Chapter 17 – The Way

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There were moments when it was as if they were back in those days when Claude had truly loved Breandan. His cousin was playful one moment, demanding the next. He pressed Breandan so hard they barely slept for two days. There were restraints and games. Claude took away Breandan’s phone and ordered him to remain unclothed.

It was on the second day Claude slipped. He growled that he wanted to wipe away any memory of the mongrel’s time here and it killed it for Breandan.

“That’s why it had to be here, isn’t it?” Breandan stilled beneath Claude’s hands. “Because you’re jealous. This isn’t about you and me at all, it’s about Sookie.”

“That’s not so!” Claude protested, but from that point on, it was just another encounter between consenting beings. They were getting what they each wanted, but Breandan no longer felt that deep connection to Claude, not in the way he felt when he was with Sookie. Instead of erasing her memory, every motion and movement seemed to bring her more fully to mind.

On the morning of the third day, Breandan heard his phone chime. He fished it from Claude’s pants pocket. There was a text from Preston Pardloe, so he answered it, but before he could browse through the rest of his messages, Claude was on him, taking his phone, and demanding his attention by fastening his mouth around Breandan’s morning erection. The play became rougher and by evening, Breandan was ready to go home.

He heard his phone chime again. “Oh, no!” Claude scolded. “We’re not doing that again!” and he tried to head Breandan off.

“People will be wondering,” Breandan growled. “I haven’t checked in with anyone.”

“You checked in with the hotel this morning,” Claude pouted. “Isn’t that enough?” and then Claude’s eyes narrowed, “Or maybe it’s because you didn’t check in with her?”

“You forget yourself!” Breandan snapped, and then the phone chimed a second time and rolled into the buzz of an actual call. “Give it to me!” Breandan demanded. He thought for a moment that Claude would try to play some form of keep away with him, but his cousin must have seen his rising anger because he tossed the phone, purposely making it awkward to catch.

“Baby!” Breandan hissed again. It was his Father and with a sigh, Breandan connected.

“Where the fuck are you?” It was shocking. Rogan could be abrupt, but he was rarely profane.

“On a trip, I told you…” Breandan started to explain.

“Well, it doesn’t look like a trip to me, not with where your phone locator has paced you,” his father snarled. “Get your ass back here right now.”

“To Slievemore?” Breandan asked. “You’re there? What happened?”

“I don’t explain anything over phones,” Rogan snarled and the line disconnected.

Claude watched Breandan pack with sullen eyes. “I bet this is about her,” he pouted.

“She has a name,” Breandan shook his head. He stilled, looking out the window toward the sea, “I don’t think we’ll be doing this again for a long time, Claude.”

“What are you talking about?” and Claude started to look wary.

“I don’t think this is right for me anymore,” Breandan told him.

“And why do you feel that way? What is ‘right’ for you? That thing?” and Claude’s voice started to rise. “She can’t give you what I can! What is she? A creature, not even one of us!”

“That’s true,” Breandan told Claude, “Compared to us, she may seem a creature, but it doesn’t matter. My heart is at peace when I’m with her.”

“So, what does that mean? You’re going to pledge your undying devotion and cling to her as she ages?” and Claude’s eyes narrowed, “You’ll be a laughingstock! Your own Father will cast you out!”

Breandan thought of Marta and Dieter, the German couple who visited his hotel. Marta’s eyes watched Dieter the way Sookie’s watched him when she was happy. “I could appear to age with her,” Breandan shrugged. “I haven’t experienced that with anyone.”

“And who would you fuck?” Claude looked appalled. “Surely, you wouldn’t continue to do that with her as she sags and wrinkles?”

“Of course not!” Breandan laughed. “I don’t think aging humans still couple, do you? No, I’d have others take care of my needs. I wouldn’t embarrass her that way.” Breandan thought of how he felt when she told him she loved him. Just holding her at those times warmed him in a way he wasn’t sure he’d ever experienced before. “I was happy in Boston. She loved me, not because of what I could give her, but because of me. She didn’t know who I was, she didn’t care about my money. She cared about me!”

“You’re a fool!” Claude’s face was twisted in disbelief. “You’d throw away everything we have, everything we’ve been to each other? For that… thing?”

“I’d throw it all away to be loved for who I am, not for what I am.” Breandan thought again of Marta and Dieter, who after fifty years still held each other’s hands. He remembered the way his Mother’s eyes would shine when she saw his Father. “That’s who she reminds me of,” he said out loud, then realized he’d done it. Claude was looking at him as if he’d lost his mind and he supposed he had.

Breandan finished packing and started walking through the door, but he couldn’t leave it this way. Someday Sookie would die. Claude might be selfish, but there was an affection left between them. He set down his suitcase and walked to where Claude was standing. His cousin was almost shaking, his face an odd mix of anger and something else. Breandan wasn’t fooled. This was hurting both of them.

“Goodbye, cousin,” he whispered and kissed Claude’s lips. “We both know this isn’t forever, but for now, I won’t have another compete with her.”

“This isn’t like Mae, is it?” Claude asked.

“No,” Breandan acknowledged, “This is both better and worse.”

 

xxxXXXxxx

 

Breandan tried calling his Father once he was on the road. The phone went straight to voice mail, which wasn’t unusual, but his Father didn’t call him back, which was.

“Just as well,” Breandan mumbled. He would have preferred to know what emergency required cutting his trip short, but it was a good excuse to wrap himself in thoughts of Sookie. Mentally, he catalogued the various bruises and marks on his body. He knew humans were squeamish about sharing when they weren’t part of the coupling, so he focused energy on healing himself.

