I rose for the night prepared to deal with situations of all kinds.
Hell, I was even looking forward to filing the paperwork myself on Compton’s and his Maker’s final deaths.
But what I rose to, I wasn’t prepared for at all and I wasn’t sure which had hit me first.
The scent of her tears.
Or the force of her sorrow.
But what struck me most of all was the overwhelming scent of fairy. It seemed to permeate every square inch of my chambers and I forced my eyes open, while reaching for my sword, sure I would find an intruder.
Instead all I found was a small metal dick in a box in my hand and my little part-fairy, asleep at my side.
The smell was coming from her.
Both the tears and the nearly pure scent of the Fae.
My fangs snapped down on their own – just like my body chose all by itself to roll on top of her – as I tossed the pitiful remainder of Compton’s manhood aside. The sound of it bouncing off the wall was enough to wake her and she seemed to startle seeing me above her.
Unsurprising, since she’d never woken this way.
So obviously, neither had I.
But I could get used to it and wondered for a moment why we didn’t meet up like this every night.
But then another thought occurred to me.
She never slept. She’d said she didn’t need to.
I managed to have enough restraint to keep most of my weight off of her. But before I could become concerned she could be ill or grab my phone to call Ludwig, my blood in her body performed its own diagnostic test and told me all I needed to know.
Physically she was fine.
Emotionally she was a mess.
I supposed that would explain the dried tear tracks on her cheeks.
But recalling her previous explanation that she only ever slept out of boredom, only made me more curious over why she felt the way she did. And sensing her own inner turmoil, I didn’t push for an explanation right away and merely stared down at her, waiting for some sort of explanation that didn’t appear to be forthcoming.
But one thing was glaringly apparent.
This was undoubtedly all Sookie.
Susannah was nowhere to be seen.
Gone was my fierce little warrior of the night before and in her place was the insecure young girl who was always there, lurking just underneath the surface.
But when all she did was stare back at me in silence, I allowed her another tally in her ever growing win column and thought to start off simple by asking, “Why are you so quiet?”
Her lips formed into a small sad smile and she shrugged her shoulders, breaking our gaze to stare at nothing on the wall, as she softly replied, “Because my singing is atrocious.”
I chuckled at the newest bit of information she’d felt comfortable enough to share with me, but she was clearly evading my question. So I asked a more direct one.
One that could quite possibly keep us confined to my chambers for the foreseeable future if she had no answer.
“Why do you smell so strongly of fairy?”
Because I wouldn’t allow her to leave the room smelling like that and I already knew from the previous night she wouldn’t allow me to leave the room without her.
Not that I would want to.
Especially not when she smelled like that.
Now that I was fully conscious I could discern the scent was unmistakably hers. Whereas before she smelled human tinged with fairy, now the opposite was true.
Fairy tinged with human.
If I’d thought I wanted to fuck her and bite her and rub myself all over her before…
That same feeling – times a thousand.
Her now widened eyes darted back to mine and the aroma emanating from her quickly began to dissipate, returning to the scent I was familiar with, as she whispered, “Oops.”
“Oops?” I repeated on reflex.
Had she farted?
If so, hers smelled much better than the Weres.
Proving she couldn’t always read vampire minds, she tried again with, “Sorry?”
But still wanting to know the cause because I doubted the validity of my first guess, I added, “Explain.”
She grimaced and looked away again. And enough time passed by that I thought to perform another diagnostic test by squeezing her midsection to validate my initial theory, when she eventually answered with, “I normally cloak my scent, but I can’t do it when I’m asleep. I forgot. It won’t happen again.”
“You cloak yourself?”
That was her true scent?
I really was born lucky.
“It is an inherited ability from Great-grandfather’s line. I can also conceal my physical presence from anyone,” she explained, sounding as though it was no bigger a deal than the ability to walk and chew gum.
But her tone became more somber when she added, “From anyone but my kin. Or you, I would assume, since I have had your blood.”
Her spirits had plummeted at the mention of her kin, but with her remark at having had my blood, her mood nosedived even further and it made me wonder what could have happened during the daytime for her to become so morose.
She’d been fine before I’d gone to rest. Happy even.
She’d been good-humored enough to hang Compton’s dick above my bed like a goddamn dream catcher.
And now she smelled like a vampire candy land and all I wanted to do was play with her – and in her – but she wasn’t in a playful mood.
Far from happy, my part-fairy was nowhere near merry.
And from what I was feeling from her now, I suspected her nap was more about hiding from whatever was bothering her than anything else.
So I hoped to bring back at least some of her fiery spirit by bringing her eyes back to my own and reminding her, “I’ve witnessed you take down humans, Weres, and vampire alike without feeling an ounce of fear. Just last night you thought nothing of slicing off Compton’s cock and burning the hole shut. So why are you so timid now?”
Instead of answering right away – and I suspected, still hiding from us both now – she merely closed the small distance between us and buried her face against my chest.
The work of that invisible magnetic pull, I was sure.
