This placed second in the Eric and His Great Pumpkin One-shot Contest. It’s an Eric and Sookie love story that finds Sookie in Italy and Ireland dreaming of a new life. She finds it with our favorite vampire. AU Rated: M – Romance/Drama – Chapters: 1 – Words: 4,937 – Published: 9-22-09
Charlaine Harris owns these characters.
Thank you to my lovely beta, Thyra10, whose stories I hope you’ve been enjoying as much as I have.
I’d saved for this trip for almost ten years, planned every detail for the past two. Most of the people I know in Bon Temps never make it out of Louisiana their whole lives, much less the country. But I’ve been bound and determined to see Europe. It’s been almost an obsession of mine since I was thirty. And so here I am.
I worked it out so that I would spend my fortieth birthday in a tiny town in Italy called Orta San Giulio. I’d read about it and seen pictures and found myself drawn to it, somehow knowing that my birthday would be more special there than in any other place. I was born on Halloween, and that always meant costume parties and trick or treating as a child. I felt lucky that I had such a special birthday and I wondered how different it would be to celebrate it in a place where I didn’t have to share it with people in Halloween costumes. And so I came to Orta San Giulio to find out. It’s a serene, picturesque little town on Lake Orta in the lake region in Northern Italy.
A few days before my birthday I was having dinner in a restaurant on the terrace of my hotel, cleverly called Hotel Orta, thumbing through my travel guidebook and watching the light change on the water as the sun set. I had a perfect view of the island of San Giulio. It’s a tiny medieval village that seems to float on the surface of the water in the center of the lake, presenting almost every inch of the surrounding town with a breathtaking view. I had explored the quaint little island earlier in the day with a boat full of French tourists. Because it was late fall, most of the tourists were gone which was just fine with me.
I listened with my mind to the chatter in the brains at the tables all around me and decided that maybe I should live here. Because almost all of the thoughts were in Italian, I had no idea what people were thinking and I found that almost as relaxing as being with vampires. As if on cue, a pair of handsome vampire men (why is it they’re always so good-looking?) was escorted to the table beside mine and seated. I tuned into their voids and snuck a peek at their perfect faces. One caught me and gave me a seductive smile. Nope, not going there.
I went back to reading my travel guide. As soon as I heard the vampires engaged in conversation, I decided it was safe to look back up to enjoy the view again (of the lake, not the vampires). Their conversation was in Italian, but their accents were odd and I couldn’t place them. Who knows where these men were really from or how long they had been on this earth. Listening to their deep voices and unusual accents made me think of Eric of course. The last time I celebrated a birthday when my age ended in a zero, it was with Eric.
We were happy then. I was happy. I thought that being in love was all that was needed to be happy, but I was wrong. After all I had been through in the supe world, you would have thought I would have lost my naiveté, but I hadn’t really. It wasn’t until Fangtasia was bombed with forty-seven humans and vampires inside that I really wised up to the world. I watched Eric mourn the death of his business, his friends, his human customers, and finally, his child. He became withdrawn, angry, hopeless. There was nothing I could do to console him, and I felt our relationship begin to falter. When he told me he was leaving, I knew that love wasn’t enough anymore. He asked me to go with him, but I sensed that he really wanted to go alone and so I said no. I never heard from him again. But for the last nine years on my birthday, I received a single red rose with no card, and I knew that it was from Eric.
I was distracted by the conversation beside me even though I couldn’t understand it. Suddenly the words changed from Italian to French. My French was even worse than my Italian and so I sat and listened as a challenge to myself to see if I could understand anything. Not a word. I put my nose back down into my book and was startled at another sudden change to English. The accents were so thick though that I still couldn’t understand much of the conversation. What I did get was something about Limerick, Ireland and Samhain. They were looking forward to seeing Samhain or going there. I was straining to hear more when the language changed back to Italian and I gave up.
