After I had placed the box that contained the dagger my great-grandfather had passed on to me on the coffee table, I found myself just staring at the box—unable to move for at least a minute. I felt a mix of emotions that were mirrored in my mate: excitement, longing, a little bit of fear.
“Shall I go get the other?” Eric asked, breaking my concentration on the beautiful object he had made so that we could keep the two daggers together.
I pulled my eyes from the box and looked into his blue orbs, which were dancing with anticipation. My breath hitched.
He was beautiful.
I nodded, and he rose with more grace than I had ever displayed in my life. Almost as if they couldn’t help themselves, my eyes roved over his body, appreciating each subtle and supple movement. Eric had been turned into a vampire at the height of his strength as a human—his body powerful and confident. His well-formed muscles ran smoothly under his skin, creating dips and planes that had been earned from hard work and a life of activity and war. Scars from his human life made him even more handsome in my eyes, for they served as the proof of what he had survived, as well as what had led to his being turned. He’d told me of all of those scars: the slight dip above his hairline from when he’d taken a fall from a horse; the line on his hip that marked a cut from his first battle; the deeper line on his shoulder, telling of the time he’d fallen into a stream in the winter and had been cut by a jagged rock; a rough line on the side of his leg, marking the place where one of Russell’s Weres had clawed him the night his parents died. The largest scar on Eric’s body told the story of the wound that would have taken him from this world if Godric had not been there to turn him. Each mark proved more and more that Eric was a survivor.
He was beautiful.
I had once thought that all vampires were graceful creatures, but Eric had told me that most were not. The illusion of grace was created by a vampire’s ability to move at such incredible speeds; thus, humans could not discern any missteps. But they were definitely there, according to Eric. Eric had had me in stitches one night as he told me about how awkward many vampires actually were, especially when they were first turned. I giggled until my sides hurt as he told me about Pam’s initial attempts to use a sword. Between her lack of coordination and her yet-to-be-controlled speed and strength, many fine clothes were apparently sacrificed to Pam’s training, according to Eric. Clearly, however, Pam had worked hard to become graceful.
My husband, however, had a grace about him that seemed intrinsic, though I knew that it was also hard-earned. Eric should have been gangly, given his height and the length of his limbs. But he was not. I’d seen enough of Hunter’s sword training to know that our child was also developing the same kind of grace as his father. Even in the short weeks I had been home, I noticed that Hunter’s limbs—which were currently out-pacing the rest of his body in the growth department—still moved fluidly along with the rest of him. I could tell that Eric was making sure that this would be the case by teaching Hunter what I thought was a variation of Tai-Chi before their actual swordplay. And Hunter was absorbing the movements like a sponge.
My eyes trailed up my husband’s sinewy body to his eyes, which were alit with amusement, lust, and love. Always love.
He was beautiful.
He smirked, his own eyes moving from mine to glance at the bag I’d just taken the box out of. “You sure I cannot at least have a peek, lover?” he asked, alluringly. My breath caught in my throat.
Yes. He was beautiful.
“Don’t you like surprises?” I asked, moving to get up so that I could run to the bathroom while Eric got the other dagger. In another fluid movement, Eric helped me up and then held me against his chest. He placed a soft kiss on my forehead.
“I love surprises when they come from you,” he answered, his eyes twinkling. “I love them so much that I want this one now.” He grinned like a child trying to charm an early present on Christmas Eve. I couldn’t help but to grin back, knowing that I’d probably see that same expression on Hunter’s face come December 24th. They were two peas in a pod.
“If you ruin my surprise,” I paused, trying to think of something witty to say, but failing when he distracted me with a waggle of his eyebrows. So not fair.
I finished lamely, “Well—just remember that I know where you sleep, Buck-o.”
He chuckled. “Are you threatening my un-death, wife?” He tickled my side a little and I squirmed in his arms.
“Only if you peek,” I giggled. “And stop tickling me!” I squirmed some more. “The human has human needs to take care of.”
He stopped immediately and bent down to kiss my lips chastely. “Fine,” he pouted a little.
“I mean it!” I said, trying to look stern even though the bond conveyed the mirth I was really feeling. “No peeking!”
He chuckled, gave me some kind of ‘scout’s honor’ salute that I didn’t believe for a second, and then zipped down to the cubby. I hurried up and took care of my “human” business—something that my husband now called my “potty-time” thanks to Hunter’s “reeducation” of him. I closed my eyes and sighed happily; thinking of my boys always did that to me.
Yes. Two peas, one pod.
When I was done with the “potty,” I quickly washed my hands and went to rejoin Eric, who I was sure had beaten me back to the living room. I was surprised, however, to see that he was waiting for me in the hall next to the cubby door. I looked up at him in question.
