I wrap Sookie tightly in my arms as she cries for the loss of her friend. Personally, I never cared for the Shifter but he did do his best to keep Sookie safe when she needed it and for that I will be forever grateful. He was one of a select few that did not ostracize her because of her ability; I am hesitant to say he accepted her because I do not think anyone other than myself and perhaps Lafayette accepted Sookie exactly as she is. I hate how much the loss of the Shifter is affecting my lover. She has lost so many in her short life; I don’t know if she is strong enough to survive another loss. I continue to hold Sookie, while running my hand soothingly over her back and through her hair, and whispering soft words of comfort as she continues to shed her tears. My shirt is soaked from her tears and I hate it. Seeing Sookie cry has always made me feel so fucking helpless! I want to find something to destroy just so I can release this pent-up aggression because there is nothing I can do to fix her heartache. And I think Bill Compton will be the perfect stand-in for my anger. I do not know what happened but Compton’s stench is concentrated in this part of the basement and I can smell him on the Shifter’s body. If Compton had something to do with the Shifter’s death, I will use every resource at my disposal to make certain that Compton meets his True Death.
Sookie’s sobs have reduced to soft hiccups and she pulls back from my chest to brush off the tears that linger on her face. She looks up at me helplessly as she whispers, “Bill did this to him.”
I brush a stray hair behind her ear. “I know Lover; I can smell him on the Shifter. Do you know why?”
Her face hardens and her voice shakes both from anger and a fresh set of tears. “He was workin’ with the fuckin’ Hep V vamps! Sam overheard Bill talkin’ to that British vamp; Bill told them to take over Fangtasia. He glamoured Holly to put a repelling spell around Fangtasia; Bill’s the reason the infected vamps attacked Bellefleur’s. Fuck!!! I’m willin’ to bet Bill glamoured Sam to think it was a good idea for humans and vamps to pair up.”
If Bill had done all that Sookie stated, the question is why. I can think of only one vampire that can give me the answers I seek. Taking Sookie’s hand in my own, I lead her to the steps leading out of the basement. We need answers, and I am going to get them one way or another.
“Wait! We can’t just leave him here,” Sookie says with a tug on my hand. “He deserves a proper funeral.”
“I’ll arrange to have his body taken to the morgue. That will allow someone to claim his body and make funeral arrangements.” Sookie nods her head and follows me to the main level of the bar. Pam, Willa, and Alcide have begun cleaning up the bar while Jessica sits in a chair crying. Godric is waiting for us near the door.
“The two human police officers have taken those rescued from the basement to the local hospitals for treatment,” my maker informs us quietly. He can sense the tension coming from both Sookie and I. Looking at her tear-stained face, Godric asks with concern, “Is everything alright?”
“The Shifter is dead in the basement,” I say quietly. My eyes move over to the red-headed vampire hugging her knees tightly to her chest and rocking back and forth. In an instant, I have Jessica pinned against the floor with my hand wrapped tightly around her throat. Godric and Pam prevent Alcide and Willa from interfering; Sookie slides down the wall until she is sitting on the floor. Knowing my lover the way I do, she is torn about my current treatment of Jessica, but she too wonders what knowledge the young vampire may have. If Jessica is a willing accomplice, she too will meet her True Death.
“Where is your maker?” My fangs are fully out and I feel all my hostility for Compton rising up. He is the reason all of this has happened; all of Sookie’s problems from the last few years can be laid to rest at his feet.
“I don’t know,” she cries out pitifully. “I haven’t been able to find him.” Blood tears weep from the corner of her eyes. “Maybe he met his True Death too,” she whimpers.
“I doubt that seeing as your maker ended the Shifter before the battle was over,” I say angrily as I squeeze her throat. She moans because of the pain, but does nothing to fight back. I am beginning to believe she truly knows nothing about Compton’s plans, but I need to be sure. “It seems Bill was working with the infected vampires; helping them find a place to stay and telling them where to find blood. Something tells me he wasn’t doing it out of the goodness in his heart,” I say with derision. “What do you know?”
“Nothing; I swear to you I don’t know anything! I wouldn’t do anything to hurt Sam. He’s always been so nice to me and he has a baby on the way. Why would Bill kill him?”
