Chapter 41 – Breadcrumbs

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“Fuck! No fists!” Karin hissed.

Rasul managed to pull back in time, but just barely. “You know he knows!”

“I’m sure he does,” Karin assured him, “but we have to return him tonight and we can’t afford to inflict anything we can’t heal.”

Jace, the Were who’d left Kyle covering double duty at the Bon Temps house, was tied to a chair in front of them. Rasul had used his knife primarily as a persuader. This kind of interrogation was tricky. Jace had already been questioned once by his Pack and cleared. Master agreed to accept those findings and he declared that to be his command, but it didn’t satisfy Karin. Together, she and Rasul had slipped away from the others and picked up Jace on his way to his gym. Karin couldn’t touch him. Her Maker’s command forbade it, so the questioning fell to Rasul. Complicating matters, they needed to return Jace, glamoured, and none the wiser within the next hour or there’d be hell to pay. That meant using vampire saliva to heal him, but not too much. Some vampire scent could be written off as a sexual encounter. More than a whiff would raise alarms.

Vampire saliva worked quickly, but if the wound was too deep, saliva wouldn’t be enough. Actual blood would be a dead giveaway and Karin didn’t want to think about the consequences if Master found out. “We need to try something else,” she growled.

They both eyed the Were, who eyed them right back. ‘If looks could kill,’ Karin thought. She felt the familiar warmth she felt anytime she saw that glare from her victims. It challenged her to change up her tactics, and so, she did.

“You look so pretty that way,” Karin purred, blowing the Were a kiss. “His wife,” she said to Rasul. “You know where she lives. Go pick her up! Maybe if we tickle her…”

In an instant, Rasul was gone and the look on the Were’s face had gone from hatred to pure panic. “You don’t need to hurt her!” he stumbled.

Good!’ Karin thought, stalking closer. “I don’t suppose we do. I remember seeing her at the funeral. She didn’t look that healthy. I generally don’t like hurting women, but these are special circumstances. If only you’d tell us what we want to know.”

“I’ll say anything you want!” Jace mewled. “Just tell me what you want to hear! I’ll confess. Just leave her alone!”

For one agonizing moment, it wasn’t Jace in the chair. It was Peter and he was begging for her life. Karin reared back, her emotions twisting and roiling like snakes in a basket. “Just tell us the truth!” She meant her words to sound threatening, but they didn’t. They sounded as though she was pleading.

“We’re were making a baby!” Jace exclaimed, and then he started to cry. “We’ve been trying, but it isn’t working. She has that kit, you know, the one that tells you when to get busy.” His face crumpled and he started weeping in earnest. “She was there, you know, and so I called in. I never thought it would end up like this! I wish I’d gone!” he told her. “How can I look at any baby of mine and know Kyle died so I could get it?”

Karin had done enough interrogations to know the ring of truth when she heard it. “Let him go,” she whispered.

Rasul returned. He’d never actually left. “I’ll dump him in his car,” he told her.

“Don’t make it cheating,” Karin sighed. “Glamour him to believe it was a prank, something he just wants to laugh off.”

Rasul stared, but he didn’t question her. He freed the Were and pulled him upright, capturing his eyes before he started licking the cuts he’d made. He hesitated once more, but Karin shook her head. “Don’t ask,” she groaned. “Just do it.”

Sighing, Karin picked up her knife. She balanced it on its point before flipping it, end on end. Balance, flip, catch, balance. Over and over, staring at the chair, seeing Peter’s eyes, warm and teasing. ‘He’s ruined me!’ she thought. She wondered how she’d ever return to her job. What kind of assassin let her prey go just because they gave her a pretty story?

When Rasul returned an hour later, he found her there, flicking varnish from the chair with the point of her knife. “Is it done?” she asked.

“No one the wiser,” he replied. He watched her before hunkering down. “Do you want to tell me what’s going on?”

“I think I’ve lost my edge,” Karin confessed. He didn’t say anything and, in that moment, Karin liked Rasul better. “I really don’t believe that Were had anything to do with it,” and then Karin sighed. “I feel like we’ve reached a dead end. The store human may know something, but Hunter thinks not. There’s no scent to follow at the house. Ludwig cut up the bodies and examined them and didn’t come up with one clue.” Karin sighed again. “It’s like whoever did this came out of thin air and disappeared into it again.”

