Placed second in the public vote for The Age of Eric Contest. Eric follows a telepath from the ballrooms of a post-war London to the farms of Kenya as decadence becomes the favorite pastime of the rich in the early 1920s. Taken is its sequel. AU. Rated: M – Drama/Romance – Chapters: 1 – Words: 7,691 – Published: 7-16-10
Charlaine Harris owns these characters.
A/N: Thank you to my lovely beta, Thyra10.
When the new century arrived in 1900, I decided to celebrate by making myself a new child. Pam had long been released, and I was feeling the need for a new companion. I wanted to live in Scotland, but wished for a woman with which to share my life.
I had stayed in England after turning Pam, and was thoroughly enjoying the new trend in misbehavior among the upper class Londoners. Nothing pleased a vampire more than immoral behavior, and so I was quite happy to find myself among a new generation of humans who found it very hard to follow society’s rules.
In the late 1870s, a revolutionary book was published called The Law of Population. It was written by a woman who had been divorced, was an advocate of Marxism and social democracy, and was a labor organizer for women. The author, Annie Besant, had previously been on trial for publishing a book advocating birth control, and while she was freed on appeal, she lost custody of her children to her former husband. To say she was shocking would be putting it mildly.
When she published The Law of Population, she not only argued for birth control again, but also declared that married women should have affairs and enjoy a pleasurable sex life. This went against the grain of the Victorian standards of the time that viewed woman as humans who could not and should not enjoy sex, but only put up with it to reproduce. I knew otherwise, of course, having pleasured hundreds of Victorian women myself.
So, slowly but surely, standards began to shift, and women became more comfortable with their sexuality, which, naturally, pleased me no end.
Queen Victoria’s son, Edward VII, who was the Prince of Wales at the time, set the trend of adulterers in the upper classes. His very scandalous group, known as the Marlborough House Set, made it fashionable for men to have affairs with the wives of the men in one’s social circles.
The ladies would change into their evening clothes after tea, and their suitors would take advantage of the removal of the very complicated undergarments and pay their little visits at that time—generally between 5 and 7 p.m.
Sadly, I was never able to take advantage of the trend of late afternoon adultery, but I loved the idea because it loosened the women up and made it easier for me to entice them at the end of their evenings. The more decadent the woman, the better for me.
And so by the end of the century, the upper classes in England were enjoying quite a swing in social mores. I found myself among such a group in a section of London known as Green Park. I had a home at the very edge on the fashionable St. James Place.
I never hosted parties at my own home, naturally, but I was always invited to the homes of others in the neighborhood and took great advantage of the decadent parties, often ending up in the beds of my hostesses. I had found a favorite among this set by the name of Michelle.
Michelle was blonde and buxom and had a wonderful laugh. She had entertained many men in her bed chamber, as was the custom in her social circle. Her husband had bedded all of her friends as well. I assured her that I was quite infertile, making me a favorite of hers as she didn’t want to have any more children.
I had decided that Michelle would suit me as my next child and was simply waiting for the right moment to take her. I would have to leave the city as soon as she rose, and we would have to find a new home together where no one would recognize her.
I had begun making preparations to move to another one of my homes—my favorite, in fact- in the Scottish countryside near a village called Barrhill.
I was lying in Michelle’s bed late one night while her husband was still out when her daughter came into the room.
She was at the age when children have no front teeth—very small, and she was blonde like her mother. She came into the room crying and said she’d had a bad dream. She stood at the foot of the bed and Michelle covered us discreetly with the sheet as she said, “Go back to bed, Sookie. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
The child wiped her eyes and stared at me for a moment before asking, “Who are you?”
“My name is Leif,” I replied.
She seemed puzzled, I assumed because I was not her father. She tilted her head to the side and said, “I can’t hear you.”
“I said my name is Leif,” I repeated a little louder.
“No, I heard that. I mean I can’t hear you in your head.”
I knew instantly that she was a telepath and wondered if her mother knew.
Michelle said again, “Go back to bed, Sookie.”
