Feeling Eric’s lips on mine, having him in my arms again, I don’t know how I could’ve possibly thought I would be okay without him. We’d had our problems, but who didn’t? Most of them we’d brought on ourselves. Created drama where there was no need for any. But after being without him for the last year, I knew now more than ever I never wanted to be apart from him again.
Eric may have technically been dead, but he was the only one who had ever made me feel so alive.
Or more torn apart.
Seeing him look so unsure when he stared back at me hurt more than any of my visible scars ever had. Knowing it was in part my fault, even though I didn’t know exactly what it was he’d been thinking. His mental silence was still a gift. Still a curse. But I could tell by the way he looked at me he still wanted me. How he could feel that way after everything I’d said and done, I didn’t know. Not when I’d done such a thorough job of throwing everything we had away.
But I was thankful.
And I was grateful he didn’t seem to mind me starting a new blood bond without talking to him about it first. That part didn’t surprise me so much, considering he’d more or less done the same thing to me once before. I’d been horrified at the time, but now I wouldn’t trade that memory for the world.
It was only fitting the prince in my fairytale was my big bullshitter and I was his little bullet-sucker princess.
And if somebody didn’t like it, they and Walt Disney could both suck it too.
But watching him contort in pain and then drop to the floor, I felt something else entirely.
Charged essential spark or not, the Sookie of old was still in there too and showed herself by once again reacting without thought. The guard I’d mentally dubbed TrueBlood barely had the chance to draw back his sword from slicing into Eric’s skin when I exploded. His body turned into ash as I mentally berated myself for getting caught up in making up with Eric and I spun around in the next second to look for other attackers. And in doing so, I’d unwittingly placed Eric and me in the center of a ring of fire.
Just call me Johnny Cash.
“Eric?” I asked, dropping down to my knees beside my man in black. My rage dropped back down just as quickly seeing him lying there and in pain. “Are you okay?”
I knew now from my glimpse inside of Freyda’s head at least some of what Eric had had to endure. The beatings. The bleedings. So I wasn’t surprised to see his back wasn’t healing as quickly as I knew it should have.
But I’d be sure to pay her back in kind for each and every mark she’d left on his body.
“Fine,” he snarled and slowly pulled himself up onto his knees.
Always my big bullshitter. But at least now I knew some of the Eric of old was still in there too.
The word vampire could be the antonym for verbose, with a picture of him next to it in the dictionary.
“Of course you are,” I smiled, still feeling a little giddy being so close to him again. All I wanted to do was run away with him. Spend the rest of the night talking or maybe even finding other things to do together that didn’t involve speaking at all. But we couldn’t. Not yet.
We still had asses to kick.
“You’re really here.” It was more of a statement than a question and it made me wonder what was behind it when I remembered his words to me just moments earlier.
Show me you’re real.
Placing each of my hands on either side of his face, I stared back at him and smiled, “Of course I am.” Keeping a hold of him, I moved closer and tilted my head until my neck was at his lips and said, “Drink.”
There was no time for finesse. Even above the flames I could hear the fight still going on around us, but we wouldn’t be protected by fire alone. A well thrown sword could end either one of us before we ever had a chance to start again.
But even knowing all of that, I couldn’t stop my body from reacting to his touch. The feel of his arms snaking around my body and the cool moisture of his tongue licking along my vein brought my insides to a boil.
And given Eric was poking my body with more than just his fangs, I could tell he felt the same way too.
A moan rumbled from my lips feeling his fangs slide into my skin and I could feel something like a rumble start up somewhere lower on my body. With the first pull of my blood into Eric’s mouth I melted further into him, but stopped myself from closing my eyes like I wanted to.
I couldn’t let us get blindsided again.
So Eric chose that moment to blindside me himself.
He’d only taken a single mouthful when he swallowed and pressed my head against his neck as he pulled back from my own and said, “Bite.”
