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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chapter 51 ~ A Step Backwards

Standing outside in the crisp December air, the Weres, Han, and Ivan approached Sookie’s friends who gazed at the still sparkling air in amazement. It was electrified confetti in the air, small bursts of bright color streamers that crackled and shimmered against the security lights. Sookie’s house itself was glowing faintly, and the feel of magic and power was pervasive everywhere. It had an aura, it coated their skin, it felt thick with texture and substance.

Han and Ivan stared impassively at the display, arms crossed against their chests. They both wore expressions that resonated hope and satisfaction. The group watched the sparkling lights begin to disappear one by one and then the night once again fell silent. Lafayette fidgeted uncomfortably in the cold air, looking to Sookie’s guards for an explanation. Tara turned to the vampire enforcers.

“What was that? What just happened?”

Han and Ivan shared a look before the Asian enforcer replied, “That was the High King proving to his queen just how much he doesn’t love her.” Han’s words accompanied a knowing smile.

There was silence as everyone absorbed the words and then Tara’s eyes narrowed indignantly. She hissed, “They’re having sex? What the hell!” Fists clenching at her sides, she continued, “Jason’s dead and she’s up there gettin’ it on! Oh hell no!”

As Tara stormed towards the house, Han deftly moved to block her path. His dark eyes glittered menacingly as he held up a hand. “You will not disturb them. Not only would the Northman react badly to your intrusion, but you have no right. Sookie needs this. There are events happening you are unaware of, and she needs the comfort of her mate. You will give them the time they need with each other. They will summon us when they are ready.”

Eyes raw with her anger and grief, Tara argued, “Sookie’s the one that’s got no right! Jason is dead, and she’s up there gettin’ laid! We have a serious problem here! She needs to be down here explaining this and how she intends to get Jason back instead of up there rollin’ in the sheets!”

Han’s mouth was a hard line as he insisted, “You have no right to judge her. Do you think you loved Jason more than her? Do you think your pain is greater than hers? I understand you are upset, and I understand you want justice, but this is not the time.” He turned to look at all her friends. “Sookie has been hit hard by much more than just Jason’s loss. She is dealing with issues you cannot imagine. They both need this time to take solace and comfort in the other. Let them regain strength from one another.” Eyes cutting sharply back to Tara, his threat was implicit. “I say again, you will not disturb them.”

“If she’s so damn upset, her mind shouldn’t be on fucking! It should be on what the fuck we’re going to do about all this!”

“Tara! Girl, you got no right to be sayin’ shit like that!” Lafayette argued, closing the distance to Tara to try and take her arm. Tara tore away from his grasp violently, her eyes wild and ferocious. He shook his head impotently, distress pulling at his lips. “You saw how torn up Sookie was! She was barely keepin’ her cool, and it looked like whatever Eric and those other two were there to speak to her about wasn’t good. You don’t know what’s goin’ on, and we should wait for Sookie to tell us she’s ready to talk again.”

Sam stepped forward to gently take Tara’s arm; she did not shake off the touch of her former lover. His eyebrows were knit in consternation; his supe senses were on high alert and making him edgy. As her eyes met his, he nodded his head towards Han. “Tara, he’s right. We don’t know what’s going on here. We should wait for Sookie to call us back. Let’s go back to the guesthouse. You know Sookie, you know she’ll explain everything.”

Shaking her head, Tara began, “Sam, we can’t just sit around and—“

Han growled. He was short on patience. “You will go freely, or you will be taken back to the guesthouse by force,” Han insisted. Ivan loomed behind him, eyes dark with subtext. “You have been told to leave Sookie alone for now. I will not say it again. Leave of your own free will, or I shall carry you back to the guesthouse and retain you by force.”

Tara’s mouth dropped open in shock. She would not be cowed! Just as she was about to start yelling, Eggs stepped beside her and whispered raggedly in her ear, “Tara! You’re going to get us killed! Let’s just go! Sookie’s not going anywhere. You can talk to her later.”

Seeing the desperation in Egg’s eyes, Tara acquiesced with a shrug. She met Han’s expression with defiance. “We’ll go, but Sookie is going to get an earful later!”

Han shook his head disapprovingly and replied, “I hope you will reconsider. The Northman is under enough stress. Provoking him by striking out at Sookie will not end well, but that is your choice. For now, do as you are told, and go to the guesthouse. Wait for Sookie to summon you.”

As the shifter and humans left to return to the guesthouse, Han turned to face the Weres. He directed his attention to Quinn, especially, and announced, “There are things you need to hear. Follow Han and me.”

They trudged back up the pathway to just outside the edge of the woods surrounding Sookie’s home. Han and Ivan stood shoulder to shoulder as they faced Quinn and Alcide. It was the weretiger who broke the silence.

“So are you guys going to tell us why the hell the Pythoness was here? Or what the hell was up with all those lights? All that magic coming from the house?” he asked sharply.

Quinn’s upset was thinly veiled jealousy. His interest in Sookie had been known for quite some time, and the fact the weretiger had just had to listen to the culmination of a very passionate lovemaking session between his romantic interest and her bonded had rubbed Quinn the wrong way. He had initially been ordered by the Council to play up an interest in Sookie to rouse jealousy in Eric to expedite matters in an attempt to get the Viking to realize that attraction alone would not have Sookie coming to him. Northman had needed to realize that he would have to actually try to win Sookie in order to get her to come to him, reaching out to her emotionally, as Quinn had. Northman had done that all on his own. Han and Ivan had been apprised of the Council’s order, but they knew now it was time for things to change. Many things.

Having better English, Han began, “There is much you need to know. What you are about to hear is of the utmost importance and you are to speak of it to no one. The Pythoness herself has handed down this order. You are only being informed because of your status as Sookie’s guards. The Pythoness holds faith that you are honorable and trustworthy, and can handle the truths you are about to hear. However, our loyalty no longer belongs to the seer. We live and die for Sookie and her chosen king. So now Ivan and I need your solemn vow you will not betray our queen by speaking of what you are about to learn. Should you break this vow, Ivan and I will kill you, regardless of the Pythoness’s words. Do you understand?”

Alcide and Quinn shared a look, and the werewolf insisted, “I can’t betray my pack. Not for anyone.”

