*Italicized words within quotation marks are ‘spoken’ in Swedish, but written in English*
I awoke the following evening still covered in Sookie’s scent, so instead of immediately showering as I normally would have, I lay there for a few minutes and allowed myself to enjoy it.
Normally I wouldn’t have bothered to pick up a prisoner from the floor and carry them to their bed, but then normally they wouldn’t have had my blood.
The shock and pain I felt radiating through her upon learning of the date was nothing short of violent until she’d passed out, so that I was left feeling nothing but the hum of her presence through our weak bond.
Now I was even more curious as to how long she’d been held by Niall.
I was also curious as to why I was curious.
Throwing the covers off, I stormed into the bathroom already frustrated at the distraction she represented. There were too many things I needed to concentrate on and I couldn’t let myself become engrossed in the life of a one-eighth Fae.
Her reactions for the most part had been amusing and had I still been nothing more than a Sheriff, I certainly would have been willing to entertain her for a few nights, given her looks and her scent.
So I found it was an unfortunate bit of irony that as a King, time was the one luxury I could no longer afford.
Once I was dressed in a simple pair of jeans and a black t-shirt, I left my room and made my way to the living area where I found her sitting on a couch, with one of the many books I kept down there in her hand.
On any other night, I would have left my quarters and selected the first donor from the donor pool that struck my fancy, but since I still had to figure out what I would be doing with my unexpected guest, I grabbed a True Blood from the refrigerator to tide me over.
It wasn’t lost on me had Sookie been in the donor pool, I definitely would’ve selected her.
The shower I had to remove her scent was a fruitless attempt because my quarters were now saturated in it, thanks to her being locked up within them all day long. She hadn’t said a word to me yet, but as I turned away from the microwave with the warmed bottle now in my hand, I saw she had closed the book and was now staring back at me.
Noticing Pam’s clothes seemed a little snug on her, I made a mental note to have some purchased in her size, but I did enjoy seeing the way the sweater she was wearing stretched across her ample breasts.
If she stayed for more than a few nights, True Blood wasn’t going to satisfy my needs.
She blushed furiously when her eyes finally met mine and I wondered if she’d had any blood induced dreams about me. I hadn’t given her much, but I was old and my blood was powerful, so it wasn’t out of the question.
My eyes lit across every visible inch of skin on her body and I tamped down on my urges, now smelling the faint scent of her arousal, while feeling it through the bond as well when she said, “Thank you.”
Drawing my eyes back up to hers with her words, she stared into them and added, “For the food and for putting me into bed last night.”
My only response was to acknowledge her thanks with a nod, so she continued on by asking, “Were you serious last night? It’s really October of 2005?”
“Yes,” I answered and then indulged my own curiosity by asking, “What year were you taken?”
Her eyes dropped from mine and her earlier arousal disappeared, as I felt the pain shooting through her again. So I remained silent until she looked back up at me, ignoring my question and asking two more of her own.
“Where are we exactly? We’re in Louisiana, right?”
Her demeanor was still polite and yet demanding. From what I could gather from the pieces of information I had, she hadn’t been raised as a Fae princess and yet she showed no fear at questioning a Vampire King, while ignoring my own questions.
It was still entertaining.
And still infuriating.
And I could easily become infatuated by her if I wasn’t careful.
I took a seat across from her and ran my fingers through my still drying hair, noting the way her eyes traveled over my shoulders and chest, and smirked when a blush tinged her cheeks when she’d realized she’d been caught.
Innocence wasn’t a character trait I was used to seeing in a woman her age, especially one as beautiful as she, but I set it aside for now and said, “Quid pro quo Clarice. For every question of mine that you answer, I’ll answer one of yours.”
She sat back and curled her legs underneath her body, amplifying the hour glass figure she had, and when I looked back up at her eyes, I noted that I too had been caught looking.
However, if she was waiting to see me blush because of it, she’d be waiting forever.
It was an impossibility on every level.
