Sophie Anne angrily swept away the contents of her desk as she rose from her chair, fangs down, and snaked her hand in a death grip at the back of Bill Compton’s neck, to bang his head down on the hardwood table. She held his head pinned there, brought her fangs very close to Bill’s cold skin and dangerously breathed down the exposed neck of the terrified young vampire in front of her. Her two loyal bodyguards Sigebert and Wybert stiffened and readied to attack.
“What do you mean you can’t bring the telepath here on your own?”
Bill Compton struggled at the hold to speak up but the queen did not loosen her hold on his neck. He squeaked out, “Majesty, I didn’t mean it like that!”
“What did you mean Compton? Care to tell me why you haven’t been able to tie her up with you yet? Do you want me to rethink my options?”
Bill got more alarmed. “No, no, Majesty! We can still get her here. I know what to do…You, uh, didn’t even have to send Andre.”
Sophie’s grip tightened on his neck and Bill cried in pain. She was practically hissing in his ear now.
“Don’t ever tell me what to do Compton. And don’t make me remind you how much I’ll take pleasure in stripping off your flesh from your sorry bones, just for the fact that you stood where Andre was taken from and still don’t know anything about him that could be of use to me. Thank whatever Gods you whine to, for the fact that Sheriff Northman is going down for Andre, and that you still have a job to complete for me. If you fail to bring the telepath then you are going right down with your precious sheriff!”
She squeezed her hold for a second and then released him. With a flick of her hand, she pushed him back to the chair he was sitting in and the chair almost toppled over. Bill sputtered and gripped his neck, breathing unnecessarily to regain his wits.
“Believe me your Majesty! Unlike sheriff Northman, I am completely loyal to you. I have a plan. Just hear me out. I assure you, you will get what you want.”
“Enlighten me Compton! And you better make it good.”
She stared daggers at him and Bill flinched. He knew Sookie couldn’t be glamored and he had been unable to get anywhere near her for all of the three weeks since Andre disappeared. Between her morning/noon shifts and Eric’s covert guards, he couldn’t touch her without alerting the sheriff and he really didn’t want Eric onto him at that point. So he came up with an evil and cowardly plan of blackmail. “There is a way to ensure her cooperation without glamour or blood. The human is very attached to her grandmother and brother. If we could capture and hold their lives over her head, there is no power in the world that could stop her from willingly walking to us here and she will do anything we want her to do.”
Sophie Anne chewed on this and decided that picking up two puny humans was a small price to pay to get a willing telepath in her court and nodded.
“Do what you have to do Compton. I give you your last forty eight hours and then I expect my telepath at my feet. If you mess it up this time, then this would be the last fuck up of your inconsequential life.”
She sneered the last sentence and Bill suppressed the insult hot on the tip of his tongue. No, now was not the time to overreact and ruin months of planning and manipulation.
He swallowed his anger at being belittled like that and bowed in servitude.
“You won’t be disappointed Majesty! I’ll get them here and Sookie Stackhouse will follow like a charm.”
“Fine! Get lost then…”
Sophie Anne dismissed him with a wave of her hand and indicated to her guard to get her a donor to feed.
Half buried in a swamp in the middle of nowhere with no one to help and a phone I can’t reach to at the back.
Now would be the time for her swooping vampire fantasies to come true. Sookie couldn’t control her small snorting smirk at that thought.
However, keeping up with the outlandish night she was having, the chuckle she heard next, from somewhere above, merely made her roll her eyes in sheer relief and sheer disbelief.
“Do you spend your lovely days planning these rescue missions for me, Sookie? What are the fucking odds here?”
Yeah! Enter swooping, freaking infuriating, gorgeous vampire to the rescue of perennially troubled blonde Cinderella again! Bite me now!
She sighed and her body sagged on the seat, as a sweeping feeling of safety coursed through her. The strange thing about this feeling of safety was that she knew exactly where it was coming from. It didn’t matter that some time back, she had seen him take a strange beautiful woman with him to a closed room and she didn’t have any doubts about what he intended to do with her. No, it didn’t matter now. Just the fact that he was there washed away all her previous angst over her strange vision. Who knew how true it was or what the whole picture was.
Eric saw the car being sucked in the swamp at an alarming pace and smelled Sookie’s blood all around the car. She had surely been injured when the car swerved.
And where are those wolves who were supposed to guard her! Worthless scum! They are dying tonight!
Just the sound of her sighing when he teased her to check on her sanity, had been music to his ears. That disturbed him. Agreed that he found her fascinating but there was no reason to feel insanely happy about every breath she took. To distract himself from prodding his thoughts about Sookie, he immediately turned to the task at hand.
“Put your head down. I am going to rip off the top of the car…”
Eric snickered silently before saying in a bored drawl. “Head down Miss Stackhouse!” and without waiting for any response, he held onto the frame by the side of her open window and tugged at the top sheet of the old rusty car. It came off without any sort of resistance and Eric silently shook his head at how unsafe that vehicle actually had been. Good riddance!