I release Jessica’s throat; she is clueless. She continues to weep on the floor, rolling to her side and sobbing quietly. My eyes lock with Sookie’s; she nods her head before pulling her phone out of her pocket. I hear her quietly talking with Lafayette, telling him everything that happened. I do not envy the flamboyant man the job of having to tell the pregnant woman the father of her baby is gone. During my human days, women were often left to worry about the fate of their men when we went a-Viking. More than one woman with children ended up a widow, though the family of the fallen warrior would always look after those left behind. Times are different now; the Shifter had no additional family. I fear the mother and babe will be alone; just one more sin to add to Compton’s tally.
I turn my attention to the Were. “Alcide, what do you know of Bill’s activities the last six months?”
“Once his book came out, he wasn’t around much; talk shows, book signings, things like that took him all over the country. It wasn’t until the last month, six weeks maybe, that he started hangin’ around more,” Alcide said after remaining silent for several minutes.
“How did he act towards Sookie?”
“I know he tried to give her blood the night they all killed Warlow, but Niall prevented it. When she was in the coma,” he continues despite the growl that comes from me, “he ignored her. She was in Ludwig’s hospital and there was no fuckin’ way he could get to her. Once she came home,” Alcide shrugs, “he ran hot and cold. Sometimes he completely ignored her; other times he acted like a jilted lover because she was always with me. I think it was once he came back from some trip out West that he started actively seeking her out and sending her gifts. That’s when he also started working with Sam to get humans and healthy vamps to team up for survival.”
Godric and I share a look but we say nothing. I have several theories but I will say nothing in front of Jessica. She may not be a willing accomplice in Compton’s plans but she is still his progeny. I ask Pam to arrange for the Shifter’s body and that of the other dead humans to be taken to the morgue. She looks ready to argue but my eyes cutting to Sookie silences my eldest progeny. I may care nothing for the bodies in the building but I know it means something to my lover to be able to bury the dead.
Sookie finally hangs up her phone and comes to stand beside me. She looks utterly exhausted as she puts her arms around me and burrows into my chest with a sigh. “I spoke with Lafayette; he said he’ll stay with Nicole tonight to make sure she’s ok. I also called Holly to warn her in case Bill shows up there.”
I nod in agreement; it is wise since the human sheriff’s daughter is half Fae. Though her blood was delicious when I had it, it does not tempt me the way Sookie’s does. It is as if her blood was created to be the perfect blend for me; I will be content to drink nothing else for as long as we both exist.
“I will escort Jessica home,” Godric says as he moves towards the only vampire in the room not of my bloodline.
“Are you sure that’s safe?” Sookie’s concern for my maker warms my undead heart.
Godric smiles at her indulgently. “Little One, I promise I will be alright. I have just returned to my family; I have no desire to leave.” The smile leaves his face as he looks towards Jessica who is standing awkwardly in the room. “However, I want to look around the mansion to see if I find any clues about Mr. Compton’s activities. Also, I think someone needs to keep an eye on Compton’s progeny. While I believe she had no knowledge of his activities, I do not think he would refrain from using her if he thought it would be to his advantage.”
With those parting words, Godric takes hold of Jessica’s arm and vamps them out of the bar. Pam and Willa look to me for guidance about what we should do next. My eyes take in the structure around us; I know I told Pam that Fangtasia was just a bar, but it is does have special meaning to me. It is the place where I first met Sookie; our first kiss took place in my office. Looking at it now, the easiest solution would be to demolish the building and start over; no amount of cleaning will be able to remove the stench that has saturated every surface of the building. Nora and I had removed all of my hidden money before we went to The Authority. Pam and I had then removed everything of value when we came back the night of our attack on The Authority. I know there is nothing left here to be salvaged but I still hate the thought of destroying it.
“Make sure Jason and the human sheriff return to Bon Temps safely,” I say to both of my progenies. Turning my attention to the Were, I ask, “Can you have a crew here in the morning to begin demolition of the building?” He nods his head in agreement before leaving with Pam and Willa to find Jason.
“You don’t wanna try to save it?” Sookie steps back to look curiously up at me.
“It’s just a building,” I shrug dismissively. “I don’t need it to be here to remind me of two of the most important events in my existence; I have those in my memory forever.” My eyes fill with heat as I stare at the woman who has stolen my heart. I pull her back in my arms and kiss her hungrily, reaffirming that she and I have survived tonight. I came too close to losing her by staying away. It sickens me to think of what Compton may have planned for her if Pam and I had not returned when we did.
Sookie pulls back breathless when I finally let her lips go; they are swollen from my kiss and parted slightly as she pants for breath. Her eyes have darkened with passion and I can see the same need to reaffirm our existence in her eyes. “Take me home Eric,” she whispers.
