WAIT. HOLD THE PHONE!
What’s this? Another chapter posted today. It’s can’t be!
Oh, but it is! Crazy, right?
So, I finished writing the story today. The last two chapters are with my beta now, and I’m planning to post a chapter a day until it’s complete.
I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for sticking with me and for all the wonderful reviews I got today. I’m not sure I can get back to you for the last chapter, we’ll have to see what’s doing with my arm after my appointment with my surgeon tomorrow.
For anyone that didn’t know, I had an endo-button procedure to repair a distal biceps tendon repair back in February. It is, hands down, the worst freaking thing I’ve ever been through – and I’ve had my share of medical drama. Unfortunately, the darned thing still isn’t right. We’ll see what he says tomorrow.
If he says surgery, I’m definitely going to cry, and might find a short pier to take a long walk off. Cuz seriously, EFF THAT! (I’m only a little serious, btw. Lol)
Anywhoo, thanks for all the love and kind words, I’ll do my best to respond as I can. But if not, know that I adore you all.
MissyDee was my beta for this chapter!
Disclaimer – Don’t own them, wish I did. CH & AB, plus HBO do.
Once our love-a-thon was finished, Eric took me into the bathroom down here and got us both all cleaned up. We spoke some more about Bill’s strange phone call. Eric was certain that it was staged. He thought that Lorena might be forcing Bill to stay with her, and insisted that was why he was so rotten to me. As much as it obviously pained Eric to say it, he admitted that he couldn’t see Bill saying those things to me under any other circumstance. He even went as far as to that he didn’t think Bill meant a word of it.
He actually looked a bit nauseous when he said it, too.
We’d agreed that it was safer for me to spend a few days at one of Eric’s houses. Our theory was that until we knew more about Bill’s involvement with Lorena and that crazy king, I should be out of harm’s way during the hours he couldn’t protect me. I’d tried to argue at first, but then realized how foolish I was being. I wasn’t immortal. I couldn’t defend myself against Weres, and I had no idea how far the vampire queen would go to acquire me. But for once I caught myself being difficult for no reason and stopped. I’d never realized until now how much Bill’s blood had been influencing me.
There weren’t words to express how glad I was that he couldn’t control me anymore.
I worried a bit that Eric would soon being using our bond to manipulate me. It only took a quick inventory of his emotions coursing through me to realize that would never be the case. I thought back to our discussion in the shower and realized that while he sent me feelings of calm and strength, he never once tried to steer my emotions in a particular way. He was simply there for me as I sorted through my own feelings and lent support where he could. I was suddenly ashamed of how awful I’d been to him; for all the horrid things I’d assumed and accused him of since meeting him.
He was nothing like I’d imagined.
Eric felt my emotions and brought me into a gentle embrace, soothing me and telling me that while we couldn’t change the past, there was no point in dwelling on it. He told me he forgave me completely and that from now on we would simply get to know one another on our terms. I very much liked the sound of that. How I’d ever thought so poorly of him, I wasn’t sure. Oh, I knew it was Bill’s influence, but I was mystified that he’d controlled me so completely that I’d missed all the signs Eric had been showing me all along. From the night he’d met me, all Eric had done was try to protect me. Sometimes even at his expense.
I’d been a fool.
But not anymore! My eyes were wide open now. I planned to protect our bond, and this amazing creature, with everything I had in me.
Fuck being someone’s buttmonkey ever again!
Eric held me for several more minutes, sending me wave after wave of forgiveness, calm, protectiveness, and something so soft and warm it made my eyes sting. I’d already told him I could love him if he let me. The feelings he sent suggested he felt the same. Now wasn’t the time to ask though, it could wait. Breaking from our embrace with a gentle kiss to my forehead, he told me we needed to get moving. There was still much to do before dawn. We planned to stop at my house so I could pack some things, knowing that Pam and Chow would be meeting us at Eric’s shortly to go over what they found. The bar had closed about an hour ago and was as empty as a tomb. It was kind of creepy when no one was around, to be honest. So when the phone behind the bar began to ring, I jumped about a foot.
