I got Rita’s voicemail so I decided to do some research on Apollo and fairies. There was no link between them that I could find but that didn’t mean there wasn’t one. So far all the things I’d found supported what Callisto told me about them separately and I was both relieved and unsettled at the same time.
My gift had yet to manifest itself but I had no doubt that it would whack me right between the eyes when I was least expecting it to. I was even more interested in finding information on fairies, but I realized it was all speculation and a lot of the sources I found conflicted each other so that wasn’t much help. I could only hope that library books could be more helpful, but I was willing to bet I’d only find information on the Disney version of a fairy. All of my reading indicated that Tinkerbell wasn’t exactly an accurate representation of what fairies really were.
With that in mind I decided there was really only one person I could ask about this, and already I knew Eric’s knowledge of fairies was limited. Still, it couldn’t hurt to run all of this by him to see if maybe there was something else that he had simply forgotten before or maybe he’d felt like it wasn’t important enough to mention. Or, worst case scenario, he didn’t want to scare the shit out of me for nothing.
Then there was Gran. Did she know about this supernatural branch in our family tree? I could already imagine her face lighting up like it was Christmas morning when I told her that our bloodlines traced all the way back to a Greek god. Although finding a fairy relative to confirm that might be difficult.
And what about Jason? As my brother, what sort of gift had he inherited? If you asked him it would probably be the ability to belch the alphabet backward, but that was hardly the gift of a god. Then again, Apollo seemed like a strange fella so maybe it was.
An affair with a tree… That was the sort of stuff I’d expect over in Hotshot. How embarrassing.
I was just putting my computer away when I heard the dresser moving overhead. Eric was awake. Shit, I had completely forgotten about doing the laundry! Eh, he was fixing to go sleep in the dirt before I offered him Jason’s old room so I doubted he cared about wearing dirty clothes. At his age I was sure Eric had endured much greater hardships than that. What surprised me was that he didn’t come straight downstairs.
I picked up my computer to take it up to my room and decided I’d check on him. Once the laptop was plugged in and sitting in its usual place to charge, I went across the hall to listen outside the door.
“I can hear you breathing, Lover,” Eric said and I jumped.
“Is it safe for me to open the door?”
“It is for me, but for you…” There was a tone of warning in his voice that made his semi-threat both dangerous and sexy.
And then I was back to wondering if I was a sick puppy for being excited at the prospect of being bitten again. What was wrong with me? Gran had done everything right, insisting I do my homework, stay away from drugs and alcohol; she taught me the ways of the Lord and raised me in a good Christian home, leading by example. Yet there I was thinking about letting my vampire…boyfriend, lover, whatever he was I was thinking about letting him drink my blood, and worse than that I was thinking about having sex with him while I did it.
I was an unmarried fornicator with an affinity for blood play. Surely there was a special place in hell for people like me.
“It’s safe to open the door, Sookie,” Eric broke into my thoughts.
Slowly I turned the knob and pushed the door open. Eric was lying on the bed, naked as a jaybird. Modesty wasn’t his middle name at all, was it? I quickly averted my eyes, not that it mattered. I could see it all in my mind anyway.
“Did you rest okay?” I asked him.
“These accommodations were much better than a hole in the ground. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. It’s too cold outside to let you do that when I’ve got a perfectly good bed you can sleep on.”
“Sookie, vampires don’t register temperature the same as humans do,” he informed me. “And even if we did I have survived much worse than a day in the ground.”
“Well doesn’t that just sound like a bedtime story that would give me nightmares,” I said with a faint smile.
Eric laughed and I finally looked his way again. Ugh, it was unfair how much I liked the sound of his laughter.
“You know you might feel less uncomfortable if I wasn’t the only one naked,” he suggested with a wiggle of his eyebrows.
“Oh no. If I get into bed with you, you’ll find a way to keep me there for the rest of the night. I’m onto you,” I said.
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
“It is when Gran is still missing. Besides, I have something to tell you. Callisto paid me a visit today.” I lifted the talisman that was once again hanging around my neck.
