Eric woke with the faint scent of werewolf in the air and the sound of the shower running in the bathroom. In the blink of an eye he was out of bed and standing outside the shower door, watching Sookie rinse her hair. She jumped when her eyes opened to find him standing there watching him like a lion would watch its prey.
“Jesus, Eric, you about scared me to death!” she gasped for air and leaned against the marble wall of the shower stall.
He opened the door and stepped in with her. “Why do I smell werewolf in my bedroom, Sookie?”
“Alcide called and asked me to meet him at a diner across town so I did,” she clutched her chest, trying to calm her wildly beating heart.
“What did he want?” Eric didn’t look amused at all.
“He wanted to talk. He and Debbie broke up and he wanted to warn me that she’s not exactly stable at the moment. She’s doing V and she blames me for their breakup,” Sookie explained but he knew there was more to it than that. He could feel her hesitation in his blood.
“What else?” Eric looked her right in the eyes, no hints of lust or desire licking at the bond.
“He thinks she might come after me and she’s got a new friend who would be more than willing to help her get revenge,” Sookie told him and immediately felt his rage.
“I’ll rip her throat out,” Eric said in a hard voice.
“Hopefully it won’t come to that,” Sookie sighed and reached for the bottle of conditioner. “Will you?” she held the bottle out to him.
She hoped if she distracted him, he would calm down a little. Not that she needed to be worried about his blood pressure like she would with a human boyfriend but she didn’t want to be feeling all his anger. This was the downside to the bond. Eric took the bottle and poured some of the conditioner into his palm. Sookie turned around and let him work the cream into her hair. He was gentle with her like he always was but he was still tense.
“I told him we’re bonded. He knows that you’ll go after Debbie,” Sookie spoke softly but she knew Eric could hear her just fine. She could have breathed the words and he would have heard her.
“He’s lucky I don’t kill him,” Eric growled.
Sookie whipped around to face Eric. “And what did he ever do besides help either one of us? You called in his debt and he lived up to his end of things. I asked him to come help me find you while you were cursed and running around like a mental patient when you should have been taking your daytime nap in my house. When I got shot he was the one who carried me out of the cemetery. Has he asked for anything in return? No. He’s my friend and I would appreciate it if you would cut it out with that territorial shit. Just because we’re bonded doesn’t mean you get to be the boss of me.”
This was the Sookie he liked best. This was the girl who stood up for herself and didn’t let an ounce of her fear show on her face, even though her heart was racing and a strange combination of ice and fire was running through her veins. He vaguely recalled the way she’d slapped him after learning he’d been keeping Lafayette prisoner in Fangtasia’s basement. No one, not even vampires, had dared to raise their hand like that to him without expecting to die for it. Sookie, on the other hand, had hauled off and cracked him a good one. And the best part was that she meant it. The way she was staring at him in those moments was remarkably similar to the way she stared at him now in his shower: fearless, angry and ready to defend herself by any means necessary.
“This isn’t about being the boss of you, Sookie. If I wanted to be the boss of you—as you so adorably put it- there are other ways I could go about it,” Eric said, knowing she was going to get even more fired up.
“Oh yeah?” she glared up at him in a challenging way. “What would you do, Eric? Would you treat me the way Russell Edgington or maybe Sophie-Anne had planned to? Are you going to treat me like some glorified fangbanger or your favorite pet? If that’s the case, tell me now so I can figure out a way to break this bond between us because that is not what I signed on for and you damn well know it.”
Yep, she was definitely fired up. This was when it became crucial that he play his hand carefully. The wrong choice of words would ensure she would follow through on her threat and he would be in an even bigger hole than he’d been when they first met. It was then that he realized Sookie was the one who had the power in their relationship. Maybe that was why he was so drawn to her. He was used to being the leader or the boss. He wasn’t used to depending on someone else but that wasn’t the case with her. While it was true he had certainly pushed her, he had always taken his cues from her, too. He had never gone beyond the point of no return and anytime he challenged her she not only met him, but exceeded him.
