I Write the Songs Contest Entry
Title: River Man
Characters: Eric and Sookie
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. They belong to the wonderful Charlaine Harris. The song "River Man" belongs to Nick Drake.
Penname: Vikinglover Elle
Virgin Writer: No
Sookie – Age 8
"The River Man sits down at the bank all day just waiting for little girls to eat. When they show up he lures them into the river to drown them, then he cooks them up over his camp fire. The only thing the sheriff finds left is their bones and clothes. Some say he only comes out at night, but anyone who's run into him never lives to tell the tale. Mwahahahahaha!"
I never believe anything Jason says. I may be his younger sister, but I'm no idiot. He just likes to scare me. It's something older brothers do, I guess. I could have listened in to see if he was telling the truth, but I promised to try my hardest to stay out of his and Gran's heads. I've been able to read minds since I can remember, and though I've got better control over it now, it's still hard to keep peoples thoughts out. I never liked being able to do it, but daddy said it made me special. Jason didn't like that, so he started telling me stories about the River Man.
Now when Gran tells me to stay away from the riverbank, it's not because of the River Man, so I get a little suspicious. I tell Gran I'm going out for a walk and will be back in time for dinner. I head off in search of this mystery man whom I should probably be afraid of, but I'm not.
I find nothing.
It's getting late and I don't really know where the river is. In my wandering, I end up somewhere to the rear of our property. I'm not sure how long it takes me to get there but I come upon a clearing and can see the area looks untouched. I claim it as my secret place. I don't know if there's another river Gran and Jason were talking about, but after some exploring, I walk until I hear the sound of running water. If the River Man happens to show up, I'll haul tail back home and never set foot here again. But I don't think he will. I don't think anyone knows about this place.
This is probably the same river my parents drowned in last year. It's my fault they died. If I hadn't been such a scaredy cat… knowing they died because I had to go to Gran's… I should have been more brave. Like Jason. Jason rode with them because he was okay to stay at home alone. The car stalled on the bridge just past Gran's house and got stuck. The bridge collapsed, falling into the river below and they drowned. All but Jason. Daddy helped him get out then went back to get momma out of the car. Jason sat on the bank for hours waiting for him, but he never saw daddy again.
Jason hasn't been able to forgive himself for not being strong enough to get out on his own so daddy could have helped momma. He's only eleven—three years older than I am now. Gran told him an eleven year old boy couldn't have done anymore than he did and that he was brave.
I think that's the real reason Gran doesn't want me by the river. I'm not afraid of the water and it doesn't make me think of momma and daddy. Jason is the reminder. He looks just like my daddy. I can't stop the tears from falling once I start thinking about them. It always makes me sad to think of how much I miss my parents.
Yes, I will come here tomorrow.
I doze off under the shade of a large tree, and when I wake its dark. I'm hungry and I can feel a presence in the distance. I look around but don't see anyone. I stand up, dusting some loose dirt from my shorts, and hear a funny noise. My head snaps up and I hear the noise again. I'm not alone. I see a man sitting not too far from where I am, pulling on a tee shirt. He has long blond hair and a scruffy face. Daddy would have said he needed a shave.
I watch him for a minute as I can't be sure if he's the River Man or not. I listen in to see if he knows I'm here, but I don't hear anything from him. I creep closer, carefully placing my feet so I'm quiet. His shoulders are moving up and down and I hear the same noise as before. He's laughing. He turns to face me and I freeze. He smiles at me and stares. I notice the light is different around him. He reminds me of my glow worm.
It would be rude not to introduce myself, as Gran would say, so I do just that. I plop down on the grass beside him and smile to be polite.
"Hey little girl."
I concentrate hard as I listen in again. Nothing.
"Why are you out here all by yourself?"
"I guess I could ask you the same thing. Aren't you a little young to be out here so late?" He stares at me, waiting for my answer.
"I fell asleep and I'm not young. I'm eight."
"Oh, well eight isn't that young is it? Where are your parents?" His eyes widen and he keeps staring.
"Gran says it's not polite to stare at people."
"Is that so?" He squints like he can't see good and shakes his head.
"Yes sir, it is. How old are you?"
"Is that a polite thing to ask?"
"You don't look so old." He really doesn't. I'm not sure how old he is but he can't be the River Man. The guy Jason talks about would have to be old, right?
"No, I guess I don't."
"Are you by yourself?"
"I stay out of trouble when I'm alone."
"But don't you get lonely?"
He stands up and I look up, and up and up.
"Oh boy, you're tall!"
"You're really observant." His right eyebrow lifts slowly.
"Wow, I wish I could be as tall as you."
"If you were as tall as me, then you wouldn't be a little girl anymore, now would you?"
I shrug. "No, I guess not. Are you a bad man?"
"I don't think so. But others may." He whispers the last part.
"I don't think you're a bad man. I would be able to tell."
"And how can you do that?"
"Well… that's a secret. Only Gran and Jason know, now." I get a little sad thinking about momma and daddy again.
"If we become friends, would you be able to tell me?"
"I have to think about that."
"Maybe we can just be friends then? I don't need to know your secret if you don't want to tell me."
My stomach grumbles, reminding me that I missed dinner.
"You don't eat little girls for dinner, do you?"
"Now what would make you ask me that?" His eyes go all squinty again and he looks like Gran does when I do something wrong.
"I don't know. I just thought… are you the River Man?"
"The River Man. He sits down here by the river and eats little girls for dinner."
He leans his head back and laughs really loud.
"Well, I haven't eaten you so I guess I'm not the River Man." He keeps laughing and my stomach rumbles again.
"Well, I gotta go. My Gran'll be upset that I missed dinner. See you later mister!"
I get up and take off running toward home, satisfied that I didn't get eaten. I'm so excited that I'm sure he isn't the River Man and I can't wait to tell Jason. I knew he was a liar and now I have proof.
I get back to the house and Gran is furious with me for being late for dinner. I want to tell Jason about the man I met at the river, but he's over at Jesse Compton's having dinner with his nephew, Bill. That's why Gran is so upset. She hates to eat alone. Gran puts my plate in front of me and I eat in silence. She makes me go straight to my room once I've finished. That night I dream about the River Man and I can't wait to go to my secret place tomorrow.
Gran doesn't let me out of her sight all day. I have to go with her to the graveyard after lunch to visit my parents' graves. I wanted to spend the day in my secret place. The tears that cover my face aren't because I'm as sad as Gran thinks. It's because I'm upset. I wanted to try to find the River Man again today. I did not want to have to think about my dead parents.
