I felt him being pulled away from me, it was so intense that for a moment, I forgot how to breathe. That woman was there again, that knowing smile on her face that told the woman in me that she knew my man in ways that made the animal in me rip her way out. “ERIC!” I reached for him, into the white fire that I knew, and feared in equal measure. I saw her smile as I felt him slide away, leaving me to fall into the space where he had been a moment before.
*You’ve lost him. He belongs where the wild things are.*
I came up with a snarl, my hands in glowing claws as I searched for her vile heart to rip it out. A primal scream poured from the center of me as I felt him moving away. Away, as in far and impossible to reach, by car, bus, or plane. Away, like I would never find him. When someone grabbed me from behind I thrashed like a wild animal, relieved to have something tangible to fight.
My body bucked, white light pouring from me, blasting whoever was holding me away and setting me free to attack whoever dared to come next. “ERIC!”I called again, pointlessly, I knew he could not hear me, could probably barely feel me. My heart wanted to leave my chest and follow him. I clawed at it, ripping my skin to grant freedom to the part of me that belonged to him. I think I thought I could follow it to his side.
“SOOKIE!” My head flipped around, my hands pausing in their mission, as I faced a full fanged vampire King less than a foot away, his eyes glazed with a film of pleasure that told me I had less than a second to live. I hit him full force in the chest with a bolt of light from my hands that was a thousand times stronger than what I had used on the maenad. I saw a hole in his chest, just before I felt the remainder of Eric’s highly trained security team rushing toward me.
“YOU WILL STAND DOWN!” I rose from the floor, hands still burning as I spun like a top, blasting each who dared to step within my circle of power. Most of the guests were running for the door, and I was glad to see them go. Part of me knew they had nothing to do with what had happened, the rest of me wanted to kill everything that moved as punishment to a universe that would take him from me.
It was the sound of Russell laughing that finally broke through my fury. “You’re a fucking fairy!” he said as he fought to rise under the weight of the blow I had dealt him. My eyes came to rest on the damaged King, my head tilting to the side as I tried to process his words. Rage won over intellect, and I hit him again, this time a bolt of pure red energy that seemed more like fire than white light. He moved out of the way this time, and the energy lit the wall on fire in a gasp of flame that covered the wall like liquid, the heat rolling back to me in waves that blew warm kisses against my skin.
“But not just a fairy, are you, my sweet?” Russell whispered in my ear before he moved away again, too fast for me to track him. “What else courses in those gorgeous veins?” I released another fireball at where he had been, singing him this time, by the sound of his yelp. I summoned another, and continued to spin in a circle three feet off the floor, looking for a target that moved faster than any human eye could follow. I felt the feral smile break out on my face as I closed my eyes, and pictured the vampire King, feeling him, smelling him, anticipating him.
My moves were fast, and sharp like the cobra I had once compared Eric to, my laugh breaking through the sounds of retreating screams. I saw where he was going to be, and I fired there, directly hitting him in the back. “DEMON!” he screamed as he crashed into the corner, twitching in a heap that did not rise.
I huffed in disappointment, wanting something to kill, and the only thing in this room, in this world that was even close to challenging me was down. In the spin, my head fell back, eyes still closed as I felt the room. Five vampires were standing frozen, terrified before me, not moving. I heard them whispering the names that Russell had christened me with before going down.
I had no idea what was happening to me, only that I would fall into a pile of uselessness if I stopped too long to wonder. I was what I was, good, bad, fairy or demon. As I accepted it, I felt myself seeking Eric in my blood. The feel and taste of him coming to the forefront. Whatever I am, I am his, and he is mine. What power and grace I have, let me use to protect him.
The burning grew stronger, the pleasure and pain pooling together in the center of me, consuming the humanity that had hidden me for a quarter of a century. This, a voice told me, this is why you have never belonged in any world.
My chest hitched as my damaged psyche pulled at me. So be it, I told it, accepting that, too. Anything, all of me, everything I will ever be. TAKE ME TO HIM!
