A very loud scraping sound was heard from outside, and Eric held Hunter tightly in his arms. He inhaled deeply. Around the perimeter of the property were three fairies, one of whom was Claudette.
Still holding his son, Eric stood up quickly. The boy, sensing Eric’s tension, became anxious as well. “What’s wrong, Uncle Eric?” Hunter asked.
Eric looked around the room and inhaled again. The protection spell was holding the fairies back for the time being, but Eric posited that the scraping sound was them trying to get through the magical barrier. “Fairies,” he said again.
“Bad guys?” Hunter asked, shaking a little.
Eric looked down at him comfortingly. “Yes, but it is okay. They cannot get onto the property.”
Just then, Eric’s phone rang. It was Bubba’s ring. Eric picked it up, “I know, Bubba, but do not engage them.” He paused for a minute, “I realize they smell extremely good to you, Bubba; I told you that they would, but I need you to come inside the house right now.”
Eric hung up the phone. He looked at Pam, “Pamela, as your maker, I command you not to bite any fairies―unless I give you a direct order to do so. Do you understand?”
Pam looked at him a little confused.
Eric spoke, “I do not want you drunk on fairy blood, Pam. That would make you an easy target.”
Pam nodded in understanding and then turned to Jessica, “Jessica, as your maker, I command you not to take in any fairy blood tonight―unless I give you a direct order to do so.”
Jessica nodded obediently.
Eric looked at Jarod. “Protect your family, shifter, and stay inside the guesthouse with Ludwig. You will not be their targets. And Ludwig will have ways to protect you if it comes to that.” Eric looked at Amelia and Tara. “You two know protection enchantments?”
Both nodded. “Good―go with Jarod and do all you can if the fairies try to enter the guesthouse. As I said, they will likely ignore you as long as you stay inside and away from the main house.”
Lafayette spoke up, “There’s about a ton of lemon juice in the kitchen cabinet.”
Amelia nodded in understanding as Tara looked at them all with confusion.
“I’ll tell you on the way,” Amelia said to Tara as she grabbed her girlfriend’s hand and led her to the kitchen.
“Send over Jesus,” Eric said, looking at Jarod.
Eric was still holding Hunter tightly to him. “Smár rekkr, I need you to go into the cubby with Batanya and your Uncle Jason.”
“Why me?” Jason asked.
Eric looked at him meaningfully, “There are only two beings with fairy blood in this house, Stackhouse.”
Jason nodded in understanding.
Eric said, “Get your lemon juice weapons and stay in the cubby until you are sure it is safe.” He turned to Batanya, “Can you take them both away if it comes to that?”
Batanya sighed, but then nodded.
The scraping outside was getting louder.
Jason hurried to gather some lemon juice squirt guns as well as extra lemon juice. Jason and Batanya were quickly set up in the cubby with the cat and puppy. Then, Eric flew Hunter down and sat him onto the bed.
“I’ll listen for the bad guys and tell Batanya and Uncle Jason when they get close—just like last time, Uncle Eric,” Hunter said bravely, although Eric could see that his boy was afraid.
“Excellent, Hunter. And I will come for you as soon as I can—just like last time.”
Eric quickly kissed the boy’s forehead as a large tears trailed down Hunter’s cheeks. “I love you, smár rekkr. Be brave,” Eric said as he flew out of the cubby and locked it down. Part of the renovations Scott had done had been to reinforce the cubby door and walls with iron as well as silver; Eric hoped that would be enough. If not, he knew that Batanya would take Jason and Hunter to her own realm to ensure their safety.
After Eric had secured the cubby, he turned to see Pam comforting Jessica. Jesus walked in with Bubba.
Eric spoke in his commanding voice. “Jesus, Lafayette, I need you up on the third floor. Do what you can to strengthen the protection spell. Am I correct that the noise I hear is them trying to get in?”
Jesus nodded, “That’s my guess.”
Eric looked at Bubba. “Bubba, I want you to stay here and protect Jesus and Lafayette. Remember what I told you about fairy blood?”
“That it’ll make me drunk?” Bubba asked.
“Yes,” Eric confirmed. “Try not to drink from them if you can avoid it.”
Bubba nodded and followed Jesus and Lafayette up to the converted attic.
Eric looked at Pam and Jessica. “The smell of the fairies will make you want to bite―to go after them without control―but you must remember your commands. Do you understand?”
They both nodded.