A few days later, I make my way back down to the river. It takes awhile, but I find that same man again, sitting where I'd found him before.
"Hey yourself little girl. Back again are we?"
"Yes. Are you the River Man?" I ask him to see if I can read the truth from his mind. I guess I couldn't the other night because I was hungry.
"I thought we covered this the last time I saw you?"
"We did, but I want to make sure. You don't look scary."
"I'm Eric, not this river person. And I am scary."
"I'm Sookie Stackhouse, Eric. Nice to meet you." I hold my hand out to shake but he just looks at me funny. "You don't shake hands?"
"I do not shake hands."
"I still don't think you're scary. Gran says I don't scare easily because I'm a Stackhouse. I'm not sure what that means, but she says it's a good thing."
"It means because of your breeding you don't have any fear in you. I'm not so sure that's a good attribute to have, Sookie."
"What's an attribute?"
"I forget you're only a child because you don't act like it. An attribute is a quality or characteristic—like you being inquisitive, that's an attribute."
"I'm not inquisitive. What does that mean anyway?"
"It means you ask too many questions."
"Oh. Why do I only see you at night? I came by here in the daytime but you weren't here." He sighs, running his hands through his hair.
"I sleep during the day."
"Can you keep a secret?"
"I sure can."
"So can I."
I pout and fold my arms across my chest. He mutters something in another language before turning to answer me.
"I'm allergic to the sun."
"Wow! How are you allergic to the sun?"
"Really?" I ask. My eyes widen waiting for his response.
"No, not really. But that would be cool, huh?"
"Sure would, except I don't like spiders. And I don't like to be bitten."
"Not many people do like to be bitten." He smirks.
"I have to go soon. Will you be here tomorrow?"
"One more question."
"I thought you had to go."
"I do, but—"
"Then save your question for tomorrow as I'm sure you'll have more than one for me."
"Tomorrow. I don't want you getting in trouble, so go home. Make sure you don't come until after eight. It's very important that you heed that. Goodnight, Sookie."
I sneak out every night over the next few weeks. Gran would kill me if she knew where I was going, but I really like talking to Eric. He's more fun than Jason. In the short time that I've known him, I've come to call him a friend. My friend.
"Have you told anyone about me, Sookie?"
"No. I thought about telling Jason, but he made me mad so I changed my mind. You're my friend. I don't want to share you with him. I have to share everything with him."
"He's my older brother. I'm sure I've mentioned him before. Gran says I have to share with him because we're family. I'm choosing not to share you though."
"Hmm…" He gets quiet and I remember I have something for him.
"I brought you some cookies."
"Thank you, but I've already eaten."
"You can save them for dessert then." I pull the bag of chocolate chip cookies from my pocket and dangle them in my hand.
"That's a good idea. Thank you, Sookie."
He takes the cookies and looks at them oddly. I'm not paying attention and am surprised when I hear Jason looking for me.
"I don't know why I have to tromp through the woods to find her. She's making me miss Gran's pie. I'll make sure she gets in trouble for this. Maybe Gran will know it wasn't my fault she ran away from me and hid."
"I have to go, Eric. My brother's looking for me. I don't want him to find me here. I guess I'll see you later." He nods and I hesitate to leave just yet. "Are you gonna eat those?"
"Weren't you going home?"
"Then, I'll see you tomorrow."
"Okay. Bye, Eric."
He hands me the cookies with a smile as I take off running to meet Jason before he can find me.
My new "friend" is a very strange little girl. She isn't afraid of me like she should be. I try glamouring her a few times and it doesn't seem to have any effect. This frustrates and fascinates me at the same time. Maybe I'm weaker than I think. I should try to feed more often. I'm surprised she hasn't told anyone about me either. She comes to see me, thinking I'm some man her brother is telling her stories about. The things children do for entertainment. In my day we told stories, but they were not made up; they were passed down from generation to generation. The stories were important as well as entertaining. Now, kids tell stories to spook one another.
I follow behind her to see where this house is she lives in. I want to make sure she gets home safely as well. I can't believe she's able to sneak away from home so late in the evening. She's only eight and running around talking to strange men. These humans make it so easy.
She lives in a two story farmhouse not far from the river. No wonder she gets there so quickly. I don't know why, but I have an overwhelming urge to protect the child. She smells different than any human I've been in contact with. Maybe that's her secret. She's something other than human. Now I have to find out what. She could be a danger to me without knowing it. And I have to find out how she knew her brother was looking for her when I could just feel him on the edge of my senses.
I hate to admit it but I do enjoy her company. I've been living alone for quite some time. I only stopped here for a short reprieve and have been needed longer than I anticipated. Sophie Ann told me to stay close, so I have. I'll have to find someplace to live soon. I'm not used to going to ground anymore. Having the river nearby is great for bathing, but I'd much rather have a warm bed and hot shower every night. So far it has been quiet here in Bon Temps but I know it is only a matter of time.
Since meeting Sookie, I've had to take precautions. I never ran into anyone at the river before and I'd hate for her to see me in a compromising situation. I don't want to corrupt an innocent. Maybe her knowing me is corrupting her already. She does takes away my loneliness, which is unexpected. I haven't thought about my human children in over 900 years, yet she makes me yearn to see them again. She laughs at everything, asks the most asinine questions, and doesn't know when to shut up.
Why do I enjoy her company again?
Sookie – Age 12
I'm going to meet Eric again today. It's strange that I only get to see him once the sun goes down, but he has that unusual sun allergy. We usually start off with idle chatter about our days—his usually involves sleeping all day, eating, and waiting for me to visit. I mention gardening with Gran and he sneers. Guess he really misses the sunlight. I've asked him about it several times, but he always manages to avoid answering me—usually by changing the subject. He does that a lot, I notice.
"I brought you some more cookies." I wave a bag of cookies at him.
"You know, Sookie, I'm diabetic." He laughs.
"I know I've heard Gran say that word before but I can't remember… it has something to do with sugar, right?"
"Diabetics can't have sugar."
"So… no cookies for you?"
"No cookies or anything else… sweet." His mouth turns up in an amused smirk. I don't get the joke.
"I'm sorry, I guess... I did bad?"
"No, you didn't. I should have told you I don't eat. Cookies. But, I didn't want to hurt your feelings. It seemed to make you happy to bring me something."
