A swath of cloth.
White cotton dotted with little drops of red.
It wrapped itself around me. Hugging me. Smothering me from the inside out. Filling my head until it was near bursting. Such a cold and sterile hue stood out in a sea of darkness and yet it felt warm.
And it was sweet?
There it was again. The voice haunting my dreams. I shook my head to rid my ears of the sound, but like always, it never truly left. Be it in the form of a whisper. A tinkling laugh. A sigh of ecstasy.
An indignant huff.
I could not turn it off no matter how it chose to reveal itself.
But still I tried. My mind worked to call upon another dream. Was it a dream? Something told me no. The word precognition came to mind instead.
It was interesting.
“Did the psychic think so?”
There she was again. The haughtiness of her tone led me to believe she did not like to share my attentions. Even if it were only within the confines of my addled mind. But I already knew I could not deny her wishes. I could not control her hold over me.
I could not control her.
Night after night my mind was under her spell. At her command and at her mercy. Some nights she was angry with me and would fling accusations like a boomerang. Throw it with perfect precision, so that it would leave its mark on my soul. And then catch it upon its return only so she could repeat the process all over again.
“You don’t seem too happy about something.”
No. No, I wasn’t happy at all. Even the word itself seemed foreign to my mind.
“Would there be something wrong with me rescuing the two of you?”
My mind couldn’t decide on which stance to take. Nor could it discern a third party within my nightmare for her words to make sense.
“Where do you get off, telling them that I’m your…your lover?”
The obvious distaste in her tone laced with her anger forced a grunt from my chest as her verbal barb sliced through my skin. But I welcomed the pain. Physical discomfort was less cumbersome than the emotional turmoil her words were capable of conjuring.
Perhaps the other she spoke of was her true lover?
The thought provoked another painful hiss from my lips. One I wished I could bestow on the one she was spoken for. Because even her anger could not dissuade the hold she had on me. I welcomed her presence in any form.
“Why?” she cried out. “He actually came to rescue me. Why get mad at him?”
My back arched in agony hearing the hurt in her voice as she beseeched, “Where were you?”
I had no answer for her question. All I knew was the darkness of my mind. Her voice my only rudder, steering me in whichever direction she wanted me to go. I attempted once more to call up her image. To make out the distinct features blurred out by the light that always accompanied her form whenever I tried. But it was impossible.
It was like trying to stare directly into the sun.
“I hoped you would come,” she cried brokenly. “I prayed you would come. I thought over and over you might hear me.”
She was killing me with nothing more than her words.
I hear you now. I am here for you now. We are broken together.
Perhaps that would be enough.
And just as her words were capable of inflicting agony, so too were they able to soothe my pain. Ease the never ending ache in my chest. Alleviate the perpetual soreness in my limbs. My body. My soul.
Her soft spoken words were no longer broken. Instead they evoked a sense of tenderness. Pity too, perhaps. But I didn’t care. I would gladly take her pity over her hurtful accusations.
“Eric, I’ll do my best to keep you safe.”
Another word just as foreign to me. And as if to remind me I could not trust her promises, another groan escaped my lips as the burning sensation sliced through my thigh.
“Come on,” she called out into the darkness, pulling me back from the pain and replacing it with a new sensation. Not one of burning but of warmth as it encased my hand. It lit up in my chest and shone brightly in my mind. Its light burning away the lingering pain in my body, so I focused on my indistinguishable savior trying to recall her name.
“Sookie,” she whispered back to me. “Sookie Stackhouse.”
Thank you, Sookie.
I settled in beside her in my mind. I needed the break, but a sweetness hit my tongue then. Its flavor familiar, but obscured from my memories. Its effect instantaneous. My already addled brain churned like a hurricane trying to place it. A snarl worked its way from my chest, knowing despite its memorable essence it was all wrong.
Exquisite, but wrong.
But I was rendered powerless. Like the angelic voice of my conscience, my body was no longer my own to control. I knew it and yet I still fought. I fought to regain the upper hand. Waged war with myself because if I could not silence her voice, I should at least be able to manage my body’s reactions.
The futility of my actions was not foreign to me. It was ingrained in me. No matter how much I wanted to make it stop – to get away – it was a compulsion I could not resist.
But perhaps sensing my hopelessness, my Northern Star named Sookie chose to once again make her presence known. In the state I was in, I wasn’t sure which side she would choose to grace me with. Her temper flared just as easily as her passion.
“Excuse me… I didn’t mean to walk in on you. I should have knocked.”
Her hesitant words mirrored the shyness I could feel coming from her as if it were my own. Caution. Uncertainty. They oozed from her and straight through my veins just as much as her undeniable lust.