“Good―now get the swords that I had made for you—the iron ones.”
While the two vampiresses got their swords, Eric went upstairs to get his. The scraping sound was still piercing through the night.
He pulled out his phone. “Thalia,” Eric said by way of greeting. “There are currently three fairies on the perimeter of this property―on the opposite side of your home. They are here for Hunter or Jason or both. Or maybe they are just here to kill me. I do not know, but they are enemies.”
“What do you need?” the petite warrior asked.
“I need you to be close, but not too close. They have been unable to breach the protection spell as of yet, but they are trying. I need to you to take up a position behind them, and remember not to drink if you can help it.”
Thalia hung up, and Eric called Tray. “The fairies are here,” Eric said as the Were picked up.
There was a momentary pause. “I can have fifteen there within twenty minutes.”
“Good,” Eric said. “See if Merlotte can help as well.”
Eric hung up, closed his eyes, and assessed his senses. The fairies were gathered in one place now, still outside of the perimeter of the property, but the scraping sound was relentless. All of Eric’s assets would soon be taking up their positions, and the members of the household were as safe as he could make them. Most of all, Hunter was protected, as was Jason.
Eric knew very well that Claudette would have three goals for being there: to kill or take Hunter and Jason and to kill him. Her first two targets were now beyond her. Between the iron-incased cubby and Batanya, Eric was confident that his child and his wife’s brother would be protected. As for himself, Eric was ready to do what he hadn’t been able to do in Santa Fe—kill the bitch who had taken away his wife!
Eric grabbed the squirt gun of lemon juice that his son had insisted he keep next to his bed and put it into the back of his jeans. Then he secured his father’s sword over his shoulders.
It was time to face down the threat that he now knew Niall had been warning him about. He quickly rejoined Pam and Jessica.
He looked at them both seriously as the scraping continued ominously. “I believe that there are still only three, but in Santa Fe, others came through the portals to join them after the fight had begun. And there were some that I could not smell.” He paused while they took in that information. “They will have silver. If I give you permission to bite, Pam, you should take one of the males that I am smelling. Jessica, upon receiving Pam’s permission, you take the other one. Thalia will be in position to help if need be. And the Were pack is on its way.”
Both women nodded.
Eric went at vampire speed to the place where the scraping was coming from. He stopped inside the perimeter of the property, however. Pam and Jessica stayed a bit further back, one on either side of Eric.
Claudette laughed upon seeing Eric, “Well―aren’t you a sight, vampire? Dressed all in black and ready for a fight. I thought you might not be home,” she pouted. “I’ve been knocking for ages.”
Eric could see the freakish silver teeth of the two fairies that were standing next to Claudette glinting in the moonlight.
Claudette followed his look. “Oh―let me introduce you to my half-siblings, Neave and Lochlan. They are,” she paused, “special.”
Both fairies Claudette gestured toward looked frighteningly insane, and both had trained their looks onto the female vampires. They were literally chomping at the bit.
Claudette laughed cruelly, “They will introduce themselves to your two lady friends later―I think.”
Eric spoke evenly, “To what do we owe the pleasure, Claudette?”
“Oh―just visiting,” the fairy said casually as she continued to scrape the boundary of the protection spell with her fingernail. It had been that which had been making the noise.
“And the nature of the visit?” Eric asked, assessing Claudette’s appearance. She had a silver sword strapped to her back much like the sword his had strapped to his. The two freakish-looking fairies next to her each had swords as well, and one of them carried silver netting. Their teeth were most definitely silver as well, and they were jagged―like broken pieces of glass.
Claudette answered, “I have been given permission to tie up loose ends here, Northman.” She smiled. “And luckily for me, all my lose ends are currently in one spot. I will be eliminating the two hybrids remaining in the line of the bastard Earl Stackhouse, and then I get to eliminate you. However, if you just hand over those of tainted blood, I will let you live.”
“Tut, tut,” Claudette said. “I guess there will be no arrangement then. Oh well.” She smiled, “I am secretly glad about that.”
She continued her scraping; Eric could see a little yellowish light was flicking next to the boundary of the protection spell as she did.
“This really is a fine piece of magic,” Claudette remarked as she swirled her fingernail around the protection spell’s boundaries, “for humans―at least. Of course, it is only a matter of time.”
“I do not think your father would like you threatening his grandsons, Claudette. No―Niall would be very displeased.”
