Chapter 16: Change Your Mind
I took an unconscious step backwards and grasped at the hallway wall with my left hand as my right hand wrapped protectively around my belly.
My magic swelled within me, preparing to teleport away if necessary. My mind raced through other possible choices. Sadly, without someone to tutor me in my magic, I had made little progress in the past 5 months. I was able to teleport myself and others, but since the first night I’d brought Dr. Ludwig to the hotel, I’d been unable to summon objects. I often wondered if I was able to summon Dr. Ludwig’s bag that night simply through the adrenaline rush my fear induced. I could also influence humans and the two-natured, but I could not influence vampires. I had made progress with my ability to heal, but it took a lot out of me. Without Dermot around to teach me, I wasn’t even sure what else was possible. I’d tried various things you would see in movies, like shooting fire from my hands, but nothing would ever happen.
There seemed like little that I could use at this moment that would be helpful, except teleporting. But where could I go now?
“What are you doing here, Eric?” I whispered, my breathing was coming out ragged and I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest. The barrier I had always placed between Eric’s emotions and me was being tested with him in such close proximity, so I made an effort to strengthen it and block him out.
Eric was standing just outside my doorway, dressed in black jeans, and a black leather jacket that was open, revealing a black t-shirt. He was grasping his arms behind his back, and my heart was torn between fearing the reason Eric was here and simple excitement that he was. Eric’s eyes flickered to my belly before he looked away again in disgust and my heart dropped. His eyes fixed on the wall next to me as he spit out, “Obviously I am here looking for you.”
The disgust and hate I heard in his voice and felt from him made tears well up in my eyes. “Why?” I whispered.
Eric’s eyes softened for the briefest of moments as he glanced at me again, but then it was gone and replaced with a hard look. His eyes returned to the wall.
“It is not by my choice, that I am here,” he finally said. I continued to stare at Eric, not knowing what to say or what to do. After several moments had passed, me staring at Eric, and him staring at my wall, he said, “Are you going to invite me in?”
My breath caught at his request. Was I going to? Should I? I wondered.
“I would not hurt a woman,” Eric said lowly, and though I may have imagined it, I thought I saw a glimmer of pain in his eyes.
No matter what had passed between us, no matter how much the sight of me seemed to disgust and anger him, I knew that Eric was telling me the truth. I knew he would never physically hurt me. Pushing away from the wall, I wrapped my other arm around my belly and quietly said, “Please come in.” I turned and slowly waddled towards the living room and gestured towards the sofa.
As Eric passed by me to take a seat, I saw him stop and stiffen. Still looking straight ahead at the sofa, he growled, “You reek of vampire.”
I felt my own body stiffen, but I knew there was no way to really answer him. I ‘reeked’ of his own children and of the blood Robert had given. “Have a seat,” I said instead. “Would you like a blood?” I offered.
“No,” he said flatly, and took a seat on the sofa.
With a sigh, I carefully lowered myself into the rocking chair. It was easier to get out of since I could rock it forward to get my feet under me. I cast out my mental net, I knew it was Stephan’s week to watch me and could tell that he was still outside watching, but I wondered how Eric had been able to approach the house. “How were you able to get near the house?” I asked curiously.
Eric continued to stare out the bay window at the ocean, and answered in a flat, almost detached manner. “Your guard was not expecting an intruder who could fly. I landed on the roof and waited for your human visitor to leave. When she had, I was able to approach your door unseen through the shadows. Your guard should be more careful.”
“Not a lot of vampires can fly,” I answered quietly.
We sat in silence again, and in my nervousness, I started rocking, trying to keep myself calm. I wondered if we would ever be able to repair the damage between us. My heart ached to make Eric understand, but the thought of him being harmed because of me held me back. I understood vampire politics better now. I knew what kind of a position Eric was in, had always been in. He could not go against the orders of his king, or his king’s lieutenant. To do so was treason. He had already gone against Victor’s and therefore, technically his king’s orders many times, usually for me. I would not allow him to come to harm because of me. Not again.
“Why California?” he asked, startling me from my thoughts.
“I always wanted to see it. And right in Felipe’s backyard seemed like a good place to hide from him and his goons.”