The little bit of his blood I’d had only moments earlier was enough to start another blood bond, but I knew having more now would only strengthen it. It was something I wanted, something I’d thought about often once Niall had whisked me away to Faery and I had nothing to do but think. But in my mind I’d imagined it would come about after lots of talking. Ironing out every little detail of what it would mean to each of us.
I should have known better.
After all, I was more fairy now than human and fairies were allergic to iron. Apparently that extended to smoothing out the minutiae of our connection to one another.
His only warning I’d agreed was my countdown.
Three kisses to his neck.
Two swipes of my tongue across his skin.
And one bite over my bullseye.
I moaned again as soon as his blood exploded across my tongue and he growled against my neck as he dove in for seconds. It would’ve been so easy to get lost in him. To forget we weren’t in the middle of a war of my making. But my spidey senses were tingling, telling me it wasn’t safe to do so and I knew he couldn’t afford to give me too much. He was still weakened by what he’d endured, so I latched onto my sanity just as strongly as I’d latched onto his skin.
He pulled back after only three more pulls and when I tried to hold him there, knowing he needed more, he resisted and licked the wounds closed, so I forced myself to do the same when he spoke against my skin and repeated my very thoughts by saying, “I do not want to weaken you. We’re not safe yet.”
Just hearing him use that simple four letter conjunction to describe the two of us made me mentally swoon. Using it in a way to depict it was ‘us’ versus ‘them’ told me he viewed us as being a single entity.
If he’d gotten down on bended knee and held out a ring, I don’t think I could’ve been any happier.
But I’d always been a simple girl and a simple four letter conjunction was enough for me, so I pulled back even further and stopped him from healing the marks on my skin – out of habit, I supposed – and said, “No. Leave them so they all know I am yours.”
“Are you?” he asked. His tone was soft, but his eyes were hard as he stared back at me.
I couldn’t blame him for questioning me. I’d flip-flopped on this subject more than when I tried to even out my tan on the chaise lounge out in the yard. We still had a lot to talk about. Issues to resolve and old wounds to heal.
But just like I didn’t think a simple ‘sorry’ would suffice when I’d been attacked as a message to him by the maenad, I thought he deserved something a little fancier than a simple ‘yes’.
Cupping his face in my hand, I smiled and entreated, “Angelic Eric, vision of love and beauty, I am prostrate that the wicked, evil queen violated the sanctity of our marriage in an attempt to keep her kingdom by taking you away from me. But no matter the distance – hundreds of miles or hundreds of days – I am and will always be yours.”
The smirk I’d missed more than I knew formed in the corner of his mouth, hearing some of the words he’d said to me so long ago, but because he still wasn’t feeling particularly chatty, all he said was, “Good to know.”
With one arm still wrapped around me, he reached down and picked up his fallen sword with the other, flying us straight up into the air and out of the ring of fire, saying, “Now, let’s kick some ass, shall we?”
And just like that my bitch face was back on.
The room was bathed in red, only further heightened by the flames still burning below us. But the fight was still waging on.
It was just waging on around my little tribute to the man in black.
“There,” Eric snarled and my eyes trailed the same path his had taken, seeing Freyda now standing behind an even bigger defensive line. Still hovering up in the air unnoticed by everyone below, I let go of Eric with one arm to aim my hand towards her when he said, “No.” Spinning us around and quickly lowering us to the ground before I could get a shot off, he smacked my lips with a fierce kiss from his own before explaining, “Her death will be mine.”
I really didn’t think it was fair that he got to kill Bill and now wanted to deny me my own revenge on his rapist, but I wouldn’t argue with him over it knowing a little of what she’d done to him. Instead, I smiled and accused, “Greedy.”
He smiled in return and I raised my hand to fry a vamp that got a little too close to our negotiations, saying, “How about I go find Felipe and meet up with you later?”
“Of course, lover.”
And with that, we were off.