Han offered reasonably, “Your pack will pledge themselves to Sookie once they learn of the prophecy, but, for now, you, and those of your pack Northman agrees to allow to know the truth, must make the decision on whether or not you wish to understand why Sookie is so important to us all. You must decide if you are willing to fight and die to protect her. I assure you she is our only hope.”

The Weres were fierce, grim in their silence before Quinn nodded and swore gruffly, “I wish to hear what you have to say. Whether or not I agree with it, I can’t promise until I’ve heard your words. I can promise, though, that I will not tell anyone what you tell me now.”

“I promise to keep your confidence as well. I’ll make my decision about fighting after I know what the hell is going on,” Alcide agreed.

Nodding, Han replied, “Very well. You have given your vows to not speak of what you are about to hear. I feel certain your pledges of support will come after you understand Sookie’s importance, but regardless, should you break your vows of silence Ivan and I will kill you.”

“Alright then, vows and death threats given. Let’s hear it,” Quinn snapped.

Clasping his hands behind his back, Han began, “There is a prophecy ….”

Han spoke at length. His voice was measured, without emotion. He spoke of The One’s dream, of the deal made by Niall’s family with the gods of old. He told of the power inside Eric, and how he had been born for Sookie. Born to protect her, and to fight for her. He explained how very special and unique the telepathic barmaid truly was, and how she would save them all. Han revealed the remarkable truth that Sookie was pregnant at this very moment with Eric’s son, and the first in a long line of children that would help The One fulfill the ultimate dream for the universe. Through it all, Alcide and Quinn looked at Han with total shock and awe. The words he was speaking were unbelievable even to two such as them. As Han spoke of the horrifying truth that Sargon was not dead, and had, in fact, been lying in wait all these years in order to obtain Sookie to continue on his path of world domination, the Weres’ eyes filled with fear and worry. When everything had been said and explained, tension pulled at the very air.

Trying to process the knowledge they had just been given, the two Weres’ bodies were tight and coiled. Their nature demanded physical exertion, a long run that would be helpful to lower their pulse rates, strengthen their reserves and break up the stress that now pervaded their muscles. Truths that boggled the mind instilled fear in two hard men that had seen much battle. Finally, Quinn inhaled, “So she’s really—inside her is ….”

Han completed his thought. “Yes. Sookie is pregnant at this very moment with Northman’s son. His first, but not his last. As I said, they will have many children. These children were once human gods, but they will be reborn into vampire gods. Gods no longer ruled by faith, but by power and magic.”

Quinn’s violet eyes darkened; Ivan regarded him stoically. “She not yours. Never yours. Never be yours. You must know. Accept.”

When the weretiger looked to argue, Han added, “He is right. We are aware of the Council’s orders for you to engage her, and we are aware that you have fallen in love with her. However, it means nothing. Not only does her heart belong solely to the Viking, but you are not strong enough, or worthy, of being her mate. The One made Eric for her. The One created Northman to complete Sookie, and she has named him her king with the power of her heart. You must accept this.”

A sharp well of emotion rose inside Quinn as he pointed towards the house and growled, “You’re going to tell me he’s worthy of her? You say I’m not, and he is? Have you seen the way he treats her? If she’s the one that’s important, if he was created for her, then how the hell can you stand back and let him treat her the way he does?”

“Northman’s actions towards Sookie are confusing, and often wrong; there is no disputing that fact. However, it is not our place to interfere in their relationship. They must learn how to work together. No one can change the Viking but his queen. He was created to be hard and unyielding. He was created to be a warrior king. It was the only way to ensure he would be strong enough to do what will need to be done to protect Sookie from what is coming. He was forged in battle and blood to become the greatest warrior this world has ever seen. Teaching him to be a good mate is up to Sookie. Already, she brings his heart back to life. He just refuses to admit it.”

Quinn’s mouth twisted in frustration. “She deserves better!"

Ivan watched the muscles in Quinn's jaw clench and his eyes narrow. He nodded. "Da, she does. Viking get better, She make him better. Takes time."

“Indeed, “Han agreed. “Sookie will make Eric much better than he is. The transformation is already underway. A thousand years of habit and instinct are not so easily overcome. It will take her time, but the Viking will change his ways and realize that Sookie is not something to be owned or controlled. He will come to understand that he belongs to her, and not the other way around.”

“Sookie change too,” Ivan announced in his thick Slavic tongue.

Han’s grin turned into a smile of genuine amusement. “That she does. Just as she changes Eric, he changes her. They are growing together. Eric is teaching her to be strong. He is strengthening her spirit in order to protect her heart. He is teaching her to think realistically. He is helping her to become the queen she was born to be.”

Focusing back on Quinn, Han continued evenly. “You must accept that Sookie is not yours. She never was, and she was never meant to be. The Council asked you to treat her the way they did to try and provoke a greater emotional approach from Eric in his treatment towards her. I think it was a mistake, as they found their way to each other without any influence from you, and, in fact, your actions actually set them back more than once, but that no longer matters. The joining and true claiming have finally happened. You are still here because you are a great warrior, and you could very well save Sookie’s life one day. However, if you are incapable of backing down and leaving Sookie to the life she was born for, then you will be sent away. If you attempt to come between Sookie and Northman, or attempt to interfere in their bond, Ivan and I will end you.”

“Hey, Quinn, man, maybe you need to listen to them,” Alcide urged. “What Han just told us … shit, dude … this is major. I agree with you about how Northman treats her. We all do, but this? This is some major shit. Sookie and Eric were bound pretty tight before, but now? You gotta let her go, man.”

When Quinn continued to brood, Alcide added in a softer voice, “She’s going to have his baby. You know what that will mean to her. You know how Sookie is. She wouldn’t be up there with him right now if she didn’t want this. She’s got enough problems coming her way. Don’t add to them.”

Quinn glared up towards the house. He couldn’t hear what was going on inside right now due to the increased distance, but he had no doubt Eric was mating with her again. The sounds of both Sookie’s and the Viking’s cries of pleasure had been easily heard earlier, and he knew more were on the way. He hated it. He hated that Sookie was with Eric at all. He’d known that when she left for Sweden with Eric she would probably finally give in and end up in bed with the blond vampire, but he’d never anticipated this. He’d never anticipated her coming back pregnant and so closely bound to Eric that, if he died, she would too. He’d never anticipated seeing such love for Eric in her eyes.