Eric nodded and looked around my house, still studiously avoiding looking at me. “You seem at home living on the coast,” he remarked with a faraway look.
“I love living on the beach. It’s almost as nice as home,” I replied.
Eric glanced at me again. “You have not wed the father of your child,” he stated. I realized he had been looking at my hands.
I covered my left hand and softly corrected, “Children. The father of my children wanted nothing to do with them or me.”
Eric’s responded with a grunt. “So now you bed and give yourself to another vampire,” he said, disgust once again tingeing his voice.
I stood up as quickly as my heavy body would allow. “How dare you!” I shouted. I could feel the tears welling up again, but I was determined not to let them fall. “If you don’t know me better than that, you never knew me at all,” I whispered heatedly.
Eric slowly stood as well, and turned his gaze to me. Once again, it lingered on my belly before he turned away from me. Even when he looked at me, he wouldn’t look at my face. “Obviously, I never did,” he responded harshly.
At his words, a tear did escape to roll down my cheek. I wiped it away furiously, determined not to let him see me cry.
“Why?” he asked simply.
I knew without question that he was asking why I had ‘cheated’ on him. “And if I said that they were yours?” I asked wearily.
His head whipped in my direction. “Do not insult my intelligence!” he shouted.
I knew then that he would not actually believe or trust me, no matter what I said. The realization was like a knife to the heart, and I feared my heart might actually bleed.
“Was it a Were, shifter, or human?” Eric suddenly asked. I couldn’t even begin to describe how much it pained me every time he furthered his accusation that I would have cheated on him.
I closed my eyes, surprised at how much it also hurt that Eric wouldn’t look me in the eye. “Does it matter to you who the father is?” I whispered.
“No,” he growled. “Who is the vampire that gave you blood?”
“Does that really matter either?” I asked.
“No,” he said as he retook his seat.
“How did you find me?” I whispered. I thought I’d been so careful. All of these months, and no one had found me, now Eric had shown up on my doorstep.
“I traced your call.”
My brow furrowed. “But I made sure never to call anyone from a number that could be traced back to me. How?”
A ghost of a smirk almost passed over Eric’s face as he turned his gaze to the ground. “So Bill informed me when I called him. Apparently, he spent the last few months rabidly searching for you and could not find you. None of your calls to others could be traced to you, true. But then I thought to have my day man trace calls to yourself. It appears you called your own voicemail from the hotel where you now work shortly after your disappearance.”
I closed my eyes as I remembered the call. I should have been smarter. It was only a matter of time until someone had thought of that. I should have thought of that.
“Why did you leave?” he asked in a flat voice.
“Are you saying that you would have wanted me, even like this?” I asked, gesturing to my belly. He made no move to answer and remained motionless as he stared out the bay window. I wiped another spilled tear away. “I guess that answers that.” I looked away too, unable to subject my heart to more pain. “At least I’m wanted here,” I told him softly.
I gingerly sat back down in the rocking chair. The gentle creak of my rocking chair and the gentle ocean breeze were the only noise besides my breathing.
“Why are you here then?” I questioned.
His jaw clenched before he managed to say flatly, “I owe a debt to Stan, and he has requested your assistance. To repay my debt, Stan requested that I find you and bring you to him.”
I gripped the arms of the rocking chair under my hands. I knew something had to be wrong. Stan didn’t know how to find me, but I had met with Barry several times in the last several months, and he had my cell number memorized so he could reach me if he needed to. “What’s wrong? What happened?” I asked.
“Stan’s telepath has gone missing and he wants your help finding him.”
“Of course,” I agreed immediately. “What do I need to do?”
“I have an airplane ready and waiting at the airport to take us to Dallas, then my obligation to Stan will be fulfilled.”
His words that I was only an obligation to Stan stung, but I pushed past it, knowing that I needed to help Barry. I knew I wasn’t suppose to fly after 36 weeks of pregnancy, so I hoped at 32 weeks it would have no adverse affects on me. I considered teleporting to get to Dallas quicker, but I figured it would be safer to arrive in Dallas with Eric. I had no idea what I might find there.
