“What? How? Why?” Sookie asked in rapid succession, not quite understanding what was happening.
“I believe Bill has just felt Jessica die,” Eric answered softly as he cast his gaze back to Bill. As he stared at the hurting vampire, Eric was more certain than ever that he had no idea what Jessica had been plotting. For once in his pitiful life Bill was actually innocent… or as innocent as someone like him could be. He had blood on his hands like everyone else.
“I don’t understand,” Sookie admitted. She understood what Eric was saying, and one look at Bill had her agreeing with Eric, but she didn’t understand why. “How…? Why…?” She tried to put her thoughts into words, but was stumped.
Lifting up his head, Bill glared at Sookie. There was madness in his eyes that she hadn’t seen since the night he drank the blood of Lilith, and she fought the urge to take a step back. “Why?” He snarled; spit flying out of his mouth as he rose to his feet. “Because you told me to call her!” He screamed, advancing on Sookie. “My Child is dead because you made me call her. It’s your fault she’s dead! How many people are you going to kill?! Your parents, your grandparents, Tara, Jessica…” Bill ranted, throwing every hateful thing he could at Sookie. He was hurting and he wanted her to hurt as well.
Eric growled as he listened to Bill blame Sookie for events that weren’t her fault. Taking a step forward, he dropped his fangs and was about to put Bill in his place when he felt Sookie put a hand on his arm to stop him. Looking back at his little fairy, he arched a brow when he saw her shake her head.
Once she was sure Eric wasn’t going to attack Bill, Sookie let go of his arm and took a step forward. While she listened to Bill rant and rave she was suddenly transported back in time to the night Bill had become Billith.
“What the fuck do you know about me? For all you know, everything I did while with you was an act calculated to elicit a certain response.”
“I know that’s not true.”
“Why, because of the light you bear? Did you ever consider the possibility that it’s a handicap? One that blinds you to the most obvious of truths — that you are an abomination just as the Vampire Bible states.”
At the time, Sookie thought his hateful words were because of the blood he had drunk, but as she listened to him blame her for everything from being turned into a vampire to Jessica’s death, Sookie realized it wasn’t the blood of Lilith, Lorena, Sophie-Anne, or even Eric that made Bill behave in the manner she had witnessed over the years. They were just excuses. The Southern gentleman was the act; that was a mask he wore. The angry, manipulative, and cruel Bill was the real Bill; the Bill whom she was currently listening to blame her for everything was the real Bill.
Moving to stand in front of Bill, Sookie let years of pain, anguish, and suffering at his hands wash over her, and then she reared back and punched Bill right in the nose. “Just shut the fuck up!” She spat, taking a small amount of pleasure in the shocked look that spread across Bill’s face. From the corner of her eye, she noticed as Eric stepped forward preparing to protect her if necessary, and she flashed him a quick smile before turning back to Bill.
Eric hung back slightly, allowing Sookie to take the lead while she stared Bill down. He barely restrained a chuckle when he saw her punch Bill. He always knew his little fairy was a Hellcat, but seeing it again firsthand was quite the turn on.
“If Jessica is dead, then I am sorry, but it is not my fault. I won’t let you make me feel guilty for it,” Sookie said firmly as she met Bill’s gaze unflinchingly. “And don’t you dare blame me for what happened to my family! I wasn’t responsible for their deaths. I’m only responsible for the people I killed… Now, unless you want to join that list, I suggest ya keep ya fuckin’ mouth shut!”
There was a look of absolute hatred in Bill’s eyes as he stared at Sookie. For the first time since he met her, he actually hated her. The hatred was irrational, and he knew it, but he couldn’t help it. He needed someone to blame, someone to hurt, and she was right in front of him. “Jessica is dead beca…”
Sookie reared back and hit him again before he had a chance to finish. She was done being his punching bag. There was a time when she would have cowered before his words and believed them, but no more. She was so much stronger now.
Bill snarled when he felt his nose break, and the scent of his blood caused him to lose a little more control. Baring his fangs at Sookie, Bill lunged forward intending to rip out her throat when a flash of blinding light slammed into him and he was sent flying backward.
Eric roared when he saw Bill attempt to attack Sookie and he had just been about to leap to her defense when he saw Sookie shoot a ball of light at the Civil War vampire. He watched in amazement as Bill went flying and crashed into his fireplace before crumbling to the floor. Leaping forward, Eric wrapped his hand around Bill’s throat and yanked him to his feet. He slammed Bill into the wall, holding him off the ground, and got right in his face. “Touch her and I will rip you apart piece by piece and make it last for days,” Eric swore, his eyes blazing with anger. As much as he wanted to, Eric couldn’t send Bill to his True Death for his attempted attack on Sookie. Eric hadn’t claimed her and she didn’t carry his scent. “Sookie is not to blame for what happened to your Child. Jessica is responsible for her own actions. She obviously got involved with people she shouldn’t have…” Like Pam, a little voice in his head supplied helpfully. “She has paid the price for that.” Eric looked at Bill with disgust before pulling him away from the wall, and then slamming him back against it hard, destroying the plaster, and injuring him. Releasing his hold on Bill, Eric let him crumble to the floor and took a step back.