“What was she able to find out?” he asked, and then covered himself with the quilt that was spread out on the bed.
“That I am a descendant of Apollo and a fairy named Bronya.”
“You’re part fae?”
“If that’s another word for fairy, then yes.”
Eric looked stunned. I wasn’t sure what it said about me that my vampire whatever he was, was my litmus test for what was normal anymore, but the fact that he looked positively perplexed didn’t exactly inspire confidence in me. I gave him a moment to absorb the information, since I could identify with that particular need.
Finally he said, “Now it all makes sense.”
“On your application for membership at the club, and again on your questionnaire you mentioned several traits that fall in line with the fae, but I thought nothing of it since there are plenty of humans that enjoy music, dancing and sunbathing as passtimes. But when I combine it with your inability to be glamoured it all makes sense. All fae are impervious to our magic,” he said.
“Glamouring, mostly,” he said. “But our blood is also magic. It has the ability to heal, as well as heighten senses, sharpen reflexes or increase speed. You didn’t reject the magic when I fed you my blood and you should have as a natural defense.”
“Maybe because of the divine blood of Apollo? Or maybe because I’m not all fairy?” I suggested.
“That’s entirely possible.” Just like that, Eric was back to looking baffled.
“There’s more,” I said as I closed the distance between us. “Callisto told me that my talisman allots me a gift from Apollo. She said the inscription and the mark of the raven are proof of that. My gift is to be a selfless one, and one that Apollo knows I won’t abuse. She said something about improved hearing and vision, but so far nothing has changed.”
“Interesting,” Eric agreed. “She told you nothing else?”
“Before I could ask what she meant she disappeared into thin air.”
Eric considered that for a moment. It wasn’t as though we couldn’t talk to Callisto again but it got me thinking…
“Eric why does a maenad work for you anyway?” I asked him.
“It appeases the god,” he said simply with a smile.
After having been in that room I could understand why. If Callisto was a dedicated follower of Dionysus I wondered if she was somehow funneling all that energy back to her god, or if maybe he was funneling his energy through her. Whatever the case, it was obvious that there was something else going on. The crazy part, I realized, was that none of the other humans in the room seemed to notice it the way I had. Could it be that I was more sensitive to the supernatural because of my heritage?
I probably would never find that out unless a fae relative came forward.
“Eric, how did you… I mean are you friends with Niall Brigant? Is that why you had a picture of him?”
“I wouldn’t call us friends, exactly.”
I sat on the edge of the bed and said, “Please spare me the cryptic.”
I’d had enough evasiveness. I wasn’t good at dealing with unknowns like this and my patience was wearing thin.
“Centuries ago, before the human population became what it is today, the fae lived freely. They have always preferred wooded areas because it provides cover for them. But as humans began to dominate the planet they were pushed closer and closer into seclusion. Fairies are very secretive creatures. Not much is known about their magic other than it is unique to their kind and extremely powerful. Before they were forced to retreat to a realm of their own making, for their own protection, a war broke out among the clans.
“My understanding is that there are four clans that make up the fae. They follow the elements and the fae are not just fairies. There is the earth clan made up of sprites, elves, pixies, nymphs and brownies. These creatures are small and still inhabit the earth. If you see a hollow tree that’s most likely home to one of those types of beings,” Eric told me.
And here I thought he told me everything he knew. We were going to need to revisit the idea of full disclosure because so far, he didn’t seem to get it. If Eric wanted us to work, the rules were going to have to go both ways.
“The fire clan is made up of demons. They retreated underground to what I imagine you would probably compare to a hell dimension. They can be called upon when needed but there is always a price to pay when summoning a demon to do your bidding,” he said.
“Be careful what you wish for, right?”
“Precisely. Now the fairies control air and water, and they’re the ones who are still at war with one another. The fire and earth clans had no interest in taking a side and were the first to retreat. Ultimately the fire clan grew tired of their bickering and banished them to a new realm that would protect them from humans, and vice versa.”
“Why would humans need protection from fairies?”
