As soon as we were safely inside of Eric’s chambers again, I turned to Pam, asking, “How buddy buddy are fairies and demons?”
It sounded like the title of a bad knockoff Dan Brown novel, but she clearly wasn’t expecting my question and I wondered if her cocked eyebrow Eric impersonation was a byproduct of being his child or if she’d had it all along.
After a long moment, she responded, “I don’t know of any discord between them. The Fae – for obvious reasons – don’t keep company with our kind, but half-breed demons are used by many in the Supernatural community. They have been integrated within the human society for years, with many of them in the field of law, while some are in the employ of various kingdoms as messengers. Demons, even half-breeds, are fierce and very hard to kill. Why do you ask?”
It had been bugging me ever since I heard Preston say the ‘Prince’ would have Eric’s head for exchanging blood with me and had reminded me of the half-demon’s thoughts the night before.
But Eric was so wound up hearing Preston call me ‘his’, I probably would’ve been able to feel his emotions without our tiny bond, so I didn’t say anything right away.
I was with Eric on that one.
I would never agree to be Preston’s anything.
I’d been wondering if perhaps the demon was working with Niall, although that didn’t make too much sense, seeing as how he’d seemed surprised I was alive.
But just as I was about to tell Pam all about it, Eric stormed into the room, barking, “Fetch me Sophie-Anne’s private journals. The bitch was up to something involving Sookie and I want to know what it is right now!”
Boy I really hated when they did that.
And hearing my name, while watching Pam fly out of the room, didn’t help any.
So I fisted my hands at my side – and may have even stomped my foot – as I demanded, “What did you just say? I heard my name. And is it really so hard for you to speak English around me?”
I could feel the anger and possessiveness running through him, but I somehow knew he would never hurt me.
So I wasn’t afraid in the least when he was suddenly in my face, asking, “Have you had any involvement with vampires prior to your arrival here?”
Stunned by his question, I answered, “What? No! You were the first vampire I ever met. Why?”
Once I figured out I couldn’t hear their thoughts, I probably would’ve latched onto the first vampire I met – had it been under different circumstances – since I could relax around them and not have to work at keeping my shields up.
Eric and I didn’t get along at first, but that was only because of my stubbornness and the fact I was being babysat by him for Niall. Now though, I’d grown incredibly fond of both him and Pam.
She was the closest I’d ever come to having a best friend, since even Tara – while kind to me – often times felt wary around me because of my curse.
But not Pam.
She teased me. Joked around with me.
And I’d internally chuckled more than once over the last few weeks that it took meeting a vampire for me to finally feel like a normal human being.
And Eric, well…I couldn’t see using the title of boyfriend with him – no matter what we ended up exploring together – so I would take a page out of his book instead and just call him mine.
But I wasn’t feeling all warm and fuzzy for him right now, when he ignored my question and instead ordered, “Tell me of your life before Niall took you.”
I felt my own eyebrow creep up in response, and even though I still wanted to ask him to find out anything he could about Jason, my pigheadedness reared up, with me ordering him back with, “Tell me why.”
Once again I found myself encased inside of six and a half feet of pissed off vampire.
But I could tell his anger wasn’t directed at me, so I forced myself to calm down and mumbled, “You sure are a grabby thing when you’re being all barky with your angry King face on.”
I’d seen his angry King face numerous times, but never within his own chambers.
And I felt him take a deep breath he didn’t need before sighing against the top of my head, with his anger ratcheting down from boiling hot to a simmer, while his hands slid down further and squeezed my rear end as he agreed, “Yes lover, I am.”
I couldn’t even call him out on it considering I’d done my own handsy exploring on the same part of his body earlier that night.
So I remained silent when he sat us down on the couch, with me still in his lap, and looked back at me, explaining, “A vampire under my fealty was injured in the bombing at Rhodes, while attending a summit of the Amun Clan last month. Prior to that, he was a procurer for the former monarch, Sophie-Anne Leclerq, who was killed in that same bombing. He’s currently recovering in one of the rooms down from the dungeons and he is the one who asked to speak with me as we were leaving.”
