“Your rescue party is starting to arrive, milady,” Eric whispered to Sookie as he held her to him lovingly.
She chuckled into his chest, “Did you call in the cavalry, Eric?”
“I sometimes think I need an army to make sure you don’t get into trouble,” he said, only half-joking as he heard two car doors closing and the sounds of Lafayette and Jesus searching for them.
He continued, his voice low and heartfelt, “I don’t think I can let you go, not even to greet your friends.” His voice had taken on an almost desperate tone―a tone somehow tinged with greediness and thankfulness all at once. He pulled her even closer, burying his face into her hair.
“You don’t have to let me go,” Sookie reassured, stroking Eric lightly on his cheek and lips before taking his hand in hers. She looked up at her Viking. His eyes held her world in them. He was looking at her as if any separation―any loss of contact at all―would mean a final death to him.
In that moment, she came to understand the fear that he must have faced in the hours while she was gone. Her heart ached, and her own eyes lit up with fervor, “I’m not gonna let go of your hand, Eric. I’m here. I have you.” She brought his hand up to her lips.
“Jag älskar dig med allt jag har inom mig―med min själ. Ni har alla på mig.”
Sookie kissed his palm and then his wrist as she looked at his soul through his eyes. For once she didn’t ask him to translate. Those eyes told her all she needed to know.
Sookie heard Lafayette and Jesus approaching the side of the house where she and Eric were and turned toward the noise. She felt Eric’s desperate longing for her to stay close through their bond and tightened her grip on her beloved’s hand.
She looked back up at him and repeated, “I have you.” Eric nodded and lifted himself and Sookie to their feet.
Lafayette was the first to engulf Sookie in a hug, but true to her word, she didn’t drop Eric’s hand. If anything, she tightened her hold even more and laced their fingers together.
“Hooker, why you gots to pull shit like this?” Lafayette asked, the relief clear in his voice. He looked at Debbie’s dead body. “Shit! Looks like y’all didn’t need us to take care of the bitch, after all.”
Sookie just shook her head as a tear snuck its way down her cheek. Eric used his free hand to quickly brush it away.
Jesus was the next to embrace Sookie, though seeing the tight grip she had on her vampire, he made sure only to give her a half-embrace even as he nodded to Eric.
Eric nodded back, respecting the brujo once again for both his skills of observation and his discretion.
Just then Miranda joined them, along with Alcide and Tray.
Eric tensed and placed his body between his bonded and Alcide, even as he continued to hold her hand in his. Sensing Eric’s worry, Sookie leaned into her bonded comfortingly, bringing up her free hand to grasp Eric’s bicep, both to steady herself and to calm her vampire.
Alcide took in the scene and whispered, “Debbie.” He went immediately to the side of his ex-mate and sunk to his knees. “What happened?” he asked after a few moments of silence had passed.
Sookie spoke, though she kept her voice quiet. “She planned to kill me, Alcide. She blamed me for the fact that you abjured her. She blamed me for Marcus’s death.” Sookie paused and then clung onto Eric even tighter as she readied herself to say what she’d seen in Debbie’s mind. “She wanted,” Sookie paused, “to cut me, to punish me.” Eric stiffened next to her as she continued, “Debbie wanted me to suffer like she had suffered. Her thoughts were so . . .” Sookie stopped as tears rose into her eyes. Still hand in hand, Eric pulled Sookie into an embrace, and with his free hand, he stroked her hair even as he tilted his head and rested his cheek on her forehead for a moment before Sookie nuzzled into his chest, seeking the comfort that she could only find by being close to her husband. Eric’s eyes never left Alcide’s as he watched to make sure the Were didn’t make a move to revenge his woman’s death.
Eric continued the story, speaking for his bonded when he realized that it was too painful for her to go on at that moment. “Your ex-mate threatened Sookie with first a blade and then a gun. I tried to intervene, to buy time as we waited for someone who could enter the house to get to Sookie. I tested the walls, but given the weaknesses in the dwelling’s structure, I could not safely tear down a wall without the whole house falling down upon Sookie, so I was forced to,” he paused, “wait.”
It was now Eric’s turn to stop recounting the story as he remembered how powerless he’d felt as he’d been separated from Sookie by a mere four feet―four feet that might as well have been a thousand. Eric inhaled deeply to comfort himself with his bonded’s scent and then picked up the story. “Debbie Pelt aimed her gun at the heart of my mate, so I distracted her. She shot me instead of Sookie and then became frenzied after scenting my blood. Then, my wife shot her as she moved to attack me,” he said with pride in his voice as he continued to stroke his bonded’s hair with his free hand.
“Sookie?” Alcide asked with disbelief. “Sookie shot Debbie?”
Eric spoke, now with ice in his voice, “Debbie Pelt would have suffered far worse at my hands, Herveaux―far worse.”
Alcide looked up at the couple even as he tried to absorb everything that Eric had told him. Then he returned his gaze to Debbie and gently touched her hand. A tear rolled down his cheek.
