Sookie's knees buckled. She found herself hauled up against Eric's side as he supported her with his arm around her waist. This could not be. This could not happen! No. NO. NO! Bile corrosively backwashed into her throat; lancing pain shot through her heart. She mentally reeled backward.
She was afraid to watch. Afraid not to watch.
She looked on in utter devastation as he brother, her vampire
brother, walked past her and Eric, and knelt before Sophie-Anne. The
queen's eyes were hard with a reptilian cast as she smiled down at her
new child. Tears began pouring down Sookie's cheeks as she saw her
brother kiss the queen's outstretched hand. She heard a sob, fragile and
quavering, and dimly realized it was her own.
She moaned, "J … Jason …."
fangs descended as he heard Han and Ivan's slide out behind him. All
three men were fighting off the call to battle as best they could. Eric
could feel Sookie's all consuming horror, her soundless pain and
unmeasured loss, threatening to overtake him and unleash his beast. The
darkness in him was clawing to get out. This was a direct assault on his
bonded! Sophie-Anne had known she couldn't attack him outright and had
used Sookie to hurt him. He would not tolerate it!
was finally starting to have fun. As Jason moved to stand on her right,
Andre reclaimed his position on her left. She giggled, "Isn't my new
child just the prettiest thing you've ever seen? I've spent the past two
weeks bonding him to me during our own little getaway before finally
turning him a few nights ago. Just like your Sookie, Northman, my Jason
will never leave me either. Furthermore, should anything ever happen to
me, anything at all, he will seek out the one
responsible until vengeance is exacted before meeting the sun to join me
in final death. For as you know, my sheriff, a bonded child cannot live
without their Maker, and if their Maker is taken from them, the madness
will consume them. A wonderful addition to my family, is he not?" She
rasped her long nails down Jason's biceps as he looked adoringly at her.
Sookie's gaze shifted to the queen, her voice the merest wisp of sound, "Why? Why would you do this?"
at the telepath that would be hers soon enough with calculated
planning, Sophie-Anne explained, "I felt it only appropriate, child.
Northman took you from me, so I decided it only fair I take your brother
from you. Besides, it would be a shame to break up a set don't you
think? Giving immortality to one and not the other? That would be true
cruelty, wouldn't you say?" Her smile was both victorious and
vindictive. Her words razor sharp weapons as she used them to strike the
crying human before her.
rage tore at him, primal and pounding to the point of pain. Next to
him, his bonded, his Sookie, stood shattered, staring helplessly at her
brother who stood silent and stoic beside his queen, his Maker, and Eric
knew that Sophie-Anne had outplayed him. Game, Set, Match. She had
ensured the only way he could kill her would be by killing Sookie's
brother. He should have seen this coming; he should have had the boy put
under guard to protect him from becoming a pawn in the queen's game. He
was a fool! He was too enraged to say anything, but he swore to himself
on all he held sacred he would find a way to make Sophie-Anne pay for
was crying freely now. She was fighting to keep from breaking down in
hysterical sobs, but it was torture to stand there, impossible to keep
up a pretense of complacency, before the murderer of her brother. Her
brother! The last of her family. Her only family. The last of the
Stackhouses. All his dreams, his future, his LIFE snuffed out by this
insane vampire queen.
Her mind called up images of their childhood, the
shared moments growing up under Gran's roof together. Jason with his
pals eating burgers at Merlotte's. Jason with his myriad of girlfriends.
Jason coming to her rescue at the Fellowship church. Jason wanting so
much to be a good brother and a good man. Beautiful Jason. Her
beautiful, boyish brother that had loved life more than she. All to end
like this? Pointlessly?
thousand memories flashed through her mind in the blink of an eye, and
she felt fathomless loss pulling at her, threatening to drown her in its
undertow, with the savage and cold realization that they would be her
last. There would be no more Sunday dinners. No more long talks between
them as she laid out in the sun and chided him about his player ways. No
more joking in the bar on weeknights as he tried to weasel a round of
free drinks for him and his friends while she laughed at his charm that
didn't work on her. No more sitting around the kitchen table and arguing
over the last piece of pie. No more Christmas mornings, the one day out
of the year he got up before dawn and dragged her with him, so he could
tear into his presents while she admonished him for not caring how much
effort she'd given to wrapping them so beautifully. None of it. All of
it. All those precious moments they shared were gone. Dust in the wind.
was the only thing keeping her standing on legs too weak to support
her. She looked helplessly at her brother. He was even more beautiful in
death; the pale sheen of his skin glowing with the magic of his
immortality, just as it did with Eric. The flush of life was gone from
his skin, but in its stead, his muscular torso, his sculpted arms, his
chiseled face took on the look of a Grecian statue. The flame of his
mortality lost, in its place something dark and coarse … and cunning.
"Jason … oh my God!"
swiveled his attention to his sister, his eyes distant and hard. He
took pleasure in letting his fangs run out and watching the expression
of distress cross Sookie's face. His queen had given him her orders in
the limo earlier and he knew what he was supposed to do. She had been
clear that he was not to make any overt threats, but he was to hurt his
sister in any way he could.
crying, Sookie, really, it's pathetic. Look at me! I'm immortal now!"
He slapped his chest expansively, his pride and satisfaction apparent as
he continued, "I'm the child of a queen, and my love and loyalty belong
only to her."
Letting his gaze flick to Eric before reclaiming hers, he hissed, "Her words are law to me. Her enemies are my enemies. Her goals are my
goals." Again, a pointed glance to Eric. His continued tonelessly. "I
live only to please her. She is my world now. You? You are nothing to me
unless she says you should be. Save your tears. I don't want or need
gasped in torment, her hand visibly trembling as it crept up to clutch
her throat. The warmth, reassurance, and support Eric sent her didn't
reach the pain in her heart. "Jason! How can you say this? You're my
brother! You … you never wanted this! You never wanted to be a vampire!"
Jason scoffed, crossing his arms over his chest. His gaze did not waver. "That was before I knew how great it is. And I'm not
your brother anymore. The only way I'll ever be your brother again is
if you become my queen's child, like me. As of now? Now, you mean
nothing to me."
her head as fresh sobs tore from her chest, Sookie begged, "Jason, no!
In Dallas you swore we'd stick together! We promised to always be there
for each other! We talked about Gran, and you said—"
Jason warned, his face suddenly feral with menace. Sophie-Anne lounged
on Eric's throne with an amused and triumphant expression. "That was
another lifetime for me. You and that old woman are nothing to me
anymore. She's dead and food for the maggots, and you're all that's keeping us from being family."
"What do you mean? I want you to come back! I want you to be my brother!"
eyes were knowing and crystalline. "If you love me like you say you do,
you'll want to be with me. If family means as much to you as you say it
does, you'll do what you need to for us to be together again. I can't
come to you, Sookie, my place is set, but you can come to me. You can
make us family again. You just need to choose your Maker wisely."
