Had someone posed the question to me even a week earlier – or at least in the days before I’d been captured by Lanier – I would have laughed my ass off before relieving them of their head, only to laugh even harder as it rolled across the floor.
Now I only had logic to deter me from that path, but it was weak when put up against the oddly powerful and quickly all-consuming desire I had to make Sookie completely mine. Coveting her delectable blood and wanting to fuck her into oblivion aside, something kept pulling me towards her making any distance between us leave behind an unpleasant prickly sensation.
More like unnerving, the likes of which I’d never experienced nor could I explain, although I would never admit it to anyone.
I was stronger than that and more so, I hadn’t survived for a thousand years by being foolish enough to become attached to a human. Humans were fragile. They were weak. Even the oldest of their kind had only lived a tenth of my lifetime and before now I never would’ve entertained the thought of bonding to any one of them.
But now it was quickly becoming all I could think about.
But before now, I’d never come across anyone like Sookie. Nor was she just anyone.
Twin urges pulsed through me with one wanting to fly at top speed, hoping the sheer velocity would clear my head, but it warred with the other half of me that wouldn’t – couldn’t – leave Sookie undefended. Even now, staring down at her piece of shit car, it mocked me from below. All but taunting me with the fact that it would only take an errant tree branch, a deer darting into her path, or her own too slow human reflexes for her to be killed. Even attempting to repair any damage done would either result in a permanent bond she had already panicked over or her becoming my more than likely unwilling child. Neither topic was one I cared to think about, only because I knew I could easily become sidetracked from our tasks, sorting through the whys on both sides.
The battle between those two urges lasted until we reached the meeting place, with me never being more than a hundred yards away from her. So it was easy to ascertain which side had won the war, but just seeing her step from the car eased the invisible yoke I could now feel loosening around my throat.
And once again I knew I was well and truly fucked.
And once again, I refused to admit it – even to myself – so as soon as Sookie was inside the building and I could no longer see her, I was left with nothing but her emotions to monitor her wellbeing and the knowledge she’d willingly surrounded herself with dangerous fools for my benefit alone. I still had a difficult time reconciling the fact she was so willing to help me – eager even – but for some strange reason, feeling her irritation with her present company eased my own. So I flew to a nearby tree where I set down in the upper branches out of sight and pulled out my phone to call the Long Tooth Packmaster.
“Flood,” he answered in a clipped bark.
“Northman,” I replied just as warmly.
“Herveaux called me this afternoon,” he began and then left the statement hanging there.
Did he use a dog whistle?
I had no way of knowing if his intention was to dress me down for the events of the night before, along with my treatment of his Were, or if an alliance would be on the table. So I bit back my snide thoughts and merely offered, “Just as you called me. I’m not a mind reader.”
But I know one.
And zeroing in on her emotional state, I found Sookie was pissed.
She and Pam would get along well if they didn’t kill each other first.
His sigh into the phone brought my attention back to our call while he said, “He tells me you all have a…unique situation on your hands. One that might spread to our neck of the woods if we don’t get a handle on it.”
“Perhaps,” I offered, not knowing if Weres were made known to the Fellowship yet. Torture techniques worked on some vampires just as they did on some humans, so there was no telling what they’d been able to learn over the previous weeks. If their existence had been outed, it was only a matter of time before their kind would be included in the Fellowship’s fuckery as well. But not knowing the specifics of Sookie’s conversation with the Were, I asked, “How much do you know?”
“Enough to be concerned for me and mine, but not enough to know whether I should be evacuating them to the Alaskan wilderness or stockpiling ammo in preparation for doomsday.”
The next sigh into the phone came from my end as I pondered over sharing what we’d learned from the Fellowship soldiers with the Weres. Thanks to the debacle in Area 9, relations between our two species had never been more fractured than they were now, but prior to that I always had a begrudging respect for the Colonel and I suspected he’d felt the same. Considering what we were up against, their assistance would be invaluable in any rescue attempt, so I decided to take a chance and offered, “I am holding a meeting tonight at ten with the remaining vampires in my area to go over everything we’ve learned and to formulate a plan. You and yours are welcome to attend.”
The particulars weren’t something I was willing to discuss over the phone. Knowing the government was a part of the problem, I had no way of knowing if they were monitoring telephone traffic.
“Where?” he asked without hesitation and it was the lack of it that made me feel more assured in including him on our plans.
“Herveaux knows,” I replied. “It’s the same location where I had him meet me last night.”
