AN: I apologize for the delay in updating. Thanks to everyone who left supportive reviews-it means a lot to me and keeps me motivated to continue writing when I would otherwise give up.
Unbeta’d so it is what it is…
As Sam drove the back roads lit by the last rays of the setting sun, he shivered and reflected back on his day…
He still couldn’t shake the feeling that Octavia’s eyes followed him well after he had left her small home. At least the humming vibration that rattled his teeth and bones had subsided. The old woman had undeniable power…
Octavia had sent him on an “errand” on her land, ordering him to return with an “essential ingredient” for the spell.
She chuckled as he gave her a questioning look. “What’s wrong, Mr. Merlotte? You ain’t ‘fraid of snakes, are ya?.” When he shook his head, she continued, “Then you best get to it ’cause the sun be goin’ down soon. I ‘spect it won’ take you long. Where they be chickens they be snakes, sho ’nuff.”
Since her great-granddaughter had arrived back in the house with “gramma’s eggs” he was able to disrobe without fear of discovery in the deep wooded shadows to shift to a hawk. In his shifted form, he quickly located a copperhead that was coiled in some leaves nearby. He crushed the snake’s jaws in his talons to prevent it from biting him. He shifted back and dressed, carrying the incapacitated reptile that continued to writhe in his grasp.
Octavia nodded when she saw the snake. “Good to see you got a poison one. My property’s crawlin’ with ’em. Had to put a protection spell on Amelia so she won’ get bit.” She reached out her hand for the snake while nodding to Sam to not cross the new circle she created while he was outside. He noticed four candles were placed at compass points around her, as well as an old knife on the floor.
He glanced up and saw Amelia watching solemnly from her grandmother’s chair. He licked his lips. “Uh, ma’am, no disrespect intended, but is this something that a child should be seeing?”
Octavia’s sharp eyes appraised him coolly. “Don’ you be worryin’ ’bout Amelia. She been raised ’round voodoo her whole life. She be quiet and won’ interfere none.”
Sam struggled to swallow the thick lump in his throat but nodded his head in acquiescence.
As soon as Octavia began the ritual, she unleashed the full force of her power. Sam gasped. It was if a supernatural dam had just opened the floodgates and drowned the room in raw magic. His head swam and whole body thrummed. He grit his teeth and tried to steel himself against the disorientation and discomfort.
His mind got swept up along with her chanting and he completely lost track of time. Although he witnessed everything in a detached, third person sort of way, he realized that there would be no going back. He had crossed a boundary of sorts; stepped over a line. It was his last chance of saving the woman he loved from an ancient predator. If he failed, if the Sheriff were to find out about his interference, it would cost him his life. Of that he had no doubt.
But then, what if it worked and Northman moved on to another victim? What would stop the next vampire who stumbled across her in that backwoods shit town from taking her? Sam had heard through the supe grapevine that vampires planned to reveal themselves in the not so distant future…What then? He wished he could just scoop Sookie up and run to mountains. Build a cabin, live far the fuck away from the populace off the grid…
He shook himself out of his reverie. Octavia had completed her ritual and was staring at him with one eyebrow raised.
He blinked and cleared his throat. “Um, I’m sorry ma’am. I kind of spaced out there while you-”
“It is done,” she interrupted.
“Oh…wow. Okay. What now?”
“Now you leave and don’t come back no mo’. I be risking my neck crossin’ the North man,” she grumbled.
Sam huffed, “Well, okay. I appreciate your help. And I swear I won’t mention anything about your involvement to him or anyone.”
Octavia snorted. “Shifter, that goes without saying. But you think the Sheriff cain’t put two and two together? He able to figure it out without yo’ help.” She began to mumble under her breath. To Sam, it sounded like she said, “Won’ be ’round much longer to worry ’bout it anyways.” He was about to ask her what she meant, but she called out to Amelia to help her clean up. Apparently he was dismissed.
He stood awkwardly for several seconds while she turned her back to him to go to the kitchen to get cleaning supplies. He opened his mouth but thought better of it and turned to walk away. The faster he was away from the old witch the better he’d feel…
Sam finally breathed a sigh of relief as he turned on to the gravel drive of his bar, heading back towards his trailer. He parked and went inside, making a beeline straight to his fridge to grab a beer. He gulped down half the contents and sat heavily on his couch.
Jesus. What a weird day…
He ran his fingers through his hair and then reached for his cell phone. He scrolled down his contact list to the “S’s”.