We sat there in our silent stare off for a few moments more when she finally blurted out, “2004.”
I could feel that she was being truthful, so I used her same tactic and offered, “New Orleans.”
She opened her mouth again, but I held up my hand, saying, “Ah ah, I believe it’s my turn.”
Her mouth closed with a huff and she crossed her arms underneath her chest, which only served to distract me more, but still I managed to ask, “Where are you from?”
She chewed her lip and remained silent for long enough that I assumed our question and answer session was over, but as I began to stand up, she said, “Mississippi.”
It was logical that she would try and hide information about herself. There were many dangerous beings out to get her and I, too, was her captor.
I’d given her no reason to trust me and yet it still pissed me off.
I should have walked away from her and left her under guard in one of the cells, but instead I glared back at her and my fangs snicked down as I said, “In addition to failing to inform you that the Fae are a tasty treat to vampires, I guess it is only natural to assume that your great-grandfather failed to tell you about the properties of vampire blood.”
She stared blankly at me, but I could feel the fear rising in her as she asked, “What? Do you mean, like V?”
Shaking my head, I answered, “No. Depending on the user, V can either make them go insane or it can make them feel as though they can take on the world. It can increase their strength, their speed. It can make the user more attractive and our blood has the power to heal. But when taken directly from the source, it forms a bond between the human and vampire and allows the vampire to feel the human’s emotions. I know that you are lying to me.”
“WHAT?” she screeched and jumped to her feet. “How dare you do something like that without my permission? How dare you bond to me?”
I was a Vampire King!
She was just a human.
Even a one-eighth Fae of the royal line was still beneath the youngest vampire, and she was a mere infant in comparison to my one thousand years. Yet she had the gall to take me to task for doing what needed to be done to keep her safe.
Feeling the anger bubbling within her only fueled my own, but remembering her earlier arousal, I simply mocked her with a smirk and admitted, “And I can feel how much you want me.”
Of course I omitted that the bond would fade over time if I didn’t give her anymore of my blood. But from what I could feel of her emotions, she was so angry I almost expected her body to burst, like an overinflated balloon from her sky rocketing blood pressure.
So I was admittedly surprised when she fell back onto the couch in a fit of laughter, gasping out, “Oh, thank God.”
Flummoxed, I wasn’t sure what she found so funny and I tried to find the willpower to walk away from the hysterical fairy princess. But instead I found myself asking, “What is it you find so amusing?”
Her anger was still simmering in the background, but she truly was amused and she wiped the tears from her eyes, before then waving her hand up and down towards me – merely fanning the scent of her delicious smelling fairy tears – as she answered, “You and your batty blood bond. It’s broke because I most certainly do not want you.”
Niall would be lucky if I didn’t kill her myself.
Instead of walking away, I again gave in to my irrationality and leaned down over her – not touching her but definitely in her personal space – while I asked, “Tell me princess, did you have nice dreams last night?”
Her laughter died immediately and I felt her anger take over again, as she sucked in a deep breath and shouted out, “YOU! That was YOU?”
And I blamed her close proximity and alluring scent for not predicting her next move, when she managed to hit me over the head with one of the couch cushions.
I wasn’t sure what my next move would have been, but I had a feeling her life had been spared when I heard, “Knock knock. Am I interrupting your slumber party or can I join in too?”
Turning to face my child, I saw the smirk on her face as she said, “You feel like you’re ready to kill someone. Why don’t you go find a donor and work it off? I’ll take care of your little princess.”
She was right – not that I would ever tell her that – so I forced myself to calm down, while I jokingly answered, “It’s such a long walk to the donor pool. Why bother when she’s right here?”
Pam’s grin only got wider and she let her fangs descend, not bothering to hide them or her appreciation, as her eyes traveled over Sookie’s body behind me and replied, “I’m always up for a little fairy snack. Then we won’t have to worry about de Castro anymore because we’ll be too busy fighting the Prince of the Sky Fae for draining his kin.”