I’d already notified everyone I could get a hold of the night before while Sookie slept alongside of me. There weren’t nearly as many vampires left in my area as I once had, but I suspected many of them fled when Fangtasia was burned to the ground and I hadn’t been heard from in the following days.
Or possibly they too had been captured by the religious zealots.
“See you then,” he offered and then ended the call, leaving me with nothing left to do but concentrate on Sookie’s emotions.
Enraged. Abhorred. Disgusted. They were all flowing through her veins, but above them all was an overwhelming sense of determination.
Even after everything I’d witnessed – every action and reaction she’d made in the previous days – it still boggled my mind, trying to reconcile the demure young lady she appeared to be with the warrior spirit I could feel within her. Had she been vampire, I wouldn’t have cause to think twice why she acted as she had, but she wasn’t.
She was human.
That little puzzle piece had yet to be solved, but there was no way her blood was purely human. I thought perhaps her grandmother would be able to offer more insight into the possibilities, but considering her wide-eyed wonder over the existence of Weres, I doubted she knew. Unlike her granddaughter, her scent wasn’t marked with the same sweetness Sookie’s had, so I was sure it hadn’t come from her. And Sookie would’ve likely overheard otherwise from her thoughts over the years if her grandmother had known about any supernatural ancestors.
I had bigger problems to contend with than what dangled from Sookie’s family tree, so I refocused my thoughts on what needed to be done in order to free my child, while waiting for the hate monger’s meeting to end. It only lasted an hour or so before the crowd’s cheers exploded from the room, signaling it had come to a close, and another thirty minutes before they began to disperse. One by one they left the building in groups of two’s and three’s, but Sookie and her grandmother weren’t among them. Had it not been for my blood running through her veins – telling me she was physically fine, if not emotionally ill – I would’ve stormed the building, but instead I waited.
The parking lot was nearly bare when at last I saw them exit the building, but my relief was short-lived when I saw Newlin right behind them. A red haze clouded my eyesight with my fangs snapping down and I had to bite back the growl that threatened to escape my throat seeing Sookie turn and hug the man. Had I not known her – not known her true motives for being there and being able to feel her revulsion – I could’ve easily surmised she was one of his flock.
But she wasn’t. She couldn’t be because she was mine, whether she knew it or not.
The smile on her face belied the churning in her gut, but it was feeling that from her that eased the tension in my white-knuckled fists. In my mind’s eye I recalled the large pond that sat halfway between her home and the meeting place, with me wanting to rip her from his arms and bathe her in it to rid her of his scent she would now carry. But I stayed that urge as well and only watched. And waited.
The preacher whispered something into her ear that I couldn’t hear from where I now hovered in the darkness above the rooftop, but she tossed her head back with a laugh and said, “I’m looking forward to it.”
According to my blood that was a genuine statement. And it would needle at me until I could get an explanation from her.
A rotund woman with a loud voice thankfully broke into their interlude as she exited the doorway. I recognized her voice to be Maxine from Mrs. Stackhouse’s earlier phone call and while the preacher appeared perturbed at her disruption, little did he know it likely lengthened his lifespan.
Although, not by much.
Sookie felt as relieved as I did when she was finally freed of his embrace and quickly ushered her grandmother to their vehicle. Her eyes darted to the night sky, exactly where I was still hovering out of sight, before climbing in the car herself and starting for their home. The two mile drive seemed to take forever and my imagination ran wild when my eyes lingered on the pond as we passed it by. Thoughts of drowning the preacher in its depths – giving him his deserved baptism into the supernatural world – would have been a real possibility had I not wanted him to experience the pain that was due him.
Drowning would be too kind a death for the likes of him.
With the length of the Fellowship meeting and Sookie’s extended stay inside, it was already nearing ten o’clock by the time we reached her home, but Bubba was opening her grandmother’s door before she even had the car in park. I’d sent him back to my primary home to retrieve my clothing – I seemed to be having difficulty lately in keeping them free of cum whenever Sookie was near – and saw my bag waiting on the porch next to the backdoor.
I was on Sookie before her eyes could even register my presence and pulled her from the car, snarling lowly at the scent of who I assumed was the preacher now covering her skin.
“Explain,” I growled, while my possessive nature had me rubbing myself against her in a vain attempt at removing it.
“Eric!” she squeaked into my chest. Her embarrassment flooded through our blood tie and I gathered she likely didn’t appreciate her grandmother viewing what would appear to be my molestation of her body.
Too fucking bad.
“What, exactly, were you looking forward to when you were speaking to Newlin?”