I smile at him. "Since you can't have them, that means more for me, right?"
"Right. You know, you are very smart for such a young person."
"I read a lot. It helps with my concentration."
"Ah…What's your favorite book?"
He looks surprised.
"You've read Jane Eyre?"
"Yes. More than once." I poke my tongue out at him.
"That is very unusual."
"I'm unusual." He really has no idea how 'unusual' I am.
"Is that so?"
He cocks an eyebrow. "Does this go back to the secret you couldn't tell me before we were friends?"
"Sorta. I asked Gran about it and she said it was up to me if I wanted to tell anyone."
"You don't have to tell me, Sookie."
"I'm not sure I want to." I was afraid he wouldn't be my friend anymore. Gran told me a 'true' friend will stick by me, but I'm not so sure about that.
"Well, I don't want to know. I've known you four years now. I think if you really wanted me to know, you would have told me by now."
I shrug and turn away from him so he can't see my tears. I get up and start walking away.
"I think I'm gonna go home."
"Okay. I'll see you tomorrow then?"
"Maybe!" I snap at him.
He yells after me.
He hurt my feelings and doesn't notice. I was going to tell him my secret. I was going to tell him the one thing about me that's special and he doesn't want to know. Some friend he is.
I don't go back to visit Eric for awhile. I know I'm being 'stubborn' as Gran calls me, but I can't help it. Why wouldn't he want to know my secret? Everyone wants to know secrets. Especially when they don't belong to them, and I know plenty. Maybe he figured it out and that's why he doesn't want to know? Now I feel stupid.
I finally go to meet Eric the following Friday and he seems bored. He acts like he didn't notice I was gone. I don't know why, but that hurts me more than his not caring about my secret. Just one more thing to add to my diary.
Sookie - Age 16
I think Eric's become a little protective of me. I sort of… may have mentioned in passing this guy from school, Bobby Burnham, who picks on me. He's always calling me a freak around his stupid friends, but he can't stop thinking about my boobs. So, when he doesn't show up to school the next day, I feel guilty. In fact, when he finally does come back, he avoids me like the plague. I'm not sure if Eric has something to do with it, but it is pretty coincidental, I think. I never ask him about it because I know he'll just deny it. And I admit I am grateful. Once he stops bothering me, it seems everyone else does too.
I do something today that I probably shouldn't have. I go down to the river early. I can't help myself. I remember his warning from years ago not to show up until after eight. I never understood why, but I guess he needs to prepare for my arrival. I set out just before dusk to make it there in time to surprise Eric. Only, I'm the one to get the surprise. I always thought Eric was handsome, but seeing him naked for the first time… he's the most beautiful man I've ever seen. Not that I've seen many naked men, of course.
His blond hair hangs just below his shoulders; his dark blue eyes sparkle in the moonlight; his chiseled jaw gives his face character; the five o'clock shadow, which never seems to get longer, surrounding his perfect pink lips is just that—perfect. He's beautiful in every way. I'm pleased to find out just how true that statement is. I wait down by the water, crouching behind a huge boulder that sits just off the bank. He moves so quietly, the only thing that alerts me to his presence is the splash he makes when he jumps into the water. I almost scream, but remember I'm supposed to keep quiet, and throw a hand over my mouth.
I wait and wait for him to come up again, but he doesn't. He's under so long I begin to think he's drowned. I stand and run down to the bank. I'm frantic as I step closer to the water's edge trying to spot him. He surprises me again, surfacing in the blink of an eye. He stands before me, stark naked, with a smirk on his face. My shriek can be heard at least two parishes away.
"There's my Sookie."
"You scared the crap out of me!"
"It seems you are intruding upon my time, not the other way around."
I ignore his statement. "I thought we discussed that I'm not 'your Sookie'." I try desperately to keep my eyes locked on his.
"If I'm 'your Eric', I think I should be entitled to call you my Sookie." His broad shoulders look like they can hold the weight of the world, and then some.
"I'm not a child anymore so those rules don't apply."
"I am very aware that you are no longer a child."
My eyes follow a single droplet of water as it rolls down his muscular chest, tracing the lines of his abs, stopping once it reaches his navel. Eyes up, Sookie!
"I'm also not afraid to share you with anyone anymore. Besides, no one believes me when I tell them about you."
"Who have you told about me?" His face becomes hard and he takes a step closer to me, making the impossibly short distance between us, even shorter.
"Just Tara and Jason. But they don't believe me. They laugh at me and think I'm crazy. I'm sorry; I know I shouldn't have said anything."
He just stares at me. I stare back because I can't help myself. I'm drawn into his gaze and I feel weightless. He takes another step toward me and I flinch.
"I haven't told them where we meet, just that I've made a new friend."
He looks thoughtful for a brief moment before his expression goes blank.
"Did I frighten you?"
I drop my head and lower my voice. "No, you didn't."
"I can sense your fear." He shakes his head, his wet blond locks falling in sections over his shoulders.
"I forgot about your spidey senses. Something else that freaks me out about you."
"You never have to be afraid of me. I wouldn't hurt you." His face softens as his words, smooth like velvet, brush over my tangled thoughts.
"I know that. You should know I wouldn't hurt you either. Or allow anyone else to." My eyes drop to the trail of hair leading down to his… My heart rate jumps and I feel like I've run a marathon.
"I've been dying to ask you a question, but I should probably put some clothes on first. Close your eyes or turn around."
I do both and before I know it Eric's telling me he's decent. How does he move so fast?
"Why do you still come out here to see me?" He asks.
"You're my friend. My best friend. Is that weird? Do you not want me to visit you anymore?"
"You have friends. You don't need to continue coming out here to see me."
"I like you. I enjoy the time we spend together." My voice breaks as my temper flares.
"I just don't understand why a sixteen-year-old girl would want to hang out with… me. I'm not that interesting. And I'm most certainly not a good friend for you."
"Oh, but you are. The stories you used to tell me as a little girl, I still remember them. I've even written some of them down."
"Really? And what are you planning to do with them?"
I shrug. "I just liked having a part of you to take with me."
"You know, they are sagas from my day." He smiles, looking proud of himself.
"I didn't. They're in my diary. I've been keeping one since my parents died. I put all of my um… It helps."
"I didn't think people still kept journals or as you call them, diaries. It's nice to know that some things don't change."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Mean by what?" He smirks.