The child turned and left the room, and Michelle said, “I’m sorry. She’s a little touched in the head, I’m afraid. But don’t worry, even if she says something to my husband about seeing you here, he won’t believe her. Everyone knows she’s crazy.”
I made the decision not to turn Michelle at that moment. I knew that her telepathic daughter would have a difficult enough childhood without losing her mother. And even though I wasn’t generally very compassionate about humans and their childhoods, I did know how rare telepaths were and I valued and respected them. I made a mental note to return to London when Sookie was an adult and find her.
I chose another woman to turn—a friend of Michelle’s named Catherine. We moved to the country as I had planned, but she did not take to vampirism and sadly, chose to meet the sun a mere twenty years after her turning.
I loved my home, but without Catherine, I quickly became bored and restless again, and soon returned to London. I changed my name to Eric and posed as my own cousin so that no one would notice I hadn’t aged.
I was immediately accepted back into the upper class social circles and was soon bedding a new generation of young women. The twenty-somethings that filled the ballrooms and parlors and newly popular night clubs were even more decadent than their parents. They were raised with “Edwardian” morals and felt it was perfectly acceptable to swap marriage partners for an evening as long as it was done discreetly and there were no scandalous divorces.
This generation, however, took things a step further and occasionally included unmarried women in their escapades. There were more of them, naturally, after the war had ended at the end of 1918.
Up to that point, unmarried ladies generally avoided intercourse, although there were certainly other sexual practices that they enjoyed.
If a married woman became pregnant, her husband would be presumed the father regardless of the number of partners the woman had. Fear of pregnancy prevented the unmarried women from fully enjoying the same fun their married counterparts did.
That all changed in 1921 when Marie Stopes—another woman ahead of her time- published a scandalous book called Wise Parenthood that revealed the secrets of birth control. Armed with this new knowledge, the promiscuity among the wealthy blossomed even more. I couldn’t have been happier about the changes.
Another nice change was in women’s fashion. Corsets were becoming a thing of the past. Women were instead wearing brassieres or binding their breasts to appear less curvaceous. It just meant easier access for me, and so I welcomed it.
The drinking of alcohol was still a great pastime, of course, and no one enjoyed alcohol more than the rich. Cocktails were popular—White Ladies, Whiskey Sours, Bronxes, and anything with gin in it. Morphine and cocaine were also popular. Sometimes, the women were so inebriated, I didn’t even need to glamor them after feeding.
I kept my eye out for Michelle’s daughter, the telepath, but had not run into her or her mother. I began to discreetly enquire about both women and learned that Sookie’s parents had both been killed shortly after I’d left London. Their motor car had been swept from a country bridge in a flood and both had been drowned.
Sookie’s older brother had come into his vast inheritance when he turned 21. He married and fought in the war and had subsequently moved to the country with his equally rich wife.
Sookie could not touch her inheritance, of course, because she was unmarried, and so she lived among various relatives and family friends until she married a young man named Samuel Merlotte when she was 20. He was a wealthy orphan as well and they were headed for a happy life until he was killed in France very early in the war in 1914.
Sookie remained in London, living with her sister-in-law until the end of the war. When her brother and his wife moved out of the city, Sookie married a decorated war hero named William Compton.
Within a year of their marriage, William and Sookie moved to British East Africa which was renamed Kenya in 1920. Like many other couples in their circumstances, they took advantage of the famous land raffle and started a dairy farm at the base of the Aberdares Mountains.
The British government raffled away farms in British East Africa to any man who had served at least six months in the armed forces. The 160-acre farms were free and those up to 3000 acres could be purchased. Ideally, these farms would feed a very hungry post-war Europe.
There were a number of wealthy and adventurous couples in London who moved to Africa to begin new lives. I had never seen Africa and found myself curious, and of course, I was interested in learning more about Sookie—the only telepath I knew of at the time.
I bedded a young wife who had just returned from Kenya, frustrated because her sheep had all mysteriously died. She and her spoiled rich husband simply abandoned their farm and returned to London to party.
The following night, I met her husband and he agreed to lease their new Kenyan farm to me since it sat empty except for its African servants. I arranged to ship some of my clothing and furniture in crates by boat to Mombasa and then by train to the town of Gilgil.