Eric snarled as he went to answer it, but when he did pick it up his voice was pure satin. Whatever it was that Eric heard on the other end made his expression go from sultry to stony in an instant. My feet inched closer without conscious thought. I could vaguely hear Eric’s formal replies, but I was far more focused on the voice wafting through the phone as I got closer. I was slightly surprised I could hear it at all, but guessed it had something to do with all the blood I’d consumed that night. Maybe it was due to our bond? I wasn’t sure. All I knew was that something about the voice on the phone made the hair at the back of my neck stand up.
I was straining to hear more, practically leaning against Eric’s side once I was close enough. All of my senses were on alert. I knew Eric could feel it, the raised eyebrow and feelings of curiosity told me that much, but… something was really wrong here. I knew it. I could feel it in every cell in my body. Whatever happened next was going to be monumental.
And very, very bad.
Eric must have said something that tickled the caller’s fancy because next thing I knew a high, trilling laugh came through the receiver, turning my blood to ice. I knew that laugh. This was so much worse than I’d been expecting. I started to hyperventilate as I broke out into a cold sweat. I felt Eric’s concern at my sudden panic, but I couldn’t process his emotions just then. I was drowning in my own. How was I going to explain all this to him? Would he be angry? Would my life be forfeit if he knew, even though he appeared to care greatly for me?
I didn’t hear Eric disconnect the call. I heard nothing; I knew nothing. Nothing registered in my body other than the panic that shut my mind down completely. It wasn’t until I felt a great, stinging force through the bond that I snapped out of it. It felt as though I’d been slapped.
“What the fuck was that?” I rasped. My hands cradled my head as my body shook violently.
“I’m sorry, my lover,” Eric’s voice sounded pained, almost as if he were on the verge of tears. “I did not know how else to reach you. You’ve been catatonic for almost an hour.”
“You did that?” I gasped.
“Yes,” he sounded contrite, and also deeply worried. I could feel his regret and fear singing in my veins. “I truly am sorry. I did not know what else to do,” he sighed. I noticed for the first time that when Eric was very stressed he stopped using contractions and his accent became thicker.
“Why?” I whispered. “Why would you hurt me like that?” I wanted to cry. I’d just learned to trust him!
“I did not mean to harm you, dear one. And I certainly did not wish for you to be afraid of me. We have only just begun our relationship, Sookie. The last thing I wanted was to jeopardize it, but I did not know what else to do. After my call with the king, you went into almost a downtime. I could not rouse you, no matter what I tried. I have honestly never been so afraid in my existence…” he trailed off.
“I’m sorry I scared you, Eric,” I said sincerely. “But you need to NEVER do that again! That hurt so much more than I can say.” I was honestly still a bit nauseous from it.
“I know,” he whispered. “I felt your pain the moment I did it. I feel awful for hurting you, if that matters at all.”
“It does,” I sighed, reaching over to take his hand. “I have a lot to tell you, Eric, and I’m very scared to do so. But before we get into that, promise me that if I ever go catatonic again you won’t hurt me like that. I understand you needed to reach me, but that was an assault to my mind that I can’t even… it’s like getting mind raped, Eric,” I choked out as I began to cry. “I’m constantly assaulted with other people’s thoughts as it is. I’ve damn near gone crazy more than once from it, truthfully. I can’t have you using our bond to violate me like that – even in an emergency.”
“I understand, and it pains me more than I can say that you feel I violated you in such a way,” he said as he sent his emotions to me. The remorse and guilt I felt from him broke my heart. “But I need to be able to reach you should you ever do this again. Would you consent to me trying this again, only as a last resort, if I were to tone it back?”
I thought about that for a minute, holding up my fingers to signal I needed a moment to really consider his request. The hurt was still pouring off him, but I knew it was pain at the distress he caused me, not that he was hurt by my words. Although… I could feel something else there, something he seemed to be trying to hold back from me. Revulsion, maybe, at himself. I had basically just accused him of rape, so I understood where that feeling would be coming from and yet I still hated that I’d upset him. This bond was something else.