She was right.
Not that I would tell her that.
Although it was still a nice little fantasy, but before I could answer, I heard from behind me, “That’s just rude you know.”
Says the spitting, biting, hitting, kicking, maddening little fairy princess.
“Get her some clothes that fit. Your shirts on her are too distracting. I’ll meet you in my office in an hour,” I barked, getting to my feet and striding from the room.
But not before Pam got in her parting shot of, “I agree, but you owe me a new sweater. That one is stretched beyond repair. Enjoy your dinner!”
Enjoy my dinner, indeed.
Over the next several days, I hated to admit even to myself that I hadn’t enjoyed my dinners at all.
Nor would I dissect the reasons why I only took brunettes or redheads and eventually had all of the blonds removed from service.
But I could feel Pam’s amusement through our bond, even though she knew better than to tease me for it.
I left Sookie’s care to her, so I could fully concentrate on the tasks at hand, but whenever I needed Pam with me, Sookie would be confined to my quarters. We hadn’t said a word to each other after that first night, but I knew that she would sometimes talk to Pam.
Mostly to complain and ask to be released.
I could feel the boredom and restlessness growing inside of her, after her third straight night of being confined, but I was still surprised upon rising the next night when she was waiting for me outside of my bedroom.
She normally stayed in her room until I’d left the chambers altogether, but there she stood and she even managed to look contrite when she asked, “May I please leave the room tonight?”
I could feel her hopefulness, but I was still pissed at her and asked, “Why? Do you find your accommodations lacking? Because there are some lovely cells you could stay in if you prefer a change of scenery.”
Her hopefulness was replaced with annoyance and a hint of fear, but you’d never know it by looking at her as she explained, “You’ve been more than gracious to me and I’m grateful, really. I know I could have it much worse, but I’m bored. When Niall had me locked up in Never Never Land, at least I could see the outside world – see the sun – but here I can only see these four walls.”
She was being truthful and polite, but I knew Pam and I would be busy that night going over the final preparations for my coronation with the were-tiger Quinn. I would’ve left her with Rasul had I not sent him to oversee Area 5 before he would eventually be dispatched to Arkansas and I didn’t fully trust Sigebert yet.
He was still grieving for his Maker and while I knew he didn’t blame me for her untimely demise, he was still looking to lash out at someone.
And given her propensity to piss off vampires, I didn’t feel he would be a wise choice for her guard.
But there was something in the way her blue eyes looked up at me that had me grateful Pam didn’t rise as early as me, so she wasn’t there to see me give in to what she would undoubtedly call a pouty-face.
“Fine,” I agreed and then warned, “If you agree to behave, tonight you can accompany us to my office, but you’ll likely be bored there as well. We’ll be finalizing the plans for my coronation with the were-tiger, so I can’t have you there if you’re going to act up. It would be seen as a weakness if I allowed you to speak to me as you normally do and I will have to punish you in front of him if you do. Do you understand?”
She swallowed hard as she nodded and I found I didn’t enjoy feeling her fear of me, so I soothed, “Just behave and all will be well. But we should probably keep your identity as Niall’s kin a secret, so as far as anyone is concerned, you are my pet.”
The fear disappeared and her eyes went wide as she asked incredulously, “Wait, were-tiger? Your pet? What are you talking about?”
“Yes,” I purred at just the thought of her being my pet, although I’d never made a habit of keeping them.
“I should probably mark you with my bite, but I have a feeling you aren’t quite ready for that yet. So he can just assume I’ve bitten you somewhere else on your body that your clothing would cover.”
My eyes traveled of their own volition to her breasts and then her thighs, but her ire barely masked her arousal, while she screeched, “YET? Listen here buddy, you will never sink your fangs into anywhere on my body with me willing. Do you understand?”
Have I actually missed this?
Quite frankly the answer was yes, even though she was pissing me off again.
But I knew my next actions would only piss her off more, so I didn’t hold back and pat the top of her head, saying, “There, there pet. We both know you’ll behave for your Master, if you want out of these rooms tonight.”
