This time, Niall landed them much closer to the house, given the fact that it was daylight.
Eric immediately assessed himself. If he began to burn, he didn’t want to be holding Hunter. Eric sighed in relief; he was fine for the time being—more than fine, in fact. The winter morning was gray and dreary, and the sun was behind a thick layer of clouds. Eric knew that because of his wife’s blood and the magic she had jetted into him right before he’d left, he was safe and would be for a while.
Eric tried to take his hand from Niall’s, but the fairy gripped it tightly for a moment. Eric looked over at him and saw that Niall’s eyes were closed tight. The vampire knew that Niall was also measuring his wellness in that moment, and that thought was strangely comforting to Eric.
Niall opened his eyes and nodded to himself as he dropped Eric’s hand. The look in the fairy’s eyes reminded Eric of the look his human father or Godric used to give him after battle. It was a mixture of relief and pride. But there was something else in it too—something more. There was love there.
Eric gave Niall a nod of his head in acknowledgment. He didn’t have time to think about the irony of feeling paternal love from a fairy in that moment, but he was grateful for it nonetheless. Feeling his own child in his arms, Eric knew that it was pointless to question the workings of the universe or fate. Some things just were, and he felt that his life was fuller than ever―despite the fact that he would be separated from his wife again for a time.
Breaking Eric from his reverie, Niall spoke, “My great-granddaughter is a bit reckless with that magic of hers at times, but her instincts are good. She poured much of her protective light into you right before we left; thus, I imagine you will be secure for a while, especially since your sun is not strong today.”
Eric brought his newly-freed hand to Hunter’s back; Hunter had let go of Claude’s hand too and was snuggling into his father, suddenly tired after the long night of being up and the emotional toil of what had happened at the fairy pool.
Eric shook his head though there was a ghost of a smile on his lips. “Stubborn woman—she has only weakened herself more.”
Niall chuckled. “She is a stubborn one—like my sister and her Gran. But the water of the pool will help to refresh the magic of her light, even as her blood replenishes itself. She will be fine, young Eric,” he reassured.
Eric nodded, grateful for that knowledge. Just as he turned to go toward the house, his phone, which had been in his jacket pocket, went off. If he’d not recognized the ring tone, he would have ignored it.
He looked at Niall somewhat worriedly. “Duncan,” he answered the phone.
“Geez, ya bastirt! You’re awake?” Duncan asked in surprise.
“Yes—long story,” Eric answered with a smile. Duncan’s thick Scottish brogue always came out when he was caught off-guard. Otherwise, his accent had become less pronounced during his fifty or so years in the States.
“De Castro just gave the order, Eric,” Duncan reported. “The sun will rise here in three minutes, and the king wanker has gone to his resting place. I texted Miranda before I called ya, but I wanted to leave ya a message that I will be going to ground in a secure place and will be awaiting your orders as soon as I rise tonight.” There was a slight pause. “You’ll have to tell me how it is that ya are still awake this late, my brother.”
Eric responded. “I will—later. Meanwhile, stay safe, min bror.” [“my brother”]
Duncan laughed. “It is not my head on the chopping block today, Brother. Keep your own pretty face attached to those shoulders of yours.”
“Count on it,” Eric said as he hung up.
Followed by Niall and Claude, Eric mounted the porch steps. Suddenly, the vampire’s head whipped toward the cemetery.
Niall closed his eyes, and Batanya went on alert moments later. Claude turned toward the cemetery as well.
Miranda, who had been patrolling the backyard when she received Duncan’s text, ran to join the group on the front porch when she too picked up the scent. She spared a brief moment to smile at Hunter; however, the family’s reunion would have to wait until later.
Miranda already had her cellphone out and was sending texts. “I smell the tiger, humans, and other Weres,” she said. “I’m not sure how many, but our person monitoring the surveillance camera says at least twenty in all.”
Niall spoke, “There is also magic being performed—strong magic.”
“Can you block it?” Eric asked.
Niall closed his eyes and shook his head. “I cannot. It is not fairy magic, but the witch’s spell is meeting with a strong barrier of magic protecting this place. I do not know how long it will last for sure, but you have some minutes to prepare.”
“Alright then,” Eric said, his tone moving to that of a commander. “That means that Jesus’s protection spell is holding for the moment. Miranda, you know what to do.”
She nodded, even as she sent more texts. Eric knew that she was contacting their other forces around the state as well as their own reinforcements.
He looked down at Hunter, who was now wide awake and worried. He ruffled his son’s bangs. His tone softened, “Do not fear, smár rekkr. You know your duty in times like this—right?”
Hunter nodded. “Use my head thing to keep the people in the cubby safe.”
Eric nodded proudly. He handed Hunter to Batanya and looked at Miranda. “Secure your cub with Hunter in the cubby.”
She looked up from her text. “Jarod is already taking him there. Odin too.”
Eric nodded. “Who else is inside?”
“Everyone pretty much. Pam, Jessica, and Bubba went to the cubby at dawn.” Miranda didn’t remark about the fact that Eric was still awake and not being affected by the sun.
“Good,” Eric said. “Get Jesus, Lafayette, and Amelia to begin working to protect the house with any magic they can think of, but I don’t want them in the line of fire, so have them work from Hunter’s room. Other than the cubby, it is the safest place. Jesus knows how to lock it down.”
“I will be with you soon, min son,” Eric said as he kissed Hunter’s forehead.
“Be careful, Daddy,” Hunter said in a quiet voice.
“I promise,” Eric said as he gestured for the Britlingen to take his son to safety.
Miranda went quickly inside, followed closely by Batanya, who held Hunter firmly to her.
Claude looked at Eric and Niall nervously. “Should we take Hunter back to the fairy realm until the danger has passed?
Niall shook his head. “No—his father has protected him well. Batanya will be able to hide him with the Britlingens should the need arise, and there is no safer realm than that. The child is better off here with Eric; that will always be true.”
Claude nodded. “Yes—you are right.” He looked at Eric. “I am sorry, tanu. I meant no disrespect to you.”
With a wave of his hand, Eric brushed away Claude’s apology before looking at Niall. “Sookie must not know what is happening here, or she will come. And you have said that she is not ready—correct?”
Niall agreed with a nod of the head.
“Then that means this is not the threat the A.P. warned us about, and Sookie’s presence will not be required,” Eric said with certainly. “She would only be in danger if she came; this may be why the A.P. insisted she be kept from here until she was ready. And I will not risk her like that.”
A proud look sneaked onto Niall’s face. “And you are willing to bet your life on that, Viking?”
“Yes,” Eric said without hesitation. “I will always bet my life on my wife being by my side when I truly need her. And I know that she will be ready then—so that she can save both of our asses. Until then, however, I want hers covered.”
“Can you help, or is that against her rules?” Eric asked Niall with a smirk.
Claude nodded. “I will stay and help defend this place.”
Niall shook his head. “No—you must go and keep your tanah there. She will be wondering where we are.”
Niall grinned at Eric mischievously. “I did help to build parts of this house, you know. That means that my magic lingers here, and I will be able to help more that Claude this time.”
He looked at Claude. “Go back, but be sure to say nothing of this to Sookie until I return. Eric is right; we would not be able to keep her away if she knew of this threat. Shield both your thoughts and your emotions about these events. I will return soon.”
Claude noted, “She will be angry.”
Eric smirked. “Tell her it is my fault.”
“Don’t think I won’t,” Claude said with a raised brow.
Eric’s expression became serious. “Keep her safe, Claude.”
“Keep yourself safe, tanu,” Claude said before disappearing into the early morning mist.