"Oh God, Jason!"
had had enough. Pushing Sookie behind him so Han and Ivan would flank
her and give support, he moved to stand directly in front of his bonded
so she wouldn't have to look at her former brother a moment more. "My queen,
I hope your child is not trying to provoke my bonded to rebellion? You
are responsible for the actions and behavior of your new child, and will
have to pay the price for his indiscretions. His words are dangerously
close to cause for formal complaint on my part. If he addresses my
bonded in such a way again, I will bring up charges before the
veritably cackled. Sookie's pain was delicious and she drank deeply
from the wounds. She knew it was time for her to bring closure to her
evening. She had done what she wished to do. She'd hurt the girl, and
ensured that Northman wouldn't move against her anytime soon. If he
truly cared for the girl, and she was sure he did, then he would not be
so eager to kill the telepath's beloved brother.
Waving her hand
dismissively, she laughed. "Oh Northman! You know how newborns are!
Always running off at the mouth. Forgive my child his rashness. I'm sure
he'd just like to have his sister truly be his sister again, but, alas,
you have claimed her. Apparently they will be separated for eternity. It really is such a pity to break up the set."
the final blow against Northman through his telepath that should have
been hers, Sophie-Anne, eyes glittering with malice, taunted Sookie one
more time. "Jason, tell your sister who it was I let you drink from
first. Share with her your first experience feeding."
smile was manic. He would not disappoint his queen. She'd made it clear
to him that she wanted Sookie broken by the end of the night and he
would not fail his beloved Maker. He couldn't see Sookie, but he knew
she could hear him, and hear him she would!
"I was the one to kill Hadley," he crowed.
He heard Sookie moan and he turned to quickly grin to his queen. "She screamed,
Sookie," he pursued. "She begged me not to kill her, and I laughed at
her. I'd bite her, and then let her run so she'd think that she might be
able to escape. Then I'd catch her again, smack her around a bit, bite
her again, and do our little dance all over again. It was fun!" He
stopped to laugh, a sound that scrabbled to get out of a chest past
lungs no longer functional.
should have heard her crying, and screaming, calling out to God and her
dead Momma for help! She begged me to remember Gran and what she would
think of what I was doing. That only made me laugh harder. I spent hours
hurting her before I finally drained her dry, and then I dumped her
body in the bayou for the gators to finish her off. It was one of the
most satisfying experiences of my life. I wish you could have been
there. By the end of the night, I was covered in her blood."
felt Han's iron grip around her waist and glanced up to meet his eyes
that were grim with sorrow. She fisted her hands in the back of Eric's
shirt and buried her face against him. Horror and despair stabbed at her
as she pitched and swayed in surging grief. Anguish so deep she was
falling, liquid in her grief, into darkness. She began to openly sob
against Eric's back. Her heart was breaking as she listened to the
vicious words spewing from her brother's mouth. Each one slashed and
hacked her to her very soul, and she wanted, needed so
desperately to run away from all of this. She wanted to be back in
Sweden, back in the cabin where it was just she and Eric and the outside
world couldn't touch them. 'Oh God! Jason! What has she done to you? How could you do these things?!'
couldn't help herself. She decided it was time to weigh in. Using her
vampire talent of communicating with her children's minds, she ordered
Jason to his knees beside her. She stroked her manicured nails along his
cheek. She chose her words carefully as if she were deciding on the
proper knife to fillet a fish. She wanted to hurt the girl, but she
couldn't overstep her bounds since this was Northman's
bonded she was dealing with. Finally, she cooed, "He's such a darling
thing, isn't he, Miss Stackhouse? So loyal and kind. Even now, even when
I have bound him to me and replaced all others in his heart, he still
reaches out to you. He still wants to be a brother to you. How very
queen's eyes were contemptuous and appraising towards Eric who shielded
the girl she so desperately wanted for a child. Her lips twisted up in a
perversion of a smile. "It is a shame you choose to keep yourself from
him when he obviously wants you to be with him for eternity. That is a
lovely thought isn't it? True brother and sister, siblings in every way,
standing together through time. Eternally bound. Poetic, don't you
felt anger rising up her spine, cold as sheet metal. It coiled around
her pain with a serpentine consciousness, slaking its thirst on her
sorrow and feeding on her heartbreak. Understanding blazed in her eyes.
The queen had come here tonight to destroy her. To break down all that
Sookie Stackhouse was in an attempt to hurt Eric Northman. She would not
let the bitch win! All her knowledge of protocol, all her warnings
about the supernatural world dissolved in the fists she now clenched at
her side. The threat of retribution, the punishment it might incur,
meant absolutely nothing. She pulled away from Han's hold and stepped
out from behind Eric. She glared at the woman in red that had shattered
her world, not once, but twice.
"You call yourself a queen? You think yourself so great?"
had expected the girl to crumble in a sobbing mass on the ground. She
had not expected to see the little chit rally and stand before her,
every bit the warrior Northman was, but she refused to let her amazement
show. Arching a brow, she replied coolly, "I am great."
in the bar was riveted to the two women facing off. Bill's heart was
breaking for the girl he loved, and he swore if she launched herself at
the queen, he would fight right alongside her. They would both die, but
at least he could redeem himself through action. Pam was astounded at
the inner strength she watched come to life in the girl her Master had
claimed. She'd watched her cry, and plead with her brother, and she'd
been certain that this moment would break Sookie, but she'd been wrong.
Finally, at long last, Pam saw what her Maker saw in the mortal girl
standing before a vampire queen; the spirit of a warrior and a survivor.
Sookie might be down, but she certainly wasn't out. Pam readied herself
as well. She decided that if Sookie attacked, so would she. She'd go
for Andre first. He was the biggest threat.
watched Sookie step away from him, he watched her harness her pain and
use her cold enmity to make a stand. He watched her hold her head high,
set her shoulders back and face Sophie-Anne with courage and conviction
despite her tears, and he had never been more proud of her. He was
tempted to intervene before escalation, but he refused to take this
moment from her. If she decided to fight, he would take up arms with
and Ivan felt pride as well as they gazed at Sookie. She was so small,
and so fragile in many ways, but right now she was every bit the warrior
her mate was. Her back was straight, her stance unwavering. She would
not be broken by what Sophie-Anne had done. The queen had dealt a
vicious blow, of that there was no doubt, but the enforcers knew that
Sookie would survive it, and given time she would overcome it.
attention was solely on the queen. She forced herself to ignore the
sight of Jason kneeling at Sophie-Anne's side like an obedient pet. She
would deal with her loss and devastation later. Right now, she had words
for the bitch before her. "You think yourself great? You lied and
schemed and sent a fake suitor to manipulate me, and still you lost. You
wanted me so bad, and Eric snatched me up right under your nose without
even trying to out maneuver you. You're still after me, but you know
you can't take him. You fear Eric Northman. You knew he was stronger than you before he gained control of the godlike powers inside him, and now he has you running scared. So what do you do? You strike out at his only weakness: me. You're trying to break me to get at him."
fangs distended as she gripped the arms of Eric's throne with clawed
hands. She opened her mouth to object to the girl's insolence when she
saw the glow from Eric's eyes behind her. She was afraid of him, the
telepath was right. She wanted desperately to lash out at the girl, or
demand that the Viking punish the human for her words, but the stance of
the legendary enforcer's body, the power radiating out from him in this
moment, assured her if she pushed him any further he would attack.
