The effing nerve of that haughty, arrogant bastard!
My cab pulled up to my house around one o’clock and I stared open-mouthed at a residence I’d never seen before. What the eff had happened? Why the hell was my house so white? Why was the yard manicured like a damn topiary garden? What the hell was all that electric fencing doing around the property?
The windows gleamed. There were reinforced shutters swept discreetly to the side of each of them. The porch looked brand new. And my driveway hadn’t simply been graveled. It had been paved with fast-drying cement.
I stepped out in a daze, looking over every single addition to the exterior. None of them were incomplete. Every last one had been finished, even the fencing. I had only been gone 24 hours. It must have taken over 40 people to complete a job this size in so little time.
The sound of my driver startled me and I jumped.
“Oh, right. Sorry.” I fished into my purse and gave him two day’s worth of tips to cover my fare. He took it and gave me one last lingering look before getting back into the driver’s seat. I really couldn’t blame him. Mine must have looked like one of the sorrier walks of shame he’s ever had to take home. My dress was a man’s tank top. I had bruises everywhere. I’d left a fancy mansion and came home to a simple clapboard. I clearly had been worked over by an amorous millionaire. Thank God he couldn’t see my bite. That was a piece of mercy.
He took off down my fancy new drive and I turned back to curse the name of the Mr. High-and-Mighty who thought he could renovate my ancestral home without so much as a by-your-leave.
I stomped up the steps (no more creaking) and stabbed my key in the lock. There was a new Kryptonite deadbolt, unlocked to let me in, installed. There was a thick piece of cardstock taped to it, a formal script that I was quickly becoming familiar with across it.
I look forward to your melodramatic indignation.
Oh, he was in some serious trouble.
I waltzed through my front door and skittered to a halt. My anger took a serious hit, but still managed to hold on.
My house was beautiful. Sun pattered through the windows and alighted on spotless surfaces as far as the eye could see. My unbroken furniture sparkled with polish and wet vac treatment. My unsalvageable pieces were replaced with thoughtful substitutes. I could eat off my floors. I would see myself in the waxed wood steps. Nothing had been overtly updated, not to the eye anyway. I noticed my taps and water fixtures, while similar, were all new. As was the water heater in the kitchen.
I went upstairs. My room looked like it had been serviced by a loving maid who’d known me for years. Everything was perfect, just as I would want it. My things had been cleaned and arranged, but nothing felt violating. I went into Gran’s room and nearly sobbed. Maryann had been particularly cruel to this room. I’d had trouble setting foot in here since the night of her wedding. So many of my Gran’s lovely things had been crushed and repurposed for that bitch’s unholy ritual. Had she dug up my Gran’s body and spat on it, she could not have raped her memory more.
Except for a few knickknacks and old perfume bottles that had been smashed to pieces, the room looked fully restored. Even her unfinished knitting project—the one Tara had clawed at—had been cleaned and carefully set back into a chair. The pristine bed was made with the quilts I thought had been ruined beyond hope. The clothing was drycleaned and hanging up in the open wardrobe.
My memories of Gran in this room were no longer tainted with guilty sadness.
Eric had fixed them.
I launched myself onto her bed and had a decent cry into her pillow. It didn’t smell much of her anymore, but that didn’t matter. Her ghost was happy. That was enough.
I cried for a long time. It started out in mourning for Gran and gratitude to Eric, but after a while, I realized that the gratitude wasn’t really that at all.
I was crying because I was terrified. I was terrified because I knew right then that I loved Eric Northman. It was so violent and carnal and consuming that it would have been easy for me to write it off as lust. So easy, in fact, that that’s exactly how I’d been regarding it for a long time now.
But this was Gran’s room. My vampire was violent and carnal and consuming, no denying it, but with me, for me, he gentled. He cared. He became soft and thoughtful and so damned soulful that it hurt just to look him in the eye.
And I loved him.
No one ever accused me of smarts.
Sniffling back my tears, I got up and headed for the shower. When I was clean and dry, and dressed in his wife beater again. I didn’t have work and I wasn’t expecting guests, so why not? I wanted a piece of him close to me.
I wandered back downstairs and grabbed some late lunch. When I finished, I was drawn to a spanking new sheepskin rug in front of the fireplace. Its lovely, long white wool called to me, so I stretched out on its fluffy, soft length. It felt wonderful against my bare arms and legs. Next to the fire, I was amused to find kitty Eric curled up in a new cat bed. Eric was embroidered in the plush cushion under his front feet. I laughed and revived some of my original exasperation. The effing nerve of him, really. Why had I fallen for such an insufferable jerk?
I sighed and closed my eyes.
I hadn’t slept, after all.
