Kneeling over Eric in the back alley, I wasn’t even sure when I decided to move – much less realized I’d already gone to him – with my eyes taking in his singed clothes, while I fought off my overwhelming desire to go on a killing spree.
My entire body thrummed and my fangs were throbbing with the need to rip into the closest body, so I forced myself to concentrate on only him and asked, “Are you hurt? Did I burn you?”
It all happened so quickly.
One minute I was standing there watching Eric about to be murdered and in the next I was shooting a wall of flames at his attacker.
I didn’t know how or why.
How I’d been able to do that or why I’d been able to do it at all.
In fact, I didn’t know much of anything other than rage.
No matter how I’d once felt about Eric – or how I felt about him now – the fact was we were connected. Through Godric we would always be connected, so that made him one of mine.
And I would be damned if I would let someone hurt him.
But quickly looking him over, he didn’t appear to be hurt, so it wasn’t until my eyes made their way back to his that I knew something else.
Rage wasn’t the only thing I was feeling.
It all happened so quickly.
One minute I was staring into his once blue eyes now turned black with desire and in the next a different kind of wall of flames was shooting through my body.
I didn’t know how or who.
How we ended up lip locked or who moved first.
But the fact was we were suddenly engaged in another kind of battle.
A battle of wills.
Both being as stubborn as the day was long, neither one of us seemed willing to let the other take the lead for longer than a second, but a second was all it took for our dueling tongues to become the first casualties of war.
I knew it when I tasted our combined blood seeping across my taste buds.
Nothing had ever tasted so good.
Eric must have tasted it too because I felt – more than heard – his growl of approval, with his hands moving to the back of my head to keep it there.
I would have gladly stayed there forever.
Had it not been for what I felt – more than heard – next.
Tearing myself free from Eric’s grasp, I used my handhold on the waistband of his jeans – deciding not to think too much on how my hands had ended up there to begin with – and took him with me when I launched up onto my feet, just as the first line of wolves came into sight.
Only then did I realize how much the last twenty-four hours had taken out of me. Between the emotional turmoil that had interfered with my sleep and my maiden debut as a virgin volcano, my energy had been waning.
But the small infusion of Eric’s blood was working wonders on reenergizing me.
As did the sight of the aggressive wolves, moving to surround us, while snarling and bearing their teeth.
Eric wasted no time in going after the biggest of the pack, so I went after the one moving towards his turned back. Holding onto the scruff at the back of his head in one hand, I gripped his jaw in the other and sunk my teeth into his exposed throat, tearing through the sinew, fur and flesh, all the while pulling my hands in opposite directions until I heard his neck snap, with his head barely hanging on anymore.
As disgusting as it tasted, sinking my fangs into actual flesh for the first time nearly made me orgasm.
But Eric had been right.
I only wanted to kill it.
I had no desire to fuck it.
Praise the Lord for small favors.
Godric had taught me about all of the different kinds of Supes there were, so I paid no mind when the wolf began to transform back into a man and moved on to the next one. I could feel Godric getting closer, moving much faster than when he’d left us earlier, so I knew he was flying at top speed to reach us.
But wanting both Eric and I to actually be alive when he reached us, I only focused on the fight we were in, while gratefully accepting the strength he was flooding into our bond. He would have felt how tired I’d been.
I knew he would give me every ounce of energy he had if it would save me from meeting my end.
But even a small amount of Eric’s blood was better than downing a whole pot of coffee because I was able to keep up in the ensuing melee. Back to back we fought the wolves that came at us from all sides, until there was nothing left but the scattered remains of a dozen or so men.
It was an entirely different kind of gross than the taste of their blood.
But be it from the battle of werewolves or the battle of wills just prior to that, I didn’t think anything at all when Eric spun me around devoured my mouth.
He tasted much better than the blood of the mangy mutts we were both now covered in.
So when he moved his lips to lick and kiss their way across my jaw to my neck, feeling his fangs scrape against my skin and realizing his neck was now exposed to my own, I didn’t think.
About anything at all.
Then did he too.
I had no words to describe the pure ecstasy that engulfed my entire body.
Pulling his blood into my mouth and feeling my own sliding down his throat felt like I was floating on a still pond and tumbling down in a freefall from the highest skyscraper.
It was calm.
It was terrifying.
It was both blissful and exhilarating.
It was over all too soon because Eric tore himself free and assumed a defensive stance in front of me, hissing at what I soon realized was the sound of someone coming down the hallway towards the backdoor of the bar.
