Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
Are you still reading? Good, here’s more. Meridian yelled at me over the ending of the last chapter and she may have had something to say about the ending of this one as well. I promise to make it all better. Promise. Padore thought of all these lovely fairy tie-ins, so give her lots of love for her clever ideas.
Sookie’s hand shook as she searched for Eric’s phone. She opened her purse and pulled out two business cards. First, she called Pam.
“What’s going on?” Pam asked before Sookie could speak.
She took a deep breath and the words spilled out of her mouth. “They’ve got him. We were watching movies, there was a noise outside, and then they grabbed him.”
“Who?” Pam said. “Start from the beginning.”
“Fairies captured Eric. They took him through a portal.” Tears rimmed her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. “I can’t feel him, Pam.”
Pam didn’t speak for a few long seconds. “I can’t feel him either. I got something a minute ago, but now, nothing.”
“I swear I heard them say they were taking him to Faery.”
“They wouldn’t dare take a vampire to their world. Tell me what you heard.”
“That Breandan is waiting, and Eric would be a valuable bargaining chip. They didn’t want him, they wanted me.” A sob racked her chest. “This is all my fault. I need to get him back.” Sookie paced around the kitchen, thinking up a strategy.
“Eric told me you shouldn’t leave the house and the protection it offers.”
“Then come and help me.”
“And how do you propose to get into Faery? Huh?”
Sookie could almost see Pam’s hand on her hip and her delicate eyebrow arching. “Just come home, I have a plan.” She hung up before Pam could argue. They didn’t have time to waste.
The next number she dialed was on the business card Niall had given her. The phone rang five times before a woman answered.
“Elemental Laboratory, how may I help you?”
“Niall Brigant, please.”
The second she heard rustling on the other end, she said, “They’ve got Eric.”
Niall sighed. “Who?”
“Fairies. A male and female with long black hair. They had weapons. They hurt him and took him through a portal.”
Niall said something under his breath in a language she didn’t know. “I wonder where they’ve taken him.”
“I can’t feel him, and I heard them say they were taking him to Faery.”
“Feel him? You are bonded?”
“Yes.” She held her chin high, waiting for the judgment, but none came. “You need to help me get through that portal. I’m going after him.”
“That would be very dangerous. Breandan and I have a meeting tomorrow morning. The Fae are on high alert.”
Sookie scoffed. “They’re going to use Eric as a bargaining chip. They’re going to use him to get to you.”
The line went quiet and Niall drew a long steady breath before he answered, “Going after him is just what they want.”
“Maybe…” She had to think fast. “But they won’t expect it right now, will they?”
“Be ready in an hour.” Niall hung up without another word, leaving Sookie to pace wildly until Pam got home.
While she waited, she rifled through the gardening supplies in the garage, finding a rusty iron hand rake the gardener must’ve used for digging in the flowerbeds. With her knife in her pocket, and a weapon in her hand, she considered calling Jason’s house, but resisted the urge to wake them at two in the morning to give them a strange, cryptic goodbye. It would’ve been especially strange since they both assumed she was sailing through crystal clear blue waters, snorkeling, and having the best vacation of her life. She laughed bitterly. Some vacation. Since she couldn’t make calls, she decided to sit down and write notes to Gran, Jason, and Beth. They were the only people she really cared about and the only ones who would even notice if she didn’t come home at the end of her week off.
She hurried to finish when Pam got home, holding her finger to indicate that she was almost done. Pam tapped her foot impatiently against the tile in the kitchen.
Sookie glanced at the clock. “Niall said to be ready in an hour. That was forty minutes ago.” She inched over to the front room window to watch the dark street outside.
“You called Niall? Great idea.”
“What took you so long?”
Pam rolled her eyes. “Belinda is an idiot and kept asking me questions so I couldn’t leave.”
“She’s just stalling because she likes you.”
Pam shrugged. “Perhaps. In any case, I’m here now. Tell me the plan.”
“Niall is going to take us through the portal.” She shoved the garden tool into Pam’s hand.
“We find Eric and save him, and then we come home.”
“That’s your plan?” Pam snorted. “We go through the portal, and there will be Eric, sitting there, waiting for us, so we just take his hand and go back through?”
Sookie frowned. “It sounds stupid when you say it.”
“The fairies who took him are going to hide him somewhere. If he gets loose, he’ll be a danger to everyone in the realm. He’s not going to be sitting out in the open.”