“Because they’re vicious, violent creatures, Sookie. Their magic does have the ability to do good, but like a vampire protecting its blood, a fairy will do what it must to protect its magic.”
“That’s fair,” I shrugged.
“What I know of Niall is that he has been the leader of both clans, much to the dismay of the elder of the water clan. The war began when Niall bred outside of their species. He fathered half human children, and it is the belief of the sky clan that there is nothing wrong with this practice. The water clan sees it differently,” he explained.
Sounded like some extremist skinhead neo-Nazi stuff to me. The fairies would fit in just fine with the Klan. Ugh.
“If you are fae, then you are most likely of the Brigant line. That means in their realm you are royalty,” he said.
For the second time in almost as many days I said, “Shut the fuck up.”
Eric smiled and said, “I can’t be certain about that but I do know how to summon Niall.”
“Wait, but you still haven’t told me how you know him at all.”
“Shortly after Pam was turned we were living in the English countryside. There was an evening when she was out hunting for a meal and Niall made the unfortunate mistake of popping into this realm just a few feet from her. Pure fairy blood is…” he stalled while trying to figure out the way to describe it. “It is like pure, wild honey on a warm summer day.”
I knew that taste so I could understand why vampires would enjoy it so much.
“Is that what my blood tastes like to you?” I asked.
“You are sweeter and you smell better than the average human, but your blood isn’t pure fae. If you were a pure blooded fairy I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from draining you. Just as there is a price to pay by summoning a demon, there is also a price to pay by drinking from the fae. While it’s true their blood is divine in taste, it also has the ability to make a vampire go mad. A taste of a fairy is enough to put us into a state of frenzy, but draining one… it’s deadly.”
“Fairy blood kills you?”
“The madness it can cause is what kills us. I stopped Pam from getting much more than a few sips out of Niall. For stopping Pam from killing him he became indebted to me, and it appealed to my sense of opportunism to have the favor of a fairy in my back pocket as opposed to draining him while he was weak. Pam was pissed off at me, and probably still is, but that favor came in handy when we were in St. Petersburg a few decades later.”
“So you have saved each other’s lives?”
“Yes,” Eric nodded. “And now it appears that I will cross paths with him again on your account.”
“Small world,” I mumbled.
I had more questions, of course, but then Eric’s phone started to ring so it was going to have to wait. I hoped that it was Abe calling, even if it was just to say that he was on the move.
“What, Pam?” Eric asked when he answered the phone. “Yes, I’m with Sookie. Yes. Yes. No, I won’t be in tonight. Tomorrow. I’ll have Bobby take care of it. I’ll email him in a bit. Yes I will. Yes I… You know sometimes I wish I’d never made a child,” he said with a smile. “Yes, yes, fuck you too.”
I shook my head at their conversation. That definitely wasn’t the typical father/daughter relationship now was it? Eric hung up the phone and set it aside.
“Everything okay?” I asked.
“Pam doesn’t like it when I spend too much time away from the club. She thinks my attendance draws in more of the members. It’s ridiculous since I spend most of my time up in that private room. Alone.”
“But not always,” I sighed, remembering what he told me about trips to the orgy room.
After having experienced what sex with him was like I could understand why they would want him back.
“It bothers you that I have spent time there.” He wasn’t asking, but then he shouldn’t since he could feel me.
“It bothers me that you might have spent time there since we signed that contract. I never thought to negotiate a fidelity clause into it. Were you with others while we were together?” I asked. I had to know, even if it was painful to hear.
“I fed from others,” he said. “But I did not have sex with them while we were together.”
“And when we weren’t?” I braced myself for the answer. I had been the one to breakup with him and I had meant it at the time. If he’d had sex with someone else, or dozens of other people I didn’t really have a right to be upset over it. Yet I knew I would be.
“Twice,” he admitted, and my heart sank at that.
“Because you were feeding or because you just wanted to?”
He hadn’t cheated on me but I had to wonder how it could be that easy to just move on that way. Eric was the first person I’d been with after Beau and it had been months since my relationship with him had ended. Next to Eric I was probably just some silly little girl with foolish, romantic notions of the way things should be, but I didn’t think I was foolish for wanting him all to myself.
