Sookie’s back arched as Eric drank from her thigh. Bill had never done that, in spite of his nasty talk the night she had met him. In fact, it turned out that Bill was the more restrained lover overall. It’s not to say that there hadn’t been passionate moments between them, because there certainly had been, but there was a feeling of routine when it came to their more intimate moments. In the moments when Bill seemed to lose control of himself it was always more frightening than it was sexy.
With Eric it was different. There was always this heat in his eyes, but he was able to restrain himself from getting too rough, and he had yet to take without giving back. It was easy to get caught up in him and lose herself in ways she didn’t know she could. No wonder Bill had warned her to stay away from Eric. Had Sookie known what she was missing, she would have left Bill sooner.
Eric healed the bite mark on her thigh, although he was tempted to leave it there. No one would ever see it but him if he left it, but that was the sort of thing that should be Sookie’s decision and not his. She was still trembling when he lay down beside her, and planted a gentle kiss on her shoulder. Sookie rolled onto her side a moment later and smiled at him.
“I really like Nora,” she said, and that wasn’t at all what he was expecting to hear her say after having an orgasm like the one she’d just had.
“Were you thinking of her while I—”
“No!” Sookie slapped his chest playfully, and he smiled back at her. “My mind was completely blank while you were…” she trailed off, but he knew what she meant.
They had completed their second blood exchange already. The sun would be rising in just an hour or so, and for the moment both of them were sated and happy, just laying there together in the comfy penthouse bed. Sookie lifted her head and propped it on her hand, while her fingers drew little patterns on his chest. If he could have gotten goose bumps, he would have.
“The queen doesn’t know that Bill is a double agent, does she?” Sookie asked, the full weight of just how dangerous Bill really was, was finally starting to sink in.
“I highly doubt it,” Eric said, and turned on his side as well so he and Sookie were face to face. “She could be attempting to keep him close so that he’s easier to take out, but if Bill has the endorsement of the Authority behind him it will be that much harder for Sophie-Anne to kill him.”
“What is he waitin’ for? I mean, if he’s got the muscle of the Authority behind him, why doesn’t he just take Sophie-Anne out? Why don’t they just kill her themselves if she’s not someone they want sittin’ as a queen?” Sookie asked, since none of it was making sense.
“The Authority doesn’t really like to get its hands dirty,” Eric said without holding back his disdain. “They prefer to remain invisible and untouchable. The fact that Nora came forward and admitted her position was a surprise.”
“Do you have… did Godric have any other children?” Sookie asked.
“He had a child before me, but the boy was killed two centuries before I was turned. As far as I know, Nora is the only other human he turned. Godric always told us to choose wisely when creating a child. It was a responsibility that Godric didn’t take lightly, nor have I. As petulant and lazy as Pam can be, at times, she is a very loyal child, and I don’t regret turning her,” Eric trailed his fingers down Sookie’s side, and up over her hip.
“Have you ever thought about turnin’ someone else?” Sookie asked pensively.
“I felt a pull toward Pam. There was something about her when I laid eyes on her… I knew she was the one,” Eric explained, and paused for a moment. “When I first met you, I felt that same pull.”
Sookie’s breath caught and there was no use in denying her heart leapt up into her throat.
“I don’t want to be a vampire, Eric,” she said. “I had a dream in Dallas and we talked about this very thing. You told me that I was ruthless enough to be a vampire.”
He smiled and said, “That’s very true. You appear to be sweet as honey and completely harmless, but you hold nothing back when you’re protecting the ones you love.”
“My Gran raised me to be a fighter and not a victim,” Sookie said, and wanted to kick herself for all the times she had clung to Bill like a scared little girl that he could just put up on a pedestal. “If you turned me after we’re bonded, I wouldn’t be able to leave you, would I?”
“No,” Eric said quietly. “We would be together until one of us met the True Death.”
Sookie lay back against her pillow, and was pleasantly surprised when Eric shifted so that his head was resting on her chest. There was a vulnerability in that pose that she found endearing. He let his guard down around her; he trusted her.
“You’re happy,” he whispered, smiling against her skin while Sookie ran her fingers through his hair.
“I like when it’s quiet like this. I don’t think we’ll get much of it,” she whispered right back.
“No, I don’t think we will,” he agreed.
“If Bill has tapes of us together,” Sookie said, and she physically felt Eric tense up at her words. “I want them destroyed. I didn’t know about it, and I never would have agreed to doin’ such a thing.”
“I know you wouldn’t,” Eric said, and began to draw on her stomach the way she had on his chest. “And I will get those tapes for you, Sookie,” he promised, and she believed that he would.
“I feel like such a fool for not knowing any of that was there,” she said with bitterness in her voice.