Or so it began with dreaming. And of course, I dreamt of him. I found him lying on his back, looking tousled and happy, arching his brow at me playfully.
“I told you that you had feelings for me,” he gloated. “You should listen to me more often.”
I wanted to crawl up his prone body, slap him, then kiss him, but he disappeared before I could do anything.
“Just ask them,” he called from far away.
“Ask who?” I called back, but he was gone.
The dream shifted and suddenly I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t dreaming either, I knew that for sure.
I had visitors.
My blood tingled. My hands and eyes warmed considerably. I looked for a door, for that sweet, golden light that told me I was in Faery, but no porthole or light penetrated my mind. And yet, it was a Fae voice. No doubt about it.
“I’m here,” I called back. “Where are you?”
“Close. Always close. Are you well?”
I smiled wanly. “Well enough, I suppose. What brings you to my head?”
“We have felt a shift in the vampire world.”
I nodded. “Yeah, I know. They’re after me. I don’t know if it’s the King of Mississippi’s people, or Sophie Anne’s, or what. But I’m working on it. I have help.”
There was a pause.
“That is not the shift of which we speak.”
I frowned. “No? Then what shift are you talking about?”
Another brief pause. “The vampire Eric Northman. He was Chosen. The shift is his.”
My frown deepened. “I don’t understand.”
I strained to see in the dark of my own head, trying to find their meaning. What kind of shift are we talking about here? Who’s chosen Eric, and for what?
“You have Chosen,” they restated. “The shift was your wish.”
“Okay,” I said, “Back up a second. What are you talking about? Is this because me and him—,” I paused and looked for a delicate phrase, “—had…relations?”
“No. Your sexual encounter with him is irrelevant.”
I gulped and felt my unconscious self turn red. “Are you talking about him bonding to me?”
“We care not for vampire bonds. They are immaterial,” they replied dryly.
“Then what are you talking about? What happened?” I asked with growing impatience.
“You have Chosen your companion. You have Chosen Eric Northman. He is yours.”
“Yeah, I know,” I answered. “I need his help. I’ve chosen another vampire. So then why didn’t you feel this shift when I chose Bill? You attacked him when he entered Faery.”
I felt anger at Bill’s name ripple from their direction. “You did not Choose the vampire Bill Compton. You have Chosen Eric Northman. He is yours.”
“Of course I did! I loved Bill. I chose him as well.” I paused and considered what the difference might be. “Does this have to do with the light thingies in my hands? Is that why Eric wasn’t hurt when I shot him?”
“You did not shoot him. You Chose him. He consented. He is your mate by Choice.”
I am yours, then. Only yours. Eric’s words filtered through me, filling me with warmth and pleasure.
“I don’t understand,” I repeated, feeling more desperate. “We…we’re not bonded. I haven’t blood bonded permanently with him yet. Just the once.”
Their voice became condescending. “To bond in blood is the vampire way. Faes bond in light.”
“So then…what does a Fae bond do?”
That damn mystic pause again. “Eric is yours.”
“I get that. What does that mean? What does the light do to him? And why is he warm? Is he becoming human or something?”
“No. A vampire can never revert. He is dead. He will remain so.”
It hurt to hear such a clipped confirmation of his unlife. “So? Why is he warm?”
“He is Lit from within. The Chosen of a Fae must be prepared.”
“Prepared for what? What are we supposed to do?”
I sensed frustration from them. “The what is not important. He must be prepared for anything by your side. Since you have Chosen to mate with a vampire, he has been gifted accordingly.”
I swallowed. “Gifted?”
“Yes,” the affirmed. “Your mate must stay at your side.” There was another endless pause and I opened my mouth to question, but they continued and chilled my very blood.
“Whether in light or in darkness.”
And with that, they were gone.
When I awoke it was already night. I’d slept much longer than I’d intended.
I sat up on my fluffy new rug and stretched my arms up. Kitty Eric hadn’t moved a muscle. Lazy critter. I petted him briefly and he purred all of three seconds before slipping to sleep again.
My house was dark. I felt lonely and worried about all the nasty beasts out there looking for me. And I wanted Eric. Annoyingly, I felt much safer and happier with him in my sight. But I brushed it off. He was a busy vampire and had other duties he had to attend. I had no interest in getting on Pam’s bad side by bogarting her maker. And he had obviously done all kinds of trench warfare things to my house to keep me safe, so I had no cause to complain.
His rumbling laughter echoed in my mind. It was stupid to pretend I only wanted him because he was protecting me. Not when that laugh curled my very toes.
“Knock it off,” I chastised myself aloud. “Make dinner or something.”
I was about to get up and head into the kitchen when our bond struck me like a bat. I gasped. He was coming. He was close. And he was so enraged about something that adrenaline spiked my heart.