“Well, we both know that’s not possible,” Rasul shrugged. “It’s like anything else. When we figure it out, we’ll wonder why we didn’t see the answer all along.”

That made Karin smile. “You’re right,” and she shifted her knife into its carrier. “We need to come at this from another angle.”

Rasul seemed to have come to the same conclusion. “We’re trying to trace it from this end. Why don’t we start at the other end?”

“What do you mean?” Karin asked.

“We have friends in Russell’s court… or should I say a friend.” It didn’t take Karin long to figure it out.

“Heidi!” and then Karin shook her head. “There’s no way we can reach her. She’s been spying for Stan Davis and from what I hear, she’s gone fairly silent. Pam thinks it’s because Russell has her under surveillance.”

“I agree,” Rasul grinned. “We can’t contact her, but we know someone who can.” When Karin didn’t answer right away, he added, “Someone who has a reason to want to contact her? Someone she wants to see, someone who wants to see her?”

“Hunter!” and Karin’s eyes narrowed. “If Russell’s watching her, message passing could get her killed!”

“I’m not talking about passing information,” Rasul purred. “I’m talking about instructions on how to get in. What would be more natural than lovers planning an assignation? Even if they’re caught, it’s not as if the relationship wasn’t known.”

Karin shook her head, “Russell could still decide Hunter’s a spy. We’re talking about Master’s nephew!”

“We’re talking about a human in thrall to a vampire,” Rasul countered. “The human will be fine and he’ll show us the way through the defenses. Once we know the way in…”

“Edgington’s done,” Karin concluded.

“Edgington’s done,” Rasul echoed.

xxxXXXxxx

The moon etched the trees with icy light. Shadows were everywhere and the wind made the leaves in the branches rustle and roar. “Keep low!” Thalia hissed.

As he’d promised, Stephen provided her four fighters. Three were terrible. Not one of them was over ten years old and all were turned after the Revelation. That meant they barely knew how to defend themselves. Since the Revelation, the rulers here in the United States stopped drilling their vassals. They might provide small arms training to their guards, but even then, only the Viking still required sword training. What Thalia knew was that for this kind of work, guns were of no help. Sharp blades made for silent kills and if the house was full of enemies, those few seconds of surprise could mean the difference between evening the odds or facing a shitstorm.

Beside her, one of the hapless ones managed to click his firearm against his belt again, making a distinct noise. She growled, to which he whispered, ‘Sorry!’ for the tenth time. ‘I’m sure you will be sorry!’ Thalia thought. She was certain that before the night was done, at least one of these fools would manage to shoot the others. It was like traveling with a troupe of clowns.

But then, there was the fourth. He was Gregor from the steppes. She’d heard of him, although she’d thought he was finally dead. Her information was wrong.

It didn’t take long to realize that Gregor was one of those vampires who’d done better in less civilized times. He was stuck in New England, working off his debt to the throne. He wasn’t smart enough to figure out how to manage his money. He’d probably done well enough when wealth was measured by the weight of your gold bag, but clearly the concept of bank accounts, interest, and investment was beyond him. What’s worse, he was crippled with an over-sized idea of his own self-worth and a stubborn pride that couldn’t be bothered to ask for help.

Now, he was a bristling bag of self-pity, and that didn’t bode well. If there was one small grace in Gregor being part of her team, it was that he’d heard of her, too. What’s more, he respected her, and as long as Thalia played him against the others, she could keep them all moving forward.

“It’s too quiet,” she hissed, then remembering herself, turned to Gregor. “Don’t you think?” she asked.

“Not that these children would notice,” Gregor snarled softly, “but then, they aren’t strong fighters, like us!”

“We know what we’re doing!” Frank, one of the more stupid ones protested.

“Quiet!” Thalia hissed. That, combined with a shove from Gregor, had the desired effect. She stabbed her finger at the one called Henry. “You, come with me!” she ordered before turning back to Gregor. “Watch my back. Signal me if you see anything.”

Gregor gave her a blank stare. She wondered if he even carried a cell phone. “Appoint one of them your signalman,” she told him. When I get near the house, I’ll send a text.”

Gregor looked relieved, which answered Thalia’s question. She figured this might be the last time she’d see the old vampire. No one this out of touch with their times ever lasted long. When she was sure Gregor and the other two would stick where she put them, Thalia signaled to Henry to move ahead. “It should be just to the other side of this tree cover,” she hissed.

