Eric smelled him all over his mate.
Despite Sookie’s shower.
The fucker’s scent clung to her like a skunk’s “perfume”!
Immediately, Sookie knew that Eric had smelled Bill. Without guilt, she looked her mate in the eye. “Russell’s witch will be dealt with—as will Bill.”
Eric closed his eyes, obviously trying to get his temper under control. Smelling Compton anywhere near his mate enraged him. But he trusted her. And he trusted in them. Bill was nothing now—nothing but a pest that needed to be exterminated.
Sooner rather than later.
“You know your orders,” Eric growled toward the others in the room.
Everyone else at the dining room table—including Roman—was wise enough to make himself or herself scarce.
Leonie kissed Sookie’s cheek before “popping” out of the room.
A crack was heard as Eric broke the dining room table. He’d not even realized that he’d been gripping it until then.
Sookie lifted her chin and looked at her husband—still without fear.
In fact, with almost challenge in her eyes.
“Tell me,” he snarled. “Tell me the worst of it.”
She sneered. “I kissed him—more than once. He hugged me. And I hugged him. I had to be in the same fucking room as he was and witness him salivating over the idea of being my fucking hero! I had to ignore bile even as I swallowed bite after bite of humble pie because I finally noticed every fucking one of the ‘tells’ that should have told me that he was a bastard all along!”
Eric’s growl had become deeper and continuous as she spoke.
“It was disgusting!” she added.
“I felt your disgust,” he snarled.
“So you know it was worse for me than it was you,” she scowled, her eyes lighting up a little.
“I know!” he replied angrily, though his anger clearly wasn’t directed toward her.
They looked at each other for a full minute, her standing with her hands on her hips and him with pieces of the snapped table still in his grip.
“What you did—it proves how strong you are,” Eric said finally, his voice still low and dangerous-sounding.
“I know,” she whispered. “And your letting me do it proves how strong you are.”
“I am trying to stay calm,” Eric admitted with a grimace.
“Me too,” she returned.
Their bond seemed to be alit within them—burning with love and fear that was almost overwhelming. Distrust didn’t enter the equation. Nor did regret. Nor did guilt. Nor did anger at anything other than the situation. And Bill.
“Claim me,” she whispered. “I’m yours, Eric. Being in the same space as Bill was . . . . ,” she paused. “It was horrible; I need you to erase it.”
He had dropped the ruined furniture and was next to her before she could blink—kissing her.
She felt a whoosh of air and knew that he’d taken them to their bedroom.
“Yes!” she exclaimed when he moved his lips from hers, trailing them down her neck in order to lathe the wounds that he’d made in her flesh earlier. He’d already punctured his tongue to coat them with a mixture of his healing saliva and blood.
“Never again!” Eric yelled. “He’ll never touch you again.”
“No—he won’t,” she gasped. “Touch me, Eric. Touch, me. Please.”
He ripped the dress that she was wearing into two pieces, not giving a fuck that it looked lovely on her.
“I hated saying those lies to him—him of all people!” Sookie gasped as she quickly opened the buttons of his shirt. “It hurt to say those things—against you. My pledged. My husband. My bonded. My mate.”
“You forgot fiancé,” he added, before capturing her lips again. Rapidly, he took off her bra before taking two hands to tear apart her panties. Vampire speed almost didn’t seem fast enough for him as he got out of the rest of his clothing.
As soon as his was bare, she shot her light into his chest. He growled in ecstasy.
“You are mine, Eric Northman!” she exclaimed, her eyes almost white as she shoved him back onto the bed.
The vampire growled at his mate, and she growled back. “Fae Sookie” had come into her own during the past weeks, her power ever-growing.
And the vampire loved it.
She’d embraced both “hers” and—in so doing—had become the “true” her.
She mounted him. There was no foreplay. That wasn’t needed between them right then. They didn’t need to assure one another of their love. They needed for Bill Compton’s scent to be eradicated.
It was fairy.
It was vampire.
It was animal.
“Sookie!” he moaned, as she moved up and down on him as rapidly—and as rabidly—as possible.
“Eric,” she sighed, her tone not matching her rough movements in any way. “I’m sorry that it wasn’t just you—only you. Ever.”
“But it was,” he said, slowing them down. “It was in every way that mattered. That matters. Just as it has only ever been you—for me. This, Sookie. This, min kära. It is good. It is right.”
She stroked his cheek. “It’s more than good. More than right.”
He chuckled and then moaned again. “Tell me, Sookie, tell me how you want me.”
“You know,” she said insistently.
He nodded and trust upward slowly, their frenzy evolving into an unhurried coupling. Their lips touched any flesh they could meet.
She held onto his shoulders, her nails piercing his skin.
His own arms were wrapped around her gently, stabilizing her and moving her when she became too breathless to move herself. Unlike their coupling earlier that night, there was no pain for either of them.
On the contrary, there was healing.
“Yes!” Sookie cried out again and again until she quivered and then came. That’s when he bit into her flesh. His previous marks—the ones she’d asked him to make—to leave on her body and not to heal—were shadowed by the new bite he made. In contrast to the previous, his fangs slid in with loving precision. Even unhealed, they would have left only tiny marks. But he intended to completely heal those and the others.
