Her expression was one of gratefulness and—strangely enough—comfort as their blood tie strengthened. As he’d promised, the tie wasn’t made permanent, but the vampire could instinctively tell that it would take only one more exchange for it to be so. In that moment, he could not stop himself from yearning for that—from desiring that she would one day “feel” his emotions as he could experience hers.
The ancient ached to connect with the singular woman in front of him in a way that was—for lack of a better word—more “equal” than he’d ever connected with anyone before.
And still her eyes were on his; he wanted to drown into the sea of them. The previous night, he’d had his fingers inside of her body as she’d writhed in passion against him. But that moment had not been half as intimate as the one they were currently experiencing.
So—of course—there had to be an interruption. And—since Elvis wasn’t “in the building,” a “hound dog” filled in.
“What the fuck are you doing?!” Alcide demanded from the doorway of Sookie’s room.
“I am healing her,” Eric said simply as Sookie licked his closing wound.
“And does she know that you are also well on your way to forming a blood bond with her?” the Were growled.
“She does,” Sookie answered for herself, her voice sounding much stronger than before. She looked up at Eric. “Thank you—again.”
“Is the pain gone?” the vampire asked, trying to ignore the panting Were, who’d now stepped into the room.
“Yes. Will you take me home? Please.”
Eric nodded and brushed another piece of hair behind her ear. “I will see to the arrangements for the trip if you want to shower and get your things together.”
Sookie nodded, clearly feeling much stronger. “Yes—a shower would be nice. I’ll be ready in fifteen minutes?”
“Do not rush yourself; I will be waiting when you are ready,” the vampire said with a smile, before rising from the bed and ushering Alcide out of the room—though the Were seemed reluctant to leave Sookie alone.
Still, Alcide clearly recognized that he couldn’t best the vampire, so he wisely followed when Eric led him to the kitchen.
“Is Compton secured?” Eric asked through clenched teeth.
“He’s in the apartment next door. It’s empty,” Alcide explained.
“I can scent him, and that’s not what I asked! Is. He. Secured?” Eric asked again, this time emphasizing each word as if he were talking to a child.
Alcide shrugged and shook his head. “No need. Once he—uh—realized what he’d been doing, he was calm. He feels guilty—I think—at least, as much as a vampire can,” he tagged on sarcastically. “And he—uh—had quite a bit of Sookie’s blood and then the TrueBlood from the trunk, so he’s not a danger to anyone.”
“Not anymore,” the Viking scowled. “The name Debbie Pelt is in the file of information I have on you. She is an ex-girlfriend of yours—correct?” Eric asked the wolf.
“Yes,” Alcide responded cautiously-questioningly.
Eric hissed, “She is the one who is responsible for Sookie being in that trunk with Compton. When I woke up, I could already feel Sookie’s terror. I can only imagine how long she’d been in there—waiting for Bill to awaken. Where were you this morning? This afternoon?”
“I had work!” he insisted defensively. “I came as soon as you contacted me.”
Eric shook his head. “Your primary work in Jackson was to protect Sookie during her time here, yet you failed—again—as you did last night at Club Dead.”
“You can’t possibly blame me for last night!” Alcide defended.
“I do. I blame you for letting yourself be distracted to the point that Sookie was in harm’s way.”
“Hey! She’s the one that put herself in the path of that fucking stake!” the Were barked defensively.
“Maybe so, but—if you had been by her side—you could have prevented her from being stabbed with it.”
Alcide growled. “You didn’t stop it from happening either, you bastard!”
“No,” Eric said softly. “I made the mistake of enlisting your services—for ten thousand dollars’ worth of your father’s marker per day, I might add.” He scoffed. “And you didn’t even try to protect Sookie when she was bleeding in a roomful of vampires!”
“There was a full fuckin’ moon!” Alcide yelled. “What did you expect?”
“I expected you to behave like the firstborn of one of the strongest males in your pack! I expected you to demonstrate control! And—today—it would have been nice if you’d at least checked on Sookie! But you did not! Instead, your ex-girlfriend and one-time fiancé attacked her, tied her up, and left her for dead in that fucking trunk! And for that, Ms. Pelt’s days are numbered. You’re very lucky I’m not numbering yours as well—yet!”
The Were growled. “Don’t you dare threaten me or Debbie!”
“I don’t misjudge a person often, but I made a mistake with you.” Eric shook his head. “If you were the Were I’d thought you were when I gave you the assignment of protecting Sookie, I wouldn’t be the one threatening that bitch; you would be foaming at the muzzle to take care of the situation yourself!” the vampire sneered. “I would have supported you for your pack’s leadership—when the time came. But now I will look for someone better.”
