Rising from my daytime death, the first thing to register in my body was fear. But it wasn’t my own.
It was Sookie’s.
Fruitlessly reaching out for her at my side, my blood reached out even further to find she wasn’t in the house.
Or even in the same fucking town.
Finding my blood in her body, roughly twelve miles to the east, I sat upright, trying to make sense of it all.
It was easier said than done.
Had she left on her own?
Or had someone taken her against her will?
I had no way of knowing. But sensing the sun was still too high in the sky for me to leave the safety of the house I grabbed my phone instead, hoping to find the answers before nearly crushing it in my hand.
Because I’d already crushed her own to keep anyone from tracking her via the electronic device.
It hadn’t occurred to me to replace it.
Until now, when it was too late.
Because she wasn’t supposed to have gone out on her own.
But recalling her words from the night before, I quickly realized the error of my ways. When discussing any pursuit of the drainers, the only thing she had actually agreed to was fucking each other until dawn.
My attempts to distract her had backfired.
Searching the house, I found it was exactly as it had been when I’d died for the day – minus one mouthy maybe-venefica – so I knew she’d left of her own free will.
Freely – willfully – seeking out the drainer with no backup, when I’d already explained how dangerous it would be.
Oddly enough, it helped to calm me – somewhat – knowing no one had sought her out here. Her secret identity was still safe – probably – so I concentrated on everything I could feel coming from her once more.
Fear, but not panic.
A dull ache and some minor pain.
While she was undoubtedly afraid and perhaps injured, she wasn’t feeling incapacitated. Her emotions were steady.
If I had to guess, she was biding her time, so I surmised either the immediate threat had passed or she felt she wasn’t in imminent danger.
But for now she wasn’t in a state of panic.
It was only feeling all of those things from her that was keeping me from destroying the house in my frustration. There was no one I could call for help. No one I would trust to keep the secret that was Sookie Stackhouse from the queen.
Most vampire were still being held hostage by the sun – not that I would trust any of them except Pam. Weres were loyal only to their own kind. And while I had more than one of them in my debt, her mere existence was too big of a secret for me to entrust it to any one of them.
As for humans…who was I going to call?
The last I’d checked, glaring at someone to death wouldn’t actually kill them.
But I only had myself to blame.
I should have hired guards to keep watch of the house.
Removed the spark plugs from every vehicle in the garage.
Placed fire breathing dragons at every door and pits of quicksand beyond them should she manage to make her way past them.
I should have tied her down to my bed to keep her ass in it, while I was dead for the day.
But, if I managed to get her back, I would never again complain that she wasn’t in my bed when I rose.
At least before she’d been in the fucking house.
There was nothing to be done for it now, so I made my way to the closet and dressed like I was Billy Idol preparing to make a comeback. Black leather covered my body from head to toe, with the collar of my jacket turned up to protect my neck, because I knew all it would take was feeling her fear spike for me to flee the house.
The sun be damned.
At least dressed as I was, it offered some protection from the deadly rays, and I continued to pace a hole into the floor, while keeping track of the sun in the sky.
As well as monitoring my own personal sun, who was waiting for me roughly twelve miles to the east.
It was likely the longest forty-seven minutes of my thousand year existence, but when I felt the sun just hovering above the horizon, I left the house and took to the fading orange hued sky. It was a calculated risk, but I knew I could cover the distance before the lingering rays could do me any real harm.
The flight took less than three minutes before I arrived at the location where my blood had made itself at home inside of the woman who would surely be the death of me. But out of all of the scenarios I’d imagined, finding her in an abandoned warehouse district wasn’t one of them.
Nor had I expected to find her with two dead bodies at her feet.
Keeping my senses peeled for signs of any others, I sped towards her before her eyes could even register I was in the room. I knew it from the way she startled in the chains that kept her arms securely cuffed above her head.
Relief flooded through her seeing me there – or maybe that was just from me finally laying eyes on her again – but in spite of the circumstances, she managed to give me a rueful smile.
However she winced when her swollen lip quirked up on one side, as she started off playfully with, “I know. I know. I wasn’t in your bed when you woke up. But I planned to be, if that helps any.”
And yet it didn’t.
When I offered no words in return, her playful expression turned apologetic when she said, “Don’t be mad.”
