Sookie was back at my side the following even when I woke, and I was relieved to see her lying there. Her emotions were intriguing to me, as they almost always were. She was still pissed off about the bomb that had destroyed her kitchen, and I was sure Bill’s little visit didn’t help matters. The smell of werewolf from the night before had been potent, but I hadn’t been able to trace the smell to anyone I knew. I was going to need to call Petri in again to see if he could track the Were, but that might be difficult with the smell of silver, chemicals and smoke lingering in the air.
“Mark Stonebrook was behind the bombing,” Sookie said.
“Did you hear someone’s thoughts?” I asked her.
“Who else would it be, Eric? He’s a werewolf himself, so obviously he has connections in that community. I just wonder how he knew I would be in Bon Temps last night, or how he knew that you would be with me.”
“The silver might have just been a way of covering his bets,” I told her. It made perfect sense that Stonebrook would be behind the bombing, and her question got me wondering who was spying on her since I doubted it was Stonebrook himself. Sookie knew what he looked like.
“Whoever’s been watching me, I can’t read their mind,” she said. “So chances are whomever it was that was following me wasn’t human or some sort of shifter.”
“Unless they were spelled so you couldn’t. More than likely Stonebrook is aware that you’re a telepath.”
“True,” Sookie sighed, and rolled onto her back. “This is so damned frustrating.”
“We’ll resolve it, Lover, and those responsible for hurting you will pay dearly for this,” I swore to her.
“Good,” she said, which surprised. “I know it’s not very Christian of me to think that way, but I’m so sick of this.”
“You realize you’re going to have to deal with this sort of thing regularly if you bond yourself to me,” I pointed out. I didn’t want to give her any false perceptions of what life would be like if we bonded.
“I don’t want to widen the target on your back, Eric,” she said, turning her head toward mine.
“I’m afraid it’s inevitable,” I said, and lifted her hand to kiss the inside of her wrist. “But there are ways to minimize the damage.”
She was quiet for a moment before she said, “By becoming a telepath for hire, right?”
I nodded, and let my lips graze against the pulse point in her wrist.
“I wish I wasn’t so damned loyal; it would make quitting my job at Merlotte’s so much easier,” she sighed again.
“I think the shifter will understand your position. He’s not a stranger to the supernatural world,” I remarked, and then shifted quickly so I was hovering over her. “Besides, you said something last night before sunrise that I think we need to discuss.”
Sookie’s cheeks reddened a bit and she said, “Oh, you heard that. I didn’t think I said it out loud.”
“You did, and if it hadn’t been so close to dawn I would have asked you to show me how much,” I teased her, and then nuzzled her neck.
“And if I hadn’t been so exhausted I probably would have showed you,” she said as her hands landed on my backside to give me a little squeeze.
“How tired are you now, Lover?” I lay open mouth kisses on her neck and slowly moved down to her collarbone.
“I am chock full of energy,” she said in a breathy voice. Her heartbeat was getting faster and faster, and I could feel lust rising up in her—all good signs of things to come.
Sookie allowed me to continue kissing her collarbone for a while, but then she lifted my head so she could claim my lips with hers. Her legs wrapped around me and her fingers found their way into my hair. We rolled around the bed, kissing and rubbing against each other until neither of us could wait any longer. I tore off the panties she was wearing, not that Sookie seemed to notice, and slid into her slowly. She moaned against my neck and moved her hips against mine to get the friction she needed with every thrust.
I braced most of my weight on my elbows as we moved together. Her eyes locked on mine for a few moments before my head lowered so I could tease one of her perfect, perky nipples with my tongue. A contented noise escaped her and her fingers were back in my hair, guiding my head where she wanted it to go. We rolled over a short time later, and my hands covered her breasts as she began to rise and fall on top of me.
Her orgasm was approaching quickly and I knew what I needed to do. I let go of one of her breasts and bit into my wrist for her so that she wouldn’t need to tear my flesh.
“Drink, Lover,” I said, and held my wrist up to her.
Sookie fixed her eyes on mine as she leaned in the rest of the way and her lips sealed around the wound I’d created for her. I hissed with pleasure as my blood entered her, and then sat up. Her eyes were still locked on mine when she reached up to move her hair away from her neck, offering herself to me with a tilt of her head. Our hips stopped moving, leaving me buried inside her just short of her orgasm. I sat up and kissed her from her breast to the spot on her neck where I intended to bite.