I recognized the vampire – Long Shadow’s replacement – but I wasn’t sure if I ever knew his name and Eric didn’t release the tension in his body until he heard him say, “The queen is gone.”
No more than a split second had passed from the time Eric had been knocked outside when the redheaded vamp had me in her grasp and dragged me out there with her. But hearing she was the same queen Godric had been on his way to overthrow brought back my apprehension from earlier that evening at being away from him.
It hadn’t been separation anxiety after all.
But trying to figure out if my instincts to remain at his side had been right or if my instincts to keep my trap shut cancelled it all out was too confusing. What I did know was there was nothing to be done about it now, so instead I forced it out of my mind and let my eyes follow Eric’s when he turned his head to the side to see the southern fried vampire I’d shot off of his body was gone too. One of the wolves must have dragged him off during the fight.
That – or he had himself a midnight snack.
I suspected the former – while I hoped for the latter – but now that I had calmed down some, I remembered something else.
Seeing an image of a younger Eric in the vampire’s thoughts, when he’d been hovering over him.
I hadn’t been able to understand any of the words, but the young man in his mind’s eye was definitely Eric.
A human Eric.
Dressed in fur pelts and looking devastated at the carnage that surrounded him – and given the setting and their ages, I assumed they were his family – I knew that vampire had been responsible for their deaths.
And I had a feeling the hand forged crown his mind flashed on – the one he’d held then and was now on display in an office of sorts somewhere – belonged to Eric.
But I was quickly overcome with another feeling.
It bled into me from two sides – one stronger than the other – but each were pulsing hot through my veins.
My eyes closed, not wanting to admit the truth.
Not wanting to see the accusation I was sure would be forming in Eric’s eyes.
Not thinking of the consequences when I’d bitten Eric and drank his blood.
Granted, I hadn’t been able to think beyond my own urges to sink my teeth into his skin and even though he’d been the one to complete the circle by biting into me, I knew I had been the one to start it.
And now I could feel him.
Like being able to read his mind hadn’t been intrusive enough.
Godric had told me all about blood bonds. About the consequences of consuming vampire blood straight from the source. He’d been the one to tell me everything Bill had failed to mention when giving me his blood, so I couldn’t even claim ignorance.
Knowing I owed him at the very least an apology, I opened my eyes to do just that, while trying to think of a way to tell him I was pretty sure Colonel Sanders was behind the murders of his human family.
Hallmark had a card for conveying one, but I was on my own for the other.
But just as my eyes and mouth opened, my jaw snapped shut again at the rushing sensation flooding into my body.
He shot down from the sky and landed right beside us, with his fury making my fangs snap down from my gums again, while his eyes took in everything around us.
I could feel him probing me through our bond – a Maker diagnostic test of sorts – to see if I was injured.
And now that I’d shared blood with Eric, I could tell Godric was doing the same thing with him.
At least he wasn’t playing favorites.
“Sophie-Anne?” he asked, when his eyes landed on Eric’s.
Nodding, he growled lowly, “And Russell Edgington.”
I felt the small jolt of surprise go through him and his eyes widened, taking in the carnage around us all over again, while he asked, “How?”
I didn’t think he was asking how we’d come to be surrounded by the bodies of dead Weres.
After all, we were both covered in their blood.
But an unexpected sensation of pride and awe seeped into me, when Eric replied with a single word.
“Sookie?” Godric repeated, with both of them now staring at me.
But not knowing what they were talking about – having been Maker and Child for a thousand years, they could obviously communicate just fine with single words – I was still stuck on the apology I owed for starting a blood bond with Eric.
And I couldn’t understand any of the mumbo jumbo going through their heads, which was why I responded with, “I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking. I know it’s not a good excuse, but it just happened. I couldn’t help myself.”
I couldn’t tell whose confusion was whose, but I knew we were all feeling it and I was only feeling it even more when Godric turned back to Eric and repeated, “How?”
But knowing it wasn’t Eric’s fault – and not knowing if Godric would be upset we had shared blood (it was sacred!) – I cut him off before he somehow ended up taking the fall for my actions and said, “It was me. I bit him first.”
“You bit Russell Edgington?” he asked and then turned towards Eric, seemingly for confirmation.
“No!” I shrieked and then dropped my eyes to my feet, admitting, “I bit Eric.”
