I watch from the shadows as the group of loud teenagers celebrate their graduation. Children in this era are spoiled with their freedoms. When I was their age, I was a husband and father with a second child on the way. These… infants could never understand how times have changed over the last millennium.
The half moon reflects off the rippling water of the lake. I feel like a lion stalking a gazelle, trying to decide who will be my meal for the evening. I watch the boys in the group try to impress the girls by making reckless dives off the floating raft or immaturely grabbing their legs and pulling them under. Every single one of them is high on their youth and the pursuit of fun as they celebrate their accomplishment.
Well… almost all of them. A single girl sits on a towel in the sand, watching her friends in the water. She’s wearing a red and white plaid bikini top with jean shorts and her wheat-colored blond hair is in a high ponytail that rests between her shoulder blades. What captures my attention, though, is her expression. While the other children laugh, squeal, giggle, and shout, she watches quietly, looking thoughtful. Something about her deep expression among the frivolity intrigues me.
One of the boys, looking like a “good ol’ boy” in a backwards baseball cap and cutoff jeans, approaches her. I can’t hear what is said over the splashing and commotion of the crowd, but I do see her shake her head and her face darken. When he stoops to pick her up, her eyes flood with fear and I can smell her panic from my hidden spot. She is not putting on a show or playing a game. She kicks her legs and beats her fists on his bare chest and shoulders; she is genuinely frightened. Before I can make the decision to get involved, he walks down the shore and dumps her in the lake.
The water is shallow and she stands, sputtering, while the boy and his friends laugh. As she heads back to dry ground, she starts to pass her antagonist. To my surprise she pauses, turns toward him, rears back with her right arm, and punches him in the nose. The unexpected reaction is enough to silence the rowdy group.
“You asshole! What were you trying to accomplish with that shit, Rene? Think Arlene would be impressed by you scaring ‘Crazy Sookie’? Well fuck you, you dick!” She pushes him, causing him to lose his balance and fall face first into the water. A skinny girl with unnaturally red hair rushes to the boy and “Crazy Sookie” returns to her previous spot. She shakes the sand out of her towel and dries off before shoving it into a canvas tote bag. With a final scathing glance at the crowd frolicking in the water, she storms down a path toward my hiding place in the woods.
I quickly and silently follow her. Not since Pam have I felt this longing. My youngest child is in Minnesota fending for herself; she no longer needs her maker. When I changed her, I felt that I would never find someone better suited to join me in the night.
The girl stomping angrily ahead of me challenges that belief. She is a fighter and seems to have a strong character. She would adapt to the lifestyle as we all do, and I can see her learning easily. A breeze blows past her and I stagger when her scent washes over me. Under the strong perfume of coconut tanning oil, I smell something sweeter, like honey and innocence and sunlight itself. What is she?
Without hesitation, she spins around to face me. “Alright, buddy, why are you following me? My skeevy asshole quota has already been filled for the night.”
I trap her midnight blue eyes in my gaze and push my influence. “You think a walk around the lake tonight would be pleasant. You would like me to join you.”
She crosses her arms over her chest and arches an eyebrow, still meeting my eyes. “Oh, I do? Just who the hell do you think you are, buster?”
What. The. Fuck? She resisted my glamour? In more than a thousand years, I have never come across a human that couldn’t be glamoured. My mind repeats the question: what is she?
She rolls her eyes at my silence and turns to walk away down the path. Halfway into a step, she spins around again suddenly, cocking her head to the side. “What are you thinking?”
Any other human and I would have told them, for no other reason than the adrenaline-ridden scent of fear before glamouring them into sedation. It seems I couldn’t do that with her, so I deflect. “Why do you ask?”
She inches closer, concentrating. “I can’t hear you!”
I wonder if she is defective somehow, so I repeat myself louder and enunciate. “Why do you want to know what I’m thinking?”
She shakes her head and huffs a bitter chuckle before laying her hand on my bare arm. She closes her eyes and before I can fully appreciate the heat of her skin on mine, she snatches her hand away. Stumbling backwards, she whispers, “Okay, mister, what are you?”
I scowl and close the space she just widened. “First, my name is Eric. The generic names you’re calling me are irritating. Second, I could ask you the same thing.”
After stomping her foot in frustration, she begins pacing and muttering to herself. Were I not a vampire, I wouldn’t be able to understand her. “No one is quiet like that, not even babies. Is he another one? Does he have a way to shield that I could learn? And why the hell is he so cold? It’s hotter than Hell’s kitchen out here and he feels like he’s been sitting in a damn refrigerator. I don’t want to deal with this shit tonight.” She spins back to face me and raises her voice. “Well, Eric,” she starts, emphasizing my name, “it’s been real nice meeting you, but I should be getting home. It’s late, ya know.”