Her vampire companion managed to move quietly enough and within a few minutes, they were standing on the edge of the clearing, looking at the outline of the dark, silent house. The sound of the ocean was louder and the moonlight shone dully off the waves. “Had to be moonlight!” he sighed as they looked across the expanse of flat grass that stretched between them and the house. As they watched, a man with a dog on a leash came around the side of the house and walked forward, his flashlight shining ahead of him. “Guards!” Henry exclaimed.

Thalia gave her companion a sour look. She wished Gregor was with them. He would have cuffed Captain Obvious across the head. She couldn’t afford that kind of discipline. Henry needed to listen to her and at the moment, he thought they were friends. Thalia squatted and Henry followed, and they stayed there until they were sure it was only one guard. They watched him walk the dog back and forth, pausing for the dog to relieve itself on various bushes and markers. After a while, the guard tugged at the dog and they walked around the side of the house. The vampires heard the sound of a door opening and then the closing click. “Probably has a station inside,” Thalia suggested.

“Bet he only comes outside when his dog needs to piss,” Henry added.

Thalia shrugged, “He might have a schedule. It doesn’t matter. He’s done his outside checking and he’ll probably take a few minutes to settle down. That means his attention will be elsewhere.”

“I’m surprised the dog didn’t smell us,” Henry chuckled.

It was everything Thalia had to not hit him. “Did you smell the dog?” she asked.

“Sure,” Henry shrugged.

“Why do you think that is?” Thalia asked as she plucked a blade of grass and held it in front of Henry’s face. The minute she let it go, it blew across her companion’s cheek.

For all he was ignorant, Henry wasn’t stupid. “The wind,” he correctly guessed. “It’s coming off the ocean.”

“Text the others and have them join us,” Thalia ordered.

There were five noises Thalia counted that should have meant their final death by the time they were all assembled at the treeline. The other two shifted to squat beside her and far away from Gregor. For his part the large Lithuanian was looking surly. “You okay?” she asked him.

“They are stupid!” Gregor grunted.

Thalia agreed, but that was no way to bring a team together, so instead, she scolded, “A lack of experience doesn’t condemn anyone. We all learned.”

“I know how to fight!” Frank grumbled beside her. Thalia hoped he’d be the first to fall.

Instead, she pointed at the house. “Not sure if there’s anyone home. One guard with a dog. He’s inside. Not sure if he’s on a schedule. Could be cameras.”

“Any sign of wards?” Gregor asked.

“Pam Ravenscroft didn’t report any witchcraft when she was here previously,” Thalia assured him. “If it was me, I’d have placed them here, at the tree line, but I don’t feel any resistance.”

Henry scoffed, “Wards? Why bother? Witches are so unreliable!”

“Idiot!” Gregor hissed, but Thalia had had enough.

“Let’s go!” she commanded, and then started moving at vamp speed across the moonlit grass. Frank was faster and without waiting for the rest of them, reached the door around the side and pulled it open. He was greeted with a combination of gunshot and snarling dog. ‘So, there are cameras,’ Thalia thought as she watched Gregor grab the dog and shake it once. The guard was fumbling with his shotgun. Henry finished him and all went quiet.

“Silver!” Frank wailed. His chest was peppered with dozens of small, smoking holes.

“Maybe something smart can get in you now!” and Gregor made a wheezing sound Thalia took for laughter.

“Come on!” Frank groaned again. “This shit hurts!”

“Shut him up!” Thalia ordered. She turned to the third of the Stooges. “You! Take Frank back to the car. You have the number for medical. Give them the location of the crossroads and drop him off, then get back here. If you make me walk all the way back to the safe house, I will hunt you down!” She tossed the car keys and turned, heading further into the house.

“No one here,” Gregor said in a normal voice.

Thalia’s lips inched up. It seemed the hulking vampire had assumed the ‘Captain Obvious’ mantle. All around them, the house had that distinct scent of air that hadn’t moved in a while. Dust had been given time to settle. She wasn’t surprised to see sheets draped over furniture. She thought of the bodies they’d left in the side room.

