ERIC POV, CONTINUED
Sookie’s eyes closed. “Sam, your brain is tinged in red, and your thoughts are different—more feelings than specific words.” She opened her eyes. “I’ve heard other similar brains—just not nearly as many as other people—so I never wondered. I just always accepted that some people were different.”
“Sookie,” Sam whimpered.
She sighed loudly. “You should go, Sam. I’ll see you tomorrow for my shift.”
“You’re still gonna work for me?” he asked.
She let out a little laugh. “I don’t have much choice.” She took a deep breath. “I understand why you decided not to tell me. I do. I wish you would have trusted me, but I’ll get over it.”
“We’re okay?” the shifter asked.
I rolled my eyes.
“No,” Sookie responded. “We aren’t. You didn’t trust me, and now I don’t trust you. Maybe that’ll change one day. Maybe it won’t. Meanwhile, I need my job to pay my bills, so—as long as you don’t fire me—I’ll work,” she resolved.
I couldn’t help but to be impressed even more by Sookie Stackhouse. It had taken her only minutes to process that she was a Supernatural. It had taken her even less time to accept that her “friend” was one and that there were many others out there. Moreover, she’d used her cleverness to ascertain how two-natured beings were different when it came to their thoughts, too.
A gem, more precious than a diamond in the rough—that is what Sookie Stackhouse was!
“I don’t want to leave you alone with him,” Merlotte said, sending his derision in my direction.
“Why not?” Sookie asked.
“He’s a vampire,” Merlotte growled.
“You’re a dog during full moons,” she responded acerbically. Even Pam would have been proud of her tone. “And I can read minds,” she reminded.
“He has a reputation,” the dog said.
“As what?” she asked.
“He is likely trying to seduce you.”
“No likely about it,” I intoned under my breath.
“And he’s brutal!” the mutt cried out.
“Of course I am! To my enemies. Are you one of those, Fido?” I smirked.
Sookie gave me a warning look.
“Just asking to clarify,” I said innocently.
She shook her head, but I saw her tiny smile directed at me. So did the stray.
“Sam,” she asked, “do you know about vampire blood ties?”
If I could have gotten away with kissing her for her savviness, I would have. With a bit of training, she could rival any tactician.
“Yeah,” the shifter said, even as he shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot.
“Did you know that Bill had made one with me?” she asked.
He nodded. “Yeah, but he seems like a decent one, Sook. And he saved your life.”
Sookie sighed and closed her eyes. “You were there the night the Rats tried to kill me. I mean—Dean was there.”
“Yeah. I tried to help you, Sook.”
I rolled my eyes. Transforming into a fucking lion would have helped! Dean the fucking dog was a fucking waste of ability.
Of course, Sam in “human” form was a waste too. So that made sense.
“I appreciate that, Sam,” Sookie sighed. “But I still want you to leave.”
“But I know that Bill’s not around, and there’s a killer on the loose,” he insisted.
“I am a thousand years old,” I deadpanned. “Come fetch the newspaper tomorrow morning, Lassie, but for now—it’s covered.”
Sam glared at me, but then dropped the pillow even as he shifted into a hawk and flew away.
I heard Sookie exhale. “That is pretty cool,” she remarked.
I chuckled. Yes—she was one of a kind.
Finding out about Sam had left me a little raw.
Actually, I’d already been raw after learning about Hadley and her likely role in Bill approaching me.
And then there was the fact that Bill had likely been sent to procure me for the vampire queen of Louisiana.
“I was an easy target for Bill,” I said quietly. “A very easy target.”
“We are all easy targets until we learn to fight,” Eric returned.
“What should I do?” I asked him.
“I won’t tell you what to do,” he said firmly.
I think I might have fallen in love with him in that moment—if I weren’t so numb.
“What would you do?” I returned with a sigh.
“Know thyself,” he said simply.
“Magic, time, or a stronger vampire’s blood,” I said. “That’s what would take away the tie?”
“Would you give me your blood?” I asked.
“I would love to exchange with you,” he said, panting.
“Good,” I replied with a nod.
“But I won’t,” he added.
“What the fuck? Why not?” I asked.
“Wouldn’t you doubt me then?” he returned. “Wouldn’t you want to know what you wanted before you tied yourself to me—or to anyone?”
“You’re right,” I relented.
He smirked. “Of course I am. But I do know a witch or two,” he smirk, retrieving his phone from his jeans.
His really flattering jeans!
I listened as Eric quickly explained the situation to a woman whom he warmly greeted as Octavia. Five minutes later, he’d gathered several items, including some from Bill’s house—all the while mixing some sort of paste in a plastic mixing bowl.
He seemed to pause for a moment. “You’ll never be able to use this bowl again,” he told me apologetically. “Octavia just alerted me of this fact.”
“It’s okay,” I said. “It’s old anyway.”
“I will replace it,” he assured.
