Eric and Sookie kissed leisurely as they lazed in each other’s arms. A sense of contentment settled over them. Eric had a hundred questions he wanted to ask Sookie, and Sookie had a hundred things she wanted to tell him, but neither of them was willing to put words to them and break the stillness and contentment that had taken over them. Instead, both of them chosen to bask in their newly declared love, even if neither of them had yet to say the words.
Eric teased his fingers over Sookie’s back, a smirk tugging at his lips as he felt her shiver. When he walked into her hotel room just a few hours before, he never expected his night to end like it was. Oh, he wanted it to, but never in his wildest dreams did he actually expect it to happen. Part of him still couldn’t believe it was real that Sookie was lying naked in his arms after they had just finished making love for the first time.
“What are you thinking so hard about?” Sookie asked, breaking the silence as she lifted her head slightly.
“I’m thinking that if this is a dream, I don’t want to wake up,” Eric admitted, as he pulled Sookie closer.
“It’s not a dream,” Sookie assured him. Raising her head, she stared into his eyes as she added, “This is real. I am real.”
Lifting a hand, Eric cupped Sookie’s cheek, his thumb brushing against her soft skin. “I have dreamed about this moment so many times. Of seeing you again, having you in my arms, loving you… of finally being free of Appius. And in one night you have made all my dreams come true. How can I not think this is not just another dream?”
“Because a dream has never felt this good or this real,” Sookie replied. Her own dreams gave credence to her statement. “Did you ever dream of me being so different?”
“No,” Eric admitted. In every fantasy he had of her, Sookie had just been Sookie. The Sookie he knew from Bon Temps. He never imagined her as a member of the Supernatural Council or as a Soul Seer.
Throwing her leg over his hips, Sookie sat up and straddled him. “I know a lot has changed in such a short amount of time. Your entire world has been turned upside down, as was mine. After a thousand years you will soon be free of Appius. That in itself must be a huge chance for you and one you no doubt have mixed emotions about.” Taking a deep breath, Sookie lowered her voice to barely a whisper as she continued. “The horrors he subjected you shouldn’t have been seen or felt by anyone, but you survived them all and became stronger, while he grew weaker. Your body might not show the marks of his abuse, but your heart and our soul does…”
“Sookie… how?” Eric asked, his voice revealing just a small amount of the pain he held due to his Maker. Eric never wanted Sookie to know about the things Appius had done to him, nor those he had forced him to do to others. He never wanted to look into her eyes and see pity or disgust reflected back at him.
Placing her hands on his chest, Sookie met his eyes. “I saw it,” she told him truthfully. If they were to have the kind of future she wanted, there would have to be nothing but honesty between them. Neither of them could afford any secrets or lies; they both needed to tell it all, the good and the bad. “It’s not something I can do all the time, but I occasionally get a glimpse inside vampires minds, and earlier tonight I got a look inside Freyda’s head. I saw what Appius did; I saw what he made you do. I saw it all Eric. I saw what Freyda had planned, not only for you, but for Pam as well.” Sookie paused as she felt Eric start to move away from her. “No.” Moving her hands up, she cupped his face and turned his head so he was looking into her eyes. “Don’t turn away from me, please…”
“How can you bear to look at me?” Eric asked, his voice filled with the shame he desperately tried to hide. He could accept Pam knowing what happened to him, or his area vampires, or even his Queen, but the knowledge his sweet Sookie knew what he had suffered and witnessed some of it caused untold pain to well up in him. It was just another thing Appius had cruelly and viciously taken from him. “How can you bear to touch me?”
“Do you think less of me because Bill raped me?” Sookie asked unflinchingly while looking straight into his eyes, taking Eric by surprise. “Do you look at me differently knowing my Uncle Bartlett abused me?”
“No, never,” Eric reassured her quickly. The knowledge she was abused as a child caused a white-hot anger to burn through him, but he could never look at her differently.
“Then why would you believe I’d think of you differently?” Sookie asked. “Why would I look at you differently? I want your touch; I crave it, just as I crave to touch you. What we both suffered wasn’t our fault. We have nothing to be ashamed of; the shame lies with Appius, Freyda, Bill, and great-uncle Bartlett. We were both powerless to fight back at the time, but not anymore. I refuse to give them any more power over us.”
As Eric listened to Sookie’s words, it dawned on him that she was telling him the exact same thing he would’ve told her if the situation had been reversed. And more importantly, he realized she was right.
