The sweetness lingered in his mouth. He swept his tongue over the fang marks, both to heal his companion and to steal any stray drops of ambrosia he may have missed. He let the unique flavor roll around in his mouth, so new yet strangely familiar.
After ridding the vampire populace of Hep-V, Eric Northman and Pamela de Beaufort had their scientists get to work on a human vaccine. While Pam’s motivation was feeding without interviewing her meal, Eric’s only thought was of one day seeing Sookie again. The scientists succeeded and, although mandatory in Japan, the vaccine was voluntary in the United States. It became a fad among fangbangers to get their vaccination dates tattooed on the back of their neck.
Months and years passed faster than Eric was accustomed to. NuBlood was a full-time job. He signed over management of Fangtasia to his associate Clancy from Texas and resigned his sheriff position to the (new and improved) Authority before leaving Louisiana for greener pastures and broader horizons. He thought his return would be sooner rather than later but twenty years passed in the blink of an immortals eye. During those two decades, he’d felt joy, pain followed by immeasurable bliss, and crippling sorrow from the waning blood tie he had with the telepath, but business needs always outweighed his curiosity and, while never completely forgotten, he eventually found a way to set the fading access to the hybrid’s emotions to the back of his mind.
Eric and Pam decided to revamp (no pun intended) the synthetic blood market once the tainted True Blood fiasco was well in the past. When a formula was created that was less metallic and more realistic than its predecessor, the maker and child started making the rounds to get marketing approval from the necessary government agencies.
In Washington DC, the pair decided to bypass the donor lounges in favor of exploring the nightlife of the nation’s capital. Neither could find anything appealing in the clubs, finding the patrons too similar to the vermin of Fangtasia for their liking. As they passed a small theater advertising a concert, Eric’s attention was captured.
The girl – young woman – could not have been older than twenty. Her hair fell in thick, wheat-colored waves to her shoulder-blades. A shimmery, one-shoulder black gown accentuated her tall, slender frame; a hip-high slit giving a peek of a long tan leg.
Eric gripped Pam’s shoulder to slow her stroll. With a nod of his head, his progeny stared as well. The girl stood alone behind a wrought-iron fence. Her eyes were closed and she swayed gently to the soft strains of “Fur Elise” that could be heard from the concert hall. There was something subtle, yet strangely familiar, about the young woman that captivated the vampires.
A strange whistling tone came from the girl’s clutch, making her smile. She drew out the phone and, without checking the screen, said cheerfully, “Hey Parker.”
Neither vampire had any qualms about using their supernatural hearing to eavesdrop on a stranger’s conversation. A deep voice replied, “You’re not getting into trouble, are you? You know your mother worries with you so far from home.”
The eyes opened and rolled. “She agreed that Georgetown would be better for me than Tulane. It’s not my fault she’s still having separation anxiety. I’ve almost finished my thesis; I’m just taking a break to indulge in a little Beethoven to sooth my mind.”
The voice chuckled. “One normally doesn’t find Beethoven soothing, but you’ve never been conventional, have you? What’s your thesis topic? No one seems to want to tell me.”
The girl hummed as she continued to sway. “The benefits of vampire rights amendments and how the experiences of their long lives can be lessons to improve our present and future.”
With a pained groan, the man replied, “And how have you done the necessary research for such a topic? Have your mother’s experiences taught you nothing?”
A heavy, exasperated sigh was his response. “You’re not my daddy, Parker, no matter how many times you wanted the position. Now that I’m not home, you’re just Momma’s friend that keeps hoping for benefits that ain’t ever coming.” Her sophisticated polish chipped a bit with her twangy drawl. She cleared her throat and shook her head to regain her composure. “I met with the area sheriff, who gave me permission after I showed him my research so far. He set up interviews for me and has even told me of his own past. Can you imagine what life must have been like in Cleopatra’s court?”
Eric’s eyes narrowed as the man on the phone scoffed. “Sugar, that vamp is just playing you for a fool. No bloodsuckers in this country are that old.” The one thousand year-old vampire knew for a fact that the man was wrong. However, last he had heard, Lex was bouncing between Rome and Athens, seducing tourists and running his businesses. He’d never known the former prince to have any interest in ruling. Eric would find out for himself if he was mistaken when he checked in with the area sheriff in a day or two.
“Look Parker,” the girl stated firmly, “it’s not up to you to look out for me anymore. I talk to Momma enough so that she knows I’m healthy and happy. I’ve listened to her stories, learned from her mistakes, and am doing what I want to do with my life and talents. You know good and well that Momma was only a waitress because there was no money for college even if she hadn’t graduated high school by the grace of God. If she hadn’t been left to learn how to cope on her own, who knows what she could have done? But I had her and Niall while I was growing up… and even Daddy for a little while. I know what I’m doing, my mother trusts me, and you have no say in my life now that I’m grown. Butt out, Parker.”
The man grumbled unintelligibly before saying good night. The girl turned off her phone and resumed humming along with Beethoven, this time “Moonlight Sonata”. Eric continued to watch the girl as Pam sighed with impatience. The name Niall tickled something in his memory that he couldn’t quite force to materialize. Something about the girl intrigued him and only his progeny tugging on his arm combined with the girl heading inside convinced him to move on.
Two nights later Eric and Pam prepared for their meeting with the Washington DC sheriff, although since he answered to no monarch, he could have taken the title of King. He didn’t want it. The Viking and his child packed NuBlood prototypes and business proposals to take to Sofitel Lafayette Square. The penthouse suite was where the area sheriff both carried out business and played with his pets. Eric couldn’t help but wish he’d had the same setup when he’d been in charge of Louisiana’s Area Five.
The two blonde vampires checked in at the desk and waited while the attendant paged the penthouse. Several minutes later, the clerk unlocked elevator access to the highest floor. Against a wall of windows showing off the Capitol’s illuminated skyline in a throne eerily like the one that once sat on Fangtasia’s stage, sat the sheriff. Eric knew at once that his European gossip was horribly out of date.