Sookie knew she needed to get up and check Ahmose's monitors to see if the attack had happened yet so she could find out if she could go upstairs or not but she couldn't bring herself to pull away from Eric. When she'd stayed with him in his lair weeks ago and woken up with him she had been too upset at him and their situation to enjoy it. Now, however, as her emotions grew stronger and stronger for Eric every day she found herself luxuriating in the feel of waking next to him.
Reaching up to trace his cheek softly with her fingertips she thought, 'He's so handsome. He could have any woman he wants. Why is he so interested in me? I can read minds but as he pointed out he could have forced me to use my telepathy for him any time he wanted. So why me? I'm pretty, but not beautiful. I'm smart, but not brilliant. I'm just an average girl. He could really and truly have anyone he wants, so why is he so focused on me?'
A sudden thought hitting her as a pang of hurt ran through her heart she wondered, 'What if the only reason he's gone this far with me is because of this prophecy? What if it's not really me he's after and he just wants to see what this prophecy is about? I mean I'm not anything special, and Eric himself has said he's had some of the most beautiful and exotic women the world over. He slept with a goddess, for crying out loud! How can I compete with that? What if he's only in this with me to find out what the prophecy is about?'
Feeling small and insignificant next to Eric now, Sookie sat up and moved across the bed to get dressed; her mind filled thoughts of how much more cultured, traveled, and knowledgeable Eric was compared to her. She had absolutely nothing to offer him. In the short time they'd been together, or whatever it was they were to each other, he'd paid off all her debts, fixed her house, bought her a new car, fulfilled so many of her dreams, and offered to send her to school. Not to mention all the ways she'd helped her brother and her friends with the money he'd forced into her hands. While she'd helped him out with her telepathy a few times there was no doubt in her mind that Eric was quite capable of taking care of things himself; all she did was make things a little easier for him. She'd helped point out the problem with the Fellowship and the new pills they were using but she knew that sooner or later the vampires would have caught one of the terrorists and glamoured the information out of them. Sookie knew she was useful but not necessary.
As she dressed she thought, 'I don't have anything to offer him. I'm not educated or cultured like the other women he's been with. I'm just a small town girl from Bon Temps … so why is he interested in me?' Sookie was doubting herself to the extreme at the moment. Despite the fact she'd felt Eric's emotions for her she couldn't wrap her mind around the fact he truly did want her. She just couldn't understand why. No one but Bill had ever truly wanted her and she'd had to face the horrifying truth he'd only wanted her because he was ordered to seduce her. She just couldn't understand what it was Eric saw in her.
Dressed now, Sookie fled the bedroom as fast as she could while forcing herself to stop her line of thinking. She couldn't stand to be near Eric as she thought on all the ways she was lacking compared to him, and she hated how insignificant she felt in comparison to him at this moment. Stepping into the main living area she made her way to the office where Ahmose had told her the bathroom was located. After taking care of her needs she headed to the security console to see if it was safe for her to leave yet. Seeing a note addressed for her sitting on top of one of the monitors she picked it up and read:
Edwin is aware you are waiting for notification that it is safe for you to rise from my lair. I've left specific instructions on how to operate this console and the security system and they are listed below. Do not worry for your safety my lady. I assure you that I have taken the necessary measures to prevent this attack and keep you and your King safe. All will be well. In case the attack comes later or lasts longer than expected I've brought down some water and food for you. They are in a mini fridge in my office where I keep my emergency store of True Blood. You are free to read any of the books in my library or explore my lair at your leisure. Your enforcer guards are in the bedroom next to yours and I am across from you, but other than that all rooms are open to you. I look forward to seeing you tonight my lady.
Your Faithful Follower,
Sookie smiled softly. She truly liked the former Pharaoh, and was grateful for all he was doing for her and Eric. He was such an interesting man and oddly enough reminded her of Godric. He was just so wise and kind. It was like he'd lived all faucets of life and had come full circle. Ahmose seemed to understand that everything had its own place in life and deserved respect for holding those places. She liked that about him.
Following the directions on the bottom of the note to turn the system on, she logged into the security feed and began switching through the different camera views. She saw armed men all over the house and her own Were guards seemed to be keeping watch over the bedroom that they'd led everyone to believe she and Eric were in. She smiled at the sight of Alcide playing a game of tug with Thor. Since she and Eric hadn't been sure how long she'd be down here for the day, they'd decided to leave her puppy upstairs so that Alcide could take care of him. Eric assured her that whoever was coming after them wouldn't be interested in hurting Thor and this way he would be able to go outside and take care of his needs while she was kept down here.
As she was about to switch to another view on the system the monitor beeped and a tiny red light flashed to her right. Recognizing it as the communication indicator from Ahmose's instructions she hit the appropriate button and asked, "Hello?"
A picture of Edwin appeared on her monitor as his voice filled the air. "Miss Stackhouse, this is Edwin, King Ahmose's day man. I have a hand held linked to the main system and saw that you were on line. I wanted to check in with you and make sure you are ok?"
"Oh I'm fine. Ahmose said he had some food down here for me and I was just checking to see if it was clear yet?"
"I'm afraid not. The attack hasn't happened yet and I was informed you were not allowed to come up until the problem was dealt with. I assure you that I will notify you as soon as everything is in the clear."
"Thank you, Edwin. I'm sorry to be such a bother."
"Nonsense. You are important to my lord and thus you are important to me. I will notify you as soon—"
Sookie watched as the monitor went fuzzy and the sound of Edwin's voice was replaced with static. Looking up at the other monitors she watched as each image blinked and then disappeared to be replaced by the same fuzzy screen she'd been speaking to Edwin on. Hitting the communication button several times she asked, "Hello? Hello?"
Nothing happened. All the screens were still fuzzy and the only sound coming over the intercom was pure static. Opening her shields she tried to hear the voices in the house and was shocked as all she picked up on was darkness. She could feel the buzz of living minds around her but couldn't hear the thoughts accompanying them. She felt emotions from the buzz of the minds above her. She found anger, confusion, worry, fear and hatred. Sharp shooting stabs of pain hit her mind and she immediately slammed her shields down.
'What do I do? Is this the attack? Could it happen so fast? Would it knock out the system? Why can't I hear the thoughts? I felt the minds of my guards and a few of the humans that work for Ahmose that I interviewed yesterday so I know they're ok up there, but I couldn't pick up on anything else. What's going on?'
Sookie sat staring at the fuzzy monitors before she decided, 'I'll just take a quick peek upstairs. Just to see what's going on. Maybe see if I can hear the thoughts of anyone. I need to see what is going on.'
Sookie stood and made her way over to the vaulted entrance to scan her eye and voice before she typed in the code to finish opening the door. Stepping into the small entryway that led up to stairway that would take her back upstairs, Sookie began walking slowly up the staircase while listening. She didn't hear anything and she still couldn't pick up any thought patterns and was only registering the buzzing of live brains around her. When she came to the hidden door and pushed her way into the marble entryway that led to Ahmose's underground lair. Stepping inside it she heard the large marble door swing shut behind her and began making her way hesitantly down the hallway as she listened closely.
As soon as she was at the end she peeked around the corner into another main hallway and looked both ways. She didn't see anyone or hear anything and decided to go left. Making her way down the hall as she approached the end that seemed to open up into a foyer type area she began to hear shouting. Her first instinct was to turn back and head back to the underground lair, but the larger part of her wanted to go forward. She wanted to see what was going on. Coming to the end of the hallway she peaked her head around and didn't see anything but the shouts were much louder and seemed to becoming from the other hallway that connected to the foyer area and from above her where there was a balcony. A huge sun roof shined down on them and the walls were lined with windows to have sunlight streaming in.
"Get down! Get down!"
"They're coming from all sides!"
"Where the hell is back up!"
"I need another clip!"
Stepping hesitantly out in the open area Sookie looked around and saw Quinn, Alcide, and Tray leap down from the balcony while firing the guns they were carrying behind them. Quinn saw her first.
Eyes widening as he caught sight of her, Quinn shouted, "Sookie! What the hell are you doing here! Get down girl! Get down!"
Before Sookie could say anything, a barrage of bullets hailed down from above at the feet of her guards and she screamed. Quinn grabbed her arm and threw her behind him as he and her other guards began returning fire. Sookie ducked behind them and looked up at the balcony to see dozens of men in black full tactical gear with automatic rifles on the balcony above them. She tried to read their thoughts and found solid darkness much like she'd come across when reading into Tara and the rest of Bon Temps when Maryann took control of them.
She screamed as the sound of gunfire flooded the air and chips of marble flew off the ground from the impacts of the bullets. Alcide shoved her back behind him and Tray as they flanked Quinn on other side and returned fire while dodging behind a large stone table in the center of the room.
"What the hell are you doing here, Sookie?!" Alcide screamed as he reloaded his gun.
Shaking now Sookie replied, "I … I … the system went down underground and I couldn't hear anyone so I came to see what was happening."