“What’s up?” I asked as I felt uncertainty coming from him through the vampire bond.
He gave me a half-smile and spoke quietly, “I just felt the need to wait for you before I put them in the same room. Plus,” he hesitated and carefully handed me the wrapped dagger in his hand, “I think this one is,” he paused, “yours.” His sentence sounded almost like a question.
“Mine?” I asked as I noticed that his hand had been shaking a little until he handed me the dagger.
He sighed and nodded, looking almost relieved that the dagger was out of his hands.
“You okay?” I asked him.
He took a moment, nodded, and then gestured toward the weapon now in my palm. “You okay?” he asked.
I nodded immediately, without needing to think about it. Despite the fact that it was still covered, the dagger felt warm in my hands—comforting. It just felt “right.”
“Okay—I get it,” I said, now understanding what Eric had meant about this dagger being mine. “That must mean the other one is yours?” I posited.
“I think so,” he said.
I took a deep breath. “Well, we sort of felt that before—right?”
“Yes,” he agreed. “But I have never felt uncomfortable holding this one before.”
“Well,” I said, looking down at the wrapped blade in my hand and feeling a sense of well-being, “that was before the other one—uh—marked you.”
We both remembered how the other dagger had lit Eric’s hands to a reddish glow while we were in Dùraig. It almost seemed like our bonding with that dagger had opened up his ability to use my Fae magic—my light—to blast or to heal someone. But, for him, the color had always been reddish, whereas my light was always white. Neither Eric nor I had ever wondered why that was the case. For some reason, it just seemed natural that it would be like that.
“Let’s go,” I said as I took his hand with my free one. “I want to see them together.” Something about holding my dagger had taken away my anxiety, and I now felt myself being pulled toward the living room.
Eric, on the other hand, seemed more nervous than before and didn’t move for a moment.
“What?” I asked.
“Just that I do not want you to be hurt,” he said cautiously—protectively.
“I won’t be. I know it,” I said with a little smile as I sent confidence through our bond.
He nodded and moved his feet when I pulled him again.
Immediately when we got into the living room, my hand felt warmer, though not hot. It was like all of the warmth of the sun was suddenly inside of me, but without the heat.
Even as I tried to figure out that paradox, Eric was making a beeline for the coffee table and the other dagger. He pulled me along with him.
Immediately, he opened the box and took out the other dagger, which was also wrapped in cloth. As he did so, I sensed his anxiety suddenly disappear from the vampire bond. Still looking down at the blade in my own hand, I felt and heard a loud sigh from my mate.
“Everything will be alright,” he said, his voice now full of confidence.
I didn’t speak, but I nodded next to him, and I was certain that he felt my confirmation of his words through the vampire bond.
As soon as I held my dagger in my hand, I felt calm.
My mind flew to a long-ago memory of my human mother placing a heated blanket over me near the hearth in the great hall of our village. That memory was from my sixth winter. It had been a particularly bitter season, and I had fallen into a stream that I had thought was frozen over. After that, I had become terribly ill for many weeks—probably with what humans now called pneumonia. I had a vague memory that several children and elders had already died during that long, frigid winter. And I could see the fear in my father’s eyes every time he looked at me, though that fear was never in my mother’s eyes. There, I saw only faith and love.
My mother and an elderly woman who was known as a healer cared for me at all times until I was better. They would place my blankets right next to the hearth in order to warm them for me.
As I looked at the dagger, I remembered feeling the warmth of the newly-heated blankets many times throughout the days and nights when I was sick. That warmth centered me, and because of it, I did not become lost to the cold—to the death that threatened to take me so young.
I had felt safe in that warmth, surrounded by my mother and father, as well as the people in our community and even the animals we counted on to sustain us. They too were brought indoors during the winters, for both their own safety and the heat that they would add to the hall.
But what I remembered most of all about my sixth winter was not my illness. It was the warmth of the heated blankets and my mother’s kind eyes as she cared for me. Having my dagger in my hand made me feel just as safe, and I recognized that this feeling now came from the fact that Sookie made me feel even safer. She held my heart even as I held the dagger.
By contrast, after I had held the other dagger—Sookie’s dagger—for just a few minutes, I had become anxious and was on edge. But this one in my hand felt right, just as I could tell the one in Sookie’s hand felt right to her.
It was somewhat odd to me that the daggers were not interchangeable, but—then again—Sookie and I were very different people. We were complements, but we were independent too. Maybe that was why I always felt “added to” when she was with me. All I knew was that it was right that we were there—together—her with her blade and me with mine.
Immediately after I had my blade in my hand, Sookie sensed my change of mood through the bond, and she sighed with relief right along with me.
“What happened just now in the hall?” she asked.
