I rise from the cubby to find my children and maker seated around Sookie’s dining room table. The only other being in the house is Lafayette, but I can tell he is in an altered state of reality at the moment. Where are the others? It is thirty minutes past sunset; they should not be out without protection. Before I can ask a question of my vampire family, the front door flings open and Violet strides in the house, bellowing for Jason.
“Where the fuck is Jason?” Violet has never been known for her patience or her gentle manner. In fact, the moniker “Violent Violet” was quite apropos for her; she had been forced out of her native Russia because of the massacres she had performed during the Bolshevik Revolution. The only reason she had been accepted in Texas was because Godric kept her on a tight leash. I was not happy to see that she had survived Vamp Camp.
“Mr. Stackhouse is not here Violet,” Godric’s calm voice rings with authority even though it is barely louder than a whisper. I have always admired his ability to command the attention of others without raising his voice or overt acts of dominance. Granted, his way is not my way; I’ve always been one to raise my voice and use brute strength. We have always been opposites, but we complement each other perfectly.
Violet’s eyes widen as she takes in the appearance of what I believe to be the oldest vampire in the United States. “Godric? How is this possible?”
Godric smiles. “I have friends in high places, my dear. Now, what is your business with Mr. Stackhouse?”
Violet snarls at Godric as her fangs drop. “Jason is mine!” My fangs drop and I take a menacing step towards her. She will show Godric respect, or I will end her where she stands.
Godric raises his hand to stop me, but moves in no other way. I retract my fangs, but stay vigilant as he continues speaking. “Does he wish to be yours or have you given him no other choice?”
“He has been mine since we were incarcerated at Vamp Camp. I protected him from the other vampires. He is mine!”
Godric nods his head in consideration. “If he so wishes to be, then he shall remain yours. However, if he does not wish to be yours, then he shall go free.” Violet takes a step towards Godric and opens her mouth to protest, but she stops as he rises from the table with his hands placed flat on the surface of the table. “Mr. Stackhouse has been an ally of me and mine many times; we owe him a debt of gratitude for his brave actions in Dallas as well as his actions against the necromancer, the Sanguinistas, Vamp Camp, and Warlow. I will not stand idly by as you or any other vampire take advantage of him. Do I make myself clear underling?”
Violet nods her head, but I see the aggression in her eyes. She is not going to give up Jason Stackhouse without a fight. I will be only too happy to oblige her. I care nothing for the sole surviving male Stackhouse, but I will protect him because he is Sookie’s brother.
“Now that we have that settled, I believe the others are investigating a dead body that was found near the bar this morning. The human was not a resident of Bon Temps, so they have gone to the address listed on the human’s identification card to gather information.”
“How do you know all this?” Willa looks in awe at my maker.
Godric smirks, “Miss Stackhouse left a note so we would not worry.” Willa’s face falls and I cannot help the laugh that escapes me. I think my youngest progeny thought my maker was clairvoyant or a psychic.
“While we wait for them to return, I believe we should head to Mr. Compton’s home to discuss our strategy for dealing with the infected vampires. The infected vampires work in roving packs searching for food. The virus has mutated to the point that they must feed nearly every hour in order to remain functioning; otherwise they will be crippled by the disease. And they cannot succumb to their daytime rest; they enter a coma-like state if they do and they never rise from it. From what I have learned about the attack last night, I believe the infected vampires will be searching for additional food sources and may try to target the remaining humans in this town. We need to stop them before they do any further damage.” Godric easily assumes the mantle of leadership, and I for one, am grateful. It is nice to have someone else to turn to, to make these decisions for us rather than everyone always turning to me.
“Do you mind if I stay here?” Willa has remained seated at the table. Her voice is timid, and her body language is very agitated. Clearly she has not mastered the stillness that comes with being a vampire, but then again why would she? She has had no one to guide her.
“Is there a reason you do not wish to go to Compton’s?” Truthfully, I do not want to deal with the pompous prick but we cannot be choosy about whom our allies are at this moment in time. With that being said, I do not fully trust Compton. That devious bastard has betrayed me one too many times to suit his own needs.