“Grab her!” Russell screamed weakly from his corner, as my arms and legs stretched out, my power filling the room, where just moments before I had been dancing to tease the man I adored above all others. They rushed me, still terrified, but determined to meet the demands of their King.
“Fools,” I called them, returning the favor of labels, as I felt myself traveling away, following the threads of my connection to Eric.
When the light cleared I felt the silver burning my flesh. Because I was a vampire and a glutton for punishment, I pulled at the chains, snarling as they burned deeper into my flesh. Pain was good for clearing the senses. Mine snapped back almost immediately, telling me that I was in some place I had never been before. The air tasted different from anything I had ever known.
Some place far away from Sookie, the ache in our bond told me, but she was still with me. The feel of her handprints on my back assured me of that.
“Good, you’re awake,” the brunette said, appearing before me, though I had been alone a moment before. I glanced around, seeing that I was in a cell of some kind, chained standing to the wall.
“What do you want?”
“You, of course. You remember when I had you before.” My answer was a snarl, and another tug at the chains. She laughed at me, looking pleased at my reaction, which only fueled my anger. Another woman, older than the brunette, appeared beside her. The brunette bowed, telling me this new one was in charge.
“You really think you can do this, Claudine?” The brunette, who was apparently called Claudine, nodded.
“Yes, Mab, I think that if I bond with him, we can produce a worthy warrior despite him being a vampire.”
“He certainly seems good stock, despite the fangs,” Mab observed, eyeing my like a piece of meat, despite her obvious disdain for vampires. “Still, this is against almost every rule we have ever held sacred.”
“His children are strong warriors. You have seen what Cantos can do. To make more of him would only help us in the war.”
“Do you think you can produce another human hybrid like Cantos, or do you seek to create a half breed Fae vampire, like Warlow himself?”
“Either is acceptable. To defeat the enemy we must meet him with equal measure on the battlefield.” Mab smirked at her.
“Your willingness to sacrifice yourself to the effort is admirable, Claudine.”
“We do what we can,” Claudine answered, her eyes undressing me.
“Be on about it then. Warlow marshals his forces for attack, and we need time for the offspring to mature. Claudine nodded, and started toward me as the old woman disappeared. As she came closer to me, I felt my print of Sookie’s hands on my skin flare up, almost painful in their intensity.
“No!” I said, pulling at my silver chains again.
“Hush, vampire. Remember how good we were together. Once I bond with you, you will want nothing but me for the rest of eternity.” She came closer as I thrashed against my bonds. “I will be center of your entire universe once we are connected. The very idea of leaving my side, of not being locked between my thighs will be Hell for you.” She came to stand right before me.
“You remember that night in the woods before the battle that led to your death? The ecstasy you felt as you fucked me against that tree? Let yourself feel it now. Remember how good we were together when we made our beautiful Cantos.”
“What the fuck are you talking about, woman?”
“Our son, Viking, and I am no woman. I am the Fae Princess Claudine.” She lit up then, her beautiful human shell misting away as she stood before me, fully revealed. Long pointy ears, sharp pointy teeth and a visage that would send a sane man running for the hills.
I had made a son, with this creature?
I stopped struggling more from shock and horror than anything else, but she took my stilling as submission. “Yessss,” she purred through her jagged fangs as she took another step toward me. “Let me show you what we can do together when we breed.” She waved her hand, and the shade of what I presumed was Cantos appeared before me.
I fell back against the wall, in awe and horror as I saw my son for the first time. He had my eyes and coloring with her ears. I saw my nose, and cheekbones along with my tall rangy frame. He held a Fae sword in his hand, and he was dressed in shining silver armor. My son looked like a god.
“Cantos is a god,” she answered me, though I had not spoken.