“I’ll pack a bag,” I said stepping away from the rocking chair.
“Make it quick,” Eric snapped.
I flinched at his tone, and went silently to my room to pack. I decided to pack light, and only took what I absolutely needed. I knew I could buy more clothes in Dallas if I needed to. I came out of my room with my duffle bag over my shoulder.
I remembered that Stephan was still outside. I knew we needed to leave without him knowing, otherwise he would tell Robert, and I knew Robert wouldn’t want me to leave. I went to my kitchen counter, and wrote a short letter to Robert saying I hoped to be back in a few days. I left the letter on the kitchen counter. Turning to Eric, I asked, “How are we going to get out of here without Stephan seeing?”
Eric glanced at me again, and started to open his mouth like he was going to ask something, but then he shook his head. He stepped out onto my deck, and gestured for me to follow. Once I was standing on the deck beside him, he took my duffle bag and slung it over his head and shoulder. Without warning, he gathered me up, sweeping my feet out from under me, and launched into the air. I yelped, and wrapped my arms around Eric’s neck as I buried my face in his chest.
Eric’s voice was slightly softer as he spoke. “I would not drop you.”
I kept my eyes closed tight until I felt Eric’s feet touch the ground. As I opened my eyes, Eric abruptly set me down and started walking away. I looked around to see we were standing beside a small passenger plane. Eric walked to the bottom of the steps and turned back towards me. “Come,” he beckoned before he turned and walked up the steps to the plane.
“Sit, stay, heel,” I grumbled. “I’m not a dog.” But I followed Eric nevertheless. No matter what, I would do what I could to help find Barry. I had to find him.
When I got on the plane, I could see that Eric had already stowed my bag and was sitting in one of the captain’s chairs, typing feverishly on his cell phone. “Sit on the couch, it will likely be more comfortable for you,” he said without looking up.
I nodded and took my seat as the pilot closed the door and made his way to the front of the plane. “We should be back in Dallas in about 4 hours, Mr. Northman,” he said before going into the cockpit. Eric ignored the pilot and kept typing.
I looked at my watch. The sun had set a little before five, and Marci and I had watched the meteor shower until somewhere around eight. It was only nine now. I did a little calculation and realized that we would be getting into Dallas somewhere after three in the morning, local time. At least that should be a few hours before sunrise in Dallas.
As the plane began taxiing, I gripped the arm of the couch. I could teleport across the country, or face down supes, but I hated flying.
“What’s wrong?” Eric asked. I realized I had closed my eyes, and I opened them to see Eric looking at me with a strange expression on his face.
“I don’t like flying,” I admitted, trying and failing not to clench my teeth.
Eric looked at me for a few moments before he got up and sat beside me. He held his hand out to me, palm up. “Squeeze my hand if you are afraid,” he offered gently.
I carefully took his hand, closed my eyes, and began squeezing with all of my might as the plane lurched forward and began climbing.
Once the plane had leveled off, Eric carefully took his hand back. “Lie down and sleep,” he said, once again not looking at me and talking in that flat voice again. I was starting to feel like a yo-yo from the way he went back and forth with treating me, but I was tired so I took his advice and laid down.
Somewhere in my consciousness, I was aware that I was having a nightmare. I could feel my body twist and turn, and vaguely heard my own voice calling out, but I felt something stroking my hair and holding my hand, and the nightmare faded away.
I felt the plane come to a stop, and realized my head was in Eric’s lap.
Before I could respond or even know what to think, he released my hand and carefully slid out from under me as I sat up. I noticed him slid something into his pocket, but couldn’t see what it was. “We’re here,” he said, once again becoming flat and detached Eric. I was still staring at Eric’s back in confusion as he got my bag and the pilot came back to open the door of the plane. Eric walked down the stairs without a backwards glance at me.
“Well, here we go again,” I said to myself as I heaved myself up off the couch.
A/N: Sorry, I know it’s not really long, and it took me longer to get out than I wanted. I had to rewrite it a couple of times, but I wanted to get it right. I also wasn’t sure who’s POV to tell this one from. The next chapter will be the highly anticipated Eric POV.
Thanks for your patience. As always, let me know what you thought!