Author’s Note: Thank you for your comments and reviews. Writing a sequel to my first story seemed like a risk, but I have to say I’m still having fun with this. I appreciate sharing this joyous activity with you. I enjoy sharing and hope you will drop me a line. I also hope you have a good thought for Breathesgirl. She continues to be a wonderful collaborator. I am blessed.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Nautical Note: The green flash is a scientifically proven phenomena where there is momentary green coloration on the horizon at the moment the sun either rises or sets. In mythos it signifies a thinning of veils between worlds or a time when messages can travel between worlds.
Sookie felt her knees giving out. The pleasure that was building through her began to blot out everything else. Eric grabbed her hips and pulled her back hard and she heard the slap of their flesh. He increased his tempo and her name was an anthem that he called over and over. Her face was buried in the mattress; she didn’t care. There was only the sound of them coming together and the slide of him deep within her and the smell of arousal; tart and sweet. She reached beneath her and rubbed her clit and suddenly she was cumming, her walls clenching so hard that he roared. Her blood pounded in her ears and she had a moment when she felt lost in the overwhelming waves of sensation. She was out of time; nothing else existed but this moment and Eric. He leaned over her and his wrist was in front of her lips. She took in the blood she knew he was offering and he bit into her neck. The feeling was like a rocket and her vision went dark.
She came to herself in his arms. Her skin against his felt smooth and cool and so very alive. Every nerve; every feeling tingled. He was absently stroking her breast and she could almost feel him every bit as adrift as herself. “I love you,” she whispered.
“I know,” he answered.
The small sounds of their world slowly seemed to reassert themselves. Sookie could hear wind moving through trees and the sound of rain washing against windows. There was the rumble of thunder and she knew that outside of the darkness of their room lightning was flashing.
“Did you spend time in the sun today, my lover?” Eric asked.
Sookie lifted herself onto her elbow. “Yes, a whole three hours. I could see the rain clouds’ coming but the afternoon was really bright.” She kissed him and laid her head on his chest. He shifted his stroking to her hair and shoulder.
“We will have company tonight,” he stated. Sookie stilled. She hadn’t heard there was anyone coming and Eric generally didn’t mention it unless it was someone that was important to her too.
“Who is it, Eric?”
He smiled in a slow, lazy way, his eyes on a tendril of hair he was twirling between his fingers. “The demon lawyer. Mr. Cataliades. And someone from your grandfather’s realm. The trainer.”
Sookie bit her lips a little. Then she looked back at Eric. “How long have you known they were coming?” she asked.
Eric’s eyebrows drew together. Sookie watched his open, lazy smile transform to something slightly more wary. “A few days. He was looking into matters for us. I wasn’t sure of the exact day so I didn’t say anything until I knew. I know now so I have told you.”
“So, when did he tell you, Eric? Cause I know it wasn’t tonight. You just woke up and I would have noticed if you were making a call. Or maybe you were just faking it back there and you were multi-tasking? Fucking me and checking your texts?” And suddenly Sookie wasn’t happy anymore. She was annoyed; even angry. She sat up and rolled over to the side of the bed. “Same old shit, isn’t it Eric? Sookie is back on a ‘need to know’ basis. I’ll bet Pam knew more about this than I did. What do you say I text her and ask?”
Eric sat up then and made a grab for Sookie’s phone. In fact Pam had known; Pam knew more about all of it than Sookie. “You have been so busy these days; so involved. And then you weren’t feeling well. I didn’t want to worry you unnecessarily,” he stated. He used that tone that implied that he knew best and that she was being unreasonable.
“Well, that’s just great, Eric!” Sookie snipped. “All that sharing and holding and talking about trust and we’re in this together. But you can’t share even the simplest things. You just can’t make yourself treat me like I’m an equal.” Sookie stood up and headed to the bathroom.
“Sookie..” he called to her. “Please, come back to bed. I’m sorry.”
“So am I,” she said and slammed the door.
She heard Eric growl, “Du är en smärta i röven.” Sookie wasn’t sure exactly what it meant but she knew it wasn’t exactly nice.