As he crumpled to the floor, Bill felt a wave of humiliation wash over him. Both Eric and Sookie had easily subdued him. He was once a God; now a little slip of a woman was overpowering him and knocking him around. As he lay on the floor, Bill envisioned the thousands of ways he could make them both pay, each one more painful and humiliating than the one before. As the sick and twisted things ran through his head, Bill knew deep down in his black heart he would never be able to do any of them. Eric would kill him before he ever managed to lay a finger on Sookie. As much as he would like to make her suffer, his final death just wasn’t worth the price.
Eric moved to stand in front of Sookie and checked her for any sign of injury. He was sure Bill never touched her, but his beautiful fairy was tenderhearted and could be hurt in ways that weren’t physical. Lifting his hand, he cupped her cheek and rubbed his thumb over her smooth skin before placing a kiss on her forehead. “My team should be here soon,” he said, addressing both Sookie and Willa. Casting a look over his shoulder at Bill, Eric snorted as he eyed the pitiful vampire. “He knows nothing and can’t tell us anything important,” he added with a sneer. “We should go and wait for my vampires.”
Willa nodded and made her way to the door. The sooner she got out of that house the better. She could smell Jessica’s scent all over it and it was making her homicidal. She was ready to attack Bill herself when she saw him go for Sookie, and she knew if she stayed there any longer she would attack him, regardless of what he did or did not know.
Making her way to the door, Sookie paused as she was about to pass through it and turned and faced Bill again. She could feel Eric right behind her and she took comfort in his presence. “Bill,” she said softly, drawing the bitter vampire’s attention to her. “I am sorry ‘bout Jessica…” Sookie made sure she had his full attention before adding, “But if you ever attack me again…” Holding up her hand, Sookie spread out her fingers and produced a ball of pure white light. “I will kill you…” She held Bill’s gaze for a few seconds before closing her fist and snuffing out the light. Turning back to face Eric, Sookie smiled up at him before she linked her fingers with his and let him lead her out of the house and back through the cemetery.
By the time they got back to the farmhouse many of Eric’s vampires were waiting for them; after checking with Eric to make sure they meant her no harm, Sookie invited them in and waited to hear what they had to say.
“Report!” Eric ordered in no mood to waste any time with useless pleasantries. They didn’t have long until sunrise and he wanted to know everything he could before he was forced to seek shelter for the day.
“In front of the human?” A dark-haired vampire asked as she eyed Sookie with distaste.
“You’re in the human’s house,” Sookie retorted before Eric had a chance to come to her defense. From her time with Niall and her daemon godfather, Mr. Cataliades, Sookie knew she couldn’t mouth off as she once had and had to respect the Supernatural hierarchy, but she’d be damned if she would let some vampire disrespect her in her own house. She may not have been a vampire or a Queen, but she was a Fairy Princess by birth. In that respect, the only person in her house equal to her in status was Eric, not only was he the current King of Louisiana, he had been a King in his human life. “It’s also the human’s brother who has been kidnapped. So, yes, in front of the human, and if you don’t like that…” Sookie gave a nonchalant shrug. “Well then, I’d be more than happy to rescind your invitation. If you still have a problem, then I suggest you take it up with your King cause I am His!”
Eric grinned at Sookie in approval. He swore he felt his heart swell at her declaration. She was his. He had waited years to hear her say those words and mean them. He had been ready to put the vampire in her place for speaking about Sookie so disrespectfully himself when Sookie had taken the lead. He wouldn’t allow anyone to speak down to her nor make her leave, especially when they were in her house. Eyeing the dark-haired vampire reproachfully, Eric glared her into submission permitting them all to see he was firmly in Sookie’s corner. “The human to whom you so inadequately referred, is Sookie Stackhouse. You will treat her with the same respect you treat me. Sookie is Mine!”
“My apologizes, Your Majesty,” the vampire replied, lowering her head in a sign of submission.
Eric cast the vampire, Indira, one last glance before turning his attention to Thalia. “Report,” he said, repeating his earlier order. He needed to know where Pam was as he knew there was a good chance that was where Jason had been taken. He wouldn’t stand back and let her hurt Jason in any way. If anything happened to the elder Stackhouse sibling it would break both Willa and Sookie’s hearts, and that was something he couldn’t allow. He hated to see either of his girls in pain.
“I escorted the trackers to the house before coming here and we picked up nine separate scents that were fresh, meaning within the last four hours,” Thalia began, informing them of all she had learned. “Four vampires, three Weres, and two… Humans,” she chose her words carefully when she spoke the last words. Of the scents she had picked up she knew the humans were more than just that. They smelled of the Supernatural, but seeing how Eric was keeping that a secret, she wasn’t about to announce it in front of everyone. “I have now placed all the scents but one vampire and the Weres,” she continued, informing them of whose scents she discovered and the paths they traveled. “The trackers are following the scents and tracking them through the State as we speak. They have been instructed to call before sunset if they haven’t located them before then.”