Sophie-Anne pursed her lips and swallowed her royal right to speak. Her
time for retribution would come, right now she had to proceed carefully.
She'd known coming into this that she would be prodding Eric in a
dangerous way, and she couldn't afford to overplay her hand now.
Sookie held the queen's angry stare and lifted her chin defiantly, "Do I look broken?"
was dead silence in the room. Tension ratcheted up explosively as all
looked back and forth between the queen and the telepath.
was the one to break the silence. She leveled a final withering glance
of disgust at the queen before focusing on her brother. "I won't give up
on you, Jason. If there's a way to save you, I'll find it. I promise."
Jason stood and set his hand on the back of the queen's chair as he spat, "Your vow means nothing to me … human."
her gaze, Sookie whispered, "Maybe so, but it means something to me."
His denial, his rejection hurt her. Her heart ached for the loss of the
man she knew as her brother, and she hoped there was some spark left
inside him of who she remembered him to be, some tiny part of her
brother that she could save. In this moment, her hope and her
indomitable spirit were all she had to stave back the foul blackness
threatening to close in on her. She knew she would break down and sob
soon enough, but she would not do it in front of Sophie-Anne.
could feel Sookie's pain flame fiercely across the bond, despite
outward appearances, and he wanted to console her. He wanted to take her
in his arms and make the world go away for her, to bring back her joy
and light, but he had to stay strong until they were alone. As soon as
the queen was gone, he would do his best to heal this hurt inside his
bonded, but he knew, just as Godric's passing had forever scarred him,
Jason's loss would forever mark his Sookie's soul. He hated that the
violence of his world had been hurled at her with no regard for who she
was or what she was to him.
Tonight was supposed to be a night of joy
for her. He was supposed to have taken her home and told her she was
pregnant with his son. Their son. He was supposed to help her get over
her shock, and share her excitement that one of her dreams was coming
true. Now he would have to try and stitch her heart back together from
the knifing cuts his villainous queen had dealt.
still glowing with his new preternatural power, his fists, too,
clenched at his sides, Eric set his jaw and stepped forward to stand
shoulder to shoulder with his mate, and gritted, "Is there anything else
you'd like, my queen? We just returned from our trip and Sookie needs to rest."
was shaking with barely controlled rage. Much of the night had gone
according to plan. She'd dealt a vicious blow to the girl she was
planning to turn, and she'd hurt Northman in doing so. However, the girl
had not broken, as she'd intended. She'd been shocked, hurt, and
brutalized by the ugly truth of what had been done to her brother and
what he was now, but despite Sophie-Anne's attack the girl was still
standing … side by side with Northman as both held fire in their eyes.
Things were certainly not going according to plan anymore. Centuries of
craft taught her when to retreat. She'd done enough tonight. She knew
demanding retribution for Sookie's words would be pushing the Viking
farther than he would tolerate. She would suffice in the knowledge she
had neatly bought herself the time and options she needed to get rid of
Northman. Just as the telepath had said, she knew it would be suicide to
go after him herself with his new ability, hell, even before he was
able to move things with his mind, he had been far too deadly for her to
take on alone, but now she had her trump card: Jason. The brother of
the girl that her sheriff cared so much about. He would be able to get
far closer than she could. She would have to work it just right, but
she'd have her opportunity to rid the world of the Viking, bond the girl
to herself, and make the useful little fae-human her new child. Then
she'd dispose of the annoying brother, and punish the girl for her words
tonight. 'Brilliantly played,' she thought gleefully to herself.
up from the throne, Sophie-Anne took a feline stretch, and, tossing her
coiffed hair over her shoulder, announced exultantly, "I came to
introduce you to my new child. Compton will remain here full time now to
work with you as an area investigator, and I'll be using Jason as my
little messenger boy. He'll be traveling between here and New Orleans
often to monitor the progress you make with regard to handling this
Fellowship problem. So you'll be seeing him often. Play nice!"
took hold of Sookie's wrist as she stood fragile and shaking beside
him. He sent wave after wave of comfort and affection to her through the
bond while the queen and her entourage swept past them and out of the
bar. As soon as they were gone, he swept Sookie up into his arms in one
smooth motion to head for his office. He heard Pam tell his vampire
underlings it was time for them to go home as he put on a burst of speed
to have himself and Sookie in his office as quickly as he could.
was wagging his tail as they came in but immediately sensed their
agitation. He looked up with fearful eyes, his tail tucking, and moved
to lie down out of the way, ever watchful.
was shaking violently in Eric's arms as he set her down on the couch
and kneeled down in front of her. "Sookie … Sookie, I …"
didn't have words. He didn't know what to say. Looking into the raw
agony in her eyes as he felt her abject sense of desolation through the
bond, he wished for the first time that he was not a vampire and that he
was just a man. He wished he were a simple man living a simple life
with this woman so that nothing like this would happen to her … but he
was not. He was not normal, and neither was she. They would always be
targets for their enemies, and those that stood against them would
always use their weaknesses in any way they could. Sookie had just been
forced to face that fact in the most cruel of ways. Cupping her face in
his hands he leaned forward to lick her tears away as he whispered, "I'm
so sorry, my älskade. I'm so, so sorry."
eyes met. Sookie lost the tiny shred of control she'd had and sobbed,
"How could he … how could he do that, Eric? How could he kill Hadley?
How could my brother do that?"
not your brother anymore, Sookie. He is little more than a slave now.
He was lost to you the moment Sophie-Anne blood bonded him to her. He is
nothing but her puppet now."
"But … but why? Why is he … how could he be like that? I didn't turn into a monster after we bonded!"
to sit on the couch, he pulled her into his lap and tucked her against
his chest, wrapping his arms comfortingly around her.
you is different, little one. You resisted my complete control. The
moment I bonded you to me, your only thought should have been of me and
how to please me, but whatever power is inside you kept that from
happening. You truly have free will where none has ever had it before.
When a vampire bonds a human, they literally become a slave and are
obsessed with the vampire they're bonded to. A turned bonded human lives
only for their Maker. Their Maker's will is not only their law, but
also their wish and desire. Jason lives only to please Sophie-Anne now. I
hate to say this to you, but I will not lie to you; your brother is no
more. What you saw out there was a new creation of Sophie-Anne's. He is,
quite frankly, whatever she orders him to be. If she orders him to be a
monster, he will be. If she orders him to be a saint and live a pious
and just life, he will do so."
