Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
I have a feeling you might enjoy this chapter. All mistakes are my own.
Eric pressed his ear to the small gap in the door. He could hear everything. He could also feel Sookie’s emotions building inside her: sadness and anger. So much anger. He wanted to warn her about getting the truth from Compton. The truth would hurt her. But she insisted she needed to know why. Her voice shook as she spoke to Compton, occasionally punctuated with a sniff. She was crying. He waited, giving her the time she needed despite his desire to save her from the waste of space in the cell. To save her from the pain he was causing all over again.
Her anger erupted at the same moment she slapped him, but quickly turned to fear. Eric pushed the door open and flew toward them. Sookie’s body was stiff as she fought against him. The door closed with a loud click. The scent of her blood filled the small room. Eric growled and delivered a powerful kick to Compton’s tethered leg, breaking the bone.
Compton howled, releasing his grip on Sookie, who crumpled to the floor at his feet. She held her bleeding throat and scooted against the wall. Compton rocked forward and clutched his mangled shin.
As much as Eric wanted to make sure Sookie was okay, he needed to neutralize the threat to her first. He gripped Compton around the throat and lifted him toward the ceiling.
A scream escaped Compton’s lips as his foot separated from his leg, a stream of blood coating his lifeless appendage and the shackle that still held it.
Eric pivoted and pressed Compton against the door. Eric’s fist fit perfectly in the tiny window, protecting him. Compton flailed against Eric’s chest, like a swarm of annoying gnats. Compton’s skin began to smoke as the silver lining burned him. The security guard banged on the door and tried to open it, but couldn’t.
Compton’s pathetic cries tapered off as his bleeding slowed. He glowered at Eric. “Northman.”
“Apologize to her,” Eric demanded.
“Did you fuck her?” Compton asked. “I bet she’s sweet. Pity I never got a chance. I would’ve enjoyed making her scream.”
Eric slammed Compton’s head against the door until a bone-cracking sound echoed through the cell. Blood trickled down Compton’s neck and began to smoke.
“Apologize.” Eric tracked Sookie’s movements out of the corner of his eye as she stood and walked toward them.
Compton glanced at her and laughed. “Why do you care?”
Eric didn’t answer, because Compton didn’t deserve the truth. “I said, apologize,” he emphasized each syllable with another crack against the door.
Compton’s eyes widened in fear and he held his hands up defensively. “Oh fuck. You’re in love with her. I’m sorry. Please, don’t kill me.”
The security guard shouted, “Move out of the way!” But no one paid any attention to him.
Eric’s jaw tightened. “Apologize to her.”
“I’m sorry, Sookie. Please tell him to let me go, okay sweetheart?”
Sookie took a step toward Compton while she retrieved something from her pocket. Blood trickled down the side of her neck and soaked into her blouse. “I never was and never will be your sweetheart.” With that, she produced a single chopstick, which she held against his heart with shaking hands.
* * * *
Sookie’s hands quaked as she gripped the thin piece of wood.
“Please, sweet—” Bill begged.
“I’m not your sweetheart,” she repeated, pushing against the thin tunic covering his chest. “You don’t deserve me. You used me. You hurt me. You’re worthless,” she added. It was true. Every last word. She wished he’d never come into her life. “I’d hate to see what the queen has in store for you after what you just admitted.”
Fear contorted Bill’s face.
“That’s right. You just confessed, on camera, that you never intended to follow orders,” she said, pointing to the corner behind her. Her head swam with each turn. “That the only reason you found me was so you could have fun with me.” She smiled and pulled her hands away. “I guess you’ll get what’s coming to you. What’s the punishment for treason?”
Eric answered. “A slow, painful death. Sabine is a lightweight compared to Sophie-Anne.”
“No.” Bill shook his head, put his hands on top of hers and plunged the tiny weapon into his heart.
Within seconds, his hold relaxed and his body began to disintegrate. Copious amounts of blood seared against the silver door, filling Sookie’s nostrils with the foulest smell she’d ever encountered. Bill’s face collapsed and morphed into a liquefied pile of stringy, bloody tissue.
Sookie’s world spun and then everything went dark.
* * * *
Eric released his grip on Bill’s remains and lunged for Sookie. He scooped her into his arms just before she hit the ground and cradled her against his chest as the security guard pushed through the door, sweeping through Bill’s remnants, making a bloody smear on the floor.
The guard growled and barked, “Heal her. Now!” His eyes darkened and filled with longing as Eric’s mouth made contact with Sookie’s torn throat.
Eric bit his own tongue and probed inside the wound until it closed and then he set to work cleaning her skin. Her white plastic suit was spattered with droplets of blood, which he licked clean before sucking on the collar of her blouse. He needed to remove as much of her scent as he could.