I shrugged as we both sat down on the couch at the same time. There was a little space between us as we turned to face each other. “This dagger is apparently the one I needed to hold,” I answered simply, not wanting to question the magic tied up in the daggers. “When I held that one,” I gestured toward the blade in her hand, “it felt wrong to me somehow.”
“Was it hurting you?” she asked.
“Not really,” I tried to explain. “It felt like instead of holding onto that dagger, I needed to be holding onto you.” I shrugged again.
“But wouldn’t they be the same? I mean—they never seemed to be like this when they weren’t together,” Sookie commented. “I’ve held the one in your hands and you’ve held this one, and we’ve never had a problem before.”
“Should we try to exchange them?” I suggested, though I could hear the nervousness in my own voice.
Sookie immediately looked unsure and then laughed nervously. “That thought just made me squirm.”
“Me too,” I admitted with a little chuckle.
We looked at each other’s knives. They were both still covered.
“Let’s leave them covered if we exchange them,” she said.
“Agreed,” I concurred.
Okay—on the count of three?” she suggested.
Trying to break the tension, we both smiled at each other. “1—2—3,” we counted together and then swapped.
It took a few seconds, but the feeling of overall wellbeing that I had when I was holding my knife started to change to anxiety.
I could feel something similar from Sookie’s side of the bond, so I immediately motioned for us to exchange back.
We both sighed in relief at getting the right dagger back. And the sense of peace was immediately back as well.
“Okay, that was weird,” she said.
“Indeed. Shall we unwrap them?” I suggested, even as my fingers itched to do just that.
She nodded and we both slowly took out the daggers. Immediately, mine shone a red color in my hand. Sookie’s shone white.
I could not take my eyes off of the white light in her hand. It was like a magnet drawing me to it.
It was beautiful. She was beautiful.
Instinctively, I knew that Sookie’s gaze was locked on my own hand in a similar way.
“I need to touch you,” Sookie said in a rough, low voice that hardly sounded like hers.
“I know,” I said in a similarly unfamiliar voice. My eyes stayed on her hand as we both inched toward each other until our thighs were touching. Where our skin met, there seemed to be a kind of electric spark—not uncomfortable, but enlivening.
Her breathing was coming faster. “You okay?” I asked.
“Yes,” she whispered. “Better than okay.”
“Me too,” I shared. “It is like an electric current, but there is no pain.”
“I really want to hold your hand, Eric,” she said almost desperately.
I felt like I was salivating to do the same as our hands—the ones that were holding the daggers—moved toward each other, almost as if they were not being powered by us. My eyes tracked her hand to mine.
And then our palms were together suddenly—faster than I had thought they would be. It almost felt like I had missed a second of time.
Sookie gasped, and it was clear that she had experienced a similar sensation to my own.
Her hand was locked into mine, and―together―our palms and fingers held the two daggers in place next to each other. The two shades of light from our hands seemed to vibrate for a moment before melding into one color, lighter than mine but darker than hers.
“Beautiful,” she said as if entranced.
“Yes,” I agreed.
“That’s us,” she added awestruck.
“Our lights together.”
“Yes,” I agreed again—like a broken record. I didn’t seem to be able to say much else.
Despite the fact that I was touching her knife again, it did not leave me anxious this time. If there was any word that could have described me in that moment, it was “euphoric.” No—“sheltered.” It was as if the dagger in Sookie’s grasp represented all those things that might have endangered me, but in my mate’s hand, it seemed like those very things could only give me strength.
It was a beautiful paradox. She was beautiful.
I was speechless for several minutes—as was Sookie—as we watched the light swirl around our hands and then around our wrists and then around our arms.
“Closer,” I managed as I pulled her onto my lap with my free hand.
She immediately turned to straddle me, and our joined hands—with the daggers still pressed against each other—fell in between us, just about level with our hearts. I looked at her face and saw that her eyes were closed tightly.
“Closer,” she murmured.
She moved quickly and buried her face into my neck, even as I buried mine into hers. My own eyes were now closed too, but I could still see the light. And I could feel its continued swirling around us, encompassing us more and more, building in strength.
“Eric,” Sookie said in a desperate whisper.
“Closer,” we spoke together.
I pulled her in as close as I could without allowing the knives to cut into her.
“Better?” I asked. She nodded into my neck. I cracked my eyes open to see that our bodies were now embraced almost fully by our light, which had changed to blue—the color of blue fire.
“Open your eyes, Sookie,” I said with a sigh. “It is beautiful.”
I felt through the bond when she did. “Eric,” she gasped with awe in her voice as the light around us vibrated to a crescendo in a circle around us, before suddenly moving in closer to our bodies and then working its way into us.