His eyes got hard and I could feel the suspicion and protectiveness rising up inside of him, as he added, “He knows of you.”
“What?” I asked. “How does he know me? What’s his name?”
“Bill Compton,” he spat out.
I pushed away every question I had about bombings and clans and just focused on saying, “The house next door to Gran’s – the one on the other side of the cemetery – belonged to a Jessie Compton, but he passed away not long before Niall kidnapped me. There’s a William T. Compton buried in the cemetery though. The date of his death was during the Civil War. Do you think it could be him?”
I imagined it would be odd to have your very own grave marker if you weren’t really dead, but since vampires didn’t come out of the coffin until just a few years ago, it made sense.
However my thoughts were quickly brought back to the here and now when Eric’s arms tightened around me and he answered, “It would seem so. He was turned vampire during that era. Do you think it’s possible you may have met him before and just not known he was vampire?”
“No,” I answered already shaking my head. “You all have a glow about you and the fact I can’t read your thoughts would’ve rang alarm bells in my head. I would’ve remembered, especially since you said I can’t be glamoured.”
I felt his tension lessen somewhat hearing my explanation, but his shock quickly took over, asking, “You can see our glow?”
When I nodded, he added, “That is unusual. I’ve never heard of a human being able to see it.”
“Partial human,” I mumbled.
I didn’t particularly enjoy the thought I was part mythical creature – even if it was only one-eighth – and it reminded me to ask, “Did you taste fairy blood in me?”
I didn’t know if it was from the look on his face or what I could feel through our bond, but I wasn’t surprised when he answered, “Yes.”
I could feel myself slowly sliding into my pity party for one, when Eric shook me from my thoughts and brought our conversation back on track by saying, “Compton claims he was in Bon Temps around the time of your disappearance and remembered hearing about it while there. He said his visit was due to the fact he’d heard his last living relative had passed away and was interested in possibly returning to his former human home. But when he saw the state of disrepair it was in he changed his mind and returned to New Orleans within a few days.”
“You don’t believe him?” I asked, since both his tone of voice and his blood inside me told me he didn’t.
“No,” he answered unsurprisingly. “Bon Temps falls within my former area and as Sheriff, he should’ve checked in with me to inform me of his presence. Vampires are given two weeks to do so upon their arrival, however, it rarely goes beyond two days before they request an audience. And with Compton’s former role as a procurer for the Queen, I question his true motives. He may have been sent for you.”
“That makes no sense,” I argued. “Why would she want me? How would she even know who I was?”
He looked back at me, like I was a blond barmaid with big boobs, and I kind of felt like one when he answered, “You are a part-Fae telepath. Your blood alone would have been coveted, but having access to your gift would’ve been the true prize. As to how she knew about you, I do not know. Were your skills well known to those around you?”
I was so glad I could feel Eric’s emotions – no matter how small – because without that tie I’m sure I would’ve questioned his motives for wanting me.
But all night long I could feel everything he’d been feeling, so I knew Eric just wanted me.
It put me at ease enough to answer, “My family knew, but we really didn’t talk about it much. The rest of the town…well, let’s just say they didn’t want to believe it and mostly just thought I was crazy.”
His emotions ran hot again and I wondered how long it would be before I just thought of him as ‘angry possessive vampire’ instead of ‘Eric’, when he asked, “They thought of you as crazy?”
“Yes!” I answered just has hotly, remembering their hurtful thoughts. “Why wouldn’t they when I walked around with my Crazy Sookie smile on my face to hide the fact I could hear them wondering if my boobs were real, if I was blond all over, and all of the other nasty things they wanted to do to me?”
Feeling my hurt, Eric pulled me against his chest and nuzzled his face against my head, while rubbing his hands up and down my back.
