OCTOBER 30, 2009, NIGHT
When Eric woke up to Sookie sitting on the bed—her hair back to being blonde—anxiety filled him.
She, too, was anxious—though determined.
“I need you to do it,” she whispered, her voice laced with apology. “I know that we decided Duncan, but . . . .” Her voice trailed off and her eyes were pleading.
As soon as it had been determined that Sookie would need to display several angry-looking bite marks for the next part of their plan, Eric had prayed that he’d not have to be the one to do it. However, a part of the Viking had known that his bonded would ask him to do the thing which went against his very soul.
To hurt her.
But—then again—how could he allow another to harm her? And how could he deny her? Initially, Sookie had insisted that it would be less difficult if someone else did it, but now it was clear that she’d changed her mind.
“Please, Eric. I will let Duncan if you can’t, but I want . . . .” She stopped. “I don’t think it would be easier if he bit me. I think it would be harder. He’s become my brother too,” she paused, “but I don’t want him to have my blood. You are my bonded. I don’t ever want anyone other than you to have it.”
Eric took a long breath into his useless lungs and steeled himself. “You’re right, my love,” he said taking her into his arms. “But before I harm you, I need to love you,” he said, his voice cracking—almost agonized in timbre.
A tear slipped from Sookie’s eye; she immediately collected it with her finger and offered it to her mate. Eric took her finger into his mouth and sucked gently before letting it go and then capturing her lips with his own. He could taste the salt of her tear as their tongues joined their lips in embrace. He quickly pushed the robe from her shoulders in order to uncover her glorious flesh, but that was the last fast move that he made.
Slowly, he moved his lips to taste and to tantalize other parts of her body—parts that he knew as well as his own flesh.
Her perfect cheekbones—always so ready to support her rosy cheeks when she smiled.
The tender places behind her ears that always made gooseflesh erupt onto her skin when he brushed his lips against them just right.
Her earlobes, which she loved having softly nibbled.
The long column of her neck.
The sweet curve of her shoulders.
Her supple breasts.
Her swelling hips.
Indeed, he kissed every part of her, but when he reached her womanhood, his kisses became more purposeful licks and sucks and nibbles. As she moaned under his ministrations, he slowly moved two fingers into her body, enjoying her pleasure with her through their bonds. Her eyes were closed, but—for once—he didn’t feel the need to ask her to open them.
He wanted to watch her—to feel her—being pleasured. He needed to know that she didn’t fear him for the pain he would soon be causing her.
By closing her eyes and relaxing completely, she was showing him her trust, and he relished that even more than her ambrosial taste.
It wasn’t long before she was spinning into her orgasm.
He let her come down from it slowly, patient to witness and to feel her contentment. When she opened her eyes, he was hovering over her. She lifted a hand to cup his cheek.
“It’ll be okay,” she whispered.
“I know. Are you ready? It will be easier—for the both of us—if it happens,” he paused, “during.”
She smiled and nodded before lifting her head up to kiss him.
“Thank you,” she said against his lips. “I’m ready.”
He nodded. He wasn’t ready, but he knew what had to be done.
And it seemed as if their bonds did too. Understanding burst through them. And Eric prayed that they would anesthetize both Sookie and him to what he was about to do.
He prayed that the cold, heartless vampire in him would rise to the surface. He prayed that compartmentalizing his thoughts would allow him to forget that it was his mate in his bed.
And—as if she could hear him—Sookie turned around and got onto her hands and knees.
Taking someone from behind had been his favorite way to fuck before he’d begun his relationship with his wife. From behind, he could pound into his sexual toy relentlessly—without having to see his or her face. For, except for Godric and Pam, the person had never mattered before Sookie. No—only the physical pleasure and the blood had mattered.
Of course, he and Sookie had made love in every way imaginable—including this way. But they had never stayed in this position during an entire love-making session. Eric craved seeing his wife’s eyes too much. He craved witnessing the pleasure in them. But, now, he wanted to avoid seeing the pain.
Knowing that he would leave bruises—needing to leave them—he pressed his fingertips against her shoulders and neck as he moved her body to meet each of his thrusts.
She groaned from both pleasure and pain as he purposely bruised her.