Quinn growled at that as he ducked behind the stone table to reload his own gun while Alcide and Tray continued to exchange fire. "How could you do something so stupid?! You knew there was going to be an attack! You should have stayed put! Damn it, Sook they're here for you!"
"We gotta move! We can't stay here!" Tray said as he kept firing back at the men that were filling up the balcony and preparing to drop down and surround them.
Grabbing Sookie's arm, Quinn agreed, "Yeah. We pull back and hole up in the throne room. Back up should have come around behind by then and the ground crew should have made their way inside by now. There's more of them than we expected but the plan should still work. Let's go!"
Sookie got up and ran with Quinn and the others before her body jerked forward as pain tore through her. She looked on in a detached state as she watched red liquid spray onto the front of Quinn's shirt from where he was running backwards in front of her to shoot behind him like Alcide and Tray were from their rear position. She watched Quinn's eyes go wide in horror before she looked down at herself and saw blood covering her front. As her body failed her and she sank to her knees as Quinn made a frantic grab for her, she dimly heard strange voices fill the air.
"Shit! It's the girl! You hit the girl!"
"Fall back! Fall back!"
Sookie found herself being pushed to the ground as Quinn tore her sweater open to take stock of the wound before he applied pressure. Her mind was becoming hazy and everything seemed to be happening in slow motion.
"Sookie! Stay awake! You gotta stay awake!" Quinn yelled as he tried to staunch the flow of blood gushing from Sookie's chest wound.
"Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!" Alcide said as he scanned the area.
Tray was crouched over them with a gun in each hand as he guarded them as he shouted, "They're all falling back! They know the hit her and they're falling back! What the fuck!"
"How bad is it?" Alcide asked as he looked at Quinn.
The Weretiger's eyes said it all when he met the wolf's gaze. "She needs vampire blood … now."
In the underground lair, Eric, who had risen the moment he felt pain tear through Sookie's body, was up and checking the console. The monitors were still down and nothing was coming through. He'd known Sookie wasn't around him the moment he'd opened his eyes from his daytime slumber. Feeling the immense pain in her from their bond he slammed his fist down into the console as he roared in anger. He could feel she was in life threatening danger, but he could also feel that the sun was high in the sky. He knew if he left the lair he would be weak and possibly defenseless in the light. He might even burn.
Before meeting Sookie he would never have even considered exposing himself in the day time. He had told Sookie herself he would not sacrifice his life for her. Now, however, faced with the prospect of losing her he gave no thought. As he turned around he saw Ahmose, who had risen at the sound of his fury, standing there in a sleeping robe. He wasn't surprised to see the Egyptian King there. As an ancient he was able to stay awake for days on end if he needed to. He wasted no time and ordered, "Let me out."
Nodding his head at the order Ahmose headed for the lair door and scanned his eye and voice while typing in the code as he said, "I'll hold the door open. Get her and bring her down as soon as possible."
Eric was up and out of the chamber at lightning speed. He used the bond to have him by Sookie's side in the foyer in an instant and heard Quinn's assessment that she needed Vampire blood. He was so focused on Sookie he didn't take notice that he was standing in the middle of a sun lit foyer in broad daylight and suffering absolutely no effects.
"Move," he growled.
The three Weres all looked up in shock to see Eric standing there in a pair of black silk boxers. Shock rocked them all back as Quinn gasped, "What the fuck! How the hell are you here?!"
"MOVE!" Eric roared as he knelt down to Sookie's side when the three Weres scrambled back from him. Looking Sookie over he knew he didn't have time to get her to the lair before giving her blood. Meeting Quinn's gaze he ordered, "Hold her head up. When the Tiger complied, he tore one wrist open with his fangs and held it to her mouth so she could drink while tearing the other open and holding it over the wound on her chest.
Alcide and Tray were standing back from the three and looked on in absolute awe. Sunlight was streaming through the windows and beating down on Eric's body. There was no smoke. He wasn't burning and didn't seem to be affected in any way. "What the fuck?" Alcide whispered in total shock.
Eric ignored them and continued to drain his blood into Sookie until he felt the tinges of death leave her through their bond. When he knew she was no longer at death's door he looked around. Thankfully it was only the four of them, but he could hear the rest of Ahmose's day guards approaching. Sweeping Sookie up in his arms he stood up and said, "Speak of this to no one." Looking directly at Quinn, he said, "The Council sent you so you may contact them with this development if you like, but if you tell anyone else of what you've seen I will have your head."
Looking at the Weres that worked for him he added, "The same goes for you. Say nothing."
Eric said nothing else as he spun around and put on a burst of speed to have himself back at the entrance to Ahmose's lair where the Ancient Vampire was holding the giant door open. He ignored the king's concerned stare as he said, "We'll be in our room. See if you can figure out what the hell happened."
Ahmose was not upset by Eric's abrupt manner and quick dismissal as the younger vampire disappeared into the pool bedroom with his bonded. He understood the anger and upset the Viking was going through and actually felt a small pang of pity for Sookie. She was in for a hell of a lecture when she regained consciousness. He headed into his office to contact Edwin through his emergency phone and security terminal located there. He, too, would like to know what had happened.
Eric laid Sookie out on the bed and ripped the clothes from her body. He left her in only the light pink lace bikini panties she'd put on. Kneeling over her he began to lick at her chest as the wound began to stitch itself closed with the help of his blood. For long moments the only sound in the room was her slight whimpers of pain and his licking of her flesh. Finally the wound was completely gone and Eric watched as Sookie's eyes fluttered open.
Sookie blinked her eyes open and whispered, "Eric?"
Memories flooding her Sookie's hand flew to her chest as she gasped, "I was shot!" Feeling only smooth flesh and no wound she asked, "What happened?"
Now that she was ok Eric could feel his fury rising. Fists clenching in the bedding on either side of her as he knelt above her body Eric replied, "I was hoping you could tell me. I was pulled out of my daytime slumber as pain ripped through the bond. I could feel you dying … so tell me Sookie; what were you doing in the house? Why were you not here where you were supposed to be?"
Biting her nip nervously, still unaware of how naked she was, Sookie stuttered, "I ... I …."
Hearing the dangerously soft tone of his voice Sookie whispered, "I was talking to Edwin and the system went down. I expanded my shields to see if I could hear anything and something was blocking all the thoughts. I could feel emotions and the buzz of people's brains upstairs but I couldn't get a lock on anything. I … I wanted to see what was going on. I was just going to take a quick look, and then come right back."
Eric could feel his beast clawing at his insides. The instinct to simply drain her and turn her rushed over him. They were bound fully now so she'd never be able to leave him once he turned her. She'd be mad when she rose vampire but he'd have an eternity to make it up to her. Most importantly she would no longer be weak and fragile in a human body. He could feel his fangs threatening to pop out as the desire to make her strong like him built inside his chest. He wanted desperately to do it and ensure she could never be hurt like this again, but knew he couldn't. Brigant and the Ancient Pythoness had made it very clear he was not to turn her until this prophecy had been fulfilled. Taking a moment to gain control of his fury he finally hissed, "So you left a secure area to investigate when there were several blatant signs that something was wrong during a time you knew there was going to be an attack? An attack aimed primarily at kidnapping you away from me? That is what you are telling me?"
"It sounds a lot worse when you say it."
"Now is not the time for humor Sookie. You were dying!"
Looking up at him above her and seeing the rage in his eyes she tried to soothe, "I know … I … I didn't mean to get into trouble I just … I'm sorry. I didn't mean for—"
"Be silent!" Eric stood from the bed and faced away from her as he trailed a hand over his face before facing her again as she sat up on the bed to look at him. "I ordered you to stay down here. Ahmose told you to stay down here. A goddess told you to let us protect you! You knew something wasn't right upstairs! All these warnings and signs thrown in your face and you decide to go investigate! You are human, you foolish girl! You are weak and you need me to take care of you! What the hell did you think you were doing!"
Upset now Sookie moved to stand up as well, still totally unaware of her nakedness as she focused on Eric, and argued, "I am not weak! I may not be a big strong vampire but I don't need anyone to take care of me! I can take care of myself!"
"You were dying, Sookie! If I hadn't come for you when I did you would be dead! You were seconds away from drawing your last breath before I gave you my blood!"
"And I said I was sorry!"
"Not good enough!"
"Well what would you like me to do?"
Moving to stand directly in front of her so that her bare breasts brushed against his chest Eric hissed, "You will do nothing. You have proven to me once again that you are incapable of seeing to your own care so I shall do it for you. From now on, you will not take a step without my permission. You will go nowhere and do nothing I deem dangerous. I will lock you in a cage if I must but you will never have the chance to do something so stupid ever again!"
Gasping in shock Sookie cried, "You can't do that!"
