I went to the kitchen and poured myself a glass of wine. I sat at the table, thumbing through one of Gran's cookbooks, trying to keep my mind off what was happening upstairs. I said a little prayer that Eric would be okay and that Bill would be able to keep those poor girls alive. I
wondered if God listened to prayers about vampires. I finished the wine in one big swallow and poured another glass. I'm not usually a big drinker, but I thought I had a perfect right to a second glass under the circumstances.
There was a whining at the back door, then a sharp bark. I opened the door and Sam trotted in. He rubbed his head against my leg and rolled over. I gave his belly a scratch and shut the door. When I sat back down the dog rested his head on my lap and looked up at me with mournful eyes. I patted him absentmindedly as I sipped my wine. I knew he'd come back to comfort me. I wondered if he'd seen whoever dumped Eric off. There was no way of knowing until morning.
Bill walked into the kitchen, opened the fridge and got a True Blood. He microwaved it briefly, popped the top and drank it down. "Eric is in the 'hidey hole' in the closet. Pam is going to stay here with him. He needs to rest."
"Is he going to be okay?"
"I think so. His injuries are healing. Rest will help. He may sleep for several days."
"And the girls?"
"They'll feel awful for a day or two, but they'll be fine." Bill glanced down at Sam. The dog wagged his tail. "I'm going to make sure the girls get home safely. Will you be alright?"
"I have a watch dog here. " I said, managing a smile.
"Sookie?" Pam walked into the kitchen. "Eric wants to see you."
"I thought he was sleeping."
"He's awake now and he won't rest until he speaks with you."
"I won't let him hurt her, Sam." Bill assured him.
Even without the bond I would have known how hard this was for Bill. With the bond, I could feel how torn he was between his emotions and mine. I didn't want to hurt him, but I had to see Eric. I had to know that he was going to be all right. I petted Sam's head again.
Bill held out his hand to me and I took it. Together we followed Pam to the stairs. Turning to him I said "I'm not making some kind of choice right now. You know that, right?"
"If it was you lying there, I would feel the same way."
Pam rolled her eyes and disappeared up the stairs.
"It's okay, Sookie." He gave my behind a little push and I went up and walked slowly into the bedroom.
Eric was propped up by several pillows and the burns on his face were beginning to heal. His right arm was twitching, which meant it was likely healing as well. The dried blood had been washed off his chest and he was wearing a clean pair of pants. Pam must have brought clothing. Nothing of Bill's would have fit him.
Pam stood by the bed.
Bill motioned to the dazed blonde girl leaning against the wall. "Why don't you take her downstairs and get her something to eat?"
"Food?" Pam made a face.
"Yes. Food. Sookie has a refrigerator full."
"Where's the other one?" I asked. The sound of the toilet flushing answered my question before Pam could. I watched as the dark-haired girl came out of the bathroom. She weaved a bit, not steady on her feet, but at least she was mobile.
"Pam?" Bill said pointedly.
"Alright, alright." Pam grumbled. "Come on ladies." She helped the heavy girl up and both girls obediently followed her out of the room.
Eric had watched the whole thing impassively. Now he looked at me. "So you are bonded to us both. Interesting." His voice was weak, but still carried an undercurrent of his ever-present sarcasm.
"Eric." Bill began, a warning tone in his voice.
"Shut up, Bill. Let Sookie speak for herself. Tell me, Lover, did he coerce you into forming this bond?"
Same attitude. It looked like Eric was going to recover. "No." I said firmly. "He did not." I explained the pain I had experienced and Bill's research. "And it worked. I never felt another twinge of pain."
"How lovely for you." Eric said. He sighed and closed his eyes. "I am tired. I must rest and heal." He waved his hand as if dismissing me.
"Now just you wait a cotton-pickin' minute." I said loudly. "First of all, you summoned me up here. I was quite willing to let you rest. Second, I've been worried sick about you and about the 2000 year-old super-vamp who had you. Oh, and thanks for telling me about that." I spat.