She wondered how long it had all been there. Could he have bugged her home that very first night she invited him over to meet Gran? Or had he waited until after Gran was dead to start violating her that way? Had he waited until Sookie was no longer a virgin? Or maybe, just maybe, the very night Gran died he had bugged her home. There were so many options, and so many ways that Bill had violated her trust that it made Sookie literally sick to her stomach.
Eric offered her no words of comfort, and she was actually thankful for it since she probably would have taken them wrong anyway because of her mood. He listened, and that was good enough. If he was agitated by her complaining about her ex, he kept that to himself. She was grateful for that, too.
“We didn’t get a chance to discuss it earlier, but I tried to influence your dreams last night. Did it work?” Eric asked her, breaking the silence between them.
“It did,” she answered, but was reluctant to offer more.
“Do you want to tell me what the dream was about?” he asked, and tilted his head to look up into her face.
“You came to me in the sunlight,” she offered, and shifted out from under him. “You had a heartbeat, but I don’t think you were human. I asked you to make it stop.”
“You didn’t like me with a heartbeat?” Eric asked with a hint of amusement.
“It’s not who you are, Eric. You’re a vampire. I don’t want you to change that, whether it’s in the real world, or in my dreams,” she told him, but then remembered the rest of the dream. “All of a sudden it was nighttime, and we were lyin’ on this bunch of fur pelts. You said something to me in Norse, and I was so focused on what you were sayin’ that I didn’t hear Bill creepin’ up on us until he staked you in your back. I was already covered in your blood by the time I realized Bill was standin’ there. Then I woke up.”
“How did the dream make you feel?” Eric asked her.
“Nervous, I guess? Maybe a little intimidated. Did you do that?”
“I may have. I didn’t try to make you feel a certain way,” Eric assured her.
“I wanted to protect you in the dream, I know that much. It worried me to see you out in the sunlight, and I felt relieved when we were in the darkness,” she recalled. “But then Bill killed you to get to me.”
Eric’s cell phone rang on the night stand, and he turned to answer it. The phone number was blocked so he didn’t know who was calling, but on the chance that it was Nora, he took the call.
“Northman,” he answered.
“I just spoke with my contact in Jackson,” Nora said, skipping the formalities.
“The vampire in question earlier this evening has been identified. Looks like the king of Mississippi has some explaining to do,” she said. “The Magister is about to get on a plane. It might be wise of you to inform your queen that he’s en route. That’s a favor you might want to collect on later.”
“Excellent,” Eric said, and hung up.
“Who was that?” Sookie asked, and sat up.
“That was Nora. Russell Edgington, the king of Mississippi, is the vampire you saw,” Eric told her, and used the internet on his phone to locate a picture of Russell. When he showed it to Sookie, she gasped and covered her mouth.
“That’s him!” she said from behind her hand. “What happens now?”
“Now the Magister pays a visit to make a formal inquiry. If there are grounds to substantiate the claim that he’s been supplying blood to werewolves, he will be tried and more than likely sentenced to the True Death. Desecration of the blood is a crime that no vampire can abide,” Eric explained, and then scrolled through his list of contacts to find the queen. He motioned for Sookie to remain quiet, and then dialed the queen’s number.
“Northman, to what do I owe the pleasure?” the queen asked in that haughty, spoiled voice of hers.
“A little bird told me that the Magister is closing in on Jackson, and he’s planning to interrogate the king,” Eric informed her.
There was a moment of silence before the queen said, “Is there an ETA on his arrival?”
“He won’t make it before sunrise, but I imagine that he’ll be there at first dark. If you have a human you trust to get you out, I suggest you do that.”
“What’s the charge?” Sophie-Anne asked.
“Desecration of the blood,” he said, and the queen hissed on her end.
“I’ll make the necessary arrangements,” she said, clearly unhappy with having to change her travel plans. “Since I’ll be returning early, I would be delighted to see you the night after tomorrow.”
“Majesty, the pleasure will be mine,” he said, and then added, “I will be bringing a guest, if you don’t mind. She is quite lovely.”
Sookie’s eyes went wide, but she looked to be angrier than she was afraid. She shook her head defiantly, not wanting anything to do with the queen if she could help it.
“I look forward to it. Good rest,” the queen said, and then hung up.
“Eric, I am not goin’ to meet the queen,” Sookie said as soon as he hung up.
“No, lover, you’re not,” he leaned over to kiss her nose. “I’m taking Nora, but I suspect the queen will be disappointed to see her instead of you.”
Sookie’s anger melted away and the corner of her mouth lifted just a little. “Sneaky vampire,” she said, and climbed into his lap to give him a kiss. If it wouldn’t have been too much trouble, she would have asked him to take a picture of the queen’s face when she realized Sookie wasn’t coming along.