When I got back to my room, I fished yet another travel guide out of my suitcase and started to read about Ireland. Of course I had heard of Samhain before. Eric told me years ago that it was a harvest festival that he loved when he lived in Ireland in god only knows what century. When he found out that my birthday was on October 31st, he told me that he wasn’t surprised at all. He said that a child born at Samhain was said to be gifted with “an da shealladh” which means “the two sights” commonly known as second sight or clairvoyance. I pointed out that I could only read people’s thoughts and that I’m not clairvoyant, but he said that that was just a minor technicality. He also said that he wasn’t so sure that I didn’t have that gift and that perhaps I just hadn’t learned to develop it yet. He loved celebrating the night that he called Samhain and I simply called my birthday with me. I wondered how people celebrated Samhain now and so I scanned my index and found the word. I hadn’t planned on seeing Ireland until after my little tour of England which was scheduled next week, but in a move that was completely out of character, I decided to change my itinerary and see Ireland first instead. As much as I had thought spending my birthday in Lake Orta would be perfect, suddenly I felt an even stronger need to celebrate it in Ireland. The vampires on the terrace had mentioned Limerick, and so I decided to go there.
I spent the following morning at an internet café rearranging my hotel and travel reservations to accommodate my irrational need to suddenly get to Ireland. Then I spent the rest of the day enjoying my new favorite place in the world, the island of San Giulio. The main thing to see on the island was the stunning ninth century Basilica of San Giulio. I wandered in with the other tourists and watched with fascination as artists painstakingly retraced the lines of the frescoes on the walls from their perches on the scaffolding. There were a few people praying scattered about the pews. I bought a little handmade bookmark in the basilica gift shop and then wound my way around the tiny island. I couldn’t explain it, but I felt so drawn to this magical place. There were a few restaurants, but they were closed as it was late in the year, past the tourist season. Their lake view terraces were covered with heavy clear plastic, waiting for the summer people to fill the tables and admire the view. I stopped in front of the most beautiful one. It was called La Veggente. I pictured myself waiting on the tables and smiled inwardly. Could I learn Italian? How hard could it be to get a job here? I couldn’t afford to live on the island, but surely there were small apartments in the village across the lake that were affordable. The private homes on the island were stunning. The front doors faced the narrow stone pathway that circled the island. But it wasn’t until I was being driven away in the boat that I really got a good look at the backs of the homes. They were all huge and beautiful with docks and boats and I couldn’t imagine the wealth a person would have to have to own one. The more time I spent learning about San Giulio, the more I loved it. I hated to leave Lake Orta, but I was on a self-appointed mission to see Ireland. And I knew that I’d be back—maybe even to stay someday. I really did love it that much.
And so as I had planned, I arrived in the city of Limerick on the big day. I checked into my hotel and asked immediately where I could attend the Samhain celebration. The clerk gave me instructions but I heard from his brain that he thought I was a little nuts to be so excited about what he thought was a fairly lame event. As instructed after dinner, I ventured out into the city and walked the ten or twelve blocks to where I was expecting…well…I have no idea what I was expecting. But it wasn’t what I found. What I found was a huge bonfire burning in the middle of an empty parking lot. There was a fairly large crowd of families milling about and a handful of temporary street vendors set up to sell sodas and junk food. I watched the fire and the people for awhile and tried to get into the spirit of the festival, but soon agreed with the hotel clerk that this was fairly lame. And to think that I left Lake Orta for this.
I began wandering back towards the hotel, taking different routes so I could get to know the area a little. As I turned a corner, I could hear the loud drunken singing from a pub down the block. Now these people know how to celebrate, I thought. I wanted to experience an Irish pub, of course, while I was here, and the night ahead of me was free since my big festival was a bomb, so I decided to check out the pub. As I approached it, I read the sign over the door and stopped dead in my tracks: Samhain. That was the name of the pub. How bizarre.