Her eyes were imploring. "Then kill her! Kill her and free him from her hold!"
Shaking his head, Eric pressed his lips to her forehead. His voice was gentle. "It doesn't work that way, Sookie."
"Why? You told me that children are only free of their Maker's control when the Maker is dead. Fine. Kill her and free him!"
children are thus freed, Sookie. Not turned bondeds. Turned bondeds
literally become a part of their Maker. A Maker can, and will, go on if a
bonded child is killed, but the child cannot suffer the Maker's loss.
If I kill Sophie-Anne, Jason will come after us both again and again
until he either kills us, or I kill him in our defense. If Sophie-Anne
is killed, he will literally go insane from her loss, as all her bonded
children will. They will be consumed with the need to avenge her death,
and will live only to gain that vengeance. Should they obtain it, they
will then meet the sun to join their Maker in final death. I cannot
simply kill Sophie-Anne to free Jason. There is no saving Jason … your brother is gone, Sookie."
Eric! Please! There has to be something we can do! I can't lose him!
Please! I'll do anything you want if you get him back for me! He's a
vampire, but he can be a good vampire! We just have to get him away from
Sookie back against his chest, Eric's voice burned with guilt, "I'm
sorry, my Sookie, I'm sorry I didn't anticipate this action before
Sophie-Anne could carry it out. I'm sorry I couldn't save your brother
for you, but, my älskade, I can't fix this for you. I can't undo what the queen did. I can't make this right for you. Your brother is gone, Sookie."
response was cut off by a knock at the door. Eric hissed. He knew it
was his child and barked, "Do not disturb us, Pamela!"
is demanding to speak with Sookie, he is the area investigator and I
can't hold him off much longer," Pam announced from the other side of
"Tell him to fuck off!" Eric roared. He was beyond civility at the moment.
Sookie was not so ready to dismiss her former emotions were a tangled
mess of frayed nerve endings. She leapt from Eric's lap to throw the
door open and stormed past Pam, her body language clearly combative and
her scent hostile. Barging into the main bar area where only Bill, Han
and Ivan remained now, she marched right up to her ex fiancé as Eric and
Pam followed behind her.
shrieked, "Did you know? Did you and your bitch queen laugh and joke
about how badly this would destroy me? Did you smile and gloat about
getting one up on Eric by hurting me again? Did you, Bill Compton? I
swear, if you knew anything about this, I'll stake you myself!"
flinched back from the heat of her words. Her rage was rolling off her
in scalding waves and he felt his undead heart break again for the woman
he loved. "Sookie! I … no! I swear! I didn't know! The queen just told
me she was planning some welcome back surprise. I swear, I swear,
Sookie, if I had known, I would have stopped it! I would have done
anything I had to in order to save your brother! I love you, Sookie! I
didn't want to hear any of his excuses or professions of love. "Look at
what your love has done to my family, Bill Compton! My Gran is dead and
my brother is a monster because of your love! Go to hell, Bill! I hate
around, she spat her wrath on all the vampires in attendance, fury in
every syllable. "I hate all of you! Ever since I've met you, I've only
been hurt! All any of you can do is hurt people! Every time I'm around
you someone is being kidnapped, or tortured, drained or abused, killed
and disposed of like garbage! You're all monsters and I'm tired of
living in your world! I want all of you to go away, and leave me the
turned and ran. She tore out of the building, running without heading.
She couldn't see anything beyond the blur of her hot tears. She ran,
stumbled, scrambled to her feet, and ran again. She ran careening across
the streets, cars honking and swerving angrily around her, but she
ignored them and just kept running. People hollered at her, waving rude
hand gestures; she couldn't even begin to care. She was sobbing. Great,
wracking, gasping sobs ripping from her chest.
could he say those things? How could he stand there and gloat about
killing our cousin? How could he be so happy about being covered in her
blood? And Gran? How could he say she meant nothing to him? Say she was
just food for maggots? I … I can't believe that was my brother. This is a
nightmare! It has to be! That couldn't have been my Jason. That wasn't
him! He would never do that! He would never say those things! He would
never speak that way about Gran!'
ran until her legs gave out, ran until she couldn't breathe, ran and
cried until she choked and gagged and vomited. A maelstrom of thoughts
ripped through her mind and threatened her very sanity. She couldn't
comprehend what had just happened. She couldn't believe her brother
could stand before her, and yet not be the Jason she knew. She couldn't
understand how two weeks, two weeks that had only hours before
symbolized the greatest time in her life, could foster the loss of her
brother. Two short weeks and Jason could be lost and become what he'd
been back in that bar. None of it made sense.
spun out. She had passed through the business area of Shreveport and
then on into the suburbs. The highway gave way to four lane and then two
and then forked off into residential areas and Sookie had found herself
running alongside quiet homes where sensible people were asleep, where
life was predictable and safe and brothers didn't become vampires.
muscle spasm in her leg, an agonized scream, and she came down hard on
her bottom, clutching her calf. She was still crying when she felt
strong arms gather her up against a hard chest. She buried herself into
Eric, and she knew it was her Eric, as he launched them in the air.
watched all of it, of course. She'd never been alone. First the
confrontation with Bill, then the fuming rant to everyone in the bar.
Her words of rejection and disgust had not hurt him, because he knew it
was her pain speaking. When she had bolted, he had followed without
thought, shadowing her every step, and, as she dashed headlong through
multiple lanes of traffic, mentally shoving cars out of her pathway with
his new power before they could harm her. He would let her wear herself
out. She needed the outlet, and he would not deny her of it.
she ran he felt her cry of desperation, the seething pain in her heart
as though they were his own. He kept the bond wide open between them and
embraced her misery and mourning. He refused to let her go through this
alone. 'It's my fault. I swore to protect her from all
enemies. I vowed to shelter her and guard her heart, and I have failed
her. I knew Sophie-Anne was vindictive and would come after us. The
Ancient Pythoness even told me she would. I should have foreseen this
happening. I should have kept it from happening! I have failed my bonded
this night, and I don't know if I can make it right.'
she finally collapsed, he took her up in his arms and shot into the
sky. He knew she wasn't ready to talk. So he simply continued to fly
through the night sky as she cried herself out against his chest, and
let the wind carry away her pain and heartache. Her tears soaked his
shirt, and the ache in her heart pierced his own unbeating one. He swore
he'd find a way to make Sophie-Anne pay for this. He would contact
every witch, sorcerer, and being capable of wielding magic, and put them
on the task of finding a way to save Sookie's brother. He was doubtful
it could be done, but, for her, for his Sookie, he would attempt the
headed them towards her home when she finally stilled. He knew Han and
Ivan would have returned there with their luggage and Thor, but he hoped
the enforcers were astute enough to know Sookie and he would need
privacy for the rest of the night. Landing effortlessly in her front
yard, he made his way up the old wooden steps and into the house with
Sookie tucked in his arms, her own arms drawn up around his neck. As
soon as he was standing in the foyer, his gaze was drawn to the living
room … there sat the Ancient Pythoness and Niall Brigant. Han and Ivan,
both with clearly unhappy expressions on their faces, stood across the
room by the fireplace. 'You've got to be fucking kidding me!'