Looking into his eyes and seeing his determination Sookie begged, "You don't mean that. You're just upset. When you calm down—"
"My decision will be the same." Taking hold of her arms to pull her up against his chest so her bare breasts were pressed tightly to him he continued, "I have given you enough chances to prove yourself to me and once again you have failed. I will not allow you to get yourself killed. No more chances. From here on out I am taking full control of your life. From this moment forward during the day you will be safely secured at all times. While we are in New York you will stay down here in the underground lair with me and Ahmose. I will have him remove your security access from the system so you cannot leave. At night you will be surrounded by me and your guards. When we get back to Louisiana you will no longer be working at the Shifter's bar. You will remain inside the barrier around your home until sunset when I rise. You will never leave the barrier without me or my permission."
Feeling his resolve through the bond Sookie begged, "Eric don't do this. I'm sorry! I didn't mean for this to happen. I … it won't happen again."
"I'm aware. You will never have the opportunity to do something so foolish. My decision has been made. You disobeyed me Sookie and now you will pay the price."
Jerking against his hold Sookie cried, "You can't do this! I messed up, but you can't take away my freedom over this!"
Laughing bitterly Eric replied, "Sookie I took your freedom awhile ago. I simply allowed you the fantasy you still had it to keep you comfortable and happy. Now, however, you have forced me to choose between your safety and your happiness. Guess which one lost?"
"Eric don't do this."
"It is done. Accept it."
"Sookie, stop arguing. You have proven yourself incapable of taking the simplest safety precautions. My decision is final. I might consider revisiting the topic once you prove to me you are capable of making informed decisions."
Eyes narrowing, Sookie hissed, "Are you calling me stupid?"
"No. I'm saying you ignore intellect for emotion. You make rash and spur of the moment choices. Until you can prove to me that you can act calmly and rationally instead of being led by your emotions I will make all of your decisions for you."
Tears filling her eyes Sookie begged, "Eric please … I promise it won't happen again."
Setting her on her feet he ordered, "There is no point in you arguing what has been decided. I warned you about disobeying me or endangering yourself and you defied me. No more chances. No more leniency. You are mine and you will not be taken away from me. Not because of others nor by your own foolishness."
Turning away from her he continued, "Get in bed and wait for me. I'm going to speak to Ahmose about what happened. I will return."
Sookie watched as Eric walked away from him and whispered, "Eric please! I'm sorry! It won't happen again. I know I messed up. I get it. I won't do it again!"
Turning around to face her Eric replied, "I'm glad you're sorry and realize how much you messed up, but it changes nothing. You knew you were in danger. You knew something was wrong. You were ordered to stay here until you received verification the fight was over and you disobeyed. I regret you've forced us into this situation but you've left me no choice. You've broken faith with me and there will be consequences. Now get in the bed and wait for me to return. We still have your spanking to see to and I will deliver it once I have spoken with Ahmose."
"Do not provoke me further, Sookie. My patience is at its end."
Sookie watched him walk out of the room and close the door behind him. Wrapping her arms around herself she sat down on the bed and whispered, "Oh my God! He can't … I … this can't be happening!"
Looking down at herself, she realized she was naked except for panties and cried out in embarrassment. Heading to the chest of drawers, she scrounged around for something to wear and found only Eric's shirt for when he rose since they had each only brought one outfit down with them. Putting the black silk shirt on she crawled into the bed and curled into a ball as she waited for Eric to return. She was in really big trouble and she didn't know how she was going to fix this.
Outside of the bedroom, Eric was making his way into Ahmose's study and found the older vampire working at a smaller terminal. "Did you find anything?"
Nodding soberly, Ahmose replied, "It seems the assault was much larger than we had expected. Over a hundred men attacked. Some were Weres and shifters some were simple humans. All heavily armed and carrying some type of magical talismans that prevented them from being affected by the magical wards and safety precautions I had erected in preparation for this attack."
Taking a seat in the chair across from Ahmose's desk, neither he nor the ancient Egyptian vampire in the least bit uncomfortable with his limited attire, and said, "That must have been what prevented Sookie from hearing anyone's thoughts. Anything else?"
"Indeed. It appears that the most significant occurrence of the assault was that as soon as the attackers realized that they had injured Sookie they ordered a full retreat. They all stopped immediately and fell back."
"They fell back?"
"Immediately. They knew they shot her seconds after she went down and the entire assault was aborted. They wanted her but knew if they continued with their aggression it would lead to her death and thus pulled out to leave her to our care. Unfortunately this meant we couldn't capture any to interrogate. We have only the few dead they left behind and we won't be getting any answers from them."
Eric was silent a moment before he said, "Well it doesn't matter. Sookie will never be exposed during the day again. I'm glad she is important enough to whoever is after her that they put her safety first, but it is a moot point now."
Sitting back in his chair Ahmose replied, "Yes. I heard your discussion just now. She seems upset."
"I don't care. Her happiness will always be second to her safety. Do you disagree?"
"No. She acted foolishly and very nearly died because of it. If she cannot control herself in dangerous situations you must do it for her. I have become fond of your bonded in the short time I've known her and would like her to be comfortable and joyous, but there is far more on the line here than her happiness. Her safety must come first. You are right to take a firm hand with her."
"I'm glad you agree. The advice of one such as you is appreciated."
Nodding his head Ahmose replied, "I will help you in any way that I can my Lord. However now there is another matter we must discuss."
"You walked in sunlight and were not harmed."
Eric went silent at that. Truthfully he hadn't given much thought to that since he told the Weres to keep their mouths shut. He'd been focused solely on Sookie. Now however he had time to realize the significance of what had happened upstairs. "Do you know anything about it?"
Nodding his head Ahmose replied, "It was foretold this would happen. As long as you are bonded to Sookie and continue to mutually exchange with her you will be immune to sunlight and silver. Her own powers will begin growing as well. You will both need them."
"How will her powers expand?"
"Soon she will hear Vampire thoughts along with all the other Supernaturals she hears. It will become much easier for her to block thoughts and emotions from others. There are a few other powers but we are not sure when they will develop. For now know her telepathy is growing."
Eric went deathly still at Ahmose's words before he repeated, "She will be able to read vampires?"
"And you know she can read other supes?"
"Of course. Just as Han and Ivan do. Her Were guards are unaware and I suggest you keep it so but a close inner circle knows. SHE told us your Sookie would develop these skills."
"When will this happen?"
Ahmose smiled and replied, "Soon. Everything is falling into place. Don't worry though. Just as you control the bond you will be able to keep her from hearing your thoughts if you wish. Your mind will be the only one she cannot access at will."
"That is probably best for her."
"Indeed. Your Sookie's heart is too tender. I'm certain your thoughts would frighten her if she could hear them all."
Nodding his head Eric replied, "Most certainly."
Ahmose stood from his desk and said, "For now there is nothing else we can do until the sun sets. While you can walk in sunlight you must do it only when absolutely necessary. For now no one can know about your advantages or immunities. It is too dangerous and would only make you a larger target to humans and your enemies. Use it only when you have no alternative as you did today. I have contacted the Pythoness and she is going to order the Weres that saw you today to allow you to glamour them to forget what they saw."
Eric stood as well and answered, "I understand. I will make sure Sookie speaks of it to no one. Now I'm going to go finish punishing my bonded. We will see you when the sun sets."
"I'm sure you will." Ahmose watched the younger vampire leave his office and thought, 'Poor girl. He's really going to keep her on a short leash now. She should have stayed down here. Pity. She could have been much happier.'
Eric made his way into the bedroom swiftly. He saw Sookie curled into a ball on the bed wearing one of his black silk shirts and dimmed the lights before making his way to her side. He knelt down by the side of the bed, crossed his arms on the mattress, rested his chin on them, and met Sookie's gaze. Her eyes were red rimmed from her crying and he could feel her fear and sadness from the bond. He wished she hadn't forced them into this situation.
Taking her freedom away would hurt her and drive a wedge between them, but she'd left him no choice. It was obvious she simply couldn't control her reactions, and he couldn't risk her endangering herself again. "You should have obeyed me, Sookie."
"I know. I'm sorry and I promise it won't happen again."
"I know it won't because you'll never have the opportunity to endanger yourself like this again."
"Eric please … this isn't fair."
Reaching forward to stroke a lock of her hair back from her face Eric replied, "Fairness has no place in our relationship Sookie. I've explained this to you before. I also told you that when I give you an order you are expected to obey it. I have been lenient with you to keep you comfortable and my only requirement was for you to obey the few commands I actually give you. You failed this. As I said you broke trust with me, and I cannot ignore that."
"I know. I know I messed up bad, and I'll make it up to you. I promise … but don't do this to me. Don't put me in a cage. Please."
"You've left me no choice. Your disregard for your safety has amused me in the past, but now it has gone too far. You've left me with no alternative."
"You act like I do it all the time."
"You do. The first night I met you is one instance. You walked like a lamb to the slaughter into a den full of vampires with no actual attachment to one of us to keep you safe dressed like a virgin offering. The second time I met you when you came to read for me you blatantly defied me and only my amusement at your actions kept me from forcing a claim on you then and there. You have slapped me repeatedly and threatened me. You ordered a room full of vampires in Dallas about what they were going to do. You willingly infiltrated an organization you knew to be capable of violence. You took on a maenad to get a friend back. There are many instances you have endangered yourself and this time you were literally seconds away from dying. I'm done waiting for you to learn to think before you act. You have forced my hand and left me no other alternative but to confine you when I am not with you to see to your care."
