Seric. Eyes Open.

My eyes snapped open in the dead of night. "What *was* that?!"

the loud crashing sound had come from my front yard. I quietly pulled the covers off and slowly sat up. When my feet slid into my slippers, the banging on the front door began. I glanced at my alarm clock. 12:05 A.M. I'd only just gotten to sleep. I stealthily made my way down my Gran's hallway. Generations of Stackhouses stared down at me from their frames on the walls.

My brother Jason and I were brought to live with our grandparents early in our lives after our parents died in an accident (or were brutally murdered, we later found out. but most days, I instictively still thought of it as an accident, and honestly, I slept better when I thought of it that way.) So, I knew every nook, cranny and creaky floor board of my 150 year old family home. My ancestors watched my silently dance around it.

Why does stuff always happen here in the middle of the night? No, scratch that. I know why. Try vampires. Yep, you heard me! Creepy, sneaky, walk by night, blood sucking, undead vampires!

The world has changed a lot since they came out of the coffin a few years ago. Claiming that a blood disease makes them what they are. Mainstreaming. Living among humans peacefully. Fear not! New synthetic blood makes them harmless to the human populace. Pfft! The Weres and Shifters came out, too, after a spell. It didn't go quite as smooth for them. It surprised me, considering they'd been mainstreaming the whole time vampires were killing, unchecked.

Mainstreamin, my ass. Though there are plenty of vamps who are law abiding citizens, my personal life took a sharp turn a couple of years after they came out of the coffin and believe me, I know what they're capable of. Being a telepath and therefore the town freak made my life nothing to brag about. Close relationships with humans, mainly men, being pretty much off the table. When known vampire Bill Compton had come into Merllotte's, the bar where I work, my life got exciting...almost too exciting.

Since then, I've been the target at some point in time of countless Vampires, Werewolves, fucking Fairies, a couple Shifters and even a Maenad. Don't ask. I'm part Fae myself, in fact.

Which is exactly why I was treating the panicked cries for help coming from the front door like a possible trap. 'Fucking supes' I said only to myself. Strictly speaking, no one had come after me since my ex-honey and powerful Vampire Eric Northman had left me for Freyda, Vampire Queen of Oklahoma.(not totally of his own will) Yes, seriously, but you can never be too careful.

I reached behind the water heater and retrieved the Benelli shotgun Jason had given me to defend myself. Yes, I do know how to use it. Do you? And I don't mind telling you that it has definitely saved my ass, more than once.

I peered through the curtains to see a car wrapped around one of my trees. The remaining headlight flooding the yard and front of the house in light. A young girl stood bloody and crying on my porch. My heart sank, but somehow, I heard the voice of reason over the blood pounding in my ears. 'Okay, slow down, Sookie. This could still be a trick.' I nodded to myself in understanding like only an insane person would.

"Who's there?" I called, adrenaline coursing through my veins.

"Please, help! I crashed in your yard. I'm hurt, I think I broke my arm!" The heavy door muffled her sobs a bit, but I could still hear the pain in her voice. "Please, let me in!" She cried. I reached for the doorknob...and then stopped. Why would she be crashed in my yard? My house was way back off the street. You couldn't even see it from Hummingbird road. My driveway was long.

I 'listened' for her brain, but found only the 'blank space' of a vamp mind. I couldn't 'hear' the undead, which is part of why I enjoy their company. But I could detect their lack of brain signature, if that makes sense.

I racked a shell, the telltale sign echoing in the silent house.

"These are Vampire killing rounds!" I announced loudly and with an air of authority. I hoped. "Who sent you?" I demanded.

I thought back, trying to figure out who I've pissed off lately...Nobody? I think. I don't even hang with supes anymore. Often. Well, okay, what do you expect? My brother is Were-Panther hybrid, Bill still comes into the bar, Sam, a true Shapeshifter, is my boss. Also recently, my ex. Hey! Don't judge me. I had some serious internal debates with my self about whether or not I should date my boss.

Turns out the answer is 'not.' I really don't think I stepped on any toes, though, and I haven't been all extra curricular with any supes lately. So, what gives?

I could hear the pretend victim on the other side of the door laugh errantly. A good one from my Word of the Day calendar.

"They told me you were smart, Ms. Stackhouse. So far, you've only proved you're not dumb. If you want to prove you're smart, come out and play." She said.

