Eric was in a daze as he tried to process what had happened with him and Sookie. None of it made any sense! The strange clothes, the strange words and actions! And she wanted him to go to Greece with her? Why? Replaying the conversation he realized she had never told him why she was going to Rhodes. Obviously to find something, but what?
She’ll come back, he told himself. She’ll come back before she leaves and this will have been some misunderstanding that she will explain. A relapse of the malaria she had picked up at fifteen? Some new madness she had been exposed to on some far away dig on some godforsaken country.
My sweet Sookie would never leave me!
She called me baby! She ran her hands through my hair and called me baby, and then she KISSED ME!
Eric was lost in his thoughts for days. Before he realized it the date of her departure had come and gone and she had not contacted him again. He regretted not reaching out to her. He spent hours berating himself for not contacting her and then all over again for thinking he should have in the first place. SHE was the one who had changed! She was the one who kissed me.
It was Appius who finally pulled him out his head and back into the world. He had been shoving his dinner around the plate thinking about how it had been almost two months and not a word. She always sent a telegram once a month when she was away. He could count on it like he could count on the spring to follow the winter. She never let him down.
Not until you let her down, his internal voice said, making him wince in the face of this awful truth that he could no longer deny.
“Eric Andrew Northman, what is wrong with you? You have been walking around in a fog for months!” Eric put his fork down and looked at his grandfather.
“Did you hide Sookie’s letters to me?” Appius stared at him coldly and for just a moment Eric hoped that his grandfather would lie to him.
“I want them.”
“What makes you think I kept them? I burned them as soon as they came in.”
“No, you didn’t. You wouldn’t do that.”
“Oh, what makes you say that?”
“Because you would have lost another chance to hurt me if you had burned them.” Appius chuckled.
“You learned something from me after all didn’t you?”
“Yes, I did. I learned that when you depend on someone who is soulless to care for you, that you will only be hurt. You know what else I learned?”
“What’s that, my boy?”
“That you, Appius now depend on me to care for you.” The smile slowly left his grandfather’s face.
“In my study, top right drawer. “
Eric read most of the night. The first letter had come within two months of her first telegram. She told him about what was happening and how she had met some children from the local village and learned to play some of their native games. She said she would teach him if he wanted to learn when she got back. All he had to do was ask, but of course, he never had.
At first he was angry. He wanted to believe that he would have asked if he had known, but the truth was he had known about the telegrams and had never once said anything to her about them either. He could hardly credit the notion that he would have acted any differently about the letters. She had been right, it was shyness. It made his chest ache to hear her words over and over that he was not interested in her. No matter how foolish he had been in failing to show her what she meant to him nothing could be further from the truth.
He watched her grow up in every letter, her girlish scrawls becoming the solid neat script that matched the woman he now knew. In her letters she told him so many things, such things that his head was spinning! Not only were there tales of adventure that made his hands clench in fear for her safety but as she grew there were deeply personal, womanly secrets that she shared with him. At times he blushed at her boldness and others he felt the man in him respond to her words leaving him aching and breathless on the edge of his own secret dreams.
When he got to the last letter dated just six months ago he realized fully what a terrible mistake he had made in his office that day before she walked out.
I’ve been writing that for as long as I can remember. You’re like my secret diary. You keep all my dreams and hopes safe for me in these letters I send you from all over the world. It might seem strange to you, but you have been with me every step I took, no matter where I was you were with me. I hope that someday I can show you some of the wonders that I have seen and that together we might discover new ones, better ones.
When I get back I am going to come and see you. I want to talk about the future, our future. I don’t want to do this anymore without you here to hold me at night and listen to me whisper my secrets to you.
I hope that when I see you, you will finally be able to break through the walls you keep around your heart and let me in because in all the world there is no other place I would rather be than with you, Eric Northman.
He thought about it for three days and then he packed and bought a steamer ticket across the ocean. It had cost him almost every penny of his life savings but he had to make this right. The day before he was set to leave a telegram came for him.
His face alight with joy as he signed for it heading immediately to his room to read it. She had forgiven him! It was perfect timing since he was headed for her the very next day. He read the telegram twice and then a third time before it fell from his hand fluttering slowly to the floor.
Sookie Stackhouse disappeared from Rhodes three weeks ago while on night dig STOP
Local authorities have found no trace and believe her dead STOP
Her attorney will be in touch about her estate. STOP
That night Eric dreamed of Sookie.
She was wearing a long flowing white dress. They were sitting on a hill above a city made of stone having a picnic. “That’s Knossos,” she said as she ate grapes in the summer sun. “According to legend the Minotaur roams the Labyrinth beneath the city awaiting tribute of fourteen virgins from Aegeus.”
“Do you think he’s really down there?” Eric asked, reaching for a grape.
“Maybe,” she said frowning. “I think I may find out before I get out of here.” He remembered then, she was dead. He grabbed her and kissed her, too overjoyed to see her to remember that he didn’t know how to act around her. After a second she kissed him back. Then she pushed him away. “What the HELL, Eric?” she fumed.
“That’s my line, Sookie,” he smiled at her. She tried not to smile back but she lost it after a moment. Then her arms were around his neck and she was holding him close to her.
“Eric, I was at the dig site and something happened. There was some kind of explosion and I woke up here in Ancient Greece. I can’t figure out how to get back to you!”
“Are you well?” He checked her for obvious damage.
“For now, but I was kidnapped from Rhodes and brought to Knossos. They were going to sell me to the brothel but I managed to snag a position with the Bull Leapers.” She wasn’t making any sense.
“There’s no time. Learn everything you can about Minoan culture. I haven’t been able to confirm it but I think it’s around 1500BC here. Start there.” The ground shook beneath them.
“Is that an earthquake, Sookie?” She nodded, looking scared for the first time since he had met her.
“Or possibly a volcano.” She shrugged. “I was still studying when whatever happened, happened.”
“Sookie, this is a dream, but at least I can tell”-
“This is NOT a dream! This is real! I am alive in the past.”
“You’re dead, Sookie!”
“I will be if you don’t get your big ass in gear and come save me, Northman!”
“How am I supposed to get to 1500BC, woman?”
“Ask the vampire at the ruins in Rhodes. I dream of her nearly every night. I think she is lost, too.” He started floating away from her then as he woke up. “Come find me, Eric. I need you!”
“I will find you, Sookie! I love you!” He woke himself up screaming. For an hour he sat on the side of his bed running his hands through his hair taking deep breaths. Was it true, or did he just need it to be? Could he live with not knowing? In the end he decided not.
As soon as the city library opened he went in and stole all the history books he could find on Minoan culture, then he boarded the ship that would take him to Rhodes. As he watched the New York skyline grow distant he promised himself that he would find her, no matter where or when she was. Then, then he would tell her all the things he should have told her before.
He rationalized that it was possible that if she were alive then she would no longer want him after what she saw as his rejection of her in his office. If so, he would accept that. She had waited so long for him to show her his heart, she deserved to see it.
“I will find you,” he said out loud, causing the other passengers near him to look at him oddly. “I will show you, Sookie Stackhouse that some things change.”