Eric had stayed back as Sookie opened the door, but upon hearing Bill’s reaction, he rocketed in front of his bonded, careful to stay inside the invisible barrier that only an invitation to her home could overcome. In addition, Eric had confidence that if Bill really did intend Sookie immediate harm, the brujo’s spell would kick in, literally kicking Bill off of the property. So far that hadn’t happened; therefore, with difficulty, Eric stifled the urge to drop his own fangs.
Truth be told, he didn’t feel that it was in anyone’s best interests to kill Compton that evening, so he kept his voice steady and calm, even though his posture made clear that he was going to protect Sookie from all threats. “My king, I’m going to need you to calm down―right now.” He said the last words slowly.
Bubba had approached the porch by this time, sensing a possible danger to his charge.
“You okay, Miss Sookie?” he growled, sounding more like a vicious vampire than Sookie had ever heard him sound before.
“She’s fine,” Eric answered. “The king here is just surprised, but I’m sure that he will compose himself in moments. Thanks, Bubba. You may go back to your station. I have this well in hand.”
Bubba moved away quickly as Sookie spoke, “Bill, I’d like to talk to you so that I can explain things, but you’re gonna have to stop with the whole growling and fang thing if you wanna come in.”
At that moment, Bill tried to enter the house without an invitation, but was repelled by the invisible blockade.
“That’s right,” Eric said, he voice still calm, but now tinged with a hint of danger. “This is officially Sookie’s home again, so I will ask another time that you calm yourself―for her sake.”
Bill was visibly shaken, but after about a minute, he seemed to compose himself and drew in his fangs. Eric could tell that Bill was doing mental somersaults trying to figure out both how things had gone so differently than he’d desired and what to do next. Finally, Bill seemed to reach a kind of mental resolution, and Eric stepped aside, giving Sookie a slight nod as he did.
Sookie backed up a bit and leaned into Eric for strength. Then she said in an anxiety-filled voice. “Bill, I need you to understand that if you do anything violent tonight―including trying to give me any of your blood―Eric has my complete sanction to stop you in any way he sees fit. I know that things are not turnin’ out how you had hoped, but I would still like for us to be civil to each other. You have been an important part in my life, and I don’t want to see you hurt.”
Bill nodded, now fully in control but also somehow detached, “I assure you, Sookie, I will listen to what you have to say without resorting to violence. That is not my way,” he said as he looked at Eric.
“Excellent,” Sookie said, choosing to ignore the insult to her bonded―for the moment at least. “Then come on in.” Bill entered warily, and Sookie gestured toward the chair in the living room where Alcide had sat earlier. Sookie sat where she had earlier as well, happy for the space between her and her first love.
“Eric,” Sookie said, “would you mind setting Bill up with a blood?”
Sookie looked up at Eric with certainty in her eyes, and he returned her confident look. He hated leaving her side for even a second, but he knew that his woman was testing him―to see if he trusted her. He did. He trusted that she knew what she was doing in asking to be alone with Bill for the seventy-four seconds that it would take him to complete the task she’d set for him. He trusted that she could take care of herself in those seconds. He trusted that if Bill did try something while he was out of the room, that Sookie would shoot him with her light or that Jesus’s protection spell would send him out. He had to hold back his chuckle; there were always little tests from his lover, and he fucking adored every single one of them. “Iced tea for you?” he asked his beloved casually, though there was a slight smirk on his face just for her.
“Sure,” Sookie said brightly, even as she sent her appreciation through the bond.
Eric’s trust in Sookie flooded their bond, and she knew that he’d be monitoring her and that he’d come zooming in if Bill frightened her in the least. Her own hands were at the ready too, and she counted on her fairy powers to activate if she felt danger from Bill. Sookie knew, however, that she needed a moment alone with Bill so that the Civil War veteran could ask his obvious first question without Eric being there.
As soon as Eric had left the room, Bill spoke, “Darling, did he force this on you? I am king. I can protect you from him.”