“You know anything about electronics?” she asked Henry. He gave what might have been a nod, so Thalia continued. “See if you can figure out where the cameras are feeding. There should be a screening room somewhere. See if you can tell if the feed from the camera is just local or if its feeding somewhere else.”

“You think we get company?” Gregor asked. It was the first smart question he’d asked in a while.

“We should hurry,” Thalia answered. Together, they ghosted from room to room, checking for any sign, but it was clear the Fae had cleared out. There were no personal items left, only furniture. Still, there was some faint scent and it kept Thalia moving, clearing the first floor and then heading upstairs.

She found it in the far bedroom. There, in front of the window, was a table. The scent came from a pair of old-fashioned women’s evening gloves. They were long and white and the woman who once wore them must have had thin arms. When Thalia touched them, they released even more Fae scent into the room. “They knew vampires would come looking,” Thalia said aloud.

Under the gloves was a stack of photographs. Thalia turned them toward the moonlight. The first showed a woman Thalia didn’t know, but the second was a picture of Brigid. There was another photo of Brigid, this time in a city, and the next showed Brigid with Rick. What followed were a series of photos from Bon Temps showing a heavily pregnant Brigid. The last was a photo of Diana. Thalia squinted, trying to see something that would tell her where the photo was taken, but there seemed to be no clues, only the face of the baby she recognized taking up the entire frame.

“What is it?” Gregor asked.

“I need to get back!” Thalia hissed, and turning, photos in hand, she ran.

xxxXXXxxx

He’d been drifting for the past hour. Somewhere, during his downtime, Eric heard the echoes of a baby’s cry and angry voices. ‘Rick,’ he realized. When he and Sookie spoke last night, Sookie told him their son wasn’t happy about the idea of moving back into the New Orleans palace with his daughter.

He thinks it’s a bad idea for a child to grow up among vampires,’ his mate told him. Eric couldn’t disagree but, at the same time, the thought of his son and granddaughter not having the protection of his walls and guards didn’t sit well, either.

Eric pried open his eyes. It was quiet at the moment. He looked at the empty spot on the bed beside him. He knew she’d be just outside the chamber door, resting in her travel coffin. Neither of them liked traveling in coffins. It was the loss of control, but the alternative was waiting for tonight and losing another five hours they might have spent together in flights and baggage transfers. ‘Come home!’ he’d grumbled, and Sookie had.

It didn’t matter that he was groggy, or that walking made his feet drag as if he was walking through wet sand. Eric pushed himself outside the chamber door. He leaned against the sleek, gray surface, feeling for her, but Sookie was still too far away. It took several fat-fingered tries to get the combination right, but then the lid released and he raised it. They’d spared no expense on her coffin and the cover lifted smoothly and completely away from her travel space. “Lover!” he crooned.

Leave it to Sookie. She was resting in a delightful red teddy, her breasts slightly askew under the lace. Her legs seemed longer and she’d worn red heels. He thought she must have bought this piece when she was in Massachusetts and he wondered when she found the time. He took a minute to trace the outline where her flesh met the lines of her garment. “Welcome home!” he purred before leaning over and lifting her in his arms. He carried her to their bedchamber and let her drop on the bed.

She’d dropped a shoe in transit and her breasts flopped out. Eric stifled a chuckle. In the romance novels his mate insisted on reading, the handsome stranger would have made the transfer to the sound of birds chirping and angels singing, but that wasn’t reality. Reality was body parts that didn’t stay in place. Still, Eric appreciated the effort Sookie had made, so he went about the job of arranging her limbs and tucking things back in place so her outfit covered all the right places. He felt himself harden and he settled back beside her, stroking twice before reaching for his phone. She was quite delectable and he was more than willing to have her rise and fulfill the promise that red teddy was making. He checked again, but still she was too far. It would be at least another hour, and so Eric threw his arm behind his head and started thumbing through messages.

Thalia’s was first. They’d talked last night once she’d dropped off her ‘hapless’ crew. She’d filled him in on the Rhode Island trip and described the photos. Now they were scanned and attached to her report. Eric forwarded the message to Maxwell. He’d know who could be trusted to blow them up, searching for clues. The fact that the Fae had been surveilling Bon Temps was at once a surprise and a harsh reminder to never discount the obvious. Bon Temps had reeked of Fae. They’d assumed it was just Brigid. Amy Ludwig had supported that assumption, and they’d overlooked what was right in front of their faces.