My fangs were practically throbbing with want of being inside her. I slipped them into her neck as gently as I could, and I knew she felt it when she moaned and her hips started to move again. The pleasure building between us was about to reach it crescendo, and when it hit for Sookie, she released my neck and clamped her fingers down around my shoulders as she rode the waves.
There was nothing better than being inside her when she came like that, and the combination of her orgasm and the taste of blood robbed me of mine. I released her neck with a roar, and thrust up into her over and over. In spite of the orgasm I didn’t stop, knowing it wouldn’t take me long at all to recover if I just kept going.
So we did… until Sookie said she couldn’t take anymore.
“Good gravy,” she panted, her body pressed against mine as she rested on my chest. “It’s weird in a really great way to feel it when you have an orgasm.”
My head lifted off the pillow to see her smiling above me. The bond was complete and I hadn’t even felt it happen. Then again, I wasn’t certain that I would have felt it since I already had a connection to her.
“You feel me?” I asked her, and she nodded.
“It’s like this white noise in my blood,” she explained.
“I know that feeling,” I smiled at her, and she lowered her head to kiss me.
“So tomorrow when the sun rises I’ll feel you die for the day?”
“You should. I can tell when you’re asleep versus when you’re awake so I would imagine it would be the same for you.”
Sookie rested her head against my chest and said, “It’s strange that you feel warm right now.”
“That’s all you, Lover,” I assured her, and stroked her hair.
Sookie dozed off a short time later and I went into downtime until my phone started to buzz on the bedside table. I reached over to see who was calling and was somewhat glad to see Octavia’s name flashing at me.
“Northman,” I answered quietly, but Sookie didn’t stir.
“Mr. Northman, my team has arrived and we have all of the necessary components for the reconstruction. We can get started as early as sunrise, but we can wait until sundown if you would prefer to be there,” she said.
“Sundown is fine. We’ll meet you at the coordinates we previously discussed.”
“Very well. Enjoy your evening,” she said, and then hung up.
I was about to put my phone down when I realized I hadn’t heard from Pam yet. She had dutifully called me each day with the check-in results at sunset and before sunrise. I called her but got her voicemail. I didn’t bother leaving a message since Pam would know to call me back unless she wanted me to call her another way. It wasn’t terribly unusual for Pam to disregard a call from me. She could be with one of her friends, or perhaps she was busy already at the bar with another matter.
If I didn’t hear from her by midnight I would get concerned. In the meantime, I allowed myself to drop back into downtime while I waited for Sookie to wake up.
A few hours later I still hadn’t heard from Pam. I called the bar, thinking I might catch her that way, but the waitress on the phone informed me that Pam hadn’t come in that evening.
“Put Clancy on the phone immediately,” I ordered.
Sookie lifted her head with a concerned look on her face.
“Pam didn’t go into work and she hasn’t returned my call,” I explained. If it wasn’t for vampires randomly going missing I wouldn’t be so concerned, and Sookie picked up on that immediately.
“Yes, Sheriff?” Clancy said when he got on the other end of the line.
“Where’s Pam?” I demanded.
“I assumed she went to rest at your residence. She didn’t come home this morning,” Clancy informed me.
“Fuck,” I muttered.
“She isn’t with you?” Clancy asked.
“No, she isn’t with me,” I damn near growled.
Motherfucker. If Pam had been missing since shortly after sunrise it meant she had been gone for nearly sixteen hours. In that amount of time Pam could have been taken out of the country. I could feel her life buzzing in me like that white noise Sookie had described, but I couldn’t tell precisely where she was or what she was feeling. That meant she wasn’t in Shreveport, at the very least.
“Don’t touch anything in her room. I’m sending a tracker to see if they can get her scent. I spoke to her just before sunrise and she didn’t mention going to rest anywhere else,” I told Clancy.
“I didn’t scent anyone else on the property before leaving this evening, Sheriff, and I never heard Pam come in last night,” he insisted.
I was sending a tracker anyway. My next call was to Petri. A tracker needed to be dispatched to Pam’s house, as well as to Sookie’s to see if the werewolf scent could be followed.
“Pam’s gone?” Sookie asked with outrage moving through her.
“She didn’t return home, according to Clancy, but she didn’t mention going to rest elsewhere when I spoke with her this morning.” Pam wouldn’t have necessarily told me where she was going to rest, but I found it odd since she wasn’t answering her phone and she hadn’t turned up at Fangtasia for her shift.
“I should have stuck around the night of the witch war,” Sookie said with frustration. “If I wouldn’t have gotten so caught up in my stupid pity party I could have questioned the witches that survived to find out where Mark and Marnie were hiding out, or what else they had in store for you.”