Sookie was silent a moment before she begged, "Eric, please don't do this. I promise I won't do something so stupid again."
"I can't allow the chance that you might. I know you have good intentions Sookie but as I've said before the minute someone you care about is in danger or your emotions get involved you act without thinking. I can't tolerate this behavior any longer. I like to make you happy but your safety is more important. This decision has been made and I will not change my mind. Perhaps when this imminent threat to you has passed I will rethink it, but for now my decision is final."
"No Sookie." Standing Eric looked down on her as he said, "Now it's time for your spanking."
Sookie looked up at him and argued, "Eric you can't mean to lock me up all day every day! I'll go insane!"
Shaking his head, Eric replied, "You might be slightly bored here but you will have your lessons when we return home. You'll have plenty of people and things to do inside the barrier where you are safe and secure. This will also allow me to get you on a different schedule. Soon you will be up all night and do your sleeping during the middle of the day. Your nights will be mine and the early evenings and mornings will be when you take care of your lessons. You will adjust quickly, and hardly notice the limitation on your movements."
"Eric you can't actually think I'll be happy living like that can you?"
"I believe you will learn to be content."
"Eric, don't do this."
Tears filling her eyes again Sookie begged, "Please Eric … please don't do this! Punish me however you want. Just don't put me in a cage."
"You make this sound like it is my fault. All you had to do was stay down here until you were given word it was safe to rise. You failed to do that. You made a bad decision and now it is time to suffer the consequences."
"Enough!" Glaring at her Eric stood and held his hand out to her as he said, "Come. It is time for your spanking. You will get twenty and I will not give you blood to make it feel better tonight. You will suffer through it."
Sitting up Sookie offered, "Give me a hundred if you'll rethink confining me."
"Sookie if you argue this with me anymore I will put you in chains. Now get up."
Fear shooting through her, Sookie took a deep breath and allowed Eric to pull her up. She offered no resistance as he took a seat on the side of the bed and pulled her across his lap. She bit her lip as he rolled his silk shirt up to her waist and pulled her panties down to her knees.
Tears were already building in her eyes as she prepared herself for the pain.
He'd never get tired of the sight of her ass. He couldn't wait for the sight of her on her hands and knees in front of him as he pounded into her. For now, this would have to do. Taking her freedom of movement as he was intending would undo much of the progress he'd made in winning her heart, but that was just a setback he was going to have to take. He would not sacrifice her safety for her happiness. 'Besides I will have her alone and all to myself in Sweden for two weeks and will have ample opportunity to regain her affections.'
Stroking a hand over her exposed flesh, enjoying the softness of her skin, he said, "I'm sorry you've forced us into this situation, but as your Master, I will not fail in my duty. You will learn to obey me Sookie. You will learn to follow my orders without question. You will learn that my word is law!" He brought his hand down.
Sookie bit her lip harder as the sting of his strike ripped through her. He was spanking her harder than he ever had before, and it took all she had not to cry out. She clenched her eyes shut and forced herself to bear the pain. 'Maybe he'll work his aggression out and I can change his mind about putting me in a cage.'
Eric brought his hand down on Sookie's ass again and again, using far more force than he usually did. He was determined she feel the lingering effects of her punishment for days afterwards and would not be giving her his blood until they were home to make sure of that. He spanked her over and over as she whimpered and jerked in his hold. He was proud of her for not crying out, but he could feel how much pain she was in from her spanking. 'Good. She needs to learn obedience. I have been far too lenient with her. That ends now.'
Sookie was sobbing by the end of the spanking. Her bottom was on fire and she didn't think she could take any more; she'd completely lost track of how many smacks he landed on her backside. She was just about to beg him to stop when she felt Eric pull her panties up, her shirt down, and pull her up against his chest as he held her. She was crying like a baby as he rocked her in his lap and whispered soothing words in her ear.
By the time he was done spanking her Eric was pleased to see bruises already forming on Sookie's bottom. She would definitely be feeling this punishment for the rest of their trip, and he was glad. He had coddled her far too much since she'd become aware of her status as his bonded. It could not continue. With the threat of this unknown enemy and the importance of this prophecy they were involved in he could not afford to continue indulging her as he had been. She had to be taught discipline and obedience. As her Master and future Maker it was his responsibility.
Cuddling her in his lap, he nuzzled her hair and soothed, "It's over, Sookie. Your punishment is over. You did well. Calm down."
Sookie felt him rubbing his hand in circles on her back as he continued whispering softly to her. Her face was pressed into his neck as she continued to cry softly. She was so angry at him at the moment, but she needed comfort. She could feel him pushing calm and comfort through the bond but was too upset and weary to argue with him about it. "I'm sorry Eric. I really am. Please don't lock me up."
"It's too late for that. In a way, this is my fault. I have been too lenient with you. I have not taken a firm enough hand in your training and that ends now. I have neglected my duty as your Master in favor of keeping you happy and it has allowed for situations like this. It will not happen again. You are far too important. I cannot place your happiness over your safety."
Rubbing her eyes Sookie laughed bitterly and said, "That's all you care about. This stupid prophecy. You don't care about me. You're only interested in what you'll get out of me!"
Growling Eric moved Sookie so that she was straddling his lap. Holding her by her arms he hissed, "You foolish girl, I wanted you long before I ever knew there was a prophecy. You know this! You are spewing nonsense now and it will stop!"
"It's not nonsense! It's true! You just want me for what I can do for you! You never would have looked twice at me if I couldn't hear thoughts, and you wouldn't be so determined to keep me if you weren't all excited about whatever it is you'll get out of me through the prophecy!"
Snarling in anger, Eric flipped Sookie down onto the bed with him hovering above her. Taking her hand he slapped it over his chest to cover his mark and opened his end of the bond. When he'd done this before he'd only opened the bond partially to keep from frightening her with the intensity of his emotions. The darkness inside of him was a terrifying thing even for him and it hungered for her so strongly he hadn't wanted to scare her. Now, however, he held nothing back. He opened the bond between them fully and sent his emotions to her like a flood. "Feel me, Sookie. Know what it is that I feel for you, you foolish girl!"
Her eyes went wide and she gasped in total shock as a tidal wave of raw emotions slammed into her. She'd never felt anything so deep, so powerful, or all consuming. She'd thought the want and desire she'd felt from Eric before was strong, but it was nothing compared to this. She could feel his need for her clawing inside her chest; ripping and tearing at her and knew it mirroring his own emotions. His desire to have and own every part of her was literally eating him from the inside out.
She could feel the terrible darkness inside of him. It was a monstrous beast and tears filled her eyes as she felt the swirling darkness that lived inside of him. She felt the desire to rend and kill, the hunger to destroy and torture all things warring within him. She could feel the mental chains he had to keep that part of himself locked down. She could feel the fight he battled every moment to keep from becoming the savage beast that was a part of who he was. More importantly she could feel how desperately both halves of him wanted her, desired her, needed her.
Gazing up into his now glowing eyes as he glared down at her with drawn fangs she knew this wasn't about some prophecy. He didn't want her for anything other than himself. His beast didn't want her for more power. Both sides of him wanted her for her. He was merely pleased with the bonus of added power through their destinies together, but would be just as happy if it was lost to them. All he cared about was owning her. What's more is that he didn't really want to change her. She could see in his mind what it was he wanted from her. He literally wanted to be the center of her world. He wanted her to see and think of only him. He wanted her to need and desire him as much as he did her, and believed the only way to achieve that was by stripping her of everything that drew her attention from him. He wanted to be her whole world because she was quickly becoming his. She didn't know if she should be elated or terrified.
"Eric, I …."
As her words trailed off Eric slowly closed off his end of the bond. The glowing of his eyes dimmed as the power inside him was leashed once more. Lowering himself over Sookie so that their bodies were pressed tightly together without crushing her, he growled, "Now look into my eyes and tell me I want you only for the prophecy. Look into my eyes and tell me I give a damn about that prophecy in comparison to you!"
"Eric I … I don't know what to say."
"I enjoy your voice Sookie, and I enjoy hearing you speak. Most of what you say is either intelligent or amusing. However if you are incapable of keeping yourself from saying such foolishness to me in regards to our bond I would prefer you to be silent."
Eyes narrowing Sookie argued, "Hey! How am I supposed to know! You hide everything from me and every time I do find out something from you it either contradicts what you've told me before or is a half truth! How am I supposed to know what's real and what isn't?"
Eric was silent a moment before replying, "You may doubt my words all you wish but from this moment forward I don't ever want to hear you call my desire for you into question. What is between us is between us. Everything else is secondary. If there is ever a time I have to choose between keeping you and fulfilling whatever prophecy there is, it will be you without question. If I have to take you away from this country and leave behind everything here, the empire and homes I've built, in order to keep you then I will. You will be mine in every way no matter who I have to kill, what I have to destroy, or what I have to sacrifice. You are mine and nothing will change that."