Meanwhile, Sookie shivered from the intensity of Eric’s words. She didn’t like to think of Eric torturing anyone, but she’d seen the fear lingering in his eyes, and she felt his inability to let go of her even now. Those things taught her all she needed to know about her vampire’s state of mind. He was outwardly calm, but through the bond, she could still feel remnants of his terror that he might have lost her. And in that moment, she understood better than ever before the depths of his love for her.
Sookie, too, had to acknowledge a hard truth about herself: if the roles had been reversed and someone had been threatening to take Eric from her, she would have wanted to cause that person immeasurable pain as well. The torture that Debbie had planned for her would be nothing―a cake walk―compared to the pain she would wish to inflict upon anyone that hurt her bonded or that tried to steal him from her life. As much as Sookie hated violence, she knew that she would tear someone a-fucking-part to save Eric.
Her desire to keep Eric safe and by her side was so potent in that moment that she sensed her fairy magic warming in her body. By instinct, she transferred that energy into Eric through their joined hands.
Eric had been detecting Sookie’s turmoil and then resolution through the bond. He could also feel her guilt for killing Debbie and for hurting Alcide, but he was happy that she felt no regret at her actions. He could only imagine what kind of toll the taking of a life―even one as worthless as Debbie Pelt’s―would have on a soul such as his beloved’s, and he resolved to help her deal with any guilt she felt as best he could.
At that moment, he felt the jolt of energy as his wife’s magic absorbed into his body. He closed his eyes and took it in, sighing; he kept them closed for another moment as he gently ghosted a kiss to her forehead. “Du är magi, min kära,” he whispered.
She looked up at him in question. “You are magic, my love,” he translated with reverence in his voice.
Sookie sent her love through the bond, and once again placed her cheek on Eric’s chest.
After a few more moments, Eric spoke to Alcide; his tone was stern but controlled, “Were, you would do well to thank Sookie for her mercy. If you choose to retaliate against her in any way, I will not be merciful with you.” Sookie raised her free hand to Eric’s cheek to once again settle him.
She turned to face Alcide. “I’m sorry about Debbie,” she said in a quiet voice. “She did love you, but in the end, she was just,” Sookie paused, looking for the right word, “broken.”
Alcide looked up at Sookie, his eyes bright with unshed tears, “You needn’t be sorry, Sookie. If there is anyone to blame here, it’s me.” Alcide turned his gaze to Eric, “You need not worry, vampire. Sookie has nothing to fear from me.”
Even as Alcide spoke, another car pulled up. Within moments, Pam, Bubba, and Thalia had joined the group.
Sookie looked up at Eric and graced him with a slight smile. “Cavalry indeed, min bóndi,” she whispered.
He placed another gentle kiss on her forehead.
“Miss Sookie,” Bubba said, “I sure am sure glad to see you all safe and sound. We was all real anxious for you.”
“Thanks, Bubba,” Sookie replied, reaching out her free hand to touch Bubba’s arm. “Thanks for searchin’ for me―everyone.”
“Mistress, I am glad to see you still in one piece” Pam smirked, actually bowing slightly. Thalia also gave a little bow to the pledged couple.
Alcide rose and approached Sookie and Eric. Though Alcide’s posture and demeanor were the opposite of aggressive, Eric and Sookie both noticed that Pam, Bubba, Thalia, Jesus, Lafayette, and Tray were all on guard. The gratefulness that Sookie felt for her friends in that moment filled the bond. Eric smiled down at her and whispered. “You see, min kära, it is not just I who would lay down his life for you. You are loved by many.”
As Sookie looked up at her beloved, another tear rolled down her cheek. In that moment, she felt more love than she thought was possible. She also felt―maybe for the first time in her life―completely at peace with herself. Eric once again wiped her tear away with his thumb.
Alcide broke the moment. “What will happen to her?” he asked quietly, his voice catching on the words.
Eric responded, “She will be interred where no one can find her; her death will not be traced to any of us.”
Alcide looked as if he were going to argue, but he stopped himself and then simply nodded. “May I know where?” he asked after a few moments.
Eric looked down into the expectant and trusting eyes of his beloved and then back at the Were. “If you agree to be glamoured so that you are not able to speak of the events of this evening or of Sookie and myself, then you may know of the place.”
Alcide nodded. “Thank you, Northman.” He looked at Sookie and said softly, “I’m sorry for what Debbie intended.”
Sookie reached out and touched her friend’s arm, even as she kept her other hand firmly lodged in Eric’s grasp. “Alcide, I’m sorry too.”
The Were gave Sookie a half smile, though it did not reach his eyes, and then looked at Eric. “I’ll just take my van if that’s okay?”
Eric nodded. “Tomorrow night, I will send Pam to you. She will tell you where Miss Pelt lies and will perform the glamour.”
Alcide nodded in return. “Thanks.”
Eric turned to Pam, “Find the van keys for Mr. Herveaux.” Pam bowed and checked Debbie’s body for the keys. They were in her jeans pocket. Recognizing the need for tact after she’d received a warning look from her maker, Pam silently handed the keys to Alcide. The Were turned to walk toward the van and then stopped. Without turning around, Alcide spoke, “And―Northman―thank you for my father. I am in your debt.” With that, he left.
Sookie stroked Eric’s palm with her thumb and mouthed a “thank you” to her beloved.