Eric raised his sword above his head and started clearing a path towards Freyda, while I raised my hands up and started blasting my way through the crowd in the opposite direction. We’d brought a hundred of Niall’s Royal Guard with us and at the time, I’d thought that seemed like overkill. Supernatural posturing. But Freyda must have invited every vampire in her state to the palace because while there were plenty of vampire puddles on the ground, there were still plenty more still fighting.
As I moved along, with my eyes seeking out the caped king, I was shocked to see Stan Davis fighting back to back with Pam.
Seeing Pam lop off the head of her challenger, I detonated Stan’s opponent for him on my way by, but his eyes met mine and for a single brief moment I caught a glimpse of his thoughts, like I had back in Dallas.
Amazing. Freyda was foolish to piss her off.
I was booted out of his head just as quickly, but I smiled at his mental praise and he returned it before we both returned to the battle.
Even if I knew how to work my fairy cloak – if I even had fairy cloaking powers – it wouldn’t have shielded me from being hit with the spray of blood that showered the room. So I kept my mouth closed and continued to shoot my fairy flares all around me, while keeping my eyes peeled for Felipe.
I really should’ve just let Sigebert kill him when he had the chance.
My poor Malibu hadn’t been the same ever since I ran him over.
With my senses heightened even more now that I’d had more of Eric’s blood, the scents swirling around the room were almost overpowering. Burnt flesh, be it from my flamethrower hands or silver swords searing undead skin, tickled my nose. But it was the mixture of blood that was overwhelming, so I used the sleeve of my ruined dress to wipe it away from my face, and pushed myself further into the fray when my eyes finally landed on the prize.
The hem of his cape was frayed and had torn away on one side, so it hung lopsided behind him, looking even more ridiculous than usual. Deciding to relieve him of his fashion faux pas, I sent him a little reminder capes only belonged on superheroes – and he was no hero. The restrained discharge from my hands lit up his cape, starting at the hem, and quickly rose up behind him, with him tearing the fabric free from his body just as the flames were about to lick his neck. His alarmed eyes darted to mine, so I smiled and waved.
Fuck him if he thought I was going to curtsy.
The alarm in his eyes turned to fury in a flash and he zipped towards me, but I was ready for him. Pointing a single finger in his direction – one I’d been raised to believe shouldn’t be raised by a proper young lady – I turned its vertical positioning horizontal before he could reach me and seared a blazing scarlet letter ‘C’ onto his chest.
Cuckold. Cheat. Cocksucker.
Take your pick. They were all true.
His race to get to me stopped just as quickly now that he’d become his own Olympic torch and he tried to bat away the embers still burning on his chest, while his eyes never left my flickering fingertips.
“You are in my retinue,” he seethed once he was left with nothing but the residue and a singed ‘C’ on his chest. “You reside in my state. You are my telepath. Apologize and I won’t punish you for your treason.”
Or the ‘C’ could just stand for ‘cocky’. He was certainly acting that way.
Tilting my head to display Eric’s mark on my neck, I said, “I am Eric’s. It’s your own fault you traded him away for nothing of value. I would’ve thought being the King of Nevada would’ve made you know better than to fold when you had a winning hand.”
“Do you think I will let your actions go unpunished?” he snarled. “That I will allow you to return to your home?” Taking a fateful step closer, he sneered, “I will lock you away for the rest of your life. I will snatch your friends and your family from their lives and force you to watch as I take their lives one by one. I will chain you up and allow others to entertain themselves with your body and your blood when I am done taking everything I can from you. You will wish for death, but I will turn you and continue your punishment for all of eternity. With a Maker’s command, you will have no choice but to comply. No matter how much you might want to.”
Or the ‘C’ could stand for ‘cracked’.
And he was high on some if he thought I’d let him touch me or anyone I cared about.
Hearing his Appius-like threats invigorated me all the way to my bones. While I’d been in a sort of daze after going separate ways with Eric, moving through the room mostly on autopilot, now I felt as though I was just waking up. The fog was lifting.
A yearlong fog.
