ERIC POV, CONTINUED
“All is quiet,” Thalia reported. “The remains of Victor’s minions have been cleaned up. And I will see to the cleaning up of Jock now,” she added with an evil grin as she effortlessly held up the shop-vac.
The ash already inside of the appliance whished a bit as she shook it.
I nodded. “And Indira? Has she called in with her report?”
“Yes. She continues to watch the house where Bill has gone with the witches,” Thalia indicated. “The fangbanger arrived with your hair slightly before 10:00 P.M. She stayed to,” she paused, “bang Bill. And get fanged.”
“Wait!” Sookie exclaimed. “What fangbanger?”
“She seemed quite welcome to the idea of having sex with Bill,” Thalia said dryly. “I can’t say that I understand that. Though—from what I heard—she was much more attracted to Eric,” Thalia directed toward my bonded. “Enthusiastic even.”
When had Thalia started channeling Pam? And how could I stop it?!
“What?” Sookie demanded.
“Are you upset that she fucked Bill?” Thalia asked with confusion.
Sookie waved her hand as if she were brushing away Thalia’s words—as if they were ridiculous. Then she looked up at me. “She took your hair? Your hair? Where? How?”
I gave a sideways glare to Thalia and then assured my bonded. “Victor used the woman to get a hair sample,” I conveyed. “He wanted to test me to see if I would feed from and fuck her. I did feed,” I said contritely.
Sookie waved away my words just as she’d done Thalia’s.
“The bitch took your hair? Took. Your. Hair?!” she emphasized possessively, looking at my head as if to gauge exactly which strands were gone.
I chuckled. “It’s just a few strands of my hair, min kära. And she didn’t actually take it. I pulled the strands out myself—after I’d made it look as if she and I had . . . .” I paused.
“Fucked?” Thalia asked with a smirk.
“Yes. Precisely,” I said, giving the vampiress another glare. She looked like she was having fun.
Sookie’s anger ratcheted up.
Uh-oh. Luckily, it didn’t seem focused at me.
“You mean that Victor brought you a woman—specifically—for you to feed from and fuck!”
I knew better than to try to send my bonded calm at that moment. “Yes,” I answered.
She glared at the shop-vac—as if she might open it up and pour out its contents just so that she could stomp on Victor’s ashy remains.
“If he weren’t already dead, I’d wanna kill him for disrespecting our bond! Our marriage!” she said passionately.
I pulled her to my side. “Even if Victor had been capable of seeing how we truly are together, he wouldn’t have understood our bond—or us,” I said quietly. “The donor that he brought played a small part that we needed to be played tonight. That Victor provided that piece for us is all the more satisfying—do you not think?” I soothed. “Remember: the witches did need to be taken a piece of my hair for what is to come.”
Sookie sighed and leaned further into me. “But you had to make the fangbanger think that you’d had sex with her.” She shivered. “And I’m sure that you had to set the scene so that Victor thought so too.” She looked up at me. “That must have been awful for you!”
I smiled down at my chosen mate—not because of the disgust coming from her into our bond, but because she did not doubt for a second that interacting with the donor, Stacy, had been disgusting for me.
“Well—at least you fed since the battle was to be happening soon after,” my bonded said decisively.
“I knew that you would be angry with me if I didn’t,” I said a little playfully. “But she left a bad taste in my mouth,” I pouted.
Sookie rolled her eyes at me and then giggled. “Spoiled boy.”
“Yes,” I agreed, bending down to kiss her.
“Please tell me that Bill will smell you on the woman—that he believed he was getting sloppy seconds,” Thalia intoned flatly, interrupting my kiss with my bonded.
“Gross, Thalia,” Sookie frowned.
The vampiress shrugged. “Only if you are Bill.”
“As I was saying before,” Thalia smirked at me, “Indira reported that your hair was delivered, and the witches have been going through the motions of prepping for the supposed bond-breaking ceremony. It is almost 12:30. If all goes to plan, the witches will conduct the spell then—as they were instructed. Oh—and, according to Indira, Bill was done with the fangbanger less than ten minutes after she arrived! He glamoured her—likely to think that she had been satisfied when she clearly was not—and sent her away in a taxi.”
