“You handled that better than I would have,” Sookie says to break the silence of our walk. We have strolled along a path that leads through the woods by her house. The night is a warm one, but not humid as it so often is in Louisiana. There is a full moon tonight, which means the Weres are running wild. I sense some of them deep in the woods but they are keeping their distance. I do not know if they are the ones tasked with guarding the Stackhouses and I find that I do not really care about their presence at the moment. I am enchanted with the Fae princess by my side. How is it possible she seems more alluring tonight than every night before this? The moonlight enhances her beauty, making her seem other worldly. The mint green dress shimmers in the light, reminding me of tales of mermaids from my days at sea. If she had a wreath of flowers in her hair, I would think she had been the inspiration behind Spencer’s The Fairie Queene. She turns to look at me when I remain silent after her statement. It’s a good thing I don’t need to breathe because her beauty would have stolen the very breath from my body. I want her; it is a nagging, aching need clawing at my gut. The need only grows when the breeze drifts over us, blowing her sweet scent all around me. It is like a narcotic and I am becoming an addict. Her scent is the most tantalizing I have ever encountered; it calls to me more than that of the full-blooded Fae I’ve had the good fortune of tasting. Sookie Stackhouse is quickly becoming my obsession. To be honest, it pisses me off. I am supposed to be the one in charge here, not her. It feels like she has me by the balls, emasculating me. I don’t like it; and it is made even worse by the fact she seems completely oblivious to me.
“I am used to bigoted assholes,” I tell her harshly.
She seems startled by my sudden bad mood. “I meant my Gran,” she retorts softly. “As for Jason, I wish I could say I’m surprised, but I’m not,” she sighs. “Something’s going on with him lately. He’s not acting like his usual self. He’s normally a pretty laid back guy. It’s been the last week or so he’s been wound tighter than a girdle around Maxine Fortenberry’s waist at an all-you-can-eat buffet,” she snorts out. I do not know this Fortenberry woman, but I imagine she is rather rotund.
“It does not matter,” I answer truthfully. “I will continue to arrange for his protection even if he doesn’t sign the contract.”
“Then what’s the point of the contract?”
I stop walking and Sookie stops beside me. “The contract will be filed with both my Queen and the Supernatural Council. Your family will be recognized as mine throughout the Supernatural community. It will give me the ability to protect you and defend you from all others. I will be able to enact retribution, including final death, if another were to harm any of you.”
Sookie blanches. “Do you really think that’s necessary?”
“My world is not sunshine, unicorns, and rainbows Sookie. It is dark and violent. I believe in being ready for everything,” I tell her honestly. We resume walking and come upon a cemetery in the middle of the woods. There is a rose-bush growing around the iron rails of the fence. Sookie snaps two of the blooms off the bush before crossing the threshold. Curious, I follow after her. She stops in front of two headstones: Corbett and Michelle Stackhouse, her parents. Bending gracefully at the knees, Sookie places a rose at the base of each headstone before standing. She backs up to stand beside me. We stare in silence at the two cement slabs. Sookie grabs my hand, linking her fingers through mine as the smell of saltwater taints the air.
“These are my parents,” she chokes out. “I’ve always felt partly responsible for their deaths. Now I know it’s true,” she sobs.
Quickly I wrap my arms around her to try to comfort her, though I am the first to admit I have no idea what I am doing. “You have nothing to feel guilty about! If you wish to blame anyone for your parents deaths, then blame the Water Fae. Do not take the burden of their deaths on your shoulders. It is not your fault,” I say forcefully.
Sookie’s face had been pressed against my chest as she cried while I spoke. Now she pulls back to stare at me with guilt all over her lovely face. “But I am the reason they were out that night! They’d dropped Jason and me at Gran’s so they could talk in private. I knew what they were talking about though. They had fought for weeks about me. Momma had dragged me to one doctor after the next all over the dang state trying to find out what was wrong with me. She’d been told I should be institutionalized, that I could become a danger to everyone. Daddy didn’t believe her, said it was just a phase I’d grow out of. But when I told everyone about . . . my uncle . . . he changed his mind,” she cries out in pain. Her tears fall freely down her face and I cannot stand to see them. It makes me feel . . . disturbingly human.