As he ripped the thin sheet of metal away, he saw the little girl sitting inside with her forehead on the wheel and her hands on top of her head, half covering her ears from the screech of tearing metal. He had a sudden urge to wrap her in his arms, hold tight and comfort her.
So small, so soft, so fragile…
Seeing her there just within his grasp was wreaking havoc to weeks of his accumulated control. Add her beautiful scent to the picture and he was one hungry, horny vampire, hovering over a helpless damsel, ready to swoop in for a taste of her.
So distracted was he that he didn’t care or notice that Sookie was now staring right back at him, with a confused expression, her cheeks already flaming red because he had been doing his own staring since a minute, getting nowhere around pulling her out of the sinking car. Surprisingly for him, he also did not notice that instead of hovering, he was somehow crouching on the car now and his added weight was pushing the car down rapidly.
“Umm… SOS Eric! I am drowning here…”
That brought him back and earned her a slight snapping of his eyes and a smirk as he held out his hand for her to hold on to. She lifted one trembling hand, fascinated by his outstretched strong and large hand and slowly reached out to touch his fingertips. Both of them gasped inaudibly at the first touch. Her hand lingered on the slight touch for a split second that they both savored and then as she raised her eyes to his beautiful tumultuous blue eyes, she traced his entire palm with a feather lite progression and entwined her fingers with his. Eric tightened his grip of her hand, his whole being suddenly filled with her presence, and gave her a gentle tug to pull her up. The small distance between them seemed too much to keep.
The combined weight of Eric on the car and Sookie half standing up from her seat was too much for the balance of the car and it just dived nose down in the swamp. Sookie lost her footing and a small cry escaped her lips just as Eric pulled her out safely in a tight embrace, one hand still clutching at her hand, the other around her waist to hold her close. The car went down and was totally submerged.
The moment her feet left any firm ground beneath them, Sookie clutched onto Eric’s linen shirt with her free hand and panicked, her heart beating at an alarming rate, ready to just jump out of her chest. It couldn’t jump out though. Because once she was firmly held into the arms of the one person on God’s Earth she had been pining for since God only knows when, and fully looked at the vampire who held her so intimately, her heart completely stopped. Not even a flip.
Her heart followed by her breath and then her mind…
She didn’t even notice that they were hovering ten feet above ground level, over the swamp that just ingested her car. Every particle of her being just automatically attuned itself to Eric, his strong arms and his overwhelming presence. The only thing to do was to loose herself in his eyes. That was her only awareness and that is the only thing she could do.
There was so much Eric wanted to say to her, to ask her, so much he needed to hear. Right from the moment she walked into his undead life, oblivious to the vision of his homeland she gifted him unknowingly, her amazing scent, the way she was aware of him and called to him even in a coma, the magic, the mystery and then appearing before him this evening in his bar, never giving him a chance to catch her. To say the least, all the questions surrounding her were driving him crazy. He might rationalize everything to just be the thrill of a chase but the way she was bewitching him by just a look and by the way she felt so good in his arms, got him scrambling for somewhere to start.
However when he saw her face up close, he also saw the small, faint runes on her forehead, shining slightly green and blue, appearing and disappearing in split seconds, shifting in the pattern the lines made. He let go of her hand and pushed her hair back from her face to look closely at the astounding vision in front of him. They were starting at the exact center of her eyes and flowing over her eyebrows, across the line towards her temples and towards the center of her hairline. Eric’s gaze was transfixed. In his long years on the Earth, he had seen his fair share of the supernatural but this was something else. This was completely beyond his vast knowledge and it chilled him. His hold on the girl became tighter and Sookie coughed up as all air from her lungs was knocked out.
Sookie was positively terrified now. She knew what Eric was looking at. She knew what it looked like to her. By the stunned look on Eric’s face, she was quite sure he did not have any good news for her. That amplified her earlier distress and the runes became darker right in front of the shocked Viking.
When she coughed, Eric quickly loosened his hold for the girl to breath and flew her to a dry spot by the swamp, but sufficiently far from the road. He needed to know what was happening and he needed to know fast. And this time, Sookie was not going anywhere from his sight or hold. His eyes narrowed ferociously.
“You and your family have not been honest with me. Explain. Quick!”
It almost came out as an angry scolding and Sookie shrank back till her back was propped against a rough tree. Her face contorted in shock over his sudden rage and tears threatened at the corner of her eyes. She had not imagined her night to be like this and currently it looked like going further south than it already was.
Eric placed both his hands on the tree, on either side of her face to trap her. He hated tears and if Sookie was using them to deflect him then she had another thing coming. He looked fiercely into her eyes and his fangs clicked into place, ready to attack. “NO! You are not going to go teary on me you God Damned girl! Explain this right now or I swear you are never leaving this fucking swamp!”
That touched a nerve with Sookie and her eyes flashed at the threatening vampire. She all but shouted back, whipping up some of her own ire and glaring at him.