She certainly didn’t disappoint because she stomped her foot and yelled out, “Argh!”
But before I could say anything, I heard Pam’s door open with her saying, “Aww…did I miss you two kissing and making up?”
If that happened, then she’d certainly be getting an eyeful right now.
It was already too late for me to go to the donor lounge and after my little tête-à-tête with Sookie, I wasn’t all that interested in what I knew I would find there. So I headed for the door and told Pam along the way, “Give her a rundown on weres and proper pet behavior. And if she’s still willing, you can bring her with you to my office when you come up.”
Quinn, while annoying and arrogant, was also punctual and he was waiting for me outside of my office when I arrived. We’d only been sitting for a few minutes when Pam knocked briefly on the door before entering with Sookie in tow.
“Master,” Pam bowed her head respectfully and quickly took her seat next to me, leaving Sookie standing there alone.
Watching Quinn’s appreciative gaze aimed her way irked me and I could feel Sookie’s agitation, but had no idea if it was me or Quinn she was agitated with.
But with everyone’s eyes on her, she eventually bowed her head as well and waited for my instructions, after quietly greeting me with, “Master.”
I was impressed she’d listened so well to Pam, but more so surprised and while I wanted to push the issue by having her sit in my lap, I had a feeling she wouldn’t be acting like the submissive pet any longer.
Instead I gestured towards the couch and said, “You may have a seat.”
She nodded and gracefully walked over to the couch where she sat in the far corner, with her eyes taking in my office. I was slowly having the palace remodeled from Sophie-Anne’s garish approach to decorating, but so far the only rooms I’d had done were my office and the receiving room.
Everything else could wait since those were the rooms I spent the most time in and I noticed Sookie’s eyes staring extra hard at the sword hanging above my head behind me.
I could feel her interest, but I didn’t have time to dwell on it, when Quinn cleared his throat and said, “Your Majesty, we have everything you’ve requested brought in for your coronation on Saturday.”
In only a few more days Nevada would be there to gauge the strength of my rule and it was a political chess match I was prepared to play.
But I was torn from my thoughts, feeling Sookie’s sudden apprehension through the bond. My eyes automatically darted over to her seeing her worried face, but now wasn’t the time to question her on it.
Nor did I feel inclined to remind her that I could sense her feelings and piss her off again.
She played the part of the perfect pet throughout the night and as a reward, I called in a debt I held over the Were Herveaux the following night. I felt she would be safe enough within the confines of the palace while I was awake and charged him with guarding her on the nights Pam and I were busy, so she wouldn’t have to sit in the office or be there while I was holding court.
She seemed in better spirits over the following days because of it and although I could still feel some apprehension from her, we managed to have several civil – if not, entertaining – innocuous conversations about books and the like.
But most of the time whenever she wasn’t in my presence, I blocked our bond so that I could concentrate on the task at hand. She distracted me like no other and it didn’t help whenever I felt her growing friendly feelings towards the Were.
They weren’t romantic feelings, but I still didn’t like them.
Nor did I like the fact that I didn’t like them.
But I still looked into seeing who else I could replace him with.
It was the night before my coronation, while I was in the middle of going through the incessant number of contracts Sophie-Anne had, when I heard the timid knock at my door and yelled, “Enter.”
I didn’t bother to look up until I heard the Were’s voice, saying, “Umm…your Majesty?”
Seeing that Sookie wasn’t with him, I asked, “What is it? Where is Sookie?”
I could practically taste the fear emanating from his pores, but he squared his shoulders and admitted, “I’m not sure.”
“What do you mean you’re not sure?” I asked with my voice becoming deadly low.
Opening our bond, I was shocked to find she wasn’t anywhere nearby. When I found I couldn’t sense her at all, I stood up so quickly that my chair flew back into the wall behind me and in the next minute I had Herveaux by the throat up against the door, snarling out, “Where. Is. She?”