I’d been a fool to believe Felipe would’ve kept his word. That he would’ve allowed me to live my life in peace once Eric had signed away two hundred years of his to guarantee that very thing.
But I was done being a fool.
And his reign over me and three states was done too.
Reminding him I was no longer the same uninformed human girl who would cower at such blatant threats, I recapped our evening thus far by saying, “Were your ears so full of your own bullshit that you missed my entrance to this shindig?” Sending my own firebolt that wouldn’t help him win any Quidditch match, he howled and clutched his arm just beneath his now burning right hand, trying to fan away the flames but only succeeded in fueling them.
“Won’t it be difficult to hold me down without both of your hands?” I taunted and took another step closer. While his eyes desperately searched for something to put it out, I sent another one, managing to light up both of his feet with one shot, and as he tried to stomp the flames out, I laughed, “Oh…you can’t dance your way out of this one.”
I doubted he’d heard me over his own pained screams, so I decided to really get his attention by making my next mark count.
And with his penchant for capes, one would think he idolized the Sesame Street’s Count.
The crotch of his pants was burning hotter than anything he’d ever managed to do with whatever it contained and when his hands reached down on reflex, much too late to block my flaming blow, he ended up setting his other hand on fire too. Falling to the ground, I moved to stand over his rapidly burning body and just as the recognition was fading from his eyes, I asked, “How does it feel? To be incapacitated? To know your death is looming and there is no stopping it? To know there is no one to help you? To save you? To be ended when you’re too weak to defend yourself?”
I’d often thought of Sophie-Anne’s final moments. While I had issues with how she’d gone about seeking me out, sending Bill to try and seduce me, I could understand her reasoning. And Flambé Felipe had just reminded me I could’ve had it much worse than a lying boyfriend. She didn’t deserve what happened to her.
I still couldn’t find any sympathy over Andre’s death though.
Raising my arms up in the air, I gestured to the room around us and stared down at him saying, “This is what happens when Monarch’s overstep their bounds. It’s a revolution.”
And I continued to stare at him long after he was well and truly dead, and when he was nothing but ash and a bad memory, I said to no one in particular, “Welcome to the new age.”
“Are we too late for the barbecue, lover?”
My head whipped around at his voice to see Eric standing there holding Freyda in his grasp.
And there was nothing romantic about it.
Rage bubbled up inside of me, having her so close, and if Eric hadn’t been in danger of being collateral damage, I would’ve exploded her like a firecracker on the Fourth of July.
Eric wasn’t the only one who was greedy.
Her eyes sought out an escape that she wouldn’t be getting, but my own traveled along with hers when I noticed the fight seemed to be over.
And we had won the war.
While I didn’t recognize every vampire left standing, those who were seemed to be standing guard over those who were no longer fighting, and I was happy to see the majority of our group had survived unscathed. Both Pam and Karin looked none the worse for wear and Niall was standing off to one side issuing orders to his remaining guards. I noticed the unmistakable fairy dust in some spots on the floor, so I knew not everyone on our side had survived, but they were quick to remove the injured fairies before the scent of their blood could start up another frenzy.
“Just get it over with.”
The sound of Freyda’s defeated voice drew my attention back to her and seeing her look resigned to her fate did nothing to assuage my fury.
I wanted her to bleed.
I wanted her to feel pain.
I wanted her to feel fear.
I wanted it all.
Eric seemed nonplussed by her demeanor and instead he stared down at her and smirked, “Now where is the fun in that? You may no longer be my queen and you were never my wife, but that doesn’t mean I can’t return your hospitality during my stay here.”
She shuddered hearing his implied threat.
I enjoyed seeing it more than I knew was possible.
There was a time, not so long ago, when I would’ve accepted there was vampire justice I had no say in. A way of handling their affairs that we would just have to agree to disagree on. I would’ve shook my head and clucked my tongue as I walked away to go stick my head in the sand and pretend it wasn’t happening.
But not now.
Not with her.
It really was the dawn of a new age.
The dawn of a new me.