For a moment, he wondered if Sookie was behind his Father’s anger, but he dismissed it. If she was damaged or dead, Rogan’s wrath would have been limitless. The sun above him was shining, not a cloud in sight. True, Rogan’s gift wasn’t control of the air, but his influence over water this close to the coast could still bring storms when he was enraged. It had to be something else.

“Sookie,” Breandan smiled. The name felt sweet on his lips. This time with Claude had been good in some respects. It reminded him of who he was and that helped put Sookie Stackhouse in proper perspective. She was not his pet, she was more, but she wasn’t Fae.

Rogan hadn’t shared whether he’d told his brother, Niall, about Sookie, but Breandan couldn’t imagine his Father had the patience to wait. Rogan loved gloating and he loved having the thing you didn’t. It would make telling Niall irresistible. Breandan would need to confirm Rogan’s plan to blackmail Niall was in place, but once he did, he could allow himself to breathe easier in pursuing his relationship with Sookie.

If Niall was to dance to Rogan’s tune, there was no need for Sookie to ever leave Breandan’s side! She could be within his arms, smiling for him, and making him feel good about himself for the rest of her natural life. The idea that she would end twisted Breandan’s heart a bit, but it was the way of things. He knew at some point his Father might insist Sookie breed, ensuring a line of captives, and that thought was disturbing. He wouldn’t want to share her with anyone, but perhaps if they found a human male who pleased them both, they could dismiss him when his job was done.

There’s science,’ Breandan thought, but it could create the suspicion that he was father to that child, which was unacceptable. It wasn’t that Breandan didn’t like children. They were amusing, but having anyone, even innocently, think he would sire a child with a hybrid was offensive.

Breandan could see her, challenging him, initiating sex, sharing her affection with him, and his motives wouldn’t be questioned. He would just be doing his job, keeping her consent strong, ensuring she couldn’t wander away from them. ‘I will get what I want,’ he smiled, ‘and Father won’t be able to complain!’

Breandan pulled up to the front doors of The Grand, but there was no lobby attendant stepping out to take his car. That was unusual and Breandan experienced a moment of alarm. He walked into the lobby and glanced around. The area was deserted, except for Preston Pardloe who stood behind the desk. “What happened?” Breandan asked his Assistant Manager.

“Mae!” Preston’s expression was grief-stricken, “Your Father is in your apartment waiting for you. The King has frozen all the guests in their rooms until his business is done!”

That was cause for concern. No one doled out that kind of magic lightly. Whatever happened, it involved Breandan’s bitch of a wife and was bad enough for Rogan to place a stay spell. Breandan imagined his guests upstairs in their rooms, staring blankly at walls, and waiting to be released. “How long?” he asked Preston.

“Fifteen, twenty minutes,” Preston whispered. At least that was something. If the humans were held too long, bad things happened. They needed bathrooms and food. Rogan could literally kill them by holding them in place.

Determined to get this resolved quickly, Breandan walked into his apartment. “Father?” he called.

“Here,” Rogan was just around the wall, sitting at the small table. He was playing with a chain. It took a moment before Breandan recognized it as the souvenir he’d bought Sookie. It went against his grain to give anyone who wasn’t Fae something permanent. Experiences, flowers, and music were the currency of relationships with those who were not of the Seelie. By buying her this trinket he’d broken rules, but he couldn’t imagine something as minor was behind his Father’s actions.

“How long do you intend to hold those people upstairs?” he asked, and then a thought occurred to him. “Did you bring me here to kill me?”

“Not this time,” his Father was watching him, eyes wide open, so Breandan knew he meant it. Pretending it didn’t bother him, Breandan asked, “Where’s Sookie?”

“She’s gone. Mae betrayed me,” Rogan snarled. “She found a way to release the hybrid and she’s paid the price!”

“You killed Mae?” It rocked Breandan. He had never loved Mae, but he remembered a time he liked her. There had been the long ages they tried to procreate and the disappointment they shared. It had created a bond between them and the thought that he would never see her again was jarring.

“That bitch took it into her head to torment my prisoner or did you forget that’s what your little pet really is? She’s mine, Breandan, and you’d do well to remember it!” Rogan’s blood was still up and remembering his grievance was working it up again. Breandan knew his Father well enough to recognize how dangerous he was in this state. Rogan would regret killing Mae later, but anyone who questioned him now risked sharing her fate.

“Mae’s family will seek retribution,” Breandan said levelly, treating this as any other business transaction.

“They should pay me for maintaining such a worthless excuse of a Fae,” and then Rogan’s eyes narrowed again. “Preston told me the vampires helped the hybrid leave. Did you know your pet was friendly with them?”

Taking a page from his Father’s book, Breandan went on the offensive, “Of course, I knew. Since you are the one who gave them permission to open a pub here, I assumed you were on good terms with them. I wouldn’t dream of questioning your decisions in these matters,” and he left it hanging.

Rogan eyed him warily before saying, “I’ve summoned them here. The female accompanied the hybrid. She will tell us where she took her or she’ll regret it!”

“Father,” Breandan warned, “I don’t dispute your right to demand justice, but killing Mae could spur a battle among the Seelie. Would you risk war with the Unseelie as well?”

“Did you give her permission to leave our territory?” Rogan asked.

“Of course not,” Breandan snapped back. “And since she is here by consent, it means she is still within your territory, My King,” and Breandan bowed his head. Paying court to his Father at these times could defuse his anger.

“Unless my prisoner is no longer in thrall to you,” and Rogan leaned forward. He tossed the necklace on the table and turned the pad of paper he’d been looking at toward his son. Breandan looked down to see his own name. It was circled and heavy arrows had been drawn, pointing it to the column of Reasons to Leave.

