Chapter Sixteen: Bonded
Stroking his lover’s cheek with his thumb, Eric leaned over Sookie’s flexible form. She sighed as his frame enveloped her own, while her legs and arms twisted around his neck and waist. Mouths finding one another, it was not difficult for Sookie to recognize his intentions. Apparently the sun had set, and Eric was attempting to make their third mutual exchange more than just an urgent response to whatever had caused the threat against them.
It was easy, falling into the rhythm of their bodies, becoming hypnotized by her increasingly ragged breathing and his undulating hips. There was still a fascination, feeling his member growing against the inside of her thigh despite the numerous times she experienced it. Her own body did not take long to respond as her muscles softened under his touch, her nipples hardened against the friction of his chest against her breasts after he had deftly removed her bra, and the space between her thighs began to liquefy in anticipation.
“I love you,” she whispered while she felt his fingers tugging at the waist of her panties. As she was divested of her final shred of clothing, she tilted her pelvis against the column of flesh that now rested against her abdomen.
“I love you, Sookie,” he whispered, returning the sentiment as his hips drew back and his member aligned with her entrance. Sinking into her inviting warmth, Eric wrapped his arms beneath her shoulders, embracing her tightly as he began to thrust fluidly inside of her.
Moaning softly and welcoming the sedate pace, Sookie kissed his chest and nibbled his collar bone. Her knees flexed, drawing his hips more firmly to hers as her bottom wriggled once he was sheathed as deeply as he could possibly be. Eric hissed at her movements, drawing back enough to find her mouth with his own.
Kissing her, tangling his tongue with hers, and losing his mind in the intimate motions of their bodies, Eric wanted to weep at the sense of completion he was experiencing. In a matter of moments, the woman beneath him would become the epicenter of his world. He would share in her joy and pain for the rest of eternity. He would never again know the loneliness that his fickle Child had only filled for those fleeting spans in time. Sookie would never know abandonment or isolation again. Even while she remained mortal, during the daylight hours when he could not remain aware, she would still feel his presence within her, silent, but reassuring. Always. Forever.
Unable to resist this inviting future, Eric reached for the nightstand to retrieve a dagger. Bringing the blade to his throat, he sliced open a wound, making Sookie’s eyes widen hungrily. Her lips needed no invitation as they wrapped around the incision, drawing his syrupy blood into her mouth.
As the pull of her mouth suckled rhythmically against his neck, Eric’s fangs snapped down and gently pierced the soft flesh protecting her carotid. She was drinking enough of his blood that the injury would be unrecognizable by Monday morning, and Eric yearned to see his marks claiming the skin of her throat for the first time.
At the first mouthful that warmed his stomach, Eric felt a simultaneous explosion inside. Sookie’s formally subdued emotions erupted within him, twinning with his own sensations in such a way that her pleasure and his were inseparable. He could feel both of their climaxes pulsing inside of him. He could feel her love so much strongly than he ever had before, and he would have laughed if he were not already howling in harmony with Sookie’s scream of pleasure.
From the moment she had said she loved him the previous night, he had believed that Sookie’s feelings paled in comparison to his own for her. As the Bond cemented firmly into place, Eric realized now how wrong he had been. The love rolling at him within the Bond now was beyond any affection to which he had been privy. Pam, Godric, Emily… The three closest individuals he had spent centuries, a millennium, knowing had never loved him in the way Sookie now loved him.
Oh, if his silent heart could beat, it would have raced with ecstasy! It would have galloped with overwhelming joy! Its beats would have pounded ‘I LOVE SOOKIE’ in Morse code!
Eric slowly licked her wound closed before burying his face between the crook of her neck and shoulder. He kissed the area over and over while he felt her continual throbbing around his cock as if her orgasm refused to end.
“Are you all right, My Bonded?” Eric whispered against her skin after several minutes had passed and she still continued contracting.
“Mmhmm,” she whimpered. “Please,” she gasped, “calm down. You feel everythin’ so strong, Darlin’, I-I can’t…” she let out another needy sound. “It’s… It’s like I need another orgasm, and the last one hasn’t even stopped yet!” she moaned as she arched against him. Eric smiled against her throat, giving it a playful nibble and making Sookie buck against him. “Ah! Even your touch has a stronger effect on me!” she complained half-heartedly.
“That is to be expected,” he assured.
Sookie groaned. “Why didn’t you warn me about that?” She demanded with another whimper.
“Honestly? I forgot. The finer details of Bonding are not something I put much thought into until recently. I am quite young to have been inclined to Bond. I only just reached the status of ancient a century ago,” he confessed. “Currently, I am the youngest Bonded vampire in our existing history.”
“Pam mentioned as much,” Sookie mumbled wearily as her orgasm finally receded.
“When did you speak to Pam about such things?” Eric asked curiously.
Sookie looked at him in surprise, “Wow, ya’ll really don’t talk about your evenings much, do you?”
Eric shrugged, “Normally our link is enough to keep me abreast of her evening’s activities.”
Sookie sighed, wriggling against her Bonded, and then moaning at the loss when his softening member slipped out of her. She was surprised to feel that loss amplified, quickly realizing that Eric was just as disappointed as her when they were not joined.
“Some time last month… I think it was the day I was put on leave… Anyway, I ran into Pam at the grocery store. She was getting wine for her guest. We got to talking about you. Actually, Pam told me about Emily and Godric that night too, but after I shot Long Shadow, I didn’t want Pam getting in trouble with you, so I never mentioned anything.”