Eventually she seemed to gather her courage, but admitted very little in her surprisingly long muffled reply of, “When I am facing any foe, I am never alone. I might cast a solitary shadow opposite them, but my hands are not the only ones holding my swords. Thousands of hands join with mine, aiding every thrust and cut they make they make through the air. The hands of my ancestors. The hands of my instructors. Their ancestors and those who came before them, going back to the beginning of time. All of their knowledge and skill – everything they had learned – has all been passed down through time. Each generation that followed has added on and all that they’d known has been passed on to me. So in battle, I never stand alone. Each and every one of their hands grip the hilts of my swords with me.”
Her cryptic response ended there, but answered my question nonetheless.
Susannah had an army of thousands standing with her.
Sookie stood all alone.
Part human. Part fairy.
She didn’t firmly fit into either category. Something I suspected the kin who had raised her reminded her of repeatedly.
Only to be confronted the night before with the kin she’d never known existed, but had been raised to believe were inferior for being merely human.
She was isolated in both realms.
And I now felt guilty for my part in having her search for her blood at all.
So I made a vow to myself – and a silent vow to her – I would push her no further on the subject of the Stackhouses. I’d taken away her choice to seek them out with my order, but I would leave it up to her to do what she wanted with the information she now had.
And while there might not have been any other like her, she was not alone. The feather – the symbol of my kingdom – marked on her hip should have reminded her of that. She had declared repeatedly she had been born for me.
But she was such a force of nature one could conclude I had been made for her.
Not that I was ready to give her that tally for her win column.
So instead I thought to remind her of our unique connection, showing her she wasn’t so alone, and pushed my affection for her through our strengthened bond as I asked, “Do you feel that?”
“It’s the fairy scent,” she mumbled.
Confused again, I asked, “What?”
And then she cleared things up by saying, “You’re aroused because of the fairy scent.”
The sudden turn in our serious conversation suddenly made it impossible for me to contain my amusement.
Or my laughter.
The movement of which only served to further the point, we had once again been having two different conversations.
Yes, I was hard.
I woke up that way.
Fairy-scented Sookie or not.
Something I had assumed she would know, but instead of getting into the mechanics of the male form, I only managed to chuckle out, “I was talking about what you can feel in our blood tie. Not what you can feel against your leg.”
“Oh,” she muttered and somehow managed to feel even worse as she admitted, “I’m uh…I closed it off.”
Marveling over her ability to do so was trumped by my need to know something else I deemed more important.
Her one word answer to my one word question was accompanied by another shrug of indifference, when she was feeling anything but indifferent.
I, however, was done allowing her to not only hide from me but herself as well and pulled back far enough to catch her gaze with my own, while I repeated, “Why?”
I could feel her want to not answer. But since she apparently wasn’t feeling me, I demanded one with my expression alone.
Evidently it was enough to bring back some of her fire because she glared back at me in return. But just as quickly the flames were snuffed back out of both her eyes and blood when she asked, “Do you remember how you felt yesterday, hearing the Were call me Sunshine?”
And obviously so did she.
And I admittedly felt even better hearing her refer to him so generically. But unless I was exuding homicidal covetous cocksucker during the daytime, I didn’t understand why she would want to block her end of our blood tie, so I only nodded my reply.
And her response only confused me even more when she hedged, “I suspect I would feel…similarly in the future, so I thought it best to practice not sensing everything you’re feeling.”
She was talking in circles, but the only circles I would have been willing to entertain were now impossible to be had.
Compton no longer had heels to spin on around the yard.
So I repeated the same words I had said to her the night before, now in a different context, and said, “Your Fae is showing. Say what you mean because I highly doubt anyone will be addressing me as Sunshine in the near future – or ever – and thereby making you a jealous twat.”
It was just us here. I could own it.
Her anger flared and a large huff of air left her throat, when she spat out, “Fine! I don’t want to feel what you’re feeling the next time you take a donor!”
It was just us here.
And she had owned it.
It reminded me of my previous peas in a pod analogy.
Peas were green too.
But her admission was fraught with multiple implications. And getting the least likely inference – in my mind – out of the way first, I asked, “Is this your way of telling me you no longer wish to feed me?”
Thank Odin, Allah, Buddha, et al.
But then that left me with only one most likely inference.
She wanted me to be exclusive to her.
A monogamous relationship.
And we hadn’t even fucked yet.
But the truth was I hadn’t wanted any other since she’d first darkened my doorway. My one attempt at feigning normalcy had failed epically, with me sending the donor away.
I couldn’t even remember if I’d actually fed from her.
It was an easily forgotten occasion when everyone else paled in comparison to her.
And it wasn’t just her blood or her beauty that made her unequaled.
It was everything.
The way she challenged me. The way she teased me with both her words and her body. She exuded the warmth of a human, tasted like heaven, and reacted like a vampire.
Just as surely as she lay beneath me now, feeling broken and alone, I knew in an instant she would just as surely rise up, with her teeth bared and a sword in each hand, if an enemy approached.
Who else could do all of that?
Be all of that?
Stand beside me as she had?
Why else would I even entertain the thought of any other if I could have her?