She has no way of knowing that she won’t be returning to her home tonight. My decision was made when she threw the punch. She’ll be joining me in the ground before dawn. When she holds out her hand to offer a good-bye shake, I clasp her wrist and pull her to me. Her young, supple, incredible-smelling body stiffens against me for a second before she tries to push away. I get an exhilarating whiff of adrenaline that spikes her blood; I have to fight to keep my fangs from dropping. Remaining immobile, I hold her tighter. “What are you doing? Let. me. Go!” she demands.
I need to get her away from the crowd several yards behind us. If she screams, someone will definitely hear and I really don’t have the patience for a silence-by-glamour marathon with those infants. My sole intention for the night is to turn this enchanting creature into my new companion in the darkness: a much more pleasurable activity. Covering her mouth with one hand, I wrap my free arm around her waist, securing her to me. After a quick glance to make sure no one is around, I take off into the dark sky.
Sookie’s eyes bulge and she starts kicking, trying to escape my grasp. I hold her tighter as my altitude climbs. “Calm down, little one. I won’t drop you, but if you keep squirming like that, I might.” My hold on her is sound, but the way she wiggles against me is… distracting.
She stills and stiffens in my arms, keeping her furious gaze on my face, refusing to look down. I take the opportunity to attempt to glamour her again, just a simple mood adjustment. Her eyes flash and the scowl on her face deepens as if she can feel the attempt. What the fuck is she?
I see a small boathouse from above the treetops and decide it’s secluded enough for my purposes. When I land, her legs wobble when I let her down. Regaining her footing, she scrambles backwards trying to get away from me. While a chase would be fun, I’m not in the mood. I want to know what draws me to this girl like none in more than two hundred years.
She looks around frantically, hoping for some sign that we are not alone here. This would be so much easier if I could glamour her, but I’ve never been one to run from a challenge. I place a hand on her tan arm in an attempt to calm her. It backfires spectacularly.
She yanks her arm away and glares at me coldly. “What in the hell was that?” she yells, waving her finger toward the sky.
I love her sass. I look forward to the verbal sparring in my future. “I’ve heard it referred to as flying,” I answer nonchalantly, cocking my own eyebrow at her and smirk.
She huffs impatiently. “That’s not what I mean and you damn well know it. How did you do that?”
My smirk widens to a full smile. “I tell you my secret if you tell me yours.”
Her eyes roll. “Like you haven’t already been able to get it out of my head. I’ve never met someone with shields like yours.” Shields? Okay, now I’m lost, but school my features. I haven’t lived this long by letting unknown variables throw me. “That still doesn’t tell me how you can fuckin’ fly!”
“Tell me what you think I got out of your head, Sookie. Tell me the secret that you’re dying to tell me so I can tell you mine.” I’m not trying to influence her this time; I can tell she’s already considering it.
“Fine,” she breathes. “I’m a telepath too.”
No. Way. I’ve met mediums, psychics, witches, and all natures of supernatural beings, but I have never encountered a telepath before. I immediately think of self-preservation and narrow my eyes. “Have you been listening to my thoughts?”
“No, but I’ve been trying. You head is locked up tighter than a drum. It’s like a…” she struggles to find an appropriate comparison. “A bubble or a void or something. I can tell there’s a mind there, just not what’s in it. You gotta teach me that trick, by the way. Now spill,” she orders.
A fucking telepath. She will be a jewel of a child. I don’t answer her verbally. Rather, I drop the fangs that have been itching to sink into her golden skin from the moment I saw her.
Her eyes widen again. “What? Nuh-uh… Okay, I almost bought that. Everyone knows that vampires are only in…” she stutters as I bite into the heel of my hand and hold it out to show her how it heals… “crappy movies and Victorian erotica,” she mumbles as she watches the wound close. “Holy fuck, you’re really a vampire?”
I nod my head slowly and wait for it. The screaming. The crying and begging. The scent of delicious fear that does nothing but spike the thrill of the hunt. I had but a small taste of it when she was thrown in the water. It never comes.
“So… are you going to bite me or what?” She sounds resigned. Well, that’s certainly anti-climatic.
“I was planning on it, yes. Why aren’t you scared?”
She shrugs. “Dunno. I should be, but I’m not. I figure if you’re going to go to the trouble of bringing me all the way out her for privacy, it’s gonna happen regardless. So do you mind if we get on with it?”
This is not normal. “How old are you, Sookie?’
“I turn eighteen in a few weeks.”
“Only seventeen… do you want to die?”
She shrugs again. “Not particularly. But I figure if you wanted to kill me you wouldn’t have been playing the ‘Getting to know you’ game. Why? Do you want to kill me?”
