In seconds, Eric had flown Sookie to their deserted front porch. The house was as it had been before she’d gone to the fairy realm for the second time.
“Well fudge,” Sookie said under her breath.
Eric looked at her in question even as he carried her inside.
“I thought I’d get to see all the renovations―at least,” she pouted.
Eric chuckled, “It is your dream. I imagine you can see only what you have seen before.”
Sookie nodded and then turned to him, “Wait―did you put a new toaster in the cabin?”
He looked at her in surprise. “When I was there on our anniversary―yes.”
Sookie shrugged. “I saw that in the cabin. I wonder how I did that.”
“Maybe it came through the bond?” Eric suggested with a shrug of his own.
“Then why don’t you send me the renovations through it?” she pouted.
Eric looked at Sookie mischievously, “Maybe this is my grand plan―to keep you from seeing the house so that I am certain that you will hurry up and come home.”
She rolled her eyes and grinned, “Good plan, vampire. I am anxious to see how it all turned out.” She grabbed his ass and continued sarcastically, “I can’t think of any other reasons why I’d want to hurry home.”
Eric chuckled and quickly ran them upstairs to their bedroom.
“Hey,” Sookie said playfully. “We need to talk before more hanky-panky.”
“We do,” Eric agreed with a wink. “It’s just that I want to talk naked―with a fire, of course, so that you will be warm.”
She giggled. “But just yesterday, you said that you couldn’t possibly talk to me if I was naked.”
He nodded seriously. “You are correct.” He paused and grinned at her, “However, today, I find that I am more distracted by my desire to rip off your clothing.”
She laughed again. “Well—we can’t have you distracted now—can we?”
He deposited her onto the bed and turned to make a fire. “Hey,” she said sassily. “I thought you said naked.”
He turned, and with his signature smirk plastered on his face, he slipped his shorts easily over his slim hips. His only encumbrance on the way down was his already reinvigorated cock, which sprang toward his waist as soon as it was freed.
Sookie licked and then bit her lips―hard. Unintentionally, she drew a little blood, an act which caused a low growl to rumble from Eric’s chest.
That growl vibrated Sookie in all the right places. “Screw the talk,” she said in a low purr as she crooked her finger to him, “and screw me―right now.”
Eric was on top of her in less than a second and the skirt of her dress had been pushed up past her waist. His lips were over hers, sucking and licking her self-inflicted wound. “Sookie,” he murmured. “We really do have to talk.”
“Then you’d better be quick.” Her lips smiled against his kiss. “I know you can be quick, vampire,” she said flirtingly.
“Sookie,” he growled, as he double-checked her readiness with his fingers and then thrust into her.
“Eric,” she grunted as she pushed against his chest and flipped them over so that she was on top.
His hands rose to her breasts like magnets, and he pawed them from her loose dress before just yanking the offending garment over her head.
He growled as he took in her naked body and the sight of his cock disappearing into her sheath. “I missed you like this,” he whispered as she rose up and down in deep, steady thrusts.
“What did you miss?” she asked saucily. “Be specific.”
He looked at her with blue fire in his eyes. “I missed how you can take control of me. I missed how I want you to take me.”
“You mean like this?” she asked as she rose and fell in slow circles, up and down his engorged shaft.
“Yes,” he gasped as his head fell backwards in ecstasy. “I love it.”
She squeezed her internal muscles around him. “Do you love this?” she asked as she rose until the tip of his cock nearly slipped out and then slammed back down to take him in fully.
“Sookie,” he groaned. “Yes―I love you. I love this.”
“Eric,” Sookie moaned as his hands moved to her hips and he helped propel her movements. “I love you, Eric. I love you.”
His grunts met her gasps as they moved together toward completion. He rose into a seated position, knowing that it would help him to reach her G-spot better. When he heard her cry out, he knew he’d found it.
“Eric!” she yelled as her inner walls clamped down around him, drawing his release as well.
“Sookie!” he yelled. “Min Sookie.”
He pulled her into his embrace as their orgasms faded and lowered them onto the bed as she once again caught her breath. After a few minutes, she looked up at him. “Do you have any idea―any idea at all―how much I’m in love with you?”
He chuckled and pulled the quilt over her to keep her warm. “I have some idea―yes.”
She giggled and slapped his chest playfully.
He smiled warmly at her, “As much as you love me, min kära―that is how much I love you.”
“Not more?” her eyebrow raised in question.