I wanted her closer, but the knives were right over our skin. I knew the daggers would cut me if I pulled her in further, but I had to bring her closer nonetheless. I made sure the sharpened sides of both blades were turned toward me and then pulled her into me. I felt the daggers slicing into my bare chest―right above my heart. There, the blades created two thin, parallel wounds.
It was not enough. We were not close enough. Pulling her closer, I pushed the blades further into my body.
It still was not enough.
“They want my blood too,” Sookie stammered out as the force of the light moving into us doubled in pressure.
“I know,” I said, even though the last thing I wanted was to see her flesh marred.
Her eyes locked to mine as our joined hands between us shook with power. Her free hand rose to one shoulder of her robe, even as my free hand moved to the other shoulder of the garment. In tandem, we pushed the robe from her body so that her chest was bare. Her skin felt like a warmed blanket as it touched mine.
“You feel like the ocean in winter,” she said, closing her eyes for a moment.
“You are the sun warming the water,” I said in wonderment as her gaze once more locked into mine.
Our bare torsos now touching as much as possible, I realized how hot her skin felt even as my own flesh cooled as if I were naked in the snow—as if I were a boy again, once more fallen into that icy stream. This time, however, I did not almost perish; my mate was there to warm me with her fire.
I looked down to see her turning the daggers in our hands as she pulled herself even closer to me.
I could smell her lifeblood as both of the blades cut into her, but I knew by the amount of blood drawn that neither of the twin slices above her heart was deep. They matched my own un-healing wounds exactly.
I heard a click and realized it was my fangs. Without even registering that I had moved, I felt my fangs break the skin of my mate’s neck. I felt her blood slipping into my mouth, warming me from the inside out. And in the same moment, I felt her blunt teeth bite into my flesh, and I knew that she was taking in my blood as well.
“So cool,” she muttered between drinks. Her skin was a fever against my body.
I could say nothing as I was compelled to continue drinking slowly from my wife’s heat. I could do nothing but try to monitor her through our bonds. And then, I could not even do that as the light—our light—eclipsed even our bonds.
I could no longer feel either of our bonds inside of me. Or, perhaps, I could feel only them. I was not certain. Everything inside of me felt like a jumble of emotions and cravings. Yet at the same time, I felt so resolute and focused on the woman in front of me that all my life was like a crystal clear stream that had led me to her―only to her. Or―maybe―I was her and she was me. Maybe we truly were one being—me the pool and her the sun, disappearing into each other. She warmed right through me, all the way to the bottom. I could not be sure what I was or what she was or what we were in that moment. And I did not fucking care. All I could do was to hold her as closely as possible and to drink in the warmth that I knew would prevent me from freezing in the cold. All I could do was to quench the burning thirst that I felt from my Sookie with my own cool blood, and when the wound she had bitten into my flesh threatened to close, I refused to let it.
And then—it could have been minutes or hours later—it was over. Whatever had happened between us suddenly stopped, and all that remained was the light in our still interlocked hands. I raised my mouth from her already healing neck just as she raised hers from mine, each of us licking our lips as if losing even one drop of our connected blood would kill us both.
Our eyes found each other first. Her brown orbs glowed with the warmth of hearth and home, the flecks of green in them promising the richness of future harvests and prosperity. I wondered what my eyes showed her. I hoped that they made promises that I would nurture her even as she nurtured me—always.
We both seemed to be assessing the other with our eyes, making sure we had suffered no injuries. When we were satisfied, our gazes traveled downward and looked at our still-joined hands and the light there. The color was now different—muddied but lovely—a kaleidoscope of different pinks and whites and deep reds with just an echo of violet. My eyes stayed locked on that spectrum of light for a while, and then—as if of one thought―Sookie and I both moved our daggers to the side and then placed them onto the piece of white linen that I’d had Godric’s dagger wrapped up in.
Neither of us commented as we worked together to wrap up the daggers in the fabric. Sookie turned her body slightly, even as we both lifted the wrapped daggers and then placed them into the box. We both looked at the fabric for a few more moments before we each took a side of the lid and closed the box. It felt right that the daggers were now housed in the same place—that they should touch one another.
It was right.
We kept our hands resting together on the lid for a moment before Sookie turned back around in my lap. Her forehead found mine and we were silent for a while.
Neither one of us needed to confirm with the other the effects of what had just happened. I knew that she had experienced the same sensation as I had.
Our fairy bond was no longer inside of me.
Our vampire bond was no longer inside of me.
They were both gone.
A/N: Hello! This scene with Eric and Sookie bonding with both the daggers was one that I had wanted to include in Come Back to Me, but I could never find a good spot for it, so sharing it with you was one of the main reasons why I wrote Sojourn. I hope that you liked it. It was funny when I drafted this and realized that there was not sex included in this scene, but for some reason, it didn’t feel right to have one here, but don’t worry…the vampire will soon become amorous. 😉