She showered and walked back into the bedroom. The bed was empty and she could hear Eric moving around in the kitchen. Sookie looked through the small closet and picked out a pair of black slacks and a button down cotton shirt that was well worn and comfortable. She pulled on a pair of flats and took one last look at her hair. She pulled the sheets and comforter back in place and straightened the pillows. She picked up a random sock and tossed it in the basket next to the closet. ‘Good thing he sleeps naked,’ she thought irritably, ‘or I’d be picking up his pajamas too.’ Then she walked out into the living room and headed toward the kitchen. Eric was placing a cup of coffee on the table for her as she rounded the corner.
“I am sorry,” he said. “It was wrong of me to withhold information from you. Please sit and I will tell you what was discussed.”
Sookie sat down and took the offered coffee. Eric sat across from her. He held out his hand; a silent request but Sookie wrapped both of her own hands around her coffee cup and waited. Eric sighed and looked away. “I asked him to look into the divorce,” Eric told her. “I asked him to try and move things through so that you would be free in time for the coronation. I wanted to be able to hold a pledging ceremony. I wanted to have you standing beside me as my consort.”
Sookie watched Eric. He was rarely guarded with her now and she could see that he was uncomfortable. She could feel her heart sinking. “So, I take it there is a problem.”
“Yes,” Eric told her. He looked straight into her eyes. “It is not a terrible problem, but it is an inconvenience. Because there is no proof of death the human law will not grant you a divorce. Not right away. Sam filed a protest. Did you know that?”
Sookie nodded. “Mr. Cataliades told me that Sam was going to contest things when I saw him before Amun Summit. He told me the Louisiana Court had granted a motion for supervised couples counselling.” Sookie shook her head. “I can’t even imagine how horrible that would have been.”
Eric’s look was direct. “I would have killed him, Sookie. I would not have been able to stop myself.”
Sookie smiled and shook her head. “You know if someone had told me I’d be saying this ten years ago I would have told them they were crazy, but that is just really sweet of you to say. I mean it.” Eric extended his hand again and Sookie placed hers in his. Eric leaned across the table so that he could kiss her hand.
Eric wrapped his other hand around hers and ran his thumb across her knuckles. He kept his eyes on their joined hands as he said, “We could still pledge, Sookie. Our rules are not human rules. We don’t recognize human laws. We would be married in the only way that matters to me; to my kind. I could have you stand beside me and be formally recognized as my consort.” He looked up then, his eyes shining with hope. “I would make you my queen if you wished it. Say you will; say you will take your place beside me.”
Sookie found her heart catching. She wanted so much to say yes to him. But she could see her Gran’s face. “Eric, how would I explain it to any of my friends or family? I’d have to hide it from everyone I know. How would it even work? I show up at supernatural only events as your wife and everywhere else as your girlfriend? What about stuff like the Summits where there are cameras and television people? I’d be living a lie. We did that already. I am not doing it again. I want to be able to stand up in front of the whole world and say ‘I’m Sookie Northman.’ I want to be proud and loud about being your wife.”
Eric smiled at her but his eyes were sad. “We will know more when the demon arrives. He told me it could be seven years. It could require that the shifter be formally declared dead first. But he also said he had to do additional research.” Sookie felt her lip tremble a little.
“Damn, Eric. Even from the grave that bastard is slapping at me. How long do I have to pay for making a stupid, fucking mistake?” Sookie could feel tears threatening to fall. She couldn’t help but wish that she could take it all back. “Why didn’t I file for divorce the first time he hit me, Eric? I can’t believe I was so stupid. I’d be free now. We wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
“Stop, älskare,” Eric told her. “You are not to blame. This is not your fault. This is not anyone’s fault. We will wait to see what the demon says and then we will plan.” Sookie looked into his eyes and willed herself to believe this would all turn out.
“What will be more interesting will be seeing who he brings to train you,” Eric said. Sookie recognized the vampire’s effort to change the direction of their conversation.
“I hope it’s someone who knows how to hide their scent,” Sookie said. She had a quick image of a beautiful fairy that appeared, was immediately swarmed by local vampires and ended up a small pile of glittery dust leaving her standing to the side.
