Sookie forced herself to walk slowly—carefully—in order to make sure she avoided Russell’s Weres. And when she could not avoid, she used her mind to influence them “not” to see her.
Ten minutes after Sookie had left the confines of the privacy spell, she entered the warehouse through a side entrance. Henry—definitely fully under the influence of her “Jedi mind-trick”—let her in without a word or a question. Then he immediately took her heavy bag from her. That last part, she’d not “asked” of him. He’d done that because he was a true gentleman, and Sookie was even more resolved that he would be living through the night.
Using her mind trick, she’d also arranged for a little “accident” to happen a few minutes before—an accident that had caused quite a bit of debris to land right in front of a certain basement door.
Henry—who had happened to be in “need” of a bathroom break—had witnessed the “accident” and had been the one to report it to Russell, who then ordered Henry to clean things up and make sure that there was a “clear path” into the basement.
Handling the rest of the Weres in the building was easy enough. Most were in the “bunkhouse” room either sleeping or playing cards. The few that were on patrol on the first floor got the sudden “urge” to go check out the other side of the building. And those stationed by the exits simply “ignored” the blond woman without a scent as if she were a usual feature of their lives.
Soon enough, Henry and Sookie were at the basement entrance, and the Were was rigging what used to be Sookie’s “back-up” plan—all with the sanction of Russell, who thought the noise was just Henry cleaning up the fallen debris from the “accident.”
The vampire and fairy bonds were singing, calling, and stretching out to each other due to the proximity of the two bonded ones. With difficulty, Sookie kept herself from walking immediately into the basement. Instead, she let herself enjoy the sensation within the bonds as she waited for Henry to complete the task she’d set for him.
She carefully monitored Henry’s brain as she looked up and inspected his handiwork. She smiled. His meticulous nature was definitely paying off―as was his military experience. She could tell that he was completely under her influence, and though this new power she had frightened her, she was grateful for it when Henry received a call from Russell, asking about his progress and the noise level.
Henry said exactly what she’d programmed him to say, “Mr. Edgington, it’s not gonna take much longer to clear all this up. I’m just shoring up the problem spot now so that nothing else falls down; you know how these old buildings are.”
There was a pause.
“Yeah—the fairy’s path to the door will be clear,” Henry relayed.
“No—no sign of the scent from last night. I’ll start my normal patrols within the next ten minutes.”
Henry hung up and resumed his work. Sookie already had a huge respect for the military, but after seeing the proficiency of Henry’s work for the last two nights, she was pretty sure that it would be difficult to overcome a Marine—without a Supe-skill, that is.
As Henry completed and checked his work, Sookie went into the head of the Were monitoring the video feed from the basement. She looked in on her husband and saw that he was still okay; Russell was walking around, gesticulating with his arms, and obviously lecturing about something, but the image on the screen backed up the feeling in the vampire bond. Eric was calm.
After Henry was done, Sookie followed the Were upstairs to the second floor and then texted Tray. Moments later, she “heard” Claude’s “mental signature” get a lot closer, and then almost immediately, Henry was looking at the ceiling. Immediately after, his phone went off.
She knew that her tanu was right where she needed him to be.
Exactly 37 minutes after sunset, Russell’s nose shot upwards toward the ceiling, and his eyes brightened.
“She’s had my blood!” he triumphed as he smelled both fairy and himself.
Russell immediately picked up his phone. “Thornton,” he said, addressing the Were who was with Sookie by his last name, “the fairy’s here! Get up to the third floor and secure her. Now! Do not fail me this time!”
Sookie followed Henry, who was moving very quickly—but stealthily—up to the third floor, where Claude was waiting for them. As soon as they’d gotten there, she used her mind-gift to basically freeze the Were in his tracks.
Sookie looked at Claude with a little concern and spoke to him telepathically so that there would be no way for Russell to hear them. “Is he trying to,” she stopped midsentence.
“Make me come to him? To submit? To heel?” Claude supplied with a smirk. He nodded. “I think so, but he has had none of my blood as he had yours, so it is not working. Do not be concerned, Tanah. He has no tie to me.”