I stepped inside and felt the warmth of the room and the general glee of the patrons. The singing was fairly loud in the main room and so I made my way into another room to the side. This room was packed as well, but quieter. There were a dozen or so tables and a small bar near the center of the room, but I was drawn to the fireplace against the far wall. It was surrounded by cozy tattered sofas and overstuffed chairs. People were sitting and chatting, enjoying their drinks. I walked to the bar and a handsome black vampire with stunning green eyes asked what I wanted. I had no idea what I wanted and so told him to surprise me. He grinned and poured me what looked like a dark beer that tasted rich and delicious.
I made my way over to the fireplace, looking for a free chair when a man stood and gallantly offered me his seat on the sofa. I looked up and recognized him as one of the handsome vampires in Lake Orta, and suddenly I understood that the conversation that I’d overheard about Samhain was about this pub and not the festival. I glanced around the room and lowered my shields. The room was full of vampire voids. I politely declined the offer of a seat and turned my back to the ridiculously sexy vampire and stared into the fire. Maybe it was the heat from the fire. Maybe it was because I was nervously drinking my beer too quickly. Maybe it was just because the room was full of handsome vampires. But suddenly, I felt a warmth flow through me and a deep satisfaction, like I had found something meaningful in Samhain after all. I sensed the sexy vampire behind me and felt his cool and unnecessary breath on my neck. I shivered and allowed myself to enjoy the feeling for just an instant before turning to tell him to go away.
I turned and raised my eyes, but instead of finding the face of the sexy vampire, I found myself looking into the crystal blue eyes of the man I had loved most of my adult life. Eric.
“You found me, I see.” He spoke wearing his signature smug smirk and I had to control my impulse to kiss his mouth.
“I found you? It seems that you’ve found me.” I was trying not to smile. My heart was beating in my ears and my face was flushed.
“Yes, I found you standing by the fire in a pub in Limerick that just happens to be ten feet from my office door.”
I looked around the room. “Your office?”
“Yes, this is my pub, lover. That is why you’re here, isn’t it?”
My eyes grew wide at the strange coincidence. He soon realized that I clearly had not known that he owned this place. His smirk turned into an expression of awe.
“You didn’t know. Interesting.”
He took my hand and led me to a back door. I set my beer down on the counter against the wall before we walked out into the night. He closed the door behind me and looked into my eyes. I held my breath as he wrapped his arms around me, wearing that smile again. Suddenly we were floating and I closed my eyes. When I opened them again we were standing on the rooftop. Eric loosened his grasp and took a step back. I immediately missed his arms but kept it to myself.
“Happy birthday, Sookie.” I wondered if a rose had been delivered to my house in Bon Temps.
“How interesting that you chose to spend it here.”
“Well, I had originally planned to spend it in Lake Orta.” Eric’s eyes glowed with an expression that I couldn’t read. “It’s a little town in Italy called Orta San Giulio actually…”
“Yes, I know where it is, lover.” He was chuckling. Of course, he would know. He’s a thousand years old. He knows everything. “And now you are here.”
“Yeah, pretty odd, isn’t it?”
“To say the least.”
We made small talk about people we both knew. I avoided the subject of Shreveport. He didn’t seem surprised when I told him I hadn’t married. He smiled when I told him about my trip so far and how much I loved Europe. I didn’t tell him that I was seriously considering moving to Lake Orta. I did tell him that I liked his pub and he seemed proud. As it started to feel late, I asked if he could take me back down to the street.
This time when he flew me down, I didn’t close my eyes, but stared into his. His arms lingered a little longer than necessary and I had a brief thought that he might kiss me, but then the moment passed and I stepped back. He asked if he could walk me back to my hotel. At first I declined, but then decided that I really didn’t know the city and having a big scary escort couldn’t hurt. He gave me a soft kiss on the cheek and squeezed my hand as we said goodnight at my door.
I was getting ready for bed, going over the bizarre events of the evening and examining my feelings for Eric. He had seemed hesitant to touch me. The goodnight kiss was not a romantic one. Did he still have feelings for me? More importantly, did I still have feelings for him? I walked to the balcony and looked out into the night. I thought I caught a glimpse of Eric leaving the courtyard below, but maybe that was just wishful thinking. Then I realized that I did want to see him again. Maybe I did still love him. I wanted him to come back. I was already in my nightgown and decided that it would be just too incredibly foolish to go back to the pub or even call. Instead, I wrote a note: Please come in. I left it wedged in the balcony door in an envelope with just Eric written on it and went to bed.
