Sookie jolted away so suddenly that she woke Eric as well. His eyes popped open to see Sookie staring at the alarm clock beside the bed. His hand reached for hers and she jumped, not expecting him to reach for her. Her head whipped around to see Eric looking at her all concerned and confused.
“What happened?” he asked her, since he had no idea what was wrong.
“I was in Fairy Land again,” Sookie sounded haunted. “Who is Niall?”
“I don’t know,” Eric said and tried to think back over his long life. “The name sounds familiar but I can’t…”
“I met him in Fairy. He looks like you, but older. He said he met you once,” Sookie told him.
Eric sat up and shook his head. “I don’t remember,” he looked confused.
It wasn’t like Eric to be missing memories. Even after being cursed, he’d had full recollection of everything. Why would this piece be missing? Unless Niall had made it so Eric wouldn’t remember.
“What did he say to you?” Eric asked, rubbing the back of her hand with his thumb.
Sookie took a few deep breaths to try and calm herself down. She wanted to believe that it was just a dream but she knew it was far more than that. She had traveled without leaving Eric’s home. How did she do that? Why did she do that? As always, there were more questions than answers.
She recited the conversation she’d had with Niall, telling Eric of how Niall had been waiting to meet her; although Niall hadn’t mentioned why he had been waiting. She remembered him telling her that she had been summoned, something she was less than happy about. If she could be called back to Fairy Land anytime, then she was never going to be safe from it. Even if the place where Niall had brought her was nothing like the place Claudine had.
It seemed that meeting her was his dying wish, as he was getting on in years. How many, exactly, she didn’t know. Since time moved differently there she could guess that Niall might be hundreds, if not thousands of years old. As much as she wanted to steer clear of everything fairy, Niall seemed to be willing to give her answers and there was nothing about him that suggested he wanted to hurt her. Then again, she’d thought the same thing of Claudine and look what happened.
“I don’t know what to do, Eric. I need to know more and Niall might be able to tell me what is in that book but I don’t want to end up back there again. I don’t want to be a prisoner to the fairies anymore than I do a vampire,” Sookie sighed, her head already starting to hurt from all the thinking she was doing.
“Relax, lover,” Eric gently pulled her toward him.
Sookie snuggled against his chest and breathed deeply. She felt his calm and affection flowing into her and for once, she didn’t mind that he was influencing her mood. She needed the quiet in her mind and she loved him for giving it to her. Despite how much sleep she’d gotten the night before, she felt like she could fall right back into it. But then had she really been sleeping? She hadn’t felt like it when she was in Fairy. Nothing about that ‘dream’ felt like a dream.
“I just don’t know how I got there. I never left this room,” Sookie yawned against Eric’s chest.
“I know. I was here with you for most of the night and you never even moved,” Eric kissed her head.
“I’m a little freaked out right now, Eric. I’ve always been different but I’m about to become something unlike anyone else. Being a telepath is strange enough but pretty soon I’m going to be able to glamour people, or turn their brains into cauliflower if I want. I felt so strange when Niall hugged me. Not bad strange, but strange,” she looked up at him. “And apparently I’m royalty over in Fairy.”
Eric grinned and asked, “Does this mean I can treat you like a queen without being punished for it?”
Sookie narrowed her eyes at him but then laughed. “I wouldn’t count on it if I were you.”
“It was worth a shot,” he kissed the tip of her nose.
“He knows about Hunter,” Sookie sighed and leaned against him again. “I don’t want him going anywhere near that boy. He’s scared enough right now with all those thoughts coming at him and no one around to teach him how to make it stop. He doesn’t need to get summoned to Fairy and have the bejesus scared out of him by some old man he doesn’t know.”
“My investigators are working on locating him,” Eric promised her. “What do you plan to do once we find him?”
“Honestly? I have no idea. I’ve never met Hunter’s father so I have no idea how he’s going to react to me. For all I know Hadley told him I was dangerous to Hunter.”
“Then it’s a good thing you’ll be able to glamour him into letting you work with the boy,” Eric reminded her.
Finally, a silver lining to this whole situation. Really these added powers might not be so bad, especially if she was going to continue to have a target on her back. It was one thing after another from the minute she got involved with vampires. Were they all this dangerous or did her fae lineage add to the danger? She didn’t know and probably never would. Besides, the reasons why didn’t matter anyway. At the end of the day, no matter what the reason, she was still in a precarious situation.