Eric took a step toward her and she backed up one step. This continued until she was up against the wall, her chest heaving and her temper still idling at dangerous levels. She stared right up at him, not once breaking eye contact. The tension between them was damn near palpable. It was one of those moments when he wasn’t sure if he wanted to fight her or fuck her but he was pretty sure he would end up doing both.
“You can break the bond if you wish but it won’t be the end of us,” Eric bent his knees a little and got closer to her ear. “Whether or not you know it yet, you were made for me. For the rest of your life you will walk the line between loving me fiercely and hating me with just as much passion. I know this because I will always feel that way about you.”
Sookie knew there was sometimes a thin line between love and hate. She’d straddled it a few times in the past and ninety percent of the time Eric was involved. While he was taken prisoner by Bill she’d had some time to consider what she would do if he was sentenced to the true death. How would she feel if Eric was suddenly gone from her life forever? The ache in her chest had been so great she couldn’t breathe. While she knew she loved him she still couldn’t quite put names to all the feelings she had where he was concerned. He challenged her, frustrated her and made her feel special all in one breath. The sex was damn near explosive and she’d never felt the kind of consumption she did when he got close to her.
“I don’t want to break the bond,” Sookie kept her eyes on his. “Even if I did I know I wouldn’t be able to shake you.”
“That’s because you’re mine,” Eric stepped closer to her, his hand resting possessively on her throat, his thumb rubbing over her pulse. “And I’m yours. This is how it’s supposed to be, Sookie.”
She pulled his face to hers and kissed him hard. He kept his hand on her throat, enjoying the rush of her pulse and the way her tongue stroked against his fangs. Things between them would never be simple. They would always be fighting, whether it was the outside world or each other, they would always be fighting. Fighting with Eric was interesting if only because there was very little she could say that would shock him. He’d been around for so long that just about any argument she might have was one he’d had before. Of course, Eric always having answers for everything wasn’t without its frustration.
At the same time she got the feeling that she could be completely honest with him and even though she might hurt his feelings, she knew it would be okay in the end. Yes, she could break the bond between them but it wouldn’t change the fact that she loved him. Her feelings for him were there long before the bond. The same couldn’t be said for the last vampire in her life.
Eric broke the kiss and pulled Sookie under the shower head where the water fell like rain. She kept her head tilted a little so conditioner wouldn’t go running into her eyes. He dropped to his knees and was still tall enough for his mouth to reach her breasts. Her fingers slipped into his hair, holding him close. His mouth started to move down her stomach but before he could get where he really wanted to be, Sookie reached over and turned off the water.
“Something wrong?” Eric asked her as she pulled away.
“Not here,” she tried to tug him up off his knees but that was about as successful as nudging a freight train out of the way.
Eric stood and scooped Sookie up. When he stepped out of the shower stall she grabbed one of the enormous, fluffy black towels from the rack. Eric set her down when he reached the bedroom and took the towel from her to dry her off. It was sort of a futile effort since his mouth followed after the towel, dampening the skin he’d just dried. He squeezed some of the water from her hair and then pushed her back onto the bed.
“Eric!” she somehow managed to squeal and laugh at the same time as she fell.
He was on his knees again almost immediately, pulling her closer to the edge of the bed by her thighs. Whatever urge there was to fight was gone and he was just getting to her center when he sensed Pam was close by. Fuck. He sat back on his heels and growled.
“What’s wrong?” Sookie asked, sensing the frustration in his blood.
“Pam,” he muttered.
“She’s here?” Sookie sat upright and reached for something to cover herself with.
“She will be soon.” Eric said and Sookie was off the bed in a flash and running for the bathroom.
The evening was certainly not going the way he had intended for it to go. He’d thought he would wake up to find Sookie in his bed. He had all kinds of plans for her. He hadn’t brought anyone other than Pam back to his house. Almost all of his other liaisons took place at Fangtasia, usually in the basement where he’d hooked up with Yvetta. Those encounters were about feeding and releasing whatever tension may have been building in him. The only way Sookie would ever find herself in the basement of the bar like that was if she asked for it. He wouldn’t use her the way he did the others.
