Close to Dead

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Chapter 3: Why?

Eric sat behind me on the stairs with his arms around me, and even though at this moment I felt safe and warm, I realized I would not always feel that way. He had already proved to me that he wouldn’t always be there for me.

Therefore, I took a deep breath and then I said, “Explain.” I looked over my shoulder and said, “Tell me why you couldn’t bother to come save me in my hour of darkness.”

“Oh dear, you are being dramatic, aren’t you?” he said, though he said it without humor. I felt anger at his flippant attitude, and I tried to stand up, but he kept me from going anywhere by tightening the band of his arms around me. He said, “That was unfair of me, but if you are going to keep assuming that I didn’t come to you because it was a choice, then I will assume that you really don’t want to hear the real reason I couldn’t come.”

I thought to myself, ‘Fair enough,’ but aloud, I said, “Fine.” I hung my head slightly. He loosened his hold, and placed his cheek against mine.

He said, “I really had hoped I could completely avoid this conversation, but I knew from the outset that was a baseless dream. I am dealing with you, after all. Sookie, the woman who must know everything to be happy.” He smiled. I looked back at him. He let go of me, and I took the opportunity to sit beside him on the fourth step from the bottom. Funny, his feet could touch the floor from here, and of course, mine couldn’t.

“You had to know I would ask this eventually,” I stated.

“But since we had not broached the subject yet, I had hoped you had seen fit to leave it all be,” he said.

He was talking in that old fashion way he did when he was serious about something, or angry. Who says ‘broach’ these days? For that matter, who says, ‘leave it be?’ He took my hand and gently played with my fingers. It was when he did little things like this, absentminded little things, that meant the most to me. I wasn’t sure why. His hands were cold, but still, I felt warmer than I had in days.

“Eric, please, tell me,” I said.

He kissed my hand, then my arm, then the crook of my arm, at the bend of my elbow. He placed my arm back on my lap, stood up, as if he suddenly couldn’t stand to touch me, and with his back to me, he crossed over to stand by the doorway to the living room. He said, “I felt your pain, dear one. I felt it all. Each and every thing they did to you. I felt each tear cried. Each drop of bloodshed, I felt. I shared it all, and I thought I would go mad.” He turned to me. “I nearly did, you know.”

No, I didn’t know. How was I to know? He had never told me any of this yet.

He continued, but this time, he crossed back to me. He pulled me up to stand. He led me back to the living room, to the couch. He seemed as restless now as I was earlier. We sat down so he could finish his story.

“Victor and Felipe were there that night, as were several other Nevada vamps. They had been informed that a Fairy War was taking place in their territory, and they wanted to come to make sure we would not get dragged into it, and that none of our investments would be affected.”

“Did that include me?” I asked.

“In a sense, although they didn’t know you were involved,” he said. “There’s the rub. I couldn’t let them know. Even as you were being taken to a shack and being tortured in Arkansas, I had to assure them that we were not involved in any way, shape or form. When Bill called me, it was tricky. It was hard to relay the information to him about your grandfather, but I managed. Victor was watching me especially close.”

He stopped, and swallowed, a reflex that seemed forced. Then he sighed and said, “Yes, as they were torturing you, I was well aware, yet I was offering drinks and entertainment to our king and his entourage.” He bowed his head and winced.

“You couldn’t excuse yourself for a moment, make up something, and come to me?” I asked. It sounded like a good plan to me.

He shook his head and grasped my hands, somewhat hard, and just the expression on his face caused me to start crying again. I knew from that one expression that he couldn’t, damn him. “Sookie, I would have been followed. No one, especially Felipe or Victor, must ever know that Niall is your great-grandfather. They must never know that we suffered losses in the war because of your involvement with fairies.”

“Hey, that’s not my fault! I had nothing to do with Clancy’s death!” I shouted.

“I know, lover,” he said, “and believe me, they were given a good cover story for that.”

“So what if people know about Niall?” I asked.