“And now you do not feel the need to protect Pam from me?” Eric asked sternly, but she could feel his amusement so she did not allow herself to get upset by his response.
“No, because everything she told me, you’ve told me by now, so who cares if I knew it beforehand?” Sookie asked.
“I see,” Eric pouted. “How are you feeling?” he asked after a moment.
“You know the answer to that,” she teased.
Content. Tired. Loved. Joyous.
Eric smiled, “Yes, I do.”
Snuggling into his side, Sookie kissed his chest as he began playing with her hair. “You play with my hair a lot,” she commented after a moment.
Eric frowned when she pointed this out, but quickly shrugged it off, “I find it soothing, and since I am trying to keep my emotions in check while you adjust, it is a good distraction for me.”
“Oh, well, thank you for trying to make the transition easier.”
“Speaking of transitions,” Eric began slowly. “What would you say if I asked you to move in with me?” Sookie’s heart panicked at the suggestion, but her emotions came across as only mildly apprehensive. “Are you worried it is too soon?” he guessed.
Sookie let out a deep sigh, “Silly, isn’t it? I just Bonded to you, made an eternal commitment, and I’m thinking moving in is too soon!” She laughed at how backward her brain was working at that moment.
“With all that has changed in the past forty-eight hours, it would not be unwarranted for you to feel pressed or overwhelmed,” he said, trying to placate her self-deprecation.
“I’d love to move in with you, Darlin’,” Sookie told him truthfully. “It’s gonna be a pain breaking my lease though. I guess I can kiss my deposit goodbye.”
“You are not hurting for money though,” Eric pointed out.
“I don’t want your money, Eric,” Sookie rolled her eyes.
“Regardless, it is at your disposal.”
“It is our way, Sookie. Our bloodline shares all of its commodities. We all contribute to its growth one way or another, although I am the one with the best business sense so I am usually the one who keeps track of it,” Eric explained.
“Yes. That is why I cannot put an exact number on our finances. With four extremely successful individuals constantly putting money into our gross net worth, it is rather taxing to bother checking every few hours.”
Sookie shook her head resignedly, “This going to take some getting used to, but how about this?”
“I am listening.”
“If you’re planning on giving me access to your bank accounts, then I want to link my direct deposit to one of your accounts. I know it seems stupid considering my income is pennies in comparison, but I don’t want to feel as if I’m taking out without putting in,” She smirked now. “If the stock market crashes, I want to be just as broke as the rest of you.”
Eric chuckled, “We have more than enough money stowed away in the event of the unforeseeable, but I can agree to that.” He squeezed her to his side before adding, “Now, if your money is my money, and vice versa, then it is not unreasonable of me to assume that I can buy whatever I like for us. Correct?”
Sookie groaned, “Fine, but just like any other couple, we should make big purchases together if it is meant to be ours.”
“What do you consider ‘big purchases’?” Eric frowned.
Sookie’s own mouth creased thoughtfully. What would a big purchase be considered in this context? Eric’s bloodline apparently had enough money to buy and sell small countries.
“Well,” she began slowly, “I guess it would be the frivolous stuff, not really anything specific. I mean, you buying a company would be super expensive, right? Still, I don’t know anything about opening or operating a business, so I shouldn’t have any sway in that regard. Maybe a few centuries down the line, if I get bored and start taking business classes, I can start weighing in, but currently? I think that would be rather arrogant of me to restrict your buying capacities on that front.”
Eric snorted at her explanation, “So basically you are saying I cannot spend money on you.”
“Eric, if there’s something you want to buy me, just ask, okay? I’ll tell you if I’m comfortable with it.”
“What if I wished it to be a surprise?”
Sookie groaned, “That’s right, you like spending money on me.”
“I really do,” he grinned.
“Okay, how about this? If it’s over a grand, you can only get it for me for special events.”
“Birthdays, Christmas, and anniversaries,” She paused. “That reminds me, when’s your birthday?”
“We did not keep track of such things. The most I can say is I was born in winter.”
“Well, that’s easy enough. December through February-”
“My Bonded, Sweden has two seasons. Summer and Winter,” he teased.
Sookie pouted, “We are giving you a birthday. I want to be able to spoil you like you did me.”
“You may choose whatever day you wish,” Eric shrugged. “Now that you are my Bonded, I am spoiled every day.”
“You are one smooth talker, Northman,” Sookie muttered. “Oh, out of curiosity, now that we’re Bonded, does that mean we’re… Married?”
“For all intents and purposes in my world, yes, we are. Of course, most view it more as ‘engaged’ I suppose.” At Sookie’s confused expression, he elaborated, “Many vampires consider the Bond a transitionary stage. It is not until you are turned that they recognize you fully as my mate. Merely untouchable by others.”
“That’s why I can’t use your title as Sheriff?” she checked.
Sookie nodded in understanding before asking, “So, do y’all take each other’s names?”
“Not usually. If you were so inclined, I think I would be rather pleased.”
“I’ll have to look into that,” Sookie said thoughtfully to herself, “So, that’s quite a list for myself already. Looking in to changing my name, getting used to this Bonded business, moving my apartment into your house…”
“There is also detecting the matter that required this series of events,” Eric added. “Although that is mostly my problem to manage.”
“You mean why your queen wanted you to kill me?” Sookie asked. When Eric nodded, Sookie raised her eyebrows. “It’s obvious, isn’t it?”
Eric frowned, “Enlighten me, Dear One.”