‘She is beyond me now. I had hopes of one day Eric falling in battle and her being free of his control, and then maybe we could have a chance, but that can’t happen now. If he goes, she will too. If their souls are truly bound now, one will not survive without the other. Hey … if that’s the case, how the hell is Sargon going to take Sookie?’

Looking towards Han, he ventured, “I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it. I’ll back off.” He hesitated, “But I have a question.”

“Ask,” the smaller enforcer allowed.

“If Sookie and Eric’s souls are bound, if one cannot exist without the other, how the hell can Sargon take her? How can he bind her to him after he kills Eric?” the weretiger protested.

Shrugging, Han answered, “We don’t know. All we know is that he is sure he can. He’s had over six thousand years to find a way, and his control of dark magic is unprecedented. If there is a way to do it, Sargon has definitely found it. We will worry about that when the time comes. The ultimate goal is to keep Sargon from ever laying hands on Sookie in order to do such a thing now.”

Han appraised the weretiger piercingly. “Right now, Ivan and I need your vow you will not attempt to interfere in the relationship between Sookie and Eric. They have enough problems without you compounding them.”

Quinn shoved his hands deeply into his pockets, a resigned expression crossing his face. “Yeah. I’ll back off. It’s not like I got a shot anyway. I’ll stick to protecting her. Sounds like she’s going to need all the help she can get.”

“Good. Let us continue scouting the land. I want to have a full report to give Northman when he summons us on how best to secure the area,” Han said as he turned and lead the way deeper into the woods. Ivan followed along with Alcide. Quinn was the last. He gave one final lingering look to the house before shaking his head and sprinted to catch up to the others.

Upstairs in the house, Eric pinned Sookie against the tiled wall in the shower with his hands on the soft roundness of her hips. He was rocking into her slowly, grinding his pelvis up into hers while she clutched and rubbed frantically against him, rolling her hips, wanting him deep, deeper. Her hands gripped his shoulders, breasts rising as her legs wrapped firmly around his waist. The hot water poured over them from the rainfall shower setting, and both enjoyed the sensation while taking greater pleasure in the feel of their connection.

Sookie’s head fell back against the wall, her mouth open in agonized hunger as she arched against Eric, pushing her breasts into his hard chest. His fangs ran down the delicate expanse of her throat while he eased in and out of her at a maddeningly slow pace, driving her up a sheer wall of erotic insanity as his cock filled her thickly and completely. She was gasping, falling, sinking, yielding, moaning at the feel of his arousal moving inside her, her walls gripping, tightening, clenching around him. He hissed with his own pleasure. “Oh God, Eric ….”

“My Sookie,” Eric groaned and buried his face into the crook of her neck. He pulled Sookie’s hips to angle her better for his thrusts, for the deep penetration he knew she craved. With her, like no one before, time disappeared and in its place was only the sensory glory of this moment with this woman … his woman. He loved the feel of her slick heat around him, the delicious hot, wetness of her silky walls grabbing his cock, sending incendiary sparking sensations to his nerve endings. The steam filled air laced with the scent of her arousal called to the beast in him. “I can’t get enough of you. It’s never enough! I love being inside you. I would live here if I could.”

She pulled his head from her and cupped his cheeks as he began to increase the speed of his thrusts. She whispered, “I love being with you like this. You make me feel protected and cherished.”

“You always are with me, Sookie.”

Smiling softly, Sookie replied, “I know,” and she leaned into him to slide her arms around his broad shoulders once again. Her tongue tapped his fangs before slipping into his mouth to seek out his own. It slid across the top of his tongue and tasted him. She swirled the tip eagerly, mapping out the roof of his mouth. He took control of her tongue, suckling it, wringing a sharp cry from her as the lust streaked like wildfire to her womb. His hands slipped down her waist to her ass, and she jostled against the wall as he began squeezing and kneading the soft flesh as he held her firmly in place. Her toes curled convulsively against the small of his back as her entire body trembled.

They had made love once more in the bed before Sookie said she really needed to get downstairs so she could speak to her friends again and not walk bowlegged for the next week. Chuckling, Eric had suggested that they take a shower, and, at the hopeful expression in his face, she couldn’t tell him no. She wasn’t exactly eager to leave the inviting serenity of her bedroom yet, or the comfort being in Eric’s arms provided, but she couldn’t ignore the outside world much longer either. She’d decided a shower with Eric was the best compromise. They’d both get to find solace in each other for a few more precious moments, and they would be working their way to being presentable so she could speak to her friends again.

However at the moment, all she could think about was the feel of him inside her, the way his hands felt on her skin, the way he made her feel. She lost herself to the sensation of his body against hers, inside hers, sheltering hers. He was her warrior king, and she loved how he worshipped her body as though it were an objet d’art. His hands could be rough and demanding, but they were also gentle and reverent. As they had clung to each other in the reeling aftermath of another set of explosive orgasms, Eric had told her she was the only woman he had ever made love to. With everyone else, even Pam, it had always been fucking. When he’d told her that Godric had been the only other person he’d ever made love with, her heart had burst with joy. No one else had mattered. The rest had been trysts—only about pleasure and satisfaction. What was between them was so much more—need, hope, desire, trust, friendship, and true emotion.

Now, feeling him begin to pound into her faster and harder, she continued to kiss him, suckling his tongue, matching the same rhythm as his strokes while her hands traveled down his neck to trail along his chest. Her fingers were burning as they stroked over his Mjolnir, causing lust so sharp it was almost painful to shoot through Eric. He thought his knees might buckle and locked them to keep from collapsing. When he growled into her mouth, she broke free and teased, “Something bothering you?”

Eric snapped his fangs playfully at Sookie as she continued to pet his mark, knowing what it evoked, and causing him to move with greater urgency inside her. “You … you bother me.”

Batting her lashes at him, she squeezed her inner muscles, causing him to clench his teeth and shudder against her face. She asked, “Who me? I bother you? I can leave you alone, if you like.”

