I had planned to finish doing book 11 for "Eric" before I started this, but I'm too eager to start my own story after years (!) of rewriting Charlaine's. Some people may not like what I choose to do with the story, and that's okay. This is how I personally wish things could go for Eric and Sookie. I hope you like it. And don't worry – "Eric" will continue!

Eric didn't call.

I had told myself that I wouldn't care if he did or didn't. I had told myself that I didn't even want him to. When 10:00 rolled around without a peep from the phone, I realized that I cared very much.

I was too restless to sleep, so I put on my rattiest, comfiest shorts and my rattiest, comfiest t-shirt. I plopped myself on the sofa and clicked on the TV. TNT was rerunning episodes of Bones, as usual, so I settled in to watch.

Naturally, someone picked that time to knock on the door.

"Coming!" I yelled over my shoulder. There was no time to throw on a bra, but I used my hands to smooth out my hair as I walked to the door. If you pop by uninvited at 10:20 at night, you shouldn't expect put-together Sookie. So there.

A quick peek revealed that my guest was Eric. My heart flip-flopped between pissed off and relieved. I gulped down both of those emotions and arranged my face into something that I hoped looked nonchalant.

I unlocked the door and opened it. "What are you doing here?"

"I wanted to talk to you in person," he said. "Will you let me in?"

Without a word, I stepped back from the door. As he walked past me into the house, I took those precious few seconds to steel myself. However much I wanted him to call, it didn't mean that I was happy with him. I shut the door.

"Well?" I said. I crossed my arms, accomplishing both a defiant posture and a no-bra cover-up.

He didn't answer. Instead, he reached out and touched the spot on my neck where he had bitten me the night before. I flinched away from him.

"You know why I did it," he said.

Yes, I knew. "No. Why don't you explain that to me?"

"Because I'm tired of the way you always try to sweep the truth under the rug. One minute you help us plot Victor's death, and the next you abhor my presence because I fought for Victor's death. You claim to love a vampire, but you recoil from the blood he spilled to protect himself and you. I wanted you to see me as I really am."

"Just because I helped to plan it, it doesn't mean I want to see people die! Sure, you're a vampire, but I'm human, remember?" I shot back.

Eric paced into the living room, where Bones was still playing on mute, and I followed a few steps behind. He turned around to face me again. "You can't have it both ways. You can't plan to kill people and then look the other way when it's done. If you don't like death and killing, then don't participate in the planning of it."

I opened my mouth to say something, but I couldn't find anything to say. He was right.

He reached out to touch my neck again. "Do you want me to heal it?" he asked.

"No," I said. I could barely hear my own voice. He was about to protest, but I stopped him. "You're right."

"I didn't mean that you should never let me heal you, or that my bites should always hurt you. I simply wanted you to see-"

"No, I know," I said. "I know what you meant. I knew before you told me." I looked at the silent commercials flashing on my TV. "And you stopped when I told you to."

"Why didn't you stop me sooner than you did?"

I was fighting back tears when I forced myself to meet his eyes. "I guess I felt like it was a punishment I deserved," I told him.

He pulled me into his arms, and I let him. "Why should you be punished when we did what was right?" he asked. I wished with all my heart that I could believe him, but the Christian in me wouldn't allow my conscience to be soothed so easily. After a few minutes, he said, "No more of this. It is past."

I stepped back a little so I could look up at him. "When do you have to leave?" I feared the answer, but I was determined to try facing the truth for once.

"Leave?" he repeated, frowning.

"Go to Oklahoma," I said.

"My lover, I am not going to Oklahoma. I will fight this. I have already spoken to associates who will help me get rid of Freyda, and as soon as I hear from Felipe, I-"

"No!" I said. I used my hands to push myself away from him. "No more killing!"

I saw anger flash in his eyes, and his mouth was a thin line. Finally, he said, "What would you have me do, Sookie?" His voice was so calm it was chilling. "There is no magic wand to wave and make this go away."

I saw it, then, as if I were sitting in front of the mirror, looking right down at it. The cluviel dor. I could've slapped myself for being so blind about the most obvious way to use it. I would save Eric from this marriage. Undoing it wouldn't change anything in the present besides freeing Eric, so there were no weird "time paradox" dangers to worry about. Eric must have wondered why I was beaming at him, so happy I could burst into tears.

"I can help you," I said. I reached for his hand and led him to my room. I opened the makeup drawer and withdrew the cluviel dor, lightly dusting off the powder with my fingertips. "Do you know what this is?" I asked him, holding it out to him.

If I didn't know that Eric never breathed, I might have sworn that his breath stopped. "Where did you get that?"

"You know, don't you?" I asked excitedly. "This is our magic wand, Eric. I can make it so that the marriage arrangement never happened, and nobody gets hurt."

"You would use a cluviel dor to help me? You know it can be used only once?"

"Yes, only once. For the person I love."

A good bit of kissing happened before I could speak again. Not that I minded at all.

"But I have to be sure," I said when I was able. Eric looked wary, and I continued quickly, "There are… issues between us that we have to work out first, Eric. You know I'm right."

He sat down on the end of my bed and spread his hands. "Then let us begin now. What concerns you?"

"Just a second."

I returned the cluviel dor to the drawer, taking care to disguise it again as I always did. Then I went to Eric. He was so tall, I could stand in front of him and have him still close to eye level. He put his arms around my waist and kissed me, and for a minute I considered saying, "To hell with talking! Take me now!" But I was determined to stick with my new plan to confront things instead of hiding from them.

"Well, to start with, we can't pretend that my aging isn't a problem," I said.

"It isn't."