Finding Russell (and ending his undead life) was paramount to her survival. As far as she was concerned she was all in on helping to bring him down. Her stomach began to rumble and she realized it had been twenty-four hours since she ate last. This had to stop or she was going to make herself sick. She was pretty sure if she got sick she would never hear the end of it and Eric would be on her like white on rice, hovering like a nervous mother to make sure she ate well.
“You should eat. I don’t want you to get sick because you’re not taking good care of yourself,” Eric trailed his fingers up and down her arm.
“I’ve been busy. Besides, it’s not like I volunteered to sleep for so long,” Sookie said with a bit of a pout and got out of bed.
She made a quick pit stop in the bathroom before slipping on a robe and heading for the first floor to get something to eat. Most of what was in the house were easy meals that could be microwaved or put in the oven. It was obvious whoever had done the shopping knew next to nothing about what humans eat, which, of course, suggested Pam was solely responsible for the groceries. Sookie was going to need to correct this immediately. She would have killed for a salad at that moment.
“We need to go to the store,” Sookie said once Eric was in the kitchen with her.
“Is the food not satisfactory?” Eric asked while she looked through the contents of the fridge.
“It’s not that; it’s just that there are no fruits and vegetables. Those will help me stay healthy,” Sookie told him. Surely there were fruits and vegetables back when Eric was a human but he’d more than likely forgot what dietary requirements were since it had been so long since he’d had food. “What sorts of things did Vikings eat?” she asked while she preheated the oven.
Eric smiled, delighted that she was asking about his human life. She didn’t do it often but when she did it was always in a casual way. Not that he wouldn’t tell her everything she wanted to know but he liked that she wasn’t in a rush to learn his entire life all in one night. There were far too many stories to tell and life back then had been so very different from the time they were currently in. As a human, he couldn’t have anticipated any of the technological advances he’d lived long enough to see or experience.
He went on to tell her more about his family and what life was like back when he was human. Eric recalled the time he had wasted defying his father’s orders and wishes. It was all for nothing and maybe, just maybe, if he hadn’t been such a rebel without a cause, he might have saved the lives of his mother, infant sister and father. Instead, he was too busy trying to dip his pen in the company ink to be of much help to them.
His infant sister hadn’t yet seen the turn of a season before her life was over. While death was common in childhood back then, it didn’t mean it was any easier to see such a pretty new light snuffed out. After the death of his father, Eric stepped up and took his rightful place. He’d learned to take things seriously. He honed his skills as a fighter, took a wife and started a family of his own. It was the best way he could think of to honor the memory of his parents, who had loved him well in spite of his many shortcomings and the disappointment he had caused them.
“How many children did you have?” Sookie asked while sliding a baking sheet into the oven with a tray of some sort of red and white pasta on it.
“Only two, both of them girls. My wife was pregnant with the third when I was turned,” Eric told her.
“Do you know what happened to them?” Sookie moved to wash her hands while Eric pulled a bottle of blood from the fridge.
“Unfortunately no, I don’t. In those days it was imperative that we sever all ties with our human life. By the time I was able to return to where I had grown up, things were very different,” Eric said without a hint of sadness in his voice. It had been too long for him to still be in mourning for it all.
“How old were your children when you were turned?”
“The older one had just turned two. The younger one was maybe six months old,” Eric gave his best guess. “We didn’t track birthdays then the way we do today.”
“When were you born?” Sookie took a seat at the kitchen table and Eric followed when his blood was finished warming.
“It was winter, but I don’t know the precise year,” he told her.
“So you don’t know your birthday?” Sookie looked shocked but he just smiled.
“No, lover, I don’t,” he admitted and Sookie was flabbergasted. “When is your birthday?”
“July 1st, 1982,” she said without hesitation.
“Then you are older than I was when I was turned,” Eric told her. “By my count I was in my earlier twenties.”
“Yeah, well, you’re still robbing the cradle,” Sookie smirked at him and he chuckled quietly.
“I’m not robbing anything. You gave yourself to me, remember?” he looked at her warmly.
“Yes, I remember,” Sookie flushed just a bit but offered a similar smile to his.
Eric’s phone rang upstairs and because it was Pam, he excused himself to answer the call. Sookie remained in the kitchen for a moment but then decided to go to the living room instead. She figured she might as well channel surf while waiting for her food to cook. It was too late to catch the evening news but there would be something on. She settled on the Discovery Channel after deciding she wasn’t in the mood for reality TV or a movie on TCM.
When Eric came down a few minutes later he looked disturbed and she could sense something wasn’t right through their bond. She watched him closely as he approached her, his movements slightly unfocused and clumsy. If she didn’t know any better she might think he was cursed again.