“Well, I figured someone should stay here to let Sookie know what’s going on. Plus, I’m still hungry. I was hoping maybe Lafayette would be willing to feed me,” Willa says uncomfortably and I sympathize with her problem. I do not miss the unquenchable thirst from my first years as a vampire; the fire that burns in your throat, the ache that seizes your belly, and the loss of control that overpowers your ability to think so all you can do is act on instinct.
We leave Willa behind but take Violet with us. We waste no time in crossing the cemetery to arrive at Compton’s antebellum home. Compton opens the door for us, his face quickly settling into a sour expression.
“What can I do for you this evening?” Bill’s voice is filled with distain as he views me, Pam, and Violet. Godric is standing behind us, so Bill has not noticed him. This insolent shit never knew when to stand down in the presence of his betters.
“Mr. Compton, if you would be so kind as to let us in, we would like to discuss our plan to combat the infected vampires and distribution of the cure.” Bill’s eyes go as wide as saucers when he hears my maker’s voice. Pam shifts to the side so that my maker can make his presence known.
“Godric?” Bill gapes like a fish out of water. His poker face is terrible. How did he ever manage to deceive me or Sookie? “How are you here?”
“I never really left Mr. Compton,” Godric says cryptically. “Now if you please, we have important matters to discuss and time is of the essence.”
Bill gestures for us to enter his home, steering us into his office. It is as revolting as I remember; the décor screams of false charm and hospitality, just like the pretentious dick that lives in it. I really should have ended him all those years ago in San Francisco; I could have saved myself and Sookie so much misery. Though I wonder if I would have found my beloved without Bill’s interference; I’d like to think I would have.
“Why haven’t we heard of this cure before?” I growl menacingly as Bill scoffs at Godric’s words. How dare he belittle my maker?
“Perhaps you should check the news,” Godric says drily. “The press release from Sky Pharmaceuticals, including video evidence of the cure’s efficacy, was sent to every major news affiliate earlier this morning. According to the latest communications with my COO, we have arranged clinics in every major metropolitan city in the United States to begin tomorrow evening.”
“How do you know this?”
“Because Sky Pharmaceuticals is a division of Brigant Industries, which is owned by Niall Brigant. Perhaps you have heard of him,” Godric says with a twitch of his lips.
“Prince of the Sky Fae,” Bill says softly.
“Sookie’s great-grandfather,” I correct smoothly. Even though I have known nothing of this, I am enjoying how all of this is playing out. I knew my maker would have a plan; Godric is a master strategist.
Bill glares at me, not appreciating my interjection and I smile with sickeningly sweet insincerity. It is true what they say; revenge is a dish best served cold. “If he has had this cure, why wait until now?”
“Niall has been in talks with the human government for the last few weeks. Negotiations ended late last evening. In addition to the clinics in the major cities, Niall’s company has negotiated to outfit law enforcement and branches of the armed services with the cure.”
Bill demands. “Why now?” Seriously, why the fuck must he question everything? Shouldn’t he be happy that there is a solution to this problem? Does he not feel partly responsible for the current state of affairs for vampires? I know I do; if I had completely destroyed the Vamp Camp with explosives as I should have instead of leaving all the destruction for others to find, then perhaps this epidemic would not have swept the country.
Godric has finally lost his patience with the belligerent Civil War vampire. “Because my family needed my help and I will do anything to protect Miss Stackhouse,” he snaps and bares his fangs. “She has my utmost respect, and I am indebted to her.” Finally, Bill seems to realize he is not in charge of this situation and backs down.
Godric’s fangs slide back into their resting place with a definitive click. “Now, if there are no further interruptions, I would like to outline our plan to attack Fangtasia. Preferably, I would like to inoculate those infected, but I understand it may not be feasible. We do not know how many there are, nor do we know how many they have abducted. Our mission is to keep safe and free the humans.”
“How do you know they are at Fangtasia? They could be anywhere,” Bill states stupidly.