Eric heard Pam’s car pull into the driveway and mostly for Sookie’s sake he went to the closet to retrieve some clothing. There was no need for modesty where Pam was concerned. She knew every inch of him just as he knew her but he somehow doubted Sookie would find it acceptable for him to strut around the house naked while Pam was there. He pulled on a pair of dark washed jeans and a black tank top before knocking on the bathroom door.
“We’ll be downstairs. Come down whenever you’re ready,” Eric said through the door and then headed down to meet Pam.
He found Pam in the kitchen, warming herself a True Blood in the microwave. She despised the concoction almost as much as he did but she was between pets at the moment and didn’t much care for strays. Among the many things Eric admired about his child, her standards were somewhere at the top of the list. Pam wasn’t the kind to settle; it didn’t matter what the subject was.
“You’re dressed? Since when do you wear clothes at home?” Pam raised an eyebrow.
“Sookie’s upstairs,” Eric said although he was sure Pam already knew that.
“Is she naked?” Pam grinned, her fangs down.
“She was until you showed up,” Eric didn’t bother to mask his irritation and in turn, Pam didn’t bother to hide her satisfaction over cockblocking him.
“We used to share. I guess those days are over, too,” Pam let out a suffering sigh and removed her blood from the microwave when it pinged.
He didn’t have to tell Pam that Sookie was his and his only, although if Sookie said she was curious about being with a woman, Pam was the only one he would consider. Truthfully, even the idea of sharing Sookie with Pam made him angry. He’d never felt so possessive over a human before. He supposed it was because he loved this human that he felt so strongly about keeping her all to himself. On top of that, he knew deep down there was no way Sookie would even consider the idea of being with a woman; it just wasn’t her thing.
“That’s correct,” Eric said just for good measure so Pam didn’t think she had a chance.
“Shouldn’t that be Sookie’s choice?” Pam smirked.
“Why do you insist on trying my patience?” Eric grabbed another bottle of True Blood from the fridge and put it into the microwave.
“It’s fun for me,” she said with a shrug and took a seat at the kitchen table.
“What are you doing here, Pam, other than preventing me from fucking the delectable human upstairs?” Eric asked while waiting for his blood to warm.
“I came to update you on the king’s condition,” Pam could barely contain her glee. “His leg isn’t healing. The bullet is still lodged in the wound.”
That was odd.
“You spoke with him?” Eric was surprised.
“I can pretend to care,” she shrugged. Of course Pam didn’t really give a shit. “We both know it would be to everyone’s advantage if he were no longer in power. It will only be a matter of time before the Authority recognizes this.”
“Assuming he didn’t stake Nan when no one was looking,” Eric muttered.
“Who didn’t stake Nan?” Sookie asked as she walked into the room. “Hey, Pam,” she gave a little wave.
“Sookie,” Pam looked her up and down, taking in the gray jeans and black tank top Sookie had been wearing the night before. There was something a little too appreciative in Pam’s stare and it made Sookie just a little uncomfortable. “We were talking about Bill. Apparently his leg isn’t healing like it should.”
Sookie looked to Eric, who maintained a blank expression both on his face and in his blood. He had no opinion or feelings on the matter whatsoever. Sookie wasn’t quite sure of what to make of it but she was concerned. Her nature simply wouldn’t let her give up on him, no matter how poorly he’d treated her in the past.
“Why wouldn’t it be healing? The guns weren’t loaded with silver bullets, were they?” Sookie looked to Eric.
“No they weren’t. He should call Dr. Ludwig to come take a look at it,” Eric couldn’t care less if Bill healed.
“Or he could do us all a favor and meet the sun,” Pam suggested. “That’s a much cheaper option. That midget promised me a discount on those fucking shots but if I got one, I wouldn’t know it.”
“Shots?” Sookie’s eyes widened.
“To stop me from rotting on the inside,” Pam explained and Sookie’s eyes got even bigger. “The shots don’t fix me but they keep me from looking like I just came back from a vacation in Chernobyl.”
“The curse didn’t lift when Antonia disappeared?” Sookie asked and took a seat at the breakfast bar so she was between Eric and Pam.
“Nope, not as far as I know, and according to that hobbit I’m stuck this way for the rest of my undead life. So you can understand why I want to tear your fucking friend’s throat out,” Pam’s fangs were back and ready to be used.