“What happened?” she asked him once he was sitting beside her.
“Jessica called Pam not too long ago. It seems Bill ever returned home for his daytime rest and he hasn’t been seen since sunset. She’s tried to call him but he hasn’t answered,” Eric explained and Sookie raised her eyebrows.
“What does that mean?” she was concerned, if only because she didn’t want anything bad to happen to him. Too many people had died already.
“I’m not sure, but he needs to be found. If he were just any other vampire in my area I could take my time with it, or assume the vampire had just gone off to a different territory,” Eric rested his head against the back of the couch.
“But since he’s the king someone’s going to come looking for him, right?” Sookie guessed.
“I’m afraid someone’s already found him,” Eric let his head roll to the side.
He didn’t need to tell Sookie that someone might very well be Russell Edgington.
oOo ~ oOo ~ oOo
Bill going missing was bad news. Losing a vampire was something that could easily be covered up or hidden from Nan and the Authority but losing a regent was another story. Especially when there was the possibility that Bill was gone because he had been taken by Russell Edgington. Russell was supposed to be dead. As far as the Authority knew, that was exactly what happened.
Eric had been ordered to take Russell out and bring fangs as his proof. One had fallen out while Russell was in his crispy critter form, trying to bite Sookie while he was being bound with silver. The other Eric had pulled himself in the back of Alcide’s van before burying the ancient vampire in cement. In looking back on the course of events he realized he’d underestimated Russell. He had wrongfully assumed it would take much longer for the vampire to heal and break free of his confines.
Finding Bill before the Authority knew he was missing was of paramount importance. Failure to do so could cause much more collateral damage than Eric was prepared to accept. He went into planning mode while Sookie finished eating and then went upstairs to shower. Having decided it was his best bet to start by working on Steve Newlin, Eric called Pam back and told her to start the painful interrogation process.
He wouldn’t be bringing Sookie anywhere near Fangtasia. She didn’t need to see the kinds of things that Pam would be doing to Steve. She was getting tougher but the sorts of methods employed in torturing a vampire were beyond horrific and he didn’t want her to end up damaged because of it. Protecting her was still at the top of his priority list.
With that in mind he decided another trip to Bon Temps was necessary. Jessica could get the guards to stand down while Eric did some poking around in Bill’s office. The fact finding mission would be valuable to him on several levels. Of course he would claim it was all in the interest of finding the king but he would be keeping his eyes out for other things as well, most of them pertaining to Sookie.
No matter what Bill said, Eric knew there was no way Bill had simply given up as he claimed to. He could see it in Bill’s eyes anytime he got near Sookie. He’d seen it in the way Bill had come bursting into her house the night he discovered Eric was staying in her home. That urge to defend her was still there and while that wasn’t entirely a bad thing, Eric suspected Bill’s motives for doing it weren’t pure.
Eric headed upstairs to find Sookie still in the shower. She was humming quietly to herself while she massaged shampoo into her hair. He quickly stripped off his clothes and got into the shower behind her. She jumped a little when he touched her but then relaxed against his chest. She turned her face toward his and offered her lips to him.
“What’s the plan?” Sookie asked when the kiss broke.
“Pam is going to question Steve Newlin,” Eric said and dropped another kiss on her lips. “We are going to go out to Bill’s house and take a look around.”
Sookie had a feeling Pam would be doing much more than questioning but she pushed that out of her mind. If Steve was still human she could simply go in and read his mind but since that wasn’t an option, the vampire way of garnering information was going to have to do. Instead she let herself get lost in Eric’s kisses. He turned around to rinse the shampoo from her hair so it wouldn’t go dripping into her eyes.
While the hot water fell his hand slipped between her legs and rubbed against her in all the right ways. When she was thoroughly rinsed off he dropped to his knees in front of her and pulled one of her knees over his shoulder. His tongue darted out and licked her folds before plunging between them to attack her clit. Sookie’s hands slammed against the shower walls to hold herself up while Eric’s hands held her hips to keep her from falling over.
He knew her well by then and knew just how to touch her to drive her crazy. She was just on the verging of climaxing when he stood up, picked her up by her thighs and slid inside her. The tight clamping of her muscles around his cock felt fantastic and he waited until she’d come down from her high before pressing her against the wall. Eric angled her just right and then began to thrust into her so that he would hit that special spot inside her that would make her scream each time he hit it.
Her nails dug into his back as she slid up and down the marble wall with each of his thrusts. He leaned down to tease her breasts while her fingers scored his back. He nipped at the delicate skin her near nipple and licked away the little drops of blood. He wanted to bite her but given the way she’d passed out on him, he’d decided that was a bad idea. When her legs began to shake he knew she was close and pounded into her a little harder.