Who am I to deny the woman I love what she wants? “Put your arms around me and close your eyes,” I command softly. Sookie trusts me implicitly and does as I ask which causes me to smile. I grab her behind her thighs and lift, causing her to gasp in surprise. She wraps her legs around my waist as I walk us out of the place where it all began. Once outside, I float up towards the moon and stars.
Hovering over the city of Shreveport, I glance down at the woman who has forever changed my existence. She still has her eyes closed. With my lips against her ear, I tell her to open her eyes. Sookie once again does as I ask, but quickly slams her eyes shut, tightens her grip on me, and nestles her head in the crook of my neck. Chuckling, I rub soothing circles on her back while I keep the other hand firmly on her ass. “What’s the matter Lover?”
“I’m afraid of falling!”
“Sookie,” I say as gently as possible, “I will never let you fall; I’ll always be there to catch you.” Does she know I mean that in every way possible? I will be by her side always. “Please Lover, open your eyes.”
Sookie shifts her head slightly so she can look over my shoulder at the night sky. Her small gasp lets me know she finally has her eyes open. “Don’t look down,” I caution. “Look at the stars. They have guided my path since I was human.” I place a gentle kiss against the side of her head before whispering in her ear, “They have guided me to you.”
She shifts again in my arms and pulls back so we can look at each other. Her lips are curved in a gentle smile and there is a sparkle in her eyes. However, Sookie’s expression changes to one of awe and whatever words are on the tip of her tongue fade as she looks at me. “You are beautiful,” she finally says reverently. “The way you look now in the moonlight . . . it reminds me of that night in the woods.” She moves one hand slowly from her death grip around my neck to lightly trail her fingers along my face. Her touch is gentle, worshipful, loving, but for me, it’s like throwing gasoline on a fire. These innocent touches, along with her body pressed so intimately against mine, are fanning my need to claim her body. Crushing her lips to mine, I pour every ounce of need and frustration into the kiss, and I feel the same desperation coming from her. My little Fae-hybrid always did give as good as she got. I snarl into the kiss when I feel Sookie rubbing her core against my groin.
“Lover if you keep that up, I’m going to fuck you right here and not care who may see,” I say harshly when I finally pull my lips away from hers.
“Wouldn’t be the first time we had an audience,” she says with a mischievous smile on her face. So she did know the Were and his former bitch saw us in the woods that night. I didn’t care, but I always thought if she knew we were being watched she would have been embarrassed. Sookie rubs herself against me again and my eyes roll into the back of my head. Thank Gods I’m already dead, because she is definitely trying to kill me!
“And it probably won’t be the last,” I say with a smirk. “But I’m not in the mood to share you tonight; our reunion is for us alone.” I place a kiss against her forehead before commanding, “Close your eyes and keep your head down. I don’t want you to be hurt with how fast we’ll be flying.” I wait for her compliance before rushing towards Bon Temps. I do not fly so fast that it will cause her physical pain, but it is fast enough to get us to Bon Temps within thirty minutes. I hover over her property, making certain that Compton is not lingering around waiting to attack. Sookie lifts her head from my chest, using her telepathy as I use my vampire senses to make sure all is well with the house on Hummingbird Lane.
“No one’s here,” she tells me confirming what I already know. “The wards are still up; everything is as it should be.”
“Not exactly,” I say with my lips curving into the smirk I’ve used to get thousands of women to do what I want. “If everything is as it should be, then I’d be buried in between your thighs.”
I once told my lover that there are two Miss Stackhouses; the one I first met would have told me to stop my nasty talk while a blush spread across her face. Then there’s Fairy Sookie, the one that asked if I thought her legs would magically spread for me. I think my lover has finally come to terms with who she is because the woman in my arms reacts with a combination of the two. Sookie leans back so that our chests are no longer pressed against each other, but it presses her pussy more firmly against my groin. Her cheeks have a rosy hue to them as she responds. “You’re in between my thighs Eric. Was there something more you could be doing?” She ends her question by rolling her hips in a circle so she rubs against me. Saucy indeed!
I land us on the porch of her home so she can unlock the door. I give her ass a squeeze; in return she unlocks her legs and slides down my body. She gives me a heated look before turning to unlock the door. I mold her back to my front, letting my hands roam her body as she fights with the locks. She pulls away from me and turns when the door is unlocked. Her hand is on the doorknob, her back pressed against the door. Sookie gives me another mischievous grin and I raise an eyebrow in response. She giggles slightly before asking, “Mr. Northman, won’t you please come in?”