“Ten minutes?” Mr. Cataliades asked, joining the conversation.
“Less than. It seems lacking to you too?” Thalia asked him.
“Indeed.” Mr. Cataliades confirmed. “Even when Eric was faking it with the young donor, he gave the girl twenty minutes of his time.”
“Oh?” Thalia asked.
“Yes. The bar was abuzz with gossip while I was claiming Sookie as my goddaughter,” the demon shared before looking at Sookie. “Do not worry. Most of the vampires thought that she looked like a cheaper version of you.”
“She probably was cheaper—or at least less of a trouble-attracter,” Thalia commented a smirk.
“Enough!” I said with exasperation.
Of course, the two ignored me. Perhaps, they were practicing a comedy routine.
“Still—just ten minutes?” Mr. Cataliades asked.
“Less,” Thalia reminded with emphasis.
Maybe they had rehearsed their routine?
“Only 7.5 minutes from the time the fangbanger arrived to the time she left, according to Indira,” Thalia added. “And the hair transfer was included into that time too.”
“Surely that was not part of the sex act!” Mr. Cataliades exclaimed. “That would be kinky indeed!”
“Enough!” Sookie yelled out, putting her hands over her ears. “Seriously! Gross!”
Both supernaturals looked at her indulgently, though they—gratefully—shut their mouths.
“And now?” I asked. “What is Bill doing now?”
Thalia rolled her eyes. “He is getting antsy, according to Indira. He keeps on checking his phone, though he has yet to try to make any calls out on it—not that he could because of the signal scrambler Indira activated at 11:00 P.M.”
I nodded. That had been right before Bubba started his performance—right before we’d attacked Victor and his people. Similarly, Thalia had activated a device in Fangtasia to eliminate the possibility of calls originating from the club during the fight.
In the modern world, I knew that whoever controlled the information, controlled the “game.”
After the fight was over and only my trusted vampires were left in Fangtasia, the device blocking phone signals was turned off, and my people began spreading the “official story.” Gossip could be very useful after all—as long as it was controlled gossip.
And as for the “official story?”
Well—it was just logical enough to be believable and just astounding enough to be doubtable—the perfect combination. Officially the story was to be told—and embellished as followed: 1.) because of fairy blood lacing our Royalty Blended, the vampires in the club had become intoxicated; 2.) having succumbed to the euphoria brought on by the tainted blood and Bubba’s performance, we did not initially recognize that we were being “attacked” by a group of Weres and fairies; 3.) the bartender—the rat-bastard—seemed to have been in collusion with the attacking group; 4.) after a few moments to get ourselves together as we were able, the Area 5 vampires fought back valiantly; 5.) many Louisiana vampires perished, including the Regent, who had been “with” Sookie at the time; 6.) ultimately, “our” side prevailed.
I instructed my people to offer whatever details they liked—as long as they fit the overall narrative and were “rambling” in nature. I encouraged them all to claim to be the hero or heroine of the tale—even if they had done little during the fight. The more invested they were—and the more self-interested—the better. Moreover, the more versions of the story, the better. After all, we had all been “drunk” during the fight.
Plus, I encouraged them to feel free to discuss the “aftermath”—since we had “sobered up” by then because of the battle we had endured. I “encouraged” them to all brag about “battle wounds.” Of course—with vampires, such injuries could neither be proven nor disproven.
As for Bill? I had felt that it was better to make sure that he was kept in the dark until I saw fit; in truth, I did not want to risk him talking to Felipe until later. Honestly, I did not know how much Felipe knew about Victor’s plans or Bill’s involvement in them, but I did know that—if Bill learned that Victor was dead—he might call Felipe immediately and tell him everything. And I did not want to risk Felipe ordering Bill not to go through with the “severing” spell. On the contrary, by the end of the night, I wanted both of them to believe that the spell had been conducted and had worked.