"I guess I won't get an answer to that question, as usual. Speaking of changing, nothing's changed about you."
"How do you mean?" He cocks an eyebrow.
"Certain things about you. You still look the same as the first time I saw you. Your hair is always the same length; your face is still as smooth and youthful. Your stubble never gets longer. I've grown up and changed, but you haven't. You also have a glow to your skin—"
"You're a lot more observant than I took you for."
"I used to think it was the moonlight—but now that I'm older, and a little wiser if I may say so—I can see it better. It's brighter when your cheeks are rosy too. Why is that?"
"You still ask too many questions."
"I thought you liked that about me." I step closer to him and hold his stare. "Eric, would you…?"
I don't know when I became so bold, but I step up to him and reach my hand up to his neck, snaking it around to the back of his head. I pull his face down to mine and he looks stunned. My lips barely brush his before he's moved away. His lips felt cold but it has to be because he's just gotten out of the water. Or, it could be because I'm on fire and anything I touch would feel ice cold. He narrows his eyes and I feel embarrassed.
"I think you should go home. It's getting late."
"I'm early so it isn't late. And my curfew isn't until eleven. Are you upset with me? Should I not have…? I'm sorry, I thought—"
"Goodnight, Sookie." He turns away from me.
I touch his arm to get him to turn back around. "Won't you talk to me?"
"Go home." He walks away and doesn't look back.
She has no idea what she does to me. Her scent has become more potent over the years. She's definitely something more than human, but I've yet to find out what. She was going to tell me her secret a few years ago, but I told her I didn't want to know. I don't know why I thought reverse psychology would work with a child. Now that she's older, I could try to glamour her into telling me. I can't threaten her. She's too stubborn for that.
I've never been one to get embarrassed by nudity. Mine or anyone else's. I didn't think about the effect seeing me as I emerge from the river would have on Sookie. I have to remind myself she's still a child and to be cognizant of her at all times. I may be many things, but I'm not irresponsible. Besides, Sookie's smarter than most girls her age. At least I cannot be blamed for corrupting her youthful nature. She seems more mature than she ought to be. That may have something to do with the way she handled the death of her parents at such a young age.
She continues to fascinate me and tonight is no exception. Her gaze never strays too far down my body and that's when I realize I need to cover myself to spare her virgin eyes. At the rate her heart is beating, I'm surprised she hasn't passed out by now. We must not find ourselves in this situation again. After the stories she's told me about this River Man, if anyone caught us together, I'm sure I'd be led away in chains. Not that they could hold me, but that's beside the point. I care about Sookie, oddly enough, and I feel she's getting too attached to me.
She reminds me of my child, Pam. Maybe it's time I call her back to me. I do have a few endeavors I could use her help with. Sookie's question pulls me from my thoughts for a brief moment. I know I have to do something about our friendship, sooner rather than later. If she weren't going to be missed, I would just end it all for her right now.
She notices more about me than I realize. She's smart enough to figure things out that most adults wouldn't think of. How can she see my glow? That in itself tells me she's something other. Humans don't have the capacity to recognize vampires upon first glance. She's not two-natured, that much I can tell—I shall have to inquire about any other supes that can recognize vampires by sight.
I can't believe she kissed me! I can't believe I allowed her to pull my lips to hers. I decide in that moment to leave Bon Temps and Sookie; maybe I'll go to New Orleans and stay with Sophie Ann—she's always enjoyed my company. I'm getting in the way of Sookie building true and lasting relationships. What we have is fun, but fleeting.
I can't seem to pull away from her, though.
Sookie - Age 18
I haven't seen Eric since I was sixteen. He never did say goodbye. I don't know what I did or said to upset him, but he just left. I stopped going down to the river about two weeks after that. I waited for him to come back to talk to me and he never did. I figured he didn't want to.
I feel like such an idiot for thinking we were friends. I shouldn't have told him about my diary. But, I know that isn't why he ran away.
Today's my graduation and the anniversary of my parents' death. I'm sure it's safe for me to visit my secret place and not be bothered. Eric is gone and it's probably better this way. It's like he was never here to begin with. I'll be leaving for college soon and I'd like to leave without having any attachments.
Sitting in the grass looking up at the stars, I know I'm not alone. That sensation of nothingness when Eric is near washes over me. I don't hear him come up behind me, but I know he's there. I make no motion to turn around.
He comes to stand in front of me.
"I graduated today. I was hoping you'd show up. I looked for you in the crowd but you weren't there."
"Sun allergy, remember?" He smirks and I lose my resolve.
"Are you still mad at me? I don't know what I did to make you so upset. For you to leave like you did, you'd think I killed your puppy or something."
"I don't need your permission to leave, Sookie."
"You've been gone for two whole years, Eric. Is this because I tried to kiss you? I thought you wanted me to. I thought—"
"I'm not sure what you thought, but you were wrong. Why would I want to kiss a child?"
"I am not a child! I'm a woman in case you haven't noticed. Why are you doing this? Why are you being so cold?"
"You're going away. College is next for you, right? It's best if we separate now. It'll be easier on you this way. You'll forget about me in time."
I'm not sure if he's saying that to convince me or himself.
"I'll never forget you. Never!" I jump up and run away as fast as my feet will carry me. When I know I'm far enough away so that he can't hear me, I shout, "I love you, Eric!"
The wind picks up and gusts around me. I slam into a tree—or what I think is a tree—but arms (arms?) wrap around me. This can't be happening…
"What did you say?"
"You… how'd you… where…?"
"Answer my question, Sookie. What did you just say?" He holds me by the shoulders and I'm unable to move from his grasp. And I don't want to.
I whisper, "I said… I love you. I love you."
"How did you hear me? How did you get to me so fast? You were so far away. I know you were. I made sure of it…" My sentence trails off.
"If I tell you, you have to swear on your life that you won't tell another soul."
I nod because my mouth no longer works.
"I am vampire, Sookie."
Everything goes black and I wake up to Eric's blue eyes boring into mine.
"I did? Why?"
"Because I told you I am vampire."
"Yes, well. You were joking, right? I mean, there's no such thing."
"I am not joking, Sookie." He smiles and his teeth… fangs… shit!
In my daze, I reach out to touch his fangs. I can't believe they're real and have to be sure. I run my index finger along one and then the other. He holds perfectly still allowing my exploration. I linger at the pointy tip and prick my finger. Eric hisses. I snatch my hand away, taking my finger into my mouth and taste blood.