“Never.” He claimed her lips in a savage kiss, his mouth slanting over hers again and again as she whimpered, desperate for what he was giving her. She clawed at his shoulders, her legs quivering as she felt the seething rapture of her orgasm growing. He pulled back and demanded, “You will never leave me alone, just as I’ll never leave you alone. Swear it!”

“I swear! Oh God, Eric! Please!” She began to bite and kiss his neck as she cried, “I need you! I need all of you! So much!”

With the feel of Sookie’s blunt teeth biting into his shoulder, Eric began to take her with hard, ruthless thrusts. Their bodies fit together like interlocking puzzle pieces, complementing each other so well. Six months ago, he had never imagined he could need someone so much, never imagined his happiness would depend so completely on another, had never imagined he would sacrifice anything and everything to keep one small mortal woman at his side. To keep her as his own for all time. But things had changed. Irrevocably. Eternally. There was no Eric without Sookie, and there was no Sookie without Eric.

“Tell me again, Sookie. Tell me your heart belongs to me alone, my älskade.”

“I love you, Eric. My heart is yours.”

She was panting against his neck now, crying with every moment of his deepest penetration, the sounds of his own grunts bringing their shared bliss to a new level. Their bodies fused, surging hot and ravenous for each other. Eric moved inside her with hard digging, stinging, strokes building the passion, the delirium, the fever in them both. His fingers gripped her hips so tightly she knew they’d leave bruises. He growled, “You will always be mine, Sookie. Always.”

“You’re mine too.”

Eric would never counter such a claim while they were together like this. He believed Sookie was his to own, but, if it made her feel better to think she had some type of ownership towards him, he would allow her that belief. He knew the truth. Sookie was his, not the other way around. Instead, he murmured against her ear, sending a shiver down her spine, “You are so perfect, lover.”

“Oh, Eric.”

No more words were possible. Their couplings were always a voluptuous sensation, a throbbing ache so intense they were humbled by the depth of their desire for each other. Filled with need, they caressed and stroked and reveled in the experience of their intimate world that had narrowed to the carnal dance as old as time and the emotions of sharing and union and surrender, true emotions between them that would never fade with time.

Lying on the bathmat, Thor looked towards the shower when his mistress’s scream pierced the air. He cocked his head and waited a beat before stretching out once more to continue chewing on a beef bone from his dinner, his tail thumping loudly. Eric’s shout followed a few moments later and Thor again stopped gnawing to glance their way. He was neither surprised nor alarmed by the noise; over the last few weeks he had heard many such sounds from his mistress and master often enough to be familiar with them. Those sounds meant his owners were busy, and did not want him bothering them. If a dog could roll his eyes, Thor would right about now. He went back to chewing contentedly on his bone and ignored the two in the shower.

In the guesthouse, Lafayette, Sam, and Eggs sat forlornly on the couches in the small living room as they watched Tara pace back and forth in front of them. She was fuming and muttering to herself, and not one of them was willing to interrupt her and possibly draw down her wrath upon them. She had been railing about how insensitive and immoral it was for Sookie to be upstairs having sex while Jason was in so much trouble.

“It ain’t right! It just ain’t right! Jason’s dead and a monster, bound to some bitch queen that was after Sookie in the first place, and she’s up there gettin’ her groove on! What the hell is she thinkin’!” Finally halting to face her friends, Tara demanded, “Tell me you guys aren’t thinking the same thing? Tell me you don’t think it’s wrong for her to be up there with him at a time like this!”

The three men exchanged glances before Lafayette dared to reply. “Tara, girl, you know I love you, but you’re talking nonsense. You know Sookie, and you know how much she loves her brother. Her brother, Tara! She’s hurting too, and whatever it was Eric and those other two had to tell her probably only made things worse. I don’t know what the hell all those lights and shit were about, but I think it’s safe to say there’s a hell of a lot more going on right now than we know. We shouldn’t judge Sookie. We can’t judge her. You know she’s the best out of all of us. She’s always done the right thing. You need to give her the benefit of the doubt right now.”

Eggs decided it was time to weigh in. Rising, he moved to Tara’s side and held her. She stilled in his embrace. He warned, “Tara, this is exactly what I’ve been talking to you about. What just happened out there wasn’t natural. I know you love Sookie like a sister, and I know you cared about Jason, but what we just saw was a sign. It was a sign that we need to go.”

“What?” Tara asked, pushing away from him with wide eyes.

Everyone’s attention fell to Eggs as he continued carefully. “Tara, you know how I feel about all this vampire shit and the stuff that goes with it since Maryann. I just want to have a peaceful life. I want to be a good man, and I want you to be my girl. We’re starting our lives, and this shit isn’t for us.”

Realizing where he was going, Lafayette stood as well, and demanded, “What the hell are you saying?”

“I’m saying it’s pretty obvious that whatever Sookie is involved in is beyond us. We can’t help her, because honestly it looks like she can barely help herself. What happened to Jason was bad, but there’s nothing we can do for him. He’s a vampire and there’s no undoing that. I think it is a very big sign that we need to distance ourselves from Sookie for as long as she chooses to associate herself with vampires.”

Lafayette clenched his fists and hissed, “You sure as hell ain’t been talkin’ like that since you been livin’ large in the house Eric, a vamp, bought. You weren’t about jumpin’ ship when Sookie bought you that fuckin’ Escalade!”

“I’ll give it all back if it means staying alive!” Eggs hollered back.

When Lafayette moved forward to take a swing at Eggs, Tara got between them. “Wait! Back off guys!”

Eggs turned pleading eyes to his girlfriend. “Tara, baby, you need to think! Look what happened to Jason! He’s a fucking vamp now! Sookie herself told us he’s dead and a monster now! She told us he’s a threat to us, and we got dragged out of our bed by Sookie’s bodyguards to hide out here! There are warning signs left and right that some bad shit is going down and we shouldn’t be here when it all blows up! You told me yourself that Sookie warned you trouble was coming. We need to think of our own welfare right now.”