Really we hadn’t been together for that long but perhaps he had meant more to me than I did to him. It wouldn’t be the first time that happened to him, I was sure of that.
“It hurts you to know I was with someone else,” he said.
“Wouldn’t it hurt you to know that I was? I mean, I wasn’t, but if I had been?”
“I would want to rip his throat out,” Eric said in all seriousness and I believed him.
“I don’t share, Eric. That is something that I’m not willing to negotiate on. If you’re with me then I’m it. I don’t care how close feeding and sex are related for you. You obviously have the ability to control yourself, but if you don’t think you can refrain from fucking someone else then this isn’t going to work for me. I don’t want to be just your favorite flavor,” I told him.
Eric reached up and touched my neck in that sweet way of his and said, “You are much more than my favorite flavor, Sookie. Honor is something that means a great deal to me. With that comes respect, loyalty and grace. I would never dishonor, disrespect or disgrace you in such a disloyal fashion.”
Those intensely perfect eyes of his told me he was telling the truth. I nodded and he leaned in to seal the deal with a kiss that made my heart race and my toes curl. I ended up in his lap, luxuriating in the feel of his lips moving so perfectly against my own. His arms banded around me, holding me to him, and I could feel another part of Eric moving as well underneath the quilt that he’d covered himself with.
When he broke off the kisses to move to my neck I tilted my head to the side to give him better access and asked, “Are you hungry?”
“For you? Always,” he said, and kissed my neck.
He didn’t bite, though. When my sweater became an obstacle it was pulled over my head and tossed to the side. I found myself under Eric while his lips, tongue and teeth went to work on my collarbones and my breasts, going from side to side until I was panting and silently pleading for more. He moved down to my stomach and surprised me by blowing a little raspberry on my bellybutton. I laughed at that and felt Eric smile against my hip.
He looked up at my face when his hands grabbed the waist of my pants. I nodded, giving him permission to take them off of me. He slid them down slowly when I lifted my hips for him. His lips grazed along my skin, kissing me lightly and waking me up a little at a time. There was no rush to devour me, and I delighted in how things could be so different for us. Not that I hadn’t enjoyed it when he had just taken what he wanted from me, but this was… In this I felt a deeper connection forming. He could pick any girl, put her up against a wall a fuck her stupid. But this wasn’t fucking.
Not even close.
My pants joined my sweater somewhere on the floor and then Eric settled himself between my thighs. The first swipe of his tongue against my sex made me shiver. My legs opened a little wider for him and Eric growled his approval. Those little noises he made did things to me that I hadn’t expected they would, and there was a little victory cheer in my head every time I heard one of them.
His thumbs spread me open and his mouth worked against me, licking and sucking my lower lips until my hips started to move and Eric had to hold me down. He was avoiding going where I needed him most, and I was sure he did it on purpose. The Dom in him liked to hear me beg, but I wasn’t quite ready to give him the satisfaction quite yet.
He kept at it, licking, teasing, kissing and even biting a little (without drawing blood) until I couldn’t hold out anymore and I was forced to make my plea.
“Eric,” I moaned his name. “Please.”
“Please what?” he asked in that husky, sex-filled Dom voice that never failed to cause a flash flood to go off in my body.
Now was the time to use those dirty words he’d wanted me to get comfortable with. If I wanted something I was going to have to ask for it and I was too far gone to really give too much thought to how unladylike it was to use those sorts of words.
“Fuck me with your tongue,” I said and there was another deep growl from him before he gave me what I asked for.
I cried out as his hands grabbed my thighs, holding me in place while his tongue moved in and out, over and over again until I was right there at the edge. I heard the unmistakable click of his fangs as they descended. That sound should have been scary to me but it wasn’t, it was just one more thing on the list that made me question my mental health.