Eric smiled, “It would be delightful to have one or two provide themselves for our refreshment. And of course, you would benefit.” Eric punctuated that statement with a meaningful leer. “But the risks are well known. I would imagine the trainer will be someone who is a lesser fae; someone whose scent will not prove attractive. You remember the elf? His scent was repugnant.”
Sookie thought about Bellenos. He had been a friend of sorts. He was wild and vicious. Yet he had also defended her and protected her. “I wouldn’t mind seeing Bellenos again. Or my uncle Dermot for that matter,” she smiled. And Sookie realized that Eric’s plan had worked and her bad mood had lifted.
As they walked up the hill to the main house Eric glanced down and asked, “Which design did you choose for our quarters?” The rain had slowed and was now just a mist in the air. It gave the grounds a dreamy quality and the lights glowed golden in the moisture-laden air.
“The linen and blue combination. It seemed cool but still kind of Tropical Island.”
“Does this mean you will be my paradise slave girl?” Eric waggled his eyebrows and patted her behind. Sookie turned slightly and grabbed Eric’s behind instead.
“No. But you can be my cabana boy.”
“Better run little island princess,” Eric growled. And Sookie did, running as fast as she could towards the house. Of course Eric caught her almost immediately. She shrieked and he laughed and swung her around. They were giggling and shoving each other as they came through the front door.
In the foyer stood a tall elegant vampire. His eyes were watching them with a combination of disbelief and disdain, but he recovered himself and stood taller before dropping into a graceful bow. Eric stopped short and stepped away from the telepath. Sookie watched as Eric transformed from the open, wide-eyed, laughing man who chased and teased her into the tall, imposing, majestic Eric. There was something about the way he slid so easily from one persona to another that caused a warning to flare within her.
“Your majesty, I am Thierry. I come at the recommendation of his majesty, Bartlett Crowe,” the new vampire said.
“Rise,” Eric responded, his tone distancing him even further from the playful man he had been only seconds before.
As the man across from her stood up Sookie had a chance to get a good look at him. In addition to his French accent, he was tall; only shorter than Eric by an inch or two. He had dark, wavy hair and blue eyes. His features were sharp and his mouth; well his mouth could have a whole roomful of girls swooning. He was handing Eric a folder and Sookie noticed his long, fine fingers. He was dressed in a sweater that showed off broad shoulders to advantage and that clung to his long, lean build. Sookie realized she had been staring a little too openly when Thierry’s eyes flicked to her in a knowing way and his perfect lip curled. She could feel the heat of her blush rush over her. Then she blushed even harder when she saw Eric’s eyes turn to her and widen.
Eric’s eyes as he flicked from the papers in his hand to the vampire were not laughing now. “This is my fiancé, Sookie Stackhouse,” Eric said. And then instead of doing it proper and actually introducing them, Eric moved on. It was as if he’d dismissed her as easily as one would say, ‘this is my chair or this is my dog.’
“I see you only spent a year with Bartlett Crowe. I am surprised he would have recommended you after such a short time. Perhaps there is some other connection?”
Thierry’s face lost all semblance of humor as well. “We had a prior connection through Mikhail of New York. I came to America and was a member of the King’s retinue for close to one hundred years. I functioned as his second for several of those years when his preferred was injured. Once he recovered I remained. The Kings Crowe and Edgington were frequent visitors during that time. We spent much time together.”
Thalia stepped forward from the shadow. Sookie hadn’t even seen her but Eric didn’t seem surprised. “With your permission, Sookie and I will continue our training.” Eric nodded and then turned back to continue his interview. He never looked Sookie’s way.
“Is this what I have to look forward to?” Sookie asked Thalia. She didn’t really expect an answer and she wasn’t disappointed. Thalia continued walking toward the field house that served as a training center for the guards. “I can’t believe he just treated me that way. Like I was nothing. And what was with that fiancé thing? He seems to have a short memory. I told him I couldn’t marry him right now and I’m not wearing a ring.”
“You should save your useless complaining for our practice. You can use that energy to make yourself faster,” then Thalia increased her pace and Sookie had to jog to keep up with her, effectively ending Sookie’s commentary.
Sookie headed directly to the locker area and switched into the baggy pants she used for fighting. Thalia was already at their practice mat, her wiry shoulders flexing under her sports bra. Sookie found herself wondering for the hundredth time what Thalia’s life had been like when she was human because the body that was preserved in front of her had no body fat and was covered with hard muscle.