Sookie let out a sigh of relief and then smiled at Claude. “Ready?” she asked.
“More than,” Claude confirmed.
Sookie looked at Henry and then back to Claude. “He’s helped me a lot—unwittingly, but a lot―and I really don’t want him to be hurt.”
Claude nodded. “Will he remain subdued?”
Sookie smiled. “Yeah—I probably did too much in there.” She pointed to Henry’s head.
“What do you mean?” Claude asked with a twinkle in his eyes.
“Well,” Sookie responded, “he’ll be on our side at least until tomorrow morning. And after that, he will suddenly realize what a psycho Russell is, and he’ll have the urge to stay away from Weres who take V.”
“Anything else?” Claude asked with a smirk.
“Yeah,” Sookie reported sheepishly, “I kinda used my light to help him cope with the war memories that were causin’ him so much anguish so that he won’t need to take V for his anxiety anymore.”
Claude shook his head a little, but his smile showed his approval. “You are a good person, Tanah.”
“Ask Russell if he thinks so in the morning,” Sookie smirked.
Claude got a devilish look in his eyes. “Okay—I will pop Henry back with me to the vans first. That will really give Russell something to think about.”
Sookie smiled and reached out for Henry’s phone. She put it on some empty crates. “We don’t want Russell to track him with this.”
Claude grinned and popped away with Henry.
A few minutes earlier, Russell was looking at the ceiling with a crazed smile on his face. Eric could hear the ancient vampire smacking his lips together in anticipation. “Ah—Northman—it is glorious to smell my blood mixed with fairy blood. I can’t even make out your blood anymore! It is as if mine has eclipsed you and your so-called bond completely. And if anything, my Sookie smells even more delightful—more fairy!”
Russell looked down at Eric for a moment, only to see that his captive had a huge red tear staining his cheek.
Russell laughed heartily as he witnessed the Viking’s despair. After Eric had awoken, Russell once more raised the possibility that they could become lovers. Russell was even prepared to hold to his word and allow Eric to continue some interaction with Sookie too. All that the Viking would have needed to do was to take Talbot’s place by Russell’s side. The offer would have been seen as a great honor by any sane individual. And, in Russell’s mind, it should have been an easy fucking choice! Eric should have been fawning at his feet out of gratitude!
But the Viking had dared to deny him. Thus, Russell was now even more ecstatic about every single ounce of pain he could extract from his foe.
“It will not be long now,” Russell laughed. “Even though I apparently cannot call her to me with my blood—yet—this is the first step,” he lorded over Eric.
Suddenly Russell’s whole demeanor changed as his nose thrust toward the ceiling again. Eric had to school his features so that he would not show his delight.
Eric’s nose had also been taking in the scent of fairy mixed with Edgington, but he knew the true source of it: Claude. His wife’s fairy brother had swallowed down the vial of Russell’s blood and had two tasks. The first was to distract Russell—to throw him off his game—by allowing him to smell his intoxicating scent. And that was most definitely working.
If Sookie had not told Eric of her plans, he may have been concerned. One of Claude’s gifts was concealing his scent. The complement to this ability was making one’s scent overwhelmingly powerful, and with that came the power to manipulate the scent―at least to a certain extent. Thus, Claude had purposely enhanced the part of his essence that was “shared” with Sookie: their blood connection to Niall. Of course, Claude couldn’t duplicate those features of Sookie’s scent that were unique to her or that had passed from Viola’s side of the family; however, the smell he created was “part” of Sookie. It was like a recipe that had certain ingredients right, but others missing. And it was obviously fooling Russell.
Eric used his senses to monitor Russell’s Were, Henry, as he got closer to Claude’s scent. Eric knew that Sookie would be with Henry—for whom she’d developed sympathy. Knowing Russell wouldn’t be able to tell, he smiled a little against the gag. Leave it to his wife to build a kind of affection for someone who was ostensibly her enemy! Of course, Eric couldn’t really talk after letting Quinn go. Perhaps this Henry would prove to be an asset one day—just as the Weretiger had.
Of course, even if he’d not known that Sookie would be with Henry, their bonds would have told him of her presence there. She’d been even closer—right outside the basement door—a little earlier. And he’d felt their bonds literally tingling because of their nearness. It had felt beautiful—right.