“Well ain’t that a bunch of shit? You ungrateful son of a bitch!” Lafayette growled. “Sookie saved your life from Maryann, she got you your job, she got you the house you’re staying in, the bed you’re sleeping on, the car you’re driving, and she’s done a whole hell of a lot more for Tara. She’s done nothing but try and help you, and the first time things get bad, you want to tuck tail and run! Well, fuck you!”

Shaking his head, Eggs held out his hands plaintively arguing, “I appreciate all that shit, but not at the expense of my life. Jason’s dead, man! He’s fucking dead! And a monster! We’re next! This queen can’t get Sookie so she’s going to pick us off one by one! If Sookie’s not willing to leave all this shit behind, then we need to leave her to her own damn mess! We can’t fight vampires! And in case you haven’t noticed there’s more weird shit goin’ on around here than just vamps! You saw that freaky shit out front a few minutes ago!”

“A bunch of lights aren’t going to have me abandoning Sookie!” Lafayette hollered. Turning to face Tara, he maintained, “She’s always been there for us Tara. Always. She was there for you every time when you were little and your momma was in a bad way. She was there for you every time you got into a fight. She has sacrificed herself for us more than once. Hell, she fought Maryann for us! She came for you that night! She saw all that bad shit in your head that Maryann did and she still fucking came for you. Are you really going to bail on her now the first time she actually needs us?”

“I … I ….” Tara looked back and forth between Eggs and Lafayette. Her head was a tangle of confusion. She’d lived so long by the skin of her teeth but this was so beyond her ability to think through. Her hard life had forced her to take on the mantle of adulthood long before she physically developed into one but right now she felt more like a child: lost, frightened and out of control.

Eggs pursued, seeing Tara’s indecision. His voice was reedy. “Tara, baby, think. Sookie warned you. She told you she wouldn’t be mad if you left. Her brother was just the first casualty. If we stick around here, we’re going to end up pawns in the game Sookie is playing. Dead pawns. We have to think about ourselves now. Our lives are just starting to come together. Do you really want to throw it all away?”

Tara’s face and voice were strained, “I can’t just abandon Sookie, Eggs. She’s like my sister.”

Eggs shook his head, eyes imploring. “Tara, please! This shit is beyond us! Vamps were one thing, but you and I both know more is going on. Sookie’s got those bodyguards all the time, and you saw those people Eric brought with him in the house tonight. They couldn’t have been human. What was up with that woman’s white eyes? Not to mention the weird shit that just happened outside. Hell, you’ve seen Eric move shit with his mind! Bad shit is about to go down. Weird shit that we got no business being a part of. Baby, you gotta think about what’s best for us.”

It was at that moment that Sam finally stepped in. Through the entire confrontation, he had sat on the couch observing silently. He’d been upset by Eggs words as well, but unsure how to enter the conversation, but now he felt it was time to step in. Rising from the couch, he smoothed the fabric of his jeans down. “So Eggs, let me get this straight. You’re saying it’s not the fact that Sookie is in trouble, it’s the fact she’s surrounded by things you don’t understand?”

He crossed his arms against his chest and demanded in his own quiet way, “Tell me Eggs, do you think being different is bad?”

“Look, does it freak me out she can read my mind? Yeah, but I was willing to work past that. I was working past that,” Eggs replied. “But this is more than that. This is some definite next level shit! This is vamps, and bodyguards, and a vamp queen hell bent on revenge! This is everyone around Sookie being in danger and us being on a hit list! Lights exploding in the air for no reason, weird waves of energy rolling off the house, the whole damn house lighting up? That’s not something you can just brush off! Tell me that deep down you’re not thinking the same things I am? Tell me you’re not freaked out by all this weird shit either?”

Shaking his head, Sam countered, “Am I concerned for Sookie? Absolutely. Am I going to abandon her because I don’t understand everything that’s going on? Never. As for being freaked out? Not really.”

Tara, Eggs, and Lafayette all pivoted to look at him, and Sam decided he was done hiding. Sookie had never hidden what she was. For better or worse, she’d held her head high and stood her ground. It was time for him to do the same. “I have a secret, and I’m tired of keeping it.”

Looking at Tara and Lafayette, and ignoring Eggs, he continued, “I mean to stand beside Sookie through whatever is coming, and trust me, more is coming. You two need to decide if you’re willing to weather the hard times with her. Eggs has made his choice and it’s obvious he intends to bail out as soon as he can. I say good riddance, but me? I’m going to do whatever I can or have to do to help Sookie through this. Time for you two to make your decisions. If you’re going to stay, you need to understand that stranger stuff is going to happen. Things that will blow your mind.”

Tara and Eggs shared a look, before Tara asked, “Sam, what are you saying? You’re talking like you know what’s coming.”

Laughing, Sam replied, “I don’t know what’s coming, but I know it’s bad. Those people you saw in the house with Eric earlier were some head honchos of the supernatural world. One was a psychic vampire that is thousands of years old and used to be an oracle at Delphi for the god Apollo, and the other was a faery prince.”

Eyes widening, Lafayette gasped, “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Yeah, Sam, how the hell would you know something like that? And faeries? Are you serious?” Tara exclaimed.

Beginning to unbutton his shirt as he toed his boots off, Sam explained, “I know who and what they are because I’m part of the supernatural world, and yes, Tara, I’m serious. Faeries exist. Angels exist. Witches exist. Werewolves exist. Weretigers exist.”

Eggs was shaking his head furiously as he denied, “Bullshit! You’re just trying to mess with our heads! And why the hell are you stripping?”

Shrugging as he tossed his shirt down, he began unbuckling his belt. “You don’t have to believe me. I’ll prove it in just a moment. Alcide is a Werewolf, and Quinn is a weretiger. All of Sookie’s guards are weres. As for me? I’m a shifter.” Looking at Eggs, he added, “And I’m stripping so I can show what being a shifter means.”

As Sam shoved his pants down, Tara protested, “Sam, what the hell are you doing?”

“Yeah, Sam, while I don’t normally mind a free show, I don’t think this is the time—“

Lafayette’s words caught in his throat. All three humans stumbled back from Sam in shock when the bar owner shifted into a dog right before their very eyes.

“Oh my God!”

“What the fuck!”

“Holy shit!”

