Eric woke up a few minutes before dark and quickly dressed in all black. As he did, he used all of his senses to assess what was happening both in the house and outside. First, he ascertained that Bill was still in his mansion. He could smell Lillith there as well, though the vampiress left a few minutes after sunset—presumably to go ‘seduce’ Jason.
Hunter, Batanya, and Miranda were already in the cubby, along with the cat and the puppy. Eric smiled, knowing that Hunter had probably insisted upon keeping the two smaller house members safe as well. Thinking about how much he loved his son in that moment, he glanced at the picture of Sookie next to the bed. “He is just like you in so many ways, min kära,” he said softly to the smiling image of his beloved. “I promise to keep him safe—always.”
Jesus and Lafayette were already in position on the third floor above him―ready to break the protective ward at his signal or to activate it again if he should fall in battle. He also scented that Rasul and Isabel were with the two witches. He nodded in satisfaction, glad that his two fellow sheriffs had quickly agreed to come to the house and act as guards for the witches. The two would have arrived earlier in their coffins, which had obviously been carried to the third floor so that they too would be in position. Once again, Eric was grateful for Miranda’s proficiency.
Eric would owe both of the sheriffs a favor for helping him to protect Lafayette and Jesus, but he respected Isabel and Rasul, so he didn’t mind incurring that debt. They were also acting as his “back-up”—so to speak. If any of Bill’s forces made it up to the second or third floors, they would stop them. But mostly, they were there to protect the most vulnerable people under his protection—with the exceptions of Hunter, who would be well protected by Batanya and inside the locked-down cubby, and Jason, who would be most at risk that night.
Eric looked at the picture of Sookie again. “I once misjudged your brother, min kván. But you were right that he deserved a second chance.” Eric hoped in that moment that Jason would survive. He was counting on the fact that Bill himself would protect Jason―at least until he thought he had no more use for him―and by then, it would be too late for Bill to harm him.
Eric inhaled again. Jarod was on the front porch as usual for this time of day. If all had gone according to plan, Jarod and Miranda would have had a ‘private’ conversation about Hunter. Conveniently enough, that conversation would have occurred right in front of Lafayette’s car about thirty minutes after he and Jesus had returned to the house that morning. They would have shared their concerns over the child, who was supposedly so depressed because of Eric’s illness that he wanted to stay in his bed that day. Miranda, who would have made sure to showcase her baby bump for the camera, was also to make clear that she was tired and would be spending the day guarding the boy and resting inside.
Eric heard as Jarod received a prearranged phone call from his mate. After a few moments, Jarod indicated that he’d be happy to go to the store for Miranda. Then he left, seemingly weakening the numbers of the household. Bubba had risen and taken his usual position—with one addition to his normal wardrobe. Pam and Jessica had also risen, and Eric joined them downstairs after having gotten his father’s sword from the closet.
“You always did look good in black, Pam,” Eric said with a cheeky grin. “And, Jessica, I haven’t seen you look this ravishing since the night we went after the witch.” He quickly went into the kitchen and drank two bags of donor blood while Pam took an additional two bags for herself and Jessica.
Pam spoke drolly, “I don’t get to wear my ass-kicking outfit enough these days.”
Eric laughed and then moved toward the back door. “I’ll see you ladies later.”
Pam grinned while Jessica nodded nervously. The redhead was worried about Jason.
Eric went quietly and quickly out the back door. He took to the sky and landed in the woods where he knew he would be neither seen nor scented.
An hour later, Eric heard Bill’s human gunmen taking position in the cemetery near Sookie’s property line. He sent a quick text and waited. He smelled four unfamiliar vampires nearing the property from the other direction. He smiled and sent two more texts. A few minutes later, he scented Lillith pulling up to Bill’s mansion. Jason Stackhouse was with her, but he was not yet glamoured.
Eric heard Jason speaking, “Hey, what are we doin’ at Vampire Bill’s place? I thought we was goin’ somewhere to get to know each other better.”
Eric chuckled to himself at Stackhouse’s acting ability. Indeed, it seemed that he was living up to his past reputation as town gigolo.