"I can take care of that for you."
I shake my head. For the first time since meeting Eric, I'm frightened of him.
"M-maybe you sh-shouldn't have t-t-told me." I clear my throat. "Maybe, maybe I didn't want to know."
"Look at me, Sookie. You won't remember anything I told you about myself. You didn't see me tonight. You walked around and got lost before finding your way back home."
I take a deep breath, feeling relaxed. I get the strangest sensation, like someone's pushing at my thoughts.
"What? You think you can just tell me what you want me to believe and I'll do it?"
He mumbles to himself. "This is strange. Still no effect?"
"Probably because I can hear you and you can't just make me think what you want! Wait, can you?"
"This isn't normal, Sookie. You didn't hit your head when you fell. I caught you. I don't understand. I've tried before, but thought maybe now…" His voice is low and hurried.
"It's okay, Eric. I'm broken. I'm not like most girls. That's just one more thing wrong with me. I can't even be hypnotized by a vampire," I chide myself.
He looks at me with confusion written on his face.
"That is what you were trying to do, right? Hypnotize me?"
"What do you mean by you're… broken?"
"My secret. The technical name for what I am is telepathic. You know… a mind reader." About three different looks cross his face at once before his expression goes blank.
"Can you read my mind?" He asks with sharp tone.
"No. That's probably the first thing I noticed about you but I didn't understand why. That and the fact that you glow in the dark. It's why I walked over to you. I noticed your light so I knew you couldn't be a bad guy."
"I've never met anyone like you before, Sookie Stackhouse."
"Well, you're my first vampire so I think we're even."
"I'd say so."
"So what now? I know you're a vampire. You know I'm a telepath. What's the protocol?"
"It is getting late. You should get some rest."
"Can I come back tomorrow? Will you still be here?"
"At least this explains why I've never seen you during the day. Where do you sleep?"
"Tomorrow. We'll talk tomorrow. You should get home. Can you walk or do you need me to carry you?"
"Let me stand up." Eric helps me stand but I'm a little wobbly. I have to hold onto him for support.
"I'll carry you. Is anyone at home?"
"Just Gran. Jason moved out two years ago, around the time you left."
"You reveal entirely too much about yourself. I hope you show a little more discretion with strangers."
"I only tell you everything. You're a really good listener."
He doesn't say anything for a minute. "Jason could have come by to visit. I don't want to startle anyone with our sudden appearance."
"What?" He takes off running and I don't realize we've stopped until I no longer feel the wind rushing against my skin. "How did you do that?"
"Right, right. Tomorrow. You do realize you say that when you don't want to answer my questions?"
"I do. Goodnight." He places me on the porch and takes two steps back.
"Don't you want to come in? You can, you know. Come in, that is?"
I wave him off and creep into the house so I don't disturb Gran. I know I won't be able to sleep with everything I've found out tonight. And I can't believe I told Eric I loved him. What's worse is he doesn't say it back.
I cannot wait for the sun to set. I didn't sleep for crap last night and I'm dying to talk to Eric today. He's a freaking vampire! I search Google just about all day for any and everything on vampires. I've got printouts I'm planning to take with me so I don't forget anything. I rush through dinner and bolt out the front door before Gran can ask a question.
"Hello, my vampire."
"Is that how you will greet me now?"
"It's much cooler, I think. So…"
"Ask away." He waves a hand in front of him, gesturing me to get on with it.
"Thank you!" I spit every question I can think of at him and he answers a few of them.
"You are smarter than this, Sookie. What are you afraid to ask me?"
"How did you…? I don't know if I want the answer. Maybe another time."
"Now I'm really intrigued. I think you should tell me." He stands to his full height. Trying to intimidate me, I bet.
"It's my birthday in a few days. I turn eighteen."
"Is that so? What day?" He feigns ignorance. He knows when my birthday is.
"Friday. Gran is allowing me to throw a huge party and I was hoping you would come."
"Is that what you wanted to ask me?"
"I'll come to your party if you tell me your real question."
"How do you do that? I can't. It's embarrassing and I'm sure you'll just say no."
"How will you know until you ask?" His lips curl into that familiar smirk.
"You don't answer a question if you don't want to anyway. I'm gonna go. Gran will be looking for me."
"Good night, Eric."
I feel him watching me walk away, but he doesn't stop me. I don't go back to the river after that night. I can't stand to see him knowing what I want from him. He'll never do it. Plus, there's the little thing of whether he can do it.
It's the night of my party and I'm on pins and needles. I don't know if Eric will show up. I don't know if I want him to. I want to see him but I'm afraid. My party doesn't start until six and its half past five now. I'm fully dressed, hair and makeup done, and anxious. Tara should be here any minute. She's become one of my best friends since high school. One day we just started talking and were inseparable ever since. She knows about Eric, but I haven't told her his secret. She doesn't even know my secret. I've been too afraid to tell her. I don't think she would freak about it, but I couldn't bear to lose her too. A knock on my door brings me out of my thoughts.
"Hey Sook! You all ready? You look beautiful."
"Thanks Tara. I'm just nervous. I hate parties."
"What girl hates parties? You are such a square, Stackhouse." If only she knew.
"I know, I know. Let's go down and greet my guests."
"You think JB will show up?"
"Yes, Tara. I invited him just like you asked. He said he'd be here. You better dance with him tonight. And, I think you should tell him how you feel about him, too. If you don't do it, I will."
"Oh, like you've told your mystery man how you feel about him?" She folds her arms across her chest, head bobbing, lips jutted out. She doesn't scare me.
"I did. He didn't say anything back, but I did tell him. And no, I don't want to talk about it. Let's get some lemonade before Jason gets here and spikes it. I don't want to get drunk on my birthday."
That was well wishing and I should have wished a little harder. Jason spiked everything we had available to drink that wasn't in a closed container. Gran was across the way at the Compton place. She wanted to give us a little privacy, but not too much. Plus, she knows Jason will be around to make sure things don't get out of hand. Too bad she doesn't know his penchant for alcohol. I don't notice until after my fourth cup of lemonade, when I go to stand up, that I'm drunk. The room is spinning but I swear I'm standing stock still. Or at least I think I am. I could kill him. I fume a bit then go outside for some fresh air.
I'm not sure how, but I end up at the river. I truly hadn't planned it, but I make it without falling onto my face. I lay down after awhile to stop my head from spinning. The cool blades of grass tickle every exposed bit of skin they touch. I shiver but it has nothing to do with the cold. I open my eyes to see Eric hovering above me.