“Yes, I’ll agree to that. But please, start at the lowest setting or something and work your way up until you reach me. But try your hardest to never do that again,” I paused, trying to figure out how to word what I wanted to say. I brought my hand up to cup his beautiful face before looking him in the eyes to apologize. “I’m sorry, Eric. I didn’t mean to imply that you intentionally mind raped me. I know you would never do something like that. And to accuse any man of rape, no matter the form, is not something to do lightly. So I’m very sorry I made you feel like that type of predator. It wasn’t my intent.”
He turned his face into my palm a bit, nuzzling there briefly, before responding. “Thank you, Sookie. I can honestly say I’ve never felt dirtier, or more ashamed, than I did at hearing you liken what I had to do to rape. I do not care for that feeling at all,” he said absently.
“I’ll forgive you, if you forgive me…” I smiled slightly.
“Deal,” he breathed before bringing his lips to mine. The kiss was very sweet, and very brief. But the feelings of warmth and happiness I felt from him would linger in me long after tonight.
It felt a little bit like… love.
“Now tell me, lover, what had you so upset?” he asked in a slightly authoritative tone.
“So, when we shared blood earlier, I… felt some things from you,” I began, suddenly very nervous. This could be very, very bad. He wasn’t going to like that I could read his mind at all. I just knew it.
“Yes, we knew that earlier. I feel there is more to this than you are telling me, Sookie. And I can feel you, remember. Do not be afraid of me, I will not hurt you,” he promised, his voice and eyes burning with the same sincerity I felt in the bond.
“I believe you, but you aren’t’ going to like it,” I warned. “I saw images of your human life, Eric. And I heard you at one point,” I continued, my eyes drifting to my lap away from his.
“That is,” he paused, his emotions churning too fast for me to process as he searched for the right word. “Interesting. What exactly did you see, and what does it have to do with your state hours later?”
“Eric, was your family killed by Weres?” I asked quietly. The shock I felt through the bond nearly knocked me off my feet.
“Yes. How do you know this, Sookie?” His voice was deathly calm, which was more than a little frightening.
“I think that’s what I saw, honey – through your eyes, I believe. There was a woman holding an infant, a man with a crown, I think I saw you getting it on with a woman when the Weres came. Then I saw their dead or dying bodies, I saw you bending to hold the king as he was dying. But, Eric,” I paused and took his hand in mine again.
There was nothing coming from his side of the bond. Nothing. I guessed he’d shut his side down somehow. He didn’t even acknowledge that I’d grabbed his hand. He seemed almost catatonic.
“It’s what I heard that scared me so bad. There was a hooded figure outside the door, and a wolf brought him your father’s crown. His laugh was unforgettable, Eric. It’s the same laugh I heard on the other end of the phone tonight. The king of Mississippi is the one that led the Weres to kill your family.” By the time I finished speaking, I was crying.
His eyes focused on mine for only a second before he practically vanished before my eyes.
I had no idea where I was, how I was going to get home (if was even safe for me to go home), or where Eric had gone. I could suddenly hear a great roaring and the pain I felt in the bond nearly dropped me to my knees. After several deep breaths I rushed up the stairs behind me and did my best to follow the bond, hoping to find Eric.
I trudged past Pam who was all but collapsed on the sofa and followed my instincts to the open sliding glass door off the living room, and out onto the patio. What I heard coming from out back scared the shit out of me! It sounded as if a tornado had touched down behind the house. The wind was whipping, I could hear trees being ripped from the ground and smashed into bits, and the sounds coming from Eric were devastating. He was howling and growling, and occasionally letting out war cries that would stop an enemy’s heart cold.
I’d just begun trying to send him calming feelings when suddenly I was held off the ground by my throat. I’d never even heard her approach!
“What the FUCK did you do to my maker, you little cunt?” Pam hissed in my face, her fangs fully extended, blood tears rolling down her cheeks.
I tried to answer, but I had no air! I sputtered and clawed at her hands to no avail. My stomach was starting to churn and black spots were starting to develop at the corners of my vision.
I was going to die.
“Unhand. My. Woman, Pamela,” Eric commanded behind me, his voice more terrifying than I thought possible.
Love and hugs to all – thanks for taking this journey with me!