Claudette fumed, “How do you know of my father?”
“That is between him and me,” Eric said with a little smirk.
She huffed, “It does not matter. He is a betrayer of his race―the father of a line of bastards—and I am here to clean up all of the evidence of his infidelity against my mother.”
Eric tried to reason with her, “As much as I despise you, I do not wish to kill another of Sookie’s kinswomen, nor do I want to take another child from Niall. Do not forget that Hunter and Jason are your family too, Claudette. You do not need to harm them.”
Claudette laughed bitterly, “It is not need that drives my actions, Northman. It is want that does. I want to harm them.”
Jessica and Pam growled behind him, and Eric raised a hand to signal to them to remain calm. He glanced at them; both vampiresses’ eyes were dilated, and their nostrils were flaring. Eric ordered them to back off with a gesture of his hand.
Claudette laughed harder, “They will soon be unable to resist us, Northman.”
Suddenly, Eric felt the magic of the protective barrier seem to shift a bit.
Claudette smiled, “Not long now, Northman. But while we’re waiting, I want to regale you with a little story about Faerie and your precious little Sookie.” Her voice was patronizing.
Eric spoke harshly, “You know nothing of Sookie!”
“Oh―but I know why she was brought to Faerie―why she and Hadley will make such lovely permanent additions to our little realm.”
“I know that Sookie did not eat the light fruit, Claudette!” Eric insisted.
“I suppose my dear old dad gave you that little tidbit, but did he not tell you that there are other ways to force Sookie to stay there forever, one of which is probably being done to her right now.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” Eric asked, trying to hide the worry he felt at Claudette’s mocking tone.
Your little fairy and Hadley are meant to be breeders in my world, vampire.
Eric snarled at her.
Claudette only laughed as she continued her scraping, “Indeed. And they are both ripe for the picking.” She winked at Eric. “It’s too bad you were never capable of properly picking dear Sookie’s fruit, but your little swimmers are long dead.”
“You will shut your mouth, bitch, or I will shut it for you!” Eric yelled.
“Touched a nerve, did I?” Claudette cackled. “Sorry ‘bout that. But I just thought you ought to know. The fairy who had the largest bid for Sookie the last time I checked is named Ivan. He is very attractive; he reminds me a bit of you, in fact―tall, blonde, light eyes. Perhaps, Sookie will not even notice the difference.”
Eric wanted to throw himself across the barrier to attack Claudette, but Pam’s hand on his arm stopped him.
Pam spoke lightly though she was panting a little, “Do not let her bait you, master. She wants you like this.”
Claudette laughed. “Yes, Sookie will soon be with Ivan’s child―if she’s not already―and once that occurs, she will never be able to return to this realm, so the light fruit will not matter anyway. And even if she could come back here, do you think that she would choose to leave a child―her own child―for you? After all, that is something you will never be able to give to her, vampire.”
Eric’s growl was low. “Sookie is my bonded mate. Mine! And I am hers. She would fight against what you are saying, but even if she were to become impregnated due to an act of rape, I would love her no less, and she would love me no less. And if she had a child, I would love that part of her too―you foul bitch. And we will never be permanently separated. I will bend and break the laws of fucking nature to get to my wife.”
“How touching,” Claudette sneered. “Too bad that there are just some laws that cannot be broken. Plus, you will soon be dead. But I like to think that your last thought this night will be of your precious Sookie, moaning underneath another and welcoming his very alive seed into her womb.”
Pam once again had to stop Eric from barreling through the protective barrier.
For his part, Eric reached out to the fairy bond. It was steady as always―comforting as always. He knew that Sookie―no matter what horrors she might face―would always remain faithful to him. But he was fearful for her safety―now more than ever―and wished that he could be with her or at least return to the ‘in-between’ place.
Instead, he tried to send her strength, courage and love through the fairy bond, though he had no way of knowing if his emotions and power would make it to her. He hoped she would feel him with her, however, and prayed that his strength would fortify her through whatever battles she might be facing. In doing so, he too was fortified.
Eric smiled at Claudette confidently, “The worse of what you say would not stop my love for Sookie or hers for me. And I will not be the one to die tonight.”
Claudette smiled triumphantly as one last scrape was heard as the protection spell fell. The fairy drew her silver sword. Eric followed suit by drawing his weapon―as did Pam and Jessica behind him. Claudette came freely onto the property; she was followed by her two half-siblings.