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Chapter 11: Chew on That

I called to Eric and Larkin, “Oh, come on into the kitchen you two.” I walked ahead of them , but then I found that only one of the men followed me to the kitchen. Eric came in, opened my refrigerator as if he owned the placed, grabbed some Trueblood, and popped it in the microwave.

When I looked back in the foyer for Larkin, Eric explained, “The bastard left.”

“That was a quick exit,” I remarked, surprised.

“I told him to take a hike,” Eric said, using that modern day vernacular that sometimes sounded funny coming out of his mouth. Eric sat down, shook his bottle a few times, his thumb securely over the opening, and purred, “Now, what shall we do about you and me?”

“One question, Mr. Eric,” I said, my mind coiling with electric awareness. I sat down beside him. “You haven’t ingested my blood in a while, yet here you are, out in the daylight, just like the other day.”

“I have another source,” he returned evenly with a shrug. He said it as lazily as if he had said, ‘I got a new pair of shoes today’.

“Another source?” My mouth tightened, appalled.

He smiled, a little half-smile, and said playfully, “I didn’t say another lover. I said another supplier. Larkin was my original supplier, but I have since found another. He worries about you being his competition, but he has another to worry about, so you will be safe.”

I frowned, and chewed on that for a while. “Eric, why do I feel every step forward we’ve ever taken, is then preceded by two steps back?” I hoped he would understand that little metaphor. Or was that an idiom? It had been so long since I had either on my word-a-day calendar, I wasn’t certain.

“I’ll tell you why,” he replied provocatively. He sat way back in his chair. “It is because you are not good at relationships. It is because you are selfish and self-centered, which are two traits I usually admire, but when it comes to you and me, I admire them more coming from me.”

WHAT? I know I screamed that in my head a full second before I screamed it aloud to him. “WHAT?” I mean, seriously? At least the vampire was truthful, but I too admired that trait coming from me more than from him.

“You heard me,” he said condescendingly. His lips quirked in a brief, ironic smile.

I’m selfish? I’m self-centered? I’m not good at relationships?” I repeated, because maybe I had heard him wrong. Maybe he had said that HE was selfish and self-centered, and that HE wasn’t good at relationships. I would find out.

When he answered with an, “You heard me,” I was still in shock.

I stood up and started pacing around the room. Should I ask him to explain himself, should I hit him over the head with a giant skillet, or should I rescind his invitation again? Perhaps the answer was all of the above. Before I could pick which of the choices that would best work for me, he stood up, too.

“Remember when I once told you that you run away when relationships become difficult, well, that is still my assessment today,” he said challengingly.

At first, I didn’t recall that statement, but then I remembered. “You said that about Bill and me, after Mississippi, and you didn’t tell me you thought I did that, you asked me if that was my way of operating, and I told you I didn’t know since Bill was my very first boyfriend!” I pointed my finger in his chest. “And if you want to get technical, you are my second and, well, my fourth boyfriend, and so I still don’t have a pat way of doing things! Also, I’m not running away from you!”

“You are. I say that you are,” he maintained, his face set and stern. “You are pushing me away, and that is the same. I am the enemy all of the sudden, and you want to blame me for everything. That is the same difference,” he exclaimed.

“Oh just admit it, Eric! You only wanted me at first because I was Bill’s and then because of this fairy blood thing!”

Now he was angry, really angry. I could feel the anger absolutely rolling off him, in waves, and heading toward me.

“None of this has anything to do with Bill Compton!” He backed me up against the kitchen counter. Each word he uttered was firm and deliberate. His hands went to the sides of my hips to rest on the counter on each side, essentially trapping me. He was so much taller than I was that he had to lean down into me, so that we were almost nose-to-nose.

“I found myself wanting you, attracted to you, before I first tasted your blood that time we had to heal your back. I wanted you before Andre first announced that you had fairy blood, and long, long before your great-grandfather sought me out to confirm it. I have also known about Larkin Talkington, and his blood’s magical powers, long before I knew there was a Sookie Stackhouse. I even had my own supplier of such blood, before I knew you, and one in which Larkin still isn’t aware.”

“So how unfair of you to assume that I wanted you for your special blood!” He suddenly seemed more than even angry, but I wasn’t afraid … yet.

He pushed away from the counter, started to walk away, thought better of it, approached me again, loomed over me, and bellowed, “First, Sookie, your blood’s properties are much weaker than a true part human/part fae, and while I might be able to stay awake past dawn with your blood, inside a dark house, a few hours after ingesting it, I would never be able to drive around on a bright sunny day! You have gotten much more benefits from ingesting my blood over all this time, than I have from ingesting yours!” He looked at me triumphantly. He looked like he wanted to say, ‘chew on that one for a while!’

And it was true … his blood had actually saved my life before, as had Bill’s. His blood had made me stronger in situations when I needed it, and if we were counting on the life-saving monitor, Eric had taken a few bullets for me, had saved me from a Were or two, and a few other things. I knew that.

“But,” I started, though I really didn’t know what I wanted to say.

“What?” he snapped when I paused.