I fed well for several nights before my departure and then climbed in with my possessions to begin my three-week journey. I never left my crate, fearing I’d be discovered, and lay quietly contemplating my new life in Africa until I woke one night and I was no longer moving.
I emerged carefully to find myself alone in what I assumed to be Gilgil. My crate was waiting to be transported to the farm. I closed the crate and took to the sky in search of my new home. I had memorized its location on the maps that my landlord had provided me.
The landscape below me was stunning. The rich red earth provided a more lush environment than I had anticipated. As I got closer to the mountains, the temperature dropped and the view reminded me of Scotland—green and hilly and quite beautiful.
I presented my lease agreement to the dark-skinned man who answered the door and he invited me in. The house was charming—all brand new, of course. It was a sprawling single story with a dozen rooms decorated with European furnishings. I spent my first night hollowing out a place beneath the closet in the master bedroom where I could safely spend my days.
When I woke the following night, my possessions had arrived and I bathed in the tub which had heated water pumped into it and changed into a clean suit.
I flew into Gilgil and immediately found a very drunk man vomiting outside the primitive train station. I was starving (and didn’t want to feed from the servants at the house) and so I fed and then glamored the drunk man.
Feeling strong and excited about my new adventure, I took to the skies again and headed south to Nairobi. I had heard that many of the rich British settlers enjoyed a particular club in Nairobi called Muthaiga.
The group of wealthy Brits, known as the Happy Valley Set, was rumored to have taken the excesses of their lives in London and amplified them here where there were fewer tongues to wag. The Happy Valley area was a part of the Wanjohi Valley near the Aberdare mountain range. I had, of course, moved right into the center of it.
Apparently, my timing was impeccable, because this was Race Week in Nairobi—a time when all the British settlers gathered to socialize. I entered the main ballroom in the Muthaiga Club and I might as well have been in the finest ballroom in London.
The room was packed with wealthy white people. The women were dressed in the most fashionable gowns of the day and I was glad I had bothered with an expensive new suit. I found a table and ordered a whiskey and within five minutes, I had gathered three lovely and fairly drunk women to my table.
I was new meat in a market hungry for anything male and rich. I dropped a handful of names of my hostesses in London and soon found myself invited to one of the bedrooms of the club by a fairly plump and seemingly very rich brunette woman named Eva.
Eva was sober enough to enjoy the sex, but only barely. I didn’t bite her, having just fed, so there was no need to glamor her.
When I returned to the ballroom with Eva, we joined a table of drunk aristocrats and soon I was between two different and equally flirtatious women. I was trying to decide which one I preferred when I felt the unmistakable sensation of someone staring at me.
I turned my head and saw a beautiful blonde woman sitting at another table. Her hooded blue eyes were glued to mine. Her gown was beaded and black and did nothing to conceal her ample curves even though it was as straight as all the other gowns in the room. She was one of the few women whose hair was not bobbed, but was still kept long and swept up into a rather old-fashioned style.
She stood and began to walk to my table, her body weaving from her alcohol consumption. Her eyes never left mine as she approached the table. I removed the hand of the woman to my left who had been fondling me under the table and stood to greet this new drunken beauty.
“How do you do? I’m Eric Northman,” I said as she stood before me.
“Lady Sookie Compton,” she slurred.
“Would you care to dance?” I asked.
She didn’t answer me, but held her hand out and turned towards the dance floor. I walked her into the center of the couples, most of whom were doing The Fox Trot—one of the latest dances. I chose a simple and rather out of style two step, and my lovely partner followed my lead perfectly in spite of her state of inebriation.
I made polite small talk while we danced, spoke of the farm I had just leased and asked about her own farm. She answered me, but kept that odd stare as if she were trying to figure me out.
Finally, she simply mumbled, “I can’t hear you.”
Of course, I knew what she meant, but feigned ignorance.
“Shall I speak louder?” I asked.
She shook her head as if to clear it and said, “Never mind.”
We continued our dance in silence, but she never stopped looking into my eyes. I wondered if she could be glamored—I’d always heard that telepaths were unglamorable. I gave it a tiny try and watched her brow furrow until I stopped. Unglamorable.
