“I want you to teach me how to fight,” he said to her that night over dinner. “I want to be ready to beat them if I need to, protect you if I need to.”
“Them?” she asked raising an eyebrow at him.
“Fae, Vampires, Shifters, whatever monster is out there coming for us.” She hesitated, looking at him as though she could see through him into his heart.
“I have promised that I will share my thoughts and my actions with you, and you have been brave enough to try and accept them.”
“Yes, you have, Sookie.”
“You are already a warrior, Eric. Your weapons are of a different nature. Your empathy, your viewpoints, your beliefs are key to being able to do what you need to do, more than any sword could ever be.”
“They hear you because you speak. They listen because you are one of them.”
“Yes, I have heard that I am ‘mostly human’ before, but I have no idea what that means.”
“When I was with Older Eric he knew what you have not realized and fully accepted. You are more than human.”
“Meaning that somewhere in my family woodpile I have a supernatural ancestor?” She nodded. “What was it?” She shook her head.
“You think in terms of ‘monsters’ and ‘others’ and ‘it’ while you struggle to grasp that we all have the most important thing in common. Something that binds us all together irrevocably.”
“And that would be what?”
“We all bleed. We all die.”
The surgical precision of her words cut him, but she wasn’t done. “I was made from the best of us all in a time when the need was great. I was trained by a group of supernaturals who wanted nothing to do with each other until you brought them together for a common cause. You showed them a greater concern that could destroy everything they knew. It made centuries of blood feuds and pettiness show themselves clearly for what they were. You did that for humans and supernaturals. You did the impossible!” she said fiercely, leaning closer to him to press the importance of her words on him. Her passion took his breath away. “From that act of bravery and selflessness I was born.
“Still, in this place and in this time, I am an abomination to them all. You must understand, Eric. Warlow may covet me for his own ends but if the supernatural populace at large discovered what I am they would hunt me to the ends of the Earth.” She paused, taking a breath to calm herself.
“Those little souls, those flickering little lights out there in the dark huddled around their computers and their televisions waiting for a voice to rise up and tell each of them, the supernatural and the humans alike, that they are seen, they accepted, they are necessary and above all else that they are loved, they need you to be the man you are. They need your compassion and your warmth. They need you to reach in and offer them a chance to rise up and be all that their dreams tell them they can be.”
“And what of you, Sookie? Don’t you need me at all?”
“Yes, but the needs of the many…” he smiled and blinked the moisture from his eyes.
“Spock? You’re quoting Spock to me?” She shrugged.
“Truth comes to us in many forms.”
“Yes it does,” he agreed looking deeply into her eyes. “And this is mine. I need you. I need to keep you safe. It is imperative that I do. Because you remind me to love. I spoke to them before I knew you and maybe I was doing something then, too, but I didn’t feel it like I do now that I have you by my side. Now, I look at you and I see every one of them. I feel every one of them and my words have weight. My words have resonance that even I can hear.
“You, my love for you gives me resonance. I know I have a lot to figure out. I’m still getting some of it wrong. But any chance I have of getting it right is tied up in my heart more than my brain and my heart belongs to you. When I think of what you have been through, what you have done to be here with me right now in this moment I know that you are not only the best of them, you are the best of me as well.”
She could feel how much he believed that as he spoke the words. She thought of all the ways she had seen this man be since she had stepped into his life in that diner in Shreveport and the growth and change humbled her. That he gave her credit for his changes, his strengths was not something she could sit silently on.
“The distance you have traveled is your own journey, Eric. That I have been with you is a gift to me and nothing more. I am only here to protect you, and the fact that you let me love you is more than I had ever hoped for since this started.” She rose then, moving toward him with a lithe grace that made his throat constrict at its beauty. “To touch you,” she said quietly, her hand coming up to his face and lighting there gently. “To kiss you,” she her lips gave his cheek a feather light caress. “To turn to you when I need, when I want to feel you with my body, with my entire being, these are gifts to me and I accept them, humbled that you can find it in your heart to see me and welcome me into your embrace making me feel at home for the first time I can ever recall.”
She was standing so close to him, still leaning down so that her words went right into his ear and traveled around his body making his heart pound and swell. She had owned him in her few sentences, her few ragged gestures that accompanied them. He wanted to let the tide of her take him away to a place where he could show her in action how she touched him with her every deed, but he needed her to understand. Taking a deep breath he pulled her closer, his large hands so gentle on her body, so intense in their need to touch her that it telegraphed through her as it had him.
“But that’s just it,” he said into her ear, kissing her face as she had his. “In you is a bit of them all, You teach me every day the best of what they can be. I think I must be saying it poorly and for that I am so, so sorry, Sookie, but I am doing my best.” He paused, taking several more deep breaths before he tried again. “You stand before me and to me you are them, and you are mine. In you they are mine. You will teach my foolish heart to love them all…as it loves you.”