I had no time to think. My door crashed open and I screamed at the sound.
Eric loomed in the doorway, tall and beautiful and with utter madness rolling off of him. His head was dropped like an attack dog. His eyes and fangs glittered in the dark.
“You,” he growled low.
I was on my feet in an instant. My Fae blood boiled in recognition of an ancient enemy. My heart stopped in recognition of my lover. My hands lit up like lightbulbs. Fighting or fucking, I was ready for him.
He was fully dressed and reaching for his belt buckle in the doorway when I blinked. Then he was gloriously naked and standing in my personal space. I never saw him move.
Instinctively, I put my glowing hands on his red-kissed chest. Light exploded against his skin and he snapped his head back, roaring at a terrible decibel. Once again, my light did not send him flying and instead sank quickly into his body.
You have Chosen Eric. He is—
“Mine,” I hissed at him possessively.
His hands were lifting his borrowed shirt off of me, stripping me bare.
He dragged me down to the rug, yanking my knees to either side of his head as I lay on top of him. His glorious erection pulsed angrily in front of me. My mouth watered at the sight. I felt him grip my thighs and growl ferociously. “Suck me. Now.”
And with that, he bit deeply into my inner thigh. I screamed in exquisite pain and immediately swallowed him whole. We sucked each other madly, me on his shaft, him on my femoral artery. I climaxed instantly, sobbing around his girth, trembling and bucking savagely as I continued to swirl my tongue around his warm, satiny skin.
“You dare to blow me in my sleep?” he snarled furiously, sucking on me harder. “You rub yourself like a bitch in heat on my furniture?” I sobbed in delight. It scared me, how his frightful words made me feel so powerful.
He petted me along my wet folds with a single finger. “You dare to leave my bed after marking me like a wanton whore?”
I sucked him hard and nodded, every inch the wanton whore.
He released my thigh and drove his tongue into my dripping core, mixing a cocktail of my blood and lubrication in his mouth. I cried out helplessly against the pleasure. I redoubled my efforts to please him in turn by rubbing him against my soft inner cheek.
“You have no right to taste this good,” he accused softly, his fangs retracting loudly in consideration to my tender, sensitive flesh. He licked and suckled at me and my heart broke at his sweetness. “You have no right to be this wet and ready when I’m not here.”
“I couldn’t help it,” I whimpered pathetically. “I was dreaming of you.”
“Every vampire nearby can smell you,” he hissed lovingly. “They know there’s a beautiful honey pot dying for a fuck inside this house.”
“No,” I retorted hotly, nursing his tip with the gentlest care. “Dying for you. Only for you.”
He didn’t last long. Soon he was bellowing beneath me and filling my mouth. I swallowed every drop, too greedy to let any escape. He quickly pulled out from my lips and flipped me under him, his still-steely shaft ready for more. My letter opener from the coffee table appeared out of nowhere in his hand. I cried out in alarm when he sank it two inches into his neck. Dark blood spilled over his collarbone. He drew my head to his wound and murmured. “Drink from me, lover.”
I pressed my lips into his blood. His bit shallowly into my shoulder. He slipped into my throbbing, overheated core.
Our second blood bond. Our second mating. We screamed at their consummation.
His blood shot fire through my veins and immediately healed my bruises from the night before. My poor, overworked pussy reactivated with new vigor. It clenched him even tighter, its previous soreness obliterated. I hooked my ankles around the small of his back, feeling complete after a day of wanting to kill him.
Our hips locked together. We couldn’t part if we’d tried.
He shuddered all around me, cleaning my small shoulder wound. It was healing anyway, he merely liked taking care of it. Thrusting very gently between my thighs, he lifted his face to mine and kissed me with so much tenderness that I whimpered into his mouth.
“The things you do to me, Sookie Stackhouse,” he rasped against my lips. “I fear for my sanity.”
I gave him a watery smile and caressed his face, mapping every single detail. “I missed you, too.”
His fangs were out again. I leaned up and captured one of them between my lips. I sucked it slowly, in time to his thrusts. He purred in approval and I smiled, nicking my lip in the process.
“Kiss and make it better?” I asked him sweetly. He chuckled and complied, kissing the cut, cleaning it just as it closed.
Something powerful overtook me and I clung to him with all of my might. “What’s happening to us?”
His arms banded around my back and he pulled me up into him, plastering me to his red-smeared chest. “I don’t know. But I won’t let it stop.”
I wrapped my arms around his neck and held him, moving my hips in languid tempo with his. Feeling so happy, so full, I couldn’t help but smile impishly at his clean cheeks and neck. “You’re missing some kisses on you, mister.”