*You don’t need to speak to me. You never have. The heart of a warrior knows the heart of another, in ways that words only betray.*
“Get out of my head, bitch!” I pulled at my shackles again, wanting the pain to distract me from the ache of realization that I had had a son a thousand years ago, and I never knew. I could not stop the strangled sound of pain that escaped me as his image faded, leaving me alone again with Claudine.
“We will make dozens just as powerful, and just as beautiful.” Again, she answered me though I had not spoken. “That is his true face, Viking. He is the best of both of us, there is no need for him to hide behind a veil of magic. He truly is what I have shown you.” As she spoke, her own beauty restored itself before me.
“Join with me, accept my bond now, and I will feed you my blood, the richest in all of Fae, as I fulfill your every desire. What has a thousand years taught you of pleasure, Viking? Show me as we make our dreams come true.” As she spoke, I realized I had not smelled the delicious scent of her that she had attacked me with in the bar. It came to me as I caught some small portion of it, and saw almost immediately that it did not affect me as it had before.
“What?” she gasped, stepping back from me. “This cannot be!” For a moment her scent grew stronger in my nose, but again, the affect was barely noticeable. “No!” she screamed again, stepping up to place her hands on my chest, attempting some new trick to take my senses, and make me pliable for breeding her.
Before she could touch me, the handprints that Sookie had placed on my back in the yard, burned me, digging deep into the very bones of me as a shield of light spread out around me, blocking her touch, and throwing her back against the wall of the small cell. I slumped in my chains, exhausted from the pull of Sookie’s strange love and protection.
“You’re already bonded to a Fae!” Claudine gasped as she lay on the floor, apparently not able to move from the force of the magical blow. “Who has dared to touch what is mine?” Her magic veil slipped again, her face a melted mask of human and Fae as her plans came unraveled around her.
Sookie was a fairy? How could I not have known? But then, how could I have known? They were legend and myth even when I was human. My mind was racing on all the wrong things as I watched Claudine struggle for her feet. Fae blood was supposed to be most erotic and delightful thing a vampire could experience, hunted to extinction, according to Godric, even before he was made.
They were irresistible to our kind. Did that explain why I had been so drawn to Sookie? Why even Godric had stepped out of his suicide mission to save her in that miserable church? Why Bill had fallen in love with her when he was sent to enslave her? Why Sophie Anne had asked me if I had tasted her, and then told me not to? Oh, gods, why Sophie Anne was so determined to take Sookie for her own?
What did that bitch know?
“Answer me, dog. Who has dared to touch what I have claimed?” Before I could speak the hand prints on my back started to dance with waves of power, even as the connection I felt with Sookie started to pound with the rhythm that they danced to. I saw Claudine’s eyes widen as she read my mind before I could try and shut her out.
“She comes,” she said, stepping back, a sword appearing in her hand from thin air. “I will kill her now, no Fae is a match for me. Then I will claim you as the spoils of battle, and breed you to my heart’s content. You will spend eternity kneeling at my feet, vampire. Released only to fuck me, as I please.”
Sookie exploded into the cell, dropping immediately to the floor as she looked around. I wanted to take credit for her caution, but realized I had failed her again, keeping her locked in our suite rather than risking exposure to train her as I should have. I could have prepared her for this fight, had I seen her as an equal rather than something to protect and covet.
I had damned us again with quiet lies. Would watching her die before me, be the punishment for that failure? “You?” Claudine spat out as she gazed down from her imperious height at Sookie. “Half-breed,” she snarled as she swung her sword toward Sookie’s crouched form. “I would delight in watching my brothers breed you for cannon fodder, but to claim what is mine, you must die!”
“NO!” It was torn out of me though there was no good or logic behind my denial. Sookie’s gaze flicked to me as I felt something primal, and powerful travel through our connection. Something had happened to her in the time we had been separated. Something was different.
“Be free,” she said, I read it on her lips, though she made no sound. Her hand prints lit up on me again, pulsing out a power that melted the silver shackles that had been holding me. As I slipped to the floor, weakened from the magic, and the silver, I saw Claudine move in, sword coming down to take Sookie’s head. I was sure she was going to die right there, and she might have, but Claudine made a mistake.