“According to Indira, Bill seems to be counting down the minutes until the witches perform the spell,” Thalia informed, breaking me from my thoughts.
I nodded. “As planned, send Rasul to Bill after the spell is completed. Remind Rasul to give Bill the ‘official’ story, but with the addition that I became incapacitated a little after 12:30 A.M. Once Bill learns that Victor is dead and believes me to be harmed because of the severing spell, his first impulse may be to do something asinine—like searching for Sookie. Make sure that Rasul suggests that Bill inform Felipe in order to seek counsel from the king before doing anything else. And make sure that Indira knows to turn off the scrambler once Rasul arrives.”
Thalia nodded and lifted up the shop vac, shaking it again. “I’ll just finish the cleaning and then discuss matters with Rasul.”
I nodded, motioning toward the basement door. “Jock awaits you,” I said morbidly—for which I got a swat on the arm from Sookie. And for that swat, she got a long kiss.
Gods, how the woman could rile me with a mere touch—albeit an aggressive one!
I let Sookie up for air in time to see Mr. Cataliades opening the door to the basement/dungeon for Thalia so that my temporary second could see to Jock’s remains.
After the battle had started, the bartender had proven himself a “better” coward than a spy, and he had tried to flee and call Felipe. However, Thalia had intercepted him just as his call failed to connect, and then she had ripped off his hands. I’d had “fun” questioning Jock to make sure that I had discovered all of Victor’s minions in my area.
I smiled. Victor may have had his spies, but my spy had been better. Rasul had been an invaluable source of information regarding the Regent, and the information garnered from Jock was even less than Rasul had already given to me.
And I was certain that Jock had given me all the information that he could. There were ashy parts of him all over the dungeon as evidence of my “coercive tactics.”
If only I had been able to have had as much fun with Victor.
“What about Alcide’s people?” Sookie asked me after she had caught her breath from our kiss.
I took a moment to try to understand Sookie’s concern for them before I responded. “The one called Jannalynn was colluding with Sandra Pelt to kill you, so she is currently in the basement awaiting questioning. The other so-called guard was found waiting in his automobile. Completely useless.”
“And?” Sookie asked with challenge.
“And I had Palomino glamour him,” I told my kind-hearted bonded. “That Were will remember seeing Sandra, Jannalynn, and other Weres entering the club with some fairies before he was knocked out.”
“Was he really knocked out?” Sookie asked.
“I made sure that he would not be damaged permanently,” I said enigmatically. In truth, a little “brain damage” might do the inefficient Were some good.
“Thank you,” Sookie told me, even as she took my hand and squeezed it.
“Tomorrow night will be more difficult than tonight,” I said quietly.
“I know,” my bonded answered.
I leaned down to kiss her forehead. “Tonight was only as easy as it was because of your idea to use fairy blood to lace the glasses of Victor and his people.”
“Well, he tried to do it to you and Pam,” Sookie said stubbornly—though a little guiltily. I could tell that she was once again regretting all the killing that had been done that night, but it had to be done. “At least they got to be buzzed so most of them never saw it coming,” she muttered to herself as a kind of consolation.
And Sookie was right. Most of them had not seen their deaths coming.
Except for Victor.
I had made sure that he knew exactly who was the agent of his death!
Me! Eric. Fucking. Northman!
As Bubba had sung, I had watched Victor closely as his eyes had become slightly unfocused. I was gratified that he did have a moment of recognition in the end—despite the Fae blood he’d ingested. In an ideal world, I could have taken my time with him. And I would have thoroughly enjoyed it, too! But—since I’d struck quickly—my loyal subjects had recognized that they needed to do so as well. Though none of them were in on the plan except for Thalia, they had quickly joined in the fray—moments after Thalia had quite literally dropped a box of stakes in the area where most of my subjects stood.
Talk about dropping the symbolical gauntlet!