“I could try and lift the curse,” Sookie offered. When Pam looked uneasy with the suggestion she said, “I broke the spell on Eric. I don’t see why I couldn’t do the same for you. The worst that could happen is that nothing happens and you’re no more worse off than you are now.”
Pam hesitated for all of three seconds before she said, “Give it your best shot, short stuff.”
Sookie rolled her eyes and slipped off the stool she’d been sitting on. She walked over to Pam and closed her eyes. She wasn’t used to using her magic the way she was about to. In the past it had always just sort of happened, with the exception of when Russell had goaded her into it. This time she would intentionally be conjuring something up. She briefly had the thought of Pam with a bunny tail but wiped that image away. She could only imagine what Pam would do if Sookie gave her a tail.
Sookie took a deep breath and tried to get herself centered. She pictured Pam looking healthy and as close to human as a vampire could get. She tried to summon the same energy it took in the past but nothing seemed to be happening. Why did she always have to feel threatened before she could use the magic? Now there was an idea…
“Let’s go outside,” Sookie suggested and headed for the sliding patio door.
“Why?” Pam and Eric said at the same time.
“Because I can only get this power to work when I feel threatened or under attack, so maybe if you two attack me, it’ll work,” Sookie suggested.
Eric and Pam exchanged a look, shrugged and then followed Sookie outside. “No blood, Pam,” Eric said in a stern tone.
“Sie sind kein Spaß.” Pam complained as they walked out of the house.
“Okay, so I’m just going to walk around. Attack when ready,” Sookie said and started walking.
Eric hung back at first, watching as Pam zipped around his yard, making passes at Sookie. Sookie would spin off balance and little sparks would fly from her fingertips, but nothing significant happened. After a half dozen near misses, Eric swooped in from the roof of his house and attacked Sookie from behind, his hand wrapping around her throat and his fangs nearly piercing her neck. Much to his surprise and delight, all that did was turn her on.
“Like that, do you?” he whispered in her ear and kissed her softly.
“Well I know you don’t mean it,” she reasoned and that made sense.
“I have an idea,” Eric playfully slapped her ass and then went after Pam, who seemed to have given up. She was picking at her fingernails and looked up a fraction of a second too late.
Next thing any of them knew, Pam was in the pool and screeching at the top of her lungs. Her outfit was ruined, as was her hair and makeup. She shouted at Eric in what sounded like German and then went after him when he splashed a tidal wave of water into her face. The two of them struggled and Sookie could feel Eric’s love of fighting coursing through her. The fight got pretty intense and it wasn’t until Pam managed to bash Eric’s head against one of the rocks at the far end of the pool that Sookie started to feel that tingling in her hands.
When Pam bashed Eric’s head against the rocks a second time, it seemed Sookie’s protective instincts kicked in and light shot out of her hands. It looked like Pam was being electrocuted in the water. The blast lasted for almost ten seconds and when it was over, Sookie plopped down on the grass. Pam was floating face down in the water and Eric lifted her up and out of the pool. At least Pam hadn’t met the true death, or there would be a gory, red puddle in the middle of the pool.
“Is she okay?” Sookie called out.
“Pam, can you hear me?” Eric asked and tried calling her through their bond when she didn’t answer. He felt Sookie start to panic and he decided then and there that if Pam was playing dead just to scare Sookie, she would pay dearly for it.
“Holy fuck!” Pam shouted and stared up at Eric with wild eyes. “I have a fucking pulse, Eric! What the fuck did she do to me?”
Sookie forced herself to her feet and moved over to Pam. She knelt down and in a calm voice said, “It was the only way I could think of to stop it. It’ll only last for a few seconds, just long enough to repair the damage.”
Pam put her hand over her heart and stared down at her body like Sookie had put a bag of snakes in her chest instead. It had been well over a century since Pam had heard the beating of her own heart. She thought briefly of the last time she heard it. She had been walking through a garden in London when Eric came upon her. She remembered thinking how beautiful he was and how he would probably be fun to spend some time with. Little did she know she had a whole eternity stretching out in front of her.