After the dance, we found our way back to the table. I was hoping she would invite me to her bedroom at the club, but before we had a chance to converse more, her husband joined the table and she turned her attention to him.
The crotch-grabber returned and soon I had another invitation for sex. This woman was also a brunette, but taller and slimmer than Eva. She said her name was Helene and once we were behind closed doors, she showed me how she had perfected the art of fellatio. I, being a gentleman, returned the favor, of course.
When I went back to my table, Sookie glanced my way and I wondered if she’d had her own sexual encounter while I was away and I felt an uncommon stab of jealousy. I kept watching her and thought she seemed unhappy, but maybe it was just the alcohol that had depressed her.
As the hour grew late, I excused myself, knowing I needed time to fly back to my farm. But before I left, I had procured myself an invitation the following weekend to Eva’s home near Gilgil. She said her unmarried sister would be visiting for the next month and they would need a single man to even out the numbers for their parties every weekend. I accepted her invitation and said goodnight to my new collection of human friends.
I looked back one last time and saw Sookie watching me leave.
I spent the week exploring my new surroundings. I found it highly entertaining to fly up into a tree and watch the animals below me. I saw lions and hyenas and elephants. There were countless insects that kept the air in a constant hum of sound.
On Friday evening, I flew into Gilgil and fed right away so that I wouldn’t be tempted to bite my partners at the party. I didn’t want to have to glamor if it wasn’t necessary and hoped that I could conceal my nature by simply avoiding feeding on my new friends.
I knocked on the door to Eva’s impressive home and she answered completely naked except for a strand of pearls.
“Eric, I’m so glad you could come!” she said, obviously already quite drunk.
“I’m so sorry I’m late,” I replied, knowing that the other guests had arrived during the day. “Farm trouble, you understand,” I added for good measure.
“Of course. Please come in.”
I followed Eva into the living room and found a small group of women sitting in chairs facing a white sheet that was suspended from the rafters above. There was a row of holes cut into the sheet and several erect phalluses protruded from the holes. Two of the holes were empty.
“We were just choosing our partners,” Eva said as casually as if she meant for dancing. “You remember Eric, don’t you?” she asked the group of women.
A round of greetings from the women followed and I noted Sookie looked particularly beautiful in a crème colored dress.
“Shall I get behind the sheet?” I asked. Obviously, that’s where the men were supposed to be.
“No, no, we’ll all know which one you are. You’ll just have to wait. Better yet, I’ll take you myself and let the girls continue the game,” she said.
I sat and watched as Eva chose the next woman, and she, in turn, chose her sex partner by the size and state of his penis. He emerged from behind the sheet, tucking himself into his pants and he and the woman left the room together.
Sookie was the last to choose and she and the final penis walked away hand in hand. I found that I was not pleased at the outcome of the game.
Even though I knew that Eva was an accomplished sex partner, I found myself quickly glamoring her and convincing her that she wanted Sookie’s chosen partner instead of me.
We walked together down the hallway and Eva opened the door without knocking. Sookie was in the man’s embrace and her dress was peeled down to the waist, exposing her slip and brassiere. The man looked up, surprised at the interruption and I caught his eye immediately and used my glamor.
Eva said, “I’m so sorry Sookie, but would you mind switching with me?”
Sookie looked surprised and turned her face to the now-glamored man who said, “Good idea, Eva.”
He left the room with the naked and equally-glamored Eva and they closed the door behind them.
Sookie seemed in shock for a moment and instinctively covered her breasts with her hands. Her mouth was open until she said, “That was her husband.”
“Was it?” I asked. “How romantic.”
I stepped forward and took Sookie in my arms. She seemed tense and kept her hands over her chest, but tilted her head up to me and closed her eyes. I bent down and kissed her, gently at first, and then with a bit more passion.
Suddenly, Sookie broke the kiss and looked down. “I’m sorry. It’s hard for me with someone new. Let me just get another drink and I’m sure I’ll be fine.”
I stepped back and put a finger under her chin, raising her face until she was looking at me.