Eric thought darkly. He had no intention of allowing either of the two
unwelcome guests to speak with Sookie tonight. She didn't need any more
saw Sookie lift her head from his chest to glance at their guests, but
her only reaction was to dismiss them and press closer to him. She
obviously had no desire to speak with anyone else either. Looking hard
at the newcomers, he growled, "Stay here."
up the stairs and into the master bedroom, he laid Sookie down on her
side atop the bed. Thor had bounded up the stairs after them and Eric
patted the bed so Thor would jump up and keep her company on it. He bent
to kiss Sookie's cheek and whispered, "I'll be back."
"Don't leave me."
voice was small, weak. He hated it. Stroking her hair back, he soothed,
"I'm going to get rid of them, and I'll be right back. I promise. Wait
here." He stroked the tears that slid down her cheek away with his
fingers and kissed her lips before standing and striding back out of the
bedroom. He closed the door behind him and was in the living room in a
moment addressing their guests. "Outside … now."
didn't wait to see if his words were accepted and merely led the way
out of the house. He didn't ask how the two newcomers had gotten past
the barrier without an invite from Sookie, or how the Pythoness, a
vampire, had gotten into the house at all. Frankly, at the moment, he
didn't care. When all five of them were outside on the lawn, he faced
the Pythoness and Brigant and ordered, "Go away. You will not say
whatever it is you have to say tonight. I will call you when Sookie and I
are ready to hear your words."
glared at the vampire that was many millennia younger than him and
replied, "Han and Ivan have told us of the upset you and my great
granddaughter have suffered this night, and, because of this, we will
forgive you your words now. However, what we have come to say is of the
upmost importance. We must tell you of—"
"Enough! I have told you to go, and I will tell you one last time. Leave! Or be made to do so!"
Pythoness stepped forward, a wizened ancient with a shock of wild white
hair. She cocked her head towards Eric with her glazed eyes and
demanded, "You would dare to order this one? You would dare to deny the
truths we bring?"
"I protect my bonded, as is my right."
one is burdened by what has happened. This one is saddened by these
events. This one wishes the dark magic blocking my sight had not
prevented me from seeing this so it could be stopped, but there is more
at work here than the pettiness of your queen. Our true enemy is much
greater, and you and the Chosen One must be warned of what is coming,"
the Pythoness pressed in her heavily accented English.
She took Sookie's brother! I might not have cared for the fool, but
Sookie loved him. Sookie has been hurt enough tonight, and she doesn't
need to be burdened by anything else you wish to heap upon her. Now go!"
was quickly losing his patience. He understood Eric's position, and he
understood that Sookie was hurting, but, as the seer said, there was
more at stake here than Sookie's feelings. "Vampire, do not presume that
because you are part of the prophecy that you can order us. You were
given two weeks undisturbed to spend with your bonded. Now it is time
for you and Sookie to learn the full truth of what it is you face, and
what it is you must do. You both must put aside your personal feelings
for the greater good."
his shirt off to bare his chest, Eric slapped his hand over his mark as
his fangs ran down and hissed, "Sword!" With a flash of light, Odin's
sword appeared in his hand and he leveled it at the Pythoness, whose
word was once law to him, and the Fairy Prince he once feared as an
enemy. Now they were both threats to his Sookie, and he would not
tolerate it. His eyes began to glow as his markings hummed with power. "Leave! Now!"
Pythoness could see the waves of power despite her blindness, and
ordered, "Han, Ivan, detain him while we speak with the Chosen One."
and Ivan shared a look before moving to align themselves with Eric.
Han's voice was deadly grave as he said, "We know our place. It is you
and Brigant who forget yours. The High King has spoken. He has ordered
that the Chosen One, his mate and bonded, be left alone for the time
being. Your continued presence here is treason. Treason against the
Chosen Mother, treason against her King, and treason against the vessels
of The One. Leave … or be made to."
looked as if to argue, but the Pythoness silenced him as she set her
hand atop his arm. She seemed to finally accept that there would be no
getting to Sookie tonight, and trying to do so could quite possibly lead
"Do not allow your bonded to leave the confines of the
barrier until we have spoken. You should not venture beyond it either
until we have revealed all we must to you both. We shall depart."
did not lower his sword until after Brigant teleported them both from
the area. He kept the sword in his hand and turned to face Han and Ivan.
"Guard the house. Let no one in."
Both enforcers bowed low as Ivan agreed, "We guard. You go heal your mate."
made no response as he headed back into the house after holding his
sword to his mark so it would vanish back inside him. He made his way
silently up to Sookie's bedroom and walked inside. A quick glance around
the room found her lying just as he left her. Thor was curled up next
to her body, his head resting on her chest. A liquid motion beyond, Eric
saw his namesake swimming in his bowl on Sookie's bedside table. It
seemed ages ago since he'd won her that little fish. Ages that had
leveled mountains between them and opened her heart to him. A heart now
broken. He could see the silent tears slipping down her cheeks.
strode to the bathroom to the large tub he'd had installed there so
many months ago and turned on the faucets to begin filling it. Reaching
for two bath towels in her linen closet, he dropped them next to the
tub. He found her shampoo and conditioner and put those bottles
alongside the tub as well. In her vanity cabinet, he found her lighter
and used it to light several of the candles she'd decorated the room
with. The warm scents of cantaloupe and pear spiraled up with the flame.
went back to her bed and swept her up in his arms and carried her into
the bathroom. Setting her down on the tub rim, he pulled her sweater up
quickly over her head and began undressing her. When she was bare, he
lifted her into the tub before quickly shedding his own clothes and
slipping in behind her. He held her closely, savoring the moment of
intimacy he'd wanted from her for so long here, his mouth lightly
skimming a soft kiss across her shoulder. He shifted her body so she was
straddling him and bent her backwards in his arms so he could wet her
hair. She made no move to help or hinder him. She simply stared up at
him despondently as he soaked her hair, watching as he tilted the bottle
of shampoo into his palm to work it through her scalp.
were no words spoken as he gently washed her hair, his long fingers
digging into her scalp and massaging her head. He listened to her soft
sighs and knew she was enjoying his ministrations. He repeated the
process with her conditioner, combing his fingers through her length of
her hair. With the same tender care, he slowly washed down the length of
her body. He added warm water to the tub as it cooled. Eric smiled
gently when she slid back, wanting him to douse his hair so she could
Gently, they bathed each other, working in an understood
silence. When they were both washed, Eric pulled Sookie back against his
chest. He stroked his hands slowly, sweetly, along her arms, her back,
tracing the line of her spine and then down over her hips as he waited
for her to speak.