Wiping the tears from her face with my thumbs, I bring each digit to my lips to taste. She watches with fascination as I suck the salty sweetness from my thumbs. Gods, if her tears taste this good I cannot wait to taste all of her fluids!
“I thought y’all could only drink blood,” she says in wonder as the tears end.
“What have I told you about talkin’ nasty?”
With her hand still over my mouth, my words are jumbled and muffled, so I part my lips to lick the center of her palm. She yelps in surprise and pulls her hand back. However, that tiny taste of her skin makes me crave more and the erection I had been successfully fighting finally swells forward. Deciding to lighten the mood further, I wrap my arms around her back and pull her against me. “I seem to recall you enjoying my nasty talk. It makes your heart race, your skin heat with fire, and that fluid I’m so fond of seems to come rushing out,” I leer at her. She shrieks indignantly and pinches my sides, however, I notice she does not correct me. In fact, she rests her head against my chest again and wraps her arms around my waist. I rest my head against hers and we stand in silence once again.
“Thank you,” Sookie whispers softly.
“For what?” Having her in my arms feels right and I am reluctant to let her go.
“For trying to make me feel better about my parents. My head understands everything you said, but my heart is gonna take a while to catch up.”
I nod in understanding. “I know what it is like to blame oneself for your parents’ deaths.” Sookie pulls back slightly to stare up at me curiously. Releasing an unnecessary breath, I tell her my deepest, darkest secret. “My parents were murdered in our home while I was off fucking the serving wench,” I say with disgust. “Had I been the son my father wanted me to be, I would have been by his side helping him fight off our attackers.”
“And you could have been killed too,” Sookie says softly.
I nod again. “I know that, but as you said, it’s not always our head that needs convincing.”
“Did you ever find the ones responsible?”
“I did; they were from an enemy village. My men and I attacked their village; we showed no mercy,” I say fiercely.
“Good,” Sookie says savagely.
“Why Miss Stackhouse,” I drawl out in surprise. “Who would have thought you to be so bloodthirsty? I love it!”
She blushes again and pushes against my chest so I release her. “I don’t like violence,” she tells me primly. “But I can understand doing everything in my power to protect or avenge the ones I love. I have so few of them in my life; I’d do anything for them,” she says with a determined gleam in her eye.
Sookie begins walking towards the cemetery’s exit and I follow behind her. Before I cross the threshold, a large flat slab catches my attention. The name on the headstone says William Thomas Compton with his year of death as 1865. I cannot help chuckling as I cross out of the graveyard.
“What’s so funny?” Sookie is smiling at me as we resume our walk through the woods.
“I knew a William Compton around the turn of the century,” I tell her. “I staked him in San Francisco because he and his maker were slaughtering humans and leaving the evidence for humans to find.”
Her eyes widen. “He was a turned into a vampire? The story was that he never came home from the war, so his wife could only assume he died in the war. The Compton house is actually just up ahead. It’s been around nearly as long as my family’s home.”
I growl low in my chest. Had that bastard been left alive I shudder to think of what could have happened to the charming woman beside me. We walk out of the woods to find an antebellum home that has seen better days. Oblivious to my internal musings, Sookie rambles about the house in front of us. “Old Jesse Compton was the last living Compton. As you can see, he didn’t really keep up with the house. I think it now falls to the Bellefleur family since they are distantly related to the Compton’s. Though I’m sure they don’t want it. They have their own house to worry about.”
“Speaking of houses,” I begin and I see Sookie’s back stiffen. “Sookie, look at me.” She slowly spins on her toes and I see the angry set to her jaw. “If I claim you and your grandmother as my pets,” she growls at my use of the word ‘pet’ and I ignore her outburst. “It will be expected that I provide for you and your grandmother.”
“Gran and I have been getting along just fine by ourselves,” she growls out through clenched teeth.
“Yes you have,” I agree. “However, I am well-known in the Supernatural community. I have a reputation to uphold. If I do not provide for the two of you, then others will suspect that I am weak or that I am lax in my duties to the two of you. It will invite trouble from others.” Not to mention Sophie-Anne would have my head if I continued to let her pet’s family live barely above the poverty line.