Despite the grip of his fingers, the sex itself wasn’t hard. That was the paradox of the situation. Eric kept his thrusts “light” and shallow, and he used all of his grace and skill to ensure that his cock brushed her g-spot every time he moved in. And every time he moved out.
Given his turmoil, he knew that he would not be able to achieve orgasm. It was only his wife’s magnificent body that was keeping him hard. It was only his desire to make sure she felt just as much pleasure as pain.
He longed to bring her body upward, to place his chest to her back and stroke her body with sweet caresses. But he knew that if he did that, she would turn her head so that they could kiss. He would see her eyes. Her face. Her love for him.
And—if he did—he wasn’t sure he could continue.
He moved his hands to her upper and then lower arms, creating more bruises in his wake. Then he moved his fingers to her wrists, squeezing down roughly. Meanwhile, he continued to give her as much pleasure as possible. When her walls began fluttering, he leaned forward.
For the first time during his vampire existence, it was difficult for Eric to make his fangs pop down. He had to think of Russell and the ensuing battle in order to make them extend.
Sookie said nothing, probably sensing that—if she did—he wouldn’t be able to bite. She didn’t turn her head toward him. She didn’t offer him comfort through their bonds. In fact, she tried to shut herself off to their bonds—to just feel the pleasure he was giving her body without thinking of anything else.
Eric tried to turn off his mind, focusing on only Sookie’s body and how it was reacting to his cock. He tried imagining her as anyone other than his mate.
He closed his eyes, and as soon as her orgasm ripped through her, he bit.
He bit her hard.
She gasped in pain.
He growled, disengaged himself from her flesh, and then he bit her again.
This time—when he pulled his fangs from her—he ripped her flesh.
She cried out.
He swallowed her blood only because he knew that she’d be angry if he didn’t, considering the fight that awaited them the next night.
He bit again, knowing that the magics of their shared bonds and blood would heal her too quickly if he wasn’t brutal.
Sookie screamed as he bit a fourth time and then a fifth time, and then she blacked out from pain and blood loss.
When Sookie regained consciousness a few minutes later, Eric’s back was to her, and he was sitting at the side of the bed. His head was in his hands, and his body was shaking with sobs.
She grunted in pain as she sat up. Automatically, she moved her fingers to the bite marks that Eric had left on her flesh. The wounds were angry and—of course—they were unhealed, though Eric’s blood inside of her had stopped the bleeding. But her mate’s emotional pain was stronger than her physical pain. Sookie reached out and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“Never again,” he whispered, even as he rocked back and forth. “Please forgive me. Please forgive me. I will never hurt you again. No matter what. I can’t. Please forgive me. Please forgive me.”
She scooted over to him and leaned her chest against his back, wrapping her arms around him. “I’ll never ask again. Please forgive me,” she cried, repeating his words.
When he turned to face her, she saw his tear-stained cheeks. His eyes immediately went to the wounds he’d left in her body.
But she wasn’t having that. With tears streaking her own cheeks, she lifted his chin, making his eyes meet hers. “As soon as I get back, you’ll heal me.”
“Yes,” he nodded, even as every fiber of his being screamed out for him to heal her right away. But he didn’t.
She leaned in and kissed him softly on his lips, opening their bonds so that he could feel her love for him—so that he could feel that there was nothing to forgive. So that he could feel her trust. “I’m going to get ready now,” she said after a moment.
Eric nodded and—without a word—followed her into the bathroom. He turned on the water, bringing it to the temperature that he knew pleased her. As soon as the room was steamy, she stepped into the shower, pulling him in with her. She embraced him, and they both closed their eyes so that they would not have to watch the blood spill down the drain.
The blood from his tears.
The blood from her wounds.
After a few silent minutes, he began to wash her, his fingers moving over her body gently, but avoiding her wounds.
“I hate to see you marked like this,” he said in a whisper. “Marred like this. Hurt like this.”
“It needed to be done,” she reminded.
He nodded, but Sookie could still feel his guilt. She sent him calm through their bonds—and love.
After they’d bathed, Eric turned off the water and then dried off his wife. Sookie allowed his caretaking, knowing that a creature as tactile as Eric needed the physical contact in order to begin healing from what he’d done to her. Sookie was happy for the psychological healing of his gentle touch as well. After she was dry, Eric brushed her hair, careful not to irritate her wounds. Then she dressed in a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt.