“You don’t find me attractive?” I asked.
“Oh goodness, no. It’s not that. You’re … very attractive.” She actually blushed. “I’m just … I just need more to drink, that’s all. Then, I know I can do it.”
The last thing I wanted was for her to drink until she felt she could comply. Suddenly, I found myself feeling uncharacteristically compassionate towards this woman.
“Wait,” I said. “You’ve had enough to drink.” I pulled her dress up, covering her breasts as she put her arms through the sleeves. I reached behind her and buttoned the back of the dress and said, “Why don’t we just take things a little slower and get to know each other a bit.”
“Oh,” she said, obviously surprised.
I sat on the bed and leaned back onto the pillows. “Have a seat,” I offered and she sat beside me. “Sookie, I’m very attracted to you-don’t get me wrong, but I understand how you feel.”
“You do?” she asked.
“Yes, but let’s not tell the others, okay?”
She seemed to relax and I started by asking where she was from, even though I knew perfectly well what her background was. She told me about her mother (my former lover) and her father and how she was left all alone with her older brother when they died. As time passed, I stretched my arm out and she snuggled into my chest and continued her tale.
She became very sleepy and so I told her a story about my house in Scotland until she was fast asleep. As dawn approached, I slipped from the bed and the house and flew home.
I lay beneath my closet floor, thinking of how very sweet Sookie was and found that I felt sorry for her. The more I got to know her, the more I felt she didn’t fit in with the crowd here in Happy Valley. She was special, and not just because of her telepathy. I found myself caring for her.
The following night, I arrived at Eva’s again. This time she answered the door wrapped in a Kenyan tribal dress that I later learned was called a kekoi. I could see that she had no undergarments on.
I apologized for missing the daytime activities and told her that I was needed on the farm. She didn’t seem to care as long as I showed up for the evening games.
I joined the group in the living room. The gramophone was playing and several couples were dancing. Eva poured me a Whiskey Sour and asked if I’d like any cocaine. I passed on the cocaine, but graciously accepted the drink.
Sookie was seated on the sofa with a dark-haired man. I gave him a quick glamor and took his seat as he rose to search for his wife. I removed Sookie’s drink from her hand, placed both hers and mine on the end table and asked her to dance.
Several of the women were in kekois, but Sookie had on a gold dress that tried but failed to cover her curves. One tendril of hair had escaped her coiffure and I wanted to play with it while I held her. She smelled delicious and I had to fight to keep my fangs from descending.
As the evening grew long, Eva placed the room keys of all her guests in a basket and then called out names as she drew a key and paired the owner of the key with a woman. Couples left the room as their names were called, and again, Sookie was paired with another man.
As Sookie excused herself and walked to the man who was standing by the gramophone, I caught Eva’s eye.
“I’m sorry, I meant to say Sookie and Eric,” Eva announced as she pulled out another key.
I took Sookie’s hand and the second key from Eva’s hand before anyone noticed the odd look in her eye and quickly led Sookie out of the room.
I found the door to what I assumed should be my room. (Sookie knew which one it was.) We entered and closed the door behind us and locked it. I sat on the bed and held my hand out for her and she climbed up onto the bed beside me.
As Sookie curled into my body, I began by continuing my story from the previous night about my home in Scotland. I told her about Catherine, my “wife,” and how she had chosen to take her own life, leaving me alone. Naturally, I omitted any details that would reveal our nature.
Sookie cried quietly, dampening my shirt a little and then told me about her first husband and how they fell in love before the war. When she told me how she learned of his death, I was moved and felt a sense of empathy I hadn’t felt in many years—possibly centuries.
I imagined how isolated Sookie must have felt her whole life because of her gift, and then how alone she was left after the death of her parents. She had finally found love and then her husband was taken from her before they even had a chance to make a life together.
I surprised myself by telling a story of a memory I had of my own mother until Sookie was sleeping peacefully. I watched her until it came time for me to leave.
Once again, I lay in my space beneath the floor that night wondering at the pull this woman had on my emotions.
I spent the week enjoying viewing animals around my house from above and I flew one night up to Sookie’s farm and watched her through the window.