And—suddenly—just like that, I was in his mind again. Those slithering snakes were back. Again, I felt his desire to have me. It was overwhelming! He wanted me with everything that he was.
Bite. Take. Help. Give.
These were the impulses I heard from him.
“Sookie?” he asked with concern, even as the force of his thoughts and emotions made me have to sit down.
I guess there was no hiding my “slip-up” now.
“I heard you,” I whispered, looking up at him. Thankfully, his thoughts were now blanks again.
“My thoughts?” he asked, still stirring the mixture and still on the phone with Octavia.
He nodded too. “We’ll discuss that later,” he said.
“Are you gonna kill me?” I asked. Bill had suggested more than once that I was safe from vampires only because I couldn’t hear them.
“No,” he answered simply. “I like you too much to do something like that.”
He was smirking. I took that as a good sign.
So—Sookie had “heard” me. And—from her reaction—I posited that it had occurred at least one other time, too. For she’d not been surprised enough for it to have occurred just the once.
Horrified and scared? Yes.
I should have been more bothered by the fact that she’d heard me, but I found that I trusted her in the same intrinsic way that she seemed to trust me.
It was funny how that worked.
But it did seem to work.
“If I’m not Bill’s—if I don’t feel love for him after his blood is gone—then couldn’t anyone claim me?” she asked sagely.
“Does claiming require blood?” she asked.
I smirked. “The good kind does. But not when you have Were guards during the day and vampire ones sent by me at night.”
She blushed, and I reveled in it.
“Are you claiming me?” she asked, even as I listened to Octavia’s final directions and hung up the phone.
“If you ask after this spell has worked, then yes,” I responded.
“And what would that mean?” she asked.
“How about a salary and benefits for two nights of your service per week—at a thousand a night. As a start.”
She gasped. “Surely, I’m not . . . .”
“You are worth that and more. And I’ll have my lawyer draw up a contract between us so that other vampires have to go through me to approach you.”
She took a deep breath. “Okay—and us?”
“We’ll talk after,” I whispered, “once you know your own mind.”
She nodded her agreement. “So—uh—what do I need to do?” she asked, gesturing toward the paste in the bowl.
“We go outside, make a circle with salt, put this and you inside the circle, add some of your blood to the mix, and then light the bowl on fire.”
“Okay. Sounds easy enough.”
“I hear that it’ll hurt you a little,” I cautioned. Okay, I was low-balling it. Octavia said that it would hurt badly. But I wasn’t about to make her even more afraid than she already was.
“Knowledge tends to do that too,” she laughed ruefully.
“You’re sure you want to do this?” I asked. “No matter what?”
“I’ll get the salt,” she responded.
Oh the things I hoped to eventually do with and to her!
She had a warrior’s spirit—and a survivor’s heart.
I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t scared shitless. I was. I was really, really scared. But I was also anxious to know what my feelings were versus those that may have been influenced by Bill.
I also won’t lie by denying that I was in shock. To find out the man I thought I loved might had been sent to procure me for his queen was sobering to say the least.
Was I doing my very best to avoid thinking about the hurt I might very well be experiencing in just a few minutes? The betrayal?
Yes, I was.
And I was woman enough to admit it. Frankly, I was proud that I was still on my feet—still breathing.
Being sucker punched in the gut was not fun!
Being repeatedly sucker punched, though? Well—I just felt numb. And I was okay with that for now.
Eric instructed me how to draw the salt circle. Then he produced a knife from his pocket and handed me the bowl and the knife before stepping away from the circle.
“Sit in the center,” he instructed in a gentler tone than I would have thought him capable.
I followed his directions.
“Make a slash on your palm and hold the wounds over the bowl.”
“Do I need to say something?” I asked. “Chant or something?”
He chuckled. “Most spells don’t need that.”
“Um—okay,” I nodded and put the bowl onto the ground next to me. Then I took a deep breath and cut into my palm before letting the blood drip into the bowel.
I couldn’t ignore the fact that Eric’s fangs popped down.
“I’m not allowing myself to inhale,” he assured. “It’s just the sight that is exciting.”
By the looks of the sight in his pants, he was very excited indeed!
“Now what?” I asked, my voice quivering and tears falling because of the pain of the cut.
“Put the knife into the bowel.”
I did as instructed.
“Here,” he tossed a box of matches so that it landed right next to me. “Light one, and place it inside the bowl, and then brace yourself. In five minutes, I’ll be able to come in there and get you—okay? And I’ll be here the whole time.”
I nodded, picked up the matchbox, and lit a match. I’m not sure what I was praying for as I dropped it into the bowel.
For Bill to really love me?
For the pain to be bearable?
Or was I thanking God that painful truths were better than “pleasant” lies.
Soon, I had no thought for prayers, however. I had only pain. And a lot of it.
A/N: Did you like this chapter? If so, drop me a comment! Please….