DECEMBER 31, 9:00 P.M.
“Are you certain?” I asked my informant from Felipe’s court. Sandy Sechrest had been a lover of mine almost a century before, and she was an absolute wizard with numbers! She was also inconspicuous and innocuous—two things which made her the perfect spy.
“Positive,” she said in such a whisper that I could barely hear her over the phone. “It will be later tonight—exactly two hours before the new year. Your time.”
“Thank you,” I said, even as I abruptly hung up the phone.
Given her clandestine tone, Sandy wouldn’t be wanting to dilly dally on the phone with pleasantries either. And I had a lot of things to do in order to prevent Louisiana from being taken over.
Plus, I had to babysit to boot!
Claire was an angel. She was little more than two weeks old, yet she was already quite the sleeper. And she’d basically put herself onto her own sleeping schedule! Funnily enough, she seemed to want to keep vampire hours. She slept from 9:00 a.m. to about 3:00 p.m. Then she’d EPPP for a while (“eat, pee, poop, and play”) before napping from 7:00 p.m. to about 8:00 p.m. Then she’d EPPP some more before napping at about 2:00 a.m. And then she’d EPPP one last time before the morning came and she was ready to sleep again.
Also, she was content to drink from breast or bottle, which was fine with me—given the fact that I was producing more milk than Claire would ever need and had to express a lot of it.
Given this fact, Amelia was able to be my back-up feeder.
And Hennesy was my “back-up back-up.”
Unless it was nighttime. If it was, I just let the vampires in my life fight it out for feeding rights when my breast wasn’t available. Claire was particularly fond of Wybert.
Hell! Even Andre had fed my daughter!
Though his attempt at cooing had fallen flat.
I knew. Sophie had caught it on video.
Another amazing thing about Claire—not that anything about her didn’t amaze me—was her mind. It “poked” at me whenever she needed anything. And it also told me when she liked/disliked someone. For example, she liked Amelia, Bubba, Hennesy, and Wybert very much. She was more-less indifferent toward Sigebert. Meanwhile, I still couldn’t tell the two “Berts” apart!
And—sadly to say—Claire liked Sophie even more than she liked me at times. I tried to tell myself that it was Sophie’s quiet vampire mind that was the reason for that. Or—at least—I hoped it was.
Of course, maybe Claire just felt the disquiet within me. That uneasiness was why I was currently driving from New Orleans to Shreveport—with Hennesy sitting shotgun (with a literal shotgun in her lap) and Bubba sitting in the backseat, humming “Heartbreak Hotel.”
I shifted in my seat a little. I was still sore from giving birth. Claire was over 11 pounds, for goodness sakes!
Of course, I was also uncomfortable about the situation. After all, it wasn’t every day that a person went to beg her “sort of ex” to give her another chance.
I had a fleeting thought that Eric had chosen New Years to make his reappearance at Fangtasia because it was “our” anniversary of sorts. But then I shook that thought away. There were fifty other reasons why Eric would have chosen this night, and none of those had to do with me.
I was interrupted from my thoughts as my phone rang.
“Would you?” I asked Hennesy.
The Were nodded and answered my phone for me. I didn’t like talking on the phone while driving.
“Sookie’s phone,” Hennesy answered.
I heard a feminine voice, but I couldn’t make out the words it spoke.
After Hennesy hung up, she turned to me. “Turn around,” she ordered.
“What?” I asked.
“There’s to be a takeover attempt tonight, and the queen wants you secured.”
I pushed down the gas pedal. We were only five minutes from Fangtasia.
Hennesy growled at me.
“Did you really think I would turn around?” I asked with a growl of my own.
“No,” the Were said. “The queen didn’t either. She wanted me to tell you that Wybert has Claire in a secure bunker.”
I nodded and pressed the gas pedal even harder.
Bubba kept right on humming.
