As soon as Claudette grabbed her hand, Sookie felt herself traveling quickly away from Eric and from the vampire bond that connected them so tightly to one another. She felt the loss of his emotions acutely and doubled over in anguish as they arrived in the fairy realm. The emptiness that hit her nearly took her breath away.
Thankfully, however, she stayed on her feet and had the presence of mind to feel for the fairy bond. She sighed. He was still there; she couldn’t feel his emotions, but he was still alive and inside of her. She counted out a few seconds, knowing right away that since she still felt him that he had gotten free of Claudette’s silver net before the sun had burned him.
Her Eric was alive. She breathed another deep sigh of relief. Although the vampire bond wasn’t pulsing with their connection, she felt more comforted than she could say by the continued thrum of life from the fairy bond. She closed her eyes and prayed that Eric too could feel it.
As she heard Hadley crying next to her, Sookie opened her eyes and looked around. The fairy sun was bright. They were in the same spot where she’d been brought the last time she’d been in the fairy realm, but there were no other people around as there had been before. The surroundings were once again beautiful, but Sookie knew it was all an illusion. Realizing that every second she spent in the fairy world would mean hours and days for her husband, she quickly yanked her arm out of Claudette’s grasp.
“What the fuck do you want from us anyway? Why can’t you just leave us the fuck alone?” Sookie asked. Please, Claudette―if we really are related like Claudine said, then please, let us go!”
Claudette laughed cruelly. “That’s not going to happen. And don’t you dare talk about my sister to me. She is dead because of you! You and your vampire! Maybe I should go pay him another little visit―to make sure he’s dead.”
“No!” Sookie exclaimed. “You promised not to kill him!”
“Ah―but now that you are here, I have no intention of keeping that bargain, and there’s not a thing you can do to stop me.” Claudette laughed diabolically and then spoke coldly. “Part of me hopes that he escaped the silver net. He deserves to suffer for what he did to Claudine.”
Sookie heard more laughter coming from behind her, and she turned around to see its source. It was Queen Mab and several other fairies, all looking ethereal and beautiful, but Sookie knew what lay beneath their beauty. She shrank back at the sight of what they were carrying―several pieces of the light fruit.
She looked at Hadley, “Do not eat that! Do everything you can not to! If you eat it, you can never leave this place.”
Sookie tried to call upon her magic to once again come to her aid so that she could shoot Queen Mab, but she still felt drained.
Queen Mab clapped her hands together in glee, “Oh Claudette, this is better than I could have imagined! I sent you for a woman and her boy child, and you brought back two women. And this one,” she paused as she leveled an evil scowl at Sookie, “is an especially lovely treat. I have a bit of a bone to pick with you, Miss Stackhouse; do not think that I have forgotten you—or forgiven your insolence.”
Queen Mab approached Sookie and slapped her hard. Sookie aimed her hands at Mab but no light came from them.
Mab laughed heartily, “What’s wrong, little fairy. Did you use up all your magic? Too bad!”
She smiled at Claudette and ran her fingernail down the fairy’s cheek. “You will be rewarded for this, daughter. You have done well—very well.”
Queen Mab smiled sickly and then looked at Sookie and Hadley before turning to the fairies who had come with her, “Bring the fruit. Our guests look hungry, and I’d hate to be thought of as a bad hostess.”
Sookie looked at Hadley and shook her head desperately. She tried to think, but she couldn’t figure out a way to help either Hadley or herself. Claudette gripped her arm like a vice as the other fairies approached, but Sookie still struggled with all her might. She knew that once she ate the fruit, she wouldn’t be able to return home to Eric without dying. She closed her lips tightly together. She’d fucking suffocate before she opened her mouth.
Queen Mab only laughed, “Silly child.” She turned her gaze to Hadley, who was also struggling against the two fairies who were now holding her. “This could be much easier, Hadley,” Mab said almost seductively. “The last thing I want is to hurt you or to see you hurt yourself.”
“But I can’t go back to Hunter if I eat!” Hadley cried, looking very frightened as a fairy brought a piece of the light fruit toward her mouth.
Queen Mab continued to speak in the same alluring voice, “Did Claudette leave the boy behind?” She turned toward the fairy gripping Sookie, “Tsk, tsk, Claudette.” She turned back to Hadley. “I can remedy that easily, Hadley. I will bring you your son if you simply eat the fruit. Your cousin, Sookie, is very wrong about us. If you become one of us, you will live a happy and peaceful life here. We are not so different than humans in the way we live. And we can keep you safe from vampires, Hadley. What do you have to return to in your world anyway?”
“My son,” Hadley whimpered.
“He will be brought to you as soon as you have eaten,” Queen Mab said gently—almost hypnotically. “However, if we must force you, I will not be so generous.”
Hadley’s eyes pleaded with Sookie, who shook her head, “No, Hadley. Don’t believe her.”
“Decide now,” Queen Mab said, still looking reassuringly at Hadley. “And decide for yourself and your son. Your cousin merely struggles because she wants to go back to a vampire—to the darkness.” She looked at Sookie with disapproval and then back at Hadley with softness. “But don’t you want to get away from vampires? You can become part of your people here. You will always be safe here with me. And if you obey me in this one little thing, you will have your son back in no time.”
Hadley looked apologetically at Sookie and then opened her mouth to accept a bite of the light fruit. “You may let her go now,” Queen Mab said, speaking to the fairies holding Hadley. Hadley took the rest of the piece of fruit into her hands and finished it quickly before looking at Queen Mab expectantly.
“Will you send for Hunter now?” she asked.
Queen Mab’s look had turned cruel, “No―we have no need for more males here. Plus, at the age he is now on earth, there is no use for him. However, I may rethink the matter if you behave yourself.”
Hadley sunk to her knees and began to cry, her sorrow too much for her to endure. Queen Mab spoke evenly to several of her fairies. “Take her to her new home and get her cleaned up and prepared.”
“Stop!” Sookie yelled, not wanting to be separated from her cousin. “Where are you takin’ her?”
Queen Mab turned her glare toward Sookie. “Do not worry. You will be joining her soon enough.” She gestured for two other fairies to aid Claudette in holding Sookie, who soon became completely immobilized in their strong grip. Again, she closed her mouth tightly as the fruit was brought toward her mouth. Queen Mab pinched Sookie’s nose roughly.
“You will eat or suffocate. Those are your only choices, vampire whore,” the fairy queen yelled.
Sookie kept her mouth shut even though she knew that it was only a matter of time until she was force fed. She thought of Eric and held on. She’d already been in the fairy realm for several minutes, which meant that he’d been without her for months. She mentally and physically tried to latch onto the fairy bond to draw strength from it. She thought about her love for her vampire and her vow to get back to him. As her lungs began to burn, she imagined never seeing him again, and she made herself hold on for a moment longer as big tears began to burn in her eyes. Inevitably, however, her mouth involuntarily opened as it searched for air, and when it did, the corners of her jaw were gripped by the fairies, who roughly kept her mouth from slamming shut a second later.
A piece of light fruit was stuffed inside her mouth, and then she was forced by the fairies to chew it.
As she swallowed the first piece of the fruit, however, Sookie began to convulse uncontrollably. Her body jerked in a powerful seizure, and the fruit was physically forced from her body as she choked and lurched forward. The fairies―not knowing what was happening―dropped Sookie to the ground as her body continued to spasm and heave the fruit and then blood. Sookie fell over onto her side in pain.
As her body continued to convulse, she felt on the verge of blacking out. She clung to the strength of her fairy bond with Eric, but as certainly as she knew that her love for Eric would last forever, she also knew that she was dying.