Never, lover. You never have to apologize for that.
“Yes, but intruding wasn’t polite.”
This side of her was always sweet. Exquisitely so.
My mind was racing now with another part of my body experiencing a different kind of pain. A throbbing need that could only be relieved in one way. Sensations of standing in the midst of a rainfall besieged my mind, while memories of something soft and supple ghosted under my palms.
Another sensation made itself known then – rougher than I had expected it to be – and trailed across my chest. Simultaneously familiar and foreign, but already caught up in my favorite dream, I repeated the words I knew should come next.
“Bite a little.”
A sharp pain drew another hiss from my lips as the pain worked its way through my chest and through my psyche. No longer sweet. No longer gentle.
Nothing but a raw brutality.
It was all wrong. It was nothing like my dreams. Nothing like how I knew my unseen lover to be, but my body was its own. It reacted to the physical stimulation on primal instinct and while I could not control it, I could recognize when another foreign presence entered my now unfamiliar dream. As my body shuddered uncontrollably with my release, I intuitively bit down on the skin shoved into my mouth. But instead of swallowing the cool liquid that followed, I spat out the unsavory flavor that had been forced onto my palate.
There was nothing exquisite about it.
Instead it was rank with desperation.
And now, defeat.
My head snapped to the left when she backhanded me for refusing to take her blood yet again. And since they pissed her off so much, I repeated my actions and spit out the newest bit of blood tainting my tongue, caused by her own actions when my fangs tore through her skin. As her royal consort our blood was not shared as a part of our ceremony, like it was when I officiated between Mississippi and Indiana. The sharing of each other’s blood would give us equal power over one another. Something only her equal would be worthy of. But in the eyes of my queen and the rest of the supernatural world, I was less than. It was why she’d been trying to force her blood into me ever since. To have some sort of power over me.
She should have negotiated a better contract.
One of its only redeeming qualities was that it forced my mind to focus and it cleansed my palate of the small amount of fairy blood she’d fed me. It was only a drop, but it was her latest ploy to get me to submit. Hoping my high induced fucking, coupled with my erratic feedings and lack of rest, would be my undoing.
If that was her A-game, she didn’t stand a chance.
The only thing it did was bring an end to the downtime thoughts my mind had retreated to. Had always run to whenever she chose to play her games. Sometimes I was able to direct my thoughts on my own. To choose which memory I wanted to relive. But other times, more so when she drew out our play dates into days’ long sessions where I would be kept awake by her Were guards while she was forced to her daytime rest, my mind would retreat on its own. Always to the same place. Always to the same one. But it was always a tossup on how I would be received by her.
Sookie – my teaser or my tormentor. They were one and the same.
Once I knew she was safe and I was forced to move to Oklahoma, I tested my chains. My only saving grace was that unlike Ocella, she couldn’t command me to do anything. Freyda could say the words, of course, but it was my choice to follow her orders. She had chosen me because of my age and my strength.
She should have thought that through.
To automatically simper at her feet wasn’t something I would do nor would it be expected. In order for me to gain the upper hand, I would have to test her. To make her retaliate and beat me into submission – much like my maker – before giving her the small and subtle signs it was working. Allow her to believe she was breaking me – had broken me – and then let her build me back up as being completely loyal to her. It was the only way for her to not question my fealty. I needed her to believe I would be loyal to her above all others and when she did, I would take her undead life.
And I would be king.
It wasn’t something I wanted before now. I still didn’t want it even now, but I was done with having to answer to anyone. Done with having my life dictated to me. Without a maker and without a liege, I would be free to do as I wished.
Just as Sookie had been free to do as she wished.
I had spies in Oklahoma’s court. Ones who would fill me in on the life I’d left behind. With one child as sheriff of the area she lived in and my other outside her house every night, I knew everything Sookie had been up to. And who she’d been up to it with.
While the thought of his filthy paws on her voluptuous skin galled me, at least he was far enough removed from the supernatural world for her to maintain some sort of normalcy. The normal human life I had always known she’d craved.
The kind of life I could never give her.
And by becoming king I knew it would forever seal my fate in her eyes. Knew more than ever she wanted no part of my ‘vampire shit’ and I couldn’t blame her. Our vampire shit is what had turned her life upside down. Cost her nothing but pain and misery.
So perhaps my first order of business as king would be to have Compton brought before me so I could stake his antebellum ass.
Now, however, I was forced to acknowledge the one in front of me. A stake would be too quick of a way for her to die, so my mind moved on from sweet little telepaths and sideburn wearing cocksuckers to the bitch who would meet her end by my hand.