“I understand,” I said into the phone receiver, even as I scanned the Fangtasia crowd. I was in my customary black, and—since my hand had yet to regrow—I’d opted to wear a hook.
In fact, most of the fangbangers were fixated upon it.
The others seemed focused on my tight leather pants.
Pam always did know how to choose wardrobe!
Come to think of it, she’d chosen the hook too.
I sighed as I hung up my call from the queen’s child. I had been hoping for a peaceful night. It was my first night back at work—at least publically—and I’d been eager to reestablish a bit of normalcy.
In fact, I’d been hoping that a Fangbanger might catch my eye. It had been months since I’d broken things off with Olivia, and—even if Sookie had still lived in my area and was still “into me”—I had resolved not to pursue things with her again.
Pam had called me a fool and had told me that Sookie loved me. However, if that were true, then her love for me had almost gotten her and her child killed in Rhodes.
Claire—I thought to myself. The name meant “bright” or “clear.” I couldn’t help but to smile to myself as I thought of the infant. According to Pam, she’d been born healthy. And Sookie was well too.
I called Pam to my throne. She arrived moments later.
“Apparently, there is to be a takeover attempt tonight,” I whispered in Old Norse.
“Oh?” she asked, her eyes brightening with excitement.
“Gather the troops—quietly,” I instructed.
“Oh—I’ll be extremely subtle, Captain,” she smirked.
I’d forbidden her from calling me “Captain Hook,” but she continued to push my limits.
She was lucky I didn’t have time to punish her by making her change into the 80’s style sequined dress I’d put into her Christmas stocking.
I looked down as I received a text alert. It had been Andre who had called me to warn me of the threat, but it was Sophie-Anne who was texting me.
“Take care of our girl,” the text said.
A moment later another text came in.
“And she is yours too—more than she’ll ever be mine—or anyone else’s.”
A moment later, there was yet another text.
“Tell her you love her, you idiot! You might die tonight. You might as well die an honest man.”
Though I already knew what “girl” Sophie-Anne was talking about, I was still a little taken aback when Sookie pushed her way into Fangtasia a moment later, skirting right past Maxwell Lee. I knew that Sookie had delivered her child only 21 days before, yet her curves were already working toward receding to their previous state, though her hips were still wider and her breasts were still bigger.
In other words, she looked sumptuous!
Sookie paused just past the entrance, took a deep breath, and then strode purposely toward me—with her Were guard and Bubba on her heals.
“I need to speak with you,” she said meaningfully.
Without a word, I took her hand and led her to my office. Hennesy and Bubba stayed outside the door.
For a moment, Sookie and I just looked at each other.
“You should go, Sookie,” I said. “It isn’t safe here.”
In the next second, I felt the sting of one of her palms across my cheek. My fangs clicked down.
“Fuck you, Eric! It’s not safe for you here either!”
“I’m not a new mother!” I yelled.
She narrowed her eyes. “And I’m not willing to let Felipe de Castro take over this state and enslave me or my daughter!”
I growled. “That’s what he intends?” I asked.
“Ever since he had Quinn seduce and impregnate me—yes! And he wants Louisiana too! He thinks Sophie’s vulnerable.”
“How do you know all this?” I asked.
“There are nine vampires and one weretiger less than half a mile away from here! And—trust me—I’ve made it my fucking goal to learn how to thoroughly read a weretiger!” she yelled.
“Sookie, I . . . .” I stopped midsentence, unable to finish my thought.
“The attack’s coming at 10:00 p.m.,” she said, her eyes closing. “Quinn doesn’t know I’m here, but his motivation is to get to me. He knows that my daughter is his.”
She started trembling with fear.
“Sookie,” I said, reaching out to take her into my arms. “I promise. I won’t let him. Not ever.”
She looked up at me. “I came here to beg you to give me another chance,” she whispered.
“What?” I asked.
“I fucked things up so badly, Eric. But—if you’ll let me—I want to fight for and with you. I love you.”