Feeling the fury and indignation running through him over my lot in life, but not one ounce of pity, reminded me I could have had it much worse.
Gran didn’t raise any Pitiful Pearls either, so when I was finally able to get a hold of myself, he purred, “I am.”
I lifted my head to look back at him, not understanding what he was talking about.
Which was right about when ‘angry possessive vampire’ turned into ‘flirty playful vampire’ a second later, with him explaining with a leer, “Blond all over.”
My face flashed hot and he chuckled when I hit him over the head with the couch cushion, just as Pam walked back into the room with several leather bound books in her hands.
Books I wanted to clobber her with, when she smirked, “Sookie, I think in order to fulfill his fantasy you need to be dressed in lingerie before engaging him in a pillow fight.”
My face reddened even more when Eric agreed, “She is correct lover. Feel free to go and change if the mood strikes.”
So I struck him again with the cushion instead.
Without missing a beat, Eric looked at Pam – with his hair sticking up every which way thanks to my couch cushion smacking skills – and said, “She is not in the mood.”
“I don’t need a blood bond to know that,” she deadpanned back at him.
Then looking at me, she added, “Sookie, we need to do some shopping. Your goody two shoes are much too tight.”
When my only response was to glare at her – since I had a feeling she’d take the retort, ‘bite me’ way too literally – she shrugged and looked back at Eric, saying, “Here are the journals.”
Then placing them on the coffee table in front of us, she asked the question I was thinking too.
“What are we looking for?”
Eric didn’t answer at first and I moved off of his lap to give him room to work. Watching him flip through book after book and only becoming more and more enraged, he finally threw them one by one across the room, while growling, “Nothing! If Compton was tasked to seek out Sookie then she wasn’t foolish enough to have documented it.”
The fury he felt was rolling off of him in palpable waves, so Pam and I eye fought each other over who was going to take the risk and speak to her angry Maker first.
Somehow, I drew the short straw.
There wasn’t enough of me to completely encase him like he always did to me – and stripping down to my underwear as a distraction just wasn’t going to happen – so instead I moved back on top of his lap and softly asked, “So what if she did? She’s gone now and I’m…”
I still struggled with the terminology, but since I’d agreed to their caveman ways, I eventually admitted, “Yours.”
And he was mine.
He’d agreed too!
“Yes,” he reaffirmed, with a different kind of fire in his eyes, before adding, “You are.”
I thought maybe I’d heard Pam sigh about something being unfair. But I couldn’t be bothered to find out about what since I was too wrapped up in Eric.
And his lips.
And the things he was doing to my self-control.
I could feel he needed more than just my vocal admission I was his and remembering Preston’s ability to – I assumed – smell our blood exchange, I figured Eric would be able to taste his own blood in mine as well.
So on a whim, I slashed my tongue across his descended fang, thinking it would help.
Oh, it helped alright.
I’m pretty sure I felt the vibration of his growl all the way to my girly bits – and possibly even my ovaries quivered – so I was having a hard time remembering what we’d been talking about.
Or why we weren’t naked.
Or why my lungs were burning.
And I could feel Eric was just having a hard time.
My fingers twisted into his hair and tried to pull him back, while my lips chased after his, when he finally broke away, saying, “Breathe, lover.”
Breathing seemed totally overrated right then and if it wasn’t an involuntary reflex, I probably would’ve kept going until I passed out.
However, with every breath of fresh oxygen to my system, more of my faculties returned – my sanity among them – and I blushed bright red.
Turning to face Pam and apologize for being so rude, I discovered she wasn’t there.
“Pam’s gone,” I supplied helpfully.
Because my oxygen deprived brain thought – as her Maker – he should know these things.
“She’ll be back,” he breathed into my neck.
I automatically arched into his fangs scraping lightly across my skin, which made him grip me that much tighter in his arms.
“What is it?” I asked.
His body was still tense and while I knew some of it was due to our little make-out session, I could feel there was more behind it.