“She did,” Eric confirmed, but he’d said it in a way that…
In way that made me want to bite him again.
Stupid vampire urges.
But I got the feeling I really was the stereotypical blond bimbo – fangs or not – when he followed up with, “Sookie defeated Edgington by shooting fire out of her hands.”
My eyes were still trained on my feet because I’d already been enough of a freak before.
Now I was like the Queen of Freaks.
He really was going to have to take over the world.
But that little bit of pride and awe I’d felt coming from the small tie I now had to Eric’s emotions became a tsunami through the much stronger bond I had with Godric.
“You’re happy about this?” I accused, with my eyes finding his.
If he didn’t want to be the King of Louisiana, I highly doubted Emperor of Earth was a job he’d been gunning for.
“Sookie,” he smiled, turning to face me and soothingly running his hands up and down my arms. “Russell Edgington is older than me by a millennium.”
Taking my hands in his own, he let that statement hang there for a small eternity. I hadn’t given any thought to his age.
Not even the fact he must have been older than Eric if he’d come across him while he’d still been a human.
But that only reminded me of the other bomb I had yet to drop.
So I put that off for another few minutes, trying to figure out what Godric was obviously trying to tell me and heard myself say, “So…what? In the vampire version of Rock, Paper, Scissors – fire beats age? I don’t even know how I did it! It just happened.”
A blond bimbo I might be, but I still knew dumb luck and blind rage could only get you so far.
I could tell he had no idea what Rock, Paper, Scissors were, but instead of asking, he interlaced our fingers together and brought our hands up, looking from them to my eyes again, before saying, “Perhaps it is from your lineage.”
The fairy left unspoken.
“This gift would explain your warmer temperature,” he added.
It was only a gift if I could control it.
Until then it was less of a blessing and more like a burden.
Not only would it paint an even bigger target on our backs, but what if I accidentally exploded like a redneck meth lab?
After all, I clearly didn’t have any control over my urges.
Just ask Eric.
As if he’d somehow heard his name in my thoughts, he said, “She was able to wield it from her hands, but her entire body lit up like the sun,” still sounding – and, I knew, feeling – awed. “Sophie-Anne was holding onto Sookie’s arm and was burned by it before she fled.”
I hadn’t been trying to do that either, which meant I was a danger to everyone around me.
So it was that thought that had me gently – but firmly – pulling my hands free from Godric’s before I ended up introducing him to yet another children’s game he’d likely never heard of before.
My heart ached with the loss of contact, but my fear over hurting him was far greater. I knew he could feel it – feel me – just like I could feel his want to comfort me by reaching out again.
But he allowed me the time to get a handle on myself and scented the air around us, saying in a questioning tone, “Russell survived?”
“Unknown,” Eric answered, with his eyes still staring at me.
Not that I was looking.
Not when I still had to tell him about who Russell Edgington actually was.
I could’ve hoped that maybe Eric already knew if it weren’t for the smug satisfaction I felt rolling through Edgington when he’d been staring down at him.
He felt like he was getting away with something.
Thanks to growing up with Jason for a brother, I knew the sensation well.
So I was relieved when his eyes finally moved away from me and turned towards Godric who moved towards the spot where Russell had landed. I could smell the odor of charred flesh still lingering in the air, but I also knew if he was three thousand years old, he could be strong enough to heal from his wounds.
“Trackers?” Godric questioned, which had Eric automatically pulling his phone from his pocket and calling the NSA for all I knew.
But thinking maybe I should tell Godric first what I’d seen in Russell’s mind and letting him tell Eric to soften the blow, I moved closer to where he was standing, hoping Eric would be too distracted by his phone calls to hear what I was about to say.
My shields were down, so we wouldn’t be blindsided again by anyone trying to sneak up on us. So it was a combination of what I saw next in Eric’s mind and what I felt in the small blood tie we’d forged that made me gasp and turn back around.
Godric had turned around at the same time and we both filled with a sense of dread seeing Eric’s eyes locked onto one of the dead Weres.
But it wasn’t so much the Were as it was the tattoo on his neck that had Eric’s attention.
I didn’t even need to ask.
I’d seen it before in the memories of a three thousand year old vampire.
And I was seeing it again in the human memories of my thousand year old vampire brother.
But it was the ties that we’d forged with one another that let me know no amount of calm Godric was saturating their bond with could temper the rage flowing through Eric now.
Not when the ties that bound him to his human family had suddenly – devastatingly – flared back to life.