“Wait just a minute here!” Sookie said, her ire clearly rising. “I just got out of one controlling situation! And it sounds an awful lot like you want to take my choices away from me again!”
“I want to protect you,” Desmond returned calmly. “I cannot do that unless you are with me.”
“But I have a home!” she said stubbornly. “Anyway,” she looked at me hopefully, “Eric already said that he’d hire guards to watch over me—Weres during the day and vampires at night. I don’t want to leave my home!”
I was silent for a moment. “Sookie, Desmond is offering you safety that even the guards I would provide could not match.”
“You’re taking back your offer then?” she asked, tears forming in her eyes.
“I am not; just consider some things for a moment. I am the queen’s sheriff, so even if we had a contract, she could still try to use your ability—through me. And Desmond is right. She is a spoiled cunt.”
“Language!” Sookie admonished.
I squeezed her hand and smirked. “Vampires may claim humans, Sookie, but they have no right to claim other Supernatural beings.”
“So Bill never had a legitimate right to claim me, and he knew it?” Sookie asked.
I shook my head. “This area is a gray one. Before now, you’ve not been claimed by your kin, so your status is officially human. As it stands right now, even without Bill’s blood in you, you could still be claimed by another Supernatural—another vampire—looking to create a tie with you.”
“But magic can break ties,” Sookie said.
“That type of magic can work on a human only once—maybe twice. However, eventually, the process would become fatal to the human,” Desmond said.
Sookie looked at me, and I nodded in confirmation. “Of course, I have no intention of letting you get into a situation where a tie could be forced upon you, but things happen, Sookie. Variables occur.”
“So I couldn’t be tied to a vampire if I was claimed by Mr. Cataliades and this Niall person?” she asked.
“Bonded—yes, but tied, no,” Desmond answered. “Your kin would have the right to kill anyone who formed an illegal blood tie with you; thus, any tie would be broken by the death of the vampire.
“I don’t want to leave my home,” Sookie whimpered, looking around the room with love. “I don’t have much family or many friends, but I don’t want to go anywhere.” She sighed. “Unless there’s no other way.”
She was looking at me with such a mix of hope and hopelessness in her eyes that it was difficult for me to look back at her, but I held her gaze.
“Consider this. Do you really wish to continue working for the shifter? Knowing that he was keeping tabs on you? Knowing that he did not tell Desmond the moment that Bill began his pursuit of you?”
“But how will I keep my home?” she asked. “If I don’t work—if I’m not here—I’ll lose everything I have left?”
“How about a compromise?” I asked.
“What compromise?” Desmond inquired.
“We could offer the following story,” I started, the idea forming even as I spoke it. “Desmond, hearing rumors that your ward had been tied to a vampire, you sent someone here to collect Sookie tonight. Or—better yet—you came yourself. And, after telling her who you were, you slipped a potion into her drink—one that made her ill and also cut the tie. Conveniently, Sophie-Anne consults Octavia Fant when she has questions about magic. And, with a little request from me, Octavia would confirm that she’s heard of such magic, but doesn’t know how to do that particular spell herself. This will fit with the story Sookie told Bill earlier.
“After that, the story will be that Desmond convinced Sookie that Bill’s blood could have been affecting her feelings. Upset about that possibility, Sookie left with her godfather.” I looked at Sookie. “You should stay with him as the paperwork of your new status is filed. But that need not be permanent.”
“What do you have in mind?” Desmond asked.
“After Sookie is established as a Brigant and you are established as her guardian, only a fool would touch her! Of course, Sophie-Anne isn’t known for being particularly wise, so steps would need to be taken before she returned to Bon Temps. I would suggest that Sookie and I still form an employment contract, but as a contract between two Supernaturals, it would be based upon mutual benefit. Moreover, she couldn’t be farmed out—even to the queen. And she wouldn’t need to belong to anyone—but herself.
“What do I do about my house in the meantime? My bills?” Sookie asked.
“The Brigants are wealthy and so am I . . . ,” I started.
“No! I’m not going to take charity!”
“Sookie, Fintan left a large sum of money to me for your care. It is yours by right,” Desmond said reasonably.
“But I didn’t even know him,” she sighed.
“A fact much regretted by Fintan,” Desmond returned.
“Why not use the money just to keep your home secure?” I suggested. “Or I will take care of things while you are gone, and you can repay me as you can when you start working for me.”
“Why are you doing all of this?” Sookie asked me.
I smiled a little, for I could tell that she’d agreed with the compromise I’d suggested.
I cupped her cheek. “Desmond, how long will it take you to get here?”
“Two hours,” he responded.
“Dawn is in three. I will stay until you have her.”
With that, he hung up.
“What is he like?” Sookie asked with some trepidation.
“Honorable. Trustworthy. A powerful demon. This situation really is ideal, considering what Hadley put into motion. By the end of the night, you will have several badass demons looking out for you. Within the next few weeks, you will meet other fairies. And—if you do eventually come back—you’ll have your vampire employer looking after you too.”
She leaned into my hand. “Why are you doing all of this?” she asked again.
However, before I could answer, she grabbed my hand, and her face became the picture of fright.
“He’s here!” she said, shaking like a leaf.
“Bill? I won’t let him near you,” I swore.