Thanks to my blood in her system, I’d known she only felt disgust when touching him, but that hadn’t eased the prickling sensation underneath my skin upon hearing her words. It made me realize had we already completed a bond, there was a strong likelihood I would be hiding the preacher’s body at that very moment. That thought brought my murderous mind back into the realm of sanity because while I’d like nothing better than to kill Newlin – slowly – I first needed to know what Sookie had been able to learn. His premature death could have dire consequences when it came to figuring out how to free Pam and the others, so I reined in my need to tear him limb from limb.
Starting first with his hands and then his arms, removing piece by piece each part of his body that had dared to touch her.
My furious eyes met her equally incensed ones, while I silently demanded an explanation. Enough time had passed I thought perhaps we’d reached an impasse. And hearing the others quietly gathering across the cemetery, while Bubba escorted a chuckling Mrs. Stackhouse into their home, I nearly broke our standoff when she finally offered in a hissed out whisper, “That jackass took a liking to my boobs and invited them to visit the Fellowship headquarters in Dallas. I got from his head he’s going to be making a bid for governor and will be announcing his intention to run at their service this Sunday. He whispered in my ear that he’d like to take me out to dinner that night which was code for fucking me. When I said, ‘I’m looking forward to it,’ I was thinking he could be your dinner.”
My chest was vibrating – as was my whole body – hearing what he wanted to do to My Sookie. My fangs had angrily snapped down as soon as she’d said boobs,but even with them inches from her face she felt no fear. She was pissed and didn’t attempt to hide it when she stabbed her finger into my chest and angrily butted her body against my own, asking, “Now. Tell me – what, exactly, did you think I was talking about.”
Hearing his plans for fucking her felt far worse than anything else I had imagined she would gather from his thoughts, but instead of telling her that.
I showed her.
In an instant her back was pressed against her piece of shit car, with my mouth, hands, and body on hers. She only resisted for a moment before she too had wrapped what she could of herself around me. It was spectacular and tortuous all at the same time. All I wanted to do was rip her clothes from her skin and claim her body.
“You’re not going to meet him – at his church or for dinner,” I growled against her skin once I’d had no choice but to release her lips from mine so she could breathe. My hands automatically ran straight to her breasts, kneading them in my hands, and relishing the sound of her whimper as she arched into my touch.
“Like hell I’m not,” she panted in return, pulling the neck of my shirt down and scraping her teeth against my chest.
She couldn’t have known how much danger she was in and Newlin had nothing to do with it. With every flick of her tongue she pushed me that much closer to giving up control of myself. I wanted her too much. The smell of her arousal. The heat of her body. The feel of her lust colliding with mine.
It was all too much.
I paid no mind to where we were – to who could be watching. Even the mere mention another man had thoughts of claiming her body – much less Newlin – threatened to drive me mad and I gave not a single fuck about anything at that moment but for what I wanted. What she wanted.
And she wanted me.
Her swollen lips pulled in deep breaths as she killed me one nibble at a time, but I couldn’t think of a better way to meet my true death. I pressed my body closer to hers and slid my hands up underneath her shirt, running my thumbs over her hardened nipples and asking, “Did you learn anything else besides his affinity for these?”
Perhaps he would lose his eyes first for daring to even look at them.
“No,” she huffed in aggravation, either at his earlier thoughts or at my insistence in questioning her now, when it was obvious she’d rather I put my mouth to other uses.
Which was exactly what she then did.
Maybe it was my tunnel vision that began and ended with her. Perhaps it was my blood that allowed her movements to be that much faster. But all I know was my shirt was off my body and dangling from her hands when her teeth bit down over my nipple and I felt the last of my control slipping away.
Until the cold water hit us.
She screeched in surprise and it took a second for my lust addled brain to process it all, but just as quickly the spray of water disappeared. I looked for the source, knowing the skies had been clear, and saw Bubba standing a few feet away with the smoking gun in his hand.
Or rather, the dripping nozzle of a garden hose.
I may have expected something like that from Pam, but he was in very real danger of dying for a second time. My body turned towards him, but before I could even bare my fangs, he smiled like a dolt and halted my progress by saying, “Sorry Mr. Eric, but Miss Adele said to turn the hose on y’all if any clothes started comin’ off.”
Fucking simpleton. He always did follow orders well…
Sookie’s skin, cooled by the water, quickly warmed up from the heat of her embarrassment as she pushed me away and held my now drenched shirt out to me. Without meeting my eyes, she said, “I’m just gonna go change,” and mumbled the word, “again,” on her way back into the house.