While some might see what he’d done as murder, she thought of it as liberation. Eric had saved her from a dull life of marriage, babies, sewing and pretending to give a fuck about her place in society. As a vampire, she could go anywhere and experience anything she wanted. She was able to become educated, learn new languages and travel to places she never would have gone as a human. Eric had taken some meager, pathetic human life and replaced it with the vastness of immortality. There was no way to repay him for the gift he had given her.
But then just as quickly as it started, her heart stopped. Her panic faded and she felt… she felt like herself again. Even with the shots she’d been administering for the last couple of days she could still feel the rot and decay inside her. The drugs, whatever the fuck they were, weren’t curing here; they merely kept her outsides looking pretty to mask the rotting underneath. Pam felt her skin repair itself. Her organs were restored. She hadn’t told Eric but her senses were starting to fail her, but Sookie’s magic had restored those as well.
“How do you feel?” Sookie asked, gently laying one of her hands on Pam’s wet shoulder.
“If Eric wouldn’t rip my head off and use it as a soccer ball, I would kiss you,” Pam purred and sat up. “Thank you, Sookie.”
Sookie could tell Pam wasn’t comfortable with the idea of being in debt to her so she just shrugged and said, “It’s the least I could do. But since I healed you, you leave Tara be or I’ll figure out a way to give you a rabbit tail.”
Pam’s brows knitted together and she frowned, clearly not happy with this plan. A bunny tail, however, would be worse. “Fine, we have a deal.”
“Good. Although I will say I was kind of hoping you’d give me a reason to give you a tail,” Sookie admitted with a small laugh.
“Wait five minutes,” Eric smirked.
oOo ~ oOo ~ oOo
As much as Eric didn’t want Sookie to go home, he knew he had business to attend to with Pam the following night. He had been away from Fangtasia for too long already. In addition to checking in on his business, there were his duties as sheriff to handle. He was the only surviving sheriff in the entire state. Whether Bill liked it or not, he was going to need Eric’s help running things until new sheriffs could be instated.
On the drive back to Bon Temps Sookie learned that Eric was pretty much always a maniac driver. If nothing else he seemed to be allergic to speed limits. She was pretty sure they never went less than 100 miles per hour and she spent most of the ride holding onto the emergency handles and praying Eric’s night vision didn’t fail him. Not only did she not have health insurance but she didn’t have a job either. The money she’d earned for the job she’d done in Dallas was still mostly sitting in the bank but she preferred to keep it there. Actually, she wanted to take a sizable portion of it and invest it properly but she was going to need to talk to someone who was better with finances than she was. Maybe Eric knew someone who was good at that sort of thing…
“Can we stop by Merlotte’s?” Sookie asked as they pulled off the highway at the Bon Temps exit.
“You want to visit the Shifter at midnight?” Eric raised an eyebrow.
“Marcus, the Shreveport pack master, killed his brother,” Sookie bowed her head.
“Why would he do that?” Eric asked, not that he cared.
“I’m not really sure, to be honest. Alcide said it had something to do with Sam being with Marcus’ woman but then it was Tommy who shifted into Sam that showed up at Marcus’ place,” Sookie explained.
“Who is Tommy?”
“Your boss’ brother is a skinwalker?” That got Eric’s attention. Skinwalkers were a dangerous breed, and definitely not the kind he wanted getting anywhere near Sookie. Although it seemed this particular skinwalker was dead.
“I guess so,” Sookie shrugged.
“And your boss… is he a skinwalker, too?”
“Not as far as I know. I didn’t think Tommy was either. What is a skinwalker, exactly, anyway?” She asked curiously while Eric turned onto the road that would take them to Merlotte’s.
“Skinwalkers aren’t born, they’re made. A shifter becomes a skinwalker after murdering a parent, if I recall correctly. My knowledge of Native American mythology needs a little work,” Eric admitted but that was enough for Sookie for the moment.