“The vampire is mine!” As soon as she said the words I felt the air sucked out of the room in time with Sookie rising to her full height. Her hair was wild around her head, the air moving in the room blowing it back from her face, her eyes glowing red with a power that did not seem Fae at all. When her hands lit up, they were covered with fire, instead of the white light I was expecting.
“Then take him, if you can,” Sookie told her, a split second before she turned into a spin, and set free the fireballs that had been resting in her palms. The first hit the sword in Claudine’s hand, setting it spinning as it crashed into the wall, melting as the flames swallowed it whole. The second hit Claudine a glancing blow on the cheek, ripping her human image like a mask, letting her true visage leak through as her magic struggled against Sookie’s for dominance.
“Demon!” Claudine snarled, her own hand lighting up with the white light I had been expecting from Sookie. Her hands moved with supernatural speed as she hurled her magic bolts at Sookie who blocked them with a red shield of magic that reminded me of what her hand prints had created to shield me from Claudine’s touch.
In the moment, between her creating the shield and the bolts hitting it, I saw her, still dressed in her belly dancing costume, her hair flying back, crackling with her strange red power, and her eyes, gods, her eyes held lightning bolts. Too fast for it to have really happened, her eyes locked with mine, and I saw her love for me, woven into the threads of this fabulous new power that she didn’t understand herself. She was driving from her heart, and she would kill for me, or die for me. She had crossed the line inside herself where it was all the same. It was a look I had seen in many men’s eyes when I was a king and they fought for me, sealing their fates to my cause.
I had buried too many who had crossed that line inside themselves. She would not be another. Claudine was focused on Sookie, determined to claim her now forgotten prize breeder; she never saw me coming. When my fangs sank into her neck she didn’t even scream as I took her. It lasted only seconds, her blood sweet on my tongue, as I killed the mother of my child, to save the woman I loved.
I sucked her dry before dropping her empty husk to the floor, grunting in satisfaction as she turned to dust on my shoes. I turned to Sookie, looking at her with a thousand questions in my eyes. She opened her arms to me, her power dimming as she wobbled on her feet. “Eric,” she whispered as her knees buckled under her.
I caught her before she touched the floor, sweeping through the open door of cell, and out into the unknown, concentrating on freedom, and safety for the woman who had set me free. I tried to stay focused on our escape as she lay unconscious in my arms, but part of me was praying that I would not have to face my son during our escape, even as I longed to meet him in the flesh.
The castle, for surely it was that, was sparsely guarded, and we made our way out untouched. When I got the edge of the shadow cast by the large stone edifice of my prison, I stopped. It was mid-day here. The sun was high in the sky. My sharp eyes searched the barren landscape of what seemed a dying land, looking for cover. Something I could run to, and hide us under until the sun faded from the sky.
*The sun here will not harm you, vampire.*
I looked around sharply, my fangs coming down in response to this latest mind attack.
*It never sets, and if you want to escape you must head west.*
*And why should I trust you?*
*It’s the only chance you have, vampire. If you stay there it is only a matter of time before they discover what you have done.*
That was certainly, true. I looked out again, seeing the heat rising off the naked flat ground. I glanced down at Sookie.
*Is this Fae?* I asked the voice.
*In all its glory.*
*What the fuck happened to it?*
*What always happens, vampire? War.*
*How do we get home?*
*Travel west, vampire, or die at the gates of Alloria. You are out of time.*
I heard the warning horn sound behind me, alerting the castle to our escape. I edged toward the sun line, and cautiously stuck my hand out into its bright rays. Nothing happened. I heard the voice laugh in my head.
*Not the trusting sort, are you vampire?*
I heard the pounding of feet coming toward where I stood hidden in the shadows with Sookie. It was now or never. I took a step out, and then another. As a shout went up that I had been spotted, I hit the vampire speed and headed out westward, across the dead landscape.