Eric thumbed to the photo of Diana. It was as Thalia described, a close-up of the baby’s face. The photographer had used some sort of effect to blur out the background around her. Instead, the photo showcased his granddaughter’s bright blue eyes and slightly open mouth. Eric examined Diana’s features. The photo was recent. She’d only recently learned to focus on her surroundings and in this photo, she seemed aware of the camera. ‘How close were you?’ Eric wondered. He found himself growling. With today’s technology and long-distance lenses, it could have been taken anywhere, but Eric was betting Kyle’s funeral. The light would have been right, and a stranger wouldn’t have been noticed. Eric reviewed every memory he had of that day, but none included a person with a camera. “Fuck a zombie!” he swore softly.

He went back to Thalia’s report. There was little in it she hadn’t already told him. The house was abandoned. It was still owned by the same shell corporation, and wasn’t listed for sale, so the Cranes weren’t planning on running forever. Still, time for the Fae was a fluid thing. ‘Temporary’ in their world could stretch for hundreds of years. ‘What were you doing?’ Eric wondered. He thumbed back through the photos. In most, Brigid was smiling. Even the one with his son was a happy moment.

“I don’t like that they were being watched any more than you do,” Thalia had told him last night, “but we have no proof that they meant to harm anyone. It’s obvious they were close. Anyone this close for this period of time could have attacked Rick and Brigid at any time, but they didn’t.”

It was a puzzle and right now, Eric had too many puzzles. Two messages further down the email scroll was the follow-up from Mustapha Khan demanding an update on the investigation. The Packmaster was accusing vampires of harassing his man and Eric had a sinking feeling he was right. Karin remained sullen, but he’d felt a lessening of her anger last night. He was sure she and Rasul were together, and that spelled trouble.

“What am I going to do about her, Lover?” he absently asked his resting mate. He’d hoped Karin’s anger would begin to diminish but, if anything, it seemed to be increasing. In those first nights, Eric now realized Karin’s despair had taken the edge from her rage. He knew the stages of mourning as well as any person, but leave it to his daughter. She was jumping past sorrow and doubling down on her fury, blaming everything and everyone for taking Peter from her. He knew she’d begun hiding things from him, using her emotions to blanket the bond he’d reasserted. He found himself hissing before he caught himself. He glanced at Sookie, chuckling as he said, “Children! They always seem to find the way to do that thing that irritates us the most!”

It came to him in an instant, how Karin’s duplicity was so like his own. He’d learned hundreds of ways to shield himself from his own Maker. Why should Karin be any different? It wasn’t a comforting thought, comparing himself with Appius in any way, and Eric stroked himself again. ‘She shouldn’t be forcing me to do this!’ he thought. ‘She is old enough to control herself!’ but as much as he was irritated with Karin, he couldn’t really blame her. She’d been caught by her emotions, even as he had. He glanced at the woman resting beside him. “It is a sickness,” he said, using Appius’ own words, but he knew loving was a sickness which he never wished cured.

“Still, Lover,” he continued, talking to his resting wife, “If Karin and Rasul have been disobeying my orders, there will need to be a punishment.” He’d threatened silvering and with a sigh, Eric supposed he’d need to carry out that threat or not be taken seriously the next time. “I wish Thalia was here,” he sighed again. He’d asked his friend to return, but she’d told him she had another avenue she wished to explore. She was flying back to England. “I suppose I’ll have to ask Pam,” he grumbled, and texted his other daughter, asking her to secure Karin for questioning.

Further down, there was what looked like a spam message, but it was really their signal that Stan Davis had written. Eric had asked again about Heidi and Russell Edgington. He thumbed out to his browser, and then brought up the secure site, keying in codes and passwords that allowed access to Stan’s answer.

Greetings,’ the message started. ‘Our mutual friend is still in place, but she reports no unusual activity. Russell was gone for several days around the time your people were attacked, but everyone believes he and Betty Jo were visiting a spa. They took their usual retinue. He continues to bitch about you and your Queen, accusing you of all kinds of things. I understand your latest television interview had him throwing things at the screen. Good job! Too bad he didn’t stumble and accidentally stake himself.’

Yes,’ Eric thought, closing down the message. ‘Too bad.’ Not proof. Not proof of innocence, either.