“I assumed you had things well in hand,” Rogan was watching Breandan closely and the idea that his Father might kill him yet returned.

“I warned you about leaving Sookie here with Mae,” Breandan reminded his Father. “I remember telling you that my wife was a poor choice for this assignment.”

“Mae had no particular attachment to you,” Rogan snarled, his words cruel even if Breandan knew them to be true. “I willingly paid for her trips and her toys. She had no reason to betray me.”

“Next time, Father,” Breandan pushed his point, “Consider trusting my opinion.”

Breandan was about to ask what exactly Mae had done, but Preston knocked on the door. “Your guests, Majesty,” he bowed low, leaving the vampires inside the room.

Northman looked as he always did, dressed all in black and supremely relaxed. Pam was dressed in pink, which suited her even if it seemed a foolish color for a night-walker. “You summoned?” and Pam hitched one hip and crossed her arms.

“Shut the door,” Rogan ordered Breandan. Northman smirked as Breandan walked past him, his look saying all too clearly, ‘Lackey!

When Breandan returned, he had to take one of the chairs from the small kitchen table unless he wanted to sit next to Pam on the small sofa, which he didn’t. “Where did you take her?” Rogan was asking Pam. He was using his authority to display how seriously he considered the matter, but the vampires didn’t seem to understand. Northman raised his eyebrow and Pam laughed.

“Have you lost something?” she asked.

“I’ve already killed one woman tonight. I have no problem making it two!” Rogan threatened.

The effect was immediate. Northman stood, his fangs extended, and then Pam was off the couch as well. His Father’s sword in hand and Breandan jumped up, his hands raised to stand between them. “Stop! As my Father said, there has already been violence tonight. There is no reason to add to the carnage!” He turned to Pam. He knew Sookie had formed an unlikely friendship with the vampire. His woman had told him over dinner before he left. Sookie was shy and pleased about it. Breandan wasn’t pleased, but since it was Sookie’s only friendship besides himself, he held back his disapproval.

“Sookie is missing,” he told Pam. “We are worried for her. My Assistant Manager tells us that you were the last one seen with her, that you might have taken her to where she’s now staying.” Breandan could see the tension dropping, so he returned to his chair and made a show of sitting, then waited for the rest to follow. “As her friend, you know I brought Sookie here. I feel responsible for her…”

“You tricked your way into her bed and you’ve been lying to her ever since,” Northman didn’t bother hiding his feelings on the matter.

“We are Fae,” Breandan snapped back, “You know we are unable to lie.”

“Lying by omission is worse than a straight-forward lie,” Eric persisted, “Sookie came to Ireland with you because she had expectations about your relationship.”

“I made her no promises, “Breandan said quickly, glancing at his Father, and then wondered why he was defending himself to this creature. “She knew from the beginning what I am.” It wasn’t exactly true. Sookie had known Breandan was different from that first time they were together, but she didn’t know that difference was Fae.

“Maybe you didn’t make promises,” Eric continued, “but you didn’t spell things out for her either.”

Pam broke in, “If Sookie really understood how things were between you, she wouldn’t have left you along with the crappy job you gave her. It’s not as if any of you made things very easy for her.” Pam turned to Rogan, “You can stop panicking. Sookie hasn’t gone far, just down the road a mile or so. She’s found another job where they’ll treat her better and a place to live where she has a bed of her own.”

“This is unacceptable!” Rogan flared. “If she won’t stay here where we can watch her, I will take her into the Forts! I won’t have her wandering!”

“And then what?” Eric asked. “How long before Niall finds out what you’ve done? He’d know you would never willingly take a hybrid into a Seelie stronghold, not unless she was your prisoner. He’ll assume she was taken without her consent and he’d be right.”

“Is this your doing, Northman?” Rogan hissed. “Are you the one who told Niall she was here?”

“Why would I?” Eric shrugged. “You and I have an accord! I paid off my debt and I remained behind in America because we had a deal. Now I have a stake in Slievemore and the bar is performing well. You are getting your cut, so I’d say we have a lucrative partnership, Rogan. Why would I want to endanger that?” and the vampire sat back, crossing his legs at the knee.

Breandan watched his Father’s jaw work. He held his breath. It was within his Father’s power to take Sookie into the Forts, but he hated the idea. She would be mocked and abused by all who came there. He couldn’t see that happen to her. “I think the emergency is over, Father,” he said evenly. “Sookie remains within your territory, which suggests some part of her consent to be here remains. If someone were to ask, I’d think her remaining here and working at a place not our own improves on the idea that this is her choice, made of her own free will. Niall will believe she’s happy here and he’ll have no excuse to interfere.”

Breandan drew a breath before saying, “It is true that my influence with Sookie seems to have diminished. She wasn’t happy working here, but, without Mae, there is no reason to think she won’t return to The Grand.” Breandan almost said, ‘my bed,’ but he didn’t want to think about that. He needed his Father to leave so he could find out why Sookie wasn’t here for him.

“Wouldn’t hold my breath,” Pam said under hers.

“What does that mean?” Breandan asked.

Pam smirked as she shared, “Because the straw that broke the camel’s back was when Mae told Sookie you cheated on her…with Mae.” Rogan turned hard eyes toward his son as Pam added, “Humans only get crazy about monogamy when they believe themselves to be in a committed relationship and that’s what you led Sookie to believe!”

“But, this isn’t reasonable! I never promised her that!” Breandan was confused. Sookie hadn’t asked for his fidelity and he hadn’t offered it. Breandan knew enough of humans to know when they married they promised to remain faithful to each other, even If they didn’t. He and Sookie weren’t married under any law or even engaged in the way of humans. Sookie told him she didn’t wish to marry him. “Why would she assume some human notion of faithfulness? She knows what I am!” he protested. “She never followed human customs. Why would she be upset?”