Where she was greeted by her grandmother’s laughter.
That coupled with seeing the flash of headlights from Compton’s land made me resist the urge to follow after her. The Were’s were arriving and I needed to get over there before feathers – or fur – could become ruffled. There were plans to make – and lecherous preachers to torture – so this would have to wait, but it was likely my fangs would be down for the remainder of the evening.
Unlike my cock.
I darted over to where Bubba had left my bag, changing into dry clothes as well, thanks to his ability to also follow my orders. But after seeing for myself the way he’d been charmed by the elder Stackhouse woman, it was easy to guess where I now stood in the queue of who he would take orders from.
Rather than going inside to face either Mrs. Stackhouse’s scorn or bemusement, I waited for Sookie in the yard because it was likely the woman would be subjected to either one of those things from me if I entered the house. When Sookie emerged minutes later with her wet hair pulled up into a ponytail, my eyes were automatically drawn to her neck that was now on display. My fangs had managed to retract in her absence, but my cock had not and knowing we would be in the presence of others of my kind had me wanting to pull the rubber band from her hair.
Her bare neck would only make her more irresistible.
She ignored my predatory stare to walk right by me, acting as though nothing was amiss, and casually offered, “So all Newlin thought about during his spiel was how the crowd was like putty in his hands. He’s a narcissistic son of a bitch and no matter what was spouting from his mouth about his fallen soldiers, all he was thinking about was if he should get his hair trimmed before his announcement and what tie would go best with his new pinstriped suit. He was using us to try out some of his new moves to gauge what worked and what didn’t for when he makes his intention to run for governor, public.”
Just hearing his name again had my thoughts running back to what else he wanted to try to make a move on, so I matched her stride and reiterated, “You are not meeting him for dinner.”
“Oh, but I am,” she replied completely unfazed. “For someone as old as you are, you sure do have a short attention span. Can vampires get Alzheimer’s?” Her easy strides turned into full-fledged stomping, with her casual tone becoming determined as she proclaimed, “I told you earlier, I am my own woman and I’ll do what I want.”
She had the ability to make me both enraged and kowtowed with her blatant disregard for my position. Granted, she was a human, not vampire, so she couldn’t fully comprehend who or what I was. She’d also seen me at my weakest and – I suspected – knew she was my weakness, but I also knew that wasn’t why she chose to ignore my orders.
It was because she didn’t give a damn – about any of it.
And her grandmother had been correct in surmising getting Sookie to agree to be mine would be the longest mile traveled of my existence.
But no matter how much her words threatened to ruin my third pair of jeans in one night, I couldn’t have her speaking to me that way in front of the others because she didn’t fully comprehend who or what I was. Her planned date with Newlin could be argued over later, but this couldn’t wait, so I put my hand out to halt her steps and allowed Bubba to pass us by on his way to Compton’s so that we could have a moment in relative privacy.
“Sookie, while I appreciate your…candor,” I began and paused, momentarily distracted by the sight of her breasts encased in her fitted t-shirt, heaving with every angry breath she took. I wanted to tear it from her body and make them heave for an entirely different reason, but instead I attempted to shake off my lust and forced my eyes to hers, explaining, “You can’t speak to me as you normally do in front of the others.” Her mouth automatically opened with what I was sure would be her protest – after all, I was speaking to Sookie – so I cut off her objection, by adding softly, “Lover, trust me when I say I look forward to each and every word uttered from your lips, no matter how much they tend to argue with me. But our worlds are very different. To allow you to speak to me as you normally do would be viewed as a weakness on my behalf. I would lose the respect of the others present and I need them to follow my orders without question if I am going to be able to save Pam. Even your shifter told you, you don’t understand how the supernatural world works and he was right. I am in a position of authority amongst vampires and in the eyes of vampires, humans are on the bottom of the food chain.”
Her mouth shut so violently I could hear the click of her teeth snapping together, only for it to open up again and with her harshly whispering out, “And that right there is exactly why we’re in this pickle to begin with. Because of vampires acting like they’re above everyone else – Gods and laws be damned – some measly little humans have risen up to show them a thing or two. We are not weak and we will go to extraordinary lengths when we’re backed into a corner – be it by vampires or our very own kind. You all need to realize just how deep in the shit you are right now because humans don’t need vampires in order to survive. You all can’t say the same, so if we can’t start trying to see each other’s side right here and right now, then there’s really no use in trying to free everyone. There’d be no point because we’d only go right back to where this all started to begin with. Any hope we had in trying to make a positive difference would already be lost.”