“Bill, Appius, and Freyda abused their power over us because they knew deep down in their black hearts that we are stronger than them,” Sookie continued. “What happened in the trunk of that car wasn’t my fault; nothing I did made it okay for Bill to rape me. I had a lot of time to think about it over the last two years. At the start I thought it was somehow my fault, that something I did caused Bill to do that to me, but it didn’t take me long to realize I was wrong. Like I said in my letter, Bill is to blame for what happened, and he has to answer for that. He knew what he was doing, Eric. He knowingly raped me, and I think I’m finally beginning to understand why. Power. He lost any power he had over me when he ran back to Lorena and pensioned me off. He gave up his power over me, and he was trying to claim it back anyway he could…”
Sookie didn’t mention that she also thought Bill’s actions were also in part due to the fact that he could smell Eric on her. After talking about it with Stella, Sookie believed Bill was not only trying to reclaim his power, but also reasserting his control, his possession. She wouldn’t hide it from Eric, but now most certainly wasn’t the time to tell him. She didn’t want him to feel guilty or attempt to make Bill pay. He did deserve to pay and he would, but she would be the one to make him. Bill would answer for all his crimes, and she had more than enough power to make him.
“Nothing Appius did or made you do was your fault. He used his Maker’s command because he knew you were stronger than him; he knew you were better than him. And it was the same with Freyda. She knew having Appius issue a Maker’s command was the only way she could ever have you. Bill, Freyda, and Appius are weak; they’re insignificant. They just don’t matter, Eric. Appius will meet the true death tonight. His time is over. Don’t let him take any more of your time, Eric.”
“He will meet the true death tonight?” Eric asked, as Sookie’s words were warming his heart. He knew everything she said was true. He had nothing to be ashamed of and neither did she. Neither of them was the guilty party in what had happened to them, and in that moment Eric refused to give Appius anymore sway over his life. He was taking back the power. Appius, Freyda, and Bill would pay for what they had done; that he promised.
“He will,” Sookie assured him. “He sealed his fate when he tried to attack me. There is no way out for him. He will be staked an hour before sunrise.”
“For centuries I have dreamed about finally being free of him,” Eric admitted, as he sat up. Wrapping his arms around Sookie, Eric shifted himself backwards until his back was against the headboards. “Now it is almost a reality, and I find myself unsure of what to think or feel.”
“I’m not even going to pretend to understand what you’re going through,” Sookie replied. “I can’t imagine what it was to be tied to him for so long. I saw his soul, Eric. I read it. It was so dark and twisted. You only get a soul like that by performing unspeakable evil. And I’m sure many of those acts involved you, and I hate him for it, Eric. I hate him. I hated him before I even met him. If that makes me a bad person, I don’t care.”
“It doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you human,” Eric told her as he ran his hands down her arms in an attempt to comfort her.
“I’m not human,though, not really,” Sookie replied, with a small shrug. “I always knew I was different. The fact that I can read minds told me that. I just never knew how different until Pythia explained it all.”
“You said in your letter you had Supe DNA,” Eric recalled. “I take it you mean you are more than just part fairy.”
“You figured that out, did you?” Sookie asked, with a giggle.
“I did,” Eric answered, a smirk curling his lips. “Your Halloween costume message to Pam was a clue in itself, Tinkerbelle. But I had my suspicions confirmed when the fairy prince contacted me wanting to know where you were, and if I could arrange a meeting with you.”
“Good ol’ Niall Brigant,” Sookie snorted. “I bet he wasn’t happy when he found out I was beyond his reach.”
“He was a little aggrieved,” Eric said, a chuckle escaping his lips as he recalled the tantrum the prince of the fae threw when he informed him Sookie wasn’t accessible. “He is most anxious to meet you.”
“I bet he is,” Sookie replied. Climbing off Eric’s lap, Sookie turned around and moved in between Eric’s parted legs. She rested her back against his chest. “I expect he’ll be making a visit real soon. It’s such a shame he won’t be getting what he wants.”
“How do you mean, Lover?” Eric asked, wrapping his arms around her waist.
“He wants to use me as bait,” Sookie explained, as she rested her hands over his and nestled back against his chest. “Breandan is proving himself to be quite the nuisance to the good prince. Niall is hoping to draw him out into the open with the rumor of a human/fairy hybrid that has royal blood running through her veins. Niall wants to use me to lure Breandan out into the open.”
“Never,” Eric growled, tightening his hold on Sookie. “I won’t let him. I will kill them all first.”
Stroking her fingers over Eric’s hands, Sookie attempted to soothe her vampire lover. “I know you would,” she told him, “but you might not have to. By now word has probably spread back to Niall that I’m a member of the Council. He will more than likely come to see for himself if it’s true and offer me a chance of a family when he realizes it is, but he won’t be able to implement his original plan. I’m beyond his reach now.”
“How?” Eric asked, her touch causing his anger to lessen. “I have known Brigant for centuries, and he is both cunning and determined. If he thinks it will benefit him, he will not hesitate to use you.”