Reaching into her jacket, Thalia pulled out a brown folder and handed it to Eric. “I also printed out all the reports about Pamela Swynford De Beaufort from the last month. That file contains her last known whereabouts, any associates she might have had, her movements…” She also handed him a USB drive. “That contains everything on her from the time she was banished up until a week ago.”
As she watched Eric slip the USB drive into his pocket, Thalia couldn’t help but feel uneasy. She had personally been checking the reports on Pam since the night she had arranged for her to be followed on Eric’s orders. She knew everything that was said in those reports, and nothing in them gave any indication that she was planning anything. If anything, Pam had been acting quite normally for the last several months. If Pam was behind this as Eric suspected, it probably meant one of two things. Either she was much more clever than Thalia had given her credit for, or someone from the inside was helping her… And Thalia didn’t mean Compton’s annoying child. She meant someone on Eric’s team. That was what Thalia suspected, and she had a good idea who it was.
Opening the file, Eric quickly scanned the information looking for where Pam was last seen. He arched a brow in shock as he read the six little letters that told him where she was last…
The place held a great deal of significance to him. It was where his beloved Maker had spent the last decades of his life, it was where Godric had met the sun, it was where he and Pam had hunted down Sarah Newlin, and the place where Eric had been cured. Dallas was a place where he had a lot of memories, good and bad; Eric didn’t believe Pam’s presence there now was a coincidence.
“Dallas,” Eric said aloud, informing everyone else in the room of Pam’s last known whereabouts. He saw Sookie’s eyes widen a fraction and he nodded his head, guessing she had come to the same conclusion. Pam was playing a game with him. What that game was and what she hoped to achieve, he didn’t know, but any doubts he might have had about Pam’s involvement went out of the window right then.
Looking out of the window, Eric could tell sunrise was only about an hour off and he cursed the effect the sun had on his body. Other than the time he had amnesia, he had never really missed the sun, but right then he would have loved nothing more than several full-blooded fairies to drink down so he could stay away and go outside to continue his search for Jason.
Turning to face Thalia, Eric slipped into his leadership role effortlessly as he started barking orders. “Spread the word that Pamela Swynford De Beaufort is wanted by Louisiana for a crime against its monarch. If anyone is helping her that should make them think twice. I want the Weres who attacked Bellefleur’s and helped kidnap Jason caught and brought before me as quickly as possible. If I know Pam, she won’t keep them close so there is a chance they have already separated from Tara and Jason. I also want to know where Chow is…” Eric trailed off when he saw Thalia hold up a hand.
“I suspect Chow will be on his way to Dallas as we speak,” Thalia said, voicing her suspicion that Chow was the traitor helping Pam. She had personally instructed him to put together a team to guard Jason and Willa until some Weres took over at sunrise. Chow had been the vampire assigned to check the reports from the people following Pam, so it would have been easy for him to doctor any information before passing it on to Thalia. The only way Thalia knew the last known whereabouts of Pam were accurate was because she had taken the last report personally as Chow had been busy on another errand at the time.
“I want him found!” Eric growled, realizing what she was saying. “Track him down!” A traitor among them was the last thing they needed. Chow may not have been a part of the inner circle, but he still knew enough to cause some damage if he wanted. “Spread the word to all our allies. I want everyone to know that they are wanted by Louisiana. I don’t care what it takes, or how much it costs. I want them found.”
The vampires present nodded in reply. They had been given their orders and they knew what to do. One by one they all filed out of the old farmhouse, bowing in respect to their King before they left.
Turning to Willa, Eric smiled at her hoping to bring her a small bit of comfort. He could see she was hurting and he hated to see it. He cursed Pam and her bitterness. If she wanted to hurt someone she should have targeted him and left Willa alone. “Until we have found Pam, it might not be safe for you to stay at yours and Jason’s house,” he told her. It seemed the target had been Jason, but Eric wasn’t willing to risk his child’s safety. “You should go to one of the safe houses; the new one that no one else knows about.”
“What about Jason?” Willa asked, blinking back tears as she thought of her fiancé. She swore if Pam hurt him in any way she would send her to the True Death. Jason was innocent in it all. His only crime had been falling in love with her. “I can’t just leave him out there…”
“We will find him,” Eric said firmly as he took a step forward and cupped her face in his hands. “I will find him and bring him back to you. I promise you, min lilla, you two will get married.”
Willa wanted to believe him, but right then she was too scared to believe in anything. Pam hated her and wanted to make her suffer. Hurting Jason was the easiest way to do that. Willa loved him more than anything; hurting him would hurt her.
“Believe me, Willa,” Eric continued feeling her doubt and fear. “I will not let Pam…”
The sound of his cell phone ringing cut Eric off and he growled as he pulled it out of his pocket. “Northman,” he barked as his greeting. Silence was all he heard from the other side and he was just about to hang up when he heard a familiar laugh.
“Hello, Eric,” a soft voice replied.
Eric swore he felt his heart seize in his chest when he heard that voice. He knew it wasn’t possible. She was dead. He had seen her die but for one long second he wanted to believe. He needed to believe. He wanted to believe she was still alive.