“Can I stake him?” Pam asks rhetorically, impatience clear in her voice as she stands with her arms crossed over her chest and her foot tapping against the hardwood floor. She must have read my mind; I was wondering the same thing. She smirks at me before turning her attention to the dimwit sitting behind his desk. “Before Eric and I arrived last night, we went to Fangtasia. The scent of the infected vampires hangs heavily in the air. We didn’t enter the building but it would make sense for them to be there. It’s somewhere they are familiar with; no other businesses are in the area; it’s light-tight; and the basement would be the perfect place to store the humans.”
Bill opens his mouth, but Pam cuts him off quickly. “You could spend all night arguing with us, but you won’t win. You just want to argue with this plan because you didn’t come up with it. Believe me, we didn’t want to come here, but we need all the help we can get in this fight. Honestly Bill, it’s like you don’t want us to find these vampires.”
I don’t know if it is because of Pam’s words or if he has finally come to his senses, but Bill finally shuts up. He calls Jessica and her “boyfriend” (ridiculous term for a vampire) James to join us in his office. It does not escape my notice that Jessica and Violet avoid each other like the plague; something tells me that it has something to do with the male Stackhouse. I participate and pay attention to the discussion around me, but my mind has fixated on Pam’s statement. She’s right; Bill seemed more reluctant than usual to attack the infected vampires. Why? Bill, having been a soldier, is actually useful in the discussion and provides some sound ideas, but something still seems off. Could Bill know more about the infected vampires than he is letting on? It wouldn’t surprise me if he did; look at all the ways he has deceived those around him in the past.
“We’ll need Sookie, Alcide, and Sam for this mission,” Bill states at the end of our discussion. I agree we can use the Were and the Shifter to help us but I do not want Sookie anywhere near this fight; she has been endangered far too many times because of us. I am about to voice my protests when Godric speaks up.
“I agree; Miss Stackhouse will be vital in helping us pinpoint the exact location of where the humans are being held. Her gift will also help us determine how many infected vampires are inside.” Godric’s voice is firm; there will be no arguing with him. I keep my displeasure with this latest development to myself, but I feel my maker’s eyes on me. He knows I do not like the idea of using Sookie.
“We will return to Miss Stackhouse’s home to inform her and the Were of the plan,” Godric says as he moves to the door of Bill’s office. “Will you please call the Shifter to see if he will aid us?” Bill nods and Godric continues, his stare moving to James, Jessica, and Bill. “I suggest the three of you feed before we go. We will meet at Miss Stackhouse’s home in two hours.” With that, my maker leaves; Pam, Violet, and I follow him.
Godric is waiting for us on the path that leads to the cemetery. His expression is one of pure aggravation. I haven’t seen that expression since Godric lost his temper with Nora and me in Italy in the 1720s after we’d fought and fucked our way through the home we had been living in. By the time she and I had finished, the only thing still standing was the fireplace and chimney.
“I had forgotten how ridiculously inept and portentous Mr. Compton was. How he has survived to reach the age he has is beyond me.”
“He’s made his living kissing the ass of those he thinks will improve his station in life only to turn on them when they have outlived their usefulness,” Pam drawls as she inspects her nails. My child, as usual, has made an excellent point.
Violet looks at the three of us before looking back towards Bill’s home. “I take it the three of you have history with that douchebag.”
“How has Compton acted since Vamp Camp was destroyed?”
Violet shrugs. “Up until recently, Bill Compton has had nothing to do with Sookie. He is the one that organized us to attack Warlow when he was holding Sookie hostage, but Warlow easily overpowered him and Bill could not gain entry to Sookie’s home to continue fighting him; he had lost all of his powers after giving us his blood at Vamp Camp.”
“What did Bill do after Warlow met the True Death?” Knowing Bill the way I do, his first reaction would have been to give Sookie his blood.
“Nothing; he was concerned for her as we all were when she went into the coma. I think he would have offered her his blood, but Prince Brigant made it perfectly clear that no additional vampire blood was to enter her system. She had already had my blood because Warlow had roughed her up, tied her up, and nearly drained her.” At Violet’s words, my fangs snap down, growls and snarls erupt from my chest; I should have been here to protect her. I left her unprotected and she nearly died.
“So it is true?” Violet’s lips curl with amusement as she watches my reaction to her news. “Has the Viking been tamed by a Fairy?”