He smiles down at me and whispers, "Happy birthday, my Sookie."
I can only smile back as he leans in closer and presses his cool lips to my cheek. Eric's touch sets me off. His fingertips barely skim the surface of my skin. He grazes over my cheeks and runs his fingers down the smooth plane of my neck. He touches me like he's exploring something foreign to him. His hands feel like they're touching every inch of my body at once and it still isn't enough. I need more. I want more. I want all of him and he's finally going to give it to me. Or so I thought. He pulls back from me and moves away.
"What's wrong? Eric?"
"I should have asked your permission first. You looked so beautiful and peaceful lying there. I had to touch you. But, I won't take advantage of you."
"You're not. I want this. I want you."
"I'm not what you need, Sookie. You're drunk. Go back to your party."
"But I'm in love with you, Eric."
"You couldn't possibly know anything about love. You're just a child," he barks.
"Why do you keep saying that? You're not only blind; you're stupid!"
I get up on shaky legs and storm off. When I'm sure I can, I break into a run because I need to get as far away as possible. Away from him, the river, the night. I'm embarrassed, rejected, and foolish. I should have known better. There's no reason why he would want me. He still sees me as the little girl that discovered him ten years ago on the river bank. I'll show him.
I make it back to the house before too long and seek out my target. Bill Compton. He's always liked me. Jason has hinted that he has feelings for me and tonight I'll find out just how true they are. When I locate Bill I grab the back of his head and pull him into a kiss. He kisses me back and only breaks away when we both need to catch our breath. He looks at me with a hunger in his eyes and I lead him into the house. Since the party is in full swing outside, no one will miss us. I wanted Eric to be my first, but since he doesn't want me, there's no point in waiting any longer.
I drag Bill into my room, shut the door and push him onto the bed. He begins to unfasten his pants and stands to pull them off. My head is spinning and I feel sick. I take a deep breath and fight back a wave of nausea. I can do this, I say to myself. I unzip my dress and it falls into a puddle at my feet. Bill gasps at the sight of me in my underwear and a huge smile spreads across his face.
I stalk over to him and push him back down onto the bed, straddling his waist. I kiss him again and he shoves his tongue down my throat. This is not how I imagined my first time would be. These are not the lips I've yearned to kiss. He feels all wrong. This feels wrong. I pull away and roll to the side of Bill. He takes it as his cue to climb on top of me, but I hold my hand up to his chest to keep him from getting too comfortable.
"I'm sorry, Bill. I can't do this. I thought I could, but I can't. I had too much to drink tonight and this is a mistake."
"You can't mean that, Sookie. I know you know how I feel about you. I've watched you grow up into a beautiful young woman. I've always wanted to be with you but never had the courage to tell you. This is meant to be. It's our destiny."
He kisses me hard on the lips and I try to push him off me. He doesn't budge. I start to scream but realize no one will hear me over the music playing outside. This really wasn't the best idea. I bite his lip and he yelps, pulling back to wipe the blood from his mouth.
"You bitch! You bit me!" He raises his hand to strike me.
"I had to. You wouldn't stop. I told you I don't want to do this, now get off me!" I push at him again.
"If you didn't want to do this you shouldn't have attacked me then brought me in here. You are such a fucking tease."
He goes to kiss me again and I scream as loud as I can for him to get off. His hands are struggling to hold my arms still and his weight is crushing my body into the mattress. All of a sudden, I feel cool air against my skin and Bill is floating above me, his feet dangling by the footboard. I look behind Bill to see Eric holding him by the scruff of his neck. I would have laughed had I not been scared to death just a moment ago. Eric's voice is so cold when he speaks to Bill that I get the chills.
"You will not remember coming in here tonight. You will stay away from Sookie. You will not look at her, not talk to her, not inquire about her. Do you understand?"
Bill nods slowly, staring off into space. I notice his eyes have glazed over and he's not blinking.
"Now get out of here!" Eric lowers him to the floor and Bill picks up his pants and runs out of the room slamming the door behind him.
I remember that I'm lying on my bed in my underwear and shield my barely covered breasts with my arms.
"You are too much trouble, Sookie Stackhouse. What were you thinking?"
"I was upset." I look away from him to hide my tears.
"You were upset with me so this is how you react? Reckless. Like I said, you are a child."
"I really wish you would stop saying that."
"When you are ready to act like an adult I will consider you one. Until then, you're still a child in my eyes."
"Do I look like a child to you?" I move my arms away and expose myself to him. He moves faster than I can see and throws my dress at me.
"Put your clothes on and return to your friends. I think you've embarrassed yourself enough for one evening."
He leaves my room shutting the door behind him quietly and I can't control the sobs that rip from my chest. This is the worst birthday ever.
Sookie – Age 21
I come home during spring break and make my way down to the river for a little nostalgia. I've tried to forget Eric, but he plagues my mind. My thoughts are only of him and the way we parted. I'm surprised when I feel a presence in the vicinity as I stand staring up at the moon. He couldn't be here could he? I walk closer to the river's edge and strip off my shoes. I walk into the water until it covers my knees.
The water is much colder than I expect. I close my eyes and reach out to my surroundings with my mind. I know Eric is close. I wade over to where he usually sits and stand waist deep in the cool water waiting for him to break the river's shiny surface. My dress sucks up the water and I feel the weight of it against my legs, unless…
He's much closer than I anticipate and I yelp when he splashes me with the cold water. He's standing so close he barely has to lean forward before our lips touch. His lips barely brush mine. He cocks his head slightly and leans forward again, applying a little more pressure as our mouths collide. He reaches out to pull my face to his, holding it in place and teasing my bottom lip with his tongue. I part my lips to allow his tongue entry and he takes control of me in the blink of an eye. I am mesmerized by the movement of his tongue; his hands tease and tantalize me into submission.
We're in the grass before I know it and I wonder for a second how we got out of the water so fast. My mind is quickly brought back to what we are doing when Eric trails kisses down my neck to my collarbone. I shiver from the cold.
"Would you like me to warm you up, Sookie?"
I nod because I can't remember the word I'm supposed to use to acknowledge my consent.
He bends his head to kiss me again and I shiver, but this time, not from the cold. He nibbles along my neck, down my shoulder. His fingers ghost across my skin leaving goosebumps in their wake. My breath comes out in short, quick pants and my heart feels like it's going to beat right out of my chest. I'm excited and nervous all at once. But I trust Eric, completely.