“Fine. He’ll be hidden somewhere. But we’ll be able to track him down through the bond. You’re bonded to him too, aren’t you?” She tilted her head.
“Yes. He’s my maker. We share blood. We are one. We are—”
“Okay. I get it. You’re close.” Sookie sighed. “So we pop into Faery and find him, then pop home.”
“Oh, we just pop on home, huh?” Pam shook her head. “What did the fairies look like?”
“The woman had these wicked sharp teeth, like fangs, but all over. I could see them, even in the dark, like they were shiny or something.”
Pam gasped. “Fuck. Neave.”
“Neave? Is that her name?”
“Yes. She and her brother do all of Breandan’s biddings. They are ruthless. Twisted. They’ve been known to reduce their prey to ribbons. Literally. That’s probably who she was with. They’re inseparable.” She grimaced. “This is worse than I thought.”
Sookie swallowed hard. “Don’t tell me that!”
“You don’t want me to be honest?”
“Well, no, I guess not.” Her shoulders fell. “So what’s your plan?” A soft glow began moving down the street, surrounding a figure dressed in white. “Too late. Niall’s here.”
Pam and Sookie walked out together, but neither of them crossed the barrier. Pam stood in front of Sookie, protecting her just in case anyone had followed Niall.
“That portal has been created recently.” Niall said. “How did Breandan know where you were?”
Sookie shrugged. “Where else would I be? I couldn’t stay at home after Murry’s attack. I figured it was pretty obvious that I was staying here.”
“I assumed as much, but I hadn’t confirmed it. Breandan must know you and Eric are together.”
“Are we done chatting? They’ve got my Maker,” Pam added.
Niall narrowed his eyes, sizing up Pam. “You know the rules.”
“I won’t touch any sky fairies.” Pam straightened her back. “I’ve always liked the taste of water folk better anyway.”
Sookie grimaced as she listened to them making plans to kill Niall’s opponents.
Pam relaxed her hands to her sides and shook her hair back, tilting her face up to Niall. “I’m ready.”
Niall held his hands on either side of Pam’s face, his palms glowed and within seconds, a bubble of light surrounded Pam’s body. “Protect her,” he murmured.
“Um… What’s going on?” Sookie asked.
“I’m protecting her from my realm. The light is different, it can be quite painful for vampires.”
Sookie’s forehead creased. “They didn’t do that to Eric, they just dragged him through the portal all wrapped up in chains!”
Niall shook his head. “Then they have no intention of keeping him alive,” he said matter-of-fact. “We must hurry.”
“Can I do that thing,” she asked, looking at her palms.
Niall shrugged, managing to look elegant even then. “There’s no time to find out. Come. You must hold my hand.” He held his hand to Sookie, and Sookie held hers out to Pam. They walked toward the portal, pausing at the edge. Niall drew a long sword from a sheath hidden in the folds of his brilliant clothing with his free hand. “They will be waiting for us.”
Sookie tried to steady her breath as they prepared for battle. She glanced at Pam, and swallowed hard. Niall went first, all but his hand vanishing from sight. She could feel the portal closing around her, sucking at her leg, which quickly disappeared. Her grip tightened, holding on for dear life as she hovered in limbo for a moment before her entire body moved across space and time. She collapsed against the soft ground, dragging Pam down with her. She covered her face with her hands and fought the urge to throw up as pain shot through her.
“Get her up!” Niall barked as he lunged toward something moving in the strange purple dusk. He swung his blade over his head and connected with the object. Seconds later, a head rolled toward Sookie, resting inches away from her, its dead eyes staring at her with apparent shock.
She gasped, taking a deep breath of the heavy air. It seemed to slow her down, her movements, her thoughts, everything slowed as if she’d been drugged. Pam gripped her shoulders tightly trying to pull her upright.
“Lee was the look out. We don’t have much time.” He pointed toward a beautiful earthen hut at the top of a hill with the tip of his sword.
“I can’t move. Something is wrong.” Sookie doubled over in Pam’s arms, pain crippling her. “Eric…”
“Eric is in pain. Sookie can’t separate herself from the bond yet, it’s too new. We must find Eric.” Pam’s face went slack and her eyes closed. “He knows we’re here.” She started walking, supporting Sookie.