“Even if it will cost him his life?” Sookie asked. “I’m a member of the Council now. He might be the prince of the fairies, but my status is higher. Niall might rule over the fairies, but he answers to the Council, just as the demons, witches, vampires, and every other Supe race does. If he knowingly and willingly puts a member of the Council in mortal danger, his life will be forfeit. It was why Alexei was killed when he tried to attack Aime. It was why Appius was sentenced to death when he tried to attack me. Attacking a member of the Council is punishable by death. No trial, just death. It doesn’t matter if it’s a direct attack or if you plan it and someone else does it for you. If Niall follows through with his plan to use me as bait to defeat Breandan, he will die. He’ll know this, so I’ve no doubt he’ll try to come up with another plan.”
“You still think he will come though,” Eric said, as he read between the lines. Knowing Niall like he did, Eric believed that he would show up soon. Sookie was right when she said by now Niall would have heard about her place on the Council. Niall would try to use that and use her for his benefit, of that Eric had no doubt.
“Knowing Niall like you do, do you think he’ll pass up the chance of trying to get to know the great-granddaughter who sits on the Council?” Sookie asked with a snort. “From what Pythia and Kynan have told me, Niall will want to try to use me to get his own way. He can’t sit on the Council himself, something he’s not happy about, but he won’t pass up the opportunity to influence me and get his voice on it another way.”
“You think he will try and play on your family connection to try to get closer to you?”
“I do,” Sookie admitted. “Niall is under the mistaken impression that he and his kin are my only remaining family other than Jason. And he also believes he is the head of my family line. If what Pythia and Kynan have told me is true, he will try to use that to his advantage. He’ll want the power I have to strengthen his power base.” Sookie let out a small laugh as she traced patterns on the back of Eric’s hands. “Pythia and Kynan are laying wagers on what Niall will try first. Niall is probably already planning all the changes he’ll want to implement. Pythia believes he will try to get me to challenge Aime’s place on the Council first. Although she is a fairy, she isn’t a part of the sky fae; Niall will want one of his on the Council. And Kynan bet Niall would try to arrange for me to marry and mate with a fairy of his choosing, to strengthen his line…”
“Never,” Eric growled, possessiveness rising in him as he heard Sookie mention mating with a fairy. “You are mine. I will kill anyone who dares touch you.”
Turning in his arms, Sookie straddled his legs again as she raised her hands and cupped his face. “No one will ever take me from you,” she promised, as she stared into his eyes. “I am yours, just as you’re mine. No one can come between us, Eric. Not Niall, not Freyda, not de Castro, no one. Our soul means we belong to each other and only each other. No magic, contract, or childish Queens can separate us. I love you…”
Crashing his lips to hers in a breath-stealing kiss, Eric fisted his hands into Sookie’s hair as he poured our ounce of love he felt for her into the kiss. For almost two years, Eric had dreamed of hearing Sookie say those words to him; his heart had craved them like his body craved blood. Eric was consumed by her love. Nothing had ever felt better. This was where he was supposed to be.
Sookie rocked her hips against Eric’s as she dug her fingers into his shoulders, her body crying out for his touch. She could feel heat spreading through; the urge to join her body was his overwhelming her. Nothing else mattered by the taste of Eric’s kisses and the touch of his hands.
Wrapping his arms around her, Eric pulled Sookie firmly against his chest as he flipped them over, pinning his love beneath his body. Eric smiled down at her, the love he felt for her shining bright in his eyes. Lowering his head, Eric pressed a soft kiss to Sookie’s nose, making her giggle.
Raising her hand, Sookie laid it against Eric’s cheek, the love she felt for him clear on her face. Keeping her eyes on his, she rubbed her thumb over his lips. “I am yours,” she whispered before turning her head to the side and offering Eric her neck.
Love surged through Eric at her offer, stroking a finger over her pulse point. “Are you sure?” he asked. He wouldn’t take her blood, unless she was absolutely certain. The memory of her lying nearly drained in the trunk of that car was still etched firmly in his mind. He figured the last vampire to drink from her had done so without her consent, and he wanted to give her it back, even if he wasn’t the vampire responsible for almost draining her.
“I’m sure,” Sookie told him without hesitation as she guessed what he was remembering. Sookie had never forgotten that day, and she doubted she ever would, but it was time to close the door and move on. She refused to let Bill have any hold of her any longer. She wanted to feed Eric because she wanted to, because it was her choice. “I’m yours, Eric. Mind, body, and,” she giggled as she added, “soul.”
Growling softly at her words, Eric lowered his head again and pressed his lips to her neck. He flicked his tongue out, tasting her skin as he rocked his hips against hers. Eric placed open mouth kisses on her neck as he slid his hand down her body and cupped her right breast. He pinched her nipple as he sank his fangs into her neck, his eyes rolling into the back of his head as her blood flowed into his mouth.