watched the light flicker over the softening candles for a time. Eric
was thinking she might have fallen asleep in the tranquility when he
suddenly heard her whisper, "I don't hate you. I didn't mean what I said
"Are you mad at me?"
kissed the top of her head, and soothed, "No, lover. You were hurting,
and that was the reason for your words. I will not, and do not, hold
them against you."
again added more warm water to the bath. Silence stretched between them
again, and Sookie took comfort in Eric's fingers trailing softly over
her skin. More tears slipped down her cheeks as she remembered what
Jason had said to her at the bar. "He left a message that he went on a
trip. He was supposed to be off having a good time like me."
probably forced him to leave the message or glamoured him into doing
so. That way, no one would get wind of what she was doing and I wouldn't
have the chance to stop her."
sighed heavily, still more tears falling as she whispered, "He … he was
so different … he … the things he said … how could he do that?"
was not your brother, Sookie. I hate to have to keep saying this to
you, but it's not a truth I can let you hide from; you have to accept
that your brother is gone. What you saw tonight was a shell that
Sophie-Anne has control of. Jason is no more."
"He was my only family … everyone's dead now. Everyone."
"You have me, Sookie. I'm your family now."
"It's not the same, Eric. He was my brother.
I was supposed to watch him grow old and die. I was supposed to watch
him finally grow up, settle down, get married, and have children. I was …
supposed to have more time."
He tightened his arms around her, stroking her comfortingly. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry he's lost to you."
nuzzled his chest, giving in to the physical comfort his hands were
providing as well as the warmth and affection Eric was sending through
the bond. She closed her eyes wanting to believe when she opened them
this would all be some terrible dream. A pair of concerned cerulean eyes
met hers when she opened them again. She asked, "She's going to use him
against us, isn't she? She's going to send him to kill you, isn't she?"
It is the only logical move. She knows I care for you. She knows you
love Jason. She will send him and hope your affection for him will allow
him close enough access to see the deed done. She views him as a route
to my demise and thus a way for her to obtain you."
Wincing, Sookie begged, "Please … please don't kill him, Eric. I … you can't … you can't kill him … I can't take that."
I can only promise to do my best not to kill him. I do not want to send
him to his final death. I do not want to hurt you, but if he threatens
you or me to the point where I have no choice, I will do what I must to
keep us both safe."
up at him, pain glistened in her eyes. "Is there no way to save him?
Isn't there any magic or some way to get him away from her?"
her face sympathetically, Eric replied, "I will try everything, Sookie.
I will exhaust every avenue and call on every favor or debt owed me. I
will do anything and everything I can to bring Jason out from under
Sophie-Anne's control, but I will not raise your hopes. No blood bond
has ever been severed before. The magic of a vampire's blood has never
been broken. I will do all I can, but you must prepare yourself for my
failure in this issue. I hate to admit there is anything I cannot do,
but this is probably beyond my ability to rectify."
"But you'll try?"
"For you, I will try." He kissed her forehead.
I am also going to have you move your friends here until the issue with
the queen is resolved. They will have guards to escort them to and from
work, and then they will return here. I do not want them here,
infringing on our time together, but I will not allow them to be used
against you as your brother was."
nodded. Tucking her head under his chin, she pleaded, "What about
Sophie-Anne? I won't see that bitch again. I won't dress up and be
paraded around her again. I … I can't go near her again, Eric."
know. You will not. I am done tolerating her. Her reign as queen is
done. She should not have angered me like this. She should not have
struck out at you to hurt me. She has gone too far."
"What will you do?"
"I will order her dethroned and banished. That will remove her from the area and give me time to find some way to save Jason."
her fingers over his Mjolnir, she felt the soothing waves of energy he
was sending to her across their bond easing her pain."How are you going
to do that? Aren't you under her control since she is queen?"
his fingers with hers atop his chest, he replied, "I'm going to start
making our status with the Council work for us. If we are so important
to them, if I am truly this High King they call me, then I have the
power to give this order. The Council has removed monarchs from power
before, though the last time was some 250 years ago in South America. It
can be done. I will tell the Council to dethrone her, and banish her
from the United States to never return under threat of final death."
"Will she obey that?"
will leave, but she will continue to plot against us. Sophie-Anne is
obsessive, she will never stop coming after you, or me. However, as I
said, banishing her will give me the time and space to try and save your
brother. I will also have her monitored, and I'm sure the Council will
as well. Hopefully we will see any attacks before she can carry them
kissed his chest. She reached up for his neck as Eric leaned down to
her waiting mouth and kissed her with a drowsy sensuality. He tightened
his arms around her and held her. He poured his desire, his desperate
need for her, and his conviction to make her world right again into
their embrace. When she pulled back, she saw his eyes were full of
longing. He vowed, "I will do all I can to make this right for you,
Sookie. I will defy vampire law and interfere between Maker and child. I
will break the supernatural edict and learn to wield magic despite that
I am vampire to make this better for you. I will do everything … but I
cannot promise victory in this fight to save your brother."
his hand, Sookie whispered, "We'll fight together, and if it comes to
it, we'll lose together. It means everything to me you're willing to
risk the wrath of your world to help me fight a losing battle." Holding
his gaze she asked, "Eric, you know how you said that if Lorena wouldn't
return Bill you'd crash her accounts and leave her with nothing?"
you do that with Sophie-Anne? Can you kick her out of the country with
nothing? Can you make her leave with nothing but the clothes on her
back, and make it difficult for her in other countries like you did with
I will do this. I will order her dethroned, and I will humiliate her in
public, as her pride is the only thing she truly cares about. I will
have all of her accounts emptied, and do my best to bring her low. I
will let every monarch in every country know that any who befriends her
makes an enemy of me. She will not be welcomed anywhere, but you should
know this will drive her to find ways to hurt us both even worse."
tear slipped down her cheek as Sookie whispered, "She's already taken
Jason from me. I don't have anything else to lose, and you said you're
bringing my friends here to protect them until she's gone."
sighed. Such a human gesture. This was not how he wished to speak with
her of what he'd learned from Odin. He had wanted this discussion to be a
joyous occasion for her, but she had to understand exactly what was on
the line. Moving Sookie to once again straddle his lap, Eric set his
hands on her hips and stared directly into her eyes. His voice was
strained, guarded. "What if you did have something else to lose? What if
there was more than just you or I? More than your friends?"
I don't have anything else to lose, but you. And you've promised me
that you can protect yourself. She's scared of you. That's why she did
this, isn't it? She knew she couldn't get to you, so she wants to use my
heart and love for my brother. She wants to send him after you and
she's hoping you'll hesitate since he is my brother."