Sookie shook her head, “No, Bill. As I said before, I broke all the ties I had with vampires so that I could be certain of my choices, and I am. I have chosen Eric.”
Bill looked at Sookie in shock, “But―how could you . . .”
His question was interrupted as Eric returned to the room at human pace, carefully setting a bottle of warmed blood in front of Bill before taking his place next to Sookie. With difficulty, he did not initiate touch with her, but he was pleased when her hand latched on to his as if they were attached by magnets. They both relaxed at the touch, a gesture not lost on Bill.
It was also not lost on Bill that Eric was dressed in the clothing he had worn when he had amnesia. Bill spoke, hoping to raise Sookie’s doubts about Eric, “Sookie, if he has tried to convince you that he is as he was before―when he was cursed by the witch―I beg you to see that he is not being honest with you. Only a few nights ago, he killed three humans before my very eyes with no compunction whatsoever.”
Knowing exactly what Bill was referring to and frustrated at him for trying to skew her opinion based upon actions Eric had done to save both Bill and himself from Nan, Sookie did not take the bait. Instead she said, “Eric has not hidden the fact that he has and will kill for his own safety or for mine―or that he will do what is needed in service of his king―of you, Bill. I understand fully what kind of man Eric is, and I love him. I’m sorry if that hurts you, but he makes me very happy.” Eric squeezed her hand; his joy at her words was swimming in the bond.
“But, darling, he is a vicious murderer,” Bill kept going. “He will use his blood to manipulate you―to control you. He already is. Can’t you see this? I would only love you. He will certainly hurt you.”
Sookie stiffened next to Eric, a sign that Bill mistook for discomfort with Eric. Thus, Bill kept digging his own figurative grave. “I would never lie to you as he has obviously done. I want only to keep you safe from those like him. Please, Sookie, you must reconsider. He will bring you only pain.”
If Bill had really known Sookie, he would have recognized that her stiffening was a sign that she was getting angry, very angry. Eric knew this sign and felt the rage bursting through the bond as well, so he squeezed Sookie’s hand, not hard enough to hurt her, but hard enough to get her attention. She looked at him and nodded gratefully.
Bill was still talking, “Sookie, I lied to you only because I was ordered to do so, and now that the queen is no more, I would never lie to you again, nor would I trick you into loving me as Eric is obviously doing.”
At that moment, two things happened at almost the same time. First, Sookie and Eric both noticed the eye movement Bill had made, a telltale sign that he was lying, despite his current protestations. Second, the bond from both ends was filled with amusement at this discovery. Sookie and Eric looked at each other, the mirth clear in their eyes, but somehow both managed to stifle their laughter.
Noticing their exchange, Bill finally stopped talking. Sookie took the opportunity to jump in, “Bill, I can see how you feel, and to be honest with you, I can understand why you might doubt Eric’s motives toward me―given your own,” she added sharply.
Bill cringed a bit at those words, but Sookie continued, “All I can do is assure you that you are wrong about Eric and his intentions toward me.” She took a deep breath and slowly drove in her point, “I―am―Eric’s.”
His mouth agape, Bill looked at Sookie in shock before responding, “But darling. . .”
Sookie interrupted, hoping to finally make Bill understand that he needed to give up.
“There are no buts, Bill. And I’d appreciate it if you didn’t call me ‘darling’ anymore. It’s not really appropriate given that I’m Eric’s now. I have given him my blood and intend to do so from now on. In addition, he has given me his blood, as I am certain you can tell. When I said I was sorry that you have been hurt, I meant it, Bill, but beyond that, I think it’s better if we no longer see each other or speak.”
“But Sookie,” Bill stammered, “we can at least maintain our friendship, can we not?”
Sookie shook her head sadly, “We were never friends, Bill―not really. By the second night I met you, you had already arranged for me to be beaten up, and that forced . . .”
Bill interrupted, “That was all because of the queen!”