His fingers tease the inside of my thighs as he slides the hem of my dress up. My breath catches in my throat and he stops.
"Are you okay?"
"Fine. Fine. Don't stop, please?"
"Have you done this before?"
I look away, my cheeks flaming red. He puts a finger under my chin and turns my face to look at him.
"No, I haven't. I wanted it to be you. I always wanted it to be you." My words are barely above a whisper, but I know he can hear me.
"I will be as gentle as possible, but it will hurt a little."
I nod. As his hands continue pushing my dress up, he slides further down my body until he is between my legs. My heart starts racing as he draws tiny circles up my calves with his tongue. He massages the flesh of my thighs and drops his head to butterfly kisses up and down my legs. A small moan escapes my lips in the form of his name and he smiles up at me. His fangs are down and I gasp. He grips the sides of my panties with his thumbs and pulls them down. I raise my hips to allow him to pull them off. The grass tickles the back of my leg and I squirm.
"Patience…" he whispers.
His head disappears under my dress and I feel the coolness of his tongue at the apex of my thigh. He licks slowly up the junction to my hip and down again. He repeats the motion on the other side and I'm grasping at the grass, pulling pieces up with each tug. He calls to me and our eyes lock.
He hovers over my mound and smiles at me again. His tongue darts out to touch me and my hips jerk. He smiles and does it again, and again. He takes his time teasing me, making me ache for him to lick faster, harder, longer. His eyes widen as he watches me watching him. He sucks my nub between his teeth and I float over the edge into a never ending abyss. My head drops back and I mutter something incoherent as Eric moves up my body and places himself at my entrance. When he removed his pants, my dress and bra, I have no idea. I don't care. I don't want him to stop. I spread my legs wider, allowing him to get closer and he waits until I look at him again.
"Relax, my Sookie."
He must be able to sense my tension. I hold his gaze as he pushes forward, stopping when I tense up and wince.
"Look at me, Sookie. You have to relax. When I pull out, take a deep breath and hold it." I do as he says. "Good girl. Now when I push back in, exhale and push your hips up to meet mine. We'll go slowly."
His hand goes under my hip and as he pushes, I breathe out and push up against him. He holds still for a minute and I concentrate on relaxing. I listen to the sound of the crickets in the grass, the frogs down by the river, and water washing over the rocks as it flows on its never ending course. His grip tightens on me, moving me with him and our hips rock together. Once I get the hang of his rhythm, he slides his hand down my leg, hooking it under my knee. He pulls my leg up allowing him to go deeper. After the initial shock of his size and my discomfort, I get a little brazen and push back at him harder. He smiles down at me and shifts me again, hitting a spot inside me that makes me scream out.
"OhmyGodOhmyGodOhmyGod… Oh. My. God!"
His thrusts come faster and I feel a tightness in my abdomen which I've never felt before. One final thrust sends me over the edge. I scream his name, not caring who hears and dig my heels into the backs of his thighs, spurring him on. He growls something I don't understand in low tones and it sends chills down my spine. I'll have to ask him later what he said because whatever it is, it's making me crazy. The tightness increases and warmth spreads to my thighs. I squeeze my eyes shut as my orgasm rips through me. Eric grips the back of my thighs, hoisting my legs up and moves at a thunderous pace. His words come out in quick succession and he looks into my eyes.
"Sookie, I need… can I?" He bares his fangs and I assume he's asking permission to bite me. I nod and he dips his head to my breast and wraps his lips around my nipple. The piercing sting of his bite in conjunction with his teasing my nipple is a weird yet arousing sensation. He releases my breast after licking and kissing the wounds. He pulls me into him and I couldn't move if I wanted to.
"Do I taste good?"
"Oh yes… I've never tasted anyone like you before. My sweet, Sookie."
I shiver at his words.
"Are you cold?"
"No. I'm fine. Happy in fact. But I guess I'll have to get going soon."
"I'll have you home just before dawn. I'm not finished with you yet."
The first time Eric meets my Gran and Jason, I keep thinking I'm going to die of embarrassment.
Since moving back, Eric never comes up to the house unless he's walking me home. Even then, we say goodbye at the back door. I can't remember telling him I would be home alone, but he knocks on the door and Gran answers. I can hear them talking from my room and I freeze in my tracks. I don't know what to do.
"Well hello young man, can I help you?"
"Yes ma'am. I'm here to see Sookie."
"She didn't tell me she was having company this evening. Won't you please come in, mister…?"
"Northman. Eric Northman."
"Mr. Northman. Can I get you a glass of lemonade?"
"No, thank you."
"Sookie dear, you've got company. Don't dilly-dally girl!" Little does Gran know, I can't move out of fear.
I'm not sure how Gran will react to having a vampire in her home, but the scene I walk in on is disturbing, to say the least. Eric is chatting up a storm with Jason, who's shown up who knows when. Gran has Eric wrapped around her finger; she hands him iced tea and cookies. I will admit, upon seeing him, I think he looks like the average human guy. His cheeks are flushed pink and his eyes glow in the firelight. I stand by the end of the hall and watch them. I cannot believe my eyes. I really want to know how he's going to fake eating and drinking. Lost in my thoughts, I didn't hear Gran clear her throat.
"You just gonna stand there, Sookie?"
"Sorry, Gran. So I see ya'll have met Eric?"
"No Sook, we've just been sitting here ignoring him for the past ten minutes."
"Jason. Watch your mouth. Don't be rude to your sister!" Gran says. Eric smirks.
I sit down next to Eric and try to grab his attention, but Jason starts prattling on about a football game he watched yesterday. Eric doesn't watch television. I don't know if Eric knows what a television is. I try to interrupt so that we can leave but to no avail.
"Sookie, won't you invite Eric over to dinner tomorrow night?" Gran asks.
"Um, Gran I think Eric might have other plans. Besides, he isn't staying for too long. Are you Eric?"
"I do need to run. I just wanted to say hello to Sookie, and meet you all since I was in the area." He winks at me.
"Well it was very thoughtful of you to pay us a visit. Too bad my granddaughter is rude and didn't think to invite you over for dinner."
"Yeah, maybe we can watch a game the next time you come through. You like beer?"
I smack Jason in the arm as I walk Eric to the door. Once we're out on the porch and the door is shut, I relax.