With my good hand—not the hook—I tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear. “You were right back in February. You deserve a normal life—a life free from fear. Every time we’re together, you are in danger.” I sighed. “I think you and I are just cursed.”
She reached up and placed her palm against my cheek. “Then maybe we should work together for a change so that we can break the curse.”
I leaned into her touch. I couldn’t help myself.
“You broke things off with Olivia,” she barely whispered.
“I did. She wanted things I couldn’t give her,” I stated.
“I want things too,” she said.
“What do you want?” I asked.
She pulled a little green charm from her pocket. “Do you know what a cluviel dor is?” she asked.
I nodded as I looked at the object; immediately, it enraptured me. “A fairy charm,” I breathed.
“Yes. I’ve learned that my great-grandfather is Niall Brigant,” she said.
I tensed as I was broken from my entrancement. “Then you are a princess of the Sky Fae,” I said, awestruck.
“No,” she smiled softly. “I’m just me—just Sookie,” she sighed. “But—with this trinket—I could wish anything as long as it was a wish based on love.”
I looked at the object. I felt its power.
“I could make you love me back with this,” she looked up at me. “Because I do love you, Eric. I was just late in seeing that.”
“You don’t need to make me love you,” I told her sincerely.
“I could take us back in time to the moment before I let you go,” she said, a tear falling from her eye.
“But then you wouldn’t have Claire,” I whispered.
“I could wish that Quinn were dead,” she said.
“But then I wouldn’t have the privilege of killing him,” I growled.
“I could wish that we’d both survive this night,” she said.
“We will anyway,” I said gruffly, pulling her tighter against my chest.
“Eric?” she said, looking up at me.
“Yeah?” I asked.
“I love you.”
I sighed. “There’s just so much hurt between us, Sookie,” I said.
“I could wish the hurt away,” she whimpered.
“Don’t do that,” I said. “Hurt is a teacher,” I said. “My human mother taught me that.”
She sighed and then broke herself from my arms and stepped back.
She looked scared as she held up the small green object.
“My real grandfather gave this to my grandmother. It was among the things Amelia packed up in my house.” She shook her head. “I didn’t know what it was when I found it, but then my great-grandfather told me.”
She thumbed the object.
“Gran never used it, but I’m going to—tonight,” she said resolutely.
“It’s supposed to be for love,” she said, holding the object higher. “I love you. Eric. So—if this piece of magic was meant for me—then it was always meant for you too.”
She closed her eyes as if in prayer.
“I wish for you to have your heart’s desire, Eric Northman,” she breathed. “Whatever that is.”
The object glowed, and—suddenly—I was on my knees.
The memories I’d lost from the four nights that Sookie and I had spent together filled my mind.
She’d stopped in the middle of the night to make sure I was okay, though she’d been raped by a rabid vampire only weeks before.
She’d carefully pulled glass and rock from my feet so that I wouldn’t have to bear the pain of my body pushing the substances from healed-over flesh.
She’d taken me in and given me clothing and food.
She’d held my hand when I was frightened and knew nothing about myself beyond the name she’d told me.
And she’d done much more than that too. She’d shared her life with me. She’d trusted me with her body and her stories. The hearth of her house had become our home together. And she’d fought the witches with me—even though she knew that capturing Hallow would likely cause me to leave her.
She’d fought for me.
Maybe she’d always been fighting for me—the best she could. She’d just failed to see that fighting for herself—for us—would have been the same thing.
The cluviel dor was still shining in her hands—the love token spent on her wish that I would have my heart’s desire. Did she know that those had been words within Hallow’s curse?
I suppose that didn’t much matter.
I looked up at her. In that moment, she was more beautiful than I could imagine a person could be. The remnants of the fairy magic seemed to encase her in a faint glow.
Yet—her expression was worried.
Worried that I would reject her.
“Okay then,” I whispered as I stood up and reached out my hand. “I will claim the desire of my heart—you, Sookie Stackhouse. You!”