“Ready,” Sookie said and Thalia came at her.
Sookie felt strong. She was able to evade a first rush and made contact on the third pass. Thalia was skilled. She would land blows but check the force allowing the telepath to experience how and when the vampire managed to get through her defenses. Soon Sookie felt a thin sheen of sweat forming. She felt oddly pleased with herself. She rarely managed to prolong their sparring this long. She remembered her footwork and evaded another feint. She didn’t notice other vampires in the building turning their way; the silence as they stopped their own training to watch the fairy and the vampire. Thalia tried the same sweeping leg motion that had resulted in Sookie’s broken leg the last time but this time Sookie jumped at the right moment. She felt a kind of euphoria starting to settle; a joy as she danced and twirled and was able to land a blow. Then Thalia got behind her and hooked both her arms, bending the elbows in towards each other and forcing Sookie down toward the mat.
Suddenly Sookie wasn’t in the field house anymore. She was at Gran’s house. Sam was leaning over her back and breathing in her ear. Her shoulders were burning and her breath came in short pants. But this time she wasn’t going to give in; she would resist. Sookie felt herself break free and a blade was in her hand and she stabbed and stabbed and stabbed.
The guard had apologized to the king for interrupting his meeting to let him know about the accident.
Eric walked with purpose into the pool house. In three strides he was through the porch; in four strides he was through the living area; in two strides he was in front of the telepath and on his knees so he could be at her eye level.
“What happened this time, älskare?” he asked. Eric scanned her pale face. At least she had the grace not to shrug and deny she was injured. But then again, with the way her shoulder was bulging she probably couldn’t shrug. He found himself sighing. “I don’t suppose I need to ask how you dislocated your shoulder. Would you like me to fix it or do you want me to call a doctor?” he asked.
“Fix it,” Sookie gritted out between clenched teeth.
Eric leaned forward, placing his own shoulder against her injured side preparing to use his own leverage to slip the limb back into place. But before he made any further move he whispered in her ear, “Blocking your feelings from me is not worthy of you. You make me worry unnecessarily.” When Sookie didn’t respond he grabbed her forearm in one hand and positioned his other hand in front of her clavicle and twisted. He knew that the swift movement was painful but she had been ready. She still managed to mute the feelings that flowed across the tie between them which made Eric Northman feel real fears.
Eric kept his head beside hers. He rubbed her shoulder as he held her arm at an angle across her chest. “I love you, Sookie,” he whispered. “I love you more than myself and you are safe.”
“Did I kill her, Eric?”
“No, älskare. You damaged her. Thalia is feeding and will be fine.” Eric stroked her hair, and then stopped to prick his finger with his fang and hold it to her mouth.
Sookie pulled back and said, “What if the knife had been silver, Eric?” Eric stilled.
“Then she would take longer to heal, but she would still be fine, lover. I do not believe you have it in you to kill Thalia.” But as Sookie took in his blood Eric wondered if he was telling her the truth.
Sookie was in the bedroom changing when Mr. Cataliades arrived. Eric recognized his companion. “Bellenos. Sookie was just saying she missed you. She will be pleased.”
The elf nodded and smiled, his sharp pointed teeth making the effect more alarming than charming. “I was honored to be asked to help the Princess at this time.”
Mr. Cataliades was smiling broadly and then looked less certain as they all stood together awkwardly in the enclosed porch. Bellenos made an effort to look around the vampire and the attorney rocked on his feet. “Good grief, Eric!” Sookie said as she walked out of the main part of the cottage. “Would you please invite our guests to come in and sit down?”
Eric took a step back then and nodded to confirm their invitation.
“Miss Stackhouse, always a pleasure,” Mr. Cataliades said, his round face made rounder by his wide smile. Sookie smiled back and nodded herself. Then her eyes lit up as she took in Bellenos.