Before I can react, Godric has Violet pressed up against a tree; her hands claw at the hand he has wrapped around her throat, her legs flail helplessly in the air since he has her lifted off the ground. Her strength is no match for the two thousand year old vampire. Godric’s fangs are down as he roars menacingly at Violet. “You dare insult my child and his bonded?”
“But,” Violet begins only to be cut off by Godric’s hand crushing her windpipe. He drops her on the ground, where she writhes in pain as her body works to heal itself. Godric stands over Violet; his voice is harsh and imposing as he speaks. “If we did not need every available vampire to fight those that are infected, I would end you where you lay for your offense. Do not forget your place underling; do not speak of matters you do not understand. You will meet us at the Stackhouse home in two hours; I do not want to see you before then. If you do not show up, I will hunt you to the ends of the earth to deliver the True Death.” Godric vamps away from Violet to once again stand by my side. Violet stares at the three of us in shock before vamping away.
Pam looks at Godric in awe. Godric smirks as he notices her appraisal of him, “Your maker isn’t the only one that is a badass my dear. Who do you think he learned it from?”
The three of us vamp to Sookie’s home; I can admit it, I am eager to see Sookie again. So I am very disappointed to see that no lights are on in the house. My disappointment quickly shifts to anger and hurt as the unmistakable sounds of sex fills the air. I never expected Sookie would be the type to have sex with other people in the house; she has always struck me as being extremely modest. If she had realized the Weres had watched us having sex in the woods, I’m sure she would have been extremely embarrassed. I growl thinking of the Were; he is only doing this to mark his territory. It’s the equivalent of a dog pissing on a fire hydrant.
Pam looks at me with concern on her face. I know she wants to say something, but I don’t want to hear it. “Don’t Pam.” Godric’s expression is also one of pity, something I don’t wish to see. I need to tear something apart; I have to get away from this place before I do something I regret. Sookie has clearly made her choice and it isn’t me.
“Hey guys. What’s going on?” Sookie’s bubbly voice causes me to whip around, my mouth hanging open in shock. What is she doing here?
“What are you doing here?” I give silent thanks to my progeny for asking the question I cannot bring myself to ask.
“I was in Tara’s room. I needed to say good-bye,” she says quietly. Wait! If Sookie is here, then that means . . .
I vamp into the house, nearly ripping the door off its hinges in my haste to enter the residence. Moving up the stairs at full speed, I am oblivious to the destruction I cause to the pictures hanging on the walls as they rattle and fall off their hooks. Reaching Sookie’s old bedroom, I rip the door off its hinges. My fangs elongate and I snarl in anger as I see the soon to be dead dog rutting on top of my youngest progeny. Willa shrieks in horror when she realizes that I am in the room, vamping out from beneath Alcide to wrap her body in the quilt that was on the floor.
“What the fuck?” Alcide sits on the bed, the sheet draped around his hips. His eyes have the yellow glow to them indicating he is readying to shift. Bad doggie!
Grabbing the Were out of the bed, I slam his body into the wall, cracking the plaster all the way up to the ceiling. I am more than pleased to hear the crunch of bones breaking from the force of his body hitting the wall. How DARE he cheat on Sookie in her own home?!?!?!
Gripping his body tightly, I lean in close to his face, the urge to drain and maim him is nearly overpowering. But it won’t be here, I will not do it anywhere that Sookie can see. “I warned you dog what would happen if you hurt her.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” Alcide’s voice is laden with pain from the broken bones in his body as well as the death grip I have on his throat. His pain is good, but he hasn’t experienced nearly enough yet.
Gripping the quilt around her body, Willa is at my side, pleading with me. “Eric, please let me him go! He hasn’t hurt me.”
“This isn’t about you Willa,” I say without sparing a glance at my youngest progeny. By this time, Sookie has come running up the stairs. She pants in the doorway as she stares at the scene before her. She looks confused and pissed off. I wish I could spare her the pain and heartbreak from having seen this.
“What the fuck is going on here?” Her eyes shift back and forth between me and Alcide, never sparing a glance for Willa. I cannot imagine how she feels being betrayed by people she viewed as being a friend and a lover.