Pam laughed. “I’m not sure what standards you think she didn’t believe in, maybe standards from a hundred years ago, but believe me, Sookie Stackhouse does hold us to human standards. She is a stickler for manners and she follows modern rules and customs.” Pam nodded toward Eric, “As my Maker said, she had expectations and when she found out you violated them, she felt betrayed. She doesn’t behave like other humans you know. She can’t just be glamoured…”

Breandan wondered how the vampires knew this. He didn’t like Northman, but he was finding he liked Pam even less. “Sookie and I have an agreement,” he interrupted. “She is in love with me and that gives me dominion over her.”

“Wouldn’t bet your Father’s kingdom on it!” and Pam laughed again.

“Tell me where she is!” Breandan leaped up. He was done sparring. He wanted to talk with Sookie and bring her back. In his agitation, he started moving toward Pam determined to shake the information from her if necessary.

“Sit down!” Rogan ordered. Breandan realized that in that moment he’d revealed too much. “I thank you for your assistance in this matter,” Rogan the diplomat was back. “You could have fed the hybrid’s anger and with her damaged consent, probably taken her from my territory. You didn’t and I am in your debt. If you would, please give Preston the hybrid’s address. On behalf of myself and my son, I pledge that we will not harass the hybrid. However, I will assign assets to monitor her.” Rogan stood and they all rose with him.

“Always a pleasure,” Eric nodded and he winked at Breandan as he walked out the door.

Once the vampires left, Rogan turned to Breandan, “I can see now it is better she is not living with you anymore.” Breandan waited. There was nothing he could say that would make this better. “This is your territory, Son, and I want her watched. Leave her where she is. If you choose to play with her that is your choice, but I expect you to remember who and what you are! There is a reason we hate hybrids and I can see that you need to remember that lesson. They are like us, but aren’t. Their uniqueness attracts us and that makes them dangerous.”

“Sookie…” Breandan started, but Rogan cut him off. The King rose and waved his hand, releasing all the guests who had been frozen within the walls of the hotel from his spell.

“Breandan, I have asked you not to call her by name! It breeds too much familiarity. She is a hybrid, Son, nothing more. Don’t be fooled by her manners. Don’t disgrace yourself as Niall did! He could lose his kingdom over his indulgence. He is so ashamed of what he did that he is paying me tribute to keep his secret. Would you give someone, that vampire for instance, that kind of power over you? Is she really worth that price?”

Rogan walked closer and placed his hand on his son’s shoulder. It was a rare show of affection and Breandan wished he could believe it was sincere. “Fuck her. Use her. Enjoy her pretty smiles, but never forget who you are. Visit the Forts. Visit Claude. Remind yourself what it is to be Fae, my Son. Ours is a proud race, one that should not be diminished by tainted blood!”

Breandan walked Rogan back through the lobby. “Will you contact Mae’s kin?” he asked.

“I’m sure they have already been visited by her shade,” Rogan smirked. “She can explain to them how her actions led to her death.”

The lobby assistant was back. He jumped to the door, running to fetch Rogan’s vehicle. Breandan used this time with his Father to ask, “How did the visit with Niall go?”

“He moaned when he saw her picture,” and Rogan looked triumphant. “It was sweet, Son, that feeling of revenge. I pray you never have reason to seek it but, if you do, rest assured, it sits well.”

Breandan watched his Father drive off. Rogan never asked Breandan’s feelings about Mae. As usual, the King assumed the feelings of those around him would simply adjust to suit his own desires. ‘At least, I have Sookie,’ Breandan thought. He knew what the vampires said, but when did the Unseelie know anything? Sookie came to him, willingly. She opened her legs and she opened her heart to him. She might be angry with him for the moment, but Breandan was sure it wouldn’t take much to win her back.

As he took her address from Preston, Breandan noticed he was still sore. Claude had used him hard last night. Bruises were easy to heal, abrasions and rips, less so. ‘One night without her won’t hurt,’ Breandan thought. ‘I’ll let her sleep and then I’ll convince her to return in the morning. It will give her time to remember how she yearns for me.’

 

xxxXXXxxx

 

Eric Northman waited until he and Pam turned the corner leading away from The Grand before pulling out his phone to text Niall Brigant.

“Why are you getting yourself in the middle of this?” Pam asked. “Neither of those bastards are paying you. I don’t see any benefit to keeping your nose in their business.”

“If Niall wanted to ride in and save his Grand-daughter, he would have as soon as I texted him about her,” Eric was looking intently at his screen. “Instead, he asked me to provide regular updates.”

“Like I said,” Pam huffed. “Niall may be interested, but not enough to make a solid offer.”

“Not true,” and Eric turned his phone toward Pam. “He has offered me a Fae’s favor.”

Pam stopped, taking the phone from his hand and studying the text. “That could be helpful,” she smiled. “Have you decided what you’ll demand yet?”

“No.” Eric resumed walking up the hill toward his pub. “Right now, we have everything we need.” They turned into the alley to see people hanging out in front of Ghoul’s Kiss. “Good! It will be another busy night,” Eric rubbed his hands together. “The first of the walkers have arrived in town and I arranged twice the usual number of musicians. Let’s make sure the drinks are generous. These humans use social media. If we play this right, we’ll be the top pub in town this season. I’d rather Rogan got a cut this year instead of a full share from his own places,” and Eric grinned, “Breandan, too!”