The elf was much as she remembered. His eyes, which looked brown, had a queer glint of green that seemed to dance and glint in their depths. His hair was still too mossy to be mistaken for usual human hair. She could see other features about him now; features she hadn’t noticed when they had known each other before that marked him as other. His ears were now distinctly pointed and his fingers seemed to taper to pointy tips that were slightly talon-like. His bare feet and toes almost looked like tree roots. His teeth were the same though and he flashed them as he bowed deeply to her and said, “Princess. I am most honored.”
“Mr. C., when I heard you were coming,” Sookie shot a look at Eric, “I made an effort to get those cookies that you always liked.” She gestured to a chair and then turned to Bellenos. “What can I get for you?” Sookie headed to the kitchen and brought back sweet tea for the elf, the lawyer and herself and a bottle of warmed blood for Eric. Then she walked back into the kitchen and brought back two plates of cookies; one for Bellenos and herself and one just for Mr. Cataliades. Once everyone was settled she found her eyes wandering back to Bellenos.
“You really are a sight for sore eyes,” Sookie said. As the elf straightened Sookie fought her natural inclination to reach across and hug him. She remembered how Bellenos had reacted to contact with her in past. She had never been quite sure if he wanted to mate with her or eat her, but neither possibility seemed overly attractive. “So what’s up?” Sookie asked. “I was always ‘sister’ before. Did I get a promotion?”
Bellenos smiled, the green light in his eyes almost flashing. “I bring greetings from the Prince. He asks me to give you his best regards and to let you know that he thinks of you with affection and kindness. He wishes he could be here to see you himself, but these are sad times and he finds he can’t gather the energy needed to make the journey.”
“What do you mean, sad times? Is Grandfather all right?” Sookie asked.
“Yes,” Bellenos told her. “But he mourns the loss of his son. The fighting among our factions did not end with the closing of the portals. When your cousin, Claude was expelled it triggered one final battle among us. There were those among the Water and Fire that thought that Claude represented a dawning reason among the Sky. They thought that his hatred for hybrids would finally end the conflict between us. He was the heir after Dillon and he was a full blood. When Claude was banished and Dermot returned, the anger reached a boiling point.
Dillon and Niall led the Sky and Earth in a great battle against Fire and Water. It raged throughout our realm and spilled into other realms. It killed so many of us that we started to question whether we would survive as a race. My own wife died on the second day. Dillon fell along with most of the Water house as well. We of Earth have initiated the conversation to embrace our hybrids and bring those who possess the essential spark into our circle as never before. We have come to realize that it is enough that some of our blood should survive.” Bellenos smiled at Sookie then in a very direct way.
“We believe now that we were able to make hybrids with humans as a way to allow our race to continue. You are our next step in our evolution. You are immune to lemon and iron. You can reproduce at will. For those of you who inherited the spark it is possible to become even more fae, as you have proven, Princess. You do not possess all of our skills and gifts but neither are you as vulnerable to the things that would cause us to become extinct.”
Bellenos rose then and walked over until he stood in front of Sookie. He looked into her eyes and then went down on one knee. “It is my honor to be chosen to train a Princess of the Sky of the House of Brigant. I will help you to learn about your heritage and to discover what it means to be part of your people.”
Sookie found herself looking for Eric. It had been a night filled with too many things and she was starting to feel overwhelmed.
“When will the training start? And what facilities will you need,” Eric asked. Bellenos rose and returned to his seat.
“We can start whenever the Princess likes. We will need someplace outdoors to train, preferably during day. The light of the sun will help to fuel her strength as it would any daughter of the Sky. In fact, if we were able to use the area around your home in Louisiana, Princess, that would be best. It was made your home ground by the Prince himself. It is a blessed place.”
“What does that mean, my home ground?” Sookie asked.
“It means that of all places in all realms you can return there and find your strength. It will be as if the very ground feeds you.” Bellenos cocked his head to the side as he thought about how to explain it further. Then his eyes lit up. “Do you remember when Dermot was hurt and I breathed into him and held him?”
Sookie did remember. “Yes, I do. It was like a watching a vampire heal it was so fast.”
“Well, a fae’s home ground can do that too. If you are injured and you can make it back to that place you won’t have to find another fae. Your body and spirit will heal.”
Sookie thought about the burned out house and the overgrown yard. She thought about the years with Sam and the abuse she had endured. “I don’t think that applies in this case,” she said. “I was there for a long time and no good seemed to come my way.”