She had pledged her life to me. And I believed now she had been born for me. She was forced to train for the entirety of her life in preparation for me, most likely in ways that would surely send me over the edge – and quite possibly into the Fae realm – if I learned of them all and she was proud of that fact. She wore her battle scars with a smugness that rivaled my own.
Debt or no, she was undeniably mine.
Vampire King or no, I couldn’t deny at some point in our short time together I had undoubtedly become hers.
We were already in a monogamous relationship.
And we hadn’t even fucked yet.
I would have teased her with my revelation.
Had this been Susannah.
But this was Sookie.
The one who bore all scars for them both.
So I rolled to her side, making us equals physically, while I took her hand in mine and said, “I would like for you to open your end of our bond, so you can feel the truth of what I’m about to say.”
From the look on her face you would have thought I’d told her Jason Stackhouse was her brother.
That was a more-than-likely-true suspicion I would only tell her if she asked.
I could feel her gathering her courage – and bolstering her defenses – before she eventually sighed.
And then narrowed her eyes at me, saying, “You think it’s funny?”
Show me another vampire king who was in a monogamous relationship with their fairy hybrid personal guard who they hadn’t even fucked yet.
Pam would quite possibly become the first and only vampire to piss themselves when she found out.
But feeling her distress at my admission – because she couldn’t read a vampire’s mind – I quickly attempted to soothe her sadness by admitting, “You are all that I want. You are all that I need. Just as you are mine, I am yours. So you have no need to fear I will be taking any donors – for meals or anything else.”
I could feel her shock.
I tried not to take offense.
After all, everything I’d just told her went against all that she’d known about vampires.
I might as well have told her I farted.
The single word was all she could manage to muster, so I answered her skepticism with, “But…you can feel the truth of my words in your blood.”
Bringing her hand to my lips, I kissed the back of it and stated unequivocally, “I only want you.”
I could sense that the sun had already set in the sky a short while ago. I needed to get Hadley returned to Adele. I needed to call Pam and inform her of what we’d learned about de Castro.
But first, I needed her to accept the truth of my words.
And while I wanted nothing more than to finally seal the deal when she did, she was still feeling too vulnerable.
I wasn’t going to take advantage of that.
It could wait.
“You mean it.”
Even though she hadn’t expressed it as a question, I still answered her with, “I do.”
“But…why?” she asked. “Why me?”
“Who else would I want?” I asked in return and inched my face closer to hers. Kissing her lips, I smiled and added, “I was made for you.”
Upon hearing my words – and receiving her newest tally mark – she smiled genuinely for the first time that night.
And I genuinely laughed when she pounced on me, throwing me onto my back so she could stare down at me and say, “Don’t think for one second you can sweet talk your way into ordering me away from your side.”
“I thought you understood every language,” I teased. “How did you hear, ‘Go away,’ when I just said, ‘I only want you’?”
Her fire was back.
I knew because I could feel the heat coming from where she was sitting across my hips.
And I was sure there weren’t any panties in between us.
So before I ended up keeping her in my bed until, oh…the end of time, I reined in my lust and said, “I need to get Hadley returned to Adele.”
“Oh?” she laughed. “Well, you’re about two hours too late. They met up in the kitchen and have been inseparable ever since. You could probably walk in as you are and neither one of them would notice.”
“You think?” I asked and acted like I was going to shove her aside. “Let’s go see if your theory proves true.”
My green little pea pod growled and proved she was stronger than she looked by pinning me back down onto the bed by my shoulders and saying, “Sorry, no. This is all mine.”
“So possessive,” I breathed out in a hoarse voice.
“I learned from the best,” she smiled, pleased with the reaction she was getting.
But before I could suggest a better use of our newly freed time, I was hit with a quick succession.
The unmistakable pain of silver.
It made me gasp at the unexpected sensation and curl inwards.
But the pain wasn’t mine.
Nor was it Sookie’s.
And her worried blue eyes filled with rage when they met my own and all I could say was, “Pam.”
What I didn’t yet say was she wasn’t where I expected her to be. Instead of hundreds of miles to the north – back at the palace where she’d gone to rest – I sensed she was now to the west.
Hundreds of miles to the west.
But whatever they were using to keep her restrained was fucking with me too, so I tried to pull as much of her pain away from her and into me through our bond. I would dull it somewhat from her senses and then I would track her with our bond when I went after her.
But I lost my focus.
Because I lost the added weight of Sookie on my legs and on my bed.
My eyes searched the room for her in vain, but she was gone.
And when my blood searched for her, expecting to find her hundreds of miles to the north because she hadn’t given me the chance to explain, instead I found her hundreds of miles to the west.
Exactly where I felt Pam to be.
Regardless of the pain – regardless of the anger I felt at being left behind – another smile managed to work its way back onto my lips when my eyes darted over to the corner of the room and I saw she’d taken her swords with her.
To take back what was mine.
We would fight about it when she returned. And then we would fuck to fucking get over it.
Irrespective of her pledge to me. My station as king notwithstanding.
She had become my equal in my eyes.
And I would make sure it was known in the eyes of the world she was mine.