Of course, with his beloved, there was always a twist. Before he could heal her, she had healed herself—by biting into his flesh.
By taking his blood.
He roared in pleasure.
It had been too long.
Their bonds sang in triumph. When the magic of his blood had healed both of their wounds—from the inside out—they moved to share a kiss, and, with it, they shared the remnants of the blood they’d consumed.
With his next coherent thought, he lay back and pulled her spent body against his own. She clung to him, enjoying the coolness of his skin against her heated flesh.
“Tell me,” he said—now calm—after her breath had evened out.
“Bill bought everything hook, line, and sinker,” she responded.
“You think he’ll kill the witch?”
“I know he’ll try,” Sookie said confidently. “But, if he fails, Hallow will take Bill out. Either way, one problem will be solved. Hallow or Bill.”
“And if Bill succeeds, we will have killed two birds with one stone. Bill will go to Russell and stir him up into a frenzy,” Eric mused.
“Yes,” she agreed, knowing that agitating Russell was one of the main reasons she’d approached Bill.
“Maggie has learned that Hallow has a brother, a Were named Mark Stonebrook. He is somewhat magical too—and hooked on V. Hallow has been secretly creating a little coven inside of Russell’s pack. I intend to make sure Russell finds out that tidbit of information around the time that Bill approaches him tomorrow night,” Eric relayed, lightly caressing Sookie’s newly-unmarred neck.
She knew that the pain of having to inflict her earlier wounds still weighed heavily upon her mate’s broad shoulders. She sent him comfort. And love.
“If Hallow is eliminated, will the brother and the coven become more dangerous?” Sookie asked, rubbing gentle circles upon her mate’s chest, soft blue light flowing into him as she did.
He sighed, finally at peace. “Octavia is certain that she and Amelia can counteract anything they do, and we are certain that the real power lies with Hallow. According to Octavia, Hallow likely channels the coven’s power. Without her, they will be greatly limited in what they can do.”
“What about the concealment potion?” Sookie asked.
“A success, even from very close proximity. Octavia tried it on Klymene earlier and even Duncan couldn’t smell her when she was in his arms. A full dose will work for only about six hours, but that should be enough time.” Eric looked down to catch his mate’s eye. “Octavia left an extra dose—one she said that you would have an idea about how to use.”
“I do,” Sookie said after a moment’s pause. She was biting her lower lip nervously.
“But you don’t want to tell me about it?” he asked intuitively.
“No. Not yet.”
The Viking nodded. “I can feel that you are confident in your reasoning not to tell me, and I trust you.”
“As I trust you,” she whispered, kissing his chest.
Their bonds hummed with that mutual trust, and Sookie was almost as grateful for it as she was for their love. It was that trust—more than anything else—that made her feel strong.
“Did Rasul contact you before the meeting?” she asked after a few minutes of silence had stretched comfortably between them.
“Yes. He confirmed the information about Hallow’s little coven and reported that vampires from Russell’s, Bartlett’s, and Felipe’s retinues will be converging in the area tomorrow evening. Oklahoma is also providing soldiers. Rasul figures that there are 60-70 vampires ready to fight for Russell’s side. Oh—and he also confirmed that Chow is among them, though he is actually with us.”
Sookie chuckled. “Good. I always kind of liked Chow. But,” she went on pensively, “do we have enough people? To fight against them all?”
“Yes,” Eric assured. “We have a similar number as they do. The monarchs of California, Oregon and Washington, Texas, Kentucky, New Mexico, and New York have many vampires gathered and ready.”
Sookie nodded against his chest. “And Rasul is well?”
“Yes. But anxious to be done with his spying.”
“We are in his debt,” Sookie commented.
“Yes,” Eric agreed.
In addition to the information Rasul had given them about Russell’s movements and the size of his forces, he’d also been the one to tell them that Hallow and Bill had been secretly having an affair, information that they’d already found of particular use.
“Are you sure that you are okay?” Eric asked. “Earlier—when I bit you—I know it hurt.”
“It did,” Sookie said honestly, though there was no judgment in her voice—or in the bond. “But it was needed, and it did fool Bill,” she added evenly, showing no signs of positive emotions for her first lover. There were no favorable emotions coming from the bond either. For Sookie, there was only indifference left for Bill Compton—indifference tinged with a dosage disgust and dislike.
Eric was glad about the fact that her emotions for Bill had dissipated almost completely. After all, Compton didn’t matter to them—except for the fact that he was garbage that needed to be taken out.
“Still, I hate that you had to see him,” the Viking said quietly.
“I hate that he touched you in any way.”
“I know. Me too.”
Eric pulled his mate as closely against his body as was physically possible.
Sookie was more than happy to be flesh to flesh with him.
Neither of them spoke again before the dawn pulled Eric to his death and Sookie to her sleep.
They didn’t need to speak. They both knew that the next night would be a new beginning for them—either in this life or the next.
A/N: Thanks so much to everyone who continues to read this story and, especially, those who take the time to leave a comment! Many of you have been with me from the start of the UN-iverse and have left words of support after each chapter. I cannot tell you how much that means to me!