“Tell her!” My grip loosens on the Were so he can speak easily, explaining how he could thoughtlessly hurt the woman that loved him enough to share her life and home with him.
“Sookie, I have no idea what he is talking about! Get him off me!” Alcide pleads with Sookie. I laugh cruelly in his face. Why does he think the woman he hurt would do anything to help save him from me?
“Eric,” Sookie moves slowly by our sides, placing her hand on my arm. Her innocent touch soothes the beast inside me, but it does not make me release my hold on the dog. “Alcide isn’t going to hurt Willa. He’s looked out for her just as much as I have.” Her voice is patient and slow as she speaks to me. I don’t understand; why does everyone think I’m worried about my progeny?
I release my hold on the Were and he collapses to the ground, groaning in pain. Willa drops down to comfort him and I can’t help but roll my eyes. He’s a Were; he’s already started to heal. When I turn my gaze to Sookie, I see her standing there with her arms crossed over her chest and an impatient look on her face as she waits for me to begin speaking. I look between the two crouched on the floor and Sookie in confusion. Forcing my fangs back up, I take a step towards Sookie, trying to shield her from the naked couple on the floor.
“Perhaps we should talk outside.”
“No way Buster! I want to know why you attacked my friend without provocation! And I want to know why you’ve destroyed my home!” She’s poking me in the chest. Fairy Sookie has come out to play. My fangs ache to drop again and I want to pin her to the wall, devouring her. But it’s neither the time nor the place as I refocus on the issue at hand.
“Because he was unfaithful to you!”
Sookie looks as if she’s lost all the wind in her sails by my comment. The anger and confusion on her face are replaced by surprise followed quickly by recognition. Then her face settles into an expression that reminds me of our time in the cubby when I promised if she kissed me she’d be happy. Her expression is soft, a shy smile spreading across her lips, but it is her eyes that make me take an unnecessary breath. Her eyes are shining with love . . . and they are staring right at me!
“He’s not unfaithful to me,” she says softly. I open my mouth to speak, but she lays a finger across my lips to stop me. “Alcide and I aren’t involved; we’ve never been involved. The closest we ever came was the night you and Bill stopped us.” My eyes must be as wide as saucers by the time she finishes speaking. She takes my hand, tugging me to follow her as she leads me from the room. I follow her without question; I’d follow this woman to the ends of time if she asked.
Sookie guides me into her Gran’s room; well I guess her room now. She pushes me to sit down on the bed before sitting beside me. She’s never let my hand go; she is in fact tracing the lines of my palm with the fingers from her other hand.
She exhales a shaky breath before beginning to speak. “I’m sure there are a lot of things we need to discuss, but let’s stick with the short story for now. Alcide moved in here shortly after stepping down from Packmaster, but he has NEVER been anything more than a friend to me.”
“Why aren’t you with the Wolf?”
“Part of me never gave up hope that you would be coming home,” Sookie admits shyly.
My heart soars with her confession. She never gave up hope; she wanted me to come home. Sookie’s words fill me with inexplicable joy. Part of me hates that I have allowed a human, well part-human, to have so much control over me. At the same time, I would not give up this feeling for anything; not the ability to walk in the sun, not even Godric.
Sookie blushes as she continues her explanation. “Alcide is a great friend, one of my best friends in fact, but we knew long ago it would never work between us. He has been instrumental in protecting me from Bill. You see, as long as Bill thought I was with Alcide, I was safe. Bill’s stayed away from me for the most part. Well, at least until the night of the pairing party,” Sookie says with a frown.
I feel as if I am basking in the glow of the sun as warmth and heat spread through me. My heart feels as if it will float away like a balloon in the wind, as all the worries and doubt leave me. She isn’t the dog’s; she isn’t Bill’s; Warlow is nothing but a bad dream. My face must betray my joy because Sookie moves in front of me, one hand moving to touch my cheek, the other resting over my silent heart, but I swear it beats for her. “I don’t want another life, Eric.” I remember the words I had spoken to Nora on the night I left Sookie; I had told my sister that in another life, Sookie and I could have loved each other. I had no idea she had heard me. “I want this one, with you.”