The one-sided bond we already shared told me Sookie was tired – exhausted, really – so she likely wasn’t in the best frame of mind to be contemplating something as serious as a permanent blood bond.
I was counting on it, in fact.
Taking advantage of her fatigue was only fair, considering her unfair advantage over me, so she had left me no other recourse, really.
Merely having only to exist in order to bring me to my metaphorical knees seemed like an inequitable balance of power in our relationship.
I was only righting the scales.
After all, all was fair in…
It was only fair.
But unlike our pledging ceremony – resulting in our subsequent marriage – I was giving her the choice, even if it hadn’t felt as though it had been my choice to even inform her of said nuptials.
Had I not known better, I might have suspected I was under some sort of spell. An incantation that left me powerless in her presence, causing me to tell her any and all of my secrets – our true ties to one another among them – and yet still ask her for more.
Promises of candlelit dinners and long walks on the beach could possibly fall through my lips next.
If I had the wherewithal to give a damn, I would surely be disgusted with myself.
But the fact of the matter was that I did know better. She may have been the perfectly set trap to ensnare my kind, but my continued fascination had nothing to do with her looks or scent.
The fact she was lying before me naked – her naturally sweet scent now saturated in our combined cum, with her blood pooled near the surface of her skin, still flushed from our encounter – and I could only focus on her face said it all.
Because no Fae or witch put that spark in her eyes. That impertinence in her spirit or that sarcastic wit in her mouth.
No, that was pure Sookie.
Perhaps the magic of her heritage was more powerful than previously thought.
That she’d had the balls to singlehandedly take on her fairy kin in defense of me only made me lost to her even more.
So why, goddammit, hadn’t she agreed to bond with me yet?
“Bruh?” she timidly asked, pulling my focus down to her kiss swollen lips.
And I briefly lost my focus, recalling just how they’d become that way.
“What exactly is a permanent bond?” And then scowling slightly, she quickly added, “And don’t give me any variation of a definition for the word permanent.”
Forcing my lips to remain smirk-free at how well she knew me, I scowled instead and replied using her ridiculous descriptor, “Well bud…”
Pausing for a moment to find the right words, I thought to remind her of everything else I’d already confessed first by explaining, “You know that vampire blood can heal when applied topically or consumed. You know it can also be likened to a narcotic because of the way it can effect humans who ingest it recreationally. You know that when the blood is taken directly from the source, it allows the vampire to have a sense of that person. Their emotions and their location.”
Automatically narrowing my eyes at the reminder, I spat out, “It was how I found you at that warehouse.”
Unimpressed with my anger, she waved her hand in a get on with it fashion. At any other point in my thousand year old existence I would have been incensed at anyone being so blatantly flippant with me.
Heads would have rolled.
So I silently blamed her unknown magic for why I so easily acquiesced and went on to explain, “Ties like those will eventually fade away with time. But, when a vampire mutually exchanges blood three times with another – vampire or human – a permanent blood bond is formed. It allows both parties to feel each other’s emotions. To sense where the other is at, at any given time. It is impossible to fully block and I know of no way to remove a permanent blood bond. It will exist until one of the bonded pair dies.”
Thinking by speaking of blood bonds in generalized terms it might relax her enough to let her guard down – and my blood into her as I took hers into me – but she proved yet again she was not so easily fooled, when her emotions spun up into a tidal wave, as she whispered, “Till death do us part?”
I merely made a sound in the affirmative at her question because hearing Sookie speak so plainly of exactly what I’d said gave me pause.
Only a few days earlier I’d mused how my own emotional response to her would likely see us both killed. It was only my gut instinct now that was demanding I tie myself to her in this way.
And while my gut instincts had saved my undead life on more than one occasion, a gut instinct was an emotional response.
A permanent blood bond wouldn’t alter only her scent, informing the supernatural world she was tied to a vampire. It would alter mine as well, telling all who came near me I was bonded to a sugar-coated sexpot.
Her intangible attributes, like her mouth and what came out of it at any given moment, would still be hidden from any other not graced with her presence. But the truth lied in the tangibles, no matter what falsehoods I claimed.
While I hadn’t initially made the connection to her true heritage, there were others old enough who might recall the candied blood of her kin.
The queen came to mind.
The queen whose messages I’d ignored over the last few nights, unable to inform her I’d already found her progeny’s killer.
Because the killer – a fact of circumstance through no fault of her own – was the same woman I’d been hiding away since the night of his death and had now just asked to be my bonded.
Logic dictated I should kill her now to ensure my own survival.
Looking at her now and seeing the sun I’d likened her to, I was just as powerless against her as I was the bright orb in the daytime sky.