She was lost when he claimed her. Mine, she thought, the word echoing through her, calling her vampire nature to the surface, the need to possess ingrained in her primal nature. “Say that again,” she begged him.
“What?” She moved around to his lap, straddling his long legs and moving her body closer to him pressing her chest to his.
“Mine. Say it again.” His arms went around her pulling her closer, absorbing her warmth and feeling that her whole body was covered in shivers evoked by that single word.
“Sookie. You…are…mine.” She growled in his neck, her fangs coming down as she reveled in that claiming. She didn’t understand why or what was happening and couldn’t have explained if he had asked her to. Thankfully, he did not. There was no need, for her answer to him caused the same reaction in him, as if he too had the same primal force in his soul that she did in hers.
“And you are mine,” she said before she kissed him to seal her claim. He picked her up, her legs wrapped around his waist, his hands under his hips holding her close as she kissed him breathless. They made it as far as the sofa, but could go no further. They stayed there for hours, Sookie finally climbing to the top of Mount Eric as she had once in a dream, screaming her victory in a single word as she staked her claim at the top of this soft hard body that was filled only with thoughts of her.
It was the first birds singing at dawn that brought them up from their dreamless sleep and into the world where they were tangled together in body as much in heart and soul. She moved to the side reaching down to the floor. He reached for her, growling softly to impress upon her how much he did not like this idea. She fell back next to him her jeans in one hand while the other burrowed in one of the front pockets.
“Got it,” she mumbled throwing the jeans back down on the floor and turning toward him. “Morning,” she told him, blinking sleep away. He gave her a lazy smile in return that made her heart speed up. It was so wrong that a single smile could have so much power over her, but he could do that with his expressive face. When he puckered his lips out for a kiss, it was good as a command that she could not ignore. Keeping her hand closed over what she had pulled from her pocket she slid up his body, using his shoulders to pull her up until her lips met his.
Growling his approval in sleepy tones he raised her to rest on top of him again, loving the feel of her covering him as her lips worked their sweet magic. Reading his mind, she shifted, parting her legs for him, loving the feel of him ready and wanting her again despite the endless night of pleasures they had just shared. She rocked against him once, and then ended the kiss with a dozen small pecks on his lips.
She leaned back on his chest and looked into his eyes, a serious expression on her face. “I have a gift for you.” He blinked now, becoming more alert as well. Surprise was clear on his face.
“A gift?” She nodded, biting her lip.
“I had heard you thinking about what you finally asked me last night about wanting to learn to fight.” He tensed beneath her. He had known they would come back to this eventually. His desire to protect her and her insistence that his power was in his heart and mind rather than his muscles. She had given him much to think about, but there had been no time to think yet. His every waking moment since their conversation had been spent on glorious demonstrations of the love her felt for her in his heart.
“I know that you have not made your final decision yet, and that you need time to think over what we have said on the subject.” He relaxed again, loving that she understood him so well. “Hearing your thoughts caused some of my own.” She looked down then a moment and then forced her eyes back up. “If I should fall you would be left without protection. This is a thought that plagues me deeply. I cannot bear to imagine you this way.” She stopped again, taking a deep breath as she pushed the images in her mind away. He started to speak but she cut him off, pressing on quickly. “I made this for you.”
She opened her palm to reveal a simple gold band. “What’s this?” he asked raising a brow at her.
“It was your father’s. I found it when we first came here. I had not realized until I saw it that he had not been wearing it when they had the accident.” Eric’s face flashed with the old pain that still lived in him from their loss.
“He used to take it off when he was working in yard or tinkering in the barn.”
“Yes. I guess he had been doing something before they left that day and had simply forgotten to put it back on when they left.” It was the kind of detail that Eric would have missed in his grief as the arrangements were made for his parent’s remains. Before he could slide too far down into that old wound she pulled his attention back.
“This ring meant the world to him. I heard him tell your mother once that it was a symbol of everything he felt for her and everything in him that was good because she had been a part of his life. It was already filled with the magic of true love, which is the greatest magic of all.” He looked from the ring to her face again. “The words you said to me last night, the love we shared in their wake tell me that I have chosen wisely in making this your talisman.” She took his hand then, much like his father’s she thought for the first time and slipped it onto the ring finger of his left hand. The fit was perfect.
“If I should fall, if I can stand beside you no more then let this small token of loves past and present serve in my stead.” He looked closely at it, blinking to clear the moisture from his eyes that her words had conjured. Something about it was different than he remembered. There was an etching along the band, some kind of symbols or words in a language he did not understand. “This ring is steeped in love and spelled with the greatest magics I have at my disposal.” She threaded her fingers through his, her thumb tracing the band.
