Sookie insisted we stop at her house so she could check things out and pick up a few more things she needed. Evol had cleared the house and had taken the explosives with him when he went. I wasn’t crazy about going back to Sookie’s house, but I would be on guard. If I thought there was anything remotely wrong with her house, I would simply snatch her up and fly away. My Corvette and her house could be replaced; Sookie could not.
Her house looked the same as it always did when we pulled up around back of it. I could see little marred places on the wood where Evol had to remove something. The smell of C-4 still lingered in the air and I growled loudly, which scared Sookie. Her head whipped around quicker than I thought it would and her eyes scanned the woods.
“What’s wrong? I don’t hear anyone,” Sookie said as she scrutinized the trees.
“I detect no one, lover; I’m merely angered by the damage done to your home. Someone certainly did want to injure you gravely,” I ran my fingers over the notches in the door frame.
Sookie’s fingers covered mine on the chipping white paint. She turned toward me slowly and tilted her face up toward mine to kiss me. She was calm again, and without knowing it, her mood influenced mine. Even with Evol’s guarantee he hadn’t missed anything, I insisted on going into the house ahead of her. If something wasn’t right I would have her away from the house before something could go too terribly wrong. At least, I hoped I would.
Thankfully there were no explosions when I opened the door. Sookie waited for me on the porch while I searched the house to make sure everything was where it should be. When I gave the all clear, Sookie found me standing in her bedroom staring at her bed. I had the journal to tell me what had happened while I was cursed but it wasn’t the same as being able to close my eyes and remember it.
I knew she was telling the truth when she said I was different while I was cursed because I could feel it in the words I wrote. Whether it was strictly because of the curse, or because I was with her, I seemed to see things differently. Perhaps it was because I just wasn’t aware of the way vampire business was conducted that it was easy to get so swept up with her. I had allowed the attachment to form in those few days we were together but it hadn’t ended there.
“What are you thinking about?” Sookie asked me, then laughed quietly and said, “You have no idea how nice it is to have to ask that, by the way.”
“I’m thinking about your safety,” I said honestly, since that was where my mind had gone. “This house isn’t safe for you anymore, lover. It has been compromised by someone who has proven to be very dangerous and lethal in the past. I wish you would reconsider my offer and move into my home at least until you can find another place you want to live.”
“Eric, I know you think I’m being a fool, but I’m not going to let this a-hole bully me off my own land. I’m not going to let anyone do that. So whoever these creatures are, they can keep coming but I’m not going anywhere,” Sookie said firmly.
“I thought you might say that,” I shook my head and turned to go back to her kitchen.
“Will you please tell me who Niall Brigant is?” Sookie opened her refrigerator and began to pull out food that had spoiled so it could be thrown away.
I launched into an explanation of the fae, telling her just about every fact I could about them. I explained there were different tribes and how the power structure worked in Faery. She quickly grasped the notion of a parallel universe and the portal that connected their world to ours. I was curious to know how there was a fae portal nearby and Bill hadn’t noticed.
Not that Bill would be able to access Faery, but he would certainly be able to sense its magic. Either he knew, and was keeping it secret, or he was even more incompetent than I thought. I wasn’t sure which it was but I knew it was one of the two. I knew he had permission from Sookie to hunt in the woods behind her house whenever he liked. The Fae liked wooded areas, which meant those woods were ideal for a portal.
What was Bill hiding?
“You need to know, Sookie, that as sweet as your friend Claudine may seem, she’s no…what’s the name of the pixie in that movie with the flying child and the pirate with a hook for a hand?” I asked her.
“Peter Pan is the movie, and the girl you’re referring to is Tinkerbell,” Sookie supplied for me.
“Ah, yes, Tinkerbell,” I shook my head. “Anyway, I assure you Claudine is no Tinkerbell. Fairies are nasty, violent little creatures that, in many ways, are even more bloodthirsty than vampires. They are vicious, Sookie, and if they ever feel that you’re a threat to them, they won’t hesitate to take you out. That said, Niall Brigant is at the helm of their power structure and has been for a few centuries now. The Fae are notoriously secretive about their ways. I’m baffled as to why Niall has taken an interest in you.”
“Y’all sound a lot alike,” Sookie shook her head and laughed.
“I am nothing like a fairy,” I glared at her.
“Secretive, beautiful, deadly, willing to scheme to get what they want…stop me where I’m wrong.” Sookie said with amusement.
“Vampires are deadly, Sookie, but the Fae are even more dangerous than my own kind. They have their own magic that is innate to them. It cannot be duplicated by humans, or any other supernatural being. If the Fae were to put a spell on you, I would have no way of breaking it no matter how many witches I called in. They also fight a great deal among their own kind, which is why it worries me Niall has taken an interest in you,” I explained to her.
“Have you met Niall?” Sookie asked while emptying what was once a gallon of milk.