“Well, aside from ticketing a few moving violations, the only connection my career has had to vampires were the human trafficking bust last year. You said you were going to look into the ring leader. Wouldn’t the ring leader want me dead?” Feeling Eric’s surprise in the Bond, Sookie remained skeptical. “Okay, I’m gonna guess you had the same thought and are just surprised I made the connection so quickly. I am a detective, you know,” she said huffily.
“Yes, well, humans are not particularly astute as to catch on to vampire reasoning,” Eric confessed. “Even exceptional investigators such as yourself.”
“You came to the same conclusion as me, right?” Sookie asked.
“I did,” Eric sighed. “Proving it is an entirely other matter. Michael will be hard-pressed to turn on his Queen, and I cannot stand idly by as my Regent conducts her sphere of influence in such a manner.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means I must open a discrete investigation of her and that will not be simple to do given that she is my Queen.”
Sookie played with the dusting of his chest hair while she considered all her Bonded was saying. “She’s not going to attempt to kill me again, is she?” she asked quietly after a moment.
Eric’s hand paused in playing with her hair, and Sookie felt a small flare of panic in him that caused her own body to go rigid. After the brief slip, Eric resumed twisting her locks between his fingers. “It is a possibility, though extremely unlikely. I remain prepared for it, but the thought of her attempting to take action against you would be suicidal. Sophie-Anne is well aware of our laws. She cannot command me against you, and she cannot kill you without a trial.”
“Trial?” Sookie asked.
Eric looked at her in surprise, “I have told you that it is unlawful to kill another vampire’s Bonded, but there are certain exceptions. If half of a Bonded pair is accused of grievances that call for the Final Death, a trial must be held to determine if the demand is just, and then a secondary trial is held for the innocent half of the couple. If the innocent half is deemed too valuable to give True Death, then the council will find alternative means of punishing the guilty. If the innocent half is not particularly useful or necessary, the pair is put to death.”
A shiver ran down Sookie’s spine, “So if I screwed up really bad my first few years, I could get us both killed?”
“Were you planning on going on a mass murder spree? Or killing vampires unjustly?”
“I hadn’t planned on it,” Sookie frowned.
“Then you have very little to worry about, Dear One. Those are the only two crimes you could commit as a vampire that could result in our mutual deaths.”
“Oh, well, then I guess we’re good,” Sookie retorted. For some strange reason, she had figured vampires were more prone to killing one another without justification. She was obviously mistaken. “You guys have laws as severe as humans about the ending of another vampire’s life?”
“Yes and no,” Eric answered while he contemplated her question for a few moments. “We do not execute our kind without difficulty, but once they are tried and sentenced, action is taken immediately. Our kind is more often killed by humans than vampires. As a matter of fact, your kind is more often killed by humans than vampires.”
Sookie’s mood turned solemn, “That’s sad.”
“It is,” Eric agreed. “Yet, to look at it from the proper perspective, humans have a much larger population than vampires. Of the entire world population, do you want to guess what percentage of it is vampire?” Eric quizzed.
“.005%,” Sookie replied. When Eric’s eyes widened in disbelief, Sookie shook her head in exasperation. “We had all kinds of training about vampire minorities and blah, blah, blah,” she told him.
“I see. Well, your memory is quite excellent,” he complimented.
“What are some instances that would result in the True Death if a vampire wasn’t Bonded?” Sookie asked.
“Well, treason, for one,” Eric answered. “Of course, the severity of the treason will bring less grave repercussions. You see, when I told the Queen I would not kill you, that would have only resulted in a fine. My telling her you were my Bonded was what could have brought on my death.”
Sookie stared at him, bewildered, “Then why did you tell her that!? If you could have only gotten fined-”
“She would have found someone else to kill you. Telling her you were Bonded to me was the only way to keep you safe and out of her hands,” Eric told her.
“That was so stupid, Eric!” Sookie scolded. “What if I’d refused and run off instead? Then what would you have done?” she demanded.
“I would have fled with Pam,” he stated plainly. “Or potentially taken Sophie-Anne’s throne. More likely the latter, though I have no ambition to be King.”
“Then why do it?” Sookie asked him softly.
“Because I could stay near you and be there when you accept me as yours.”
“Sounds like a lot of trouble just for me,” Sookie muttered, but Eric could hear her heart accelerate and feel her guilty pleasure at knowing how much she meant to him.
“You are worth all the trouble in the world,” he assured, earning another surge of that Guilty Pleasure from her side of the Bond.
“Well, if that’s the case,” Sookie began coyly, “how about we go back to my place and start packing?”
“My pleasure, Sookie,” Eric smiled.
Over all, the task of packing and moving her belongings from her apartment to Eric’s house did not take very long. Renting a trailer and purchasing boxes for the sudden change in residence was the most time-consuming task once Eric warped into vampire speed to swiftly stow her possessions.
Shortly after midnight, Sookie stared in wonderment as her entire apartment was stuffed into the spare bedroom in Eric’s house. Thankfully, nearly all of the furniture had come with the apartment, and only the mattress needed a home amongst all of the boxes. Eric quickly cleared space in his closets, dresser, and bathroom for Sookie’s necessities. Around one in the morning, Sookie flopped onto Eric’s bed with a sigh.
“You did all the work, and I still feel exhausted,” Sookie moaned.
Smiling, Eric moved up beside her and nuzzled Sookie’s neck. “It was emotionally taxing, and this day has been enough of a strain as it is,” he crooned soothingly. “You should sleep, Dear One. You have work in the morning.”
Nodding sleepily, Sookie began squirming halfheartedly out of her clothes until Eric helped her wriggle herself free. Naked and exhausted, the young woman fell asleep in her vampire’s cool embrace.