Did I mention I appreciated her candor?
Her body was shaking with the uncompromising conviction I could feel flowing through her, so I wrapped her in my arms and placed my lips on her forehead, whispering my realization with, “You’re right.” Her tension eased somewhat hearing my agreement, but knowing the others wouldn’t be as easily swayed – they couldn’t possibly value her as much as I did – I added, “But I would still appreciate it if you at least gave the appearance of respecting me when we’re in front of the others tonight. I agree change is needed on both sides, but it won’t come quickly or easily. And for now they need to be focused on what lies ahead of us instead of why their sheriff is so enamored by a human. I don’t want to make your gift known to them, but I can’t think of any way around it considering I plan to have you with me throughout. They’ll need an explanation on why we all need to listen to what you have to say, so if you want to keep your secret, you need to go back home now and wait for me to return. Once they know you’re a telepath there’ll be no way to un-ring that bell. I’ll make it known to all of them that you’re under my protection and they’ll be able to pick up the scent of my blood flowing through you, but your own natural scent and beauty already makes you desirable. Knowledge of your gift will make you sought after by every supernatural who learns of you.”
It would kill me to leave her behind, but she needed to understand the true danger she was in by revealing herself to the supernatural world. There were few who could best me in any battle and I would protect her against any and all threats, but I would not expose her secret without her knowing the ramifications of divulging her gift.
As I expected, her body immediately tensed, but just as quickly her arms wrapped around my waist as she leaned into my chest. And instead of feeling fear over my words she merely felt at peace as she said, “Eric, I do respect you. If I didn’t then I wouldn’t be here and I trust you’ll keep me safe, but respect is a two-way street. I’ve seen enough myself to know what Sam said was true and I know Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it’s gotta start somewhere. If they all respect you as much as you say, then you showing me respect would go a long way in their eyes. And if I hear something I don’t like, I promise to try and keep my temper and my mouth in check, as long as you treat me like I’m more than just your meal.”
She appeared completely unconcerned with any danger she faced by revealing herself to those who would hunt her for her ability, but rather than being surprised at her nonchalance, I was abhorred over her words. My own body tensed just as suddenly as hers had and I pulled away to stare down at her asking incredulously, “When have I ever…” but the words died in my throat realizing indeed, I had.
On the night she’d rescued me.
She immediately and unknowingly tried to mitigate my guilt by saying, “I’m not saying you do, but that’s how they’ll view me if you don’t show them with your actions that I have worth. And I’m not talking about my telepathy.”
And – again – she was right. Of course I didn’t believe all humans had any measure of significance – certainly none of them were as worthy as I found her to be – but if I treated her as my pet, that was how she would be viewed by the others and she would be treated accordingly.
But Sookie Stackhouse was no one’s pet.
However she would be mine.
My fingers – regrown at an amazing rate thanks to her selfless generosity – trailed down her neck to her shoulder and eventually laced into her own so that I could bring her hand to my lips. Leaving a single kiss across the back of her hand, I looked down at her and conceded, “You do have worth – more than your gift; more than your blood; more than your beauty – so if there ever comes a time on this night or any other that you feel I have lost sight of that, by all means lover, remind me in any way you see fit.”
Her responding smile was answer enough, so I tugged on her hand and kept it in my own as we made our way to Compton’s. I could smell the Weres before I could see them through the crowd of vampires awaiting my arrival, but once we reached our destination I ignored the surprised stares darting between Sookie and me and wasted no time in informing them all of what we knew thus far. While the eyes of the two-natured widened with every detail I relayed, vampires in general normally didn’t tend to show any emotion, so the audible sound of fangs snapping down all around us as I told them of the experiments at the prison made Sookie startle at my side. Her hand, which had let go of mine when we’d first entered the group, had been down at her side until then. But feeling the anger swelling in the crowd now had her reaching out to grasp my own, causing even a seasoned warrior like Thalia to give away her surprise when I allowed it. I went one step farther and kept a hold of it, pulling her body closer to mine, so there’d be no mistake as to just how much I valued the human at my side. It was certainly a first and bearing in mind what they were witnessing of our display was akin to them seeing a mermaid trot by sidesaddle on her pet unicorn, it didn’t matter any to me because I’d already decided to adopt Sookie’s approach to life.
I just didn’t give a damn.