I sighed and leaned into him, wishing I could believe him and brush the issue aside as easily as he did. "It is," I said softly. "Honey, I can't read your mind, but I'm guessing you have this idea that eventually you'll convince me to let you turn me." His silence was the only answer I needed. "I won't. That's never gonna happen. I am going to age, and I can't imagine that you'll still want me when I'm saggy and old and arthritic and…"

"Stop," he said.

"See?" I smiled in spite of myself. "You can't even bear to hear me talk about it."

"No, I don't relish the idea of your body aging and dying. I hate the idea of it. But does it necessarily follow that I will hate your body?" One of the hands he had rested on my hips drifted down to touch my thigh. "Did I stop loving the skin here? Have I ever seemed hesitant to kiss these scars?"

"You always kiss them," I admitted. "If I didn't know any better, I'd think you love them."

He raised both hands to my face, holding me so that I had to look him directly in the eyes. "I do." There was ferocity in his voice, and it took me aback. "They say something about you. Every time I press my lips to them, I am reminded of your strength. How would wrinkles be any different?"


His hands drifted down my arms to rest on my hips again. "And you would not have many wrinkles. You will never be old and decrepit because you have fairy blood, which keeps you always younger than you really are, and you will have my blood."

"Eric, you can't be with an old woman! You're…" I waved my hand in exasperation. "You're you!"

"I understand the problem here," he said, "and it's not me. The problem is your own insecurity."

"Well…" I floundered. "Yes."

"I will love you until the day you die. I will fuck you until your poor heart can't take it anymore."

I had to laugh. "Eric, really!"

"What is your next concern?" he asked.

Moving right along, then. Eric seemed as determined as I was to just have it out now. Well, good for him. He wasn't going to like this next bit – not at all. I took a deep breath.

"I think you should resign as sheriff."


"As long as you're sheriff, we're always gonna be caught up in politics and danger of some kind. We'll never have any peace. And there will always be stuff you have to hide from me. You can't do that anymore. I mean it."

He studied me for a moment, his blond eyebrows furrowed as he searched my eyes. "The secrecy is what actually bothers you, not the danger," he said slowly, almost to himself. "Do I have that right?"

"Well, I don't like getting beat up and almost killed every week, but it's kind of right."

"No wife of mine will ever have peace, my lover. I am a vampire, first of all, which means there will always be those who want to kill me. And whether I'm a sheriff or not, I have a thousand years' worth of enemies. If peace is what you want, then say so now, and I'll leave."

I swallowed the lump in my throat. "I do," I said in a croaky kind of voice. I swallowed again. "I do want peace." True to his word, Eric moved to stand and leave, but I stopped him with one hand on his chest. He gave me a questioning look. "I want peace," I repeated, "but not if it means losing you."

He swiped his finger over my cheek and put it to his lips, tasting my tears. "I want to have sex with you right now," he said. "But I suspect we aren't finished talking yet."

"No," I confirmed with a shake of my head. "Are you going to start talking to me, then? I mean really talking to me… telling me things?"

"I will tell you everything I can."

"Nope, nuh uh, buddy. That's too roundabout and sneaky. I'm serious."

"So am I," he said. "I will not make a promise that can't be kept, and I cannot promise to tell you everything. I will tell you everything I can, and you will have to trust me – not one of your strong points, by the way, since we're talking about problems."

I chewed the inside of my lip a bit. "I know," I said. "And I'll do my best to trust you if you'll do your best to keep me in the loop."

"Is there anything else?" He toyed with the bottom edge of my shirt. "I can see straight through this old shirt you threw on, and all things considered, I have been very, very good."

I smiled and kissed him lightly, unable to resist sliding my fingers through his hair. "I don't have anything else." I couldn't help but laugh when he immediately started to pull up my shirt. "It's your turn," I said. He kissed my exposed breast, and I pushed my shirt back down, ignoring his growl of impatience. "There must be something you need to talk to me about."

"I have two concerns," he said. "To hear the first, you need to take off that shirt."

"Forget it," I told him, crossing my arms over my chest. "I'll lose you in two seconds flat if I do that. So what's the first thing?"

"I want us to live together, and I would like to pay for you to take classes instead of working."

Whatever I thought he might say, that came out of left field. I had always wished I could go back to school, but affording it was never a possibility. The offer was tempting.

"I can't let you do that," I said. "I will not be a-"

"A kept woman, I know. And you won't be a kept woman. You will be my wife, using our money to take classes."

"That's not the way you put it," I pointed out.

He shrugged. "I worded it badly. The point is, will you do it?"

I slipped out of the comfortable circle of his arms and sat beside him. "I know you probably won't understand this, but I love this house," I said. "I can't imagine not living here."

"It doesn't have the security and protection of my house."

"I know."

"We should live together. We are married."

"I know that, too."

I sighed. I realized that somewhere along the way, I had given up protesting that we were married. I would have to think about that later. A silence stretched between us. We seemed to have reached an impasse.

"I have my own fondness for this house," he said in a quiet voice, and I looked at him, surprised. "This house, that shower, this bed." My face felt red-hot, but I didn't dare interrupt him. "We could live in Shreveport and spend our weekends here – together, quietly."

We turned to each other, and Eric watched my face for my reaction. I smiled.

"The second thing?" I asked softly.

"We must restore the blood bond."

That's what I had been expecting and fearing. I took my time answering. "I can't, Eric. I just can't."

"This is not negotiable," he said.

Though I had told myself that I would be careful if and when this topic came up, his attitude made my temper flare.

I stood up and crossed my arms again. "You're right. It's not."

And just like that, he was gone.