“I have, quite a few times. We haven’t had many occasions to do business with one another but our paths have crossed. Niall, much like Claudine, gives off the intention of wanting nothing but the best for you. He radiates warmth and kindness, but make no mistake, Sookie, that can change faster than you can blink.” I wasn’t quite sure of what else to tell her to impress upon her just how dangerous it was to be a part of the same circles as a fairy.
I told her the story of the first time I encountered a fairy. I was still a very young vampire, having not yet reached my first century of age, when my maker decided to travel to what has come to be known as Ireland. I didn’t know it then, but that was where the fairy population was highest. The trick to hunting the Fae was to separate one from the pack, much like when lions hunt in the desert. The Fae are exceptionally fast, just as we vampires are. Unfortunately, their scent lingers wherever they pass so it’s easy to trail them.
Fairies don’t go down without a fight and since I was still a young vampire, the fairy I caught was much older than me, and therefore, much stronger. We fought viciously with my maker watching on the side. It was a great turn on to him to see me in such danger and fighting so brutally for my life; the life he had given me. The fairy made just one little mistake and it was enough for me to gain the upper hand.
My first taste of full fairy blood is something I will never forget. Intoxicating doesn’t begin to describe what the effects of fairy blood feels like. I didn’t want to stop drinking once I started and it didn’t take long for me to drain the fairy dry. I should have known it was a trap, of sorts, when my maker didn’t pull me back and keep the fairy for himself. My maker was fond of sending me on hunting missions, then taking my capture for himself. I wasn’t fool enough to think he was rewarding me with the fairy, but I couldn’t have anticipated what happened next.
The fairy I had captured and killed had kin nearby and they were very aware when I killed their kinsman. That was the night I learned I could fly. Sky fairies took off after me, chasing me through the air at speeds I didn’t think a human body could go without degenerating or bursting into flame. The sky fairies captured me, held me as prisoner, and tortured me and just when I was very close to begging for death, Niall appeared. I had been set up by my maker in an arrangement that had been made with Niall beforehand.
My maker had set the lesson up as a way of teaching me to respect what the Fae were capable of, as well as to learn firsthand what their blood could do to me if I wasn’t able to control myself. Had we been in a more populated area at the time I’d drank from the fairy, I would have slaughtered an entire village without a second thought. It would have been a deadly mistake for me to make, and probably would have cost me my life.
“Do all makers teach their children that way?” Sookie asked me.
“It wasn’t the method I used with Pam, but then I am not the maker my own maker is. My maker ruled with an iron fist that matched his will. I suspect I have been too lenient with Pam, at times, but she has become a very good vampire. Even if she were not my child, I would ask her to be my second,” I told Sookie, who didn’t really understand just how big of an honor such a statement was.
There was a lull in our conversation and I knew Sookie was thinking about the things I was telling her. I needed to contact Niall as soon as possible and find out what he wanted with Sookie, or if there was a threat I needed to be aware of. I had promised Sookie I would protect her but that was going to be much harder if the Fae were involved somehow. I knew fairies had the ability to teleport themselves anywhere they wanted to go, including the interior of someone’s home. I had a layer of iron in the walls of my home for that very reason, but Sookie still had a tin roof over part of her house. She was nowhere near equipped to handle the sort of threat the Fae could be to her.
“Eric, what would it take for us to be become bonded?” Sookie asked me quietly.
“We would have to exchange blood again and see what happens,” I told her while advancing closer to her. “Does this mean you have decided?”
Sookie smiled softly and said, “I think it’s the best thing for both of us. It will give you peace of mind and I think it might make me feel safer to know we have a connection to each other that can’t be fooled with by anyone. And if it’s true that I’m in even more danger just by being here right now-”
She didn’t get to finish her sentence. There was a blur that went past the kitchen window as it broke. A small canister was tossed inside and before I could think twice, I grabbed Sookie and flew her out of the house. We had barely made it past my car when there was an explosion inside her house. I turned with her in my arms in time to see pieces of shrapnel fly out of the giant hole in the roof of her kitchen.
The entire back wall had been blown off with the force of the burst, and there were little pieces of silver falling on the grass outside her house. I felt Sookie’s panic and sheer rage as we watched her house burn. I held onto her to keep her from running toward the house. Bill appeared from the tree line at the other end of the property with his fangs extended and the whites of his eyes very pronounced in his anger.
“I smell werewolf,” Bill said when he approached a few seconds later. “I smelled it in the woods near my home just before the explosion. Did you see who it was?”
“It happened too quickly,” I glared in the direction the were had gone. “Follow it.”
Bill glared at me for a moment but there wasn’t time for us to discuss who was at fault for what had just happened. The were needed to be found before it had the chance to escape. I bared my fangs at Bill and he took off. Sookie was weeping quietly, mourning for the part of her house that had been destroyed by the blast.
“Eric, I have to stop the fire from spreading. I can’t lose the house,” Sookie said pitifully.