She let out a sob. “Really?”
“Really,” I confirmed.
She looked ready to faint, and I pulled her into my arms once more.
“I have you, Sookie. I have you. Just swear to me that you will never let me go again. Swear that you will always fight for us.”
“I swear.” She looked up at me, her eyes shining. “Let’s start with Quinn—okay?”
“I love you,” I said, pulling her to me for an intense kiss.
After I’d let her up for air, Sookie insisted upon making a call. She was determined to “help”—after all.
Of course, Sookie wasn’t the kind of woman to make a “simple” call. Nope. She called her fairy great-grandfather. High Prince Niall Brigant “popped” into my office, complete with a sword strapped to his back.
“Your intentions, vampire?” he demanded without prelude.
Sookie scoffed and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“Ignore him,” she told me.
The great Niall Brigant looked close to pouting as she chastised him.
I might have found that funny if his question hadn’t cut me to the quick.
So—what were my intentions with Sookie? Clearly, Sookie was my heart’s desire. I knew that; I’d known it before she’d used the cluviel dor to give me the greatest gift that she could have bestowed upon me—the memory of us.
And then I knew what I needed to do and say. I knelt.
“Sookie, you once took me in off of a dark, lonely road, and you kept me safe. Then and now, you’re ready to fight for me. I couldn’t believe my luck then, and I still cannot believe it. When our enemies are defeated, I will bring you to my side—and I will keep you there always as my wife and my bonded. If you will have me. I will share everything I have with you. Every vampire who owes me fealty will honor you. And I will honor you—for all the days of my existence.”
Niall and Sookie looked at me with matching expressions of disbelief for a moment before Niall’s lips turned up into a smirk.
“Acceptable, vampire,” the fairy said.
Sookie looked at me seriously. “It’s not just me. I come with a daughter now, too.”
I felt my own lips smirking. “I’ve had some of those before. Much easier than sons!”
“How so?” she asked, a smile beginning to form on her perfect lips.
“All you need is a moat and a tall tower. I already have a gator farm, so I’ll be able to keep the moat well-stocked,” I said seriously.
Sookie smiled but then bit her lip nervously. “The Ancient Pythoness told me that Claire would shift one day.”
“Hopefully she won’t kill the gators,” I intoned without missing a beat.
Pam, of course, had to ruin the moment by barging in. She looked at Sookie, at me on my knees, and then at Niall.
“Well hello there,” she purred at the elder fairy. “Tell me—if I am injured—will you heal me with your blood?”
Niall chuckled. “You are Northman’s child—I presume?”
“Mmmm,” Pam sounded.
“Good. We will get to know each other. We will soon be in-laws,” he added matter-of-factly.
I shook my head. Clearly any moment I’d been having with Sookie was now gone, so I began to stand up.
“No! Wait!” Sookie cried out. “I accept!”
“Accept what?” I grinned.
“Everything. Even the moat!”
I finished standing and took Sookie into my arms before kissing her soundly.
It was Sookie who broke away.
“Quinn just gotta call from de Castro, who’s in New Orleans. Personally. The attack is beginning in ten minutes,” she said. “Shouldn’t we get a move on?”
I gave Sookie one last quick kiss and then looked at Pam. “Have Maxwell turn away the humans still in line to get in. Have him claim that we are at capacity and closing the doors until midnight. After that, get the humans already in the club herded into the basement. Then have everyone get into position for attack plan epsilon.”
The vampiress grinned. “A wise choice. Come with me, Gramps,” she said, leading Niall from the room.
“Epsilon?” Sookie asked.
“Yes,” I smiled. “My people—you included—will be leaving the club via a secret underground passage. We’ll meet up with the others who have been called, and then we’ll surround our foes’ attack force.”
“What if they try to burn the club?” she asked. “What about all the humans inside?”
“The dungeon has a fireproof door and its own ventilation system. It would get hot in there, but not enough to kill those inside.”