Eric watched Sookie sleep. He enjoyed the way her breasts strained against the thin cotton top she wore, as well as how her plump lips temptingly parted as she slept. He trailed his fingertips lightly across her cheek, causing her to moan softly in her sleep.
Once again, he felt his beast stir as he gazed at her. Little did she know how the innocent offer of her blood had tied her that much closer to him. She was now his, and his alone. A fierce surge of obsessive protectiveness coursed through him. He knew that the damned shifter wanted her, but he was nothing more than a minor irritant at this point.
But the more he thought about the little fae hybrid with royal lineage the more concerned he became…He was shocked that another vampire had not stumbled across her given her sweet scent and beauty. And her telepathy…It was only a matter of time before another of his kind found out about her. While he would not hesitate to end any motherfucker who dared sniff around her, a terrible thought occurred to him. His Queen would likely try to procure such a prize should news of her travel to her court.
Eric’s fangs snicked down and eyes glowed in anger at the thought of his lover subjected to the whims of Sophie-Anne. It was unacceptable. No, he would have to form a permanent bond, to mark her as a show of ownership to others of his kind.
Biting his wrist, he tore a small gash and let the blood flow trickle into her mouth. Just a few drops, but it was enough. In addition to the small amounts he had injected into her bloodstream over the course of the past few days, he could now feel his essence surging strongly throughout her body, in time to her heartbeats.
That was good. While it wasn’t yet a full bond, he would be able to trace her without difficulty now. His beast gloated in triumph as the man felt a sense of masculine pride.
He continued staring at her, until moved by her beauty, he went in search of paper and a pencil…
He went downstairs over to her phone where he had seen a stationary pad. As he reached for it, he noticed the message light blinking on her answering machine. His curiosity and possessiveness flared. Who was calling his woman? He smirked when he thought that the shifter had likely attempted to contact her. Well, he could call all he wanted. After tonight, she was undeniably his and his alone. He would never let her go, not with the way her sweet blood and beauty called to him. And there was something else, something that drew him to her like a moth to the flame. He had never experienced such an attraction, such an obsession for another being.
He reflected back on Sookie’s words about her Gran using the fae talisman to wish her to be with her soul mate. It was strange…after over a millennium, even after becoming a maker, he had resigned himself to an immortal life of bachelorhood, to an endless stream of faceless fucks and feeds. Since meeting Sookie, he had not as much as looked twice at another woman. And after tasting her honey essence, he doubted he’d be able to ever be able to stomach anything but her blood. Not that he had any intention of drinking from another, especially after his little lover expressed her desire to feed him and exposed her jealousy and possessiveness over him.
He smiled. Yes, she was his now…
He grabbed the paper and pencil and headed up the stairs.
Sookie teetered on the edge of consciousness, aware on some level that daylight had come. She stretched and reached over, feeling for…Eric! Her eyes flew open, jolting her out of sleep as she suddenly remembered last night.
Oh, God, last night…she felt a heated tingle slither down her abdomen as she thought about Eric’s talented mouth and fingers, which had brought her to a level of ecstasy she had only read about in her romance novels or seen on television (her experience with reading people’s thoughts was that sex was often disappointing in reality). And…they hadn’t even had actual sex yet. She suppressed a shudder.
She sat up in bed, running her hand through her hair. Glancing over at her nightstand, she saw a folded piece of paper with her name written on it. It was a piece of her stationery that she kept downstairs near the phone to jot down messages. Leaning over, she grabbed the note, eagerly opening it. Her eyes rapidly scanned the strong, sure script that she recognized to be Eric’s writing.
It is with great reluctance that I leave your side. Dawn approaches and I must return to my home in Shreveport. I more than enjoyed our evening together, and in particular how we ended it…I will be in touch later.
Underneath the brief note was a sketch he had done of her while she was sleeping. It was of her upper body, one arm thrown over her head and hair wild on her pillow. Her lips were slightly parted and she blushed as her eyes swept down the drawing. She could tell he spent particular attention to accentuating her breasts. She was amazed at his talent. In just a few deft strokes he had captured her likeness. In fact, she looked…beautiful. Was this how he envisioned her?
She felt lightheaded as she recalled his audacity while he stroked himself, the erotic sensation of his fangs sinking into her neck as his fingers pushed…
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath as she chastised herself. No use getting worked up, for goodness sake! Time to get a move on, as Gran would say.
