Disclaimer: Southern Vampire Mysteries characters belong to Charlaine Harris.
AN: Thanks again to everyone who took the time to leave a review! In this chapter, Sam confronts Eric.
Sam remained perched in the tree for several minutes after Eric had flown out of Sookie’s bedroom window. He was stunned and horrified. It was a dire situation of the utmost urgency. Not only had a vampire gained access into Sookie’s house, but he immediately recognized that it was one of the most feared and notorious vamps in existence: Eric Northman, ancient Viking and Sheriff of area 5. While he had never met Northman personally, he certainly knew about him. The vampire’s reputation had preceded him. Every supe in Louisiana, hell, every supe in the world, knew how dangerous and ruthless he was. He was one vicious and hardcore motherfucker you did not want to cross. Ever.
He felt sick and ashamed because he hadn’t had the courage to interrupt while observing what had happened in her bedroom. He felt that he had essentially consented, through his inaction, to allow Northman to enter her home and lurk in her closet while she pleasured herself, oblivious to the danger hidden nearby. He had been frozen as he witnessed the vampire kneeling down and licking her fingers and drinking from her wrist as she slept. He was full of self-contempt, but to be honest, he was terrified of the Viking and it was simple fear and self-preservation that had held him motionless. He had been surprised that the parasite drank from her only for a brief moment and then stopped, which suggested that he did not plan on draining or turning her, at least not immediately. He hoped…God, how he hoped.
And…how the hell did he have a key to her house? The only thing Sam could think of was that Northman had glamoured her to give him a key and offer a formal invitation into her home. He and most of Bon Temps knew something about “Crazy Sookie’s” telepathy although it was something she and Sam did not talk about often. He wondered whether she had read the vampire’s mind…read his intent before she was glamoured. Had she realized he was a dangerous predator? Even if glamoured, surely she would have said something to him about Northman when they were talking about her “secret admirer?” Things just weren’t adding up.
Sam’s thoughts raced furiously. He was reluctant to come straight out and tell her about her vampire stalker. She was blissfully unaware of the existence of vampires…and of shifters. He winced inwardly. She was an innocent and would likely think he was crazy once he started telling her about the reality of monsters, the truth behind myths and legends…Shit! He would have to figure out a way to educate her about the supernatural world, and fast. He would call her tomorrow and ask her to come in early before her lunch shift. Yes, he would talk to her privately in his office. If he survived tonight, that is…
He mustered up every bit of courage and inner strength available to him. He would do this for Sookie, the woman he had secretly been in love with for some time. As he thought about her and the predator who had been feeding on her, he became infuriated, deciding it was time once and for all for his cowardice to come to an end. He had run out of time and would have to finally come clean…about everything, even if it meant risking her anger and rejection. Even if it meant losing her, he had to try.
He launched off the branch, his great wings flapping, circling the property before settling on a tree near the front of the Compton house. Once he landed, his worst fears were confirmed: Northman was indeed the new owner of the home. He could smell the vamp’s scent all around the property. It was undeniably the same scent that had been on the rose Sookie found on her car back at the bar.
He dropped lithely down from the branch, once again in his human form. He waited for the vampire to emerge, steeling himself for the imminent confrontation.
Eric had flown back to the old house to discard his soiled shirt and don a fresh one before returning to his main residence. After he pulled on another t-shirt, he began making a mental list of several issues he needed to attend to tonight.
He first planned on contacting one of his private investigators, a demon hybrid, who he had on retainer. He wanted more information about her than provided by Bobby’s brief report, including details about her extended family’s history. She truly was a mystery to him. He could not understand his strong pull to her…it was unlike him to be so enchanted by a human woman. Or any woman, for that matter. He was an analytical man, one not ruled by emotions. However, since he stumbled across her, she had consumed his thoughts and he had begun experiencing feelings that were…unfamiliar. There had to be something in her history that would help explain his attraction, some evidence that she was more than human to account for his obsession.