His body rumbled with throaty laughter and he pulled back to bite me playfully. “You may punish me, then. Any way you wish. Except abstinence, as you threatened.”
I giggled and palmed my healed breasts for his inspection. “Mine are gone, too. I guess I’ll let it slide.”
He hitched my legs up higher and drove deeper, making me spasm and gasp his name. He kissed me everywhere he could reach, never piercing my skin, adhering to his vow never to take more blood than I could spare in 24 hours.
His head was lowered to my chest, so I placed a crown of kisses into his hairline. “Won’t you get bored with just mine?” I asked, meaning my blood. “Are you sure you want to refuse everyone else?”
I didn’t want him drinking from others. The idea made me wild with jealousy. But I had to know. I simply couldn’t believe I was enough to make him go cold turkey.
He looked up at me, eyes incredulous. “Have I not made it clear? Your blood is unique, lover. None have ever compared. There isn’t a vampire in the world who wouldn’t throw themselves at your feet to possess you as I do. The oldest and strongest would beg like children. They’d give you anything. Anything you wanted.”
I arched under his body, crooning softly as he drove me higher towards release. He gripped me tightly and whispered into my throat. “And yet, you chose me.”
The voices of the Fae resounded through my head again. Eric is yours.
“Yes,” I reassured him, holding him closer just as he held me. “I Choose you. My precious Viking,” I smiled, invoking the words of Russell.
He caught them and chuckled, flipping us so that I was on top. “My beautiful Fae,” he rasped hotly. “You ever leave my bed again and you’ll see how a Viking truly behaves.”
I sat up on him and picked up our pace, pressing him as deep inside me as possible. He gripped my hips and held me fast, thrusting upwards in response. I arched again, pushing my breasts out pertly.
“You’re not the bossa me,” I replied snootily. “I came home to clean up and what do I find? A would-be sugar daddy up and barged in here and scoured the whole damn place.”
He hissed aggressively, smiling like a predator through his fangs. His pace increased and I moaned, my core stretching to capacity around his swelling excitement. “And what of my house, little hellcat?” he purred provokingly. “Am I to be driven insane every time I pass through the rooms you fucked?”
It was a fair point. I had fucked his house with the express purpose of driving him crazy.
Still, I didn’t want to concede, so I closed my eyes and moaned his name in the sweetest voice I could muster. I sank my nails into his chest and begged him.
“Show me how insane I drive you.”
It worked. He snarled greedily and began to fuck me hard.
“Yes!” I keened loudly. “Show me. Oh God, Eric. Please. Show me.”
“Addictive creature,” he spat angrily, pumping madly as I pleaded for more. “I despise how much I need you.”
“I know,” I cried, slumping forward, letting him carry us to the brink. “I love you. I hate that you’ve made me love you.”
I hadn’t heard myself. I was too busy coming so hard against him that I screamed at the top of my lungs.
But he heard me.
He stiffened against me and shouted my name so loudly that it hurt my ears. I felt him jet hotly inside of me, pouring every ounce of himself into my swollen, starving flesh.
I collapsed on him, moving my hips to prolong our pleasure. Sweating and borderline delirious, I placed invisible kisses where my painted ones had been that morning. He was even warmer than before. My blood. My body. And—I knew now—my light. He was as warm and irresistible as fresh bread.
I nuzzled more tightly into him and sighed, satisfied for the moment. I knew it wouldn’t stay that way for long.
“Can you stay the night?” I asked hazily.
Regret rippled through our strengthened bond. “I cannot. I promised Pam I would return at eleven.”
It was already nine thirty. I sighed in disappointment. “I understand.”
His arms were around me. For the first time, I enjoyed the novelty of receiving warmth from all directions in a vampire’s embrace. He stroked my back, tenderly holding me against him.
“I don’t wish to,” he admitted quietly.
“You need to, though,” I showed my gracious side. “You’re too important to laze around all night with me, baby.”
He snorted in amusement. “Don’t tempt me, woman.”
I smiled and lifted my head to regard him. “What time do ya’ll close?”
I pulled a resolute breath. “Will you do me a favor? Will you come back to me after three?”
He cocked his head and moved to massage my shoulder blades. They disappeared under his large hands. “Why? Did I not sate you properly just now?”
I grinned and smacked his cheek softly. “Hush with that. No, I…” I stopped and my grin slipped a little. “…I want to check something.”
He didn’t appear skeptical, exactly. More like curious with a speck of suspicion. “Dawn will come soon after. Are you asking me to die here during the day?”
The hand I smacked him with was now sliding deep into his soft hair. His eyes closed briefly. Like kitty Eric, he enjoyed when I pet him.
“If I’m right about something, then I’m pretty sure you won’t have to.”