Sam stayed as a dog for only a moment before retaking his human form. He stood naked for a moment and then shifted into a cat. From there he shifted into a stag, an alligator, and an owl before finally resuming his human form so he could redress. As he pulled his pants on while Tara, Eggs, and Lafayette looked at him with wide, terrified eyes, he confirmed, “I’m a shifter. It means I can assume the shape of any animal in the world at any time I want, day or night. I can’t change into different people, but there is no animal form I can’t assume.”

When his pants were on, he reached for his boots. Sitting on the couch, he pulled them back on, and continued implacably. “I am a shifter. I was born a shifter and will always be a shifter. I am part of the supernatural community and there are more of us out there than you can imagine. We live peacefully among you, and want to keep it that way. However, right now, it is obvious that something important is going on, and the presence of the seer here tonight means that the entire supe community is going to be involved somehow. She is thousands of years old, and rules the supernatural Council. Whatever is after Sookie is big.”

Standing to grab his shirt and don it, he looked at Tara and Lafayette. “I’m tired of being ashamed of what I am, and I’m not going to do it anymore. I showed you what I am so that you can understand what it is you will have to deal with if you decide to stand by Sookie. Her guards are weres. That means they can only change into one animal. They are all Werewolves except for Quinn who is a weretiger. I have no doubt more supes will be coming to protect Sookie if the seer herself was here tonight, and Eric will definitely be calling in reinforcements. So if you two are going to remain, you need to understand you’re going to be surrounded with things you don’t understand and probably have only dreamed about.”

Eggs looked bleakly down in his lap, paralyzed with fear by what he’d just witnessed, while Tara and Lafayette gazed at Sam in shock. There was a nervous quiet in the room with the only sound being the rush of air sawing in and out of the lungs of the humans. Finally, Lafayette stammered, “I … I don’t know what to say to you about that, Sam. What you just did … I … shit, man, I just don’t know. That’s going to take me a bit to process and take in, but I’ve known you for years, and you’ve always done right by me. Just like Sookie has. Neither of you ever judged me for being gay, or for how I live my life. So I’m not going to judge you. I’m here for Sookie. I’m a damn good shot, and I’m not going to bail on her.” He offered a crooked grin. “But … uh … do you think you could hold off changing in front of me for a while? Just to give me some time?”

Sam smiled broadly. He’d been bracing for immediate rejection, and was surprised and delighted not to have found it. “You’re good people, Lafayette. Sure, I can. I’ll give you all the time you need, and it means a lot to me you’re willing to stand by me and Sookie. It will mean a lot to her too.”

Eyes turned to Tara who very much looked like a fish out of water. Her mouth kept opening and closing, and finally she said, “I’ve got to talk to Sookie!” She ran out of the house.

“Tara! Wait!”

“Tara!”

“No, Tara!”

Tara ran headlong for the house. Too much had changed too fast for her. Jason was a vamp, and now Sam was some kind of morphing animal? She needed to talk to Sookie and find out what the hell was going on!

Sookie and Eric were making their way downstairs from their bedroom. They had finished their shower, and, as they dressed, Eric had told her that he wanted to keep as much of what they had been told under wraps as they could. He explained that outside of those he’d brought in to protect her, it was too dangerous to let anyone else know. If anyone else found out about her baby it could be bad, and he told her, for now, her friends could not know she was carrying his son. Sookie had agreed. There were too many unknowns. Too many things up in the air right now, and she couldn’t endanger her baby.

Suddenly the front door flew open and Tara rushed in. Sookie had just reached the bottom step and she said uncertainly, “Tara, honey, you look like you’ve seen a ghost!”

Tara stood holding the door open as Eggs, Lafayette, and Sam filled the doorway behind her. She stared hard at her friend before stepping inside. “Sookie, we gotta talk.”

“Woman! I told you to leave Sookie alone,” Han growled as he appeared on the back porch with Ivan behind him. Both had used their vampire speed to arrive at the house in seconds after hearing Tara run away from the other humans. They knew the Were guards would follow along shortly.

Sookie held her hand up to show Han it was ok. The house began to fill up as she said, “It’s okay, Han. I was just about to call them back, anyway.” The Were guards had reached the porch, and she added, “Let’s all go into the living room.”

There was a steady shuffle as everyone relocated. Eric and Sookie stood with Han and Ivan flanking them while the Were guards, Sam, and Sookie’s human friends took up the couches and chairs. Focusing back on Tara, Sookie asked, “Tara, what’s wrong?”

Tara’s hands fisted in her lap as she replied grimly, “Sam’s a shifter. Did you know he can change into animals?”

Sookie looked to Sam and when he nodded to show that he’d revealed himself to the others, Sookie answered, “Yes. I knew. I’ve known for months now. I’m glad he finally feels he can be himself.”

Scrutinizing her friend, Tara pressed, “You didn’t think that was something I needed to know? Something I’d want to know?”

“Tara, it wasn’t my secret to tell. Sam is still Sam. He’ll always be Sam. Just because he’s a supe doesn’t make him any less your friend or boss. You’ve never minded that I was telepathic.”

Shaking her head, Tara insisted, “You should have told me, Sook! We’re best friends!”

Sookie tried to ignore the condemnation of her friend. She felt Eric’s hand settle on her hip as she responded, “I tell you things about myself, but Sam’s secrets are his own. It would have been wrong for me to tell you.”

Tara gave an inelegant snort. “You tell me stuff about you? How about you start with what the hell is going on? You’ve kept me in the dark long enough! You told me and Jason to stay out of it, and look how that turned out! He’s dead!”

Eric felt Sookie jerk against him, grief pouring undiluted into their bond. His face was predatory as he hissed, “You will watch how you speak to my bonded, human. She owes you nothing. You are lucky she tells you anything.”

Before Tara could say something to upset Eric further, Sookie stepped forward and murmured, “Tara, hon, please … I … I couldn’t tell you. There are things going on that you can’t know about right now.”

Glaring at Eric before focusing back on Sookie, Tara shouted, “Enough bullshit, Sookie! Your secrets are putting us in danger! Your secrets got your brother killed! Don’t you give a damn about that?”

“Of course I do! What happened to Jason breaks my heart! I know it’s my fault, Tara. I know. I’m sorry this happened, Tara. I wish things were different, but I can’t undo what happened. I ….”