Beside him, Sookie was starting to rise. She was still in her rest, but the first stirrings were asserting themselves. Eric stroked himself again. He’d be ready when her eyes opened and he realized with a start how much he needed his wife. It had been too long and he was stressed. He hoped she would understand, but looking at the red lace, he was sure she would. “I hope you aren’t too fond of that outfit,” he growled, turning back to business.

Hunter Savoy’s note was next. He was telling Eric and Sookie he was returning to Iowa earlier than expected. He was making arrangements and was leaving tonight. Eric paused mid-stroke, using his other hand to thumb a little further down his emails. He opened the message from Phoebe Gold again. The Queen informed Eric she’d granted Hunter a two-month leave. ‘He needs to grieve with his family,’ the Iowa Queen wrote. Eric knew a leave of that length from a vampire required both conversation and negotiation. There must have been an agreement and Eric wondered what prompted his nephew to cut short his plans. For some reason, Eric thought of Karin. It was possible Hunter’s natural high spirits were dampened by Karin’s situation. She was a black cloud that spread over everyone anytime she walked in a room, and Eric wondered if she had a part in Hunter’s decision.

‘Finding out why this happened would help,’ Eric reminded himself, and then he threw his phone on the bedside table. Three weeks and he felt no closer to the truth! “Where are they?” he growled into the air. “Why did this happen?” Sookie was closer, but so was Eric’s feeling of guilt. His people, his progeny, looked to him, but he was helpless to help them! Karin hated him. Pam doubted him. Mustapha accused him and rightly so. “I am failing!” he growled, and then Sookie moved.

She knew. He felt it the minute their eyes connected and he didn’t hesitate. When she’d been human, this would have been out of the question, but she was vampire now and this was how they mated.

Her eyes narrowed and then she turned her head, baring her neck to him. He struck, using his fangs to keep her in place as his hands ripped the lace from her. She reached for him, but he struck her hand away, pushing her legs open for him. “Eric!” she called. She might have been asking him to slow down, but he decided to interpret it as permission. She wasn’t ready and it took a few strokes before he was seated within her.

She knew what he needed. Sookie’s nails sank into his chest, then ran up and over his shoulders as she wrapped her legs around his hips.

It wasn’t enough. He lifted his head, her blood thick in his mouth. He rolled, bringing her with him, standing to push her against the wall. Her back hit hard and he looked down to see her eyes glowing just before she sank her fangs into his chest, piercing his nipple. He roared and the quick bloom of pain allowed his nature to pull him forward. Her hands scrabbled, her nails scratched, and then her head was back again and he considered sinking his fangs into her once more. She was wet enough now, but he still wasn’t satisfied. He braced her against him again, carrying her, impaled on his length to the settee. It took a matter of seconds to whip her around, landing her on her knees, pushing her forward so her head and arms hung over the couch’s arm. “I want you!” he growled, kicking her legs apart and slapping her cheek before positioning himself and slamming home again.

She reached under them and he felt her fingers squeezing him, reaching for his balls. “Mine!” he chanted and she was. When he pulled her hair, she turned her head, her lips begging for his. When he slapped her ass, her pussy clamped down on him. “I am…” he growled.

“Mine!” Sookie growled in return. She pushed her hips back, causing him to stagger backward and she used his surprise to turn herself around. She reached out, her fingers gripping his cock tight, squeezing until his eyes watered. When he groaned, she softened her hand. Sookie held his eyes as she slipped to her knees. Her mouth hovered mere inches from him, her fangs glistening. He knew she could inflict pain, but his Sookie knew that tonight he needed to control their play. She retracted her fangs and instead flattened her tongue, licking the length of him. “Master,” she cooed before taking him into her mouth.

It was enough to break his momentum, but only for a moment. He drew himself up, cupping her cheek as she started to bob over him. He tried to fall into the steady rhythm but his nature wanted more. He needed to control, and so he threaded his fingers through her hair, using his grip to control her speed and his depth. His Sookie knew this game and when he hit the back of her throat the fourth time she moaned and he felt something within him unfurl. Eric wouldn’t really hurt her, he couldn’t. They were too inextricably linked, but for this moment she could help him forget the world, and his Sookie was willing.