Lillith obviously took that moment to glamour Jason. Eric just hoped that Jessica’s glamour worked better. Pam had seemed extremely confident in her child’s abilities.
Eric received a text from Pam and then sent one to Jesus. Soon, he smelled magic emanating from the third floor of his home. Bill had joined Lillith and Jason outside, and the monarch had obviously signaled for his forces to move. Eric took to the sky and tracked Bill from above, careful to make sure that he was out of the scent range of the vampires. He watched as the group converged toward his home and his family.
“Wakey, wakey, Bill,” Eric’s voice was above his monarch as the Civil War veteran opened his eyes. “There you are,” Eric was speaking again. “We wouldn’t want you to die too soon now.”
Bill shook the cobwebs from his head—or at least tried to—wondering what the fuck could have happened. The last thing he remembered was Lillith glamouring Jason.
He heard Eric’s voice again, taunting him, “Confusing, isn’t it? Not what you were expecting―is it? You thought you would just come waltzing into my home, take my son, and kill me.”
Bill took in his surroundings. He was on some kind of table, laid out prone. He tried to move, but when he did, he felt silver burning into his skin.
“Ah,” Eric said. “That will be the feeling coming back. Don’t worry, Bill. Your memory will be back soon as well, and if it isn’t, I’ll help you out. It’s the least I can do.”
Bill’s eyes finally focused on Eric. The Viking looked like a character from a horror movie. His face and hair were caked in blood. His black clothing somewhat hid the blood stains there, but Bill could still make them out. The sheriff was holding a sword that was also covered in blood.
“Impressive, isn’t it?” Eric asked, following Bill’s eyes to the sword. “It was my father’s, but it still works quite well, I think.” Eric admired the blade for a moment. “It just goes to show that the Viking culture was very meticulous in its war-making weapons, Bill—very meticulous.”
Bill cringed in fright as Eric swung the sword and brought it within millimeters of Bill’s throat. He was even more frightened by Eric’s tone, which seemed so casual, yet promised only pain and death.
“Did you hear that?” Eric asked as he swung the sword again. “Only a weapon with perfect balance makes such a noise.”
“What―What’s happening?” Bill stammered with difficulty.
“Ah,” Eric said. “Good, your ability to speak is coming back. You are healing quite nicely, your majesty.” Eric bent over and spoke to Bill in an apologetic whisper, “I’m afraid I hit you very hard, Bill.” Eric tapped him on the head, “On the ol’ noggin. But―not to worry. You will soon be healed enough to speak and,” he paused, “make all the other noises you need to.”
“Eric,” Pam’s voice sounded from the doorway.
“Please excuse me, my liege,” Eric bowed and walked out of the door—after placing the sword just inches from Bill’s face.
Once they were outside, Pam looked at Eric and shook her head, “We cannot find her. It seems that she had some kind of escape plan. Not even Bubba could track her.”
Eric inhaled deeply. “Neither can I. She must have used magic of some kind.” Eric sighed angrily. “I do not like lose ends, Pamela. Keep on it. I don’t care how long it takes; when she resurfaces, make sure she is eliminated.”
Eric sighed. “For now, keep our Mr. Compton company. I am going to shower and see Hunter, and then I will return to him. By then, he will be healed enough to begin.”
Eric turned, and Pam took in her maker as he walked away. She had thought him magnificent before, but tonight doubled her awe of him in battle. He’d been responsible for the deaths of all of the mercenary vampires, killing them before they could even act―despite the fact that two of them were over 500 years old. He’d also been responsible for killing about a third of the humans. She’d seen her maker save Thalia’s life, Jason’s life, and Jessica’s life that night as well, and their side had suffered no casualties―just some relatively minor injuries that were very significant to Pam. As she walked into the workshop, she promised herself that Bill Compton would suffer dearly for those injuries.
Pam walked over to Bill’s side. The king was still healing from a blow to the head her maker had given him. “Oh, King William,” Pam said sarcastically. “He’s very, very angry at you, and even killing so many tonight has not sated his thirst for blood.” Pam paused. “You know―I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but I feel a little sorry for you. Just a little.”
She chuckled, “Well—not really, but almost.”