“Maybe―but the fact remains that you put your blood into me on the second night we met. Moreover, despite your protestations to the contrary, you did not tell me everything that the blood tie did. You definitely didn’t let on that it would make me attracted to you specifically.”
“But it didn’t; it just increased your libido.”
“Really, Bill?” Sookie said as she felt her light begin to rise along with her anger. In that moment, she was extremely grateful that Eric’s support was keeping her power in check. “If I hear the word ‘libido’ from you one more time, I’m going to explode! After I had a few drops of Eric’s blood, you were crushed. You told me that it would increase my attraction for Eric, not in general. So you lied about the blood tie one of those two times, Bill. Maybe I didn’t pick up on that discrepancy at the time, but it seems like you were very quick to tell me all about the ways Eric was going to try to use his blood to manipulate me. However, you avoided telling me the truth about how you could use it―about how you were using it! You can’t have it both ways, Bill.”
Bill looked like the proverbial kid caught in the cookie jar for a few moments before insisting, “But I never used the blood to manipulate you. I love you!”
“Bill, why did you give me your blood then?”
“The queen ordered me to bring you to her, and when you couldn’t be glamoured, I had to tie you to me.”
“How would blood tie me to you, Bill? I get that you could find me using it. I get that you could sense my emotions, but how would any of that tie us together? And while I’m asking questions, why did you lie to me about tryin’ to glamour me. Right after you gave me your blood, I asked if you’d ever tried to glamour me, and you said no, but just the other night, you confirmed what I felt at the time. You did try to glamour me―not once, but twice!”
Bill started to answer her question, but Sookie stopped him, “Wait, Bill. I actually don’t wanna hear your response. The important thing is that you did it, and you lied about it. And it was after the glamour failed to work that you gave me your blood. And then in the very next moment, I was telling you all about my telepathy, almost like I was compelled to let you know my deepest, darkest secret. How can you expect me to believe that I didn’t do that because of the influence of your blood, Bill? I’m not stupid. And now that your blood is no longer in me to cloud my judgment, I can see things very clearly for what they were―and for what they are!”
Sookie went on, anger being replaced by hurt in her voice, “And despite knowing that I was a virgin, Bill, you still didn’t warn me that your blood would make me be attracted to you in particular. I’ll never―ever―know now if I would have given you my virginity if you had not given me your blood first, so as far as I’m concerned, Bill, you stole something from me!”
“Sookie, I do love you,” Bill insisted. “Do not doubt that.” Red tears had begun forming in the corners of Bill’s eyes by this point.
“I don’t doubt that, Bill, but I do doubt why I felt love for you back. Whether you intended for it to or not, your blood influenced me to be more attracted to you, just like you warned me it would do with Eric, and I made choices based on that attraction.”
Bill spoke harshly, “It was the same with him too then.” He gestured sharply toward Eric. “His blood made you more attracted to him. Do not forget, Sookie, that Eric tricked you into taking his blood.”
Eric could feel Sookie’s anger rising again in the bond, and he squeezed her hand in reassurance. By this point, part of Eric wanted to simply grab Bill and toss him on his ass outside, but he knew Sookie needed her closure, and he didn’t need a shit storm from the Authority, so he kept his calm and he kept quiet.
Sookie, however, did not. “I won’t forget, Bill. Eric tricked me into drinkin’ his blood right after he threw his body between mine and a bomb. The truth is that he could have died―was willing to die―to protect me!” Sookie squeezed Eric’s hand back. “But you, Bill―you tricked me into drinking your blood right after you paid the Rattrays to beat me up. You risked my life on purpose. Your rescue was fake, and you killed the Rattrays to cover up your falsehood, just like you tried to kill Eric. I don’t think even you thought Eric would break my trust or tell the secret of my being a fairy, so why did you try to bury him in cement, I wonder.”
“He has twisted everything in your mind, darling,” Bill pleaded. “He has had over a thousand years to learn to be a master manipulator.”