The look Bellenos gave her was knowing. She felt that he was in her head and that he knew all about her history and what had happened. “Home ground can’t cure evil. And it can’t fully offset evil’s influence. But it can keep you from dying when you might have otherwise.” And then Bellenos winked.
Sookie found herself nodding. “Well we can figure this out. I think it might be good for me to try training with a fae for a change. But we are leaving for New Orleans in the next day or two. I can’t imagine you’d be too anxious to be in a building full of vampires, no matter how bad you smell to them.”
Bellenos laughed his quirky, barking laugh. “No Princess, I would not willingly walk into any nest. I don’t have your fearless nature or forgiving ways. But I will give you a special phone. When you are ready you can call the first contact and we will meet. In the meantime I will find a suitable space near the city where we can train.”
“I will want her to have a guard,” Eric said. “Maybe two. And I want to be able to have the area you are proposing checked out before she goes there.”
Sookie opened her mouth to protest but Bellenos answered, “Of course. I would have been disappointed if the Princess’ chosen mate had shown any less regard for her wellbeing.”
Sookie found herself looking between Eric and Bellenos. Eric had a stubborn set to his jaw. Bellenos was looking smooth but she had the distinct impression that he was feeling no less stubborn. She shook her head and attempted to defuse the tension by asking, “So, does this mean that the portals are re-opened?”
Bellenos turned back in her direction. “Not exactly. There are two portals now open in this country. There is the one you know near your Grandmother. And there is another in Nebraska near the home of a friend to the fae. I am able to transport myself to either.” Bellenos looked distinctly pleased with himself. “Of course, as fae yourself, you would be able to use either portal.”
Mr. Cataliades nodded and then looked toward Eric. “Rest assured that as Fire I can also use the portals. Miss Stackhouse is under my protection as well and I will stand surety that she will be safe.”
Eric nodded, but Sookie could see that he was not comfortable. Bellenos stood then. “I must go now.” He handed Sookie a bright green cell phone. “You can use this any time, Princess. Just remember to place it in the sun with you. That will recharge its batteries.” And with a pop the elf was gone.
Eric sat back, his fangs extended. “I am not comfortable with the idea of Sookie running around the countryside with that,” he hissed.
Mr. Cataliades shook his head. “You mistake him, Eric. He is devoted to Niall and has sworn a blood oath to protect Miss Stackhouse with his life. She is safe with Bellenos. I will pledge you my word as well.”
Sookie shook her head. “In the end it really is my choice, Eric and I think I’d better start learning as much as I can about this fae thing. If it can give me more control over what is happening to me it has to be for the better.”
Eric looked at Sookie. He could sense her guilt and her exhaustion. He nodded. “I wish you to be confident, lover and comfortable. We will try.” When Sookie smiled Eric turned back to the demon. “And what of the other thing? The divorce from the shifter?”
Mr. Cataliades set his tea glass down and looked at Sookie. “I had told Mr. Northman that under Louisiana law it could take seven years for Mr. Melotte to be declared dead and then have you released from your marriage. But I did some additional research. Because you were both legal citizens of the state and married there if Mr. Melotte does not present himself within one year’s time we can have the marriage declared as abandoned and that would dissolve it too.”
“One year is a lot better than seven years,” Sookie said.
“Of course,” said Mr. Cataliades. “But Mr. Merlotte did file a motion contesting our earlier motion of that condition and an order was filed for counselling. If you were to present yourself but Mr. Merlotte failed to present himself for two or three sessions I believe we can file for an expedited decision.”
“Oh Desmond!” Sookie exclaimed. “Oh that would be wonderful!” She turned and threw her arms around Eric who drew her into his lap and kissed her.
“How long?” Eric asked.
“Counselling is supposed to start in five days. We could be filing for dissolution within a month’s time,” the attorney confirmed.
“This could work out perfectly,” Eric said to Sookie. We can delay the coronation and then be pledged and crowned together.”
Sookie smiled at him. “Sookie Northman. Sure has a nice ring to it.” Sookie looked in her vampire’s eyes. They shone blue and earnest. “I can’t wait to be your wife, Eric,” she told him and kissed him like she meant it.