Freeing her wrists from the manacles that had kept her bound for who knows how fucking long, I scented her like a bloodhound from head to toe, along with using my blood in her body to discern where she was physically hurt. My only salvation was finding she hadn’t been raped.
So I sent out a silent prayer of thanks to gods I no longer believed in, while I casually replied, “I’m not mad.”
I wasn’t mad.
I was fucking furious.
A lovely shade of purple had bloomed on the right side of her face. I could only imagine what words of wisdom she’d spouted off in order to be pummeled for her efforts – and I could only hope the two corpses lying at our feet weren’t the only offenders, so I would have my own opportunity for vengeance – but I set my anger aside for now.
My first instinct was to feed her my blood in order to heal her wounds. But I ignored them and the scent of her own delectable blood calling out to me like a siren’s song, instead choosing to rub her arms to get the circulation going in them again, while I glared at the cuts and bruises littering her face.
With my eyes doing exactly what Bobby would have done – attempting to glare her to her death – it was easily noticeable when her swollen lips returned to their quirked position off to one side, as she called me out on the veracity of my claim by saying, “It’s ironic that you look so hot in those leather pants. You know, since they’re about to burst into flames.”
And since there was no point in denying it any longer, I dropped her arm and turned, punting one of the bodies across the room, if only to expend some of my rage before addressing her.
She flinched – the only outward acknowledgement of my actions – but said nothing as I inhaled deep breaths of air my body didn’t need in order to calm down.
But I only managed to become further enraged now noticing the unmistakable scent of Were.
My one word utterance was the best I could give her at the moment because it was all I could do to keep myself in check, with my bloodlust at an all-time high.
I needed to kill.
Maybe a complete bond wasn’t needed. Maybe her unknown ancestry gave her the gift of empathy.
Or – maybe – she had finally figured out just how angry I was because she dropped the snark and her gaze to her feet as she said, “I went out this morning for coffee.”
“Coffee,” I repeated, when she said nothing more. “Unless I’m mistaken, we’re not in downtown Tehran, so even if you had stolen it, this,” I gestured to the welt on her face, “and this,” gesturing to the dead Were at our feet, who had yet to earn his three points for a field goal, “seems like overkill.”
“Funny story?” she began again, with her eyes darting up to me.
One of them did anyway.
The other was rapidly being swollen shut.
The longer I stared at her, the more overwhelming my need became to heal her. But I suspected she would need to feel as bad as she looked in order for her to come clean about all that happened during the day.
So I stayed my urges for now, while she went on to explain her morning’s attempt to become a modern day Mata Hari. After hearing her out, I could admit that her plan to just sit and watch from afar didn’t seem very dangerous. She hadn’t even dressed to stand out in a crowd.
But the one point I hoped to drive home with her now was unknowingly set up by her own admission when she ended with, “I was just sitting there, counting down the five minutes I was waiting for Bailey to be gone, so I could leave, when these two showed up. I don’t know if they recognized me from going to your bar that one night or what, but I passed them on my way out of the coffee shop and they grabbed me a minute later on the street. They brought me here and wanted to know which vampire I belonged to, but I wouldn’t tell them. I don’t know how they knew I even knew a vampire.”
“They knew because they could smell me on you.”
“What?” she gasped. “How the…how could they…I showered!” she sputtered in disbelief.
“They,” I gestured back and forth once more, “are Weres. Wolves, specifically. You’ve had my blood. A lot of it. You’re filled with my cum. No shower gel is going to rid you of my scent any time soon.”
For the first time since I’d come to her that night, her eyes filled with unshed tears as she said dejectedly, “I didn’t know.”
“Now you do.”
My tone had softened, with my hand gently caressing the injured side of her face, while I said, “The world you live in isn’t the one you once thought it to be. There are others who look just like you – human – but react just like me – a supernatural.”
We’d gone over the different types of Supes out there already, but I knew just as well as anyone, seeing is believing.
If I hadn’t seen Ludwig’s tests for myself, I never would have believed the results.
Sookie nodded her head to indicate she understood, so I kept my voice soft when I explained, “I need to take care of covering this up and then we can return to the house where I’ll heal your injuries.”
She didn’t acknowledge my words – too lost in her own thoughts – while I searched the Weres’ pockets. Taking both their wallets and their phones to go through later, I used their keys to pull their truck into the warehouse through a large bay door and retrieved their bodies, placing them into the cab.