Eric remained in bed holding Sookie until he heard his phone beckoning. He did not need to look at the caller I.D. to know who it was calling him.
“Good evening, Master,” Eric spoke softly into the phone as he left the bedroom as not to disturb his sleeping mate.
“You are Bonded!” Godric exclaimed over the line. “I have felt your emotions shifting this direction for some time now, but I did not expect you to actually go through with it! You are barely into your first millennia, Eric. You do not think it is too soon?”
“No,” Eric replied, “it is her, and will always be her.”
Godric sighed from hundreds of miles away, but Eric could feel the disappointment as though his Master was in the room with him. “Eric, you have never been the impulsive type. It is unlike you to make such changes so… Willingly.”
“As you recognized Emily, I recognized Sookie. It cannot be helped that she came into my existence so much earlier than Emily came into yours,” Eric argued.
“I am not envious, Young One,” Godric assured. “I would never begrudge you the search in finding your Mate. I am just concerned that you might have misread the signals and rushed into something you cannot take back. You are so young to feel the compulsion. It is difficult for me to believe this was genuine,” Godric admitted.
“You have felt me these past couple months. Do you really believe this was not genuine?” Eric demanded.
“I did not say that. I said it was difficult to believe, not that I did not believe it,” Godric assured. “Why did you Bond so suddenly? Why did you not wait?”
“It is not something I can discuss over the phone. I shall bring Sookie to meet you soon, and we will explain everything.”
“I look forward to meeting her. Emily is equally excited,” Godric told him. It was easy to hear the adoration that poured from Godric’s lips when he spoke his Bonded’s name. Eric wondered idly if the same happiness could be heard in his own voice whenever he spoke Sookie’s name.
“We look forward to seeing the two of you,” Eric replied.
“Until then,” Godric whispered and hung up.
Eric looked at his silent phone for a long moment before heading back to bed. He grabbed his laptop on the way, and curled up against Sookie to begin looking into Sophie-Anne’s movements. Though he knew it would be suicidal for his Queen to make another attempt on Sookie’s life, Eric was not taking any chances. He needed to shut down her monarchy.
Sookie awoke to the feel of Eric’s kisses fluttering against her back leaving her with a goofy smile on her face. “Best way to wake up,” she purred, giving in to a yawning stretch. She turned in his arms and captured his mouth with hers to receive a perfect ‘good morning’ kiss. “Mornin’,” she murmured, tangling her fingers in his hair.
“Good morning,” he returned, twisting her own golden strands around his fingertips. “How did you sleep?”
“Very well, thank you.”
“I will miss you while you are gone,” he whispered.
Sookie rolled her eyes with a giggle, “You’ll be dead for the day. I think you’ll survive.”
“Are you going to your grandmother’s after work?” Eric asked.
“Of course,” she frowned. “I always do.”
“Will you come to Fangtasia when you return to Shreveport? We should publicize our Bonding to my Area.”
“Oh,” Sookie hesitated. “Is there anything special I need to do… Or wear?” she asked.
Eric laughed and shook his head, “No. It is just customary to present one’s Bonded to their subordinates so that they recognize you on sight. They would know that you were Bonded, but not to whom, just as they will know I am Bonded when I go to the club.”
“Does Pam know?”
“I have been shielding it from her up until now, but I have a feeling she may suspect. I do not normally block her.”
“Will she be mad?” Sookie asked worriedly.
Eric chuckled. “She will most certainly be concerned, but not angry. However, it is not her right to question me. Godric is the only one with that right and he has already spoken his peace.”
“Is he angry?” Sookie whispered, her beautiful eyes round with fear and the Bond wept with Dejection.
“Again, concerned,” Eric assured her. “My Maker knows me very well, and my actions toward you were construed as more than spontaneous. I am not impulsive by nature. Also, my youth increased Godric’s worries.”
“Youth?” Sookie gasped.
Her Bonded grinned impishly. “I am quite young to Bond.”
Sookie frowned, “Well, what does that say about Emily and me? We’re even younger than you two, and we committed to an eternity…”
Eric’s grin softened to a smile, “That is true, but that is also the prime reason vampires are so old when the compulsion to Bond strikes us. We reach that state of mind, not only because we begin seeking an unbreakable commitment, but also when we are capable of recognizing the one who will be our perfect counterpart. It is not just about being old, Sookie. It is about being aware of our own needs as well as the needs of our potential mate.” At Sookie’s puzzled expression, Eric elaborated, “When you first asked me to begin a sexual exchange, I told you to make me aware of your needs so that I could meet them. I did not do that because it was my usual way of taking on a sexual partner. I asked that of you because I wanted to be what you needed so that you would stay with me.”
“Sounds a bit underhanded,” Sookie replied, somewhat ungraciously.
“Perhaps, but I wanted to be those things for you. Not to manipulate you for my lone benefit, but because I wish to make you happy. You have seen a bit of the monster I am, but just as you are not ‘Detective Stackhouse’ when you are with me, I am not ‘Sheriff Northman’ when I am with you. You allow yourself to be vulnerable with me, and I allow myself to be kind with you. That does not mean I cannot be kind with others, just as it does not mean you cannot allow yourself to be open around others. We proved that on Saturday night,” Eric reminded.
Sookie remembered how at ease she had felt around the top brass and politicians at the fundraiser, and how charismatic Eric had been.
“I guess I never really thought about the different faces we wear… Or how each of those faces can be equally genuine…”
“What do you believe is your true face?” Eric asked.