“You find him and come back here. I’m going to attack before they can.” His eyes glittered as he strode toward the hill, obviously intent on killing whoever stood in his way.
“Sookie, listen to me. You have to filter. Find the part of the bond that is filled with love. Focus on that. We’ll never get there at this rate.” Pam was practically carrying her, but even she walked slowly, straining with each movement.
“It hurts to breathe,” Sookie said. “The air is thick. I can almost taste it.”
“I know. Focus!” Pam growled and shook her shoulders.
Sookie exhaled and closed her eyes, letting Pam guide her across the ground. Love. She squeezed her eyes shut tighter. Love, desire, want, and need. She smiled. Eric. She could feel him holding her. Her legs relaxed and started moving on their own, and then her back straightened as the pain left her abdomen. We’re coming to get you. I love you, she said to him through the bond. She wanted to be in his arms and couldn’t believe it had only been an hour since he disappeared. They took him. They hurt him. The pain returned, making it nearly impossible to keep up with Pam.
“Focus!” Pam scolded.
Sookie nodded and took a deep breath, fighting to fill her lungs with the viscous air. Where are you? I need you. Her steps became easier again. She repeated that over and over. They seemed to walk forever, hiding behind trees and crouching in pools of shadows as they approached a small village.
“He’s close. Can you feel him?” Pam asked.
Sookie nodded and struggled to concentrate on only part of the bond. Tears filled her eyes.
A screech interrupted the stillness around them. Pam dropped to the ground, pulling Sookie down with her, covering her body and pressing her face into the moist earth at the base of a gnarled dead tree. Sookie gulped and found it easier to breathe. “What was that?” she whispered.
The screech was drowned out by a moan, the unmistakable sound of pleasure.
Pam got onto her hands and feet and scrambled toward the nearest hut silently. Sookie crawled along the ground, breathing the cool thin air. Pam hunkered below a window. Not so much a window as an opening. Pam inched up and peeked inside, her face a mixture of disgust and rage. She looked down at Sookie, put her finger to her lips and motioned for her to go around to the other side. She pointed at her chest and then to the window, implying that she was going to jump through.
Sookie nodded and clung to the hut, moving slowly around the base. When she got to an opening, she took a deep breath, filling her lungs with sticky air, gripped her fairy knife, and got to her feet. She kept her back against the wall, feeling the warmth through her clothes.
The village sprawled away from them, with beautiful huts dotting the gentle rolling hills. Some had fences and others had wild gardens of unimaginable flowers growing into the paths that connected them. Massive trees overshadowed everything, casting distorted shapes in the faint light. The huts seemed to be growing out of the ground too, not separate but part of nature. The serene landscape was almost enough to help her forget why they were there. Almost.
Another moan fluttered out into the evening sky.
Her knuckles turned white and she held her breath as she looked around the edge of the doorway and into the hut. Her mouth fell open and a flush spread across her cheeks as she took in the sight of two fairies having sex on the floor. It would’ve been erotic, except they were writhing around in a pool of blood.
The woman threw her head back and moaned again, digging her fingers into her partner’s chest. He screeched and reached up, not to caress her, but to choke her. It was then that Sookie realized the woman’s fingernails were imbedded in his flesh, disappearing in ten little holes bubbling with blood. Is he the source of the pool on the floor?
She tore her eyes away, following the trail to a corner swallowed by shadow where Eric’s still body slumped against the wall. Rage, hate, violence, and love exploded out of her, propelling her forward. As she approached the amorous couple she recoiled as she remembered what Pam said: they’re siblings. The fairy blade flicked out just as she swiped the air behind Neave’s back, connecting with her delicate spine. Her moan turned into a howl and her head twisted toward Sookie, baring her wicked teeth.
The void in Neave’s back grew, spreading like a black hole, consuming her flesh and bone until nothing was left. Lochlan looked at Sookie with seething hatred, his sinewy body covered with the glittery remains of his sister. Within seconds, he was on his feet, his glistening cock jutting toward her as he gripped her by her neck. He knocked the knife out of her hands and began to squeeze.
She looked at Eric, trying to keep her fear to herself as Lochlan crushed the life out of her.
“What a waste of a perfectly good meal! I won’t let you waste him too,” Pam chided before biting into Lochlan’s neck.