“Maybe,” Sookie granted, “but he is not now, nor has he ever manipulated me like you did. And―Bill―if you ever call me ‘darling’ again, you can expect to feel my fairy powers firsthand!”
Sookie stood up abruptly with Eric at her side. She’d heard about all she wanted to from Bill and had said all she needed to except for one thing. “The truth is that after the blood tie was severed between us, Bill, I no longer felt love for you. Still, I wanted to make sure, so I spent Tuesday evening with you, but you still told me half-truths. I wanted to see if I could love you, to make sure that I no longer felt love for you. And without your blood in me, my confusion about my feelings was gone.”
“But Sookie,” Bill said, also rising, his voice pleading, “you can’t feel anything for Eric after all he’s done to you! His blood must have somehow stayed in you, even after you did the severing spell!”
Sookie shook her head. “Do you mean I couldn’t possibly feel anything for the man who has now saved my life or protected me in the Fellowship of the Sun church, from a bomb, from the Weres from Jackson, from a 3,000-year-old vampire, and from everything that currently wants to take me? Do you mean that I cannot possibly feel something for a man who is willin’ to change for me even though I never asked him to? A man who sets my heart aflame with or without his blood in me? A man who makes me laugh all the time, and who understands what I need and tries to give that to me unselfishly? A man who respects me enough to tell me the fuckin’ truth about what a tie will do, and a man who was willin’ to accept my choices without question?”
Eric looked on in awe as Sookie―his beloved, his partner―continued. “Because if that’s the kind of person I’m supposed to not fall in love with, then I didn’t get the fucking memo! And I do love him, Bill. I love him like crazy, and I knew that as soon as all the vampire blood was gone from me. His was the face I most wanted to see when I first woke up after the ties had all been severed. His was the presence I still longed for. He was the one that made me feel safe and loved, who will always make me feel like that!”
Bill looked defeated, but it was Eric’s reaction that most struck Sookie. He was not glorifying in her telling Bill off as one might have thought; in fact, no gloating of any kind was present in the bond. His emotions were a mix of pride, awe, devotion, and love―all directed straight at her.
She looked up at Eric and had the strongest urge to kiss him. And she was really ready for Bill to leave.
“Bill,” Sookie said carefully, “I said all this to you tonight so that you would know that I really do love Eric, and believe it or not, he loves me. We are together, and you need to understand that there is no hope for you and me to be a couple again. I had decided this even before I chose to be with Eric and well before I took his blood again. I hope that you can accept my choices, and if you can, we may be able to establish a kind of friendship in the future. If, however, you cannot accept Eric and me―well, frankly, I don’t give a shit.”
She continued in a more conciliatory tone, “But you do need to understand one thing. Just because Eric and I are together, that doesn’t mean that he won’t be a good sheriff to you. After all, he was a loyal sheriff to Sophie-Anne for years and years. And he has told me that he prefers you to her. And I want you to know that as Eric’s, I will happily read humans for you from time to time when Eric is with me. But there cannot be a personal level to our relationship right now, Bill. You need to move on, and I hope that you find someone that you can love and that you never feel the need to deceive.”
Eric took that as his cue, “Your majesty, I echo Sookie’s sentiments and simply reiterate that I have sworn fealty to you and that I will continue to work in the best interests of your regime as I have been doing since you took over. I have proven that I can be a profitable asset even if we do not care for one another on a personal level. However, I give you fair warning,” Eric paused, his intensity increasing to palpable levels. “Sookie. Is. Mine. And as long as she wishes that to remain so, she will remain mine.”
Bill moved to the door, defeat clear on his face. However, Eric could also perceive that Bill was making plans even now, and he kept on alert. As Bill reach the entryway, he paused and turned to Sookie and Eric, “I wish you well, Sookie. However, I know that Eric will hurt you, and when he does, I will be waiting. I know that he has painted me as a monster to you, but my sole concern is seeing you happy.”
Neither Sookie nor Eric missed his eye shifting.
“Good night, Bill,” Sookie said as Bill left the house.