Yeah, because that's an action that taking would make me smart. She thinks I'm dumb. Fine by me.

I went to the junk drawer in the kitchen and pulled out my emergency silver mace and chain. Didn't I say too exciting? Unfortunately for me, I'd lied to my antagonist. I only had regular old shotgun shells.

"I'm not alone." She called. I eyed the phone. Who would I even call? "Don't even think about it, we've already cut the lines."

Nevermind. Fuck! Shit! Perfect.

"So, come on out." She said again. "If you don't come out and talk to me, we're going to burn your house to the ground." She was starting to sound less patient.

"Of course, you are. Why wouldn't you?" I said low enough for only myself to hear.

"I'll give you until the count of ten and then my buddies are gonna start pouring gas and I'm gonna start playing with matches." Her voice took on a sing-song tone at the end. "One...Two...Three..." She's batshit!

"Okay, okay!" I yelled back, thinking on my toes. "If you really wanna talk, why don't we just go with the original plan? I'll invite you only inside and whoever else is with you, stays outside. How many friends you got?" I asked, counting an additional eight brain gaps.

"Two." She lied. "And no deal."

"Oh, come one. What have you got to worry about from one teeny, tiny human? And if you burn the place to the groud, I might die and then you'll never find out what you want to know." I was taking a pretty big risk, especially considering I'd just practically talked down to a vampire who would soon be in my living room. The silence while she made up her mind seemed to last for an eternity.

Were they after Bill? He did have that Vampire database. Not everyone likes the idea so much. Now, I'm not consorting with him or anything, but if they were wanting to use me against him, I must admit, it would work. He's still pretty vocal about his love for me.

That would just be a big joke, wouldn't it? Me getting killed because of Bill Compton. Ha!

"Alright, Woman, I'll come inside, but remember; my friends play with matches, too."

"Fair enough." I said, opening the door. "You, and you alone may come in."

"Thank you." She smiled as she passed me in the doorway. She was taller than me with unnaturally red hair. Tightly curled and meticulously styled. What I hoped was fake blood was spattered across her face. Her eye make up was dark and matched her outfit that was black and tight fitting, though still practical, somehow. In short, she was stunning. Well, now that she was inside, best to be polite.

"Well, as you know, my name is Sookie." I said stupidly, my face splitting into my tight, bright smile. It's my fallback when I'm nervous and it makes me look unstable, I'm aware.

"I know." She smiled in return, clearly much more at ease than I was. "I'm Serena." Gosh, she was chipper.

"Well, I wish I could say it's nice to meet you, Serena." I chuckled nervously. I didn't offer to shake her hand. Vmapires don't appreciate that much and I had to stop myself before the Southerner in me could offer her a True Blood. I hadn't had any in the house in a long time. The thought depressed me and I eyed the wardrobe that housed the cubby Eric had built for himself.

"Well, let's sit." Serena said agreeably. She sat across from me on the couch while I took the chair. "So, Sookie. May I call you Sookie?" I shook my head in consent. "So, Sookie, you sure do have a homey place here."

"Thank you." I said politely.

"And they were right; you are beautiful!" She was too nice now.

"They who?" I wrinkled my brow.

"My employers, of course, Silly!" She laughed, almost giggled as she reached out and shook my knee like we were old gal pals. I smiled even bigger in response, my anxiety building and she winked at me. Okay, then.

"Seriously, though, Sookie, when was the last time you saw or spoke to your ex-husband?" She batted her eyelashes.

I felt my head swim. "Excuse me?"

"You know, tall, blonde, gorgeous!" She wrinkled her nose and giggled.

"Eric?" I asked, confused. He was probably in some sort of trouble, but it couldn't involve me, could it? Was he okay?

"Yes, Eric!" She sounded huffy and annoyed. "Don't fuck with me here, Sookie!" Serena dropped fang. A bit bipolar, apparently. "Whoa, look, Eric and I broke up a while ago now. Going on a year. I haven't seen hide nor hair of him since!" Sadly, I was telling the truth. Not that I'd tell her if I had seen him. I did miss his hair. Not that I'll admit that, either. Sigh.

"You sure?" Her tone was condecending and she came to sit on the arm of my chair. She put her arm around me and leaned in close. Uncomfortably close.