“Who do you owe fealty to, Eric?”
The sound of her voice was like tiny strands of silver feathering over my balls. Something she had not yet thought of because her imagination was pitiful. While there was a reason why she’d risen to the station of queen at such a relatively young age, there was no amount of sadism she could subject me to that my own maker hadn’t prepared me for. Nor could she hide her insecurities from me.
Undoubtedly it was why I was brought here to begin with. She needed a warrior at her side in order to keep her throne before others figured out she would be easily overthrown. I could effortlessly rip her head from her shoulders now if my arms weren’t shackled in silver to the ceiling above me.
Because although a timorous cunt, she would not have become queen by being stupid as well.
It was a game we played. One that had lasted on and off over the last eleven months. But it would not last forever. Not even over the next two centuries.
No. I would not last that long.
But I would not overreact either. I needed to bide my time. To learn who could be trusted and who could not. To see for myself just how far her reach went and then work twice as hard to make sure my own doubled her span. Ocella might have sold me out. Taken my life from me once again from beyond the grave, but that very same grave meant I did not have to be anyone’s puppet. Not for long anyways.
The silver tipped whip sliced through the air and sliced through my skin when I didn’t answer her highness in an expedient manner.
“Royal consort!” she snapped, attempting to remind me of my place, but only succeeded in reminding me why I would not rest until I wore her entrails like Pam wore her Burberry scarves. And when that same thought also reminded me I missed my children as well, thanks to my queen, I decided then and there I would be sure to gift each of them with one of her fangs.
“Who do you owe fealty to?”
My throat was dry, so my words came out in a hoarse gruff. I had been denied any rest for days and only been fed occasional sips of synthetic blood. My body was weak from the silver restraining me and the numerous wounds covering my body were healing much slower because of it. They were not caused by Sookie’s words in my dreams, but in actuality had been by Freyda’s hand. However my words succeeded in leaving their mark on her given her livid expression.
Sophie-Anne was a devious bitch, but she’d at least deserved having her own kingdom.
So Freyda reminded me of my place by leaving another mark on my skin with her whip, repeating, “Who do you owe fealty to?”
Sookie had thought it hilarious to leave a box of the sugared cereal at my house for when she visited, telling me I wasn’t the only vampire she put in her mouth.
Fuck, I missed her.
I tried to forget her. As soon as she rescinded my invitation from her house, I returned to Shreveport telling myself I was done with her for good. That she didn’t love me enough to even try and see that I only asked her to be my mistress because I loved her – and would’ve spent the rest of her days loving her – told me I needed to forget about her.
Ironically, now it was only because of my memories of her that I had somewhere warm – if not sometimes hostile – to retreat to in my mind.
And I smiled, practically able to hear the snort Sookie would’ve made at my swearing allegiance to Count Chocula.
“You think this is funny?” my soon to be ex-wife screeched.
The one who came before her had prepared me for that reaction as well. And while my former lover could be infuriatingly stubborn and irrational, she at least made it worth the effort.
This one was worth at most a pitiful three grand street value, if I made the effort to drain her blood into tiny vials and sold it off to the dregs of society.
It would be too much effort for me.
Pam though. She would happily do it.
Freyda came at me with a silver dagger and from the angle she maintained I would’ve guessed she was aiming to make my smile a more permanent one by carving it into my face. I was restrained and already weakened, so there was nothing I could do to stop her. But her second in command stepped forward and halted her progression, saying, “He’s already lost too much blood. You shouldn’t weaken him any further.”
“He should learn to obey me!” she shouted.
“You need him to remain strong, my queen. As he is now, he would be of no use to you if we were to come under attack.” Pausing long enough for the rationale to take hold, he added, “He will honor his contract. You know this.”
Ah yes, the contract.
My maker was dead so there would be no vengeance for me there. For my queen I already had compiled a long list of ways in which I would exact my revenge. But there was still another. One more vampire on my vampire shit list.
Felipe de Castro.
He could have stopped it all. Without my maker to command me, as my king he could have denied Freyda’s request to have me honor any promises made to her by Ocella. I was his sheriff. I lived in his territory and had sworn my fealty to him. There would’ve been nothing she could do about it.
But he sold me out instead. And I knew it wasn’t for money or territory. By agreeing to Freyda’s request he gained the one thing he would never be able to get ahold of with me there.
I knew the moment he felt safe. The moment he heard through the ever present supernatural grapevine that I had fully submitted to Freyda, he would make his move. Contractually bound to stay away from her or not, there was no court who would uphold it. Any of them would want their very own telepath and many were likely making plans to acquire one.
