Eric snickered. Unable to squelch his curiosity about Bill’s probable reception, especially considering how badly his own had gone, he had doubled back to hide behind a set of columns near the rear portico. Eventually, and after a longer time than expected and therefore to his immensely increasing interest, two of His Pathetic Majesty’s Royal Guards in their shiny Stormtrooper costumes bolted from their Hummer and stormed the hotel. A minute later, those two guards carried out a smoldering, battered-looking King Billy Boy.
Chancing a closer look, Eric moved minutely to the left and…was the back of Billy’s head bald? And…where the hell was his hand?
Eric couldn’t believe his gleeful eyes. What the hell had he said to her? It was surprisingly hard to contain his guffaws, but somehow he managed.
The official convoy quickly departed, but Eric remained propped against one of the columns. His Sookie had definitely changed, and it didn’t seem to be for the better, either.
Or maybe it was. His Royal Singed Majesty was still smoldering.
He couldn’t imagine this Sookie falling for Compton’s lies and deceptions now, which made him happy. But then, he couldn’t imagine her falling for his own now, either. Which didn’t.
Even the “puppy eyes” hadn’t worked, and they were all-but patented.
He sighed as he ran a hand through his now-shorter blond hair as he considered this new version of Sookie. She would have been very useful on his arm during the upcoming conference, and of course all his non-vampire employees needed to be read, but somehow he didn’t think that would be happening any time soon.
The acquisition and remodel of her house hadn’t worked out the way he needed either, which surprised him greatly. Something about that seemed off, too. Sookie was the kind of sentimental person who took such things very seriously, yet with barely a blink she had tossed that house, and unknowingly – or perhaps knowingly? – all his plans contingent on her wanting that house back right in his face.
The old Sookie? She would have done anything to secure her family homestead. She might have complained and tried to hold him off for a while, but eventually she would have fallen right in with his plans like a good little human should. This one hadn’t even batted an eyelash as she tossed away the entirety of her local family history.
And she hadn’t been the least bit surprised either. It was as if she had already known of his purchase and the not-so-innocent intentions behind it. She hadn’t even stomped around wasting time being angrily indignant about it.
Perhaps she had known exactly how and why he had managed to come by the property? Well, she had been correct – nothing was due or owing on the house in any way, so there truly was no reason for it to have been sold, yet it had still come into his possession.
Silently Eric rose to the top of the hotel, and paced as he considered all the potential angels.
How could she know? For over a year and a half no one had heard one single word from her – as he could well verify.
Apparently during her jaunt into Fairy (he wasn’t gloating nearly as much over being right as he’d thought he would), she had retained a connection to this mortal plane, but…who was it?
He had made sure that the word was spread far and wide that Eric Northman was looking for any information concerning one Sookie Stackhouse, so who would have the balls to keep in contact with her behind his back? He was positive that she had never met anyone on that very short list.
Fuck, if he could discover who this “connection” was, in lieu of beating the immortal shit out of them, maybe he could find out what the hell had happened to Sookie. Something must have happened to her while she was in Fairy to make her so cold and hard. This wasn’t the girl he had known once upon a time.
A strange place in his chest felt oddly like a hand was squeezing it. Sookie truly was no longer the girl he had arrogantly and thoughtlessly used and abused toward his own gain.
In his selfish haste to lure Edgington outside, he had even neglected to heal her bleeding wounds – wounds that he had caused in the first place. His Maker would have been strongly disappointed in him and in his actions. He had also ruined, defiled, his first and probably only feeding from the beautifully warm and giving part-fairy, all in the name of vengeance for people who had been murdered well over a thousand years ago.
Eric shied away from thinking over-much about how he had for no explainable reason wanted Sookie to guard the vampire he had stood by and allowed, no, like she said, encouraged to attack her.
What the hell had he been thinking?
Oh, that’s right, he thought in exasperation with himself, he had wanted to bury the fucker in concrete and make him suffer chemical burns and starvation for a thousand years, then he would stake him. He had wanted the murderer of his family to suffer, to burn and writhe and be tormented instead of being granted the mercy of a quick true death. That he had been so cruel, and stupid, as to order the vampire’s latest victim – still weak and livid from his and Russell’s crimes and betrayal against her – to guard the psycho had been a ludicrous idea on his part.
He was once again unsuccessful in his attempt to tamp down and ignore the burning, heavy guilt rising in his heart over all his actions.
While it was true that he had not enjoyed terrorizing and harming Sookie, he could think of no other way to implement his plan against a vampire vastly stronger than even his own Maker’s considerable powers had been.
It’s not like he could have asked Sookie to help…could he?
It’s not like he could have told her what was really going on…could he?
It’s not like he could have warned her…could he?
It’s not like he could have asked her permission in the first place…could he?
Yet, while he had well and truly thought he would meet his true death that day, it was Sookie who had saved his life. And even after all his planning and scheming, it was Sookie who had been realistic enough to just stake the bastard and be done with it. If she hadn’t, in the clear light of night Eric grasped that, logically, there was no way of knowing if Russell had secret or unknown progeny that he could well have called to release him from a concrete grave.
He might have abused her badly in a hastily-planned, half-assed effort to save all their lives, barring his own, but in the end it was Sookie who had actually saved the day, literally, and in more ways than one.
He shuddered. According to what she had done to Billy Boy, he had indeed gotten off very lightly.
Eric decided that it was in fact very lowering to realize that a thousand-plus year-old vampire may have much to learn from a twenty-odd year old fairy-human hybrid.