He also needed to get email updates from Bobby regarding his myriad of appointed tasks, including some of his plans for Sookie. At some point, he would also need to check on the status of his various businesses and investments, but the management of his assets was well delegated. His child ran the majority of them efficiently even though she currently resided in London. He would summon her back to his side before the Great Revelation, but until then would enjoy seeing her from time to time.
As he went downstairs, he froze in the foyer. He immediately recognized a scent outside he had previously detected on Sookie’s property. He smiled a terrifying grin, fangs fully extended, as he opened the door and stood on the porch.
A scrawny but well muscled male stood naked and defiant on his front lawn. Although the man was making an attempt to appear strong and resolute, Eric could smell the sweet stench of fear emanating from him and hear his rapidly pounding heartbeat. He stepped down the stairs with one long stride, purposefully landing with a heavy thud on the bottom step, his biker boots cracking the rotted board under his massive form.
“Shifter.” He sneered with contempt, his voice low and threatening. “You are on my property unwelcome and unannounced. You will explain yourself.” Eric had no false illusions: he knew the shifter had come to confront him about his interest in Sookie.
Sam folded his arms across his chest, an attempt at false bravado. Surprisingly, his voice was even as he called out, “I know you who you are, Sheriff. And I know what you have been doing. I saw you use a key to enter Sookie’s house and I saw what you did. I know damn good and well she didn’t willingly give you a key to her house. ”
Eric was livid. The bastard had been spying on him and Sookie! He was also furious he had not noticed him outside the house, apparently due to his tunnel vision while focused on the object of his obsession. He would not make the same mistake again.
Eric flashed at vamp speed in front of Sam, causing the shifter to quickly back up several steps in surprise. Eric hissed in his face, “This is of no concern to you, mongrel. She is now mine. She is your employee, and nothing more. You will cease all non-business related interactions with her and will no longer skulk around her property. I have claimed her, and no other male will be tolerated making social visits to her home. You will now leave and not return.”
Eric did not mention that Sookie’s days of being at that shithole bar would soon come to an end, as he had no intention of allowing her to work there anymore. In fact, she would not have a need to work at all, as her financial burdens were now a thing of the past. She would have access to his great wealth and would never want for anything ever again (one of Bobby’s tasks was to contact his bank to set up accounts for her, as well as add her name to his credit cards). If she wanted to pursue higher education or volunteer she would be encouraged to do so, but she would not degrade herself by wearing that skimpy uniform and subject herself to ogling or manhandling. He was to be the only one to openly admire or touch her beautiful body.
Sam was beyond terrified of the vampire, but the flame of his anger continued to burn hot and strong. “Oh, but that is where you’re dead wrong, vamp. Sookie is my concern. I care about her, and I am not going to sit back while you drain her to death or glamour her into a mindless fucking slave!”
Eric snarled and began to advance menacingly. “My intentions are my own, shifter.”
Sam was not cowed, and shook his head in disbelief. “You don’t even know Sookie…hell, have you even met her and talked to her yet? Or is the extent of your involvement with her spying on her and leeching her blood out while she is asleep and helpless?!”
Although still enraged, Eric paused for a moment, the shifter’s words having a surprising effect on him. He actually felt a slight pang of…embarrassment?
“I had intended on introducing myself to her tonight at her house, but did not since she was at your pathetic excuse of a bar. I wanted to talk to her alone, and not in a public setting.”
Sam snorted. “Yeah, I’ll bet you did! How do you think Sookie is going to take it that you’ve been stalking her, and…sneaking into her house at night, taking her blood without her knowing it? Watching her masturbate while jerking off?” He scoffed. “She’ll be so flattered knowing a rapist wants to be her boyfriend!”
That was it, the final straw. Eric was beyond enraged. He would not continue pointless bantering with this insect. Lightning fast, he reached out with his massive hand, lifting Sam one-armed by his neck in an iron chokehold.