“Remember outside the Sunshine Bar and Grille when the Dark Fae came and I told you to be still?” He nodded, eyes wide and a frown on his face as he tried to see where this was going. “I used a gift I had then to protect us. It is Fae gift to not be seen if one wills it to be so. When it was in me it only worked when I was still. When I moved or anything moved that I was sheltering within its cover the spell was broken.”
“When it was in you?” Hurrying on and ignoring his tone she continued. “I combined the Fae gift with Demon magic and placed it in this ring for you. If you are wearing this ring and will it to be so then you can move freely and not be seen by any supernatural being that is a part of my DNA. You can be heard and you can be scented but not seen. It is a small magic but one that might serve you well if I am unable to protect you.”
Take it back!
That was his first thought, it barreled through his brain with such force that she flinched as she heard it. His mind raced through what it would mean that she had taken this gift from herself and given it to him. It made her vulnerable! It was too much! His second thought was less of a knee jerk reaction and more of an emotional response to her sacrifice.
Oh, my love, thank you.
She heard that, too and a hesitant smile lifted the corners of her mouth. He worked hard to control his fear of her being in danger from this sacrifice and tried to see it for what it was, a way to reassure herself that he would be safe if she could not protect him. The very thought of her not being there with him was overwhelming, it gave the fear power and pushed him to reject her thoughtful gift. For long moments his lips remained silent and closed as he turned this over in his mind. Finally, he chose a path that neither of them expected.
“Well, as far as proposals go, this one takes the cake.” He smiled at her, “Yes. I will marry you, Sookie.” To his everlasting amazement she blushed! Her reaction pushed all the negative thoughts from his mind with a delight he could not recall since childhood. Moving quickly he flipped them over on the sofa pinning her beneath him. Of course he knew he could not keep her there if she truly wanted to go, but her words, her gestures told him that she never wanted to leave him. Another rush of delight and joy infused his entire being.
“Well…I…uh…,”she stammered trying to get her bearings in the naked light of what her gift to him represented.
“Uh?” he teased her, peppering her face in tiny rapid kisses as she had done to him moments before. “Uh, what?” He slid down and rested his chin between her breasts, his smile wide, eyes dancing with delight at her reaction to his words. She stopped squirming and met his gaze evenly, her usual composure sliding into place. Testing how well it was seated he puffed his lips out again at her and made some loud kissing sounds. The mask crumbled and she melted into laughter beneath him causing his head to bob gently on her chest with her movements.
“I guess I didn’t think about it that way, but…maybe part of me knew the significance of the talisman I chose.” Her hand threaded through his hair, sweeping it back off his forehead gently sending chills through him again. His body responded returning to its need to feel her around him in another intimate embrace like the ones they had shared through the night. Instinctively, he ground his hips against the sofa beneath him, preparing to slide back into the welcoming juncture of her thighs. He froze when she spoke.
“We are almost fully bonded.” His mind and body caught fire at her words, remembering how he had bitten her the first time they had made love. Nothing in his life had compared to the ecstasy of her blood while he moved inside her. Instantly, he was rock hard wanting that again.
The manifestation if his telepathy with her that resulted from that union and learning to deal with it had been a road block to them allowing that to happen again. Neither knew what else might happen and wanted to be sure they were ready before even considering any next steps.
“Yes, we are,” he agreed, moving slowly up her body never moving his gaze from hers.
“If I have proposed then I must be ready to finish that bond.”
“Oh, you did propose.” She blushed again, but did not fluster as she had before. His deep sensual tones made her arch beneath him as he came back up placing his face right above hers.
“And you did say yes,” she told him, slightly breathless with anticipation.
“Oh, yes I did.” He placed himself at her entrance and slid slowly all the way into her ready wanting body. Her groan of pleasure set him off like a pistol at the start of a race, shivering from the pleasure she took of his joining with her. He thrust his hips slowly, plunging deeply, wanting to find that spot that had blown her mind when he had loved her at dawn a few days before.
He arched his back, pressing his hips to hers and knew that he had found it when she wrapped her arms and legs around him, arching her back until he was sure it would break. He stilled until she started relax and then he moved again, that same intimate touch. Again she arched beneath him, eyes closed, mouth open in ecstasy, her cries strangled. He repeated it a third time and was rewarded with feeling her shatter beneath him, holding on so tightly to him that he could barely breathe.
At the apex of her pleasure he leaned down and whispered in ear, “Take me. Make me yours.” Then he turned his head to her neck and pressed his teeth to her flesh, biting as she did, completing their union and bond in pounding streams of pleasure that left them breathless, broken and healed all at once. “My wife,” he said as he kissed her healing neck wound. She shivered and held him closer.