She was sitting in an overstuffed chair reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I was curious whether her choice of a Scottish author had anything to do with me and suddenly felt like a teenager with a crush. I wondered if she thought of me as I had been thinking of her.
I both looked forward to and dreaded the weekend. I wanted to see Sookie, of course, but I didn’t want her sharing her daylight hours with other men. I wondered if I might be falling in love with her. The feelings were unfamiliar and bothersome, but also good in a way I couldn’t quite describe.
I wore my best suit to Eva’s on Friday night after having fed from a drunk in Gilgil. When Eva led me into the living room, Sookie’s eyes lit up at the sight of me. It was the first time I had ever seen her when she’d had nothing to drink. Her eyes were a clear blue, and her smile made me feel like I had a beating heart.
We danced and played a game of charades until everyone except me and Sookie was sufficiently drunk. When it came time for the bedroom games, each woman rolled a pair of dice. Sookie had the highest number, and so got to choose her bed partner first. As soon as she said my name, I stood and led her down the hall away from the others.
We whispered and giggled like children as we climbed onto the bed, looking forward to an evening of companionship while the house was filled with lustful moans. Sookie told me what she was reading and I offered to tell her a “fictional” tale about a young man growing up to become a Viking warrior. She listened with wide eyes and then told me a story about a child who could read other people’s minds.
Before she fell asleep, she asked, “Can you stay tomorrow?”
“No, I need to tend to business at the farm, but I’ll be back tomorrow night.”
“I don’t like it when you’re not here,” she said shyly and my undead heart swelled.
“Well, you’ll just have to think of a story to tell me when I come back,” I said.
The following night, the game of choice found each woman blowing a feather. As the feather drifted across the room, it pointed to her lover for the evening. Helene’s feather was clearly headed my way until I discreetly inhaled and blew through my nose, forcing the feather towards William Compton instead.
When it was Sookie’s turn, I inhaled with all my might and brought the feather my way.
Once we were alone and on the bed together, I could tell that something was wrong.
“What is it, Sookie?” I asked.
“My husband is jealous of you. He thinks there’s something going on between us.”
I laughed at the absurdity of a man who shares his wife being jealous of her platonic relationship with another man. But Sookie was not laughing.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “It just seems so ridiculous. He knows that you are not faithful. It is his choice even. Why would he feel jealousy?”
“He thinks we plan it when we are together. But how could that be true when the feather chose you?”
“He’s right. I do prefer you and would always choose you if it were up to me.”
“Oh,” she said shyly. “So would I,” she added almost too quiet for even my ears.
“So, do you have a story for me tonight?” I asked.
“Yes, I do.” And then she told me about a young woman who longed for a prince to take her to live in Scotland.
When it was my turn, I told her of a lonely prince who was looking for his princess among the wayward wives of a valley in Africa.
The following weekend, I walked into Eva’s living room and my heart sank. Sookie was not there. Neither was her husband. I stayed and played the games, hoping that she would arrive late. When my partner was chosen for me, I glamored her and left her to sleep off her alcohol. I flew to Sookie’s and watched her sleep beside her husband until dawn called me away.
I returned to Eva’s on Saturday night, but there was still no Sookie. Eva was glamored to believe she and I had had sex before I flew to watch a sleeping Sookie again.
I watched Sookie’s house all week, trying to discern what was happening and why she and her husband had missed the party. I expected an argument, an accusation, but they simply ignored each other and then slept beside each other without touching.
I understood how he must feel because I felt the same jealousy when I saw how close his body was to hers while they slept.
On Friday night, Eva answered the door in her pearls again. I was relieved to see a sober and beautiful (and clothed) Sookie sitting on the sofa.
Eva stood on a table and danced naked as she paired couples to suit her fancy. It was easy to catch her eye and have her announce that I would spend the evening with Sookie.
As soon as Sookie and I were alone, I pulled her to me and we lay back on the bed in our usual position. It felt so good to have her snuggled up beside me.
“I missed you last weekend,” I said.
“My husband decided not to come,” she said and her voice was very small.