But the fact was, while vampire law dictated one’s bonded was untouchable by any other, Sophie-Anne had proven time and again that she didn’t feel bound by any laws that didn’t suit her needs. Even learning Sookie was in fact the fabled Fae treasure she’d been seeking, if she found out Sookie had been the one responsible for Andre’s death – even inadvertently – nothing would stop her from seeking vengeance.
Never mind the fact Sookie’s Fae kin had no reason to acknowledge – and therefore adhere to the sanctity of – a permanent blood bond between us.
So really, completing a blood bond gave us no strategic advantage. In fact, by doing so, it would do nothing to protect her from any real threat and it would only put me at greater risk with my queen.
Objectively, it was only my gut instinct and possessive nature that was pushing me forward.
Subjectively, just the thought of not following through was enough to drive me insane.
But that could also be from the scent of her that still covered my skin.
The scent of pure fairies that still permeated the air.
Could my affection for her, coupled with the narcotizing effects of her kin, be the cause for me to be acting so irrationally?
No longer sure of what the prudent – logical – course of action to take was, I didn’t have to make any excuses as to why we shouldn’t complete a bond just yet, then hearing the bokor’s arrival.
And yet I found I couldn’t walk away without giving her some sort of explanation, feeling the turmoil she felt, but I only said, “We don’t have to decide now. Decoudreau has arrived.”
As ridiculous as I knew it was, it still took all of my willpower to force my body up and my feet to walk away from her. Logically I knew we would only be separated by a few walls and several feet.
Illogically, it felt like any distance greater than my arms’ reach was too far.
Pulling in the fresh air through my nose once I walked outside helped to clear the scents I’d been bombarded with inside of the house.
But clearing my passageways did little to clear my head where Sookie was concerned.
Forcing that conundrum from my mind, I focused on the sight of Decoudreau hunched over the piles of Sookie’s fairy kin in the front yard, watching as he straightened up and looked at me with widened eyes, stating without question, “She is quite powerful to have defeated them on her own.”
I would have gone with stubborn or perhaps foolishly lucky, instead of citing the power I knew fully well she possessed.
But rather than get into all the ways Sookie crawled under my skin like it was her job to drive me batshit, I merely got to the point of my summoning him there by saying, “They claimed to be her kin. That they located her through their shared bloodline. Can you hide it – her – from them?”
He contemplated my question for only a moment before replying noncommittally with, “Maybe,” as his eyes traveled from me to the pile of fairy dust at my feet, still standing at my front door, before moving to my side where I felt Sookie come to stand.
More than from any sound she’d made, I felt the tension in my body lessen now that she was back to within my reach.
“Thanks for all of your help earlier,” she amiably called out, as he made his way towards us. “As you can see, there was a bit of a kerfuffle. But other than biting this one,” she gestured to the pile at our feet, “I’m not really sure how I managed those two? It was kind of a blur of redneck fury proportions, but I’m guessing that iron poker really came in handy.”
Amusement flooded her veins at what I assumed was her unintentional pun, but her merriment was soon replaced by doubt.
Undoubtedly, doubting either her recollections or her own sanity for doing what she’d ultimately done.
But her words only reminded me that I still wanted to watch the security camera footage to see for myself just how she’d managed to take down three full-blooded Fae.
Once he reached us, he carefully stepped over the pile of fairy godmother on the doorstep, and followed us inside, with his incredulous eyes tracing over the rest of her we’d tracked into the house earlier.
Seeing where his attention had been drawn to, I couldn’t stop the smirk from forming on my lips at her ‘Footprints in the sand’ musings, when Sookie offered almost dejectedly, “I guess we’re a few klicks out from where Jesus lost his sandals, huh?”
The way her mind worked – the unexpected and unreasonably fascinating little nothings that fell through her lips and drugged me in a way I’d never known before – enticed me more than any of her physical traits. It made me wonder if I could withstand not having her in my life at all.
She was human – mostly – so she would age and die eventually.
Unless other – more drastic – measures were taken.
But considering her heritage, I had to wonder if she could be turned.
I would pose the question to Ludwig or Decoudreau, if I thought I could do without their guidance in the coming days and weeks.
Because any answer from them that even hinted at the possibility I could one day lose Sookie to something as trite as old age, and I could very well kill them.
While I didn’t feel the call to turn her, as I had with Pam, I did feel something.
Something I couldn’t name or describe and thankfully, something I didn’t have time to think on any longer when instead of acknowledging her likely rhetorical question, Decoudreau offered a query of his own by asking, “Do you know what can be done with fairy dust?”
“No,” she immediately replied, with her lips pursing in disgust. “And please,” she added seriously. “Don’t spoil the mystery.”
She really needed to stop tempting me so.
If I knew for sure any attempt to turn her wouldn’t result in her true death, she could very well be well on her way to rising as my child in three nights’ time.
