I had spent the previous night pouring over Sookie’s book.
The ‘Sookie-Book.’ I chuckled at the childlike quality of this name.
I had reveled in her charm, ever prevalent in her everyday musings, longed to touch her while I went through her narrative of our love making, suffered as she leveled unfounded accusations at me, and fought bitter jealousy as I read through her joy and pride in her family.
I found it hard to stomach as I read her most intimate thoughts about her shifter, but it had solidified the conviction that I had, indeed, made the right decision stepping out of her life.
The most interesting information was truly of littlest use to me. Her descriptions of her gift, its use and detriment to her life. As her life progressed, I gathered that she felt it urgent that she record her methods of control over it with the ‘shields’ she erected. She was desperately worried that her children would possibly suffer from the same affliction and subsequent sometimes violent life that followed.
She expressed relief when her oldest child turned out to be a shifter… A Shifter.
But Sookie had always had strange affection for the breed. And I had… not stayed.
Her life had not stood still. Mine could not either.
I was suddenly restless. I would not be spending this night dwelling in the past.
I had lain low long enough. If any vampire had been sent to find me in Shreveport, they would have moved on in search of another Bolt Hole by this time. I was not concerned for my safety. I honestly doubted Freyda would attempt to send minions to force my return, and could easily handle it if she tried, but appearances were crucial. Let everyone believe The Broken Viking had gone to nurse his wounds. My strike would be all the more unexpected.
If revenge was now my sole purpose, it would be spectacular.
I needed amenities. Compton’s house had an ancient wireless telephone, but who used those anymore? Did the obsolete thing even work? I was tempted to fly to an electronics merchant and buy a new holopad, but I lacked clothing first and foremost, and human-like transportation second.
For the last sixty years, we had been making every effort to ‘Go to Ground.’ After trying to make mainstreaming work and suffering increasing losses through simple human ingenuity and deviousness, (the irony of vampires being threatened by human deviousness had never been lost on me) we retreated back into the shadows of the night.
In some senses, this was best, but being high profile was extremely profitable. I had enjoyed the revenue from Fangtasia, and enjoyed its selling price much more. I had liked not having to hide what I was. I had delighted in openly displaying my power for glory and gain. However, while I had very much enjoyed being a vampire in the open during the few years of attempted co-existence, I valued living much more, and humans just could not be trusted as a species.
So flying to a merchant of any sort –
My thoughts were interrupted by a light knock at the door.
I sampled the air.
Faint traces of honey and…
A brightly smiling Anabelle was blushing and resolutely keeping her eyes locked on my face. She shoved a bag in my arms and turned her back to me.
“Look, I know you’re… kinda squatting right now.”
I growled softly and furrowed my brows.
“Not that I care, mind you! I’m glad to have met you, but I know you don’t live here because I’ve never seen so much as a light over here in all my life. And you have no clothes… My brother Tommy is a lot, uh, smaller than you, so his clothes weren’t gonna fit. I went and grabbed some things from the store. Seeing you again, I hope they fit. Also, my holo’s in there if you need it. The dock for it’s in there too. I know you’re probably used to the style of the last few gens but I don’t like not being able to type, so I never upgraded… so… Sorry?” She said breathlessly.
Having finished her little speech, she waited for me to respond, still not facing me.
A slow smile was spreading over my face as I peered into the bag this little human hybrid had brought unasked, and unlooked for, but not unwelcome.
I ignored her words intentionally. “Niall did not forbid you to come near me?” I waited for it.
She huffed as I knew she would, and spun back in my direction, annoyance making her unconcerned with my nudity.
“Niall does NOT get to forbid anything! “ she fumed wagging her finger in my face. “Niall cannot just expect me to obey his every whim and take off to fairy-land at the drop of a fang because Niall is never around. Niall likes to parade Pretty Princess Almost-Sookie around when it suits him, and pretend like he has her back… I feel like some… prize mare, or something. Some long lost hope for the Brigants I turned out to be…” Her voice had lost its fire. She paused, “I’m an adult now, dammit, even if I do sound like a whiny kid right now… I shouldn’t feel like I’m five every time he says jump. Niall doesn’t understand that I… that I need… I really need you to put those clothes on.” This time she did not turn away.
“And Niall does not understand this?” I teased.
“Or I can go,” she scowled and swatted lightly at my shoulder, her touch sending tingling electricity through my skin, “and you can fly over when you’re done with the gadgets and book. But look, my house is not clothing optional. I expect you in pants, Mister Northman.”
I knew I should tell her that I could not come to her home without having a serious issue with her kin but, “You want the book back now?” was all I could think to say. All my earlier resolution to abandon the book was evaporating in the face of its potential absence.
She looked into my eyes and screwed her face up into a pained smile that could have meant a thousand things.
She turned from me again and began walking down the porch steps. “Hold on to it while I’m still in Bon Temps. I might be leaving Sunday, maybe even indefinitely after the way I spoke to Niall. Maybe you could have it scanned, and you won’t have to worry about holding that great big monster.”
The thought had crossed my mind. “It’s not the same, ” I mused softly, more to myself than her retreating figure.
She stopped for a moment, still facing away from me, as if she were about to speak, then just shook her head and continued home through the overgrown grounds leading to the cemetary between the cold Compton manor and the warm Stackhouse farmstead.
As I dressed in the (slightly too small) clothing Anabelle had provided, I reflected on the ease of her presence. She was not fearful, and seemed too sheltered to believe I could ever be as bad Sookie had sometimes described.
She would make an ideal companion. Perhaps even child. She didn’t seem to believe the Fae had much use for her, and perhaps this was true, but I had the prince’s words ringing in my ears.
She must not know my darkness.
The truth as it presented itself to me was a simple set of statements that left my mind working furiously.
Sookie was gone.
Niall had needed Sookie but could not use her.
Anabelle – Nan – was not Sookie.
Ana – Nan – was more powerful than anyone had informed her.
Niall was not aware that I had this knowledge.
Niall needed Nan, and desperately enough to want me dead to keep her.
He also had been anticipating my return in fear I would want to claim her.
Nan liked me. No. More… she was infatuated with me.
I did not object to her presence.
Actually, she was soothing…
But, I sought revenge.
She would help me get it…
In a way that I could keep her…
And possibly destroy the Fae in the process.
I seemed to be eliminating enemies by the thousands tonight.
“You’re pale,” a cool woman’s voice intoned. “Whom was your last meal, and when?”
“Hello, Pamela,” I replied without turning. “We have work.”
“Bloody hell, Eric. What are you wearing?”