“Thank you,” she whispered.
I smiled at her.
She was mine—finally.
“Come,” I said. “Let’s get ready.”
It would have been difficult for me to express just how happy I was in that moment—despite the fact that I was getting ready to go to battle.
And with my great-grandfather.
When I’d first met Niall, I’d been wary of him.
Why hadn’t he made contact sooner? Why hadn’t I been told the truth of my lineage before?
As it turned out, it had been my grandfather, Niall’s son, who had kept his father from getting to know me or my family. Fintan, Gran’s lover, had used his magic to cover his part-human family from his fairy family. Upon his death, the magic had lessened, and Niall had discovered where we were, but he still couldn’t approach us directly. He’d used a “loophole” to make Claudine my fairy godmother, but that had taken effect only the summer before, and Claudine was limited because she couldn’t hide her scent from vampires. As for Niall—the house in Bon Temps had made it impossible for him to interact with me. Fintan’s spell had lingered there and had kept him away.
Thus, when I officially moved, Niall had been freed—finally—to “visit.”
Upon first meeting Niall, I’d been apprehensive of him—to say the least! I suppose that a part of me still was guarded with him. But I’d also gotten the strong impression that he was a good person overall. And I was willing to give him a chance. His coming out to fight in a vampire turf war with me and the vampire I had just gotten engaged to—for all intents and purposes—was a big deal to me.
I’d never in a million years expected for Eric to kneel down and promise me the world. But I really shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, when I’d wished for Eric to have his heart’s desire, it had been completely selfish and completely selfless on my part.
Yes—I’d wanted to be that desire of his heart. And I wanted to stay that way for the rest of my life—or longer.
However, I also knew that I might not be what Eric truly wanted. I’d kept in touch with Olivia enough to know that they’d both moved on, but that didn’t mean that I would automatically be what he wanted the most.
With my hand firmly in his, I followed Eric through the tunnel, which took us well clear of the club. From there, we would surround our enemies. Eric’s battle preparations had included strapping a sword to his back and stowing some stakes in his clothing. My battle preparations had included being outfitted with several stakes, being handed a gun full of silver bullets, and being hounded by Pam to teach her how to shoot the next time I saw her.
I’d agreed to Pam’s request.
Meanwhile, I kept Quinn and his group in my mental sights, updating Eric as needed. Currently, they were surrounding the club, and—though Quinn was wondering why the front door had been closed—he’d been ordered by de Castro not to call until after the club was overtaken.
Right before we left the tunnel, I told Eric where all the Nevada group was lying in wait. And Eric quickly gave instructions to his vampires. Between the ones who’d already been at the club and the ones Pam had called in, we had a group of eight vampires, one full-blooded fairy, one telepath, and one Were.
Eric gave the order to attack our enemies one minute before they were planning to attack us.
I couldn’t move nearly as fast as the others in our group, but with Hennesy and Bubba by my side, I did see the tail-end of the fight, and when an enemy seemed to be getting the upper hand on Indira, I shot the Nevadan with silver and slowed him down.
And when Quinn got a little “handsy” with his claws, I put two rounds into his ass.
God—that felt good!
But mostly I just watched and appreciated the lethalness of the people on Louisiana’s side.
Despite having only one hand, Eric was amazing as he fought. In fact, if anything, he used his hook to his advantage, and it certainly caused a lot of havoc!
The battle didn’t last long. Heck—Pam and Thalia alone likely could have dealt with the Nevadan force, especially since we took them by surprise. When Niall and Eric were added in, our forces were clearly superior to theirs. Plus, Maxwell Lee, Clancy, and Indira were all good fighters. I didn’t know the other Area 5 vampires who were with us, but they held their own too.