I grin as I nod and there is that fear I expected earlier. I step closer and pull her to me again. I nuzzle into her neck, allowing myself to get intoxicated on the smell of her. “I want to drain you almost dry and replace what I’ve taken with my blood. I want to lay with you in the ground for three nights until you rise as my child. I want to see you radiant in immortality. You will have that glorious blonde hair and firm, soft skin forever.”
The scent of fear is replaced by faint arousal. I didn’t realize that, from her, it would be even sweeter. “You want to… what is it called? Bring me over to the dark side?”
“Or turning. Either or. Why aren’t you scared anymore?”
She chuckles. “Mist… damn it. Eric,” she corrects herself, “You don’t know what my life has been like. I’m the local pariah because I have a tendency to answer questions that aren’t asked or comment on statements that aren’t spoken. Damn near everyone thinks I’m crazy. My parents died when I was little, my Gran passed not long after I started high school. My manwhore of a brother got guardianship and I’ve had to spend more nights than I can count on the porch ‘cuz he was fucking his flavor of the night in the living room. I don’t think Jason even remembers that he’s supposed to be taking care of me. You’re giving me the chance to escape that and stay young and beautiful forever? Is there something I have to sign, cuz I’m in.”
So not the reaction I was expecting, but acceptance is easier than glamour. I break open the door to the boathouse and find a shovel in the tool shed. I silently dig a hole big enough for two as she leans against a tree and watches. When I finish, I wash the mud from my hands in the lake and approach her.
“So… how do we do this?” she asks. It’s a fair question, but one I’ve never had to answer. I usually don’t give my prey the opportunity.
“I was thinking I would drink from here,” I groan into her ear, tracing my finger over her carotid artery and grin as she shivers. “When I’ve taken just enough to almost stop your heart, I’ll feed you my blood. We’ll both be weak, so for protection, we’ll go to rest in the ground. I’ll cover us to protect us from both the sun and wild animals. In three days, you’ll rise to a new life as my progeny.”
“Can you tell me what that means? To be ‘yours’?”
I run my tongue over her neck and shiver with her. Gods, she is delicious. “I’ll take care of you. I’ll see to your needs. I’ll teach you what you need to learn to survive in my world. In essence, do for you what your careless brother should have been doing for years.” I leave out that she’ll have to obey my every command. That part can wait until later.
Her eyes close and she leans into me. “Will it hurt?”
I shake my head and pull her closer. I love that she is this accepting. A bitter child is never fun. “No more than a bee sting with the right vampire. I’m very old, Sookie. I’ve had a lot of practice. I’ve been told I have quite the light touch.”
“How old?” she almost whimpers. It seems as though she may be more into this than I am.
“That is a discussion for a later time. It’s taking all my self-control not to fuck you senseless where we stand. Are you ready?” I growl, fighting from taking her now.
“That will be something we will do later, then? The fucking thing, I mean.”
I couldn’t bite back the laugh that bubbled up from my chest. “Unless you’re dead set on doing it now.”
She purrs into my chest. “Imagine hearing every perverted thought that crosses a teenaged boy’s mind. Imagine those thoughts going right into your head even louder when he touches you. How sexy would you feel if you knew your date was comparing you to their ex or wished you had a little less junk in the trunk. It’s somewhere I’ve never been able to go before.”
Shit. That was the innocence I’d smelled earlier. She is still a virgin. I will have many things to teach her in her new life. “We will definitely be doing that later.” I look at the sky, as I have for hundreds of years, and determine how much time we have. “Sookie, we need to get started. I don’t want the sun to rise before we’re safely underground.”
She sweeps her hair over one shoulder and bares her neck for me. I run my tongue over her neck, prepping her artery. Slowly, my fangs slide into her silky skin. I almost come from the taste of her blood. She moans softly and sinks further into my embrace. I’m glad I made the decision to turn her, because I don’t think I can stop short of draining. Her blood is so much sweeter than most humans and I almost regret not keeping her as a pet to have this taste on tap indefinitely. Her whimpers get softer before she eventually goes silent. I hear her heart slowing and mentally time the space between beats. When she is almost dry, I rip into my wrist and bring it to her lips. She has the presence to swallow when her mouth fills.
After the appropriate amount of blood. I allow my wrist to heal and carry her into the hole. I strip her and myself of our clothes and put them into the tote bag, which I hide in the boathouse. If I have to sleep in the ground, I like having clean clothes to put on after. Her wallet falls out of the pocket of her jeans and I pick it up. I go to check the license of my new child. I figure I should know the last name of my progeny. Susannah Brigant Stackhouse. Brigant? Oh fuck.
I am turning my first fairy. A royal one at that. I certainly know how to choose them, don’t I? The last thing I need is a fairy war on my hands. I look down at her naked body in the ground. The moonlight enhances her features, making her look ethereal. I smile to myself. I want to possess her.
She will be worth the war if it happens; she will be mine.