“Compton,” he scowled, pulling back to look at me. “His story doesn’t hold water. From the limited knowledge I have of his history, it seems unlikely he would’ve wanted to return to a town like Bon Temps, regardless if his human home still remained there. I haven’t known him to mainstream at all since the Great Revelation and a town of that size wouldn’t offer much by way of variety for his meals. He would also be running the risk of being isolated in the event the townspeople didn’t take kindly to having his presence within their community.”
I felt my gruff go up and was about to tell him that everyone would’ve welcomed him – or any other vampire – with open arms.
But then I thought about it and knew deep down inside that wasn’t really true. Even poor Lafayette, who had lived there his whole life, was treated as being an outcast for being different. So I could only imagine how they might react to a vampire.
I couldn’t exactly see Arlene asking one to babysit her kids.
Considering how much I enjoyed their presence in my life – if only for the relaxation factor – it probably would’ve made me an even bigger outcast had I befriended any vampires while I’d still been living at home.
My home, that didn’t exist anymore.
Since there was nothing I could do about Bill Compton (not even read his mind), I decided now was as good a time as any and asked, “Would you mind looking up my brother Jason for me? You know, just to see how he’s doing?”
My heart ached over the thought of him having to deal with Gran’s death all by himself, but I knew it was too dangerous to go looking for him myself.
For both of our sakes.
Lord only knows what happened to Gran and the house, but the fact that Preston had been waiting there disguised as my cat didn’t exactly make me want to trust the fairies either, no matter if some of them were my kin. For all I knew, they were the ones responsible.
But since at least one of them seemed hell bent on getting to me, I had to assume Niall was being truthful with Eric when he’d said there would be others with the same goal.
I didn’t want to risk Jason’s life on top of my own.
He was the only family member I had left.
As if he’d read my mind, Eric asked, “Do you have other family members you wish for me to track down?”
If there was a God, my Uncle Bartlett would’ve died while I’d been gone, but I didn’t care enough to know. And Hadley had been gone for so long by that point, she was more than likely dead too, so I just shook my head no.
“Tell me of your life,” he said, using a much nicer tone this time.
I wanted to use his quid pro quo line on him, but Pam had already informed me that vampires were generally very secretive and didn’t tend to share much – if any – information about themselves with humans. It had been her insight – along with my own observations – that made me realize how privileged I was just in getting to see the two of them behind closed doors where they didn’t wear any masks.
They just sometimes rudely spoke Swedish.
So while I was extremely curious about Eric’s life, I didn’t want to put him on the spot. Instead I held out hope that one day he would see fit to share some of his past with me.
Even in normal relationships, I knew people didn’t just spill every detail of their lives to one another right away. So I lumped that into the category of exploring for now.
But I could also see why he would need to know more about me, if only to be able to protect me better, and said, “There’s not much to tell. I grew up in Bon Temps. My parents died in a flash flood when I was seven, so Gran took me and Jason in and raised us as her own.”
I shrugged my shoulders at the end of it, not knowing what else he would want to know, while thinking my obituary would be pretty short.
Hopefully I would have the time to work on adding to it.
“You called yourself a barmaid earlier,” he offered almost like a question.
“Merlotte’s,” I nodded, wondering how poor Sam was doing.
I’d known at one point he’d taken a shine to me, but he’d never acted on it. Sam had been the only boss I’d ever had whose thoughts didn’t make me want to quit, even if I couldn’t always read him very well. But – even so – I’d discovered through innocent enough touches, as soon as there was any skin to skin contact, that was no longer the case.
I could hear him, like anyone else.
But I may have even enjoyed watching him lift a case of beer or two once upon a time.
I knew nothing could ever come of it though and just considered myself lucky, knowing I could count him as one of my few friends, what with his thoughts always being a little hazy…
Now that I knew the cause for that haziness, it all suddenly clicked in my brain and at the same time Eric asked, “You worked for the shifter?”