Holding his gaze Sookie asked softly, "Do you really mean that?"
She felt the truth of his words and saw it in his eyes. The pain in her bottom was forgotten. Her fear at living in a cage was forgotten. Her anger at what he had done to her and would still do was forgotten. As he had said it was just them at this moment. Reaching a tentative hand up to trace his fangs she whispered in awe, "You're telling me the truth. You really would give it all up to keep me."
Eric could feel her shock … and her pleasure. Her heart warmed to him at the fact he would do so much for her. No one other than her Grandmother had fought this hard for her and Sookie had spent most of her life believing that she wasn't worth fighting for. She'd grown up believing that if she hindered others too much they would leave her behind because she was a freak. It blew her away that anyone would want her as much or in the ways he did. Kissing her fingertips as she stroked his fangs he replied, "Yes."
Wrapping her arms around his neck she pulled him down to kiss him. She opened her mouth and welcomed his tongue with her own. 'He really and truly wants me. He wants me for me. He wants me for himself and no one and nothing else.'
Eric slanted his mouth over Sookie's as she wrapped her legs around his waist to pull him closer. He could feel the warmth of her emotions through the bond and felt the joy in her heart at his words. Her feelings for him were still unsure, but there was no doubting she was pleased at his words. Sookie was so used to feeling lesser than everyone else she couldn't believe anyone would be willing to sacrifice to have her; fight to have her. His declarations and opening of the bond meant more to her than any of his gifts or grand gestures.
They moved against each other as heat built between them. Her chest throbbed and she felt Eric's mark heat and pulse in response. She felt him tear the silk shirt from her body and offered no resistance as one of his hands cupped her breast while the other kept him supported above her. She stroked her hands over his chest and let one cover his mark to amplify the hum between them while the other slipped lower to push inside his boxers as her legs moved from around his waist. She planted her feet on the bed and cradled him between her knees as they rocked together.
Taking hold of his straining erection she began to pump him slowly as her tongue warred with his. He was so hard! His skin might be cold but heat seared her the moment her fingers met the velvety smoothness of his cock. She arched against him as she traced the long, thick length of him. 'Oh my God! He's so big!'
Eric growled into the kiss as Sookie's small hand wrapped around his erection and began stroking him. His cock twitched in her hand and he bucked his hips to meet her movements head on. A steady purr built in his chest as he nipped at her lips before burying his face into her neck to lick and suck at her pulse. "I'll never let you go Sookie … never."
Tightening her hand around him as she pumped him, smearing his precum along his length with her movements, Sookie whispered, "I know Eric … I know." She tilted her head to the side as he grazed his fangs along her pulse and whimpered, "I'm scared, Eric."
"I know but I'll take care of you."
She pumped him faster before smoothing her thumb over his engorged head to spread his precum as she begged, "Promise you won't break me … promise you won't destroy who I am."
He bucked his hips harder and groaned against her neck as her hold on him tightened. He was literally shaking in barely controlled lust above her. He rolled her nipple between his fingers as he cupped her breast and said, "I promise. I don't want you broken Sookie. I don't want a puppet. I just want you. I want to own you. I want to be your world. I want to be the first thought when you wake and the last before you sleep. I want you my Sookie. I want all of you."
She stroked her fingers over his Mjolnir and felt it throb under her hand. She felt the steady hum between them flare and begin to pulse in time with her heart; faster and faster as she panted beneath him. She pumped her hand faster and harder over his length as his hips thrust against her. "You did at first. You told me you were going to change me."
Nipping her shoulder as he kneaded her breast, he growled, "Things have changed. First I wanted you for a pet, then I wanted you as a child, now I want you as a companion. I want everything you are to belong to me. I want you heart and soul … and I will have you."
His erection was straining in her hold. She could feel him thick and heavy as she pumped him while he jerked his hips in time with her movements. "I can't just give up Eric … I have to fight."
Bucking against her as he felt his release approaching Eric hissed throatily, "I know little one. I know…but you won't win. I'll never let you escape me. I'll never let you go."
Leaning up she nipped his chin and whispered, "We'll see who wins."
His orgasm rushed over him and he let out a snarl against her shoulder as he came hard. His hips bucked against her hand in rapid succession as his cock shot forth stream after stream of his thick cum. "Sookie …."
Sookie felt his seed fill her hand and rush between them as she slowed her motions over his cock to a gentle stroke. The living chord of energy between them was still full and bright. Their connection was strong, but her actions had never been about fulfilling her desire. This had been about making him happy for healing one of the scars her heart had carried. His desire of her, the worth she had in his eyes, made her heart swell. She'd wanted to repay him for that kindness to her. She'd wanted to touch him to show him how much his words and feelings meant to her.
Things weren't right between them. Her determination to not live in a cage was strong, but this moment had been about all the things that were right between them; the passion, the care, the need, the desire, the friendship. Now that it was over she felt her worry and fear grow. Nuzzling his neck she whispered, "I don't want to hurt. I don't want to cry and be afraid … I … I just don't know what to do anymore."
Kissing her shoulder Eric replied, "I know. I know you're afraid and I know you're worried about everything that is going to happen. I can only promise you'll always have me."
"I don't want to be a vampire, Eric."
"I know, but I won't lose you. I don't want to turn you against your will but I will if I must. I will have you for eternity."
When he raised himself above her she traced his brow with her fingertips and asked, "How much do my wants and needs matter to you?"
"Your needs matter greatly and will always be met. Your wants will be seen to in as much as they don't interfere with mine."
As Eric stood to remove his now damp boxers Sookie wiped her hand on the far side of the mattress before pulling the sheet up around her chest. "Eric, I want to talk about—"
"No." Moving to lie down on his back on the bed he pulled Sookie against his chest and continued, "The decision has been made. I've been too lenient with you and I won't make that mistake any longer."
Draping an arm across his chest as tears filled her eyes Sookie whispered, "I can't live in a cage."
The need to die was growing in him. He might be immune to sunlight and silver now but he still had the need to replenish through death. Now that the emergency had passed and his anger abated he could feel the need to die taking him. Stroking a hand slowly along her back as he began flooding her with the need for sleep as well he replied, "The barrier around your home is large. You'll have plenty to do. You will not be bored and you won't even be able to see the bars. It is a better cage than most. You will have to learn to live with it. You have forced me to choose between your safety and happiness. I chose, and my decision is final."
Fighting off her drowsiness, she pressed, "I only did this because of what I felt from you and because of what you said about wanting me for me … but if you put me in a cage I'll never touch you again."
Laughing softly as his eyes fluttered closed Eric said, "We'll just have to see about that. Now sleep. It is time to rest. We will talk more when the sun sets." He sent a sharp jolt through the bond to send her into unconsciousness. He had filled her with such an overpowering need to sleep she would not be getting up before he did. When she went completely still against him as her breathing evened out he kissed the top of her head and whispered, "I think we'll both be touching each other quite a bit soon enough."
Later that day after the sun had set Eric led Sookie into Ahmose's office. He had already taken care of glamouring Sookie's Were guards to forget what had happened today and they believed they'd gotten Sookie to the entrance to Ahmose's lair in time for him to give her his blood in the shadows since there were no windows there. He'd also made sure Sookie understood that she couldn't tell anyone about what he'd done. Just like him she hadn't really thought about the fact he'd come for her in broad daylight, she was bleeding to death after all, and had been just as shocked as he was. She'd asked if he could still do it and he'd told her he could. He promised to show her when they went to Sweden. He'd alerted the Council a week ago of his intention to take Sookie there in a few weeks and they'd sent their approval along with assurances that they would make sure his time there with Sookie went undisturbed and they were thoroughly protected.
Han and Ivan had been filled in on what happened that day and had both been upset with Sookie's carelessness and told Eric they agreed with his decision to keep her under lockdown. Sookie had been upset with that and glared openly at her vampire guards as they spoke with Eric right over her head discussing the added security she'd need and the precautions they'd need to take to keep her confined. She'd kicked Ivan in the leg for saying they should just lock her in her room until Eric rose each day and be done with it. The mountainous vampire had simply grinned at her. When they were all dressed for the evening, Eric in a solid black designer suit, Sookie in a floor length lavender silk gown with silver embroidery, and Han and Ivan in their usual black garb, they'd all headed upstairs. They found Ahmose in his office speaking to his head of security and Edwin as her guards filled Bill in on what happened.
As soon as he saw Sookie walk in Bill rushed forward and asked, "Sookie I just heard you were shot. Are you ok?"
Eric pulled Sookie against him and glared at the younger vampire as he said, "I do not remember giving you leave to speak to my bonded in such a personal fashion Compton. You will only address her when absolutely necessary and only in regards to business matters. My bonded and her health are none of your concern."
Returning the taller Vampire's glare Bill hissed, "Her health is of great concern to the queen and she will want to hear of this. She will not be pleased with this development or your failure to protect her asset."