In thanks to the quality of vampires my area attracted, my people intuited enough to quickly recognize whom we needed to eliminate. I was especially impressed by Maxwell Lee, who had been a loyal subject for many years, and Palomino, who’d moved to Area 5 after Hurricane Katrina had decimated her nest. I had been surprised to see Molly wield a stake with tremendous accuracy. And even Bubba had joined in the fray—initially using his microphone stand as an impaling weapon before grabbing a stake and finishing off his victim.
I smiled a little. Indeed, I had been impressed by how quickly those who were loyal to me acted. It was as if they had been looking for something to happen. Likely, they had been waiting for me to make a move against Victor (whom they called “Prictor” among themselves). After all, it was well-known among them that the Regent had been trying to undermine me at every turn—and there were a limited number of “turns” that a Viking was willing to make before he or she killed.
Speaking of killing—after I had “offed” Victor, I eliminated two of his guards before they could even register that their charge had been attacked. The third guard, who was clearly not as drunk as the other two, tried to attack me from behind, but my bonded—amazing warrior that she was when required—took him out with a stake that had been hidden in her clothing.
All told, the battle had lasted less than a minute, and none of my people had been injured thanks to the fact that Thalia had been extremely precise and accurate in ensuring who received the incapacitating Fae blood.
In fact, the whole battle had been so easy that it had seemed like we were cheating! Part of me hoped that the next night—during which de Castro would be dealt with—would be just as easy. But—then again—the fighter in me longed for a much more challenging and satisfying battle.
I glanced at Mr. Cataliades, who was leaning casually against the hall wall and seemingly content to wait patiently for whatever came “next.”
I envied him a little. As the fight had been occurring in Fangtasia, he and Diantha had joined Rasul outside the club in fighting against Victor’s other two people. That battle had lasted several minutes, according to Rasul. And, clearly, it had been much more stimulating.
I sighed. At least I’d gotten to go “hunting” for Sandra Pelt, whom Thalia and I had caught skulking around with Jannalynn Hopper, whom I knew was dating Sookie’s shifter ex-boss. My temporary second and I had toyed with them for a few minutes before I knocked out Jannalynn and we brought both of the Were bitches to the dungeon. That was when poor Ms. Pelt “scratched” herself on Thalia’s fang—completely accidentally, of course.
While I was silently reviewing the events of the evening up to that point, Sookie kept hold of me, embracing me tightly as a myriad of emotions swept through her. Whereas I was gratified—if somewhat disappointed because of the quickness of the battle—Sookie’s emotions pinged around like a ball in a pinball machine. She felt relief. She felt love for me. She felt disgust. She felt guilt over all the killing. She felt anger. She felt sadness. She felt lust. She felt happy. She felt hungry. And she felt tired.
She was a complicated creature. And I loved her all the more for it.
“I should help you question Sandra and Jannalynn,” Sookie sighed, as she looked up at me.
“You do not have to,” I told her softly.
“I need to—for Sam,” she responded. “I know y’all caught Jannalynn with Sandra, but Sam really likes her, and if there’s any possibility that she’s not as guilty as she looks, I need to find that out,” she added with determination.
“Sookie,” Mr. Cataliades said gently, reminding her that he was still nearby. “Will you entrust me with the task?” he asked with a barely noticeable gesture to his head.
I guess that answered my question about whether or not he was a telepath.
“If you are needed, I will call you,” I said to my bonded softly. “There is no need for you to hear the venom in Sandra Pelt’s addled brain. And I swear to you that—if Merlotte’s girlfriend is redeemable—she will not be harmed in any way. I will glamour her and send her on her way.”
My mate sighed even more deeply than before. “I’m not sure I like the idea of the two of you teaming up and trying to shelter me from things,” she said somewhat accusingly.
“We are not doing that,” Mr. Cataliades returned soothingly. “We are merely offering to complete a task that goes against your nature. If you want, you can participate. No one is stopping you,” he added evenly—almost indifferently.
Given the softening of Sookie’s stubborn look, I knew I was going to be taking notes from the part-demon about how to “handle” my bonded.