That is why she did it. I was dangerous to her before I gained my new
power, now she cannot hope to defeat me through strength. She is hoping
my affection for you will outweigh my instinct for survival. That is why
she took your brother … but, Sookie, what if you had more to lose than
me or your friends?"
her head, she protested, "Eric, I don't understand. What more do I have
to lose? You, my brother, and my friends were all I had to lose. I have
Sookie, you do." His hands tightened on her hips, but they were so
large they spanned the width of her and his thumbs were pressed over her
belly. Rubbing soothing circles over the area his son now grew in, he
continued, "I told you I would share with you the information Odin gave
me. This is not the way I wished to tell you, but you need to know what
it is you have to lose, what we both have to lose. My
instincts tell me to kill Sophie-Anne and all her children now. I will
deny these instincts if you demand it of me, but you need to understand
exactly what is at stake here."
"Eric, just tell me already."
"You're pregnant, my älskade, with my son."
mouth dropped open as her tear filled eyes went wide. Her body went
rigid and she sputtered, "W … what? That … I … no! I mean you're a
vampire! You can't … so I—you're joking right?"
had already decided for now to keep from her the fact the child was
Odin reborn, and that she would be a mother to many more gods over the
unending millennia stretching before them. He knew she could not take
many more shocks tonight. He would tell her the full truth of their son,
and the children that would follow, when she had had a chance to come
to terms with the loss of her brother, and the fact she was pregnant
with a vampire baby.
"No. Whatever power is inside you, the power
that will be explained to us both when we are ready to listen, has
enabled you to give life to my seed. You are carrying my son inside you
right now. You became pregnant the night we both received our new marks
in the cabin. I was told the child is a vampire, just as I am. I do not
understand it any more than you do, but I do know one thing."
Sookie continued to gape at him, he said, "You and my son are my only
priority now, Sookie. This is no longer about a prophecy for me. This is
no longer about saving the world or remaking it, or anything to do with
anyone else. None of that matters to me anymore. You and this child are
all I care about. I will sacrifice everyone and everything in the world
if it means keeping the two of you safe. I do not want to kill your
brother, but if he threatens your life, or the life of my child inside
you, I will strike him down."
his hands over her smooth stomach, that would not be flat much longer,
Eric looked intently into Sookie's eyes. "You have a family with me now,
Sookie. I am your mate. This," he said, as thumbs pressed gently against her womb to make his point before continuing, "is our
son. He is our gift, and our responsibility. This child has to be our
priority now. I know you love your brother, and I know you cannot simply
let him go, but I need your word that if you must ever make the choice
between our child and your brother, our child will come first."
… I … I don't know what to say. I can't make any promises right now,
because I don't think my mind is processing any of this."
Eric replied, "Very well, but you need to understand that I will do
what I must to keep you and my son safe. I do not want to send your
brother to his final death, but if I must to keep you and our child
protected, I will."
mind was on overload as she looked down at herself. She watched Eric's
large, battle worn hands caress her belly as she set hers atop them. She
had so many emotions running through her she couldn't make sense of any
of them. "Are … are you sure? Am I really …?"
Your scent will alter within the next few weeks with your hormonal
changes and any supe you come into contact with will be able to tell as
well. You will smell even stronger of me, and there will be no doubt the
child is mine. Odin assured me that the Pythoness will rally the
supernatural world around us to keep you safe. You will be protected
above all things. I will have Sophie-Anne gone within a week, and, if
the Council refuses to dethrone and banish her, I will attack her on my
own and lay waste to her sanctuary. I will chain her and all her
children in silver until the problem of separating her and Jason has
been thoroughly researched if the Council denies me."
"I thought you said you wouldn't attack first? Your honor and all."
has shown me I can no longer wait for her to make the first move. I
cannot allow her to continue on as queen when it is revealed you carry
my son. I will not allow such a close threat to you and my child."
could not factor the equation. Child. Pregnant. Eric. Queen. Jason.
Danger. She sat in silence for a moment as she looked down at her
stomach. It was too much too fast. Eric had had two days to work this
out in his head. She had been given minutes. There was, however, one
thing she needed to know. Now. She needed to understand that this wasn't
an obligation to him. That this wasn't something he felt he had to do.
She needed to know how he felt about having a baby.
"Eric, I—how … how do you feel about having a baby?"
could feel her need for reassurance. This moment was why he'd been so
determined to come to an understanding inside himself before rejoining
her in the cabin. "I was confused at first. It is not something I have
considered in over a thousand years. I was unsure if I could be a father
in the way you would expect me to be, but as I thought on it, I
realized this is something I want. I want to watch you grow heavy with
my child. I want to watch you bring my son into the world. I want to
watch you feed him at your breast. I want to watch you love him. I want
to see him grow tall and strong under your care and mine. I want to
teach him to be a mighty warrior and an honorable vampire. I want this child. I want this son that will have both my blood and yours running in his veins. I want a family with you, Sookie."
her close, he looked down at her with eyes that were intense and lips
that were tightened with resolution. "I cannot promise I will not make
mistakes. I know nothing of child rearing. I cannot promise I will not
anger you or disappoint you in my approach to being a father at times,
but I can promise you that I'm happy about this. I promise to try and
learn from my mistakes as I go. I promise you, I want this with you more
than anything, and I will fight for it. I want to be a
father to my son inside you. I promise to dedicate my life to keeping
you both safe and happy, and I vow, with all that I am, to be a better
father than you or I ever had."
words dashed any fear she had that this was mere obligation to him. She
felt the heat of his emotions in his vow, and it heartened her. "I
don't know how to be a mom."
Stroking a lock of her damp hair back, Eric promised, "We'll learn to parent together then."
don't know what to think about this. I mean with Jason, and you being a
vampire, and now a baby? I … I just don't know what to think about any
I am not asking or expecting you to understand, accept, or be
comfortable with any of this right now. I needed time to comprehend what
this baby meant to me, for us, and I will give you all
the time you need to adjust. I understand you feel loss and anger over
your brother, and I understand right now that is forefront in your mind.
I did not tell you of our child to take your thoughts away from Jason,
to make you forget about him, I told you so you can have the full
picture. There will be few secrets between us now, and this is not one
I'm willing to have. You wish to fight for your brother? Very well, but I
need you to know what we stand to lose by not eliminating the threat he
tears slipped down her cheeks. "It's hard to think of him as a threat.
He's always been more of a liability, and I can't wrap my head around
the fact he might actually try to kill one or both of us. That he could kill one of us."
forward to lick her tears away, Eric said, "I'm sorry you are being
forced to learn just how brutal and vicious my world is. I had hoped to
shield you from these things."
continued to lie against Eric in silence. He stroked her skin and hair
with soft fingers, and occasionally kissed her temple or brow, but for
the most part they simply took comfort in each other. When he went to
add more hot water to the tub she told him she was ready to get out.