It was a good night. The first outsiders were definitely in town, buying plenty of alcohol and wearing footwear that marked them as hikers. There were couples, old and young, but there were also groups of students. The other tourists, the ones who stayed in town for days or weeks, wouldn’t start showing up in numbers until the warmer weather of May, but still, there were few chairs open tonight and that boded well.

Eric watched his staff working and found himself satisfied. You never knew how people would work out until the bar was stacked three deep and the waitresses struggling to keep up. So far, his hires looked solid. He watched as a petite blond hustled around her tables delivering drinks and Eric found himself thinking of Sookie. It seemed to happen a lot.

The woman, Moira, flashed him a smile as she came to the bar to drop off drink orders. Eric leaned in, caught her eye, and said, “Break, in my office.”

It was one of the hazards of being in a smaller city. Feeding had to be done more carefully. He would be quick with Moira, taking only what was necessary, but not indulging his other needs. There was no shower in the back yet, which made jacking off in his hand inconvenient. He supposed he could fuck Moira if he wished. She signaled her interest, she was no virgin and glamour would cover the rest, but the waitress looked too much like Sookie and it made Eric uncomfortable.

Fortunately, Chelsea would be coming in later and she knew what he was. She’d been to the club in Carrick and had no problem both feeding and fucking him. She was relatively quiet when she came and more importantly, she kept her mouth shut afterward. It was a winning combination.

Pam was scrambling to locate her meals here. She preferred women who liked women and in a place like Slievemore, those people lived very quietly. Things would improve once the tourist season was in full swing and there was always TruBlood when their usual feeders had been tapped too frequently. Still, Slievemore was not an optimal location for those of their kind.

Pam’s saving grace at the moment were her regular visits to Carrick. Chow, their new manager at Carrick’s Ghoul’s Kiss, was doing well. His dark looks and tattoos attracted attention in the more metropolitan center, but it was his management skills that were the real star as far as Eric and Pam were concerned. The clientele grew, the venue evolved, and the seats both inside and outside remained packed. It really wasn’t necessary for Pam to go as often as she did, but the access to established partners was her added benefit.

“Break!” the bartender called and Eric watched as Moira’s eyes glassed over a little. She set down her tray and walked toward the back. Taking a last look around, he followed her.

She was standing in the middle of his office with her arms at her side. Eric approached her, dropping his fangs. He stroked up her arm and moved her hair from her neck. Standing in back of her, he allowed himself to imagine this was Sookie. He wondered what the hybrid’s blood would taste like. He’d been close enough to take in her unique scent, wheat and honey and sunshine. He purposely held his breath as he dipped down to first lick and then slide his fangs into Moira’s neck. She shuddered just a little and he felt himself grow hard as his eyes rolled back, her blood coating his tongue.

With a start, he withdrew his fangs and leaned back from her. He pricked his finger, smearing his blood over the wounds, watching them heal. Grabbing the box of wet wipes, he cleaned her neck and then checked himself in a mirror before leaning back on his desk, capturing her eyes and saying, “Again, thanks, Moira, you’re doing a great job!”

She shook and blinked a couple times, then caught herself. “Thank you, Mr. Northman. I appreciate it,” she stammered.

She looked a little lost, so Eric said, “That’s all. I just wanted to thank you without making it a big thing in front of the others.”

Moira looked a little more confident, and then left, pulling the door closed behind her.

Eric locked the door, returning to sit in his desk chair. He released himself and his hard length sprang forward. He rolled his pants down over his hips and spitting in his hand, he started to stroke, rubbing his thumb over his head, “Sookie!” he said out loud, his eyes closed, imagining it was the blonde from Boston who was doing this to him. He wondered what her mouth would feel like on him, her warm breath coating him as her hair tumbled across his thighs. He knew how her mouth tasted and his thoughts returned their kiss in the park. It had been sweet, until she ruined it with her regrets. It didn’t take long, but it rarely did after feeding, the reality of blood and sex so tightly interwoven they were almost the same.

The wet wipes were close by and Eric reached for the box with one hand while squeezing himself through to the last with his other. He took his time cleaning up.

Sookie Stackhouse,’ the name came from nowhere and everywhere. Eric leaned back, beginning to stroke himself again.

He had been intrigued when he was approached by Rogan to go to Boston as a way to pay off his debt. Eric had made the mistake of wagering with the Fae King over a game of chess, never a smart move, and the King had twisted his luck to ensure Northman lost. Eric smirked as he remembered those first few nights in America, scouting for places he could stand unobserved, keeping watch on the house where Sookie lived. It was bright in Boston, too bright to risk daytime surveillance, so he’d hired someone, but had let them go when he confirmed his target, ‘Sookie,’ his brain sighed again, worked nights, sleeping until early afternoon most days.

Eric couldn’t think of her without his lips curving up. She was short, shorter than he liked, but her lower lip was full and the sight of her breasts make his hands ache. He was a large man and he came from a time when thin meant starvation. She was round in all the places he liked. He imagined holding her hips, pressing into firm but yielding flesh, her sighs soft under him. His hand quickened his pace as he remembered the way she fondled him in his dog form. She hadn’t been afraid of him. As a thinking human, she should have kept her distance, but she hadn’t. From the first night, she’d walked right up to him, placing her hands on him. What’s more, she’d made an effort to feed him, revealing a kind and thoughtful heart.

Each night as Eric learned more about her, he found himself more attracted. He was hired to keep her under watch until the Fae Prince arrived to place her in thrall, but as he watched her tending her Mother and dispensing kindnesses to strangers, he couldn’t help hoping Sookie would see through Breandan Brigant and send him packing. When he realized Breandan had met Sookie and she’d rejected him, Eric couldn’t help it. His admiration for her grew. There was something about her that was more than she appeared, but it didn’t last.

