter of Cloud album. (Haven’t heard it? You can find it on youtube.)
Erica, I added this chapter just for you.
Chapter 3: You Won’t Be There
Eric’s arm was wrapped around Sookie’s shoulder and he used his free hand to caress her hair. She radiated heat, warming him to his core. Her breath was even and slow, just like her heart. She had passed out over an hour ago, and there was no sign of her waking.
He smiled and buried his face in her hair. She smelled delicious. It had been years since he shared a bed so intimately with a human woman. Although sex was a regular occurrence, an emotional connection was rare. In fact, Pam was the last woman he’d been attracted to like that. He blinked. Suddenly, his mind filled with images of Sookie in his house, in his bed, and in his life for good. He shook the thoughts out of his head and swallowed hard.
Eric pulled away from her carefully, and walked to the window. He propped it open, letting the cool morning air kiss his naked body. The streets below were littered with fragments of costumes, empty cups, and broken beads.
The sun was coming. It was pushing against him, reminding him to go to ground. He had to get back to the Queen’s palace before it was too late.
He leaned over the bed and kissed Sookie on her swollen lips. A shiver went through him as a memory of her exquisite blood bloomed in his mind. “See you tonight.”
She smiled in her sleep and then rolled onto her side, clutching the pillow he had been using against her body.
He dressed quickly and ducked outside. Once he was in the cover of a dark alley, he took to the sky, flying quickly to the Royal Grounds. Eric stopped just outside. The man guarding the entrance nodded and let him pass. It was never a good idea to show up unannounced around the Queen. Sigebert and Wybert were known for their joy of dismemberment, and as Sophie-Anne’s personal bodyguards, they had plenty of opportunities to indulge themselves. Eric was quite attached to his appendages, so he always followed the rules.
The palace was fairly deserted. Everyone who had been at the meeting early that evening had left with Eric, spreading out to enjoy the one night a year when people didn’t seem to notice, or remember, that there were hungry vampires among them. It wasn’t an accident that their annual meeting with the Queen coincided with Mardi Gras.
Eric slipped into his room grateful he arrived before the others. He fell into his bed, closed his eyes, and inhaled. Sookie’s scent enveloped his body, lulling him to sleep.
He woke that evening with a smile on his lips and his fangs fully descended. Sookie’s name was on his lips. He couldn’t wait to see her again. Unfortunately, their second meeting was going to start soon. Eric fell into line with everyone else.
Sophie-Anne stood at the head of the table, her petite hands clasped. “I hope everyone enjoyed themselves last night. Now, on to the matters at hand, as you all know, the Great Revelation is coming. As Sheriffs of Louisiana, you will all have a role in keeping the peace in your Areas once that happens.”
The Great Revelation would change everything. Vampires could live openly. Of course, synthetic blood had a lot to do with making the Revelation possible. Humans had to feel safe before they could be expected to accept vampires. Eric just hoped it would be enough. Will Sookie accept me once we’re out in the open?
“Did you hear me, Mr. Northman?” Sophie-Anne was staring at him expectantly.
“No. I’m sorry.” He bowed his head deeply.
“You have my permission to go forward with the bar you and your partner have been asking about. You may open the night of the Great Revelation.”
“Thank you, Queen Sophie-Anne.” Eric bowed his head again. Pam would be thrilled. They already owned a building, but hadn’t renovated yet. Being a part of the system meant following orders and above all else, waiting for the Queen’s permission.
The Queen discussed business in every Area, speaking to each Sheriff until everyone was satisfied. She shared her plans for how the Great Revelation would take place and assured them she would do whatever she could to make the transition smooth for them.
The meeting seemed to drag on for hours. When Sophie-Anne finally dismissed them, Eric thanked her for her hospitality and rushed to his car.
The streets in New Orleans were crowded, but nothing like the previous night. The people swarming the roads were there to erase the evidence of the city’s annual celebration, toting around garbage bags and brooms.
Eric parked under the window of Sookie’s hotel. It was dark. He stayed close to the building as he hovered up to the second story window. It was still unlocked from the night before, and once Eric was inside, he knew immediately that something was wrong.
The beds were made and the room was empty. Sookie was gone.
Eric growled and gripped the edge of their bed, flipping it violently against the far wall. It landed with a heavy thud, crushing a lamp as it came to a stop. He focused his anger on the second bed, but stopped when he saw Sookie’s delicate purple wings crumpled between the headboard and box springs.
He held them gently in his hands and closed his eyes. They were the only proof his night with Sookie had actually happened.
Leaving the room in disarray, Eric took off. He had a long drive ahead of him. He tucked Sookie’s wings into the glove box of his car and sped out of town.
By the time he got to Shreveport, he was in a foul mood. He’d spent several frustrating hours in the car by himself. He chided himself for all the questions that went unanswered with her mysterious disappearance, but the one that stuck out above all others was: why did she matter so much?
He mulled it over in the parking lot outside the abandoned-looking building he and Pam bought last year. There was something about Sookie. Perhaps it was her innocence, or her raw desire, or the way her blood filled his body with euphoria. Whatever it was, he wanted her more than ever.
“Well?” Pam looked up over the ledger on his desk.
“She gave us her permission.” His voice was flat.
“Excellent!” Pam grinned and then narrowed her eyes. “What’s wrong? This is the news we’ve been waiting for since last year and you look like you just lost your fortune.” She gasped. “You didn’t, did you? We’re going to need it.”
“My accounts are fine, Pam,” he snapped. If only it was that simple. He would never admit he had feelings for a human. “The Great Revelation is in one month. Can you have it ready to open by then?” The empty building didn’t look like much, but Pam had a flair for decorating, which is why he called her and asked her to come back and help him.
She nodded. “You know I can.”
“Then get started, and let me work in peace.”
She slammed the ledger and walked toward the door. “Fine. I don’t want to spend time with you when you’re like this anyway.” With that, she was gone.
Over the next few weeks, Pam came through. Every night the desolate space transformed more and more into an iconic vampire haven; it was straight out of a book by Anne Rice. Eric didn’t have much to do with it, except when she asked him for money. Other than that, she avoided him.
Everything worked out perfectly. Just as televisions across the globe announced their existence, Eric and Pam opened their doors to the public and Fangtasia was born.
Despite his success, Eric never found happiness. Night after night, Eric searched the crowd for Sookie, but she was never there.
Poor Eric. He should’ve left a note. 🙂