As her friend’s words trailed off, Tara laughed cynically, “Little late to be sorry, Sook. There’s no making right what happened to Jason, but right now I want to know what the hell is going on. Why do you have Were bodyguards? Who the hell were those people earlier? What was so damn important that you just dropped us to talk to them? What the fuck were all those lights earlier? Just tell me what the fuck is going on!”

Shaking her head regretfully, Sookie winced. “I can’t, Tara. I can’t tell you what you want to know. I can only tell you that Eric is doing everything he can to keep us all safe. I can’t tell you anymore than that. I just can’t.”

Getting off the couch to stand in front of her friend, Tara demanded, “I’m tired of your bullshit, Sookie! This isn’t about you anymore. You keeping things from us got Jason killed and turned by a vamp queen that was after you! You keeping secrets has us all here hiding out! So the hell with your privacy! You tell me what it is that is after you or so help me God!”

“Tara, I can’t!”

Tara’s fists were so tight her knuckles were white. Her rage was spiraling to unimaginable heights. She was afraid that nothing would ever be the same, that the knowns in her life were overshadowed by the paralyzing presence of greater unknowns and she would never be entirely comfortable in her own skin again. She was appalled to think she could revert to a state of being afraid of the dark, cowering like her primitive ancestors from lightning, the sound of thunder, the unidentified animal rustling in the brush in twilight. She felt confused with the magnitude of all these new reveals. Sookie’s refusal to tell her what it was that was threatening them was the final straw. “Oh, you can’t tell us about what the hell might be coming after us, but you can go upstairs to fuck Eric? You can forget the fact your brother is dead because of you to take time out to get some? I know you are desperate for a man, Sook, but stop thinking with your cunt. Try giving a damn about the rest of us.”

There was an explosion of angry exclamations. Sookie jerked back from Tara as her eyes filled with tears. “Tara, I … I didn’t ….”

That was all Eric was going to take. He took hold of Sookie’s arm and pulled her back as he stepped forward to glare down at Tara. He growled, “I have warned you once, bloodbag, and this is the last time. You will not speak to Sookie like that.”

Tara was too angry to think smart. Glaring right back up at the vampire in front of her, she taunted, “What the hell do you care? You don’t really give a damn about Sookie. She’s a toy to you. Something for you to feed from and fuck! You made her a fucking slave! Her brother’s dead, and what do you do? You take her upstairs and fuck her brains out! You’re a monster, and she’s just a convenient body for you to stick your dick and fangs in!”

Sookie felt the burst of rage in Eric and grabbed the back of his shirt. She could feel his need to hurt Tara for hurting her, his need to force her friend into submission, and begged, “Eric, please don’t. Please.”

Eric felt Sookie’s fear for her friend and forced himself to remain calm. “You are lucky you are Sookie’s friend, or I’d rip your head from your body for speaking to me this way. You will take your friends and leave at once. Go back to the guesthouse and wait until you are summoned. I have important business to discuss with Sookie’s guards. Business that is not your place to know.”

“Fine. Talk about your damn vamp business, but Sookie is coming with us, and she’s going to explain what the hell is going on!”

Laughing coldly, Eric countered, “No, she is not. Sookie will tell you nothing of what is happening. I have ordered her not to. You are lucky I care enough for her to protect your pathetic life. I should just let you die and be done with it. You serve no true purpose in her life, but for some reason she values you. I cannot imagine why. Regardless, Sookie is staying, and you are leaving. Now go!”

“Like hell! You can’t order me! You got no right telling me what to do! I don’t know why Sookie puts up with your shit, but I’m done letting you walk around here like you’re some fucking god!” Tara’s hand shot out to slap Eric across the face as she spat, “You take your damn orders and shove them up your ass! I don’t have to obey you and neither does Sookie! You’re nothing! Just another guy on an ego trip! You think since you got fangs you’re better than us, but you’re shit! You don’t control me, and you don’t control Sookie!”

Even those not needing to breathe drew a sharp intake of breath before the room went deadly quiet. The stillness was a palpable thing. Eric’s eyes were hard as stone and his fangs had snapped down the moment Tara slapped him. The beast in him demanded blood, and it was only the terror Sookie felt that held him in check, that and the presence of her hands on his back as she silently begged him through their bond not to kill her friend. He could sense everyone in the room watching him. Their eyes boring holes in him, waiting, judging, expecting. The darkness beat at him savagely and he needed to exert dominance in some way. The bloodlust raged at him. He wanted to kill the girl, tear her throat, rip her heart from her body and squeeze the organ dry till his rapacious hunger was sated. It was taking everything he had to maintain control. He knew that Sookie would never forgive him if he lost himself to his darkness and killed her friend.

Finally he stepped back and mocked, “I cannot control Sookie?”

“No! I’m taking her out of here, and I’m going to talk some sense into her! Make her see she needs to kick you the hell out of her life!”

“Watch me.” Reaching behind him, he grabbed Sookie’s arm and yanked her forward. When she was standing before him beside her friend, he clasped his hands behind his back and commanded, “Kneel, Sookie. Kneel and show them who your Master is.”

Sookie’s eyes widened in horror. She looked up at Eric with disbelief, but he did not look at her. He was staring ahead focusing solely on Tara, his expression an unsettling mix of arrogance and anger. She could feel all the eyes in the room shift to her. She had thought the atmosphere couldn’t become any more uncomfortable, but it just had. She knew why Eric was doing this. She knew he felt cornered, not only by Tara’s overwrought display, but by the truth of the prophecy they’d learned tonight. She knew he wasn’t good with emotions, but this was too much.

“Eric, please don’t make—“

“Kneel, Sookie. Kneel or be punished.”

Eric didn’t take his gaze from the unruly human that had riled him so. He could feel Sookie’s anguish at his order, but it was unavoidable. She would understand. The human had called his power and leadership into question. Normally, he would kill her for such an offense, but as Sookie's friend, he couldn’t. This was his only alternative. He would make amends to Sookie later.

The oxygen in the room had been sucked out. Sookie could feel her heart hammering in her chest as everyone turned to look at her. She was looking at Eric, but he refused to return her gaze. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Tara turn to look at her with an incredulous expression as the thoughts in the room bombarded her.