He chuckled, “You have so many demands, woman.”
She smiled cheekily, “I demand you make me a fire.”
“I thought I already made a fire of you, lover,” he responded suggestively.
She shook her head and rolled off of him, causing them both to sigh in discontent.
He chuckled again, “You’re the one that wants me up and out of this bed, woman.”
She giggled, “You’d better use vampire speed to make that fire, Cowboy, because I want you back in it real quick.”
“Yes ma’am,” he chuckled as he rose and followed her directions to the “T”. She could barely follow his movements, but she caught an occasional glimpse of his delectable bottom. As soon as he was back into bed, she positioned him so that he was leaning against the headboard, and she was propped against him. She snuggled into him cozily.
“Did you finish our new furniture?” Sookie asked, looking up at him with a smile in her eyes.
Eric nodded but did not return the smile. “Every piece.”
Sookie sighed and kissed his chest tenderly. “I’m so sorry, Eric. I’m so sorry that you had to spend all that time without me. I don’t think I could have done it.” She shook her head as tears rose once again to her eyes. “So sorry.”
Eric shook his head, “It is I who must ask your forgiveness.” His manner was nervous. “I failed to protect you. I was not prepared.”
Sookie sat up and looked at him closely. From the look in his eyes, she knew that he blamed himself for what had happened with Claudette. In fact, he’d taken on all of the blame―as far as she could tell.
“Eric Northman,” she said forcefully, “do not make me kick your scrawny ass! And don’t go blamin’ yourself for the fairies. We wouldn’t have been at Hadley’s if it weren’t for me. The fairies were after her and Hunter.” She shook her head. “But you’re right. WE weren’t prepared because WE didn’t anticipate that they’d be there.”
She exhaled heavily. “Eric, I know that to you, I’ve been gone for a long time, but don’t you dare forget that we’re a WE. And don’t you forget that there’s a reason why I’m in Faerie right now. It’s all for a reason, Eric. We have to believe that what you went through is all for a good reason.”
She raised her hand softly to his cheek, “If none of this had happened, you wouldn’t have that beautiful boy in your life right now! He’d be trapped in Queen Mab’s clutches, and God only knows how he would have been treated by her. NO! There is a reason for everything that’s happened. And you can’t blame yourself. I won’t fucking let you, you silly vampire!”
Eric looked at Sookie with overwhelming love and awe in his eyes. He spoke quietly, “You are right, my love. I cannot blame myself.”
And with those simply words, he felt like a thousand pounds had been lifted from his shoulders.
“Damned straight!” she said. “I would do anything to keep you and Hunter safe. And I know you do the same every day! But all we can ever do is our best, Eric.”
He smiled faintly. “I wish I could feel you right now. I wish I could feel that fire that you have for me―that fire that you are trying to protect me with even as you scold me. I wish I could feel the love that I see in your eyes for me—and for Hunter too.”
She smiled a little even as her irritation over his taking all the blame upon himself deflated. “I wish so too.”
“I can’t wait until we are together again in the same place so that I can feel you through the vampire bond,” he sighed.
“And what are you feeling right now?” Sookie asked a little playfully, knowing full well that his hand had been resting softly on the side of her breast since she’d sat up.
“Grateful again. In awe of you. Completely in love.” He smirked. “Your delicious breast. You know―all the usual.”
She popped his arm playfully. “Okay―now we need to get to talking. First, before I forget, Hadley wants you to tell Hunter that she loves him and will see him soon, okay?”
Eric nodded, “Hunter also has a message for his mother. He loves her and wishes her a merry Christmas.”
Sookie smiled, “We were watchin’ in the pool when you taught him how to ride his bike, Eric.” She paused, “Did you know that we can see you through the pool?”
Eric nodded, “Niall showed me Hunter when I was there.”
Sookie smiled wider as her eyes glistened, “It is beautiful watching you with Hunter, Eric. You were quite the pro when you were teaching him.”
Eric laughed nervously. “There was a second there when I thought he might fall.”
Sookie lifted a brow. “Really?”
Eric nodded. “Well, more like half a second, but I had to rush over to him so that he could balance himself.”
Sookie chuckled. “Your vampire speed came in handy then.”
Eric nodded once again. “Very.”
She grinned. “I love how good of a father you are, Eric.”
Eric smiled, “Hunter’s a good son, Sookie. I just wish that you had been by my side during the last year. I wish you had come to know him as I have.”