I just hugged her to me and soon felt her body tense and heard her sniffle into my shirt.
I pulled back and turned her face up to mine. She had tears in her eyes.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Were you with someone else?” she asked, her lower lip quivering.
“No,” I said softly and stroked her hair. “No, I was with no one.”
She started to laugh a little. “I know it’s so ridiculous, considering what goes on here. And it’s absurd to expect you to be faithful to a married woman with whom you’re not even having sex. The whole thing is just crazy.” She stopped and took a deep breath. “But I can’t help how I feel.”
“I feel the same way when I think of you sleeping beside your husband every night,” I said.
“You do?” she asked.
“Yes. I think I’m in love with you. No.” I stopped and searched my feelings. “I know I am.”
Sookie stared at my face for a long moment. And then she said, “And I’m in love with you,” before her lips touched mine.
It was a soft and gentle kiss. I breathed in her scent as she pressed her lips to mine.
When she broke the kiss, she said, “How were you able to not sleep with someone else? Did you stay at home?”
“No. I have an ability … a kind of gift,” I said. “I can make people believe things that aren’t true.”
“Oh,” she said. “I have one too.” She hesitated before continuing. “I can … um … kind of hear people when they’re not speaking.”
“I know,” I said.
Her eyes grew wide. “How did you know?”
“I knew the first time I saw you.”
“But I can’t hear you,” she added.
I nodded. “That’s because I’m not the same as other people. Please don’t be afraid, Sookie. I’m a vampire. That’s why you can’t hear me.”
I braced myself for the scream, for her to faint, get up and run. But instead, she put her hand to my face and her eyes filled with tears as she whispered, “You must feel so alone.”
I felt my own eyes sting with tears and crushed her to me, so grateful for someone to truly love me. She knew what I was and still she loved me.
My lips found hers and this time the kiss was passionate and hard. Her hands wound themselves into my hair and pulled me to her.
I held her close and her hands left my hair and began to unbutton my shirt and pull at my necktie. I helped her get my shirt, undershirt, tie and jacket off and started to unbutton the back of her dress. She stood from the bed and pulled the dress over her head, and then her slip, revealing her brassiere and underpants and stockings. I sat at the edge of the bed and kissed her breasts and her stomach as I worked her undergarments off and she stepped out of her shoes.
She bent and removed my shoes and socks and I stood and lowered my pants and undershorts, stepping out of them and tossing them aside with our other items of clothing. We stood and smiled at each other, completely naked. It felt nothing like the drunken coupling with the women I’d had in the past years.
For the first time in a very long time, I let my fangs come down as they were naturally inclined to do when I was aroused. I parted my lips so that Sookie could see them and she simply broadened her smile.
This woman was clear-eyed and sober and knew exactly what I was, and yet she still wanted me. I had never been more grateful and hadn’t even realized what I’d been missing.
Sookie stepped forward and pushed me back, indicating she wanted me to sit on the bed. Then she climbed onto my lap, straddling me and kissing me tenderly as she began to impale herself onto my erection.
I held her firmly and guided her down until she had taken all of me in. Then she sat back and looked me in the eye before she began to move.
I matched her rhythm and held her gaze as we made love, and I thought, none of the fools in this house know what this is. This is what they are frantically and desperately groping for, and sadly, they may never find it .
But Sookie and I found it. We found what it feels like to love another person for who that person is and we showed each other.
When she came, she closed her eyes and trembled. When it was my turn, she whispered, “Bite me,” into my ear and I drank from her shoulder.
Once we were still except for her breathing, she looked at me again and smiled. I wiped fresh tears from her cheeks and she whispered, “So beautiful.”
Then we just held each other in silence for a long moment.
When we were lying back on the bed together, this time sated and naked, she asked, “What else can you do? I mean, besides making people believe things that aren’t true.”
“I am very strong. And very fast. And I can fly.”
“Fly?” she asked breathlessly. “Can you take me with you?”
“I suppose I could.”
She jumped up, excited and started searching for her clothes. “Let’s go! I want to fly!” she said, giddy from the passion and happiness we both exuded.