'She won’t. She’ll tell him to piss off,' Tara thought.

Sam’s thoughts were sad and resigned. He knew she had no other choice. 'Oh cher, I’m so sorry'.

'Sook, wouldn’t … would she?' Lafayette wondered.

'We gotta get the hell away from these people.' It had become a mantra in Eggs’ mind.

Quinn’s thoughts were hot and angry. 'Damn vampire! Making Sookie pay for someone else’s mistakes! Why the hell does everyone think Northman’s the man for her? She would be better off with me!'

Alcide shook his head sadly as he thought, 'This is the last thing she needs. Poor Sookie.'

Their thoughts stormed her defenses. Sookie felt their pity in their minds, and she hated it. She hated it because she knew she couldn’t defy Eric in this instance. She knew if she did, he would punish her in front of them all and it would be far worse than what she was enduring right now. Time had tilted on its axis and the hourglass sand was pouring back, back to when she’d feared Eric, couldn’t trust Eric, hated Eric. Tara had challenged him, roused the darkness in him, and now she would have to pay the price so her friend didn’t. Sookie’s eyes were angry and full of the shock of his betrayal as she slowly sank to her knees. It broke her heart that Eric would force this upon her after their intimacies.

As soon as Eric saw Sookie drop to her knees he demanded, “Who is your Master, Sookie?”

Her voice quavered, pain glistened in her eyes. “You are.”

“Who do you obey?” Eric continued as he glowered at the human friend of his mate who looked on horrified at what was transpiring.

Sookie could feel tears slip down her cheeks. “You.”

“Who owns you?”

“You do.”

Eric sneered, directing his attention back on Tara who had turned to glare at him in rage while her best friend knelt in humiliation beside her. “You see, bloodbag, Sookie knows her place. She knows who is Master. I will allow you this one instance to step out of line with me. As Sookie’s friend, your life will be spared this once, but do not expect such leniency from me again. Never again will you speak to me that way. Never again will you strike me. If you do, I will kill you. Do you understand?”

Tara had watched her best friend, her friend who had never backed down from anyone, sink to her knees and her lungs labored for breath. All her anger had evaporated as she watched Sookie suffer the humiliation. “Sookie, I—“

“Do not speak to my bonded!” Eric’s voice was deadly and black. “You will answer me when I speak to you. Do you understand the words I have spoken, vermin?”

Tara’s eyes misted over. “You’re a monster.”

Eric’s lips curled into a snarl. “You’re just now figuring that out?” His fangs were fully extended and flashed lethally in the soft incandescent light of the room. “Do you understand? Or shall I order Sookie to explain to you just how easily I can force you into obedience?”

“NO!” Tara shook her head rapidly. “I … I understand!”

“Good. Now get out. Go to the guesthouse with the others and do not return until you are summoned.”

No one spoke as Tara walked stiffly away. Sam, Eggs, and Lafayette followed quietly, and the soft click of the back door was the only sound in the house as everyone held suspended, waiting to see what Eric would do. When Eric knew they were gone, he looked down at Sookie. He knew he had just damaged their relationship, but it couldn’t be helped. He had to unite the entire supernatural world under his rule in order to keep her safe. He could not appear weak. It was bad enough he hadn’t struck down the bloodbag for her words. He’d had no other alternative but to make a statement.

Gazing down at Sookie, he saw her hot tears slipping down her pale cheeks as she stared off remotely. He could feel the bitter sense of betrayal inside her, and he knew that things might not be right between them for a long while because of this, but he would worry about that later. Right now, he had to be a king, not a mate. He would ensure Sookie’s safety first, and then he would work once again on her heart.

Reaching down he took Sookie’s arm and pulled her to her feet. “You will return to the bedroom while I speak to the guards about the increase in security measures, my Sookie. I will be along shortly.”

She didn’t look at him. She couldn’t. Her heart was aching. Gran’s words came rushing back hauntingly. Her warning. ‘He’s going to hurt you.’

‘Yes, Gran,’ she acknowledged to herself. ‘He sure has. He’s betrayed me. After all the promises, after all the moments between us, he’s betrayed me anyway.’

 
She stiffened against him and tried to pull from his steely grasp. When he released her arm, she walked straight past him without meeting his gaze. She ignored the feel of everyone’s eyes on her as she climbed the stairs slowly. Pain rolled over her in cold, grey waves. All she could think about was that Eric had just torn down all they’d worked so hard to build. He’d promised not to hurt her for the actions of others when they were at the cabin.

He’d just broken that promise.

She would not forgive him.

2 comments:

  1. Tara is going to be an issue I think. Good thing Sam and Lala have their heads on straight. Eggs is gonna get himself and Tara killed. The council needs to pay for trying to get Quinn killed by antogonizing Eric. Sookie's chosen king… hmmm. I'm with Quinn at this point. She does deserve better. lol for slipping in a Thor POV. LOVE Lala. Eggs is an arse. OOh Sam came out of the closet. Tara is an idiot, but Eric overreacted as always. I hope Sookie doesnt forgive him for this one so easily.

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  2. of all the stupid things Tara has ever done this one tops it... stupid bitch..... maybe Quinn would be better for Sookie but it is not meant to be and he needs to move on. KY

    OOPs
    1-"crisp December air, the weres, Han, and Ivan" Capitalize WERES, it is used as a noun of discription and if lower case it a verb... " the Weres"
    2-again capitalization "Han turned to face the weres." "the Weres"
    3-again "The weres were fierce, grim in their silence" "The Weres"
    4-again "his path of world domination, the weres’ eyes filled with fear and worry" ", the Weres' eyes filled"
    5- sorry again "had just been given, the two weres’ bodies" ",the two Weres' bodies"
    6-sorry again "They knew the were guards would follow along shortly." "the Were guards"
    7-again "The were guards had reached the porch, and she added" "The Were guards"
    8-again "Eric and Sookie stood with Han and Ivan flanking them while the were guards, Sam," "them while the Were guards, Sam"
    9-again "Why do you have were bodyguards?" "Were bodyguards"

    ReplyDelete