“Oh, Sookie,” he said, as if he was speaking to a five year old. In a sense, he was, if you think about the difference in our ages. He let go of my hands and stood up. “They must never know of your fairy blood! They must never know the prince is your grandfather. Remember, I told you he has more enemies than friends, and he does, believe me, he does. I might not ever be able to protect you, if that was made common knowledge. It would be very bad for all of us. And it would not only be the vampires who would want you, my lover.”

“But why?” I asked, as I stood. “Anyway, how much worse could things get for me?”

He laughed, though it wasn’t a true laugh, and he said, “You do not really want me to answer that question, do you, loved one?” I sat back down and he joined me.

He said, “I sent Bill, and your great-grandfather, because I knew they would save you, and they did. It was all I could do at the time. If the Nevada bloodsuckers had suspected that our bond was as strong as it was, that I could feel your suffering from such a great distance, they would be troubled, let me tell you.”

“Troubled, how?” I asked.

He seemed like he didn’t want to keep talking. He rubbed his face with his hands and said, “Sookie!” almost as if he was reprimanding me. If he didn’t want to keep talking, he only had to say the word. I didn’t start this conversation, he did.

He paced in front of me. “Blood bonds between vampires are one thing. Between master and child, they are very strong. If I was your master, and you were my child, I could summon you; feel you, from almost any distance. Blood bonds between humans and vampires are much, much weaker and usually only work one way. The vampire can feel the human, but the human usually can’t feel the vampire, and the bond can’t go beyond a few miles, and it is almost never more than a slight feeling.”

He sat down again, but didn’t touch me this time. “Whether our bond is stronger because of your telepathy, or your fairy blood, or the amount of times we’ve shared blood, I have no clue, but I could not let them know that I felt you from such a distance, or that I felt you so strongly. I could not let them know that I felt your pain and suffering. I could not risk it.”

“So that’s your reason? Your bosses would have been mad at you?” I asked.

He stood up and pulled me up by my shoulders. He shook me as if I were a rag doll. He said, “Is that all you heard?” I started to cry again, and for once, he said, “Save the tears, Sookie!” He pushed me back onto the sofa and said, “Yes! Everything I do has a reason! You should know that by now! Yes, I am selfish! Yes, I am self-centered! Yes, I think of myself first, and my self-preservation comes first! And yes, the reason I did not tell them that you were being held by fairies, and that you were the granddaughter of the fairy prince, and that I had to save you, was to save myself, but by all that is holy and by all that is evil, Sookie, it was to save you, too!”

He said, “Can you not see that, you ungrateful, girl? Can you not see what is in front of you? Do you want them to take you from me, make you their slave, and make you do their bidding, and turn you against your will, for they would? You would be turned into a vampire, with either Felipe or Victor as your master. I want to protect you for yourself, and yes, for me too, because I want you intact for me!”

“WHY?” I yelled, standing back up, tears flowing freely.

“I will not answer that question right now and frankly, I do not have to!” he said with anger. He pushed me back down with one hand. I was getting tired of all this up and down action. He walked away from me, and stood by the windows. He looked outside and said, “I knew those bastards were hurting you, perhaps killing you, but I did not know to what extent.” He turned back to me. “I did not know it was that bad, my lover. No, that is a lie. I knew it was that bad, but I did what I did, and I cannot change things. Remember, we already established that things can not go back to the way they were.”

He rushed over to me, kneeled by the couch, and placed his large hands on my cheeks, framing my face. His blue eyes stared right inside mine. In hushed tones he said, “I was dying inside, knowing you were calling for me, crying for me to save you, and knowing that I could not go to you. Twice, no…three times, I almost left anyway. I did. If you decide you can never forgive me, I understand, but if you cannot, you must tell me now, and rescind my invitation to your home, so that we severe all ties, because I cannot be with you, if you hate me.”

I stopped crying to consider this. Could I forgive him? Did I want to? Was his excuse good enough? Did I hate him?

“Know this, Sookie, I will answer your ‘why’ question now. The reason I did all the things that I did is that I love you. There, I finally said it. I did what I had to do, and I love you. What do you say in return, Sookie? Do you forgive me? Do you love me, back?”

Well, hell, wasn’t that a mighty fine ‘howdy-do’. What would I say in to that?

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