“Me too,” Sookie said quietly as a tear dropped from her eye. “I feel like I’ve missed so much.”
He nodded sadly. “You will come to know him—I hope.” It was his turn to pause, “What will Hadley do? Does she know?”
Sookie nodded. “She’s starting to figure some things out. She’s gonna keep her baby, and she’s gonna work on healing herself. Niall’s gonna help Hadley learn how to accept the part of herself that’s fairy so that she can accept Hunter as he is—without thinkin’ of him as havin’ a disability. And then when she is ready, he wants to bring Hunter to the ‘in-between place to visit Hadley.”
Eric stiffened nervously.
Sookie took her vampire’s hand and tried to reassure him. “Niall stressed the word, ‘visit,’ when he was talking to Hadley, Eric. And he told me to assure you that he won’t even let Hunter visit until he knows that Hadley won’t inadvertently harm him with something she says. And I think he intends to shield her thoughts from him too—just in case.”
Eric closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them, Sookie could see his relief. “Will you tell Niall that he has my gratitude?”
Sookie nodded and took a deep breath. “I know that you are worried that Hadley is gonna take Hunter away to Faerie forever, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen. I don’t know how I know that, but I don’t see Hadley taking him from his home here. I do think that she’ll want to spend time with him at the pool, and we can definitely make that happen, but she’s gonna need some time to get better before she takes care of anyone else, and then she’ll have the new baby. And she can see how happy Hunter is here. I don’t think she’ll take him away from that happiness.”
Eric sighed, “I admit that I fear she’ll want Hunter in the fairy realm and that I’ll lose my son, Sookie. She is his mother; she would have the right.”
“I know.” She pulled him into her arms. “But you are his father, and you have the right to keep him here too. Niall has already said that you will have to be involved in any decisions about what happens to Hunter, and Hadley seemed to accept that.”
Eric looked down and then back at Sookie. “Ultimately, I believe that it must be Hunter’s choice when the time comes. Perhaps, he should try living in Faerie and then see what he prefers.”
“But Eric,” Sookie said. “If he goes to the fairy realm and leaves the ‘in-between’ place, you know what will happen.”
He nodded sadly.
They were silent for a few minutes as Sookie held Eric tightly; finally, he seemed to shake himself out of his worries about Hunter. “Sookie, I think that I may know the source of the threat against us.”
“Who?” Sookie asked, raising herself up a bit so that she could look into his eyes.
“Felipe de Castro. He has sent his Weretiger, Quinn, to sniff around and is planning a coordinated attack to take out all the sheriffs during the day. He knows about the protection spell around the house, and he is planning to use his own witch to bring it down.”
Sookie gasped. “What about the plan to get de Castro interested in Mississippi? Why would he risk going against a state with strong sheriffs like this? Does Bill know? What’s he doin’ to put a stop to all this?”
Eric sighed deeply and sat up straighter in the bed. Sensing her husband’s nervousness, Sookie sat up with him. “Tell me everything, Eric.”
Her vampire nodded. “First, we did enact the plan with Mississippi. We went to the previous king of Mississippi and offered him a place as Rasul’s undersheriff. He hadn’t been a bad sheriff; he’s what one might term a ‘yes-man,’ but he has no ambition to lead. In truth, he was looking for a way to get out of his kingship alive. Then we arranged for our allies in the Authority to push for de Castro to be king there. That was six months ago. Victor Madden is now installed in Mississippi as de Castro’s regent.”
Eric paused and looked at Sookie with a smile in his eyes.
She, in turn, eyed him confusedly. “What?”
He sighed, “I can’t tell you how fucking good it is to be able to talk to you about things such as this, min kära.”
She smiled back at him, squeezed his hand, and nodded. “Keep goin’.”
He did. “Several weeks ago, Isabel picked up the scent of a strange Were, who turned out to be the Weretiger. The same scent was later discovered in Area 1, and then yesterday, he was in the cemetery next to our home, scoping out how to best attack us here. It seems that de Castro is more ambitious than even I thought—though it would not surprise me if Madden were nudging him along.”
“Well fudge,” Sookie said. “What is Bill gonna do about it? And more importantly, what are we doin’ about it?”
“We,” Eric sighed, with a little smile on his lips. Then his expression clouded. “Sookie―Bill is dead.”
She scrutinized him closely for a moment. “You killed him,” she stated. She didn’t need to ask.
“Yes,” Eric answered.