Sookie’s shoulders sag in defeat once she works through everything I’ve said. “So what exactly does that mean? Provide for us?”
I fight hard to contain the glee I feel at knowing she is acquiescing so quickly. I thought I would have to fight with her for weeks to get her to give in to everything I am insisting on. “First, I would like to restore your home. I know it has been in your family for centuries. I do not want to change it drastically; I merely want to make all the necessary repairs and improvements. “
She closes her eyes and puffs out a sharp breath. “What else?”
“Your vehicles,” I say swiftly. “They need to be more reliable. You already know about the guards that will be in place for both of you.”
“Is that everything?”
“I hate this,” she says wearily. “In less than two weeks, my entire life has been turned upside down. I thought I was a normal human girl, albeit with a disability….” My growl of disapproval cuts off the rest of her lament.
“YOU ARE NOT DISABLED! You are a beautiful woman with an extraordinary gift!”
Her sharp intake of breath halts the rest of my words. She looks at me with surprise on her face. “You think I’m beautiful?”
She stares at me with a look full of yearning on her face and I cannot fight her pull anymore. I close the distance between us, tipping her chin up with my thumb and forefinger. “How could I not?” However, I do not give her the chance to answer my softly murmured question before my lips descend on hers. I could not tell you the last time I had kissed someone romantically, but something about Sookie Stackhouse makes me want to take my time and savor her. Her soft, plump lips taste faintly of her tears and I lick along the seam trying to wash away her former sadness. She gasps when she feels my tongue against her lips, and I take advantage of the opportunity by sliding my tongue inside her mouth. My hands move up to her face, cradling her cheeks as I turn her head to change the angle of our kiss. This gives me more access her lips and mouth, which I eagerly take advantage of. She tastes simply divine and it makes me yearn for more. My tongue explores every recess of her mouth, savoring her taste as I learn what enjoys. In response to the kiss, Sookie’s hands fist into the material of my sweater as she holds me close to her, molding her body against mine. She is by no means a passive participant in our kiss. In fact, she is the one to deepen our kiss by sucking on my lower lip before scraping her teeth against it. My fangs drop, startling Sookie. I expect her to pull away, but I should know by now that she never does the expected. Instead she slowly raises a hand up between us, hovering by my mouth as her eyes ask the unspoken question.
“Yes,” I hiss out and then my eyes roll in the back of my head as she slowly strokes my fang. I shudder as she strokes the other fang, letting out a low growl as she rubs her finger back and forth against my sensitive tooth. She knicks the tip of her finger on the sharp end of my tooth, and my nostrils flare as I smell her blood for the first time. The bright crimson drop beads on the tip of her finger and we stare at each other, suspended for a moment in time. Without thinking about the consequences of her actions, Sookie slides her finger inside my mouth. I moan around her finger as I begin sucking on it to draw out more of the most delectable blood I’ve ever tasted. One drop and I know I will never be satisfied with drinking from anyone else. When I get nothing more from the wound, I lick it with my tongue, ensuring my saliva closes the wound. I wrap my hand around Sookie’s wrist so I can pull her hand away from my mouth. When our hands are lowered, I crash my lips against hers, letting her feel the full force of my desire. I worry that I may overwhelm her with my need, but she seems to understand my urgency and even matches it.
The sudden sound of a wolf howling in the air forces us apart. With my fangs bared, my head snaps to the side to see a large grey and white wolf sitting at the edge of the woods. He cocks his head to the side and winks at me before sauntering off into the woods. Fucking Weres!
“What was that?” Sookie’s voice is breathless as she questions me and her chest rises and falls rapidly as she pants for breath. Her lips are swollen and the sweet scent of her arousal fills the air. I want to push her down to the ground and bury myself between her thighs, lapping at her nectar. The need to claim her, to mark her as mine is overwhelming, but I need to reign in the beast. For now at least.
“Your guard dog was telling me I need to get you home,” I say with frustration.
“But I don’t have a dog.”
“Yes you do,” I say with a sigh as I take her arm to lead her back to her home. “His name is Dawson.”