One night she told him in his black dog form that she’d met someone wonderful and Eric felt his heart sink. The fucker was worming his way into this woman’s affections and for the first time, Eric felt sympathy for the prey.

Technically, Breandan’s winning Sookie’s acceptance signaled the end to his job in America, but Eric offered Rogan a trade. He would stay in Boston until Breandan became a regular resident in the woman’s bed. He offered to foot his own expenses. Eric pointed out this was always a tricky time in seductions. If it went poorly, the woman could decide to move. She was in a rental and Eric didn’t bother giving Rogan details about her ailing mother or how expensive things were here, details that would have told Rogan there was no need for the vampire to remain. Instead, Rogan had been anxious to make the deal, the conversation reinforcing Eric’s suspicion that Rogan was desperate to have this woman under his thumb. In exchange for his remaining in America, Eric was granted permission to open a second pub in Rogan’s territory, this one in Slievemore.

Being around to needle Breandan about his lack of progress with Sookie was an added bonus to remaining in Boston. Eric knew Sookie’s resistance wouldn’t last long, but he silently cheered her each night she turned off the light alone in her room.

Part of the reason Eric figured it was only a matter of time was that Sookie was so vulnerable. He could tell that Sookie’s Mother was terminally ill. He didn’t have to see the Mother to know it. The smell of death literally hung in the air. It was on Sookie’s uniform as she stooped to stroke his head. It was floating on the breeze every time the front door of the house opened and then closed. A woman who was experiencing this would be open to offers of assistance. Eric’s only hope was that Breandan’s natural selfishness and arrogance would prevent him from saying the words and making the gestures that would shift Sookie’s opinion of him.

In the end, his fear that her Mother’s illness would open the door to Breandan proved right. Eric hadn’t seen Sookie for several nights. She wasn’t going to work and he knew something was wrong. She came out to see him once and he was tempted to reveal himself, but he held back. He was almost relieved when Breandan came on the third night and was let into the house.

Eric wasn’t sure what Breandan did once he was with them but, whatever it was, he didn’t come out again that night. Eric could see them together, a combined shadow reflected against the curtains in her room, and then the light was extinguished. “Goodbye, Sookie,” he whispered to the night and then left his post for the last time.

He thought he’d forget about her, but a week passed, and then another and her memory didn’t fade. He launched himself into finding a place in Slievemore and then readying it to open. He pushed hard, harder than he had before. Pam questioned him, but he didn’t have an answer for her. All he knew was his certainty that someday soon, Sookie Stackhouse would be here.

He had no reason to believe it. Rogan didn’t say he was bringing her to Ireland, but it was the only thing that made sense. If Rogan wanted Sookie dead, she would have been. Instead, he sent his own son across the ocean to find her and seduce her. It wasn’t possible that Breandan would remain in America. Rogan was selfish about all his things and that included his son. He’d want Breandan back in Ireland and Slievemore was Breandan’s base. He had to bring her back here.

Eric had been right. Sookie turned up, standing right outside the window of his pub. It was a rainy day. She’d been in Ireland for a week or more. She was living with that bastard, Breandan, and professing her affection for him. Eric could tell she wasn’t glamoured and he tried his own experiment with no more success. Her magic rendered her immune. It gave him hope, although he wasn’t sure why he felt that way.

He didn’t see Sookie often, but each time Eric did, it was pleasant. She was funny and feisty. She flirted with him and finding out he was a vampire didn’t change that. He found himself watching the door for her, and when her friends arrived from America, he was delighted to see them visit the pub more often. The night they coerced Breandan into playing with the band was especially sweet. Eric hadn’t danced in ages, but he readily joined the line. Sookie was a natural dancer, swinging lightly in his arms. He picked her up, twirling her easily, for a moment pretending she was his and finding the idea pleasing.

He worried that when her American friends left, he’d stop seeing her, that Breandan would keep her cloistered in the place he had on the peninsula in Killary. Instead, Breandan brought her into town, planting her at The Grand, and then stepping back, so his employees and Fae wife could torture her. Eric watched the light in Sookie’s face dim day after day. She and Pam became closer and Eric began to hope again.

Pam teased him and then, when he remained interested, mocked him about his obsession with the hybrid. He believed what Pam told him, that Sookie saw him as nothing more than a friend, and then all that changed when Sookie kissed him.

Sookie protested that it was a mistake, but Eric knew that a woman like Sookie didn’t act on meaningless impulses. He didn’t tell Pam what happened, but he couldn’t hide how it made him feel. The bond between himself and his Child allowed her that level of intimacy, but when she questioned, he refused to share details.

“And now you’ve left him,” and Eric squeezed himself harder, compounding pleasure with pleasure. He knew the place Pam described. It was one of a handful of more modern establishments that had been built in recent years to take advantage of the growing population of hikers, drawn to walking the national trails without the burden of carrying gear, knowing there was a beer and a bed waiting for them every night. He didn’t know the proprietress, but he promised himself he would.

Finishing again, Eric cleaned up and tucked himself back into his pants. He picked up his phone from the desk and searched out the right number. There was only one florist in town and he wanted something special. He called, leaving a detailed message and his call back information. “I need a day man,” Eric grumbled. Fortunately, the florist had his credit card number on file. He’d sent flowers to Pam twice already, apologizing for the inconvenience he’d caused her by demanding their new pub be located here.

There was a knock at the door. Eric knew if he didn’t answer it, Pam would just pick the lock. “I’m coming,” he answered.

Pam’s nose wrinkled, “That hard up?” she laughed. “It smells like a whorehouse in here!”