“What the fuck?” the guard shouted, looking down at the slimy pile of tissue on the floor. He used the toe of his boot to push the chopstick away.
A moment later, the woman who had let them in appeared at the door.
“You didn’t check them for weapons?”
The woman shook her head. “I forgot. She smelled so good. I couldn’t think straight. What happened?”
Eric looked up from Sookie. “She killed him.”
“She did?” the woman asked.
“I thought maybe you took it from her or something. I was watching the feed upstairs and saw her pull it out of her pocket. I couldn’t see after that. She just doesn’t seem like the kind of person who—”
“Don’t make assumptions about her,” Eric said. “That’s what Compton did, and you can see what happened to him. You have no idea how ferocious fairies can be. She comes from a long line of warriors. I’m holding her for your safety. When she comes to, there’s no telling what she’ll do.”
The woman’s eyes darted to the mess on the floor and then to Sookie who began to stir in Eric’s arms.
* * * *
Sookie opened her eyes slowly. The pain in her neck had eased significantly, but everything still hurt. All her muscles ached, as if she’d spent the last hour shivering.
“Welcome back,” Eric said, rubbing his thumb against her shoulder.
She glanced around the room and found not one, but two guards near her. When she made eye contact with them, they both shrank away, as if they were afraid of her. She touched the side of her neck tentatively and smiled. “Thanks for healing me.”
“We need to get you out of here,” Eric whispered. “There’s no need for more violence,” he added with a louder voice.
Who is he talking to? Sookie frowned but Eric shook his head slightly signaling something.
“What about the queen?” the man asked.
“I’ve already alerted her of the … situation,” the woman said.
“The queen knows how to get in touch with us. I’m sure we’ll hear from her soon. We need to leave before something else happens.”
Despite what Sookie had been through, she couldn’t help but notice the language Eric used. Us and we. She smiled.
Eric carried her past the guards, who didn’t try to stop them. Why would they? Bill killed himself to avoid the queen’s punishment. Coward.
Ghostly white faces peered through the small window in each door they passed, their eyes a mixture of desire and fear.
Eric ascended the stairway, still holding her gently. “I think I can walk,” she protested, but he didn’t stop. He didn’t put her down until he had his car door open.
“Don’t say anything. Get in.”
“Okay, but…” she said, sitting in the passenger seat. Eric started the car before she could close her door.
She frowned, but remained silent long after they passed through the ornate gate that enclosed the Containment Area. “Can I talk now?”
“Yes,” Eric replied, keeping his eyes on the road.
“Who were you talking to, about doing something violent?”
“You. Because you killed Compton.”
“Me?” she shouted, turning in her seat to face him, her torn suit crinkling under her. “But I didn’t! He did. You saw!” she protested.
“But they didn’t.”
She pinched the bridge of her nose. “I don’t understand.”
“Regardless of my best efforts, there will be times when I obviously can’t protect you. What you need is respect … and a little fear from the vampire community. You have that now.”
“But I didn’t do anything!”
Eric pulled into the driveway that curved in front of his house, turned the key, and looked right at her. “You threatened him. The camera caught that. They heard his confession, too. He was as good as dead, and he knew it.”
“So now everyone thinks I killed Bill?”
He nodded. “Vampires can be vicious, but if they are intimidated by you, you’ll stand a better chance of surviving. You want to stay alive, right? Because after that stunt, I’m not so sure.”
She sighed and looked down at the stains on the front of her clothes.
“Did you get the answers you wanted?”
“Yes,” she whispered. The sting of Bill’s words came back to her. A little piece of her heart ached and tears filled her eyes. “How was I so blind?”
“Because you’re a good person who sees the good in others,” Eric answered while wiping her cheek.
There was nothing good inside of Bill. All of it had been a lie. “He deserved it.”
“Yes, he did.” He got out and then opened her door, leading her into his house. “You should rest.”
She scoffed as she waited for her head rush to pass. “I’ll probably have nightmares for the rest of my life. His face…” she shuddered as an image of his slimy skin sagged around his limp eyes filled her head.
“It’s not pretty,” he added.
“You’ve seen that before?” Her mouth fell open. How could someone witness something so gruesome without it ruining their life?
“A few times,” he admitted. He didn’t offer any more information, and she didn’t ask.
“Am I in trouble? With the queen?” Her heart began to race.
“It was self-defense. Plus, I’m sure she wouldn’t want to … rock the boat, I believe is the expression.”
“Rock what boat?”
So much plot, so little time! Read on: Relapse: Chapter 7