“I don’t know,” he choked out. “She said she had to use the bathroom and since it was only down the hall, I thought it would be okay to let her go alone. When she didn’t come back after a while, I checked on her and just found this.”
He shoved an envelope at me that I recognized as having come from my lair, with my name written across the front. It was unopened, but Herveaux’s next words made it unimportant.
“She’s been gone for hours. I thought maybe she was hiding or had gotten lost. I searched the palace and the grounds from top to bottom and didn’t notice the envelope until I’d gone back to double check the bathroom again. No one else has seen her either.”
“SHE HAS BEEN GONE FOR HOURS?” I roared, throwing his body against the opposite wall.
Pam appeared seconds later and seeing the Were’s crumpled body lying on the floor, she asked, “What’s happened?”
“Sookie is gone,” I growled and then ordered, “Take him to the dungeons while I go and look for her.”
“What of the Prince? Should we notify him?” she asked.
“No,” I bit out in reply. “Not unless we are left with no choice.”
Speeding out of the palace, I took to the sky, while scrutinizing the weak bond between us. Searching for hours, I slowly worked my way north, since she had claimed to be from Mississippi, even though I knew it to be a lie.
But it was all I had to go on and the thought she had somehow escaped was preferable to her having been taken by the likes of Brendaen’s followers, Neave and Lochlan.
She might be completely infuriating at times, but I couldn’t stand the thought of her being at their mercy.
When I felt the bond slowly flaring back to life, I increased my speed in my impatience to lay eyes on her again. I knew I was within Area 5, but I hadn’t been paying any attention to exactly where I was, until I found myself hovering in the sky above her.
The absolute grief pouring through her could likely make me fall from the sky, but I was too shocked at seeing where I was.
The charred remains of the farmhouse looked no different from when Pam brought me there to show me where I had been found while I’d been under the witch’s curse. To this day I had no memories of that time and no idea of why I’d ended up there when I didn’t know who I was.
I still owed a debt to the local Shifter who’d found me, while out on one of his nightly runs as a collie on New Year’s Eve. I’d known there was a Shifter in that area while I’d been Sheriff, but we’d only met one time before then when I’d brought tribute to the Maenad Callisto, when she’d passed through my area.
He was the one that called Pam and she’d been able to keep me safely hidden, while she dealt with the threat. Hallow had gotten away, but her spellbook had been left behind and the witch Octavia Fant had been able to reverse the spell.
The sounds of Sookie sobbing beneath me brought me back to the present and I slowly descended to the ground. She was lying on top of a grave in the cemetery next to the remains of the farmhouse and as I got closer, I read the name Adele Stackhouse on the tombstone.
According to the date of her death, she’d died in late June of the previous year, but I had no idea of who she was to Sookie.
Not only seeing how distraught she was, but feeling how truly broken she felt inside made me want to rip someone limb from limb.
Since Herveaux was too far away, I simply knelt on the ground next to her and softly asked, “Sookie?”
She didn’t even startle at my sudden presence, as though she’d known all along I was there, and merely continued to sob. While her tears smelled delicious, I disliked seeing them immensely and if I thought it would do any good, I would have ordered her to stop crying.
Instead I found myself lifting her up off of the cold damp ground and cradled her body against mine, softly asking, “What is wrong?”
Her sobs only got louder and she buried her face against my chest, so I merely sat there and let her cry. Her whole body was shivering and I could feel that she was cold, so I managed to take off my jacket and drape it around her body, while she continued to cry.
When the sobs finally quieted some time later, she gasped out in hitched breaths, “My Gran is dead.”
I assumed her Gran was Adele Stackhouse, but I was confused as to how she came to be in the cemetery.
And the fact I too had once ended up there was still playing around in the back of my mind, when she pointed towards the burnt building, saying, “That was her house. It was where I grew up.”
Was it a coincidence?