“He’s a shifter?” I asked.
Pam had given me a brief rundown on Weres and the like, but thanks to Preston’s unexpected visit I had a better understanding of what a shape shifter was.
Now I felt a little perturbed Sam hadn’t trusted me enough to share his secret, even though he knew about my disability.
But I put that on the backburner and followed up with, “You know Sam?”
“Yes,” he answered with his body stiffening. “I was Sheriff of that Area for a very long time, so I know of most – if not all – of the Supernaturals there.”
Pam had also told me that the Supernatural community only banded together when it came to dealing with humans. Otherwise it was every group for themselves.
So I attributed his tension to that, until he asked, “You are fond of the dog?”
Stupid blood bond.
“Yes I am fond of Sam!” I retorted hotly, not knowing if the dog reference was because that’s what he shifted into or if Eric just viewed him that way because he was a man.
A man, who wasn’t Eric.
A man, who wasn’t Eric, and yet I was fond of him.
But I wasn’t feeling all that fond of Sam at the moment and admitted, “I’m a little ticked off at him for not sharing his secret with me, when he knew about mine, but he was a good boss to me and an even better friend. I don’t have so many of them that I can afford to write one off just because he gets furry once a month!”
“Just a friend?” he asked, obviously digging thanks to whatever he’d felt from me.
Careful what you wish for vampire…
“Yes. Just. A. Friend,” I spit out, letting myself feel every hurt and indignant emotion I could muster up. “I told you earlier I haven’t done anything with anyone before, but let me spell it out for you. I never dated. Most of the times, whenever someone asked me out, I could read from their thoughts it was only on a dare because I was Crazy Sookie, but my big rack made it worth the risk. Even if I could’ve kept my shields up long enough to get through a movie with anyone, the moment they touched me it was like every thought in their head was screaming in mine. The closest I ever got was kissing JB Du Rone and that was only because he was simple minded, but I still couldn’t go through with anything else.”
I only let the hurt linger for a moment before my anger swept through me, with me saying, “So get that through your thick vampire skull right now because while you might only truly die from silver or a wooden stake through your heart, I’m sure having your skin ripped to shreds by the millions of glass shards about to rain down on you right now from your little glass house won’t feel so great.”
Stupid possessive vampire!
I could understand his reactions when Preston tried to claim me earlier, but I wasn’t going to be okay with him acting this way just because I had male friends.
Granted, I couldn’t exactly visit with any of them at the moment – or even explain where I’d been for the last year and a half – but that was beside the point.
Especially considering everything I’d seen from the donors’ minds and I hadn’t once held it against him.
I wrenched myself free from his grasp and stomped across the room, picking up my new kitty.
And just because I was feeling especially bitter, I kissed the top of his head and said, “Hello Sam.”
I hadn’t even checked to see if it was a boy or girl yet, but it didn’t matter to me since Sam could be used for either gender.
And one look back at Eric’s annoyed expression made the kitty’s name final.
Pam walked back in seconds later, with neither one of us breaking off our mutual stare down.
But he had an unfair advantage since he didn’t need to blink and when my body forced me to lose that round (I only felt better because I knew I had a trump card: sunrise), I turned to face Pam, whose eyes darted from Eric back to me and said, “Well, I feel better now that I’ve fed, but it seems I’m the only one.”
Not knowing if Eric had gotten my point, I decided to really drive it home and asked her, “How are the donors doing this evening?”
I had learned pretty quickly I could always count on Pam to help me torment her Maker and she didn’t disappoint me now.
She stepped right up to the plate and swung for the fences, at the Eric shaped ball I’d just tossed her way, by smiling with her reply of, “Oh, you know…the same as usual…asking about when His Majesty might be coming to see them.”
“Mmmhmmm,” I murmured and felt my eyebrow creep up into my hairline, when my eyes returned to Eric.