“Put your shoes back on,” Eric told her. Sookie stopped sucking and he loosened his grip on her hair, instead offering her his hand to help her stand. While she retrieved her shoes, Eric went to the closet and pulled out several ties. She was standing at the end of the bed, her chin up, his blood on her lip. “Hands and knees,” he told her, then walked to one side, slipping her wrist into the loop he’d made, tying the end off to the bedpost.

“I missed you,” he said reasonably, walking around the bed and tying her other wrist to the other post. “It’s been a trying time here without you.”

“I’m here now,” Sookie told him, and Eric found it made him feel better.

He brought down the box and looked through the contents. “I may push you,” he warned.

“I trust you,” his wife told him. He couldn’t explain it, but that simple declaration gave him the faith he needed. He couldn’t see his path through their current troubles yet, but Eric Northman knew he would.

19 thoughts on “Chapter 41 – Breadcrumbs

  1. I think Karin and Rasul are on thin ice –you don’t want to piss off Mustapha or Eric. I still don’t trust Rasul…..
    And…who can pop in and out, children? Fairies for $600, Alex!
    Poor Eric –I don’t blame him for having some serious “play time” with Sookie—it may help clear his head, in more than one way. The walls are closing iin with no leads and the frustration has to be building.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Of course, now you know how thin the ice it becoming. It’s one bad decision after another and Karin and Rasul are now barreling down a slippery slope using their swords as sleds. Of course the fairies played a part in this! A little Fae blood seems to go a long way. The Cranes may not have all the powers of their full-blood ancestors but they seem intent on making up for it.
      As for Eric? Sookie will remind him of the time the Viking found himself trying to find a way out with so little success. Events are coming together that will change their lives.

      Like

  2. You have always had this knack of being able to really show how in sync these 2 are in the most intimate moments. And it’s not just because it’s a sex scene. There’s always a clear thread between them that is 2nd nature, and even if we’ve been thinking there is a rift, that everyone is seeing something wrong between them, or they’re not communicating…there’s this. These bits that no one sees. Nice work.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t think marriage (whether on paper or not) is an easy thing. I believe that making it work means getting it wrong sometimes. You have to be able to fight and hurt each other’s feelings and still remember that under it all, you trust each other. You have to be able to look past the frustration of today to see the connection that transcends squabbling, the love that allows you to put the other person first, knowing they will do the same. That’s how I see this couple. They aren’t perfect, nowhere near, but they don’t doubt where they belong.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Those pictures were convenient weren’t they? Surprised if they were there accidentally. Still have no clue who was behind the attack, but finding the answer is what makes for a good story.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wonderful update as usual. Rasul and Karin are really stirring things up, and most likely not for the better.
    Glad Eric and Sookie are so in sync with each other’s needs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Karin’s motivations are clear enough. Rasul remains the wildcard, but Karin’s clearly willing to accept help from any quarter. Of course, now you know the direction they’ve headed themselves and it’s not likely to be good.

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  5. It had to have been fairies and Brigid’s death was an accident. Surely they wanted to keep her alive and punish her. It’s weird that they didn’t’ take her with them, even gravely injured just so Rick wouldn’t know what happened. Hunter is a loose cannon in my book. He is still very naïve and would be very easy to manipulate or pressure into doing something very, very stupid. I’m afraid Karen is going to end up dead soon also. Hope it isn’t at the cost of anyone else.
    thank you so much for your updates!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. All good guesses. As you are gathering, your analysis of Hunter is spot on. He’s going to do what he considers right, as are they all. It’s just sometimes good intentions don’t end up with good outcomes.

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  6. Eric seems to be under so much pressure. He feels he’s let everyone down by not being able to figure this out as well as not being able to help Karin. He’s also trying to manage that thin line of getting and maintaining respect without going too far. Hope having Sookie back home will help. They always do better when they tackle problems together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s true. Sookie and Eric together seem to get things resolved. Of course, it’s not just the two of them. The other people in their lives are racing ahead, stirring up trouble along the way. It has been a thin line they’ve walked, and just when they were making headway, gaining the respect and support of other vampires, their vassals and progeny may do something to set them back.

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    1. Its one of the things I enjoy writing about them. They are entering a new phase of life with both of them vampire. Sookie is accepting her new nature and that creates possibilities. Eric has been around long enough to know how some things will play out, but with Sookie, you know things never go exactly as he would predict. It’s one of the things he loves about her.

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