Sookie lingered in the kiss until she felt the presence of two very human brains rapidly approaching her home. She pulled back, but reluctantly so, and looked up into Eric’s eyes. He was looking at her differently, but she couldn’t put her finger on what it was she was seeing in his eyes.
“Lafayette and Jesus are here,” she whispered, her body trembling a little with the after effects of the kiss still working its way through her.
“I know,” Eric said, and slowly released his grip on her.
Moments later the doorbell rang, and Eric followed Sookie to the front door. Lafayette startled a little at the sight of Eric, but Sookie reassured him that it was safe to come inside.
“He won’t hurt you, Lafayette,” Sookie reminded him.
Sookie paused to think about it, and wondered when it was she stopped feeling so intimidated by Eric’s presence. She realized it was after the staking incident at Fangtasia. She had bravely stood up to Eric, but also wondered if maybe that had been a foolish thing to do. At the time, it felt like the right thing but when she looked back on it she wondered how many other humans would have survived challenging him the way she had.
“Come in,” she said, and motioned for the witches to come into the house.
“It’s nice to see you again, Sookie,” Jesus said politely as he entered the house.
“Likewise. Can I get y’all something to drink?” she offered as she closed the door.
“I’m fine, thank you,” Jesus answered.
“I could go for a shot of tequila,” Lafayette muttered as he made his way to the living room.
“Sorry, no tequila. I think I might have some scotch around here somewhere if you want that instead,” Sookie offered.
“Nah, I’m good,” Lafayette sat down on the sofa, and Jesus sat beside him.
“Eric, another blood?” Sookie asked.
“No, thank you. We have business to attend to,” he nodded toward the living room.
“Alrighty then,” Sookie said, and led the way to the living room. She sat again in the same chair, and Eric sat in the other. “First of all, I owe you a big thank you, Lafayette. It turns out everything Hadley said was true. I broke up with Bill tonight. I’m done with him. I gave him his ring back, withdrew his invitation and everything.”
“Good for you, Sook, even though I am sorry it had to come to that,” Lafayette said with sympathy.
“Me too,” Sookie said, and took a deep breath. “I want to tell y’all about Marnie, but first I need to ask if there’s any way to do a spell that will get the vampire blood out of me.”
The witches looked at each other, and even Eric perked up a little at Sookie’s question.
“I need to get my head on straight, and that’s not going to happen as long as there’s vampire blood in me. I need to get over Bill, and that will happen a lot quicker if he can’t constantly be manipulating my feelings. I need to sort out what’s mine, and what isn’t,” Sookie looked to Eric.
“Actually,” Lafayette started as Jesus opened the bag he was carrying, “I thought you might feel that way so we brought the stuff to do that for you.”
Sookie smiled widely and watched as Jesus pulled out a pair of black candles and a spool of black ribbon, along with a cloth bundle that Sookie assumed had something wrapped in it. Lafayette set up the candles while Jesus unwrapped the bundle to reveal an old knife that looked to be extremely sharp. He handed the knife to Lafayette, who began to etch Sookie’s name into one of the candles.
“How many vamps gave you they blood, Sook?” Lafayette asked.
“Bill and Eric,” Sookie answered, and Lafayette nodded. She looked to Eric and said, “I need my blood to myself for a while, Eric. I hope you can understand that.”
“I don’t like not knowing if you’re in danger,” he said sincerely, and it made Sookie smile.
“Then I’ll just have to be more careful,” she said, but she could tell that Eric had other things to discuss. “Why don’t we step outside for a minute?”
Eric was on his feet and out the door in the blink of an eye, which definitely had Lafayette startled and shaking.
“It’s okay, mi amor,” Jesus said calmly, and Sookie excused herself to go meet Eric outside.
There was just the tiniest hint of a chill in the air, suggesting that the seasons were about to change. Summer was coming to an end, which may very well be a good thing since it meant night would come quicker. At the moment, Sookie found herself gazing appreciatively in Eric’s direction. His body was tense as he paced the length of her porch. Sookie leaned casually against the railing and waited for him to say whatever he needed to say to her.
“The danger hasn’t passed, Sookie. Breaking up with Bill was just the first step. The queen will continue to pursue you, and believe it or not, using a Procurer to do it was the gentlest way possible,” Eric came to a stop in front of her. “There are much more violent ways for her to ensure she gets what she wants, and I know Sophie-Anne well enough to know there is very little that she will let stand in her way of getting her hands on you.”
Sookie felt her hackles rise and she straightened up while she said, “I’m not runnin’, Eric. If that bitch thinks she can force me out of my life she’s got another thing comin’. I refuse to run scared. My Gran didn’t raise me that way.”
“You are being foolishly stubborn,” Eric hissed.
“There has to be another way for me to stay safe without vampire blood in me. I don’t want Bill’s influence there. I need to be free of him completely. Why are you fightin’ so hard against this? I thought you’d be happy about it!” Sookie said with frustration.
“Because it isn’t just Bill’s blood you’re removing,” Eric shouted at her, getting in her face at vampire speed.
Sookie gasped and backed up a little, but there wasn’t really anywhere to go. Eric’s fangs were out and he was back to being the menacing vampire she had known for so long.
“So what is it to you if I disappear?” she asked him, having no idea what sort of thread she was pulling by challenging him like that.