Thinking a moment, Sookie replied, “I think they’re all me, but none are as severe as they seem or I allow.” At Eric’s curious expression, she continued, “I mean, you’ve seen the shy, vulnerable me, but I’m not really a shy or vulnerable person. People at work see the hard ass, commanding me, but I’m not really that either. I’m whoever I need to be to get the job done, but when it’s just you and me? When I don’t need walls or filters… I think I’m stronger. I’m strong enough to let you see me at my weakest. I’ve never had that before. I wanted to pull away at times because it scared me, but I didn’t. I’m too happy, too carefree, when I’m with you. I don’t need a face when I’m with you. You see through all of it, so what’s the point of wearing one?”
Smiling, Eric leaned in and kissed her deeply before leaning his forehead onto hers saying, “Ditto.” Giving her a tight squeeze, and planting another kiss on her nose, Eric murmured, “Now, I should let you get on with your day.”
A soft smile drew Sookie’s lips outward and she nodded, “I’ll see you tonight at Fangtasia. I love you.”
“As I love you,” Eric responded, a deep melancholy ringing through him as she crawled out of their bed.
Sookie quickly dressed in some sweats and went running with Mags and Junes before coming home to shower and dress for work. When she arrived at the precinct, every Were with whom she worked had explosions of thoughts and opinions.
‘What did she do!?’
‘She Bonded to Northman!?’
‘Shit, how much longer do we get to keep her?’
The last thought was Trent’s and she looked at her cadet buddy considerately. “Hey, Ben,” she greeted in a more subdued manner than usual.
“Hey, Sook,” Trent replied hoarsely, but quickly cleared his throat almost as if he realized he had betrayed his insider information with his tone.
“Do you want to grab lunch with me today? There’s some stuff I want to talk to you about,” she whispered.
“Sure. Where do you want to go?” he asked quietly, as if they were conspiring against the government.
“Somewhere quiet. It’s… Personal.”
Trent’s face fell, “Okay, I know a place.” ‘Shit, she’s gonna leave. She’s taking me to lunch to tell me she’s quitting the force.’
Sookie paused before telling him, “It’s not what you think it is.”
‘I doubt that,’ Trent thought sulkily. “Yeah, all right.”
The telepath went through the remainder of her morning at her desk. Homicides were at a low point currently, leaving Sookie doing paper pushing for Robbery and Larceny. Nevertheless, the entire department knew that with warm weather’s approach, homicides became more prevalent as tempers rose along with the heat index.
When one o’clock came, Trent walked over to Sookie’s desk to go to lunch. His mood was just as grim as it had been earlier. While Trent rode with her instructing her to his favorite lunch hide-away, Sookie began to feel increasingly guilty as she listened to his mournful thoughts.
Sitting in a deserted diner, Sookie squirmed in their corner booth, patiently listening as the waiter went over the specials, and partially dreading the server’s departure. As he left to get their drinks, Sookie looked at Trent nervously.
“What is it, Sookie?” Trent finally demanded once their drinks were sitting in front of them and Sookie still had yet to say anything.
“I-I’m going to tell you something that only four people other than myself know,” Sookie stammered.
‘Here it comes,’ Trent sighed internally.
“I’m not hyper-observant,” she faltered. “I’m a telepath.” Trent snorted. “Which means I know that you’re actually a… Were,” she whispered. Trent held his breath. “I know that the captain is too, and several other officers in the precinct. Oh, and your wife,” she added. “I try to not listen more than I have to,” she began to babble, “but over the years, I’ve kind of just caught on-”
“Sookie,” Trent stopped her, “why are you telling me this?”
“It’s how I knew so much of the stuff that seems impossible for me to know. It’s why sometimes I answer things strangely, because I hear the unfiltered question. Like that time when you were thinking I smelled like Eric, but said something else. Your words and thoughts were so similar, I responded to the wrong remark.”
“But why are you telling me this?” Trent pressed.
“Because I’m Bonded now, and Were Trent knows what that means. I need someone to talk to, and you’re the only friend I have,” she admitted. “I thought it was only fair that since I know your secret, you should know mine…”
“You have known all this time,” Trent glowered.
“Yes, and I’ve kept your secret as safely as I’ve kept my own,” Sookie assured. “I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you sooner, that I kept it from you when you couldn’t guard your own, and I know it isn’t fair, but I’m trying-”
“Stop,” Trent held up his hand to halt her onslaught of nervous babbling. She could sense him processing this new information, but did not intrude on his thoughts. Waiting apprehensively, Sookie twisted her fingers in front of her. “So, you can hear my every thought?”
Sookie shook her head, “No, I can block to an extent, but my ability has grown stronger over the years. Before, your kind were really difficult for me to hear, but over the years, it’s become more clear. As far as I know, vampires are the only silent species to me.”
“Is that how you found Marla in that bayou?”
“Yes, and how I saved that stupid rookie from getting shot in the head at Nina’s house.”
“Wow,” Trent placed his head in his hands while he continued to absorb this information.
“Are you mad at me?” Sookie asked.
“You should know,” Trent barked a laugh.
Sookie shook her head, “I’m not listening to you right now. I try to give people privacy whenever I can. I found out about your kind during my first few years on the force. I was trying to keep tabs on if anyone suspected what I could do.”
Trent shook his head, “No one would have ever suspected this.”
Nodding in agreement, Sookie began tentatively, “I need to ask you for a favor.”
Straightening his back, Trent met her gaze, “Shoot.”