I started to dress as well, and as soon as we both had all our clothes on, she pulled me out of the room, through the living room, and out the front door. We ran down the driveway, past the cars and beyond a stand of trees.
When we stopped, I put my arms around her and said, “Don’t be afraid. I won’t let anything hurt you.”
“I trust you, Eric,” she said as we began to rise.
I took us over the trees, over the house, and across the vast African sky. I found a herd of zebra and circled them for a better view. Sookie looked down and I could feel her weeping in my arms.
“Are you afraid?” I asked in her ear.
“No. It’s all so beautiful,” she said, still looking down.
I flew us back to the trees beyond the driveway and gently set her down.
She took my hand and smiled at me, her hair slightly disheveled from the lovemaking and the flying, making her look even more beautiful to me.
“I want to do that every night,” she said, her eyes still glistening.
We began to walk back up the drive towards the house. We were still just looking at each other when I heard the footsteps ahead.
I looked forward just in time to see her husband running towards us, shirtless, with a mad look in his eyes. He looked almost comical until he raised his hand and I saw the gun.
I leapt in front of Sookie as soon as I realized he was going to shoot her and felt the bullet hit me square in the chest. I fell to the ground and began to crawl towards him, still determined to protect her from him even though I could feel my energy draining along with my blood.
Sookie ran and threw herself at him, knocking him back and sending the gun flying from his hand. He grabbed her and held her arm as he backhanded her across the face.
She groaned and her hair came down more, but she remained on her feet. I watched her bite into his forearm, forcing him to let her go. He yelped in pain and I saw several people running from the front door out into the yard.
Sookie stepped towards the gun, picked it up, and shot William in the face. His body flew back and hit the ground and she dropped the gun. Women screamed in horror from the front of the house.
I kept crawling towards Sookie, but she came back to me and sat on the ground, holding me in her arms.
“Tell me what to do,” she said. There was blood running down her chin from William’s striking her and I licked it, desperately hungry.
“I need blood,” I said, clinging to her, wanting so badly to bite.
Sookie bit into her own wrist until I smelled the blood and she held her wrist to my lips. I sucked , feeling my strength return with each pull while the small group of people gathered in the yard. The women were still screaming and some had begun to cry. A man was bent over William’s body.
“My god, he’s dead. You’ve killed him!” a man shouted at us.
I stood and helped Sookie to her feet. Her chin was still bloody, and her wrist stained the front of her dress.
I heard a woman shout, “Eric’s been shot as well!”
Sookie and I just stood still and looked at each other.
Sookie calmly said, “Take me.” She was too quiet for anyone else to hear her.
I wondered if she meant for me to kill her. Clearly, people had seen her gun down her husband. She would surely go to prison. I was the only person who saw him aim the gun at her first, and I would never be testifying in a courtroom.
I stepped forward and took her in my arms, smelling her blood and wanting to bite her more than I’d ever wanted anything in my long undead life.
She whispered a last desperate, “I love you,” into my ear and I closed my arms around her tighter.
I whispered back, “And I love you,” as I gathered my strength and took to the sky with her in my arms.
I heard more screams from below us as we rose and then we were off. I had no idea where we’d go or what we’d do, but all that mattered to me in that moment was that we were together. I was ready to face whatever the world had in store for us because she was mine. Sookie was no one’s but mine.
A/N: I loved writing Take Me. I knew Eric would fit perfectly into this particular time and place. If the subject matter interests you as much as it does me, you should read some of the great books written about the Kenyan colonists of this era. A good place to start is to Google Happy Valley Set or Happy Valley murder. You can also Google Josslyn Hay, Idina Sackville, or Alice de Janze—some of the real inhabitants of Happy Valley.
The decadent lifestyle in Happy Valley resulted in quite a few early deaths due to overdoses, suicides and jealousy-fueled shootings. The most famous death was the murder of Josslyn Hay, the Earl of Erroll, in 1941. It is still unsolved and the subject of a book and film called White Mischief as well as a BBC television production called The Happy Valley. It’s also the subject of my sequel to Take me, Taken, written for The Unsolved Mysteries Contest.