Snapping his eyes towards her, his tone was just as harsh, when he jibber-jabbered, “Replace them all by tomorrow night. She’s pissed off enough at me as it is.”
“Again, I don’t need a blood bond with her to know this, but since you’re giving me free rein, expect to see nothing but busty blonds coming out of the woodwork tomorrow,” she jibber-jabbered back at him with a smile.
“It makes no difference,” he smirked back at her. “I have the best one.”
“Are you so sure about that, oh thickheaded Maker of mine?” she grinned.
I really hated when they did that, but I was pretty sure Pam had my back on this one, considering the scowl Eric was wearing.
So I mentally tagged her for my turn and walked off towards my room to make sure he/she had food, knowing they could hear me when I said, “Sammy–kins? Is my pretty little kitty hungry?”
And a quick check of its privates confirmed Sam was in fact a ‘he’.
All the better…
But I was even more peeved when I returned to the living room and saw Eric was gone, with only Pam sitting there. I couldn’t feel his emotions well enough from any greater distance than the span of his chambers, so I knew he’d left them altogether and I felt the sting of betrayal rise up, wondering if maybe I’d pushed him too far.
Maybe I’d asked too much of him.
Maybe he’d gone to the donors lounge.
After all, I was just a blond barmaid with big boobs and an even bigger mouth.
“He’s gone to see to the were-tiger,” Pam offered seeing my expression.
That made me feel somewhat better, but even though he drove me crazy, I still missed him and asked, “Well, shouldn’t I be there to read his mind?”
Pam smiled, answering, “Eric has his own ways of getting information and he seems to need to work off some frustration, but he doesn’t want you anywhere near Compton.”
I guess I could understand that and I knew he had other King stuff to do as well, but that didn’t make me miss him any less. Seeing it was already after two o’clock in the morning and feeling the weight of everything wash over me, I decided to turn in.
I didn’t know if Eric had managed to give me more blood after I’d been injured the night before, but my body – while healed – felt tired, so I said goodnight to Pam and went back into my room. Eric and I hadn’t gotten the chance to do my scans and pin code, so I couldn’t go into his room.
Besides, I didn’t even know if he’d still want me there with him, but my bed that had been so comfortable every other night was anything but now. It was a wonder I fell asleep at all.
I don’t know if it was the rustling of the sheets or the nuzzling of my hair that woke me up, but I felt Eric’s body curved around mine from behind and opened my eyes.
And an unbidden smile came on my face seeing the black sheets of his bed underneath me and it got even bigger seeing Kitty Sam curled up on my pillow.
But my biggest smile was saved for when I rolled over and saw Eric staring back at me.
“I do not like having…feelings,” he said slowly.
What was that supposed to mean?
Did he change his mind about us?
My mind dove right back to my memories of him with the donors, wondering if that was how he’d chosen to work off his frustrations.
But before I could get too far down that dangerous path, he continued on with, “I do not like knowing you were mistreated by the vermin in your town. I do not like your fondness for the dog or even your Were guard for that matter. But I do not like feeling your hurt and sadness more. It is not in my nature to feel anything not associated with what my survival dictates and yet – for you – I feel more. It is unfamiliar to me and I do not understand it, but I do not wish to change it.”
Now that he was right next to me, I could feel his emotions run the gamut from anger to jealousy to tender and confused. He’d meant every word he’d said and I’d already known how he was with all of those other women.
I’d ‘seen’ it for myself.
He was nothing like that with me.
We were on even footing when it came to knowing how to act in a relationship, so I couldn’t be angry at him and the fact he’d brought me back into his room spoke volumes.
So I smiled back at him and said, “But you do like me.”
“I thought I had made that clear, lover,” he smirked back at me.
I could feel his happiness at feeling my own, so I moved closer to him and said, “Well, I like you too, so we’ll figure out the rest of it together.”
And as soon as our lips touched, my body molded onto his making me wonder what else we’d be figuring out for the rest of the night.