She landed in Milan on time. Once through customs she gathered her luggage, most of it empty since she was here for the fashion show and expected to go home with even more clothes than she arrived with.
Home. Never before had that word meant so much to her. It no longer meant Louisiana although Louisiana did hold a special place in her heart. That was where she had been born as a human, the place she had risen vampire. It held some not so happy memories, especially during her human years but, for the most part, the memories were good.
Now home had a totally different meaning, one she would be embracing in the next month. It meant Eric now. Wherever he was was home whether it was in the dirt, an abandoned warehouse or one of their dwellings.
“You smell like home Eric, comfort, home.”
The first time she ever told him about smelling like home, the night she rose, when her whole world felt like it was collapsing in on itself leaving her standing there in a world gone crazy and he was the one stable thing in it!
He still, after all these years, smelled like home although she had forgotten the human associations of what the word meant. To a human home meant a permanent residence.
To a vampire it wasn’t about having a permanent residence it was being comfortable where you were. It meant no threats were present. A vampire never relaxed enough in their surroundings to be totally carefree but if no threats were present a vampire could enjoy themselves a bit more.
Home was the feeling she got when she thought about Eric. He had always smelled good to her. He had told her often enough that it was because he was her Maker but she thought differently. She thought there was more to it than that. She had asked different vampires over the years and not one of them had said their Maker felt like home. Most said wherever their Maker was was where they didn’t want to be!
Some did love their Makers but that love started after their turning, not before. She thought he felt like home because they had loved each other while she was still human. She had tried to confirm this but those who had loved each other before wouldn’t talk to her or had met their true death.
Suddenly Pam was in front of her, taking bags and talking a mile a minute. She was excited to see Sookie, glad to have the companionship of someone she could relax around, be herself with, someone to watch her back, someone she trusted with her undead existence.
There were only two she trusted in that way and the other was off the coast somewhere, most likely Greece.
They checked in at their usual hotel and settled in for the rest of the night.
They were curled up together on the couch. It was difficult to tell where one began and the other ended.
Sookie wasn’t acting like her usual exuberant self. “What’s the matter sister?”
“Nothing Pam, just nerves.”
“Why are you nervous? It’s a fashion show! Not all out war!”
“I know Pam. It’s not Milan, it’s not you.
I quit court and am finally leaving Louisiana behind for good.”
“You quit court? How did she take it?”
Sookie nodded, grinning a little, “she took it well. She’s wanting to resign and come home to her beloved France. It all seems to be falling in place for her. The Berts and Andre have all told her they would like to come back, see the changes the centuries have brought to their homelands and Texas has said they would like to consolidate, as would Mississippi.
The Berts have even been taking lessons.” She snickered. “They’ve been learning how to actually speak English and how to act, and be, something other than guards.”
Pam laughed, “I can just imagine them trying NOT to behead their tutors! I bet Sophie-Ann had to command them at some point.”
Sookie nodded, “the first few months they were nearly unbearable to be around because they were frustrated and had been commanded to not harm their tutors in any way. They even had to leave all weapons in chambers!”
Pam was giggling uncontrollably now. “Berts! No weapons!” The picture was just too hilarious not to share!
“I know. The first month it was a struggle not to burst out laughing every time I saw them. Their English has improved though. You can understand what they’re saying now and it’s not all broken up. It’s complete sentences.
She had a good-bye party for me and they were actually quite good. They were forbidden any weapons but a knife each. They’ve learned to dance a little.
The donors had been glamoured to all go up to them at the same time and sing Happy Birthday. They scowled at Sophie-Ann and refused to talk to her the rest of the night but they behaved.”
“She has a sense of humour? Who knew?”
“Dealing with some of the idiots she had to deal with she would have to have one or go mad, or at least madder than most already think she is.
Could you have dealt with HIM without a sense of humour?”
Pam knew who she meant, Bill. His name had not crossed her lips since the night of his punishment. She refused to give him that kind of power ever again.
“I’m sure, if you had been receptive at the time, we could have come up with some doozie pranks to pull on him so no, I don’t think I could have dealt with him without a sense of humour.”
“For the first century or so I did have a favorite fantasy about him.”
Pam raised an eyebrow, “You had a fantasy about him? Do tell.”
Sookie smiled dreamily, “He had been made to be my handmaiden after my turning. He had to do my bidding in all things. He was dressed in a ridiculously short French Maid’s uniform, duster included.’
They both burst out laughing at the image this invoked. “I take it he wasn’t well endowed?”
“Not really. In my fantasy, even when he was hard, which wasn’t often, you couldn’t see the evidence of it even though the skirt just barely covered it.”
They both grinned.
“What else is bothering you Sookie. You’re happy enough to be away from court, there’s something else.”
Sookie gave a small, unneeded, sigh, “There is Pam but I’m not sure how Eric will receive it.”
Pam looked at her, concerned, “what have you done that you think he will be upset? Surely by now you know he thinks the sun rises and sets just for you!?”
“He does? He thinks that?”
“You don’t pay attention to the bond when you’re together, even less when you’re not together.
Sookie, he has loved you since he first saw you at Fangtasia!”
Sookie retrieved the ring box and velvet bag from her coffin. Pam just looked at her. Curiosity was coursing through her but she knew better than to show it or her sister, sadistic bitch that she could be, wouldn’t let her in on the secret.
“Pam I don’t know how much he told you about the first time we went to Dallas but he took a bullet for me there. I kept it hidden away all these years. I finally retrieved it while I was in New Orleans this last time and had it made into a ring for him. I want to give it to him when I offer him my eternal Pledge.”
Pam looked at her sister as if for the first time. She hadn’t seen this Sookie in centuries. She has been this confident, with an attitude, vampiress for so long she had nearly forgotten how insecure she used to be.
The ring was beautiful in its simplicity. It was a thin silver spread over a platinum band with no other embellishments.
“It’s beautiful Sookie! He’ll love it!
He’s wanted this for a very long time. Not the ring, the pledge.”
“Why did he never say anything?”
“Sookie do you remember how stubborn you used to be?”
She nodded, “That stubbornness has paid off over the years though.”
“It has for all of us but I’m talking about just after you were turned. Those first two weeks were hell on all of us!
Even through your tumultuous baby years he still loved you. He still does.
He didn’t say anything because he wanted you to have a chance to live your life unhindered by him. He wanted you to experience things. He wanted you to come to this decision on your own without feeling like he had pressured you into it.”
“He’s loved me all this time and never said anything?”
“Sookie, have you ever told him that YOU love HIM?”
“Not in so many words, no.”
“The two of you are absolutely too much alike!
You both SHOW your love but you’re too scared to say the words out loud!”
“Pam! I didn’t want to jinx it!”
“How long have you loved him?”
“Since the beginning of our dealings with each other only I was too stubborn to admit it and too damn loyal for my own good!”
“You have loved him for better than four hundred years and you were afraid to jinx it?
Sookie I have never met ANYONE who has loved someone else for so long and not been pledged to them already!
You’re just lucky Eric has the patience of Job! He waited a thousand years to find you and now he’s had to wait another four hundred because you didn’t want to jinx it??!!” She threw her hands up in the air and went to bed. Dawn was coming anyway.