Taking a step closer to Bill as he pushed Sookie behind him to be surrounded by Han and Ivan as her Were guards joined them Eric replied darkly, "Sookie is not the queen's asset, nor does she belong to the queen in any way. Sookie is mine, and mine alone. I have graciously allowed the queen the use of my bonded for the time being but that can change very quickly. You and the queen would do well to remember that. You can inform the queen of whatever you wish but the only opinions or decisions to be made about Sookie or her care that matter come from me."
Bill stood with his fists clenched as he stared up at Eric. The room was dead quiet before the younger Vampire finally backed down and said, "King Ahmose has told me we'll be leaving for his primary club in a half hour. I'm going to report to the queen before we leave and I'll meet you all at the cars."
When Bill was gone Eric focused on Ahmose, and asked, "Were you able to make the arrangements I asked for when we spoke after I rose for the evening?"
Nodding, Ahmose agreed, "Indeed. The stores you wished to have Sookie shop at will have selections of clothes for her to look at when we arrive at my club. If she is able to multitask like you said she could then she can shop while scanning my bar patrons."
"She is quite capable of multitasking. Better than any vampire, supernatural or human you'll ever meet," Eric assured.
"I'm interested in seeing this multitasking. You described it to me but I just can't imagine how she would be able to think of so many things at once. It must be quite the talent."
Stepping out from behind Eric, Sookie complained, "She is standing right here and she is getting really tired of being talked over." All the men in the room smiled down indulgently at her. Crossing her arms over her chest she continued, "This crap is really getting old."
Eric laughed and pulled Sookie to his side as he kissed the top of her head. "You are amusing. Now be quiet while I speak with Ahmose." Looking up at the older Vampire he asked, "Do you have any more information?"
"Not much. We know that they are well organized and funded. We estimate the number that attacked to be about 100 to 125. Had we not know beforehand we would not have been able to hold them off. They had high tech and sophisticated counter surveillance hardware that knocked out my security system. They also had powerful magical talismans. My Sorcerer felt the magic of them as soon as they approached and that was the only warning we had before they hit. As I said they aborted the second they knew that Sookie had been hit and were picked up by choppers. We had no way of tracking them then. My sources in the military and the police departments said that they were never even detected on radar. They either flew below radar or had some type of cloaking ability. We have 16 dead, 10 humans and 6 Weres, and are running them through facial recognition software and fingerprint scanners to try and get some names to trace, but I'm skeptical we'll get a hit on any one of them."
Despite her anger at being ignored Sookie slipped her hand in Eric's and was comforted when he tightened his around hers and flooded her with warmth and comfort through the bond. She pressed against his side and thought, 'Oh my lord! A hundred men? This is really happening! Someone powerful is really and truly after me.'
Eric felt Sookie's fear flooding him and sent her strength and support back. Tightening his hand around her he said to Ahmose, "Keep searching. Send the photos of the dead to the Council and have them send them out through the appropriate channels. Someone has to know one of the Weres at least. The world is big but the supernatural community is close knit. Someone knows one of those Weres."
Nodding his head Ahmose replied, "A good idea. I'll have it done. Are we ready?"
Ahmose smiled and looked at Sookie as he said, "It's very cold out right now and I've bought you a gift as a token of my affection if your bonded will allow it." Looking at Eric he waited for his approval and when the younger Vampire nodded his head he gestured to Edwin who retrieved a large black garment bag out of the closet in his office and presented it to his King. Ahmose unzipped it and pulled out a floor length chinchilla fur coat. Coming around the side of his desk he offered, "It would please me for you to wear this, my lady."
Sookie gasped at the beauty of the coat. She knew it had to cost thousands of dollars and said, "I can't take that from you Ahmose. It's too much. I …"
"Nonsense, my dear. The cost is nothing to me and it would wound my pride for you to refuse," Ahmose insisted with a smile.
Pushing Sookie gently towards Ahmose, Eric agreed, "You will accept this. You cannot turn down a king. Especially one whose hospitality we are infringing upon. Take his gift and smile."
Darting a glare at Eric over her shoulder for his highhandedness, Sookie demurely faced Ahmose and said, "I can't take it unless I can do something for you in return. I just can't."
"Promise me you will never endanger yourself so foolishly as you did today and we'll call it even," Ahmose offered.
Hearing the murmurs of agreement from all the men in the room, she felt a sharp spike of anger from Eric through the bond. Sookie sighed. "No one's ever going to let that go, will they?"
"You could have died. You were dying," Quinn reminded her gently even as he shook his head from where he stood next to Han.
Nodding, Alcide added, "Why in the hell did you leave the underground lair at all? You knew an attack was supposed to take place. What were you thinking?"
The sting in her bottom was a reminder of what had transpired between her and Eric. Sookie glared at all the men around her and whined, "I messed up. I get it! I said I was sorry! What more do you guys want?"
"Sometimes sorry is not good enough. Sometimes when a mistake is made, consequences must come about. You endangered far more than your life with your actions and now must pay the price," Han offered softly.
Looking hard at his bonded, Eric stated to all, "This has been explained to Sookie. She is aware she made a mistake, punishment has been meted out and the necessary precautions to keep her from making such a foolish mistake again have been arranged."
"Eric, I said I was—"
"Be silent." When her mouth snapped shut he nodded towards Ahmose and continued. "Accept your gift and let's be on our way. You have much to accomplish tonight as your days are no longer available."
Sookie held Eric's unwavering gaze for a moment longer before turning around and approaching Ahmose. He gave her a small smile and held the coat open for her. She slipped her arms through the sleeves and whispered, "Thank you."
"My pleasure. You look lovely in it. Return to your bonded's side and we'll be on our way," the King offered softly.
Sookie walked back towards Eric and refused to look at him when he grabbed her wrist and pulled her against his side. His hold was iron tight but not painful. Everyone was silent as Ahmose led them out of the office and through the house. Out front was a small convoy of bullet proof limos, and Bill was standing beside the middle one waiting for them. She didn't talk to him as Eric helped her into the middle limo before sliding in next to her. Ahmose entered from the other side. Her bottom was on fire but she refused to give him the satisfaction of showing it. Soon the other limos were full with the others and they were headed into the city.
On the way there, Ahmose described his club to them. It was called The Pyramid, and was four stories. The top two levels were VIP and were mainly reserved for vampires and their pets or significant others and the lower levels were where unattached vampires entertained the adoring masses of fangbangers. Ahmose actually had shows put on by vampires to entertain his clients, and his club was packed every night. It was his primary public business. The rest of his businesses he ran under a human alias to prevent sabotage.
When they pulled up to the club, Sookie was shocked to see several hundred people waiting for entrance through the door where four threatening looking vampires guarded the roped off doorway. Their arrival caused quite a scene and Sookie prepared herself for the onslaught of thoughts that hit her as she took Eric's hand and allowed him to pull her out of the limo. Looking around, she picked up the thoughts of all the women, and quite a few men, who thought that Eric was a walking mountain of hunk and wondered who she was to have his attention. Just like always, all the fangbangers wanted him and hated her for being with him. She forced herself not to cringe at any of the unfavorable thoughts thrown her way as she walked beside Eric while Ahmose led them and their entourage through the entrance and the bar. Much like Fangtasia, the lower levels of the club were decorated in a goth style to cater to the beliefs of the humans and what they believed the vampire world to be. They used a private elevator and rode up to the fourth level which Sookie found to be much better. It was modern in style and done in dark browns, tans and blacks.
Ahmose nodded at several vampires of importance as he led them toward the back of the club where several couches and ottomans were placed. Eric seated her between himself and Ahmose while Han, Ivan, Bill and her Were guards, along with several of Ahmose's servants, took up seats around them. As they sat, Ahmose waved over someone in the back and Sookie cringed as she watched a man and a woman wheel several racks of designer clothing and accessories towards them. Leaning over to Eric she said, "Do I have to do this?"
"Yes." Pulling the coat off her shoulders and tossing it over the back of the couch, he sat back and waved his hand towards the clothes as he ordered, "Shop. Remember to buy thick clothing for our trip to Sweden."
"Sweden?" Bill asked from his place on the couch across from them. His eyes moved back and forth between Eric and Sookie.
Smirking at the younger vampire, Eric replied, "Yes. Sookie and I are going to Sweden for two weeks in the beginning of December for vacation. I've promised to show her my homeland."
Bill's fists clenched in his lap as he hissed, "Don't you think now is a bad time for you to go gallivanting off with her? She's in danger and we're in danger due to these Fellowship cells. Now is not the time to go on vacation."
Seeing Sookie hesitate and look between them Eric nodded his head towards the clothing racks and salesmen and ordered, "Listen to the club patrons and do your shopping, Sookie. Ahmose has arranged for many stores to bring their merchandise here and I want you to peruse it all quickly. I have one other stop to take you to before we return to Ahmose's tonight, but your shopping must be done before we go."
Still standing in front of him Sookie asked, "Where are we going?"
"You wanted to see the Statue of Liberty, did you not?"