“Not him,” she whimpered. “He saw Bill kissing me at Merlotte’s earlier. He’d thought that killing my Gran would teach me a lesson. But he knows now that I’ll only learn the hard way—his way.”
My fangs snapped down.
“Do you know who he is?”
Her eyebrows furrowed together as if concentrating. “He’s remembering coming to Gran’s wake. He was here . . . .”
Her eyes widened. “It’s a man named Rene Lenier.” She shuddered. “I can hear what he’s done to others and what he wants to do to me.”
I gripped her shoulders. “Shield your mind,” I ordered before bending down to kiss her forehead. I could now hear and smell the human in the woods, which meant that Sookie’s “range” was superior to a vampire’s senses.
I knew that I would be pleased about that when I had time to contemplate it later.
“I won’t be long,” I assured.
“What will you do?” she asked.
“Your call. Human authorities or vampire justice,” I said. Only for her would I make such an offer.
“The families of his victims deserve closure, and Jason needs to be totally exonerated.”
“Very well,” I said, not letting my disappointment show.
I listened to the serial killer’s progress toward the back door as I quietly opened and flew out the front one. In less than a minutes, I had him in my thrall and was glamouring him to collect any evidence he’d kept from his victims; such men always kept souvenirs. I glamoured him to drive straight to the police station with all the evidence and to confess until all of his crimes were spilled. I told him that the guilt had been eating at him and that his only chance for cleansing his soul was a full confession.
He was on his way within another three minutes, and I rejoined Sookie inside.
“You glamoured him?” I asked.
“I did,” Eric responded. “His first stop is to gather any evidence that could be used against him. Then he will drive straight to the police station and tell them of all of his crimes. Oh—and he is not to harm anyone on his way.”
“Thank you,” I whispered.
“You should pack,” he said, clearly hoping to distract me from the disturbing thoughts I’d just heard.
I appreciated the gesture. “What about my brother?” I asked as we climbed the stairs. “Won’t he be in danger; I mean—he’s not a telepath and—uh—probably doesn’t have that spark thingy, but . . . .” Honestly, I didn’t know how to finish my sentence.
I knew that Jason blamed me for Gran’s death—at least to a certain extent. And our relationship was strained at best at the moment, but I still worried about him.
Eric looked thoughtful for a moment. “Without the essential spark, I fear that Niall wouldn’t claim him. And Desmond seems limited by Fintan’s request of him.”
“Why wouldn’t Niall claim him?” I asked, my frustration clear. “He’s just as much family as I am!”
Eric sighed, something that was still odd for me to witness, but also a sign that he was letting his guard down a bit with me.
“Fairies are an odd bunch,” he observed. “Fae women are limited in the number of times that their bodies can produce children, for it takes much magic for them to maintain a pregnancy. Plus, wars have taken much of the population. Niall and a few others learned that this realm—the human realm—could be quite helpful in the production of fairies, though one of the ways that this was accomplished was quite controversial with his enemies.”
I gestured for him to explain as I began packing some clothing into Gran’s old suitcase.
“When Fae women spend time in this realm, their bodies seem to actually become more fortified when they try to have children; thus, it is not uncommon for them to spend several years on this realm, even coming here while they are pregnant.” He shrugged. “Perhaps, it is something in the earth itself—some mineral or plant on this planet that bolsters their bodies? The Fae might know the specific cause, but I do not. Overall, this practice has not been disapproved of by the fairies. On the other hand, the production of hybrid children with humans has been very much disapproved of by some fairy factions.”
“Hybrids like me?” I asked.
He nodded. “Yes. Being part Fae will protect you from most in this realm, but you will likely still be assigned guards by Niall or Desmond.” He paused. “And—if they don’t do it—I will. The factions that hates hybrids will make you a target, especially because of your connection to Niall.”
I gasped. “So I’m trading one set of enemies for another one!”
“Welcome to being a Supernatural, Miss Stackhouse,” Eric said somewhat wryly.
“What if I just wanna be normal?” I asked. And—yes—I’ll admit that my tone was teeming with self-pity. But it had been a hard day!
And a long one!
He lifted an eyebrow. “You have another option.”
“Your death could be faked and you could go into hiding—forever. You would never be able to contact your family or friends again, and you could never return here. But—if that’s what you want—I’ll make it happen.”
I gasped. “No. That’s not what I want,” I whimpered. Okay—maybe I whined a little.
Luckily, Eric was showing tremendous patience.
“Well then—give yourself the time you spend with Desmond to accept your new position in the world. There are bonuses, after all.”
“Like what?” I asked sourly.
He grinned. “You were asking me about Jason earlier. Well—guess what you will be able to do once you are declared the ward of a demon and the offspring of a fairy prince.”
“You can extend protection to your brother—so that the penalty of fucking with him will be death. And—in the meantime—I’ll make sure that there are some Weres keeping an eye on him during the day, and I’ll assign a vampire to shadow him at night.”
“I can—uh—do that? Extend protection to the people I love?” I asked.
“Yes. As a Supernatural, you can basically claim him—or other unclaimed humans—as a part of your retinue. As a human, however, you are powerless.”
“That doesn’t seem quite fair,” I said bitterly.
He shrugged. “Them’s the rules.”
I couldn’t help but to chuckle at his use of slang.
I also couldn’t help that I liked Eric Northman—more with every minute, in fact.