“As you know, I’m Bonded now. Eric warned me that my days as an officer would be numbered if we Bonded, but I don’t want to leave the force.”
“Then why did you Bond?”
“The Queen of Louisiana ordered Eric to kill me. He Bonded with me to keep me safe,” Sookie whispered.
Trent’s eyes widened. “Why would Sophie-Anne want you dead?!”
“We think she’s connected to a case I worked and she sees me as a fly in the ointment. Don’t be surprised if Compton up and leaves this week.”
“He was sent up here to seduce and kill me,” Sookie shrugged, and Trent balked at her blasé response. “Now that he can’t complete his mission, he’ll probably return to wherever he came from.”
“Vamps don’t attack law enforcement,” Trent protested.
“Hence the seduction part of the plan, if a vampire was known to be my lover, the Weres wouldn’t think twice about that vampire’s scent being all over me, even at my death site.”
“So, what’s your favor?” Trent asked, still trying to reconcile all of this new information.
“I want to stay on the force, but if I’m in too much danger, the Bond will compel me to quit. I need your help pitching an idea to the captain using me to focus on interrogations and less time in the field. You can work that with him Were to Were. I can’t. A human wouldn’t know the first thing about Bondeds, and it would be impossible for him to interpret from a human viewpoint. I couldn’t just agree to it because he’d never be able to explain it to the higher ups. If you two could come to an agreement with the other departments over using me as lead interrogator, given my success record…?”
“What about IA?”
Sookie made a face. “I’d really hate to work for IA. I feel two-faced enough about the anonymous tips I’ve had to give them over the years… It was all serious stuff though. I didn’t out anyone for their relationships or anything,” she assured.
“I take it we’re leaving your gift out of our interrogation pitch?” Trent guessed.
“If we can. The fewer people who know, the better,” Sookie nodded.
“I’ll see what I can do,” Trent assured her. “You realize IA will be the department that tries to use you the most, right?”
“Then everyone else better keep me busy!”
After that, the pair ate lunch in comfortable conversation, and Sookie felt some of her dread seep away as the day turned to afternoon. When they arrived back at the plaza, Sookie went to her desk and an hour later, she watched Trent enter Captain Kleinman’s office.
Around four, the captain called Sookie to his office.
“Stackhouse, take a seat,” Kleinman gestured to the chair in front of his desk. “I’ve been kicking an idea around in my head for a while now, and I wanted to run it by you before speaking to the other department heads.”
“Sure, Captain. What is it?”
“Your success rate in interrogation is unmatched, and I believe the entire precinct could benefit from your hyper-observation. We’ve never been a large enough station to need an interrogation unit, but I think I could convince the Chief to make an exception. You’d still be ranked in Homicide, but you would do the interrogations for any department that requests you,” Kleinman eyed her tensely. ‘Please let her agree. Trent thinks this is the best way to keep this Bonding fiasco from taking her away from us. We’ll keep you safe, Sookie! Don’t leave!’ “What do you think?” he finally asked.
Sookie pretended to consider his offer before answering him with a smile, “I think that would be an interesting way to utilize my abilities, Captain. As long as I can still say you’re my boss, I’ll do whatever you think is best.”
The captain’s shoulders relaxed and he nodded more to himself than Sookie’s reply. “I’ll start working on getting it past the Chief,” Kleinman paused a moment before adding, “Why don’t you head on out? Get to your Gran’s early so you can be home by dusk?” he suggested. The more she can see her Bonded, the more likely she’ll stay on the force…
Sookie smiled, “Thanks, it would be good to see her in the afternoon again.”
Rising from the chair, she shook her boss’s hand and left. Swiftly going to her desk to collect her belongings, Sookie waved to Trent and tried to express her gratitude to the Were through her expression. When he smiled at her with a nod, Sookie returned the gesture and left the office.
The drive to Bon Temps was uneventful. Sookie greeted Patty with a small smile and headed to Gran’s bedroom. Somehow in the last twenty-four hours, Adele seemed much worse than she had during any of their previous visits. The elderly woman’s decline seemed to have accelerated again. Sookie sat in the chair beside her Gran’s bed and placed her head on the mattress so that her cheek rested against Adele’s shoulder.
“Hello, Dear,” Gran whispered with her eyes closed.
“Hi, Gran,” Sookie whispered in return.
“What’s the good word, Sookie?” Gran asked slowly.
Sookie smirked without realizing she was. “Eric and I kind of…got married last night.” She could hear the machines that monitored the older woman’s heart accelerate. “At least by his kind’s standards.”
“Oh, Sookie, I’m so happy for you!” Gran coughed and reached weakly to pat Sookie’s hand.
“I am also being put mostly on desk duty from here on out, interrogation mostly.”
“That’s a relief!” Gran sighed contently. “You didn’t do all this for me, did you?”
Sookie shook her head, “No, I did it for me…and for Eric. He officially moved me into his house last night.”
“That’s a lot of changes, Sookie!” Gran chastised.
“Maybe,” Sookie shrugged, “but it’s what I want.”
Gran’s eyes widened marginally at her declaration, “Sookie, I think that’s the first time I ever heard you honestly use that statement.”
“What are you talking about?” Sookie frowned.
“Well, when you said you wanted to be a police officer, it was obvious that you were doing it out of an obligation to use your gift. When you came home with Mags and Junes, it was obvious you didn’t want two dogs, but couldn’t leave the last one behind. When you pushed away everyone you knew besides me, you only did it because you’d been hurt and abandoned so much, you were trying to not feel that way again… Oh, darlin’ girl, to see you happy, that’s all I ever wanted. Now I have…”
“Gran,” Sookie eyed her fearfully, “don’t let go just yet!”