Eyes widening, Sookie smiled before looking around. Seeing everyone staring at her, she frowned, "I can't do it with you all looking at me. It's weird to be standing here and shopping with all of you watching. Look somewhere else." She was already sorting out the thoughts of all the people in and outside of the club and separating them into manageable groups so she could monitor them as she made her way to the clothes. She started flipping through the clothes on the racks while the men spoke behind her.
Eric laughed at Sookie's unease while everyone took their eyes off her yet remained alert. Focusing on Bill, he said, "We deal with threats all the time, Bill. You know this. I asked for this time off through the queen months ago and she approved it. I've recently logged it with the Council and they approved the vacation time themselves and sent the queen a notice; in case anyone tries to interfere and prevent Sookie and I from getting away."
Bill held Eric's gaze. There was no doubt who anyone was. The queen had made it clear she was going to try and come between Eric and Sookie in any way she could, and she would not like them getting away for a trip together. Bill's jaw clenched over and over before he flicked his gaze to Sookie. 'I can't let them go on that trip. She's still holding out against him. She's fighting his rule and control over her but if he gets her alone for two weeks, there's no doubt he'll seduce her to his bed. I can't let that happen.' Returning his gaze to Eric, he asked, "So you're just going to drag her off to that godforsaken land in the middle of winter, regardless of her wishes."
Eric smirked, leaning back against the couch. Holding his gaze he said, "First, do not insult my homeland. Second, is you assume she doesn't want to go. Sookie, give your opinion. Do you want to go or not?"
Sookie turned to face the two and looked between them worriedly before finally turning back around to continue looking through the clothes. "I want to go. The only place I've ever been was Dallas and that wasn't exactly a pleasure trip. I've never actually seen real snow. All we get around in Bon Temps is slush. I'm hoping Eric will teach me to ski. Or snow board. I've always wanted to be able to do that."
"But of course, my Sookie. I know how to do both and will teach you whichever one you like, or both if you prefer," Eric offered; still smiling at a now enraged Bill.
Looking at Sookie now Bill pleaded, "Sookie you don't understand! He just wants to …."
"Compton!" Leaning forward, Eric glared hard at him and hissed, "You were warned not to speak directly to my bonded. Do so again and I will hand down punishment. As is my right."
Everyone else who had been watching the entire altercation with interest found their attention diverted by Sookie as she spun around and said, "There are three Fellowship terrorists here! They're waiting in line outside. They have some of those pill things and they're going after a female vampire here named Elaine. From their surveillance, they concluded that apparently she runs the bar for Ahmose. They're hoping to use her to get to him."
Ahmose leaned forward now and looked at Sookie as he asked, "Can you describe them?"
"Let me see if I can tap into the thoughts of those around them and get an image of what they look like." She closed her eyes and focused. Ever since she'd started working with Eric, been sharing blood with him, and using her gift more she was finding it easier and easier to tap into people's thoughts and see and hear more than she ever had before. Focusing her mind she caught the image of the three spies from a couple standing behind them and said, "The girl has a purple wig on and she's in a black tube top and mini skirt. She's with two guys. They're both shirtless with dog collars on in black leather pants. The girl is Gabriella and the guys are Tim and Joseph."
Ahmose waved another vampire over and whispered something in his ear before sending him off. Focusing back on Sookie he said, "You've done well. You truly are good at multitasking."
Still reading into the Fellowship spies, Sookie's eyes filled with tears as she said, "They killed three people last week. Three people in relationships with vampires. They're remembering … they're remembering what they did to them." Looking at Eric now, she whispered, "They tortured them. They tortured them for information and then they killed them. They thought it was funny. They laughed. They hurt those people and they laughed about it."
Feeling her pain and horror through the bond, Eric held his hand out to her and ordered, "Come here." Pulling her to his side he soothed, "You're stopping them. They'll never hurt anyone again." Of course he didn't bring up the fact that he tortured people all the time and found great enjoyment in that and would continue to do so. That was a part of himself he would continue to keep from Sookie. She knew he hurt people, but she didn't know the specifics and he'd keep it that way.
Bill watched with clenched fists and rising anger as Sookie leaned into Eric's side as the older vampire comforted her. His teeth were grinding as he watched Eric stroke her back and arms while he whispered softly to her and he hated it.
'That should be me. I should be the one holding her. I should be the one comforting her. I should be the one bound to her! I was so close to getting her out of here! I was so close to taking her away from all of this. If Lorena hadn't come when she did Sookie and I would already be away from here. I have to find a way to fix this. I have to find a way to get her away from Eric before he takes her to Sweden. Once he gets here there she won't be able to resist him for long. Once he has her in his bed she will truly be lost to me. He'll get her so turned around in her mind and manipulate her through the bond she won't be able to leave him. I've got to find a way to save her.'
Shortly, four vampires arrived escorting the three humans who were now glamoured. Ahmose looked at Sookie and asked, "I will not ask you to read into them more than necessary but I need to know if more are coming or if they know of any other plans against me and mine."
Standing Sookie made her way to the humans and said, "I can't read them while they're being glamoured. They'll have to be released."
She watched Ahmose nod and the vampires holding the three humans and keeping them under their glamour released them. They kept a hold on them but released their minds. Immediately the humans began kicking and screaming obscenities. The girl's eyes widened as she hissed, "Oh fuck! It's that mind reading bitch from Louisiana that Steve warned us about! Fuck you, bitch! Get the hell away from us!"
Sookie heard the girl's intention before the she could carry out the act and stepped to the side as the girl spit at her. Shaking her head Sookie watched as the vampires clamped their hands over the mouths of the humans and held them tighter. Stepping forward, she laid her hands on one after the other and sorted through their thoughts.
For minutes no one spoke as all eyes remained on Sookie. Finally she stepped back and turned to face Ahmose as she said, "There are six people in their cell. The other three are back in a warehouse they have in the Bronx. That's where they … do what they do. Their cell has taken out twelve vampires from various clubs and hangouts in the past three months. They alternate between them. They're supposed to check in every hour so if these guys don't call back in twenty minutes their remaining friends will torch the warehouse and skip town. It's standard procedure for all cells to keep from being captured if you catch one of them. They know that there are at least 12 other cells in the city but they don't know their names or locations. The city is so big and there are so many vampire bars and hangouts, they could be anywhere."
Ahmose stood and nodded. "Thank you, Sookie. You have saved many lives with your talent. You and your bonded are free to enjoy the rest of your evening however you wish. We can glamour the rest of the information out of them." Looking at his vampire guards holding the humans, he ordered, "Have them taken to the containment facility. Glamour them into calling their friends so they do not flee and get the location in Bronx. Go and pick the other three up and transport them to the containment facility as well."
Bowing his head to Eric, Sookie, Han, Ivan and the rest of her guards, he said, "I will take Compton with me as our business is done for the evening." Looking at Bill he said, "Let's go, young one."
Bill wanted to argue. He wanted to stay with Sookie to try and keep her away from Eric but since Ahmose had released her from her duty to him for the night he couldn't press the issue. Eric had already ordered him not to speak to Sookie outside of business matters and if he crossed that line again the Viking could kill him. Nodding at Sookie even though she refused to look at him, he followed the King and his entourage out of the club.
When they were gone, Eric motioned for Alcide to retrieve the salespeople that had been escorted out and glamoured to forget Sookie's announcement. Focusing on her, he ordered, "Finish shopping and we'll be on our way."
For the next three hours, Sookie, at Eric's encouragement, went through clothes rack after clothes rack and selected dozens of different blouses, skirts, pants, dresses, shoes and other accessories before Eric allowed her to stop shopping. He ordered the majority of them to be shipped to Fangtasia so they could pick them up when they got back since they wouldn't be able to deliver them directly to her house due to the barrier. When she was done he bundled her back up in her fur coat and told her guards to head back to the mansion as he would take care of her the rest of the night. As soon as they were outside he swept her up in his arms and said, "We're going to fly and you need to keep yourself tucked into me as much as possible to avoid the wind."
Sookie didn't even have time to nod as Eric shot up into the sky. Immediately she felt the biting chill of the cold wind and turned into Eric as much as possible to avoid it. "Eric, it's cold!"
He laughed and joked, "This is nothing Sookie! It can get 20°F below in my homeland! It will be much colder when we go and snow will cover the ground in thick blankets and fall heavily from the sky."
"Okay, I've changed my mind. Let's go to Hawaii instead."
He laughed harder. "I'll take you there sometime as well, but we will go to Sweden first. You'll get used to it." It was a short flight to the Statue of Liberty and Eric landed on the island smoothly. Ahmose had arranged for them to arrive and visit unhindered so no security personnel approached them when they landed before Lady Liberty.
Sookie was beyond grateful that Ahmose had given her the coat as she wrapped it tightly around herself as she said, "I'm not used to the cold Eric. Your cabin has heat right?"
Leaning down to kiss her cold lips he promised, "I'll keep you warm, little one. I promise. Now let's look around."