When she was done, the couple went into the living room area. Brady and his mother, Maggie, were there and had already set up some computer equipment. Both Weres gasped as they saw the wounds on Sookie’s neck. But neither of them made a comment, for they both knew the plan for the night.
“Report,” Eric demanded.
“The situation is ideal. Compton is currently speaking with the Queen of Georgia in her suite,” Brady reported. “She’s staying on the twenty-sixth floor of the hotel. We’re ready to take over the cameras on the whole floor.”
“Sookie, room 2605 is empty,” Maggie said, handing her a keycard, which she’d just programmed in a little machine next to her computer. “Wait for Bill at the end of the hallway—near the elevator.”
“Get him into the room as soon as possible,” Brady picked up. “We can control the elevators if need be. And we’ll have Thalia and Leonie waiting for you in the stairwell. If something happens, just make sure Eric knows it. They’ll be able to get to you almost immediately.”
“And—if something does happen—you need to let Leonie teleport you back here,” Eric said nervously. “No heroics. Thalia can take care of herself.”
Sookie nodded. “Okay. I’m ready.”
“Bill?” Sookie whispered tentatively, trying to look at the back of her former boyfriend and lover without cringing. Trying to sound broken.
He was standing in front of the elevator, waiting for the conveyance to pick him up. It stopped and the doors opened, but the vampire didn’t get on the elevator.
Instead, Bill turned around slowly.
“How—how are you sounding like her?” he asked with a stutter.
“Like who?” she asked.
“Like Sookie. The potion makes you look like her, but you’ve never sounded like her before.”
Sookie took a tentative step toward him.
“How—how do you smell like her?” he asked, his eyes wide.
“Bill, I don’t know what you’re talking about, but we don’t have much time. Come with me, please.” She reached out to him. Stunned, he took her hand and followed her to room 2605.
“Hallow?” Bill asked once they were in the room.
“No, Bill,” Sookie said, shaking her head.
“Yes,” she whispered.
“Sookie?” he repeated.
“Bill, we don’t have much time. He will find me—once he knows I’ve left the room he put me into. Right now, he’s out of the hotel. But he’s had my blood, and he’s made me take his,” she informed, trying to sound frightened.
“Sookie? Is it really you?” Bill asked once again, his tone a mixture of fear and disbelief. He shook his head. “No. It can’t be. You died.”
“Eric was able to break the blood tie I had with you, Bill,” Sookie said desperately. “He has a witch helping him! A powerful one! Please, Bill, I need your help. I have to get away from him. He’s been,” she paused, “hurting me.”
Bill zipped to her and pushed her hair back from her neck. Angry bite marks were littered over her flesh. He pushed her sleeves up, seeing the bruising on her arms.
“Sookie?” he asked again, still not quite believing she was alive.
“Help me, Bill. Please! You’re my only hope.”
Seeming to come to the realization that his beloved really was in front of him, Bill pulled her into his embrace. “Sookie! I’ll take you to Russell. He’ll protect you,” the vampire said already moving them toward the door.
“No!” Sookie practically shouted as if no idea scared her more than that one. “Eric will kill me if you do that! And he’ll kill you,” she wept. “I can’t let anything happen to you, Bill,” she added desperately. “If you take me to Russell tonight, his witch will find out, and she’ll do things to me! And to you!”
“His witch? Eric’s?”
“Yes,” Sookie panted—almost frantically. “And Russell’s. Russell thinks she’s loyal, but she’s not.”
“What witch?” Bill asked, growing even more pale than usual.
“You said her name earlier,” she whispered. “Hallow. She was the one who severed our blood tie. I had been coming to you that day—driving as fast as I could to get to you! But she stopped me. And then she,” Sookie stopped, letting her sobs overtake her for a moment.
“What, Sookie? What?” he asked, his tone offering concern and support.
“She hurt me so badly—just to get your blood out of me!”
“But she was out of the country at the time,” Bill remembered, unwilling to believe that his current lover had harmed his former one—or that Hallow was working with Eric.