After taking a shower and blow-drying her hair, she headed downstairs to the kitchen. She started the coffee and popped a piece of bread into the toaster. She glanced at her answering machine. It indicated she had several voice messages. She pressed the play button and went back into the kitchen to spread strawberry preserves on her toast. She grabbed a paper towel to prevent crumbs from falling on the floor as she ate.
The messages (all five of them) were from Sam. He wanted to speak to her, he wanted to apologize, it was urgent, could she please come to the bar, blah blah blah.
Sookie sighed. She supposed it was time she faced Sam again. A talk to straighten things out… She finished her coffee and toast and then headed upstairs to get dressed.
Although Sookie wasn’t on the clock, she went ahead and parked her new car in the back of the bar and went through the employee entrance. She could feel Sam in his office but for some reason his thoughts seemed more…opaque. She shrugged internally.
His office door was open but she went ahead and knocked.
He looked up from his desk, his eyes wide as saucers. His nostrils flared as he stared at her. He jumped up and grabbed her by the shoulders as he scented her. She reeked of vampire…a particular vampire. Shit.
His eyes took inventory of her, searching for bite marks. “Cher! Are you okay? You-”
She interrupted him. “Of course I’m okay. Good lord, why wouldn’t I be?” She narrowed her eyes as she tried to get a bead on his thoughts but couldn’t. Why the hell couldn’t she read his thoughts while he was touching her?
He stepped back and took a deep breath. He had to reign in his anger and alarm. If he came across too forceful he’d just push her away again. He had come too far to drive her off now. He’d have to tread lightly.
“Sorry, Sook. I’ve just been worried about you. I hadn’t heard from you and after the way things were between us when I last saw you, I wasn’t sure if you’d even want to come back to work here.” He smiled but it didn’t reach his eyes.
Sookie could tell he was tense. Was he that upset that she hadn’t been in? Geez…
“Look, Sam, I’m sorry about leaving you high and dry here, but I really needed some time away. I was pretty upset with you.”
He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah, about that cher. I’m awful sorry. I swear I wasn’t trying to spy on-”
“I really don’t want to talk about that, Sam. Let’s just move on. I’m going to try to forget that happened.” She blushed a deep crimson. “But I’m going to warn you. You better not try that crap again. I don’t care what form you’re in. Man or animal, you make yourself known when you visit. NO snooping around. And no unsolicited advice about who I date. Understood?”
Sam swallowed thickly and felt a surge of guilt.
“Yeah, sure, Sook. Like I said, I’m sorry.”
“All right. Apology accepted. Now, moving on here. Did you want to talk about something else? You sounded like it was pretty important.”
“Uh, well first of all I wanted to patch things up between us, ya know? And, yeah. I’m really shorthanded tonight. Arlene’s kids are sick and she can’t get a sitter. I was wondering if you’d help me out and cover for her. It’s not your usual shift, but I figured you might need to make up the lost wages and I sure could use your help.”
Sookie’s heart sank. She had hoped to see Eric tonight and thought back to his note, how he had mentioned “until tonight.” Damn.
“All right, Sam. I’ll cover for her.”
“Until closing, cher?”
“Yeah, until closing.”
He beamed and gave her a hug. “Thanks, Sook. You’re a lifesaver. I knew I could count on you.”
She patted him gingerly and backed up. “Yeah, that’s me. Good ole reliable Sookie.” She turned to leave. “I’ll see you in a little while. I have a few errands to run.”
“Yeah, ok. Thanks again.”
Sookie got in her car and sighed. She needed to call Eric and leave him a message. She looked at her cell phone and realized she didn’t have his number. Crap. She called information. There was no listing for an “Eric Northman” in Shreveport. Absently, she clicked on her contact list and saw a new entry for “E.” She smirked. Highhanded vampire…
As she dialed his number and left a message, Sam stood at the back door and watched Sookie make the phone call in her car. He ground his teeth when he saw she was driving the Mercedes he’d seen in her yard. Ugh. Her “gift” from Northman. It turned his stomach.
He could hear her regretfully cancelling her plans for the night with the Sheriff. Good. Great. Now all he had to do was try to keep Sookie working nights until Selah could get to him and let Octavia’s spell work it’s magic…After Sookie rejected Northman, he’d have to figure out a plan to keep her safe for the long run.
He had a feeling he’d have his work cut out for him.
AN: I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday! Best wishes to all.