The following morning I went to the balcony and found my undisturbed note. Clearly, Eric had not felt the same pull towards me that I had felt. I was disappointed, but had to respect his wishes. After all, he left me. It wasn’t the other way around. I spent the day enjoying the sites and being a normal tourist and tried not to dwell on how hurt I felt. I decided not to go back to the pub that night no matter how much I wanted to see Eric again. Instead, I packed my bags and made the calls necessary to get me on my way back to Lake Orta the following day. I had interrupted a perfectly blissful vacation there to come to Limerick in search of Samhain, not even knowing what that would entail. Yes, it was odd, but maybe I just needed to see Eric this last time to remind me that he didn’t want me anymore. And now I could go back to my fantasy of making a new life in Lake Orta.
I tore up the note in the balcony door and went to bed.
I was dreaming of San Giulio, circling the island in the sky wrapped in Eric’s arms and so happy when I was awakened by a strange feeling. Like I was being watched. I opened my eyes to find a silent and still Eric sitting in the chair by my bed, his piercing blue eyes staring at me without expression.
“How did you get in? I didn’t leave you an invitation. I left you one last night.”
“And what makes you think that I wasn’t here last night?” I didn’t answer. “I waited for you tonight, lover. Why didn’t you come?”
“I just thought it was for the best, Eric. I’m leaving in the morning.” He nodded in understanding.
“So it really was just some bizarre coincidence that you came here? You didn’t come for me.” That wasn’t a question.
With vampire speed, Eric was up and inches from my face before I could even register it. My heart raced and I panted in…fear? Panic? Lust? I searched his eyes as they glowed into mine. He knelt by the bed, hovering over me and whispered a desperate, “You don’t love me…” before his lips crashed roughly into mine. My hands went instinctively into his hair. My lips parted and he thrust his tongue into my mouth. I tried to sit up, to get closer to him, pulling his head to me. I couldn’t get close enough. I moaned as I felt his hands on me. The covers were thrown back; my nightgown was pulled up as his cool hands traveled swiftly up my legs. One found my hip and grabbed into the flesh while the other snaked around my waist and pulled me into a tighter embrace. Our kiss was urgent and deep. My hands left his hair and began pulling at his clothes. I gathered the sense to begin unbuttoning his shirt, but before I got to his pants, his hands had ripped my gown down the front and pulled it out from under me. His mouth left mine and clamped onto my breast. I frantically pushed his shirt away from his shoulders. He disengaged long enough to pull his shirt off and then as if he had a second thought, he stood and quickly removed the rest of his clothes. He stared down at my now nearly naked body for an instant before climbing on top of me and devouring my neck and chest with kisses. His hands seemed to be everywhere before they settled on my panties. He dragged them down my legs before tossing them aside and then plunged forward, burying his face between my legs. I cried out at the feel of his delicious and talented tongue and just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, he added his fingers and I nearly came undone. I was writhing and moaning underneath him, panting his name with each frenzied breath. I was so close. My body began to tense and I closed my eyes, but then suddenly he was on top of me and completely filling me with one stroke. I cried out as I came, tears streaming from my eyes. He was rough and fast and I loved every powerful thrust. He rose up, straightening his arms and glaring into my eyes, still riding me hard. He had never looked more beautiful to me than at that moment. I was overwhelmed with pleasure. I wanted to tell him that I loved him, that I was sorry I ever let him go, but all that came out of me was a strangled moan as I felt my climax building again. Eric’s jaw was clenched, his eyes burned into mine. He was growling with each thrust, and when he opened his mouth, I thought he might speak, but instead he lowered his head and sunk his fangs into my breast, groaning loudly as we both came.