One who was living with a fucking shifter and likely making a litter of puppies at that very moment.
But it was what she wanted. What I could never give her. So I would be graceful and bow out.
But I would take out every ounce of my hostility on Felipe’s hide. Once I overthrew Freyda and Oklahoma was mine, he would be the next one in my sights. And when he fell and Louisiana became mine, then Sookie could spend the rest of her days with a pup on each teat if that was what she wanted.
My balls tightened once more, feeling the imaginary sting of silver gliding over them, as her voice glided back into my consciousness.
“Will you honor our contract?”
“Of course, my queen,” I replied, throwing her a bone. One she didn’t need fairy blood to get from me.
Unless there was a connection by blood, vampires having sex together was unnatural. We did it from time to time, but not on a regular basis. It was why nearly every marriage contract specified it only had to be done once a year. Likely to reestablish the by then weakening blood tie formed at the ceremony. Small amounts taken over the span of a year would not complete a blood bond.
Freyda’s only motivations in fairy fucking me had been to get her blood into me. And perhaps it was also retribution for me fucking her favored pets upon my arrival in her palace until they preferred me over her.
I’d held out hope in the days following our public divorce Sookie would come to see reason. Hoped once I calmed down that she would as well. That her hurt and anger would subside so that she would see I’d had no choice. In the previous three years she’d come to the rescue of many vampires she both knew and didn’t know. Myself included. So in those first few weeks, I almost expected her to come barreling into the room at any given moment, pulling the impossible out from her ass and wielding it like a stake as she declared, “That’s my vampire!”
I was her vampire. Or at least I was her vampire.
But my hopes were not met.
I should have known better considering who she had chosen to use the Cluviel Dor on. The same one with whom she now chose to share her bed. Her life. And when that realization finally sunk in, I attempted to fuck her from my mind, using any and every one of the donors who pandered to my new wife.
I viewed it as killing two birds with one stone.
But it only took my first week long play date for my mind to go running back home. To seek solace from my memories of Sookie. And now that I had some distance from it – from her – I could see why it all fell apart. I could recall each and every misstep each of us took. But even if we had made all the right moves, ultimately we were destined to fail.
I never accepted Sookie was just a human and Sookie never accepted she was anything but. She never accepted her place in the supernatural world she was undoubtedly a part of. And it wasn’t just the vampire shit she didn’t want to deal with. She was the great-granddaughter of the Prince of the Sky Fae. He’d told her himself she had been born with their essential spark. She was always a part of the supernatural world before Bill had ever been sent for her. Before Hadley had run her mouth to Sophie-Anne.
Before any vampire shit landed on her doorstep, Sookie Stackhouse was already one of us.
But her mind refused to acknowledge it. Refused to accept her status as ‘other’ and she continued to color in the box marked ‘human’ until her pen had worn through the paper.
I could accept that she didn’t want to be turned. I hated it, but I could accept it. It wasn’t a life I would have chosen if I had been given the choice, but that didn’t mean I hadn’t come to appreciate my new life. She too could have found joy in making new discoveries. In witnessing lifetime after lifetime of the advancements in technology. To see for herself the progression of her beloved humanity.
But it would seem the thought never even crossed her closed mind. I only wished I’d had more time to try to convince her otherwise.
Now though, I would leave her be. She’d made her choice and that choice hadn’t been me. But I would still see to it that she would remain free, so once I took Oklahoma I would make a move on Nevada. I wanted nothing to do with the state and would leave it to rot. But taking out Felipe would be the only way for me to acquire Louisiana and my only concern was Louisiana.
Because all of my concerns were in Louisiana.
Freyda came to stand before me and jerked my head upright, looking into my eyes for the truth of my words.
Unable to see her own demise behind them taking form in my mind.
“You will protect me and mine from all who threaten us?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied truthfully.
I would allow no other to take her head. That pleasure would be mine.
My honesty – sans treasonous designs – appeared to be good enough for her for now. She even looked somewhat pleased when she turned to her second and said, “See to it that he’s cleaned up and given donors. He’s already missed court too often and I want him healed by tomorrow night so he can join me.”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” her lackey bowed.
He would be my second as well.
My second target.
“Who are you loyal to, Eric?” she asked in an almost singsong voice as an afterthought. The way she strode towards the door gave the impression she was damn near joyful.
I couldn’t have that.
So I gave her another truth and replied, “Sookie,” tugging on my invisible chains once more and making both Freyda’s elation and her exit from the room come to a halt.
But I couldn’t have Sookie, so I wouldn’t let Freyda have her delight.
Nor would I let her think she had broken me that easily.