The bomb contained silver. Going inside would weaken me and if I touched the silver, I would be burned. Still, the sadness I felt coming from Sookie told me I didn’t have much choice. If I stood by and let her house burn to the ground, she wouldn’t be able to forgive me for it. I sighed and said, “I can only go in for a few minutes, Sookie. The silver in the bomb will weaken me.”
“There’s a fire extinguisher in the front closet. There was another under the kitchen sink but I’m sure that was destroyed. I know you don’t like involving human authorities but we don’t have a choice, Eric,” she said as she pulled her cell phone from her pocket.
“Get them here. I’ll glamour them if I have to. And please, lover, do not try to go inside,” I told her before taking off for the house.
I landed on the front porch and kicked the door open. Looks like I’ll be buying her another front door, I told myself as I went in search of the fire extinguisher. The house was full of smoke and heat. I located the red canister and read the instructions on the side. I felt the effects of the silver instantly when I got near her kitchen. There were particles embedded in the hallway and dining room. I started spraying the chemicals, but there was just too much fire to put it all out. I didn’t know how long it would take for the Bon Temps fire department to arrive, but for Sookie’s sake I hoped they arrived quickly.
As far as I was concerned, the house could burn to the ground. Whoever had started the fire had done me a favor. But attempting to kill Sookie, yet again, and take me with her was something that wouldn’t go unanswered.
When I had exhausted the contents of the fire extinguisher, I grabbed a few things from her bedroom Pam hadn’t taken before and shoved them into a suitcase I found in the spare bedroom across the hall. I returned to Sookie in time to catch her arguing with Bill over her safety.
“Can’t you see, Sookie? You will never be safe as long as you remain with him. From the very start he has done nothing but put you in danger. He nearly got you bitten by Longshadow; he would have let you be raped and burned with Godfrey in Dallas; he allowed you to be staked in Jackson-” Bill wasn’t able to finish his list of my sins because Sookie reached out and slapped him. Hard. Obviously the effects of my blood hadn’t quite worn off yet. The crack of her small hand against his cheek was very satisfying to hear.
“Now just a minute, Bill Compton. I don’t exactly recall you playing hero and keeping me all that safe yourself. For starters, it was Eric, not you, who staked Longshadow to keep him away from me. Eric didn’t leave me in Dallas to fend for myself like you did. He kept me from being shot that night at Stan’s house and he took care of me when I was injured after I escaped from the Fellowship. And I got staked in Jackson while I was trying to save your life, even after I found out you were cheating on me.
“On top of that, Eric made sure I got the treatment I needed to survive. You may not like the danger he’s put me in tonight but I can’t say I was any safer with you, and at least Eric has tried to teach me how to defend myself in all this. What have you done, other than point fingers and refuse to take responsibility for your own sins? And just for the record, who I’m dating is no longer any of your business. I can date whoever I want. You lost the right to have a say the second I found out you were having sex with someone else.
“And one last thing, Bill; I wasn’t in any sort of danger, aside from dying of boredom, until you came back to Bon Temps. The night I met you I had to fight off drainers and the night after that, I was nearly beaten to death as payment for saving your life. So don’t you dare stand there and talk about Eric’s inability to keep me safe when you haven’t exactly been a master of it yourself in the past.” Sookie folded her arms defiantly and gave Bill the coldest stare I had ever seen her give another person.
“He will only hurt you, Sookie,” Bill argued, and stared toward me. “You don’t love her.”
“I don’t believe that’s any of your business,” I put a hand on Sookie’s shoulder.
Sirens sounded in the distance. Bill returned to his house before the fire trucks appeared, leaving Sookie and I to watch the house burn. Sookie angrily wiped away at her tears while I went to deal with the firemen and explain what happened while they were under glamour. I would do the same with the fire inspector and anyone else involved in investigating what happened to the house. Pam arrived a short time later, to take Sookie back to my house. My car was going to need work since there were bits of silver embedded in it and the windshield had been broken by what appeared to be a piece of Sookie’s kitchen table that had fallen through it. There was also a part of a cabinet door sticking out of the passenger’s seat.
I placed a phone call to Bobby to have him send a tow truck in the morning to pick up my car. I waited until the fire inspector arrived to glamour him as well. I waited until the fire was put out before leaving. The insurance adjuster was going to need to speak with Sookie and I took all the information she would need in order to contact the people she needed to. The fire was going to be ruled accidental instead of arson. The last thing I needed was human authorities digging around Sookie’s property and trying to figure out who was involved.
By the time I returned home it was nearly dawn and Sookie was already showered and sound asleep in my bedroom. I showered as well, and then got into bed beside Sookie. I checked in with Pam and all was well in the area. Everyone had checked in at sunset and again at sunrise. I put my phone off to the side, rolled over, and gathered Sookie closer to me.
“I love you, Eric,” she mumbled in her sleep.
I didn’t need to ask if she meant it; I could feel it. With that, I closed my eyes and let the day take me.