Sookie looked back and forth between me and Mr. Cataliades for a moment. “Okay. But call me if you need me?” she asked. “And—if Jannalynn turns out to be bad, I need to be the one to tell Sam,” she added demonstrating that her stubbornness was still there to a certain extent. “And I need to be able to tell him that it was quick.”
“Agreed,” I said as I bent down to place a soft kiss on Sookie’s forehead.
“Thanks,” she smiled up at me. “I needed that kiss.”
“You’ll get more later,” I smiled after giving her a quick peck on the lips. “Meanwhile, there is some food for you in my office,” I told my bonded. “Feel free to partake while Mr. Cataliades and I question the Weres.”
When Sookie looked at me with a question in her eyes, I shrugged. “Mustapha hated Victor too—as you know. And he wanted to join in the fight, but having Weres in the club might have made Victor suspicious. Still—I was able to give Mustapha an essential task.”
“So you had him get me food?” she asked incredulously.
“Sonic,” I clarified. “I know you enjoy that restaurant.”
She chuckled. “Yeah. It’s my favorite fast food.”
“A chili cheese Coney, an order of tater tots, and a cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper await you,” I said.
My bonded shook her head, probably because of the fact that I recalled her favorite order at the eating establishment.
“I have perfect recall,” I said matter-of-factly.
“Yes you do,” she said before rising up on her tip-toes to nip my lips. “But I know that you hate the smell of fast food, especially the tater tots,” she whispered.
“Yes—absolutely,” I agreed. “The oil they are prepared in is likely months old. And I smell no potatoes when you eat them. And it is my understanding that they should be made from that vegetable.” I frowned. “However, you were too nervous to eat dinner before, and I knew you would require sustenance. Comfort food.”
“How do you know that I was too nervous to eat earlier?” she asked with a smirk.
“I know you,” I returned.
She tip-toed her way up to another brief kiss.
“Those tater tots are delicious. You’re just jealous you can’t eat them,” she whispered.
I chuckled. “Keep telling yourself that they are food. I—for one—am not certain.”
She giggled. “Well—a vampire as old as dirt wouldn’t know a good tater tot if it hit him upside the head.”
I cringed dramatically. “Shhh, min kära, do not give potential enemies any ideas about new weapons that could be developed against vampires.” I winked at her.
She giggled a little louder and rewarded me with another peck.
“Mustapha, Maxwell Lee, and Palomino will look after you while we’re busy,” I assured her.
“No violence—okay?” Sookie implored.
I lifted a brow.
“What I mean is no torture—not unless you have to,” she corrected.
I sighed. “Not unless we have to,” I relented.
“And—even Sandra. I know that she . . . .” Sookie stopped for a moment. “I know that you will likely have to kill her because she’d never stop trying to kill me otherwise. But do that one quick too. Okay?”
I sighed. I really, really wanted to torture someone! More than I’d tortured Jock, that is.
“Fine,” I conceded.
“I’ll let you take your bloodlust out on me later—okay?” Sookie said, half-seriously and half-playfully. Clearly, the idea of more deaths that night was preying upon her, but she was trying to accept the necessity of them.
And that made all the difference in the world to me.
“They will be treated better than they deserve,” I promised my bonded.
She nodded. “Okay.”
“I’ll come to you soon,” I said before Mr. Cataliades and I moved toward the basement.
A/N: Hello all. I hoped that you enjoyed the brief recounting of the “brief” battle that involved Victor and his minions. I absolutely hated how the aftermath of the battle was dealt with in the C.H. novels. The violent nature of Eric’s bite was shocking considering what we knew about him in regards to Sookie from earlier books. He had always acted to spare her pain. I think C.H. was trying to sell that he was embittered by the breaking of the bond. I didn’t buy it. And it was yet another reason why I was reticent to read the future stories in the series.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the recount. I had fun imagining Thalia and Mr. C’s conversation.
Please comment if you have the time and inclination.
An extra thanks to Kleannhouse for the eagle eyes and Seph for the character banners–several of which are “new.”