“Sookie, this isn’t your fault,” I told her. “You didn’t know this was going to happen any more than any of the rest of us did.”
“Of course not, but I could have done something to maybe prevent it,” she sighed heavily. “This is the part that sucks about being a telepath. Things happen that I know aren’t my fault but I still end up feeling like maybe I should have done something more to prevent it.”
I crossed the room to kneel down in front of her. I gently touched her cheek and said, “Lover, it’s very kind of you to be concerned, but you can’t shoulder that sort of responsibility for the actions of others. The only person you are responsible for is yourself.”
Sookie nodded and said, “You know, I bet my Gran would say the same thing you just did.”
“Then Gran was a very smart woman, and I’m sorry I never got to meet her,” I leaned forward and kissed her forehead.
“How can I help? I want to help,” she said after a moment.
“For now I want to keep it quiet that Pam is missing. The vampires in my area are already on high alert. I’ll inform the other sheriffs here that it’s possible Pam has been abducted so that if they receive word she has been spotted in their area they will contact me immediately. In the meantime, the best thing for us to do is stay close to home.”
“What if that’s what Mark wants us to do?” Sookie asked. “He blew up part of my house so he knew I would have to go somewhere else. He knew that you were with me because there was silver in the bomb he used. What if the point was to make sure that you and I are together when he strikes next?”
“Sometimes, Lover,” I leaned in and kissed her again, “You are too smart for your own good. You surprise me.”
“Just another thing to love about me,” she said humbly.
“Indeed.” I didn’t see the point in refuting what she said, and pushed the affection I felt for her into our bond.
Her eyes brightened as the feelings hit her and her smile grew. It only stayed that way for a moment, and then her brows started to knit together.
“What if we’re not safe here?” she asked me.
I hated to admit that Sookie had a point, and with everything else going on I had certainly been distracted. I had remained vigilant in making sure there were no tracking or listening devices on my cars but I hadn’t done a security sweep of my house since before I was cursed. Between the missing vampires and the new ones rising without makers (and what a PR nightmare that was) there had been too many other things grappling to get my attention. If Stonebrook’s intention had been to distract me, he had done so masterfully.
“I have another place we can go until I’m sure the safety here hasn’t been compromised,” I told her. “And this is a location that not even Pam is aware of.”
“Your secret lair,” Sookie smirked a little.
“Something like that. Come with me,” I said, and reached for her hand to help her once I was standing.
She followed me upstairs to my room where I had a vault built into one of the walls. The vault only opened by blood sample, so once the picture on the wall was removed the little tester pad lit up and a needle appeared for me to prick my finger. As soon as the blood matched the lock released and I was able to open the door.
“That’s… that’s like some spy stuff,” Sookie said with a smile.
I reached into the vault and pulled out a black bag that I had packed long ago. Inside I had cash in various currencies (credit cards would leave a trail), prepaid international cell phones, passports in various names and a few changes of clothing in case I needed to go to ground. There were very few people I trusted to house me should I ever have the need to run like that, but it seemed now could very well be one of those times. My memory had already been tampered with so it was possible anything could happen.
“You know, if the average person had a bag like that I’d think they were being paranoid,” Sookie said as she watched me shift through the bag’s contents. “Now I think you’re just being prepared.”
“I need to put together a bag like this for you as well,” I told her and held up the identification I’d purchased. “I’ll see if I can get in touch with my friend to have a few of these made for you as well.”
“You would take me with you if you had to run?” she sounded surprised.
“You’re my bonded now, Sookie.” I dropped everything back into my bag. “Perhaps I wasn’t clear about the importance of that prior to it happening, but in the eyes of vampires, we are practically married.”
Her eyes went wide again and she said, “No, you left that part out.”
“Now you know,” I said, and sat on the edge of the bed. “Is that a problem for you?”
She thought it over for a moment before she said, “Not really. I wish you would have told me, but I don’t think it would have changed my mind.”
That was good to hear. I prepared myself for the possibility that she might decide she was pissed off about it later. At the moment it seemed there were much bigger issues to be concerned with than how other vampires perceived our relationship.
My phone rang again and it was Petri calling.
“Sheriff, I’m outside Pam’s nest. I don’t smell anything but vampire here,” he informed me. “How many is she nesting with?”
“I believe it was four, at the last count. There are also pets that come and go from the premises,” I told him.
“Then someone did a cleansing because all I’m getting is vampire,” Petri said.
Mark Stonebrook was stepping up his game. More importantly, so was I.