Eric growled deep in his throat and said, “I don’t like having feelings.”
Sookie’s eyebrow lifted and she said, “Oh come on, Eric. Your life would be so much easier without me around. Since you met me your bar got raided, a vampire was staked under your watch, Godric met the sun and now there’s a witch that wants to kill off your kind. You don’t need some silly human in your way.”
“Then why did you come to me for help?” Eric demanded. “Why did you invite me into your problems? There are other vampires you could have gone to for assistance, but you came to me. Why?”
Sookie tried to fight his hold but that was pointless. Eric wasn’t letting go and she certainly wasn’t strong enough to force him to do it.
“Why, Sookie?” he demanded again.
“Because you’re the sheriff. Isn’t it your job to know what vampires are doing in your area?” Sookie sassed him.
He hissed and said, “Yes, it is, but that isn’t why you came to me. You aren’t concerned with my job security. Try again.”
“You were the only one I could think of,” Sookie yelled at him. “Happy now? I knew I needed a vampire’s help, and you were the only one that came to mind!”
“Better, but there’s more.”
Sookie glared up at him with fire in her eyes. What the hell did he want from her anyway? Why did it matter that she’d gone to him for help? Big deal! It didn’t mean anything.
“I don’t know what you want me to say, Eric! I thought maybe I could depend on you. I thought maybe you would be the selfless person you are sometimes and maybe you would help me out because I needed it and I asked you nicely,” Sookie stared into his eyes.
“And why did you think you could depend on me?” he asked, and she groaned loudly in frustration.
She felt like they were talking in circles, like there was a point Eric was trying to make but he was forcing her to play games with him until she figure out whatever the hell it was he wanted her to figure out.
“You know I can’t read your mind, right? Why not just try spitting out whatever it is you’re trying to tell me? It’ll save us both a lot of time,” Sookie suggested.
Eric took a breath he didn’t need and then let go of her face. He stepped back and said, “Never mind. You’ll do what you want to do anyway, Miss Stackhouse.”
Hearing him address her that way hurt. He had dropped the formalities and had started calling her Sookie like anyone else. It hadn’t occurred to her until that moment just how much she liked the way he said her name. It was soft and melodic when it came from his lips, and not a whine or a curse the way it was when Bill said it.
“Eric, I don’t—what do you want me to say?” Sookie said, and started to follow him toward the house.
“Nothing. You’re a grown woman; you can make up your own mind about your life. Let’s go break your bonds,” he said, but Sookie didn’t feel good about it.
She didn’t know what she was missing, but there was obviously something going right over her head. Sookie followed Eric into the house, but he went to the kitchen instead of going to the living room. Sookie sighed in frustration, but didn’t try to get him to follow her.
“Lover’s quarrel?” Lafayette teased.
Sookie glared at Lafayette and he smiled knowingly. She huffed and sat down on the same chair as before.
“Sookie, do you have a pair of scissors?” Jesus asked her.
“Uh, yeah, in the kitchen,” Sookie said, and pouted internally.
Suck it up, Stackhouse. It’s not your fault the vampire is having a damn meltdown, Sookie told herself and went into the kitchen. Eric was standing near the sink staring out into the backyard. He didn’t turn to look at her, even though Sookie was sure he heard her in the room. She got the scissors from the junk drawer and returned to the living room.
“Okay, so this is what we have to do,” Jesus started. “Since this is blood magic I will need your blood to complete the spell. We’ll put a drop on each candle after they’re lit. Lafayette will do a chant until there is a flare in the candles. When that happens you will cut the ribbon that binds the candles together. Then we just have to wait for the candles to burn out on their own. It is absolutely imperative that when you dispose of the candles that they don’t go out in the same trash bag but they should leave the house at the same time. Lafayette and I can take one and if Eric is willing, he can take the other.”
Sookie nodded and said, “I understand. So um, what’s the knife for?”
“To prick your finger. It looks scary, but I promise I won’t hurt you,” Jesus said, and Sookie looked to Lafayette who nodded.
“Okay, well, let’s get this going then,” Sookie said, and scooted forward on her chair with her arm extended so Jesus could prick her finger.
Lafayette lit the candles, and Sookie noticed that both Eric’s and Bill’s name was etched into the second candle. She took a deep breath and Jesus paused with the knife poised above her finger.
“Are you absolutely sure you want to do this?” he asked her.
Sookie nodded and said, “I need my body all to myself for a while.”
“Alright,” Jesus said, and pricked Sookie’s finger.
She watched her blood begin to ooze from the small wound. Sookie looked up just in time to see Eric watching from the doorway as she squeezed her finger over the flame of the candle with the vampires’ names on it. Eric’s eyes were intense but he didn’t try to stop her. If anything, he seemed resigned to what was happening.
Sookie moved her finger over to the candle with her name on it, and then the witches began to chant. She reached for a tissue to wipe her bleeding finger on, but Eric came forward and licked her finger to seal the wound. Their eyes locked again, and much to Sookie’s surprise Eric kissed the tip of her finger before releasing her. They continued to stare at one another until there was a definite flare from the candles.
Sookie scrambled to cut the ribbon that bound the candles. Ten seconds later Eric howled in pain, and collapsed.