One Year Later: Chapter 5
Eric and I just celebrated our one-year anniversary of living at the beach. After I discovered that Eric was still alive (well, you know what I mean—still around), I called everyone back in Bon Temps and told them that I would be staying at Pawley’s for awhile. I said that I needed some time to heal and that I had decided to keep the house and use it. I told the realtor that I wasn’t selling after all and to return the deposits of the renters he had scheduled. I said to tell them that there had been a death in the family (which is technically true, but it was a thousand years ago), and if anybody objected further, then I would gladly send them a check to go towards renting another house on the island. But I’m staying.
Amelia packed and sent a box for me at my request. I have my jewelry box and framed sandcastle photo and Eric’s letter as well as some family photos that were framed on the walls in the house, and several of my favorite beach dresses and bikinis. People keep asking when I’m coming home, and I keep saying that I am home now. They worry that I’m all alone here, but I tell them that I have made lots of friends and have a full life here. I see that I’m probably going to have to make up a new boyfriend eventually. That should shut them up for awhile. Once Amelia suggested that she come to see me, but I told her that I was having renovations done on the house and I’d let her know when they were finished. I suppose I can just keep stalling. I guess if worse came to worse, Eric could just sleep in the sand for a week or so. I could just lock his things in the light tight room and nobody would know.
I stay in touch with Bill and Pam, of course, and told them both that since the shock of Eric’s death, my telepathic abilities have faltered and not returned. I doubt if either one of them believes me, but they are astute enough to pass that information along to their new regime, rendering me useless to them.
Eric says that Pam knows he is alive. At first I didn’t believe him because I felt certain that she would have given it away to me somehow and I was positive that she believed him to be gone. But he says that as maker and child they are bound as well, and she is of course not as inexperienced as I am in reading the bond and would absolutely feel it were he to finally die. I wondered how she could have watched me suffer and grieve without telling me that he still lived, and he said that although he was certain that it pained her greatly to see me grieve, that no amount of pain or even torture could convince her to admit to another soul what she knew in her heart. As his child, she would take that knowledge to her final grave before giving Eric’s secret up. She knew that when Eric left the stake and ashes in his bed that he wished for others to believe he was dead, and she would protect him at any cost. I am learning that vampires are so much stronger than humans on many levels.
You’d think that Eric and I would get bored here eventually, but we haven’t at all. This is our paradise and we’re so happy here together. I don’t usually wake until the afternoon, and then spend time enjoying the beach of course. Eric and I spend most of the night together, but then when I conk out, Eric writes on his laptop or just walks the beach. We spent a lot of our time building a little workshop under the house beside the storage room where we keep the beach chairs. I started making furniture out of driftwood down there and I’ve sold a few pieces at the local shops. I love it and it’s a perfect way to pass the afternoons on rainy or chilly days. Some days I even forego the beach if I wake to read in my daily note from Eric that he found a new piece of driftwood and it’s waiting for me in the workshop. Eric has such a talent for writing and has written several books and we’ve already gotten the first one published. We used the pseudonym Charlaine Harris and I submitted one of my old photos of a young Gran to the publisher to use on the book jacket. After a thousand years of studying women, Eric really knows how to get inside their heads, and his writing reflects that. The first book, Dead Until Dark, has done really well, and he has a huge readership–mostly women, of course.
After spending so much time together here, I have finally learned how to read the bond. I realize now that I could still feel Eric strongly in those first couple of days when I thought he was really gone, but I was so overwhelmed with grief that I didn’t recognize the feelings. And they gradually diminished (probably as he was traveling away from Bon Temps). Pam asked me once weeks later if I felt anything, and I said that I always kind of felt like he was with me, but that I’ve heard people say that after losing a loved one, so I thought it was normal. I’d never been bonded to a vampire before, of course, so I didn’t have anything to compare it to, but now I can see that what I was feeling was his life force still with me. And, of course, it was much stronger when I came to the beach house, but I just assumed that was because the house held so many memories for me.
In the delicate beginnings of our relationship, Eric avoided discussing the bond with me and rightly so. He knew how skittish I was and feared that had I known how tightly we were really bound, that I would have freaked out. It’s funny how suffering the loss of your true love will force a person to grow up real fast. Now I treasure the bond and Eric has taught me how to embrace and use it to express my feelings for him and receive his feelings as well. It’s hard for me to remember now the jumbled confused feelings that the bond was to me before I learned to cherish and control it.
Eric was so torn about leaving me in my grief for so long and has asked my forgiveness many times, but I tell him that there is nothing to forgive. He did what he had to do to stay alive (well, you know what I mean, to stay on the earth). Most humans or even younger vampires would have been tempted to make contact and risked their lives further, but Eric knows how to survive. I’m grateful that he stayed away and didn’t risk ultimate death just to comfort me. I would have endured a lifetime of grief if it meant that he survived. I only wish I had been stronger and come to the beach house sooner. I avoided it because I feared the pain, and as a result prolonged my own grief and Eric’s unnecessarily.
I don’t know how long we’ll be here like this. There could always be a regime change in Louisiana again, and Eric may be able to go back someday. Who knows. Or we might just stay here and walk the beach together every night. We love our perfect life here. I still have the sun and I have Eric. We love it when it rains. We always make love on the beach and think about those first weeks here together. We know how lucky we are to have another chance at happiness and we never take another day together for granted. Never, never.