He could feel her little gasps against his neck and was caught completely off guard when she bit him. He roared with his release as his blood moved into her. She had never done that before and he found he liked it. Her orgasm followed right after his and she was still drinking his blood when she came. He would heal in a moment which was the only reason she had bitten him so viciously. When Sookie pulled back some of his blood lingered on her lips. He watched with lusty eyes as her tongue darted out to lick the blood away.
He kissed her hard after that, reluctant to set her down. Staying in bed was a much more appealing option but there were other things that needed to be attended to if they were going to get the targets off their backs for at least the time being. After their quick romp up against the wall, Eric worked conditioner into Sookie’s hair while she went about washing him. Things got momentarily heated when she spent a little more time washing his manly bits than was required but she figured it was fair considering she’d had seconds—he should, too.
By they time they finally got out of the shower Sookie was starting to turn pruney and it was definitely getting late. Eric put on a pair of black jeans and a v-neck t-shirt that made Sookie bite her lower lip in restraint. Having a fresh dose of his blood in her gave her energy and definitely raised her awareness of just how sexy he was. Just in case they started feeling frisky again she put on a simple tank dress that was gray on top and had a black skirt to it. She grabbed a black cardigan from one of the hangers and slipped on a pair of black flats to wear with it.
Sookie left her hair down to dry in waves while Eric had gelled his just slightly to keep it from falling into his eyes. She again bit her bottom lip, forced her hands to stay away from his ass and instead brushed her teeth. Dammit if those jeans didn’t fit him perfectly though. They were in the car and headed for Bon Temps before ten.
The drive was quiet for the most part. Sookie was lost in her thoughts, wondering how she could help in this situation. As much as she didn’t want to be she was worried for Bill’s safety. Even after all he’d done to hurt and betray her, she still didn’t wish death on him and no doubt Russell would use that to his advantage. She could have killed Russell that day out in the parking lot. She could have left him there to fry in the sun or used her magic to end him but instead, she’d brought him inside.
She was at war with herself, wondering when it was time to stop showing mercy and instead switch to the ‘me or them’ method of self-defense. She knew Eric would normally kill without a second thought. Was her influence on him ultimately causing them both harm? He’d survived for as long as he did for a reason. If her presence was going to become a hindrance then maybe she needed to rethink her way of handling things.
“What are you thinking about?” Eric asked just as they were taking the off ramp at the Bon Temps exit.
Sookie wasn’t sure how to explain what was going on inside her. She thought for a moment before posing a question to him. “If I wasn’t with you right now, how would you be handling all of this?”
“What do you mean?” Eric glanced at her before making his turn at the end of the ramp.
“Would you really be doing recon at Bill’s instead of being in the basement at Fangtasia with Pam? This just seems like it’s beneath you somehow,” Sookie turned toward him.
Eric smiled at her reference to his superiority and then said, “Lover, I’m exactly where I want to be. Pam is very capable at getting information out of someone when she wants to. She’s quite… talented.”
Sookie cringed at the thought of what Pam might be doing in that basement but shook those thoughts away. “I’m sure she is, but what about you? Is this what you want?”
“I just said it was, didn’t I?” Eric reached for her hand. “Part of my mission is to gain access to sensitive information that shouldn’t be learned by just any vampire. The other sheriffs will be tasked with various roles but since they’re new to their positions I won’t be able to give them the duties I would like.”
“What happens if we don’t find Bill?” Sookie asked, already knowing the answer wasn’t going to be pretty.
“Then I will have to go before the Authority and tell them the truth,” Eric admitted.
“And then what happens?”
“Then I hope they will be lenient and give me some of the necessary resources to clean up the mess that they should have cleaned up in the first place.”
“And if they don’t?” Sookie asked and Eric was reluctant to answer. “Eric, I need to know.”
“Then it’s entirely possible I will meet my true death,” he finally said but couldn’t look her in her eyes when he said it.
Her sadness and fear in her blood told him everything he needed to know. She squeezed his hand and he felt a fire spark to life inside her. Determination and that stubborn iron will overrode her fear.
“That’s not going to happen. We’re going to find him and Russell Edgington is going to be sorry he ever met you,” she said fiercely. There were no other options. Eric dying was no more acceptable to her than her dying was acceptable to him.
“I love you, Sookie,” he lifted her hand and kissed it as they pulled into Bill’s driveway.
“I love you too,” she smiled back and then started coming up with a plan of her own.