“I am no rapist. I have never taken a woman against her wishes and never will,” he ground out, his voice deadly and low. “And have you considered your own involvement? Are you willing to tell her that you were nearby, watching the whole show? Explain how you were able to look in the window in the first place? How do you think she will “take” that?
Sam kicked his feet and tried in vain to pry off Eric’s vice-like grip, to no avail. As Eric was about to crush his neck, he saw a glimpse of pale movement in the cemetery. He unceremoniously dropped Sam to the ground, who lay there red-faced and retching. Eric immediately flew off to the edge of the graveyard to investigate.
It was Sookie, as he suspected. He could feel her through their small bond and detect her enticing scent before he even laid eyes on her. She was still wearing her little yellow nightgown, walking barefoot on the rough dirt path through the cemetery, before stopping to stand in front of her grandmother’s grave.
Eric approached slowly and watched from behind a huge cypress tree. He suspected she was sleepwalking and she was seemingly having a one-sided conversation while facing the headstone. He could hear her talking softly, pausing in between sentences, the cadence exactly as if she was holding an actual discussion that only she could hear.
Her soft, feminine voice sounded pained. “I’m here Gran, but I don’t understand. Yes, I trust you. I’ve always loved and trusted you. How do you know he’s the one, Gran? Why tell me now? I don’t understand why you waited to use it like that before you died. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not fair!”
Fascinated, Eric crept up closer, curious as to whom she was talking to. He began to suspect that it was no mere dream and that she was somehow actually talking to her grandmother’s spirit.
Sookie fell to her knees and began to cry. “Don’t go, Gran, please. I’m so alone. I miss you so much. Yes, I believe you, and I’ll let him in, I promise, I won’t turn him away…I’ll do anything you say, just please don’t go.” Sookie choked out a sob and then suddenly and without warning fell forward, lying on top of the grave completely motionless.
Eric leaped over to her and gently picked her up in his arms. He turned and saw that the shifter had followed, staring bug eyed at them. Sam had his arms out, grasping his hands open and closed, as if to gesture that he would hold Sookie. Eric glared at him.
Softly, so that only a supe would be able to hear, Eric said calmly, “This ends now. Sookie is mine. You will leave, and you will remain silent about my…history and actions tonight.”
Sam replied hoarsely, “I won’t let you hurt her…”
Eric hovered in the air with Sookie in his arms and turned his head briefly to say, “She will not be harmed,” before flying back towards her house
Sam followed them to the edge of the cemetery, watching as Eric floated through the front door that had been left open. Eric turned towards him with a grim expression before quietly closing the door.
Sam waited for several minutes, listening. He heard the water running briefly in the upstairs bathroom, followed by silence. He turned his face up to the moon, praying for Sookie’s safety while asking her forgiveness. There was nothing more he could do tonight to help her, but he was not yet defeated. His human form seamlessly morphed into that of a hawk, and he shot up into the air, letting out a shrill raptor’s cry as he sped away.
After dismissing the shifter, Eric’s sole focus was on the beauty in his arms, who was laying limply, as if dead. He was concerned. Whatever had taken place at the cemetery was not a simple case of sleepwalking. He knew it was possible to communicate with spirits who had not yet crossed over into their final realm, though he personally had not had the experience. It appeared that the woman’s grandmother had a message to relay to her, and one that apparently alluded to a man. He was intrigued but also worried about the meaning of the omen.
He floated upstairs and gently placed Sookie on her bed. He went to her bathroom and moistened a washcloth with warm water before kneeling at the side of the bed. As he began gently wiping her tear and dirt-streaked face, she started to stir. He froze, momentarily torn between dashing away and staying by her side.
Suddenly, Sookie’s eyes popped open. She turned to him, a dawning awareness and surprise on her face as she whispered, “It’s you!”
AN: Ruh roh! What do you think?