Sookie gasped as she felt Eric sink his fangs into her neck. Arousal flooded her body as she lifted her legs and wrapped them around Eric’s hips. Running her hands down his back, Sookie grabbed Eric’s ass and pulled him against her as she lifted her hips and ground herself against him.
“Oh…” she cried.
Eric thrust against Sookie as he took another mouthful of her delicious blood. He could feel her blood healing all the damage Appius had inflicted on him. It was almost like Sookie was washing away his scars, physically, emotionally, and mentally. She was cleansing him of Appius’s taint. Feeling her stiffen beneath him, Eric retracted his fangs, lifted his head, and stared down at her. He watched with rapt attention as she broke apart under him. Her bottom lip was caught between her teeth as she shuddered; her beautiful blue eyes were heavy with desire as she stared up at him. As he stared down at her, Eric felt the need to possess her grow strong within him, the urge to mark her as his overpowering him.
Sensing what he needed, Sookie smiled up at him. “Take me,” she said, as she unhooked her legs from around his hips.
A growl tore from Eric’s lips as Sookie gave herself to him. Sitting up, Eric leaned back and ran his eyes over Sookie’s naked body, lingering briefly as he reached her wet and swollen sex. He licked his lips as he saw the evidence of her recent release.
“Turn over,” Eric ordered.
Sookie moaned at the husky sound of Eric’s voice as she did as he ordered. Rolling onto her stomach, Sookie pushed her up until she was on her hands and knees before her vampire. She shivered as she felt Eric’s hand travel over her body and rest on her ass. She couldn’t resist the urge to wiggle it at him.
“Mine,” Eric growled, as he squeezed her ass. Wrapping his fingers around his erection, Eric rubbed the head of his cock over her slit.
“Yours,” Sookie agreed. She let out a cry as she felt Eric enter her in one hard thrust. “Eric!”
Eric stilled as he felt her flutter around him. He gritted his teeth as he fought the urge to pound into her hard and fast. He wouldn’t hurt her to satisfy his own need; he wasn’t Compton. He would claim her as his because that was what they both wanted. Eric groaned as Sookie began to push back against him, her body telling him it was okay and she wanted more.
Gripping her hips, Eric pulled back before slamming into her hard again. He smirked as he heard Sookie cry out in pleasure. The bed banged against the wall as their flesh slapped together, their cries of pleasure filling the room as they lay claim to each other. In that moment, nothing but the feel of the other mattered to either of them.
“Oh God, yes!” Sookie cried out, her pleasure growing with each thrust of Eric’s hips. This was what she wanted, what she needed. She needed to be claimed by her Viking. Her body began to glow softly, her markings spreading over her skin as her magic accepted Eric’s claim.
Tangling his fingers in her hair, Eric yanked Sookie up, her back to his chest. Wrapping an arm around her waist, Eric held Sookie against his chest as he continued to thrust into her. He could see the marking on her shoulders, and Eric traced one with his tongue. Her power rolled over him; he could see it, taste it on his tongue, but he knew he was safe, that he wouldn’t ever hurt him.
“Eric!” Sookie hissed, her body a slave to their passion, her orgasm building rapidly.
Lifting his hand, Eric dropped his fangs, tore into his wrist, and offered it to Sookie. “Drink.”
Wrapping her hand around his, Sookie brought Eric’s bleeding wrist to her mouth and latched on. She took his blood into her body without hesitation. She sucked hard on the wound, a moan spilling from her lips at the rich taste of his blood. She could feel his blood moving through her body, her magic enhancing it.
Dropping his head, Eric sank his fangs into Sookie’s shoulder. As the first drop of her blood touched his tongue, Sookie’s light exploded from her body and filled them room; the ribbons of their soul twirled around them as the colors grew in intensity.
The hotel shook again as the final stages of their bonding were completed. The light receded as they both reached their completion. Releasing her hold on Eric’s wrist, Sookie sagged against him, the arm still around her waist the only thing holding her up.
Eric pressed a kiss to Sookie’s shoulder as he pulled back slightly. Dropping down onto the bed, Eric pulled Sookie into his arms and held her tight.
“Mmm,” Sookie purred, as she rubbed her cheek against Eric’s chest.
“Happy, Lover?” Eric asked.
“Extremely,” Sookie replied.
Combing his fingers through Sookie’s hair, Eric tilted her head up so he could look at her. He pressed a soft kiss to her lips before pulling back. “I love you.”
Sookie beamed at Eric, her heart swelling with love. She opened her mouth to reply when someone banging against the door interrupted her. Dropping her shields, Sookie scowled as she felt the void at the door. “One guess who that is,” she snarled as she climbed off the bed and grabbed Eric’s discarded shirt. She slipped it on before stomping towards to door.
Yanking the door open, Sookie glared at the vampire who dared interrupt her time with Eric. “What the hell do you want?”