“She’s so powerful, Bill,” Sookie whimpered. “And she can travel by teleportation—like some fairies can. And she wanted something I had: you. She said that she’d do anything to have you.”
“But she didn’t even know me then,” Bill breathed.
“She’d seen you in Sophie-Anne’s court,” Sookie responded. “And she knew Lorena—loved Lorena! They were lovers in Mississippi for more than a year! And now she’s turned her fixation upon you. Please, Bill! You have to protect yourself from her!”
Bill thought for a moment. “We’ll go to Russell—tell him everything. He’ll know what to do.”
“If you do that, I’m dead,” Sookie said as she shook like a leaf. “And so are you.”
“I’ll protect you,” Bill promised.
“Not from Eric. Not from Hallow,” Sookie said in a haunted tone. “You can’t.”
“I can. And Russell is stronger than both of them!” Bill said confidently.
“I know,” Sookie said with hope in her voice. “And you are strong, too. That’s why I’ve come to you. She told me how to find you.”
“She?” Bill asked.
“The Ancient Pythoness,” Sookie said in a reverent tone. “I’ve heard her in my mind, and she has shown me a way that we can all survive!”
“The Ancient Pythoness?” Bill asked, his voice awestruck. “But I thought that she was Russell’s enemy.”
“No,” Sookie responded. “That was just misdirection on her part! She usually doesn’t get involved in vampire politics, but she believes the Authority is bad for vampires! Bill, did you know that the head of it is her own child?”
“Yes,” Bill nodded, leading Sookie to sit onto the bed. “Roman.”
“She told me that she couldn’t bring herself to kill her own child; that’s why she needs Russell’s help. And,” Sookie paused, “there’s more. Eric is plotting against Russell too! She has seen that if Roman and Eric join forces, they will defeat Russell!”
“No!” Bill exclaimed, his eyes wide.
“But we can stop it, Bill. You can stop it! She said that she’s foreseen it!”
“Yes. She wants to help me and you be together. She’s seen the power of our love, Bill!”
“Our love,” he gasped, clearly still somewhat in disbelief.
“She told me that I should wait for you, Bill—right by the elevators. I couldn’t believe it when I saw you, but she was right! You were there!”
“H—how?” he asked, stammering a little.
“She spoke with me two days ago,” Sookie said almost reverently. “Eric had left me chained up in a room. I don’t know where exactly. Maybe half an hour from here? But in the country where I couldn’t hear any thoughts. I’d been there for weeks! But, then, all of a sudden, I heard her voice in my head. I thought I was crazy at first. She knew so many things, and I really did think I’d finally lost it. But then the things she told me about actually started to happen!”
“What do you mean?”
“She told me that Eric would put me into the trunk of a blue car right after sundown tonight. She told me that the next thing I saw would be a Were who would be thinking about a football game he’d bet on.” Her eyes widened. “She was right! After that, she said we’d be going to a suite. She said that Eric would be meeting with the witch there. She told me that I would overhear a conversation between them that would confirm what she’d been telling me.”
“And Hallow came?”
“What did she and Northman say?” he growled.
“Eric locked me into the bathroom, but the Ancient Pythoness was right. I could hear them because of a vent. Eric asked Hallow for more potion so that he could continue concealing our scents; he ran out of it two nights ago. That’s the only reason why you can smell me right now. Hallow promised him more potion tomorrow at midnight. That’s when she plans to help Eric sneak into the Masquerade! He and Roman will go after Russell from two sides, and Hallow plans to be chanting a spell that will weaken Russell! She’s just been pretending to be loyal to him!”
“Why would Hallow help Northman? You said she was fixated on me,” Bill asked suspiciously, looking at Sookie through narrowed eyes. “Is Eric controlling you, Sookie? With his blood?” he growled as he grabbed her arm roughly.
She cried out, but his grip only tightened.
A/N: Hello all! So this was a difficult section for me to write, and I scrapped it and then rewrote it and then returned to the original concept. Having Eric hurt Sookie, even as part of a plan, broke my heart. Sookie needed to be obviously mistreated in order to effectively trick Bill and doing that was an important part of the plan. I also felt it was something Sookie needed to do—to manipulate him as he’d always done to her…to prove that she could face her fear without breaking.