Sookie was still in her own little world, so I brought her back to the here and now, by asking, “Do you know if they made any calls or told anyone about having you?” And recalling my earlier need for vengeance, I added, “Were they the only ones you encountered here?”
If there were others involved, they would be a liability. Even if she never left the house again – and I would be hard pressed to not die for the day lying on top of her body to keep her pinned to the bed – I didn’t want for there to be any loose ends.
She softly shook her head in the negative and replied, “They didn’t make any calls. They didn’t get the chance.”
Her statement made me realize I had no idea of how they’d died.
But I had a sneaking suspicion.
Still, I asked with my expression alone and she answered it with, “The one you kicked across the room started off by trying to get his kicks with me and kissed me.”
Her brow arched, with her expression a mixture of both sadness and absolution, but I could barely see her through the red haze of rage clouding my eyes. But she didn’t need to say any more about what had happened to him next.
He dropped dead, like everyone else in her life, after they’d ingested any of her bodily fluids.
Everyone except me.
Shrugging her shoulders, she pressed on by explaining, “The other one couldn’t figure out what I’d done to kill his friend, but he was sure I’d done something. So I may have puckered my lips at him and said something like, ‘Give momma some sugar.’ He backhanded me hard enough that I saw stars, but my teeth caught on his hand and…down he went.”
Going over her explanation of the day’s events again in my mind, I found myself asking, “So you’d been here – chained up – all alone all day?”
“Until you showed up,” she smiled sadly. “Thanks for coming for me.”
Something about the thought of her dangling from chains all day long – injured and scared – waiting for me to rise, was enough to drown out any lingering anger I may have felt at her actions.
So I closed the distance between us and placed a tender kiss on her forehead, acknowledging her thanks with a one word promise, whispered against her skin.
While I had cleaners on my payroll for just this type of situation, I didn’t want to use them. The scent of Sookie’s unnaturally sweet blood was still lingering in the air, despite the foul scent of Were.
I wouldn’t be the only one to notice and I could only surmise it was my scent intermingled with hers and the Weres’ quick deaths that kept them from detecting it.
Using a wooden broom handle wrapped in newspaper, as an improvised fuse, I shoved one end into the full gas tank and lit the other, before scooping Sookie into my arms and taking off with her, out of the warehouse and into the night. We hovered from a distance until the explosion lit up the now darkened sky, but as I began to fly us back to the house, she put her hand on my chest and said, “Your car. It’s still parked at the coffee shop.”
“You drove my corvette?” I teasingly glared down at her, hoping to lighten her mood after her horrific day.
Seeming to understand my motives, she smiled back at me and said, “No. I drove your Prius. Never woulda figured you for an eco-friendly car.”
“I am immortal,” I smiled in return. “I have a stake in the viability of this planet. Leaving behind smaller carbon footprints are but one way I can ensure my future survival.”
“You said stake,” she chuckled and then settled against my chest for the remainder of the short flight.
Once we were back in the house, I wasted no time in settling with her on my lap on the couch. With her face pressed against my chest, I hadn’t had to see the evidence of her trials from that morning, but even I could feel the aching throb she felt echoing through our blood tie.
Suddenly, I couldn’t heal her fast enough.
Biting into my wrist, I put the wound at her lips. But before she took my blood, she seemed to sober up from her earlier teasing mood and stared back at me, offering, “Who knows how long I would have been left chained up in that warehouse, if it wasn’t for you. I’m sorry for not listening to you. All you’ve done from the moment we met is to try and protect me.”
That wasn’t exactly true. But instead of telling her how close I’d come to killing her on that first night, I gave her another truth by teasing, “And get into your pants.”
“That goes without saying,” she snickered.
“I thought it should be said,” I smiled in return.
“I’m trying to be serious here,” she playfully admonished.
“Then you seriously overestimated my emotional maturity.”
“That goes without saying,” she repeated and then ignored my rapidly closing wound in favor of favoring me with a gentle kiss to my lips, as she breathed out, “I have you to thank for my future survival.”
Figuring I would kill two birds with one stone, I sliced my tongue on my fangs and deepened our kiss, only pulling back for long enough to say the one truth I had no explanation for and yet couldn’t deny.