It was during times such as these that Eric deeply missed his Maker. Godric would have known what to do. It hurt and shamed him to realize that Godric would never have treated Sookie in such a way. And, even if the end actions would have had to remain the same, it also shamed him to realize that Godric would have warned her, he would have warned her and at least tried to gain her permission beforehand.
Stretching back on the hard tarmac of the helicopter landing pad atop the hotel, Eric gazed into the night sky as he recalled his Maker. Godric could be incredibly high-handed and arrogant, he thought with a slow grin, but only chose to be when other options failed…or when he was bored. Well, he became that way later in his unlife. Eric recalled that when he was first turned, his Maker was indeed the personification of Death, but slowly, almost casually, he became more civilized, more cerebral, as he aged.
But he never lost his sense of humor.
He missed his Master’s old, wise blue eyes that changed color depending on his mood and humor. He missed the power and the fierceness in that slightly smaller but massively stronger body that could easily wipe out thousands yet could just as easily curl around own his taller frame when providing comfort and protection.
Eric abruptly rose before he curled into a ball and started sucking his thumb as he missed his Maker. He needed to decide what to do about the ever-widening chasm between himself and Sookie, and he needed to have a word with darling Pamela.
Barely managing to stifled his cries of agony as he was crudely shuffled into the waiting Hummer, Bill seethed as he grit his teeth against ever-worsening waves of pain.
Once the doors were closed and the vehicle was therefore soundproofed, with snarling disregard for anything but his pain, he immediately jammed his lowered fangs into the closest available neck and pulled hard. He had no consideration whatsoever for whichever guard it was as he proceeded to drain the man – death and the possibility of being drained were always a known risk, and they were paid accordingly.
Once the body slumped over, he instructed another to take his place, and soon enough there were two bodies to dispose of once they ever reached his palace.
He mentally repeated his new mantra as his anger grew with every mile that passed. How dare she show such disobedience and mock his authority over her in such a way! She was his and she should grovel in her appreciation that he would even deign to even notice such a lower life-form!
He adjusted his seating and clutched at the stump of his arm as it and his groin, ass, back, and for some reason the back of his head ached and burned. He couldn’t believe how she had attacked him! All those times he had given her his precious blood to save her, even if he did have ulterior motives, of course, but still! To attack him like this? And after she had left him without even the courtesy of a farewell??
Once he was healed he would definitely have to punish her for this indignity. There was no way he could let her get away with this no matter how valuable an asset she was to his monarchy. Too bad body parts took so damn long to heal and re-grow – he needed to feel her bones breaking beneath his touch.
He shifted in agony once again. Oh, well, it wasn’t like he hadn’t lost genitalia before…
Sookie grabbed her purse, room card, checked the charge on her phone, then finally left her suite. When she entered the elevator, she had to smirk at the stench of Burnt Bill, then somewhat reluctantly waved it way. Knowing that in several ways she had bested her former ‘love’ was incredibly satisfying.
She hoped that Bill wouldn’t be a problem, but if he turned out to be one, then his ending would be his own fault. While the urge to fry his whiny, presumptuous, annoying ass had been nearly overwhelming, she just couldn’t bring herself to do it. Maybe next time…and with Bill, there was always a next time.
It took a moment for the valet to bring the car Mr. C had procured for her, and she briefly considered taking a taxi since she wasn’t familiar with the more affluent areas of Shreveport, but quickly decided against it. There was an alluring freedom to “getting out and around on her own” and now that she was back in the human realm, she intended to enjoy herself.
Gone was that pitiful bumpkin too poor to ‘waste’ more than $5.01 on a meal for one, that girl who was too embarrassed by her cheap clothing to dare to step into one of the finer establishments. She was still kicking her own ass for never bettering her own self, for never even considering working some place that actually paid well and had insurance. Hell, even the library would have been so much better.
She knew she couldn’t hold herself entirely responsible, though. Self-serving assholes like Sam, Bill, and her grandmother had held her back with their insidious negativity and the subtle doubts they worked hard to make sure she felt so that she wouldn’t leave them. Odd how Eric never worked to plant seeds of self-doubt in her mind, but it wasn’t like he…she quickly averted her thoughts.
Well, those creeps were no longer in her life, and she was glad.
Sookie made several aimless laps through the city, her car windows down as she enjoyed the cooler humid night air. At each stop light she played with the music, changing stations here and there until she found a song she liked.
Finally she spotted a small cafe that looked inviting and where she could easily find parking, and pulled over into their lot. Although it was coming fall, the weather at night was still nice enough so that she could enjoy the outdoor seating offered by the bistro-type establishment.
After ordering coffee and some pastries, she leaned back in her chair and watched people as they passed by on their way to local shops and evening entertainments. She couldn’t believe she’d been gone over a year and a half. It had been spring when she’d left, and it was hard to think that an entire set of seasons had passed without her being there to watch them. Now it was early fall, and while some things felt the same, others never would.
All in all, she decided as she sipped her strong, hot latte, she was glad she’d gone. She felt much more ‘grown up’ now, much more able to handle and control her own life and mold it into a life worth living. She knew much better her own strengths and capabilities, and also knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that just because a man was pretty, silent, and had a big cock in no way meant she had to let him into her life.
As she slowly enjoyed her pastries, watched the crowds, and let the cooler night air soothe her soul, she glimpsed someone who looked a lot like Godric.
She knew it wasn’t him, though; as of this morning he was still in Fairy.
**A/N: How’s that for a cliffy? *ducks* Hey, if you damage me I can’t tell you more, you know… Hope you liked the chapter!**