“You? You have no say in pack business!” Alcide seethed.
“I have say in all Area 5 business,” Eric returned, though he refused to let on that he and Colonel Flood had a much more cooperative relationship than anyone (other than Pam) knew. They maintained a “professional distance”—for the sakes of both of their positions (because of archaic power struggles and grudges neither of them believed in)—but they were both wise enough to understand that creatures within the supernatural realm needed to work in concert. Eric had once hoped—as had the Colonel—that Alcide could eventually become a good packmaster. Oh—Alcide had been struggling against procreation since he was eighteen, and his father left a lot to be desired, but the younger Herveaux had seemed quite promising indeed. Flood would be even more disappointed than Eric to learn that was not the case—that his judgment was lacking.
“I am going to have a brief word with Compton,” the vampire informed the Were. “Meanwhile, you are going to prepare some food that Sookie can take with her. However—if you go within ten feet of the bathroom she is using or her bedroom—I will return and make Sookie very disappointed in me.”
“How so?” Alcide challenged.
“She will be angry if I have to snap your fuckin’ neck,” Eric growled as he got into Alcide’s face. “Don’t you think her trauma has been great enough today?”
“She’s the one who put herself into the path of danger by getting involved with vamps, and it was a vamp that almost killed her tonight!” the Were returned in a low hiss. “I would have been willing to get her out of that life; I still would be.”
Eric’s expression was as hard as stone. “Make Sookie food. Stay away from her. And don’t allow any threats—including your crazy ex-girlfriend—to get anywhere near her for the next ten fucking minutes. Those are your orders; after you fulfill them, I will rip up your father’s marker, and your family and I will have no further interactions!”
“You can’t make me stay away from Sookie,” Alcide responded defiantly.
“If she initiates contact with you, that is her choice, and I will not interfere. If you, however, initiate it—if you attempt to hurt or manipulate her or to use her to get over your fixation with the woman who tried to kill her today—you will become my enemy. And you do not want to be that! That I can guarantee!” Eric added warningly before leaving the apartment and going next door.
The Viking took a moment in the hall to calm himself. His protective instincts stronger than he’d ever felt them, he wanted to kill.
He wanted to maim.
He wanted to destroy.
The Were! Debbie Pelt! Bill Compton! Even the queen!
His hands ached to punish them for their part in Sookie’s current pain.
But it was Sookie’s “wants” he needed to consider in that moment.
He used his blood to find and assess her—to calm himself down; based upon her position, she was in the shower, and she was mostly calm, though a little sore. If she didn’t stay that calm, Eric knew that he could be by her side in less than ten seconds.
If he came through the walls, it would be less than that.
He’d go through the walls—he resolved.
The Viking opened the unlocked apartment door and found Compton sitting on a plastic-covered couch, his head in his hands.
“How is Sookeh?” he asked, mispronouncing her name because of his antiquated accent and inability to adapt—even after months of hearing others pronounce it correctly.
“You lost the right to ask that question when you put her into my care—when you returned to Lorena,” Eric sneered. “And—even if you hadn’t then—you lost the right to even speak her name—correctly or incorrectly—because of what you did to her in that trunk!” the Viking growled, his fangs snapping into place.
“You know I had to return to my maker, and I knew you would—for all your faults—make sure Sookeh stayed safe,” Bill insisted. “But now that Lorena is dead . . . .”
“Don’t!” Eric interrupted. “I don’t care that I smelled Lorena’s blood and ash all over Sookie—just like I don’t care how your psycho maker died—nor will you ever speak of any involvement Sookie may have had in your miserable maker’s death. To anyone! However—unlike you—I do care about my role as Sookie’s caretaker, a role you asked me to fill, but one I would have been happy to do regardless. So listen closely Bill: I will not give up Sookie as easily as you did!”
“Not even if your maker calls?” Bill asked sarcastically.
For a moment—but just one—Eric was slightly taken aback. Imagining that Appius might swoop in and disrupt his life—potentially harming Sookie—had been a fear nagging at him for as long as he’d known the captivating telepath. Bill’s petty words were, unfortunately, not completely without basis. And Eric vowed in that moment to begin placing safeguards to ensure that even Appius couldn’t harm Sookie.
“Does she know that you believe you own her now?” Bill continued his challenge.
“I do not think of Sookie as a possession! But thanks to your hiding things from her, she didn’t even know what a fucking blood bond was!” Eric growled. “But—yes—I was upfront when I explained that you had asked me to take over as her supernatural guardian—that you had basically pensioned her off on me!” The Viking scowled. “And she is smart enough to understand your actions—all of them—well enough!”