His eyes didn't open. "I am sorry about that. Truly. I thought Yash-Ar was in the past. I never dreamed he would come looking for me."
"You should have known better." Bill intoned.
"Yes," Eric nodded slowly. "I probably should have."
"What did he want?" Bill shoved his hands in his pockets and paced at the foot of the bed.
"Not to worry." Eric said. His eyes blinked and fixed on mine. "It wasn't you or the bond he was interested in."
"Then what did he want?" Bill repeated his question.
"He isn't that complicated. What does anyone want? Money. Power. He's making a play, don't ask me what it is, I'm not privy to that information. Although he has quite an interest in our Las Vegas friends. At any rate he needed capital. What quicker way to get it than to force his many, many progeny to turn over their assets?"
"Assets? Like what? Money?" I imagined Eric had quite a bit of money. Bill did, and he was younger by far than Eric. Before the big reveal, most vampires glamoured people into giving them money, or at least backing them in various undertakings. If they invested that money wisely, over hundreds of years they could amass a fortune. Eric drove expensive cars, plural, and wore expensive clothes. I was sure he paid Pam well. He'd bought gravel for my driveway without blinking. Yep. Eric had lots of money.
"Money. Yes." Eric smirked. "Money and property."
"Fangtasia!" Bill and I said at the same time.
"I no longer own Fangtasia." Eric confirmed. He sank a bit further into the pillows. I couldn't imagine Fangtasia without Eric. Or Eric without Fangtasia. I reached out for the bond, to see if I could comfort him; but I felt nothing.
Puzzled, I tried Bill. Sympathy radiated from him, along with relief that I was safe. Then there was something else, a kind of satisfaction in this turn of events. I glared at him, and he shrugged.
I tried Eric again. Nothing. "Why can't I feel you?" I said finally.
"I don't want you to at the moment." Eric's voice was quiet.
Great. Just great. I turned to Bill. "Could you leave for a minute? I don't think he's going to attack me. He doesn't seem hungry." I smiled nervously. I could sense Bill's reluctance. "It's okay. I just want to talk to Eric in private."
"Alright." Bill nodded. "I'll be right outside." I met his eyes and shook my head.
"I'll be right downstairs then. I'll know if you need me." His last remark was directed more at Eric than me.
Bill left, closing the door behind him. I sat on the edge of the bed. "It's okay to be upset." I told Eric. "Anyone would be in your place."
Eric laughed harshly. "Upset? Sookie, I have lived a thousand years. I've had setbacks and seen much destruction. This is nothing."
"It's your life." I said. "He's taken everything from you."
"Not everything." Eric said. "He didn't take you." His eyes blazed. "You gave yourself away, gave your blood to Bill. What else did you give him?"
Now I felt Eric's jealousy and rage.
"He has broken vampire law by bonding to you while you were mine. I would be within my rights to destroy him."
My heart was pounding. "He only did it to save me from the pain. What was Yash-Ar doing to you?" I tried desperately to change the subject.
"You think saving you was his only motivation?" Eric sneered.
"He loves me." I said.
Eric stared at me. He cocked his head. "And you love him."
I stared at the bed, wadding the blanket into my fist. "Yes." I whispered.
"And me?" There was no self-pity or expectation in his voice. It was just a question.
"I...I don't know, Eric. I loved you once. That week we spent together was one of the best times in my life."
"The week I was cursed. The week I only just remembered." He shook his head. "I was not myself. I made promises to you that could not be kept and which now...well, that is moot."
"It happened." I insisted.
"Of course it happened." Eric stared at me. "It 'happened'over and over again as I recall all too well."
I blushed fiercely.
"That was a glorious week, but I was not myself. I had no memory of who I really was."
"Maybe that is who you really are." I said, voicing something I had long believed.
"Perhaps. But I no longer know how to be that person, if I ever did. That person is gone. He isn't coming back." Eric closed his eyes. I waited, but he didn't say anything more. After a few moments, I kissed his cheek and left.