“Why have I never seen you out in the daylight before?” I asked sharply. That was a bit off point, but a valid question nonetheless … so take that Eric!

“I don’t broadcast that I can do it, and I don’t use it very often, hardly ever. I don’t want others to know about it, and those few who do know, don’t know that you too are part fae, and I’m happy for that, because I don’t want them ever to make the connection, and to think that they could ever exploit you for their own means.”

I guess that made some sense. Did that mean he had won the ‘less self-centered’ or the ‘less-selfish’ part of our fight?

“How is it you just happened to have used it the other day when I called you, when I thought I was in trouble? It wasn’t yet sunset, but you answered your phone, even though I thought I was going to have to leave a message,” I demanded.

Now it was his time for quiet. I almost pointed at him and said, “Ah ha!” because I thought I got him with that one, but he replied a beat later, almost self consciously, “Oddly enough, I find that I wake earlier in the evening now, even without ingesting the blood. Maybe it is my age, maybe it’s the slow ingestion of this strange mixture of human and fairy blood over the years, or maybe I’ll never know, but I usually wake an hour or so before sunset. I really don’t know why. If you recall, you woke me during the day when we were at the vampire summit, and thank goodness that you did, because you saved my and Pam’s lives.”

“That’s right, I did.” I didn’t mean to say that aloud, but since I was just thinking about all the times he had saved me, I thought it was important to recall that I had saved him a time or two, too.

He ignored my weak little acknowledgment and continued with his explanation. “When you called, I was in my own home, which is secure from the sun in every way, so that I can rest at night anywhere I choose, and I saw it was you calling, and I gave it no thought. I answered happily, not even thinking that it was odd that you should be calling me before sunset, because I was happy it was you.”

I knew he was telling the truth. Our bond was my own lie detector when it came to Eric.

“If I’m not a real danger to this Larkin, why is he suddenly bothering me?” I probed.

“To bother me,” he said stonily. Yeah, and he called me self-centered, but he was beyond self-centered.

“Bad blood between you, so to speak?” I pressed. Now that was a double entendre, right? Or does that only have to do with sex? Maybe my statement was an oxymoron. I really needed to get a new word-a-day, and quick.

“There is, lover, as you say, bad blood between us, and I won’t have you put in the middle again.”

“Then what are we to do? I’m tired of it all, Eric,” I inhaled with exasperation. I felt like giving up. I thought we were talking in circles, and I wanted the circle to straighten to a line, and come to an end.

“Perhaps we need some time apart,” he submitted tonelessly. Whoa, that was the last thing I expected to come out of his mouth. I was prepared to say it, but I didn’t think he would say it! “My emotions for you are getting in the way of everything again. Don’t worry, Sookie,” he started, stepping closer, and cupping my cheek with his hand, “I shall still protect you. I only think you need time to examine if you really want me. I know what I want, I know what I have always wanted, but it shouldn’t be so hard loving you. I shouldn’t have to justify my love, or fight for yours, as much as I seem to do. I’m the one that’s tired of it.”

He let his hand drop dramatically slow. I was shell-shocked, and I didn’t know what to say. I looked down at the floor, instead of looking at his face, because I felt a sudden dizzying wash of pain pass through me, and even though I knew he would feel it, I didn’t want him to see it.

“You know,” he began, “when I gained my memory, and I recalled everything that went on at this house when I stayed here after that witch cursed me, I recalled how normal we seemed. We were relaxed with each other, we made love, we talked, we laughed, and you even called me ‘baby’. You never are like that anymore.” My pained expression left the floor and went right to his eyes.

“It’s all my fault?” I stammered.

“I know, I know, It’s just as much mine,” he said, his hand up, as if he wanted to touch me again. “That wasn’t really me, and in a way, it wasn’t really you, and it would have turned boring quickly. You even told me at the time that you missed the real Eric, but don’t you ever miss that phantom Eric sometimes, too? I miss the phantom Eric sometimes.”

I nodded. That was as much agreement as he was going to get from me. He started toward the door and said, “My statement from long ago holds today, Sookie. You are not meant for human men. You are spoiled for them. You are also mine, and you always will be, but I want you to want to be mine. Understand? I’m not a man to beg, ever, so I will cut you free before I beg you. Don’t worry, you will still be protected. Come to me when you need me, for anything.”

He walked toward the front door. I followed out of lack of anything else to do. I really didn’t know what to say. I wanted to argue with him but the fact that he was leaving left that plan kaput. He turned right outside the door, cupped my face with both his hands, leaned down, and kissed me on the forehead. “Think about what I have said, Sookie.” Well, that was a terrible goodbye.

So when he was almost to his car, I ran out of the house, pulled on his arm, turned him around, jumped up and threw my arms around his shoulders. His arms went immediately around my waist, and he held me up as I assaulted his lips with all the fury and passion I could muster that early in the morning. I kissed him hard, with feeling, with tongue and with a promise that this was not over.

I removed my mouth from his, he set me on the ground, and I turned to go, but before I went back inside I murmured, “Chew on that, vampire.”

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