“Now that I am free of my maker, Sookeh is . . . .”
“If you want to keep your miserable existence, do not complete that sentence, Bill!” Eric growled. “Less than an hour ago, you were seconds away from raping her. And I have no doubt that you would have killed her—and likely turn her—so that you could continue inflicting her with your own twisted deficiencies. Sookie is not yours now, nor will she be again.”
“You say you don’t think of her as a possession, yet you are already dictating . . . .”
Once again Bill was cut off by the Viking, this time when Eric took him by the throat and slammed him against the closest wall, crushing the younger vampire’s body into the drywall.
“The only dick in the room is you,” Eric snarled. “You forget yourself; I am not the one who hurt her tonight!”
“I could not help myself,” Bill managed to screech out, despite Eric’s tightening grip.
“I. Don’t. Believe. You!” Eric returned. “As fucked up as your maker was, Lorena loved you—sick and twisted though that love was. Oh—I’m certain that Lorena enjoyed your pain, but I seriously doubt that she would have ever harmed you too badly. You were no doubt weak when you attacked Sookie, but were you completely incoherent?”
Eric paused just enough to see a flicker of guilt flash into Bill’s eyes.
The Viking sneered. “Moreover, Bill,” he spit out his name, “I can tell exactly how much blood you took from Sookie. Thankfully, it wasn’t enough to cause her to pass out, and even if you supplemented her blood with all of the synthetic I got, you are looking a little too rosy—a little too well! So you are either particularly weak or particularly vile. Ask me which one of those won’t get you killed right now.”
“Lorena kept me under silver and practically starved me for days,” Bill justified. “I woke up and smelled blood. I cannot imagine that even you, the great Viking,” he said sarcastically, “would have been able to control yourself any better than I.”
“That’s where you are mistaken. Even at only two years of age as a vampire, I did not harm someone that I cared for during my human life when my maker decided to punish me by ordering it,” Eric returned hauntingly. “I disobeyed my maker and suffered for decades for it, but I did not let him ruin me.”
Bill scowled. “A vampire cannot disobey his maker. You are lying.”
“A vampire cannot disobey without experiencing brutal pain,” Eric corrected. “Tell me, Bill. Did you even try to disobey Lorena? Have you ever? And more to the point—did you try to refrain from harming Sookie tonight—even for half a fucking second?! You are not as old as I am—not as controlled—but you are not an infant either. Be honest; did you attack Sookie because she smelled strongly of me?” he asked with a deadly edge to his tone.
Bill’s fangs popped down. “You got your blood into her again!” he snarled.
“Your anger is my answer,” Eric said murderously.
“What answer do you think you gleaned?” Bill spit out.
“That you harmed her out of jealousy—to punish her,” the Viking seethed.
“No! I would never harm Sookie on purpose!” Bill tried, though his voice quivered a bit.
“You did have a purpose in harming her—I think,” Eric responded as he squeezed Bill’s throat so hard that the younger vampire could not utter a noise.
“I think you were angry,” Eric growled. “I think you smelled that she’d had more of my blood. What you don’t know is that she took it because she’d been injured trying to find your sorry ass and needed strength to save you! What you don’t know is that I’ve learned of your importance to the queen,” he added as he released the pressure on Bill’s throat.
Bill’s eyes widened—even before Eric threw him into the opposite wall.
Bill rose carefully to his feet, not risking taking his eyes off of the Viking for a moment.
“Tell me of your project for the queen,” Eric said.
Upon seeing Bill flinch, the elder vampire smiled.
“Or is it projects?” Eric asked.
Again, the Viking took in Bill’s reaction.
“So I’m right. You have more than one,” Eric smirked. “Is Sookie a part of your work?”
“No!” Bill said insistently.
“So she is,” Eric nodded.
“No!” Bill repeated.
“Let’s play poker sometime; your bluff is absolutely comical. In the meantime, however, tell me of your other task for her highness.”
Bill pressed his lips together. Eric couldn’t help but to think that the pursing made Bill’s lips pucker like an asshole.
The Viking heard the water shut off in the shower that Sookie was in; it was time to move on—at least for the moment. “One night—in the near future—you will answer all the questions I have for you, but you have already told me enough for tonight,” Eric smirked.
“I’ve told you nothing!” Bill yelled out.
“You’ve told me more than your inferior noggin could imagine,” Eric returned confidently. “And now I will tell you something. If you approach Sookie uninvited or try to give her any of your blood, I will kill you in such a horrific fashion that even your maker could not have imagined it.” The Viking took a step toward Bill, even as the younger vampire seemed to try to disappear into the broken wall behind him.