Soon after the Were joined the fairy scent upstairs, Eric watched Russell out of the corner of his eyes. He knew what was coming.
Suddenly, Claude’s scent disappeared, and with it, Henry’s scent was gone too. Eric would have laughed if the gag was not still secured against his mouth. Taking Henry out of the building had not been part of the plan, but if Russell’s confused face was any indication, it was an excellent idea. Sookie’s goal to get Russell out of sorts was certainly beginning to take shape.
Russell immediately dialed his phone to call Henry. Eric smirked against the gag, thankful it continued to hide his changes of expression.
Russell let the phone ring twice before he hung up angrily and called another of his Weres. “McCoy!” he yelled into the receiver. “Thornton is missing from the third floor, but his phone is ringing up there! Take four with you, and check it out. And if the fairy is there, then secure her.”
Eric knew that Sookie was up there, but she now had the ability to influence the minds of others, so she would be able to remain concealed from them.
Moments later, Russell’s nose was once more twitching. He had the phone open again and quickly dialed. “McCoy! Scrap that! The fairy is on the second floor now.” There was a pause and a loud grunt from Russell. “No—the roof!”
“Wait—son of a bitch! She’s on the first floor now. Wake everybody! And just follow the fucking scent and get her!” Russell yelled, now in a rage.
Eric had to work to stifle a snort. Claude was doing exactly as Sookie had instructed—“popping” around the building like crazy. And Russell was also doing what she wanted: pacing like a caged madman.
Claude popped back up to the third floor.
Sookie smirked at him. “Having fun?” she asked telepathically.
“Loads,” Claude answered in the same way and with a smirk of his own.
Sookie nodded. “It’s time—I think.”
Claude leaned in and hugged Sookie to him. He kissed her forehead. “I will see you after,” he said.
She nodded as a tear slipped from her eyes. “You’d better.”
Claude “popped” out of the room once more so that he could complete the second half of the task she’d asked of him: the more dangerous part.
Sookie sent a quick text to Tray. It would soon be time for all hell to break loose.
Russell was on the phone again. “McCoy, the fairy is outside now! Get her immediately!”
Eric almost felt sorry for whoever this McCoy was, but as he used his own sense of smell, he could tell that all but three of the Weres in the building were following Claude’s intoxicating scent outside. Of course, the scent wasn’t as enticing as Sookie’s, but Claude had done his best in approximating it, and the addition of Russell’s blood made the illusion complete.
Eric didn’t like even the pretense of Russell’s blood mixing with his wife’s. And even in that moment—even though he was glad that she could conceal her rhythmic heartbeat, which calmed him like nothing else, and her unique fragrant scent, which smelled of him and definitely not Russell fucking Edgington—Eric longed to take her in with all of his senses. He knew that it was not possible yet, but the thought of being surrounded by his wife’s essence—to be in her presence again—gave him all the incentive he needed to hang on through the rage that he expected Russell to turn onto him any minute.
And Eric did expect the rage.
He knew that the next minutes would be the hardest part for Sookie. She would need to give Claude time to draw Russell’s Weres right where they were wanted so that Tray’s pack could deal with them more easily. But Eric knew that Russell would soon remember that there was a convenient “body” in the room for him to lash out at. It was just a matter of time. But time would not be kind to Sookie in this case. No matter what was happening to him, she needed to hold firm until Tray contacted her again to let her know that Russell’s Weres were surrounded.
Russell was on the phone again, this time with a vampire whose name Eric instantly recognized as someone who had been part of Russell’s Mississippi retinue. “Mickey, get down here right now! These incompetent Weres have been unable to secure me my fucking fairy!”
Eric heard Mickey indicate that they were only a few minutes away and that he and someone named Pierce had met up with five other vampires from the old Mississippi kingdom. Eric used his bond with Pam to send her a little warning. He hoped that she would understand its meaning.
“Just get the fuck down here, and—remember,” Russell said coldly, “if any one of you sinks your teeth into what is mine, you will face me!”
Russell hung up without waiting for a response.