“I am not crying! And I don’t know what is going on with me.”
Eric did not have to raise his voice to threaten anyone. Usually his cold stare and ice cold voice broke the most adept liars but he was struggling to regain his composure and her anger and tears and confusion was not helping. It was only adding fuel to his already spiraling temper.
“Miss Stackhouse, I swear I am in no mood for your little games right now. What the hell are you? Why are you doing this to me?”
Sookie was lost for words. Her smart mouth absolutely abandoned her. Being this close to Eric Northman was distracting for sure. But being this close to a mad, outraged Eric Northman was numbing her faculties when she was already quite shaken up with all the events of the evening. It was just too much. She was just too tired. And she honestly had no idea what was happening to her. She could understand why Eric was getting all worked up. She was terrified too, but the threats were too much. And she sure as hell wasn’t doing it on purpose for games or anything he was accusing her of.
“Look here Mr. Northman, I would appreciate if you stop threatening me. This is not about you. I am not playing any games. I did not get trapped in a sinking car on purpose. And I sure did not call you out here to solve my problems. I am grateful to you for pulling me out to safety from my car but this does not mean I am going to let you walk all over me because you don’t understand stuff I don’t get either.”
She pushed him but Eric did not budge. The only reaction she got was a further narrowing of his blazing eyes. Outraged by his reaction and his refusal to budge from the threatening position, she carried on her tirade bitterly.
“Up until now, I used to be an ordinary waitress, leading a perfectly ordinary life with all that is left of my family. I only wanted to be a normal girl, that in spite of my disability, I was managing quite well. I tried and was happy. But then vampires had to come out and within the space of a month, I have had my heart broken, I have been in a two week coma, I have been fangraped and assaulted, and all because I cannot for the life of me keep away from vampires like the good father of our church tells us to.”
Eric dropped his hands from her sides and took a step back, shocked at her bitterness.
“My nerves are all but grazed and your pointless temper is not helping matters. You want to know the truth? The truth is that I was serving fries at Merlotte’s when I suddenly found myself standing in the middle of I believe your bar and you were sitting on that stupid throne of yours, eyefucking a gorgeous blond like you must do all the time, every night of your undead life.”
Eric took another step back and Sookie took a step towards him, hands on her hips, chin defiantly raised, her eyes red with hurt, fury and tears.
“I did not want to be there. I did not want to watch you pick your evening meal right in front of my eyes. I did not want to watch you lead that woman back to that other room. I did not want it. Then I turn and am right in the middle of Merlotte’s again when I have no blessed idea how I left in the first place. I don’t even know what I saw was real or not and whether I am going crazy or not. Next thing I see, I have neon signs on my forehead. The town already calls me crazy! Now I am a freak and as you can see, I cannot go back to my life, however much I may want to.”
She had not realized up to that point that this was the very thought that had been disturbing her so much. Even when she had been different all her life, she could hide it from the others and blend in with all the people in her life. But with the added freak show shining away now, right on her forehead, she knew she could not hide from anyone. She knew she would never be able to blend in and have that ordinary life she had always tried to have. She sank on her knees on the ground, all energy leaving her at that thought and had a full-fledged crying fit. She no longer cared about the vampire watching her with alarm and trepidation, and was apparently completely helpless with something as innocent and as potent as the salt water now flowing from her eyes. She covered her face in her hands and went on hoarsely.
“I do not know what to do Eric! I do not know who to turn to. I was driving blindly when my car swerved. I am scared! I am not hiding stuff from you. I just don’t know what is happening to me. There I said it all. Now kill me you big bad vampire and be done with it! That’s all you can do to me! But you sure as hell don’t get to call me a liar again!”
She was expecting another angry retort, or a rebuke or cold silence till she stopped crying. So she was not expecting it when Eric kneeled in front of her and pulled her into his lap for a gentle embrace. He kissed the top of her head and rocked her. The cool hard muscles of his chest were oddly comforting to Sookie and she gradually calmed down and stopped crying. He was whispering something in her ears but she could not catch the words. All she knew was that the gentle words, the embrace, the soothing hands, even his soft breaths on her neck was everything she had so desperately needed right then and it worked like a balm on her frazzled nerves. She might be heartbroken, shocked, scared and uncertain of her future, but consciously or unconsciously, no one reached out to that depth within her and calmed her down like Eric did. Her breathing aligned to the rhythm of his magical voice and she felt a profound sense of satisfaction and peace course through her body. After a long, tiring, emotional night, she slipped into oblivion and fell asleep in the arms of the vampire.
Eric watched her face in amazement and his lips formed a small smile, all on their own. He had tried staying away. He had tried distractions. The runes on her head were bad news and then he had tried anger. Whatever he might have tried, the fact remained that trying not to feel for her only made him fall more deeply for her. The enchanting Miss Stackhouse was finally in his arms, although asleep. He carefully moved her till he was carrying her bridal style in his arms. He clutched her close and took flight into the night.