As soon as Alcide was gone, Eric went into what Sookie liked to think of as his Viking mode, issuing orders to those who remained. She couldn’t help but to sigh at how sexy her mate was when he took command. As these feelings seeped into the bond, Eric gave her a smirk and then a quick kiss on the lips.
“Pam,” Eric commanded, “I want you to collect all of Debbie’s belongings from this house and dispose of them along with her body so that she cannot be traced. Be sure to collect the weapons in the room where she held Sookie as well. Then, at first dark tomorrow, you are to lead Herveaux to her final resting place and then glamour him as I indicated before.”
Sookie gave Eric a significant look, which made her vampire chuckle a bit. He added, “And―Pam―no alligator farms. Place Debbie’s body somewhere that the Were may visit safely―somewhere,” he paused, obviously making an effort on Sookie’s behalf, “nice.”
Pam scoffed and then said sarcastically, “It’s like you don’t trust me or somethin’.”
“We don’t,” Sookie and Eric deadpanned at the same time, causing Lafayette to burst into laughter.
When Pam gave Lafayette a severe look, he only laughed harder, “Sorry, hooker,” he said. “But I wouldn’t trust you none either.”
Pam dropped her fangs in a threatening gesture at Lafayette’s words and tone, but there was a twinkle in her eyes that belied her own amusement at the witch’s behavior.
Lafayette stopped laughing for a moment and then snorted. “Hate to break it to you, hooker, but you’s master said you don’t gets to fuck with me, so you’s can keep yo’ fangs to yourself,” he teased.
Pam teased back, “Oh Lafayette, you do amuse me. And―for the record―I have not been a lady of the evening for more than eighty years.” Then she put her hand on her hip and tilted her head to the side. “You really must tell me where you get your manicure.” She winked at him and then went inside to begin gathering up Debbie’s belongings.
Next, Eric tasked Bubba and, by default, Thalia to return to the farmhouse to monitor Bill and secure the property.
Eric then asked Jesus if there was a spell that could be done to cover up the scent around the area, and the brujo confirmed that there was one but that he’d need to return home to collect a few ingredients to perform it. Eric ordered Miranda and Jarod to keep Marcus’s house secure until Jesus and Lafayette could return to perform the spell.
Meanwhile, Sookie called Jason and Sam to let them know that she was okay. She promised her brother that she would call him again the next day to give him more details, and she reluctantly agreed when Sam told her to take the rest of the week off.
Given the fact that she would not be going to Merlotte’s the next day and that she felt a strong urge to be completely alone with her bonded, she suggested that they go to the cabin, an idea with which Eric readily agreed.
As soon as her calls were made, Tray approached the couple. He gave Eric a wry smile and nodded at him.
Eric nodded back, “Sookie, you should meet Tray Dawson, the new Werewolf packmaster for the area; he’s an old associate of mine. Tray, this is Sookie Stackhouse, my pledged mate.”
Sookie stretched out her unoccupied hand and shook Tray’s meaty paw. She gave her husband a smirk, “It is always a pleasure to meet a friend of my husband’s.”
Tray gave her a sincere smile and then looked at Eric, “You have made a good match, I think, vampire.”
Eric nodded and squeezed Sookie hand. “I have,” he said simply.
Tray returned Eric’s nod and tilted his head to the side slightly. “I fear a helmet would look odd on you, Northman―give you a bad case of helmet head―but you might consider one for the missis.” He turned and began toward Marcus’s home as he added, “I’m gonna check the house for additional pack records before your friends here,” he gestured toward Lafayette and Jesus, “do their spell.”
“Help yourself,” Eric returned.
Sookie gave one last one-armed hug to Lafayette and Jesus, who had agreed to check on the kitten the next day.
Jesus nodded at Eric in farewell. The brujo smiled as he took Lafayette’s hand in his as they walked back to their car. It had not escaped his notice that during the whole time that Eric and Sookie had talked to Alcide, the whole time that Eric had been issuing orders, and the whole time that Sookie had received assurances from and given assurances to her friends and family, the pair’s hands had stayed interlocked. He tightened his grip lovingly on his own man’s hand.
Two things were certain in Jesus’s mind after the trying afternoon and evening they’d all had. The first was that he was going to take Eric up on the job offer that Sookie had mentioned to him earlier that day when he’d come to pick up Lafayette from Merlotte’s. And second was that he now saw both Sookie and Eric as integral parts of the family he was making with Lafayette.
As he opened the car door for his beloved, Jesus gave him a tender and thankful kiss on the lips.
A/N: Again, I apologize to any Swedes if my translation is wrong. I lack proficiency in Swedish, and I’m relying in online translators, but this is as close as I can get. Eric’s words, “Jag älskar dig med allt jag har inom mig―med min själ. Ni har alla på mig,” mean roughly this: “I love you with everything I have within me―with my soul. You have all of me.” By the way, I insert the Swedish at times because of two reasons. First, I imagine that it is what Eric’s thinking in at times of great emotion for him. Also, it is a beautiful language to listen to in my opinion―a symphony of vowel intonations to my ears. I wish I could do it more justice.