Russell was pacing, his nose in the air and his fists clenched by his sides. And that was when he remembered Eric.
Knowing what was to come and wanting to spare Sookie in any way that he could, Eric sent a burst of love and strength to his mate and then steeled himself. He and Sookie were too strongly connected now to prevent her from feeling that he was in pain, but Eric was determined to keep as much of his torture from her as possible.
He felt an answering burst of love from his wife, along with a heavier dosage of her healing magic, which he’d been storing inside the fairy bond since he needed to seem to be completely at Russell’s mercy. Yes. His beautiful wife—as if anticipating Russell’s next actions—was making some preemptive strikes of her own.
Gods, he loved her.
“What’s taking her so fucking long?” Russell asked edgily—petulantly—as he looked down at Eric. “Maybe—now that she’s had my blood—she no longer wants you as much as you’d like,” he mused. “And she’s apparently learned how to teleport—which complicates things out there.” He seethed, “Fucking Mab told me she wouldn’t be able to do that!” He slammed his fist into the table next to Eric’s prone body and then gestured toward the ceiling. He was trying to calm himself. “But do not fear; once she’s in here, that little skill won’t work anymore.”
Impatiently, Russell began tapping his fingers on the table right next to Eric’s head.
Eric was perfectly playing the part he had been asked to play by his wife―the weakened vampire, fearful of what was about to happen to Sookie. He bit down slightly against the gag, and was stung by the silver within it. He lashed uselessly against his restraints. He groaned as if in pain. Every one of his movements was choreographed as he let his gaze rove around as if looking for Sookie.
“Perhaps,” Russell said, looking down at Eric with a mixture of hate and lust, “I should use you to try to draw her here more quickly.”
Eric closed his eyes and sent his wife as much faith as he could as Russell thrust the silver blade into Eric’s side—reopening a wound that had barely closed on its own during the night.
Russell once more raised the knife and thrust it even more deeply into Eric’s side, this time slicing downward and making a large gash.
Sookie felt Eric’s pain through the vampire bond—though she could tell that he was trying to hold it back from her. She had to clutch onto the crates in front of her to keep herself from going to him.
She closed her eyes and continued to send Eric her healing magic as she made herself wait. Her telepathy was spread out like a web, listening for a thought—a single thought from Tray—telling her that Russell’s Weres were surrounded. That would be her signal to finally go to her mate. Finally.
She waited for what felt like hours as her husband received more pain from Russell. And she watched through the mind of the Were monitoring the closed-circuit feed from the basement.
Russell was stabbing Eric, and she could tell that the stabs were deep. His broad chest, his chiseled stomach, his smooth thighs, his sinewy neck—they were all now stained with blood—both fresh and dried. Sookie felt her hands light up as Russell ripped the fragments of the sheet from Eric’s body, and in that moment, Sookie knew that Russell’s intentions were to once more violate her mate.
Her very soul cried out, “No,” and she was finished waiting.
Something ancient rose within her—something dark as if seeping from the primordial. The feeling was governed by neither reason nor emotion. It was only instinct, and before Sookie could stop herself, she had the vial reading #2 out of her jacket pocket and at her lips.
Tray’s signal be damned.
She drank, and for a moment—just a moment—she let herself be known as what she was! She was Eric Northman’s bonded. Her scent—full of sunshine and Viking—radiated through the building light a bolt of lightning, and from the mind of the Were at the surveillance station, Sookie could tell that Russell was rocked by it.
So was her husband. The bond answered her scent with awe. And then caution.
Sookie knew that her husband was right, and she immediately manipulated her scent as Claude had told her how to do earlier. And then she stopped it up altogether.
Through the bonds, she felt her husband’s pride—his gratitude. And through the video feed, she could see Russell’s confusion.
And then—finally—she heard the signal from Tray’s mind. Before she even recognized what she was doing, she was running—running down the stairs of the old warehouse as fast as she had ever run. Running to her mate. Running to her fate.
She slung open the door of the basement. Her heart was racing. She knew very well that Russell could hear it, but she didn’t give a fuck.
What mattered was that her husband was hearing her heart beating, and that he knew that it was beating for him.