Sookie let Eric take her hand as he led her towards the large star base of the Statue that was a symbol of hope and freedom for her country and asked, "Have you been here before?"
"Yes. Pam and I came here first when we left South America in the early 1900's. This was the first sight we saw when we got off the boat we came here on. Pam actually painted a picture of this statue. She liked the idea that an entire country looked to a woman as their national symbol."
Laughing Sookie replied, "I guess with where she came from that wasn't the norm."
Shaking his head Eric answered, "The idea of women as equals is an entirely new concept Sookie. Some ancient civilizations were matriarchal, but not many. For the most part women kept the home and men ruled the world."
"Do you believe that still?"
"No. I believe each person is judged by their worth. Gender is nothing. It is our actions, ideas, beliefs and honor that makes us great or not. One of the good things about being a vampire is our misconstrued beliefs humanity forces upon us are shed. The moment you are turned and rise it's as if a veil is lifted from over your eyes. You see the world differently. I'm not saying you are suddenly more intelligent, but you see things in a different light. You're more accepting of truths."
"So you think my beliefs are crap?"
Laughing at that, Eric replied, "No. I think many of your beliefs are amusing and recognize most of them come from your tender heart. I respect the fact that you are not closed minded like most humans and are willing to look beyond your own realm of knowledge and understanding, but your beliefs will never be mine. You value life above all things. I value survival above all things. Most of the time the two are not compatible."
"Well I think I'm right and you're wrong."
Kissing her cheek as they approached the foot of the statue Eric swept her up in his arms again and flew up to the crown. Sitting on one of the spikes with her in his lap he asked, "Do you know what this crown symbolizes?"
Nuzzling into him as she pulled her coat closer she looked out over the starry night and dark waters as she replied, "No."
"So much of this statue is about symbolism but for me this crown is the most. The seven rays reaching outward represent liberty reaching all continents and seas. This crown is also a representation of freedom crowns given to Roman slaves when they were gifted with their freedom. It's supposed to represent the shared philosophy between the French and Americans that Enlightenment in regards to freedom and equality should be shared with us all."
"I'm not free."
Kissing the top of her head, Eric offered, "You're freer than most, Sookie."
"You're locking me in a cage!"
"I'm securing you behind a rather large magical barrier. I'm doing this because you failed to obey me yet again and nearly died because of your own foolishness."
"And I promised to never do it again."
"I should hope not but I will not take the chance. You nearly died and that will never happen again."
"Eric I …."
"Enough Sookie. If you continue to annoy me over what has already been decided, I will hand down even harsher restrictions."
That had her falling silent for several moments. 'I just have to hope I can bring him back from his anger once we're home. Maybe after a few weeks he'll let up.' Shifting in his lap she finally offered, "Do you want to exchange blood now?"
Laughing, feeling the pain in her bottom, Eric replied, "No. I will feed from you each night but you will not be getting my blood until we return home."
Looking up at him in surprise she gasped, "What? Why?"
"Because I want you to feel the effects of your punishment at length. I will give you my blood when we're back in Bon Temps. For now you will suffer."
Glaring up at him Sookie hissed, "You are such a jerk!"
"Don't forget Viking sex God."
She pinched his chest and said, "If we weren't so high up, I'd kick you and storm off!"
"I'm sure you would."
Huffing in anger she leaned against him and said, "Tell me a story. Maybe it will take my mind off the fact you're an overbearing jerk."
Laughing at that Eric tightened his arms around her and asked, "What kind of story would you like to hear?"
"Tell me about someone famous you've met."
"I can tell you about the three weeks Pam and I spent with Marilyn Monroe. They were quite entertaining."
Elbowing him in the gut Sookie hissed, "I don't want to hear about your sexcapades!"
Grinning darkly at that Eric kissed the top of her head and replied, "Very well. I'll tell you about the time I met Dracula."
Looking up at him in shock she gasped, "You're kidding! He's real?"
"Very. He's a well known Vampire quite obviously but I first met him when he was a human. I was still with Godric at the time and we were making our way to Rome when we met him."
"What was he like?"
"Bloody. Even by my standards, and that's saying a lot. He was known as Vlad the Impaler."
"Because he was notorious for killing people by impaling them. It is a horrible and slow way to die that can take from hours to days. Vlad killed thousands this way. He built forests of impaled victims as warnings to his people to live by his rule and to his enemies not to cross him. Mehmed II, an Ottoman general sent to wage war against Vlad, turned back to return to Constantinople after arriving at Vlad's capital Targoviste. When he arrived there he found almost 20,000 Turkish prisoners of war captured in the previous invasion impaled on long stakes surrounding the city. The stench carried for miles and you could hear the moaning of the dying as they slowly succumbed to their wounds. Godric and I saw this sight. Even I was repulsed. It is a memory I will never forget."
Shaking in his hold Sookie whispered, "That's horrible! And he was made into a Vampire?"
"Indeed. His ruthlessness impressed a female Vampiress named Calisto who originated from Spain. She is a cruel woman and always loves a good blood bath. She turned him and they carved a bloody trial in and throughout Europe for centuries before parting ways. She lives in Africa now, she does so love the civil wars and chaos reigning there, and he has returned to Transylvania which is part of Romania. He lives in a castle there and has curiously enough settled down. He no longer even kills when he feeds. I guess he got tired of it. He does enjoy basking in the glory of his title Dracula though. He holds court nightly as he rules the small kingdom. His country actually accepts him and other Vampires quite readily."
"Did you like him?"
"I respected him on a very basic level. He was made cruel by his upbringing Sookie. He watched his father and older brother killed by those they trusted, he lost his kingdom and was put into an underground dungeon by his enemies for many years. He was made into a monster. I'm not excusing his actions but I understand them. I respect the fact he fought for everything he had. I respect the fact he gained revenge on those that betrayed his father and brother and killed them. I respect the fact that he never sent his men off into battle while he stayed behind safe. He always led them and fought harder than all the rest. He was courageous and determined. When he set his mind to something there was no stopping him. He refused to back down no matter how outnumbered he was or how greatly the odds were stacked against him. He won most of his victories through sheer determination. That deserves respect. On a personal level? I think much like Sophie-Anne he's not all there and is probably mentally unstable."
Sookie laughed at that and said, "Well I'm glad you at least recognize something is wrong with him. If he was that cruel as a human he should never have been turned." She was quiet a moment before asking, "Did you kill people like that?"
"Do you really want to know?"
"I've killed hundreds of thousands of humans. Not to make a statement though. Never simply to prove I was crueler than all the rest. I took on armies to prove myself in battle and I killed to feed. I have killed and hurt humans and taken enjoyment of it but never innocents. The humans I killed were warriors and the few that were not left me no other alternative. My only rule was no children."
Shuddering against him Sookie whispered, "It scares me to think of you like that. It scares me to think you can do things like that."
Tightening his arms around her Eric replied, "I'm capable of a great many things Sookie. I can be whatever I need to be in order to survive. I will say I have calmed over the years. I was born a warrior as a man and raised to respect and love a good fight. As a newborn the darkness inside of me, the darkness you have felt yourself, grew beyond my ability to control. As a human I felt it and occasionally driven berserker because of it but nothing like when I was turned. The merest hint of blood had me losing myself to the beast inside me. It took me centuries to learn to control it. It is still a part of me but I can manage it properly. I've told you before I will never be a tame Vampire. I will always be capable of savagery when the situation calls for it … but it will never be for you."
"Do you still kill now?"
"Yes, and I will continue to do so."
"Do you kill while feeding?"
"No, and I have fed on no one but you since we made our arrangement two months ago."
Looking up at him she asked, "Really?"
"Really. Your blood has spoiled me."
That actually made her feel better. Leaning against him she said, "Tell me another story."
"I'll tell you of the time Pam and I met Martin Luther King. It was a few days before the march in Washington. We were …."
For the next hour Eric kept Sookie bundled tightly in her fur coat and held her in his lap as he told her stories of all the famous people he'd met since coming to America. When she said she was getting too cold to stay outside anymore he flew them back into the city and took her to the Hard Rock Café which stayed open all night now to cater to vampires and their companions. As Sookie ate, Eric drank a bottle of Royalty Blend and continued to tell her stories of his time in America. When she was done he took her through the gift shop and she bought t-shirts and shot glasses for her brother and friends back home. By now it was approaching 3 am and Eric decided it was time to head home. Since it was so cold Eric had called Ahmose's home and Edwin sent a car for them. On the drive back Sookie leaned against Eric and asked, "You're really not going to change your mind?"
Knowing she was talking about his decision to keep her secured during the day Eric replied, "No. You'll get used to it."
"No I won't. I won't forgive you if you keep me locked up Eric."
"We'll have to see about that. I've made my decision. I will not risk your safety so you will be locked up during the day to ensure no one and nothing can take you from me. My decision is final."
"You're such a jerk sometimes."
Leaning over to kiss her cheek as they headed out of the city he replied, "You've mentioned that before pet. It changes nothing. I will not lose you, my Sookie. Ever."