Lochlan’s grip on Sookie loosened as he tried to twist away from Pam, but she held him tightly, keeping the garden tool against his exposed chest, making his skin smoke, and began dragging him to the dark corner. She forced him onto his knees and offered him to Eric, holding him still. “Drink. You need your strength.” Her mouth dripped with blood and her eyes sparkled.
Sookie gasped for breath and swallowed, wincing at the pain. Why do they always choke me? She picked up her knife.
“Eric! Drink!” Pam growled, shoving Lochlan toward him while maintaining her hold on him.
Sookie ran to his side and wanted to cry as she saw the wounds in his perfect body, his arms, legs, and chest all ripped open, blood dribbling out of him. “He can’t move. They’ve poisoned him or something.” She gripped Lochlan’s arm and willed the blade to open.
“Sookie, don’t kill him. We need him,” Pam begged.
“I’m not going to kill him,” she said and told the blade to cut him. She sliced his skin, flaying it away from the muscle, blood filling the wound. She lifted it to Eric’s mouth and touched his lips, forcing them open. “Drink.”
Eric’s eyes softened and then closed as the fairy’s blood filled his mouth. He swallowed and then his teeth clamped down. She could hear his fangs crunching into his flesh, crushing bone. Eric’s head moved on its own as he pulled away. Sookie was going to protest, but then Eric’s hand gripped Lochlan, dragging him onto his lap. The open wounds in Eric’s arms had healed, and when he sank his fangs into Lochlan’s neck, the injuries in his legs disappeared.
Lochlan tried to scream, but Pam kept his mouth covered, holding the iron tool against him while Eric fed.
Within a minute, Lochlan stopped fighting. His eyes glazed over and began to sink into his face, his skin started flaking away, but Eric drank until there was nothing left. Eric pulled his mouth away just as Lochlan collapsed into a pile of shimmering dust.
Eric licked his lips and sighed, leaning his head against the smooth, earthen wall. “How did you get through?”
“Niall,” Sookie answered, touching his arm where he’d been bleeding moments before.
“He’s waiting at the portal to take us back,” Pam added. “We need to leave. Can you walk?”
He nodded. “I think so.” He started to get up, but Sookie stopped him.
“The light outside will hurt you,” she said.
Eric’s mouth formed a grim line. “I know. It’s never truly dark here, not even at night.”
She took a deep breath and held her hands on either side of Eric’s face, just as Niall had done to Pam. “Protect him,” she said. Nothing happened.
Sookie frowned and got into a better position, squatting in front of him. “Protect him,” she repeated. She looked at her hands, but nothing changed. No light, no power. Nothing. She growled. “Protect. Him.” She spread her fingers wide, willing everything inside her to work some kind of magic on him.
Eric put his hands on top of hers and said, “Sookie, it’s not—” The moment his hands touched hers, her palms glowed.
“Protect him,” she said, confident it would work that time. And it did. A layer of light surrounded him, illuminating his skin for a second. “Oh, Eric, you look so…” she trailed off while he stood, and in the soft glow coming from the ceiling, she could see how ashen his skin was. “What did they do to you?”
“Silver poisoning,” Pam answered. “Fucking fairies.”
“He healed me most of the way. One more and I will be as good as new.” He rubbed his arms, making some of the dried, poisoned blood fall to the ground.
“Sorry I killed Neave.” Sookie looked at her feet, but Eric cupped her chin.
“You were very brave. While I admit I would’ve gotten great pleasure from draining her, I enjoyed watching her melt under your blade.” He kissed her sweetly.
“I hate to ruin your moment, but we really need to leave,” Pam whispered.
Eric turned his attention to Pam. “Thank you for letting me have him. I know how much strength that took.”
“You needed him. I merely wanted him.”
“I appreciate it.” He took Pam into his arms and kissed the top of her head. “Let’s go.”
They left the village the same way they came, crouching and hiding amongst the trees. Eric moved slowly, and when they came to a stream, he sat down in it and splashed his body with the clean water. “I need to get this tainted blood off me. Luckily, she didn’t cut me deep enough for the silver to get into my veins. If that had happened…”
He didn’t finish his thought, and Sookie was relieved. He left his tattered shirt on the bank of the river, squeezed as much water out of his pants as he could, and stayed close to Pam and Sookie for the remaining journey back to the portal.
The last leg of their voyage proved to be the most dangerous. Completely exposed, they found themselves surrounded by fairies.
Oops, I did it again. On to Up All Night: Chapter 22