“I will flay you again and again. I will enjoy taking one bone or organ from you each night. I will drain you and then give you rats’ blood so that you live on. I will burn you—with silver and flame. I will remove the cock you would have raped Sookie with and then make you give your severed dick a blowjob. And then I will begin making you give me ideas for your own torture. And—if I am not pleased by your suggestions—I will seek out council from Pamela, who—I think you are aware—is not a particular fan of yours,” he threatened.
“Sookie will hate you if you harm me,” Bill declared with bravado, though his eyes betrayed his fear.
“I believe she is already done with you,” Eric said honestly. “She just doesn’t want you dead—yet. But—if you harm her again, mentally or physically, I venture that she will give me leave to do my worst.”
Eric took another step toward Bill. “Do you want to see my worst, Billy boy? Do you want to experience it?”
“No,” Bill answered immediately, his fear bubbling to the surface.
“Then stay away from Sookie unless she asks for your presence.”
“You wouldn’t stop her from doing that?” Bill asked meekly, though his voice still held an edge of disrespect that Eric found irksome.
The Viking shook his head. “I would not. Contrary to what you have tried to lead Sookie to believe, I would never want her to be powerless.”
“How—how is she?” Bill asked, returning both to the question and to the contrite manner he’d begun their “visit” with.
“She is healed—physically,” Eric answered. “Anything else you need to know, you should be able to feel.”
“I cannot,” Bill admitted. “I can feel that she is alive, but our blood tie has been muted—because of your blood,” he added bitterly.
“That is better for Sookie,” Eric commented. “Don’t you think?”
“I think that you would do anything to take advantage of her, and now that you have so much of your blood in her, I cannot see a good end for Sookie,” Bill growled.
Eric frowned. “When did I wrong you, Bill Compton? Why do you believe me to be so repugnant in nature?”
“You think you are better than the queen!” Bill returned forcefully.
“I am better than she,” Eric responded. “That is a simple fact. But that does not mean that I haven’t served her well.”
“You are a monster—glad to be a vampire! And you are a womanizer! You shouldn’t be anywhere near Sookeh!” Bill stormed, his emotion causing him to mispronounce her name even worse than usual.
“I am a monster when I need to be” the Viking freely admitted. “And I am a womanizer in the sense that I have had sex with many women. I doubt you are much different in that regard. I have always been truthful in regards to my intentions toward Sookie, however. Can you say the same?” he added, studying Bill’s reaction to those words.
“And what are your intentions?” Bill asked, avoiding the question he’d been asked.
“You tell me,” Eric challenged.
“You want her.”
“I do,” the Viking acknowledged.
“You’ll use her for her telepathy,” Bill charged.
“Yes,” Eric affirmed. “And her body. And everything else that she is—if she gives me the honor of choosing to be mine. She is extraordinary. To ignore that—or to try to stifle it—is wasteful.”
“You are no better than the queen!” Bill seethed.
“Tell me more,” Eric smirked even as Bill realized his error in mentioning Sophie-Anne.
“Fuck you!” the younger vampire growled.
Again, Bill found himself in a choke hold against the wall—actually, somewhat in the wall.
“I will learn all about your assignments from Queen Sophie-Anne. Make no mistake about it, Billy Boy. Meanwhile, stay away from Sookie—unless she chooses to see you,” Eric reiterated, before dropping Bill and moving toward the door.
“Until she wants to see me,” the younger vampire crowed, though he looked less like a bird of prey than he did a fly that had become splatter on a windshield. “Because we both know she will.”
It was Eric’s turn to recoil a bit, though—thankfully—his back was still turned toward the younger vampire.
“Whatever Sookie chooses for her personal life, I will be ensuring her safety from now on,” the Viking said evenly. “And—just to be clear—the last thing Sookie needs to see right now is the man who attempted to rape her tonight. So you’d best stay here until we are well gone.”
“Tell me,” Bill said arrogantly as Eric turned the doorknob, “did Sookie ever tell you what I did to the other man who wanted to rape her?”
“No,” Eric growled. “But you just admitted that ‘want’ was—at the very least—one of your motives,” he said, turning to face the younger vampire. “Freud would call that one hell of a slip. And I will add it to the list of things I will eventually kill you for,” he informed coldly before leaving the room.
A/N: Hi all! I hope you enjoyed the chapter. Like Eric, many of you likely want to kill Bill in very slow and excruciating ways. But this isn’t the time for that. I hope that you can appreciate Eric’ restraint-as well as the difficulty of that restraint.
Leave me a comment if you have the time. I’d love to read what you think!
Many thanks to Kleannhouse and Sephrenia as always!