“I wouldn’t want you to think you’re the only one suffering,” Eric laughed. He followed her out into the bar and soon was distracted by the hustle and noise of too many people who were too far from home to always be polite. Close to closing there was enough testosterone in the room to fuel the beginnings of a bar fight. Eric didn’t bother hiding his strength, lifting the would-be pugilists by their jackets, and dangling them both well above the floor.

“Jaysus!” he heard one of the patrons exclaim, but this was, after all, part of the floor show, the glimpse into a reality that was just a little different than their everyday lives. Drunk patrons clapped and others watched him, wary and not a little lust-filled, but, for Eric, there was only one face he wished to see and she was sleeping on the far end of town.

 

xxxXXXxxx

 

“So, is this from the boyfriend?” Sookie came into the kitchen, ready to work. Maryann was waiting for her, arms crossed, and a vexed expression on her face.

Sookie was confused. The flower arrangement sitting on the table was beautiful, but there was something almost obscene about it. It had white roses, but they were interspersed with flowers that were a single, red spade-shaped leaf with a stiff, yellow stamen. They looked like miniature penises and Sookie blushed as red as the flowers.

“They don’t look like something Breandan would send,” Sookie mumbled, then realizing what she’d said, blushed even brighter. The card read: To the woman who has the biggest set of all. Congratulations on starting your new life. It was signed with a single ‘E’. “Eric Northman!” Sookie said out loud.

“So, how many boyfriends do you have?” Maryann was looking even less happy.

“Just the one,” Sookie assured her. “Eric is a friend. He’s congratulating me on making this move. I don’t think he likes Breandan much,” and she showed Maryann the card.

“Well, I think you better take those back to your place before we start breakfast,” Maryann looked a little less angry. “Wouldn’t do to have something like that sticking out at you all day!” and then Maryann giggled. It made it better between them and Sookie’s first day began.

 

28 thoughts on “Chapter 17 – The Way

  1. Thank you for the surprise chapter! I was checking my email and was very happy to see it. 😀I really enjoy this story. I loved seeing Eric’s take on things. Thank you.
    Happy 4th to you. 🎆🎇

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think I like Maryann. I think Claude will be trouble. Poor Mae. She should have known better. Preston deserves punishment, too, for tormenting Sookie, but I doubt Rogan cared about that. I guess they, the Fae, are too arrogant to think they can abuse a person and have that person willing to stay. Great chapter.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They are the Fae. There’s them… and then all the other creatures that serve them! In Rogan’s world, Sookie was lucky Preston paid any kind of attention to her. And poor Mae. Bitch, but no one deserves that! it will come back to haunt Rogan, but not as badly as it should!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow…I know they are Fae but never expected Rogan to kill Mae!!!
    Loved Eric’s POV !
    Now we know how he got in debt with Rogan& his giving info about Sookie to Naill…getting a favor from the Fae is always an advantage for the Unseelie, right!?😀
    Hope you are passing today with your loved ones!🎊🎉🎇🎆
    Jackie69

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Rogan has a bad temper, and it’s going to cost him. As for Eric – probably no news, but as you said, good to have confirmed what you suspected about his motives! Hope you enjoyed your week!

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  4. I don’t feel like Breandan truly knows what love is. He would not think of her as less than or look down on her for not being full fae. I loved Eric’s daydreaming. It put a huge smile on my face. The flowers 🌺 were perfect. So interesting that eric was the one who called Naill. Such a great chapter!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with you, Breandan has no clue what love it! He commits to one, then commits to another. He tells himself one thing, then contradicts it. He had all kinds of opportunities to do right by Sookie, or Claude, and in the end, he didn’t do right by any of them! And then, there’s Eric! He doesn’t seem conflicted in the least. He knows what he wants, he doesn’t hold out a lot of hope, but he casts his nets and is prepared to wait.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for the wonderful xtra chapter. I always appreciated the SVM series because of the universe CH created. You have elevated this, made up characters, and moved the whole shebang to Ireland. Just marvelous.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you and hope you are finding time to get out on your trails during this wonderful weather! I’m back on my sections of the AT and thought of you, doing the same!

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      1. I love living 18 miles from the AT at Shenandoah National Park. It is probably the easiest part of the AT. Unfortunately, this Spring we adopted a dog with heart worms. His treatment is so involved, and he is so sick that we don’t like to leave him. He can’t exert himself. The worms are in his lungs. We can’t take him on long walks. So we are on a staycation. Reading, sewing, going to the gym everyday(which has been pretty cool). Hopefully we can hike in the fall.

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  6. Yippee! A second chapter! Thank you, natsgirl. And, btw, I loved the words in your post. 🙂
    So, I think I told you how I appreciated hearing Breandan’s inner thoughts before, but I never expected him to admit to feeling at peace when he was with Sookie. That certainly surprised me. And I was surprised by my reaction, too. Somehow, dear girl, you made me care for him and feel sorry for him. How sad to be so desperate for real, honest love- to have lived so long yet to be devoid of knowing what it feels like to have someone love you- the real you. Love freely given, along with acceptance. Powerful indeed. But, then, Breandan would say something, like how offensive it would be to have anyone think he’d father children with her… and there go my feelings… Anyway, a phenomenal chapter- I loved the long look into Eric’s head and the conversation in the hotel with Rogan. Boy, that was interesting and again, helps give me more understanding in how the fae think. Happy 4th!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Breandan is both sympathetic and pathetic, isn’t he? He is the poster child for opportunity wasted, but to your point, he never had the unconditional love any child deserves! Other than his Mother, who’s life was taken too soon, he was nothing more than a pawn. Even Claude, who he did loves, and loves still, uses him and plays with him. But then, for someone so old, he should have a little more self- awareness. He really doesn’t see how narrow and prejudiced his views are, and how it condemns him and his shot at happiness. I believe that people can change, but it takes an effort, and Breandan won’t give that.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the chapter ! Happy 4th of July. Breandan is to full of himself. IMO he’ll never think Sookie is his equal. On the other hand I think Eric would. Breandan would have to leave his home to be free. Which would never happen

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So true, and ultimately, Breandan’s tragedy! He can’t overcome his prejudices, and that condemns him to lose his shot at happiness. Eric? Eric doesn’t have any qualms, does he? He’s not clearly seeing why he feels compelled to chase her, but he is sure of his interest in Sookie!