They stood up from the water together and dried one another off. Eric
picked her up to carry her back into the bedroom. Thor was asleep at the
foot of the bed as Eric settled Sookie beneath the covers. He crossed
back into the bathroom to blow out all but one candle that he brought
back into the bedroom to set on her dresser before joining her. They
were lying on their sides facing each other as they looked into one
thoughts were cyclonic, tossing the events of the day around in her
head in numbing speed and confusion . Finally she blurted, "We're going
to have a baby."
"Yes. We are."
"I don't know how to have a baby."
"I think it is a fairly natural endeavor."
of them were being humorous at the moment. They were simply stating
truths that boggled the mind. Sookie looked down at her stomach before
meeting his gaze and clarified, "I don't know how to have a vampire baby … your baby."
hands moved to cradle her face, caress her cheek, encircle her waist
and pull her body closer. Reaching out to stroke a hand over her belly,
Eric assured her, "No one knows how to do this, but you will do fine.
He'll grow strong and healthy inside you, and when he is born, we shall
raise him together."
"What if he bites me?"
"We'll reprimand him appropriately, let him know only I am allowed to bite you, and tell him not to do it again."
"What about school? He could bite other kids. He might not even be able to go out in sunlight."
"We'll hire tutors, and we'll face the sunlight issue if it arises."
Sookie bit her lip and asked, "What if he's too strong for me to take care of?"
will help you. You are not alone in any of this. You will love him and
care for him, and I will train and guide him while teaching him
was silent a moment before whispering, "I always wanted a baby. When I
was a little girl, I dreamed of growing up to find a man that would
accept me, and having a baby with him. In my dreams he was never the son
of a god turned vampire, and my baby didn't have fangs … but I guess I
smiled. "We'll adapt together. I never imagined finding my mate and
perfect half in a stubborn southern belle that refused to let me lavish
her with gifts and wouldn't do anything I said without some kind of
argument, and yet here I am with you, ready to take on the world, human
and supernatural, to keep you. Things change."
Eric's hand in hers, Sookie whispered, "I'm glad I met you, Eric.
Despite everything, despite Bill and … what happened tonight, I'm glad I
met you. I'm glad you're in my life. I'm scared and worried, but you
make me believe it will all be okay."
tightened his fingers around hers and leaned in to kiss her lips. "As
long as we have each other, my Sookie, we'll be ok. Everything else
might hurt us, but together we'll get through it, and move on."
fell silent again and Sookie's mind turned from the unreal and
impossible prospect of having Eric's baby, to her brother. She couldn't
help but shudder as she remembered how awful he'd been to her tonight,
the things he'd said, the animalistic look in his eyes, and how he'd
spat on their relationship. Then she began to remember what it had been
like when they were young. Memories of their childhood growing up in
their Gran's house warmed her heart.
smiled softly and murmured, "One time when I was about 13 and Jason had
just turned 17, there was a school dance. Like normal, no one asked me
to go, because everybody thought I was crazy. Tara and I decided to go
together, but she got sick at the last minute. Gran had saved up every
penny she could for a month to buy me a dress for the dance so I didn't
feel right not going, and didn't tell her that Tara had called earlier
that day, because I knew she wouldn't want me to go without a friend.
Gran was so excited for me, and I couldn't hurt her feelings. She
dropped me off at the school and I went in alone. I sat down on the
bleachers and was there all by myself for about half an hour. Then a
group of girls sat next to me and started making fun of me. They were
the cheerleaders and the elite of the school."
didn't like the story Sookie was telling him. He despised how lonely
and isolated her childhood was, but he would listen to anything and
everything she ever had to say to him. "What happened?"
tear slipped down her cheek as Sookie continued, "Hoyt had been at the
refreshment table and heard what they were saying. He went and got my
brother, who was there with Bethany Toole, captain of the cheer squad,
and he told Jason what those girls were saying about me. Bethany, who
had tormented me all through school, said—"
"Wait. If she was one of your enemies, why did your brother take her to the dance?"
never said anything bad about me in front of him, and I never told him
how mean she was to me. I could see in his mind how much he liked her,
and I didn't want to ruin that for him. Anyway, when Hoyt told Jason
about it, my brother asked if she knew about it. She said I should have
been smart enough to realize I wasn't welcome around regular people. He
dragged her over to me and told her she had to tell her friends to shut
up, and that he wanted her to be friends with me so the other girls
would stop picking on me."
"What did she say?"
sadly, Sookie replied, "She said she'd never let people see her being
friends with a freak. She said I was a witch child and that my Gran
should have sent me off to the crazy hospital a long time ago."
"I'll track her down and kill her."
you won't. We ended up making peace after she tried to commit suicide,
but, that night, my brother made her sorry she picked on me."
"What did he do?"
shouted for everyone to listen up. He was the star football player, so
everyone always listened to him. When he had the attention of everyone
in the gym—that's where the dance was—he told them all how easy Bethany
was and that she was the biggest slut in school, and that he'd rather
hang with me, his crazy sister, than a girl who stuffed her bra and
whose only good attribute was how hard she sucked."
Eric grinned. "He said that?"
Sookie affirmed, "He did. He grabbed my hand and he and Hoyt danced
with me for the next hour. After that, they took me out to the county
roads and Jason taught me how to drive the old Ford he'd bought the year
before on his 16th birthday. It was one of my best nights, and I never
"He was a good brother to you that night."
was a good brother to me many times."
More tears swam in her eyes as
she whimpered, "I don't know if I can stand to lose him, Eric."
out, Eric closed the slight distance between them, his arms wrapping
tightly around her, her warm scent once again filling his nose and
mouth. His kissed the bridge of her nose lightly and promised, "I will
do all I can to save him. I swear it. For now you must hold tightly to
the true memories you have of your brother. You must keep them close to
your heart and remember that is who he was. The vampire that the queen
has made is not your Jason, Sookie. As long as he is connected to her,
he is not your brother. Remember that when he strikes out at you."
"I know, but you'll have me. I will protect you as best I can. I will not allow something like this to happen again."
leaned back to capture Eric's gaze for minutes that seemed like eons.
She saw the truth in his eyes and felt his determination and honesty
flooding her through the bond. She decided she'd figure it all out
tomorrow. Tomorrow would be better. Tonight she had lost her brother.
Tonight she needed to be comforted. Tomorrow she would begin sorting
Burying herself into Eric's hard chest she asked softly, "Will you sing to me?"
wrapped his arms tightly around Sookie and began to sing a mourning
song of his people. It was the song he sang into the night when he stood
alone before his human father's funeral pyre. It was a song of loss,
and farewell, and hope for a better tomorrow. It was a song for fallen
heroes, and mighty warriors. He sang for his Sookie because she asked
him to. He sang to her, and he hoped for better tomorrows, for him, for
her and for their son.