“Sookie, you don’t have any more control over when my time’s up than I do,” Gran pointed out.
The granddaughter bowed her head, distraught with concern, touching her Gran’s withered hands and trying to memorize the feel of sharp reinforcements of bones and tendons as well as the texture of soft, thin skin. They were cold, so unlike the touch Sookie remembered. There was no warmth left in them, no strength, no comfort.
Pulling away, Sookie batted away a traitorous tear. “I wish I could be stronger for you, Gran,” Sookie choked out a sob. “You don’t deserve the added stress of my sadness-”
“Don’t say that, Sookie,” Gran soothed. “Soon, I won’t have any worries. I’ll be with your granddaddy and my children again. There’s nothing scary for me, Dear.”
Nodding again, Sookie pushed the sweat-dampened hairs from Adele’s forehead, “You should rest more, Gran. You talked a lot. I’ll be back tomorrow,” Sookie assured her, leaning forward to kiss Adele’s cheek before rising from her chair.
“I love you, Sookie,” Gran murmured.
“I love you too, Gran.”
With that parting remark, Sookie left the little farmhouse and wandered absently to her car. The drive home was both the longest and shortest of her life. Long, because there was nothing to distract her from the all-consuming dread that she had just had her final conversation with her grandmother. Short, because she was so trapped with that paralyzing fear of not remembering the drive at all.
A few minutes before she was pulling into the subdivision, she felt Comfort flood her, and Sookie’s eyes overflowed with tears. Choking on sobs, Sookie pointed the car into the driveway, parked, and shut off the ignition before dissolving into chest-heaving cries. A sense of Pleading tore through her heart, and Sookie knew that her Bonded wanted her to come to bed where he could hold and comfort her. She sent Longing back to him, but still could not make her body listen. She remained frozen in the driver’s seat, uncontrollable sobs shaking her. It was becoming harder to breathe and she could not see through her tears.
The woman felt her sorrow vanish so suddenly that she hiccupped in the middle of a sob, blinking away tear remnants as she mechanically climbed out of her car as if possessed. Sookie felt as her body was lured, jerkily coming to the bedroom doors and punching in the security code. When the alarm disengaged, Eric’s arms swept her into his body and he carried Sookie to bed. Once in his arms Strength and Apathy vanished, and Sookie felt like a boomerang as the dark gloom permeated her mind once again.
Her cries came harder than ever now that she was no longer shielded by his will, like the wearing away of anesthesia on a grievous wound. She howled in his ear, never having known pain as she felt right then, nor experienced the recoil of numbness to such pain.
“I am sorry, my Sookie,” Eric apologized as he cradled her against his body. “You were so paralyzed. I did not think-”
“Just ho-hold me,” Sookie sobbed, clinging to him unrelentingly.
“Has she passed?” Eric asked quietly.
Sookie shook her head, “I-it’s comin’! God, it’s coming!” she wailed.
“Oh, Dear One,” Eric crooned, squeezing her tightly to himself as they rocked back and forth. “You will get through this.”
Violently shaking her head, Sookie protested, “I don’t want to get through it. I don’t want to be anywhere near it! I want to run away and pretend it isn’t happening! I want to-”
“Shh,” Eric soothed. “If you ran away, you would never forgive yourself. I will be here, right beside you, Sookie. Scream, fight, cry. I will hold you through it all.”
“Eric,” she cried, “never leave me!” She clutched at the front of his shirt. “I c-can’t bear it anymore! I can’t bear being left behind anymore!”
“I cannot leave you, my Bonded, and I would never wish to leave you,” He gently kissed her forehead as he continued rocking her back and forth. As the intensity of her sobs began to subside, Eric began leaning her back to lie down. “Rest, my Sookie. Try to close your eyes and rest.”
Her turmoil was earth-shattering for the vampire, not only because of the Bond, but the despair it gave him seeing her this way. He wanted to see his Bonded happy, and he knew it would be quite some time before she would recover from such a powerful loss. There was a desire to take her pain away, but he knew when he died for the day the struggle would only return tenfold as it had from the short distance between her car and their bedroom.
“We should stay in this evening,” Eric whispered against her ear as she sniffled into his chest. “You are in no condition for taking on Fangtasia.”
Shaking her head violently, Sookie wiped away the stream of tears only to have it immediately flood her cheeks once more. “N-no, we gotta make sure other vamps see us Bonded!”
“Sookie,” Eric tried to protest, “you are hurting so much-”
“I-I’ll be okay,” she argued around her sobs, and Eric could feel a building hysteria. “I’ll shower, I’ll change clothes, I’ll run with the girls, I’ll get it outta my system, I’ll-”
“Shh, shh,” Eric squeezed her against his chest. “It is all right, Sookie. Relax. Bonding hysteria is quite common. No one would be surprised if you needed a couple evenings to re-center yourself. There is no hurry.” He kissed the crown of her head before smoothing her hair. “You have no reason to worry yourself further about Fangtasia. We will stay in, order you some food, and relax. All right?”
“O-okay,” she agreed, new tears spilling from her eyes. “I s-swear, I’m n-not this un-unbalanced!”
Eric chuckled humorlessly. “I know, Dear One. These past few evenings have been a greater strain than you have let on. If I were to lose Godric, I am certain I would be in equal distress.”
“She isn’t even gone yet, and-and-”
“I know, Sookie,” Eric whispered.
“Why can’t I be stronger?” she demanded.