"I'm sorry. I forgot you were coming by. Did you want me to meet you later?"
He doesn't answer. He pulls me close and kisses me. I'm so caught off guard I almost fall over but he has a firm grip on my waist. He pulls me even closer as he deepens the kiss and I wrap my arms around his neck, my fingers twining through his hair. He pulls back first and smiles at me.
"Of course, my Sookie. I'm sorry if I've caused you any trouble. I'll wait for you in our usual place. Don't be too long."
"I won't. I promise. You did great with them, you know?"
He smiles again showing me how anxious he is for me to meet him later. His fangs are fully extended and his blue eyes are hooded. I wonder how often he comes by just to see if I'm okay. We never talk about it or anything besides each other and what we do when we're not together.
Eric really is a great listener, especially after sex. He sits, watching me intently, listening to every word I say. I do the same for him. He tells such outlandish tales that I'm sure are true, but I can't help thinking he makes some of them up just for me.
We're just coming back from the river on our usual walk to my home. My skin is still flushed from our impromptu love making and I feel like nothing can shake my mood. That is until I glance up to see Jason standing on the porch with his arms folded across his chest. He only does that when he's pissed.
"Sookie, go in the house. I need to have a talk here with your friend, Eric."
"What's going on Jason? What's wrong?"
"Go in the house!"
"You don't talk to Sookie that way." Eric growls.
"She's my sister and I'll talk to her any way I want. You and I have some business to discuss."
I put my hand on Eric's chest, keeping him where he is.
"It's okay; I'll see you tomorrow."
He nods and takes a step back after kissing my cheek. I walk up the porch steps and glare at Jason as I pass him to go into the house. I turn to look back at Eric once more before closing the door behind me. I stand in the foyer, my ear glued to the door, listening to their conversation. I can't hear much as Jason and Eric are both whispering.
I reach out with my other sense to hear Jason thinking, No good son of a bitch. He's not good enough for my sister. If what they say is true, he's a murderer and I won't let him get my baby sister if I can help it. I see images of female bodies splayed on the ground, blood at their necks, their bodies pale. I'm not sure what to think. Between Jason's ramblings and the images in his head, I'm guessing this has to do with the River Man. But Eric couldn't be him. He couldn't.
As soon as Jason comes into the living room I pin him down on the couch with a glare and he rolls his eyes.
"What's going on, Jason Stackhouse?"
"Your boyfriend out there might be a murderer. Listen Sook, you're my baby sister and the only one I've got. I won't let anything happen to you and if he is who he says he is, then this will all blow over. Andy wants him to come down to the station and talk to him."
"He can't do that!" I yell without thinking.
"Why can't he? If he doesn't, Sherriff Dearborn will come out after him. Where's he live anyway?"
"That's the thing. He doesn't live anywhere. They won't be able to find him."
"I don't like the sound of that, Sookie. Just where did you meet this fella? I thought you knew him from college?
"I never said that."
"Well, for your sake and his, I hope he's a law abiding citizen or his ass is going down for those unsolved murders."
"What unsolved murders?" The images I got from him.
"Sook, remember when I used to tell you stories about the River Man?"
"Of course I remember. You would try to scare me to death with them."
"Well, it turns out they were true."
"Yeah. I overheard Andy talking about it down at Merlotte's. He had some pictures he and Bud were trading back and forth. Gruesome stuff. This guy's been murdering young girls for over a decade."
"How'd you see these pictures and not get yelled at?"
"Hey, I'm an inquiring Bon Temps resident. Plus, I snuck a couple glances when Andy wasn't looking."
"Right. Well, I'm going to bed. This is just too much for me to think about right now. See you in the morning?"
"Yeah. I'm staying over to make sure you and Gran are all right. Seems these killings only happen at night and the bodies are found in the morning. They have bite marks on them Sook. The sick fucker is biting these girls before killing 'em."
My body goes rigid and I feel cold.
"Sook, you okay? You look pale."
"I'm fine. Tired. Goodnight, Jase."
It can't be. Eric wouldn't do that. He… he's not like that. Is he? I can't get my conversation with Jason out of my mind. I stumble across my diary from when I was a kid. Flipping open the pages, I find an entry that is another reminder of how clueless I am.
I sneak away from the house around two in the morning. I'm sure Gran's fast asleep and Jason is conked out on the couch. He's really taking this seriously. I run down to the river and whisper Eric's name. I hear a rustling in the trees, and I'm in his arms before I know it. He's bent me backwards and kisses me for all he's worth.
"What are you doing here? I'm happy to see you, but you should be inside where it's safe."
"Won't you protect me?"
"Of course I will, my Sookie. But you shouldn't be out in the middle of the night. I can come to you."
"Why didn't you?"
"Sookie, there's something you should know…"
"If it's about what Jason said, I have to know it wasn't you. You wouldn't do something like that, would you?"
"Do you doubt me?"
"No? It's just he said they were bitten and—"
"And you thought of me?"
"It's not… that's not what I meant… I…"
"I think I understand very well. Because I am vampire and must feed to live you think I murdered those people? I am a murderer and should take the blame for every dead person that shows up in this Podunk town? I thought you knew better, Sookie."
"Eric, wait! I'm sorry, I didn't mean…"
He pushes off the ground and is airborne. He can fly?
I go back to the river every night looking for him. Two weeks later another body shows up and this time the police have a witness. I'm biting my nails as Jason tells Gran and me that the man seen earlier that evening with the dead girl looks just like Eric.
"Tall, blond hair, handsome. Sounds just like your boyfriend, Sook. When's the last time you saw him?" Jason asks.
"It's not him."
"How do you know, dear?"
"Because it's not. I can prove it."
"Oh... and how'll you do that? Use your Jedi mind-tricks? Sook, it's over. There's a witness. He did it and he's going to be put away for murder."
"I'm sorry, sweetheart. But, it looks like Jason is right. And he seemed like such a sweet boy."
"He's… he's…" I can't say it.
"He's what dear?"
"Nothing, Gran. It's okay if no one believes me. I'll find out the truth, and I'll clear his name."
So I sit here by the river, waiting, hoping he comes back. I need him to come back so that I know what we had was real and not just some figment of my imagination. I need him to know that… The silence around me is broken as a twig is snapped in the distance. I'm not sure what it is but I'm afraid and I wish Eric was here.
Just before I black out I swear I see that familiar blond hair in the distance.