Giving in to her request seemed to stem more from urgency over his obvious desire to expound on the virtues of fairy dust, when Decoudreau nodded once, with his eyes darting towards me, before addressing only her as he said, “So, you are coming to stay with me?”
“I am?” she asked, quickly looking to me and sounding just as surprised as I felt.
“You’re not,” I automatically spat out, with my fangs snapping down and my eyes then zeroing in on the bokor, as I repeated just as harshly, “She’s not.”
Just the thought of her being away from me made every muscle in my body tense. My gut began twisting in on itself and my chest felt like it was caving in towards an invisible vortex.
If asked, I would have sworn the only thing standing in between Sookie and the black hole now residing behind my sternum was a layer of skin and my sheer determination to hold myself together.
Appearing to understand the danger he was now in – even if I didn’t truly understand where my fury stemmed from – Decoudreau dropped his eyes in deference to the wall of pure rage now standing in between him and the woman he thought to take from me.
But while his demeanor was submissive, his tone was politely firm as he tossed my proverbial kryptonite at my feet with his explanation of, “It is the only way to keep her safe.”
My jaw snapped shut with an audible click, with my hands clenching into fists at my sides, while I tried to calm down enough to take in his words. But it was only when I felt Sookie’s hand ghost up and down my back, soothing me with her touch, did I relax.
But just as I thought I had the power to unlock my jaw enough to form words, my jaw wasn’t the only thing to become unhinged hearing her say, “I think he’s right.”
Spinning around to face her left the hand she’d been mollifying me with hovering in the air and she kept it there as a visible barrier to whatever I had to say next, with her expression becoming determined, as she said more forcefully, “He’s right, in that I should go with him. Eric, I can’t stop them from coming for me and I can’t count on being enough to keep them from getting to you during the day.”
My jaw sawed back and forth, with my teeth grinding back the words trying to expel from my throat.
Both adulation and indignation warred to come out on top.
Seeing she no longer needed any barrier to keep me quiet, she pressed her hand against my chest – thereby pressing every button I now possessed that made me want to give her anything she asked for – and softened both her voice and her expression, as she leaned in and softly said, “Look around us, Eric. This is a plot twist neither one of us saw coming. And it is undeniable proof that while I may have descended from fairies, my life is more cautionary tale than fairytale.”
“I don’t care,” I huffed out in return.
Not about that.
I only cared about her.
“Yeah,” she breathed out sadly. “Well, I do. And I’m not going to sit around and wait for who knows what to show up next. I can’t – I won’t – put a target on your back. You can hide me from vampires and werewolves and maybe even Jesus H. Christ himself. But this? Me? You can’t hide me from them.”
“I. Don’t. Care.” I repeated more forcefully.
I was old enough to fight off the effects of sunrise. I could remain awake.
I would dare any and all comers to try and get through me to reach her.
I would lay them all to waste.
No longer idly pressing against my chest, she showed her own warrior spirit by fisting my shirt beneath her palm, as she repeated, “I. Do.”
Then matching my steely gaze with her own, she added, “It sounds a lot like what you said about blood bonds. That they can’t be broken. What if they’ll always be able to find me? Now that they have some idea that I exist, they’ll probably come after me again. I won’t put you in that kind of danger, Eric. I’ve already lost everyone I’ve ever cared about. I can’t lose you too. I won’t.”
Darting her eyes to where Decoudreau stood, witness to our private turmoil, she stared back into my eyes and echoed the words the bokor had spoken the night before when she said, “It’s my choice.”
Releasing my shirt from her grasp, she turned to move away from me, seemingly having already decided for the both of us.
Were the situation any different, I would’ve smirked at our similar personalities.
But I was feeling anything but amused, so before she could take a single step, I grabbed onto her hand and pulled her back until she was flush against my body.
Cupping her face with the hand that wasn’t refusing to let her go, I breathed out a truth I was only now coming to realize the true depth of – in spite of the woefully inadequate words I used – when I admitted, “I won’t be without you.”
It was ironic, really. Only moments earlier I’d internally backpedaled at completing our bond, wondering if I had been acting out of a purely emotional response.
The emotions wreaking havoc inside of me now at the thought of her being away from me was nothing, if not eye opening.
Just a few nights earlier she’d jokingly straight-faced her way into agreeing to move in with me.
To marry me.
Somehow –in only a few nights time – her teasing words had become our reality.
Somehow –in only a few nights time – I couldn’t imagine going forward any other way.
Something I gathered she might have felt as well. But seeing her glassy eyes fill to the brim with unshed tears, I could also see the decision she’d made behind them.
So the affection in her tone couldn’t disguise the weight of her words, when she stared up at me and simply replied with a small upturn of her lips, “Ditto.”