I couldn’t be sure, but I didn’t want to stop her from talking because I was eager to finally hear what she had to say. I knew nothing about her life and it had been needling away at me, no matter how many times I tried to convince myself that I didn’t care.
So I just held her and waited, but after an hour had passed with her saying nothing more, I stood up and said, “We should get back to the palace. It will be dawn soon.”
I was surprised to feel her nod against my chest, expecting her to plead with me to let her go, but when we both heard the faint sound of a cat’s meow from the tree line, her head whipped violently towards the sound.
An unremarkable tabby came into view and Sookie sprang from my arms, shouting a relieved, “Tina!”
The cat hissed at her sudden movement, but calmed when she seemed to recognize her and Sookie let loose with a fresh batch of tears, as she cradled the cat in her arms and cried into its fur, “Oh Tina, you’re okay.”
“Sookie, we really should get going,” I reminded her after a few minutes.
I didn’t know what else might be lurking in the woods, since it seemed to be a Supernatural magnet, drawing Maenads, fairies, vampires, and shifters alike.
Her tear stained face looked back at me and with her still broken voice, she asked, “May I take her with us? Please Eric? I don’t think I can stand losing anything else.”
Even if I couldn’t feel just how true her statement was, I doubted I could’ve denied her much in that moment, seeing how sad she was.
“Of course,” I smiled sadly in return. “But you’ll need to hold onto her tightly, since we’ll be flying back.”
Gratitude radiated from her and seeing her smiling genuinely back at me made me feel…something.
Something that I didn’t have words for, but it was quickly overshadowed by her disbelief as she asked, “You can fly?”
Both Sookie and the cat learned the answer to her question, with each of them burrowing tightly against my chest, all the way back to New Orleans.
Pam was waiting for us in my quarters and when she saw Tina, her eyebrow rose up as she said, “Normally we share our preference in getting a little pussy, but I think you’re going a bit overboard now.”
Sookie actually managed to laugh softly for the first time since I’d found her, so I ignored Pam’s remarks and sent her out for supplies for the cat before taking Sookie into her room.
She crawled up onto her bed, with her cat still clutched to her chest, and I was about to walk back out when she quietly said, “I don’t know if she died in the fire.”
I knew she was speaking about her Gran again, but I was even more impressed by where her thoughts had strayed, when her eyes met mine as she asked, “Do you think it was the fairies?”
It had been something I’d been contemplating during the majority of our flight back to the palace – be it Niall tying up loose ends or one of Brendaen’s followers – and I’d already come to the decision that I would no longer trust her safety to anyone other than Pam or myself.
I was still curious as to how she got all the way to Bon Temps, but felt that pushing the issue would be too much for her right now and just answered, “Perhaps. I will look into it.”
Once again, I could feel her gratitude when she replied, “Thank you Eric, for everything.”
Nodding in response, I was just about to close her door behind me when she called out, “Eric?”
Looking into her eyes, I could see the deadly glare come over them, when she asked, “If it was the fairies, will you help me kill them?”
My fangs snicked down hearing her request and feeling the human equivalent of bloodlust rising within her, I smiled, not trying to conceal them as I repeated, “Yes Sookie.”
Leaving her room, I returned to my own where I left a message for Niall.
It had been a long night between Sookie’s escape, subsequent devastation learning her grandmother was dead, and my own confusion over the coincidence of her home being the place I’d ended up when cursed, even though I didn’t know of her existence until Niall brought her to me for her own protection.
Fairies were known for being secretive and I had a feeling Niall knew more than he was letting on.
I wanted answers and I wanted them now.
But it wasn’t until I was on the fringes of awareness with dawn’s arrival that I remembered the envelope the Were had handed me after admitting his failure in guarding Sookie and I sluggishly pulled it from my pocket where I’d shoved it into when I first took flight that night.
My eyes went wide reading Sookie’s words, but I had no choice but to succumb to my daytime death, with the paper still clutched in my hand.
I would have to wait until the following evening to find out why I couldn’t trust Quinn and just how she knew that.