Thus, fewer than seven minutes after the battle had begun, all of the Nevadan vampires were ash and one large Bengal tiger was hogtied with what looked to be strong silver wire. Pam had managed to find a muzzle as well, though I was pretty sure it wasn’t needed, given the fact that I’d seen Eric punch Quinn’s mouth hard with his good hand and then slice his jaw with his hook.
By the look on Eric’s face, I could tell that he wasn’t done with Quinn either, but I wasn’t about to beg for the weretiger’s life—though, in truth, a small part of me felt sorry for him. After all, he had been blackmailed and used by de Castro for most of his adult life—with his mother’s safety being threatened all the time.
However, Quinn had allowed his situation to mold him into a bad man, and—as he looked at me—his thoughts told me that he would always want to harm me if he were left alive. And he’d always be a threat to Claire too. He was willing to “sell” a telepathic kid to de Castro. So I was willing to look the other way as Eric did what he needed to do to “skin the cat.”
My great-grandfather looked keen to join him.
As soon as Eric assessed that all was well, he strode over to me, took me into his arms, and kissed me breathless.
Moments later, his phone rang, and he grunted before answering it.
“This is Northman,” he said, panting a little.
I, too, was panting. What could I say? The Viking was hot when he was in the midst of bloodlust.
“Yes, my queen,” he said, slightly less impatiently than before. “All is well here.” There was a pause. “I am glad to hear that there were no losses on your end. What of the other sheriffs?” There was another pause. “And de Castro?” He grinned. “I wish I could see that.” There was another pause and he winked at me. “I will tell Sookie that Wybert is currently putting Claire down for her nap and singing her a lullaby, but I will pay you if you can get him on video.”
I grinned at him.
“We will see you tomorrow evening then.” There was a final pause. “Yes. I will be traveling with Sookie to New Orleans.”
I could hear Sophie laughing as Eric took the receiver away from his ear to hang up.
“She seems happy for us,” Eric smiled.
I wrapped my arms around his well-built body.
I felt like I belonged there.
I did belong there.
A year ago tonight, I’d stopped my car because I’d recognized that it was Eric running along the country road I traveled every time I worked at Merlotte’s. Before then, I’d liked Eric and I was certainly attracted to him. Most importantly—I had trusted him with my life.
After he regained his memories and left my home, I still trusted him—with my life.
But I didn’t fight for him because I’d never learned how to fight for me, and he’d become a part of me by then.
One of the best parts.
It had taken me a long time to figure that out.
As I took in his unique scent, I vowed to always fight—whether it be for him, with him, or beside him.
But I would never fight against him again—because, in doing so, I would be fighting against myself too.
And I was done with that.
I was a human.
I was a fairy.
I was a telepath.
I was a mother.
One of my guards was Elvis.
One of my guards became a wolf at will.
My daughter would one day be a telepathic weretiger.
My great-grandfather had pointy ears, sported sharp teeth, and could teleport.
My best friend was a vampire queen.
My other best friend was a witch.
My beloved was a thousand-year-old Viking vampire.
All of these things were parts of me.
And every single one of them was worth fighting for, especially the vampire who was currently stroking my hair.
With his hook.
NOT REALLY! THERE IS NOW AN EPILOGUE! You can access it by clicking “next” below!
A/N: I hope that you enjoyed the way I ended the main part of this SHORT. Remember, that my prompt asked me to make Sookie pursue and work hard to get Eric (who had moved on). I hope I did alright by this idea by Lajayden1973. I must say that this SHORT turned out to be longer (and much different) than I thought it would be, but I had fun with it.
Finally, thanks so much to everyone who read this story and got excited by the story! I’m so privileged to have such wonderful readers!
Thanks so much to Kleannhouse, who betas everything I write nowadays–helping me find my most egregious errors and offering feedback, suggestions, and (most importantly) support.
Thanks to Sephrenia, who spends hours and hours bringing my work more to life by creating artwork to complement it!
You ladies are amazing!!!
I just found out that this story is featured on TWCS site! Thanks so much for the honor!!!!