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  8. Thank you for the extra update this week. I do love it when it’s a holiday! I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as Breandan thinks to worm his way back into Sookie’s bed. She’s no dummy! And I love how Eric’s inserted himself in this whole mess. Spying for Niall and getting Rogan in his debt. He’s a wily one our Viking😃 actually I’m not even sure he is a Viking in this story but I’ll always think of him as one!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Breandan will face some resistance, because, as you say, Sookie’s no dummy! He won’t have a terrible battle, though. Sookie’s history with Breandan is complicated. It’s wound up with her Mother’s death and memories of him saving her in Boston as a time she needed it. That kind of thing is powerful to overcome.
      Ah yes, and then, there’s Eric!!

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  9. So Breandan actually believes he can have a successful relationship with Sookie while being balls deep in someone else? How long does he seriously think that will last?! He’s so delusional! Would he seriously be okay with her fucking others?
    Eric and even Pam can say whatever they want but we all know they’re with Niall over Rogan because they wuv them some Sookie! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Would he be okay with Sookie sleeping around? He may tell hiimself he would be, but he’s already expressed jealousy when it comes to Eric, so I think not! It is Fae to be more than ambidextrous when it comes to sex, so Breandan probably doesn’t think about it. On the other hand, if he really cared about Sookie as his partner, he would have asked her opinion!
      And where do allegiances lie for the vampires? I agree! Whichever side best benefits Sookie!!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Loved having Eric’s POV, hope we hear from him a bit more.
    Was surprised that Rogan actually killed Mae, after all, she is full Fae. I’m guessing Preston got off with no punishment. Such a mindset these Fae have, Sookie didn’t ask for fidelity from him so why should he even think about it…figure Fae really don’t know what love is, and hopefully that will come back and smack them up side their heads.
    Like that Eric is giving Niall updates and that Niall will owe him a favor, lol. Can’t wait to see what Eric asks for.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t worry! There will be lots from Eric!
      Rogan has a hot temper, and he’ll pay for this. These are a race facing extinction. Killing one of their own for something this petty won’t sit well with anyone! And yes – the Fae and their laissez-faire attitude about sexuality! I remember in the original books where Claude frequently offered, even though he could have cared less! But, if Breandan was truly honest with himself, he’d realize he’s jealous of Eric, and that makes his Fae attitude just a little bit of a lie!

      Like

  11. My God, Breandan is the most selfish, self-centered, egotistical thing I have ever witnessed! He didn’t even think once to call Sookie and that inner dialogue about his life with her was so telling, what a piece of crap! Claude is going to be so much trouble for everyone, I think he will try to make Sookie pay! Everyone is so self absorbed and even Eric has a game plan but I get his intent, especially seeing who he is dealing with. Sookie is so much better without even Niall, this guy abandoned his family in America and left them to fend off God knows what for all their lives. I can hardly wait for things to come to light for Sookie so she can make a proper decision regarding her future. I hope you had a great 4th and thank you for the extra chapter, it was incredible!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Breandan, along with all the Fae, does see the world through the lens of what’s best for himself! I figure it’s because they are immortal, Planning and plotting is second nature to all of them. What else is there, really? There’s no underlying idea that someday this will all run out! For Fae, it never does – every day is followed by another day (or night, if you’re a vampire!).
      Niall is not exactly the knight in shining armor here. He’ll explain himself soon, but he did leave the love of his life to fend for herself with his son… kind of. As a minimum, he didn’t exactly fight to stay close to them, and at some point, dropped out of their lives completely.

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  12. The way Eric has played Rogan is delightful. Seeing his thoughts about Sookie and his growing feelings for her are a treat. And he has extracted a fairy favor from Niall now as well.. Agree with many others that I didn’t expect Rogan to kill Mae, after all, she is “fae” and superior as a result. But it’s also clear that Breandan believes his father will kill him if the cause arises, so I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that Mae paid the final price. The desire for revenge is apparently all consuming.
    I know I’ve made this comment before, but it bears repeating, Breandan is such a complex character, at times I feel sorry for him, but ultimately, he has free will. Yet he cannot overcome his bedrock belief that Sookie is inferior to him, even as he recognizes what a relationship with her could be. A villain (and he is that) with so many conflicting layers is fascinating. There is nothing cartoonish about him (the world where characters are black and white)….and now I get to read another chapter…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Rogan isn’t exactly stable, and his son knows it. Breandan has grown up in the shadow of someone who, in spite of their permanence, makes their lives feel less secure. His childhood, aside from his Mother, could not have been easy. He has conflicts about who he is, and he fights his Father’s definition for his life. Ah – if only! I believe the line between villain and hero is thin.

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    1. Both good observations! Rogan will regret killing Mae, and Breandan is free to remarry, although he wouldn’t consider marrying Sookie in the Fae tradition. He likes her, maybe loves her, but he really doesn’t accept Sookie as his equal.

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