I was panting heavily, but Eric was perfectly still as he held onto me. He gently licked the wounds on my breast before his mouth found mine in a long hard kiss. I placed both hands on his perfect behind and held him tightly to me, never wanting him to leave. His kisses trailed down my neck and he settled his face against me as my breathing slowed. He started to pull out, but I held him fast, letting him know that I wasn’t ready to let him go. His body relaxed as did mine, and before I knew it I was fast asleep with my vampire still inside me.
When I woke, it was early morning. The sun was up and Eric was gone. I jumped up and dressed quickly, eager to begin my journey back to Italy before I had a chance to change my mind.
I checked into my room at Hotel Orta again and had dinner in the restaurant on the terrace. Then I went up to my room to be alone and wallow in self-pity. As much as I loved it here—and I truly did—I was starting to wonder whether I had made a mistake leaving Ireland before talking to Eric. Being in his arms again made me realize how much I still loved him. I had never stopped loving Eric. Then I thought back to the day he left me in Bon Temps. Why exactly hadn’t I gone with him? Was my life there so wonderful that I couldn’t leave it? Of course not. I was ready to leave it now and come live here in Italy.
I tried to examine how I felt about the day he left me. I didn’t go with Eric because I feared that he really didn’t want me. He had been so distant when he was grieving for Pam, and a part of me wondered whether or not he really wanted me to go with him. I hadn’t said no because I wanted to be left behind. I said no because I feared that’s what he wanted. But then last night, it certainly seemed that he still had feelings for me. Was it too much to hope for to still have his heart?
A knock on the door interrupted my inner monologue. A single red rose in a crystal bud vase was delivered. I opened the card with trembling fingers: Happy belated birthday, lover. How in the world did he know where to find me? I set the vase on the table by the bed just as I heard, “Invite me in, lover,” from the balcony. My heart stopped.
He stepped into the room looking like a god. He left the balcony doors open, the curtains billowing in the autumn wind. My breath caught in my throat.
“How did you know where to find me?”
“It’s nothing as mystical as how you found me in Limerick, lover. I just peeked at your itinerary on your phone after you fell asleep last night. Is that cheating?” Good lord, that smirk!
“I guess not.”
“So tell me how you knew to find me here.”
I was confused. “Um…you found me here.”
“Well, obviously, I did tonight. But before that. How did you know that I live here?”
“You live here?”
“On San Giulio.” He turned to face the little island. “In my villa over there.” Then he turned back to me. “Isn’t that why you came here? I have a restaurant there, La Veggente. It’s closed for the season…” My face must have looked blank. “You didn’t know?”
I shook my head, speechless. “La Veggente. I saw it. I pictured myself working there. I thought maybe it was a vegetarian restaurant…” My voice trailed off, stunned at the coincidence. Eric smiled that irresistible smile.
“I named it after you, lover. It means the clairvoyant.”
“I’m not clairvoyant, Eric.”
“And yet, you have found me in not one but two different countries. Curious, is it not?”
I just nodded. Curious, indeed.
“This is where I wanted to bring you, Sookie. I came here after I left Louisiana. I wanted you to come and live with me here, but…well…you didn’t want to.”
“No, Eric. I did. I wanted to more than anything. I thought you didn’t want me…”
Before I could finish my sentence, he had me in his arms, his lips were on mine, pressing with fevered urgency. He pulled back, only inches from my face and whispered, “And can you see that I want you now?”
“Yes.” I closed my eyes and pressed my lips to his again. The kiss was slow and sweet and powerful. His lips left mine and he looked deeply into my eyes.
“I love you, Sookie. I’ve never stopped loving you.”
“And I love you.”
“Promise that you won’t leave me. Say that you’ll stay. Surely you see that you belong here.”
“If you’ll have me, Eric, I will never leave. That, I promise.” Eric pulled back a little, smiling sweetly.
I smiled back as I touched his beautiful face, our eyes locked. “Then welcome home, lover.” And then I knew that at last I’d found my happiness with the man that I truly loved. I’d finally found my way home.