They pulled into the Merlotte’s parking lot a short time later and the bar was closed. The lights at Sam’s trailer were all out and his truck was gone. Sookie pulled a little notepad from her purse and jotted down a note for Sam. She got out of the car and ran up to the trailer to tuck the note in the screen door. She hoped the door would open or she would see some sort of hint of life inside, but the trailer was dark and a quick scan of the area told her Eric was the only person nearby.
There was so much for them to get caught up on. She had no idea what was going on in Sam’s life. Even before her accidental disappearance for a year, she’d been out of the loop on Sam’s life. She wondered if Sam knew what she’d been through before she disappeared. Jason had told her Sam was worried sick but no one had really been willing to talk about the forty-eight hours that led up to Sookie’s disappearance. Eric, Bill, Pam and Russell Edgington were the only people who knew precisely what happened and it was for the best that it stayed that way.
Sookie got back in the car and Eric headed for her house. When he pulled into the driveway he made a note to have that leveled out a little since it was a little bumpy for his liking. The car came to a stop in the small parking area designed for two, maybe three cars. The second Eric opened the door of the car; he caught the scent of werewolf and growled.
“What’s wrong?” Sookie sighed.
“I smell werewolf,” he growled.
“It’s probably just Alcide. He was on the property not too long ago,” Sookie shook her head.
“No, this is fresh. The wolf was here just a few hours ago, if not sooner,” Eric advised her.
Sookie cast around but found no brain patterns. “I got nothing in here,” she tapped her head.
“Wait here,” Eric told her and got out of the car.
He slammed the door and hit the alarm button. If Sookie got out of the car, the alarm would sound and more likely than not, it would be an alert to Bill that something wasn’t right. Eric moved around the outside of the house quickly. None of the windows were broken and the doors all appeared to be secure. He didn’t hear any heartbeats coming from inside the house. He inhaled deeply and tried to figure out if he knew the wolf he smelled but couldn’t place the scent.
Eric returned to the car to see a confused Sookie sitting in the passenger’s seat. He deactivated the alarm and she climbed out of the car. “Find anything?” she asked once she was out.
“Seems secure. I’ll walk you inside just in case,” he said and followed her up the front steps. He scanned the various tree lines for eyes but saw nothing.
Sookie unlocked the front door and stepped inside the house. The lights were all out and nothing seemed to be out of place. With Eric at her side, they moved from room to room, inspecting everything to make sure the house was safe. Everything appeared to be just fine and yet, something didn’t quite feel right.
“That cabinet locks from the inside,” Eric pointed to the decoy cabinet that led down to his cubby hole. “If you feel like you’re in danger, I want you to climb in there and lock yourself in.”
Sookie nodded and Eric followed her upstairs to her bedroom. He stretched out on her bed while Sookie pulled off her clothes and traded them for a pair of striped pajama pants and a matching tank top. She took her hair out of the sloppy bun she’d put it into when Pam showed up unexpectedly earlier in the night. She crawled into bed and curled against Eric’s side.
“How long can you stay?” she whispered sleepily.
“Another hour. I need to stop in at Fangtasia and go over some things with Pam before sunrise,” Eric gathered her closer to him and held her tightly.
“I have to talk to Sam tomorrow about getting my job back,” she yawned.
“You quit?” Eric asked with a hint of surprise.
“He fired me. Well, I thought it was him at the time but now I’m thinking it might have been Tommy. Either way, I need my job back.”
“Come work for me,” Eric smiled.
“Haven’t you ever heard that mixing business and pleasure is a bad idea?”
“Haven’t you noticed we’re good at doing the unconventional?” Eric pointed out and he felt Sookie smile against his chest.
“Make me an offer and I’ll think about it,” Sookie giggled quietly, half delirious from exhaustion.
Oh, he’d make her an offer alright but he would wait until she was awake enough to process it. It didn’t take long before Sookie was lost in a deep sleep. Eric stayed for as long as he could before carefully slipping out from under her. He tucked her in and kissed her forehead before leaving her bedroom. He took one last look around the house and on a whim, went to the cabinet where the cubby was.
Unfortunately he didn’t notice the booby trap and when he opened the doors, the gun that was aimed just so inside the cabinet went off. He felt searing pain in his chest and it was a good thing he didn’t have to breathe, or he would have been a truly dead man.