“You are strong,” Eric assured. “You are a woman who loves deeply, Sookie. That is not weak. Hurting is not weak.” His fingers combed through her hair while Sookie sniffled against his chest. After some time had passed, he felt her emotions calming on their own, and he craned his neck to kiss the top of her head. “Feeling better?” he asked gently.
“A bit,” she admitted, rubbing her damp cheeks against his chest. “God, I’m sick of all this crying!” she lamented with frustration.
“Would a run help?” Eric asked, immediately feeling a jolt of enthusiasm in the Bond.
“Yes, please,” Sookie agreed, moving to crawl off the bed.
Eric smirked as he followed her, putting on an A-shirt and track pants, knowing Sookie found it awkward when he ran in jeans and a button down. His woman put on similar clothes, though instead of ratty sweats, she now had skin tight leggings and a tank top that flattered her toned body and all of its appealing roundness. Rarely could Eric find a woman with athletic arms and legs but also a soft torso and hips. The definition of her abdomen was subtle in comparison to her limbs, making her body all the more seemingly supple and welcoming.
The vampire followed his mate to the living room where she leashed her dogs and took them to the front door. Eric grabbed the house key and put it in his pocket before they locked up and started their journey. He let her lead, mimicking her pace while she warmed up her body to truly begin running. When she was good and heated, Eric hesitated a moment as she took off sprinting before quickly catching up.
Mags was jubilantly keeping stride with her mistress, and Junes was staggering to keep up with the pair. Eric chuckled at the unfortunate beast’s lack of speed.
Suddenly, Eric’s amusement vanished and he caught Sookie at the waist, urging her to slow down.
“What is it?” Sookie panted as they came to a stop. She could feel Eric’s Agitation, and she looked around frantically for an explanation.
“We are being watched,” Eric whispered. “Did she think I was lying to her?” he called into the darkness, and Sookie flinched at the distortion of air and sudden appearance of Bill Compton.
“She merely wished for confirmation,” Bill explained, looking unsettled at being so near Eric.
“You can confirm for her then,” Eric snarled. “I would also appreciate your immediate departure from Area Five. I am not known for obliging informants.”
Bill nodded, “I will be returning to New Orleans tomorrow evening.”
“Good. Anything else I need to be made aware of before your departure?”
Shaking his head, Bill muttered, “The Queen is displeased at the turn of events.”
“I would assume so,” Eric growled.
Sookie’s head inclined in response to Eric’s tone. She did not know what made her feel so meek in the presence of Compton, of all people! Perhaps it was the underlying rage her Bonded was experiencing. Maybe it was her new role in the world of vampires. Whatever the reason, Sookie felt suddenly ill-informed of the events transpiring around her, and her automatic response was to shut up and listen, to draw as little attention to herself as possible.
“She believes that you were not Bonded when you made your claim,” Compton told him.
“Sophie-Anne has no reason to believe otherwise. You can see our connection, Compton,” Eric snapped. “If the Bond had been forced, you would be able to see that. She is not a blood slave.”
Bill shrugged, “You could have scared her into the Bond. Did he tell you that he would be killed if it were known he lied to his Queen?” Bill asked as he sneered at Sookie, and the woman felt Eric’s Warning in the Bond. It may have been her years as a telepath, but Sookie was certain that warning meant ‘He wants you to doubt me.’
Sookie turned her head to Bill Compton and sneered right back. “Our Bond is one of love. Eric did not manipulate me into Bonding with him, and he did not lie to his Queen,” she stated firmly. “Each one of our exchanges were happy accidents.”
Bill snorted, “The Viking does not have ‘accidents’.”
Sookie smirked at Bill’s disgusted tone, “You’ve never been overcome in the heat of the moment, Compton? What unimpressive lays you must have. I would guess the disappointment is mutual?”
Eric roared with laughter at her comment, making Bill scowl with anger, “I will be certain to inform our Queen that the Bond is genuine.”
“You do that, Billy,” Eric was still laughing softly. “Now, if you will excuse us, we would like to continue our run.” Grumbling, the younger vampire sped off into the darkness and Sookie looked to her Bonded uneasily. “You think I manipulated the circumstances of our Bond?” Eric asked of her concern.
Shaking her head, Sookie assured him, “No, I don’t think that…”
“Why are you nervous then?” Eric asked.
Playing with the loop of her dogs’ leads, Sookie admitted, “I just realized how… Subject I am to vampire rules now, and… It unsettles me.”
“Why does it unsettle you?” he encouraged her to share her concerns with him.
“Because I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know the rules, not really…”
“But I do,” Eric reminded. “I will always lead you down the safest path of our world.”
Sookie shook her head in frustration. “I don’t like not knowing the rules, Eric. I am a woman who upholds the law,” An ironic grin flit across her lips. “The wife of the Sheriff can’t be seen disregarding the law, right?”
“The shoe is on the other foot now, is it not?” Eric teased right back.
“I suppose so. Y’all don’t have a training guide, do you? Or a few text books on vampire law?”
Eric chuckled, shaking his head, “No, my Bonded. It is up to the Maker, or in our case Bonded, to teach their Child or Mate the laws.”
With a playfully frustrated sigh, Sookie took Eric’s hand, “I think the girls and I are ready to head back to the house now.”
“So soon?” Eric was surprised. They had only run for a little over a half hour.
Sookie nodded, “Yup. I’m gonna order a pizza, we’re gonna pop in a crappy old movie, and we’re gonna talk all about vampire laws.”
“It is a date,” Eric agreed.