There was no way on God’s green earth I was going to stop Eric from doing whatever it was he had a mind to do, and curiosity forced me to lift my head so I could watch. His fingers took the place of his tongue and his mouth moved to the inside of my thigh. More kisses covered my skin while he considered where he wanted to bite. I knew he found the spot when he started to lick instead of kiss me. His fingers curled inside me, finding that magic spot and my head fell back against the pillow. I knew what was coming—and it wasn’t just me—and yet somehow the bite still managed to surprise me. It triggered something in me, and I exploded at the same time I felt Eric take his first pull of my blood. My eyes rolled into the back of my head as my body rode the waves of pleasure.
It was even better than the night before. The orgasm felt like it was never going to end. I felt every pull he took and I was coming down from the high when he finished feeding. I barely registered the feeling of his fingers retreating before his cock filled me instead. I cried out and my legs wrapped around him on reflex. I opened my eyes to see Eric’s face hovering above mine. His head dipped down so he could kiss me and I could taste myself on him. Just as his hips started to move his tongue caressed mine. At first he moved slowly, giving me time to adjust and recover from the amazing orgasm I’d had moments before. The aftershocks of it had my muscles fluttering and clenching a little around him as he moved in and out of me.
We rolled over but I didn’t sit up like I had the night before. I was enjoying his kisses too much for that, so my hips rocked at a leisurely pace until Eric had decided he was through being patient with me. He caught my hands behind my back to keep me eye to eye with him, and he started to thrust up. My eyes widened at the pleasure the position I was in was bringing to me.
“One of these nights, Sookie, I’ll tie you down in the playroom and fuck you until you can’t move,” he said. It wasn’t a threat but a statement of intent, and I was on board with this. One hundred percent. Hell, I would happily hop up on the spanking bench and strap in my own ankles. “I’ll have you every way I can have you, over and over until you can’t take anymore.”
Yes please. In my frenzied state all I could think about was how good of an idea that sounded like. I wanted what he was promising me, and at that moment I would have done anything he asked me to. I still wasn’t ready to get back into play, but I was glad he was still interested in training me.
Eric sat up but kept a hold of my hands behind me. My legs wrapped around him and my hips rocked while his mouth attached itself to my nipple. I felt a tiny sting and another little pull that made my muscles twitch and grip him inside me. Eric growled and took another small pull.
Again my orgasm was building and only helped along by the gentle, occasional swipes of his tongue over the little wound he’d made. Eric would wait just long enough for blood to come to the surface before licking again, and the near constant stimulation, combined with the sudden pressure of his thumb rubbing quickly over my clit sent me flying. Eric moved my hips for me when my body stopped listening to my commands, but I didn’t mind. He moved me the way he wanted me until he couldn’t hold back anymore, and he released with a deep, guttural growl and his hands gripping my hips so hard that I was sure I’d have marks there later. I didn’t care.
I felt too good to give it much thought. I collapsed against him lazily and Eric kissed up the side of my face. He lay me back on the bed and healed the little wounds on my breast. Eric kissed my chest in a delicate kind of way before resting his head over my heart. My fingers ran through his hair as he snuggled into me.
“You know,” I said as I caught my breath, “I wouldn’t expect a vampire to be so cuddly.”
I felt his smile against my skin and said, “In my human days there was no better way to keep warm on a cold night than to share body heat. Some things haven’t changed. Plus I enjoy listening to your heart beat and the sound of your blood rushing through your veins. It’s a comforting sound.”
If someone had once told me I would find that romantic I’d think it was a little cheesy, but coming from Eric it was especially sweet. I didn’t even want to guess how many lovers he’d taken in his long life, but I doubted they got the benefit of his snuggles after he got what he wanted from them.
We lay there quietly for a while with Eric just listening to my heart. I continued to stroke his hair until his cursed phone started to ring. He reluctantly got up and answered his phone.
“Northman,” he said. “I’ll relay that. Good work, Abe. Text me the address.”
Eric hung up and my heart skipped a beat at the prospect of Gran having been found.
“Abe says he’s found someone that has seen your Gran,” he said as the text came through. Eric looked at his phone and added, “Looks like we’re going to Red Ditch.”