Once the groundwork had been laid, Flood cleared his throat and at my acknowledgment he stated, “I know some guys through the military who might have some inside information. They’re human though, so I don’t know how much I can get them to open up, but I do know that base is locked up tighter than Fort Knox.” He had no idea yet of how Sookie would be invaluable in that situation, so he continued on with, “There are ground sensors buried every few feet spread throughout to detect footsteps. Motion activated cameras trained on the sky to detect anything trying to come in by air. Anything bigger than prairie dog or a sparrow is going to get their attention, so getting in without them knowing will be hell.”
I hardly had the time to register Sookie’s surprise when I heard another throat clearing and a path cleared in the group of Weres as none other than Sookie’s shifter stepped forward. I could feel her gratitude flooding through her just as quickly when he opened his mouth and said, “I can get in. I can shift into a housefly and get all the way into where the vampires are being kept if I ride on the right coattails.”
Her hand let go of mine as she immediately walked over and pulled the mongrel into her embrace. My scorn at the sight was only tempered because I knew her feelings for him were purely of friendship and nothing more, so I kept my derision to myself and remained a silent spectator amongst the crowd. But Sookie’s movements had drawn even more attention to her presence and Clancy, a vampire with a nasty disposition on his best day, asked what I was sure they were all thinking, “Who is the human? Why is she here?” He took an aggressive step towards her, adding, “Is she a snack?”
I barely noticed the shifter forcing Sookie behind his body to shield her, but I did notice the feral snarl that ripped its way out of my lips. Moving too fast for any but vampire eyes to follow, I had Clancy’s throat in my outstretched hand before Sookie’s body even had a chance to come to a standstill. Staring up at him, my words were for everyone gathered there as I stated unequivocally, “She is mine.” I waited until I saw a begrudging acceptance in his eyes and then tossed him away from Sookie before silently holding my hand out towards her. I could feel her determination peek through the surprise and fear she felt over Clancy’s actions as she walked towards me and as soon as she took hold of my hand and was standing at my side, I said, “This is Sookie Stackhouse. Not only is she mine, she has my protection. All of you who owe me fealty will protect her with your lives.”
Perhaps feeling bolstered by the distance separating us – or perhaps just due to his own stupidity – Clancy spoke up again, snarling, “A human? You expect us to protect a human with our own lives?”
“My human,” I corrected, but knowing what they were likely thinking, I added, “She will be assisting us in freeing our own. She is more valuable to our cause than any one of you. You will treat her with the same respect you show me or you will pay for your insubordination with your own life.” Knowing they wouldn’t understand the true scope of just how integral she was to our plans without further explanation, I turned to look down at her and asked with no more than a raised eyebrow if she was still willing to reveal her secret. There would be no going back once the words left my lips. She would forever be known as a telepath to the supernatural community.
Until the last breath left her body.
I ignored the gnawing in my chest over that scenario.
She seemed to understand what I was silently asking because her eyes left mine to briefly travel over those gathered around us. When she was done sifting through the Weres, she stayed locked on Clancy’s unimpressed face for a moment longer than the rest before moving to stare at the shifter. He appeared both worried and resigned, knowing what her revelation would mean, and I forced myself to not react when he smiled softly at her with affection in his eyes.
But I may have made plans to procure a fly swatter for when our rescue attempt was over.
Finally Sookie looked up at me and searched my eyes – for what, I had no clue – before taking a deep breath and smiling softly at me, with trust and affection filling our tie and her own eyes as she nodded her reply to my unspoken question.
Again, twin urges pulsed through me. Pride for her courage and worry over her wellbeing. I was proud to have found such a brave warrior to stand alongside me in what was to come and equally agonized over her safety. I wanted to simultaneously thrust a sword into her hand and longed to hide her away from prying eyes. But I also knew Sookie wouldn’t tolerate being kept hidden. She wouldn’t tolerate being treated any less than what she was.
Inarguably, my equal.
I was honored to have her standing at my side.
Forcing my eyes to leave hers, I stared back at the crowd still waiting to hear what made the human woman at my side more valuable than any of them. Why she was necessary – more than just for the feelings she managed to conjure within me, but why she was conceivably crucial to our very survival.
The moment brought to mind John Donne’s Meditation XVII in his works from 1624 titled Devotions upon Emergent Occasions:
“No man is an Island, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”
Mankind might be able to go on without us, but just as Sookie had said of her own kind, we too would go to extraordinary lengths when we’re backed into a corner. A war between us could very well be the downfall of us all. We needed to come together – vampires, Weres, and yes, humans – if we wanted survive.
So here it would have to start.
With me ringing the bell that couldn’t be un-rung.
“Sookie is a telepath.”