"Yes!" I tried to not snap at her. "He left...He was to marry the Queen of Oklahoma, I was told."

"Mmmmh." Was all she said for a moment. "Look, Sweetie, I need answers. She pulled at the front of my pajamas and very deliberately looked down my shirt. Whoa!... "If you don't give me answers...then I'm gonna drag you outside and let my boys to take turns with you until you're ready to talk. And I'll have a taste, too."

"Get your filthy fucking hands off me!" I slapped her hand away and she grabbed me up roughly by the face.

"I'm gonna eat you while I fuck you to death, pretty blonde girl." It had been a good long minute since I'd felt this kind of fear and my breath quickened. "Don't worry." She whispered in my ear. "It won't be quick." She grabbed my breast and licked my ear. I tightened my jaw and summed up as much courage as I could and slapped her hand away again.

"Drop dead, Bitch. I don't know anything about any of it. And even if I did, your scare tactics still won't work on me. Exes or not, I'd never give Eric to you. You snide, foul mouthed, poor excuse for a lady."

She smiled. "You're telling the truth, aren't you? He's really abandoned you, hasn't he? Oh, well, then." And she sank her fangs into my neck. I screamed and sprayed her with the silver mace. She howled, knocking the can from my grip and throwing me to the floor. She straddled me and pinned my arms to my chest. "Oh, yeah." She said like she'd almost forgotten milk at the market. "This is on behalf of Freyda." She was back to being bubbly. "Freyda? Why? I've never met the woman. I saw her at a Vampire wedding once, but that's it." I had to keep her talking til...what? What was I waiting for?

Serena shrugged. "I don't really know. I mean, she tells me stuff. We're BFF's, after all, but when she gives me orders, I never really hear what she says. All I hear is 'kill, kill, rape, kill.'" She shrugged again before biting me once more.

I screamed at the top of my lungs, knowing my chances were pretty much none. Who would hear me? Maybe Bill, if he was home or nearby in the woods. He liked my woods. And he would do what? Defeat all eight vamps on the porch to gain entrance? Ha! Okay!

As I felt dangerously large sums of blood leaving my body, I found myself praying that Jason would have the good sense to not sell my house to just anyone, once I was gone. So many Stackhouse woman, myself included, took such care of it. Put so much love in.

I thought I heard a noise outside, but I just had such an overwhelming need for a nap. I felt Serena's fangs rip more of my flesh when she was pulled off of me.

"Sookie." The ghost of a voice floated around me.

"Eric?" Was I dreaming? Or perhaps hallucinating a loved one's voice in my final moments before death?

"Eric, a woman named Serena sucked me dry for your bitch of a *third* wife!" I think I chuckled. I meant to. It was suddenly hysterical. I wasn't dying because of Bill, I was dying because of Eric. I'd rather, honestly. With the betrayal I've suffered at the hands of Bill, I couldn't have stomached it. But Freyda literally had the power to tear Eric away from me and she had proved that; and yet, she still felt threatened by me. Well, why shouldn't she? We were as closely bonded as a human and a vampire can be without the human being turned. While he was with her out of an arraingment, he had cared for me. She must care for him, then, if I'm right and she is jealous. Though, based off of what Serena said, Freyda is trying to force Eric to be like a concubine or something. But you can't strong arm Eric Northman.

At that moment, I wished that instead of reading thoughts, I could send thoughts. If I could, I'd send one to Freyda. 'Get fucked, Bitch!' And then I lost to the black, watery pull of unconsciousness.

My eyelids weighed a hundred pounds as I desperately fought my way back to the surface of consciousness. I wasn't dead. Fog floated in my head, but it was instantly cleared when the throbbing reality of my neck broke through. It was feverrishly hot and sore as all get out. Like someone had unsuccesfully tried to break my neck. Damn, her bite game was strong. My eyes finally opened to see Pam, of all people, sitting close by.

"Sookie, my friend, how do you feel?" She asked, setting down a book she'd had in front of her.

"Still alive." I smiled weakly. "It wasn't a dream?" She shook her head 'no.'

"He's here?" I know I've missed him, but I did not expect my eyes to fill to the brim. Not that I'd had a chance to mentally prepare myself, but I always try to be mature, as a rule. Pam smiled at me compassionately and shook her head 'yes' this time. I quickly dried it up, determined to not look weak and humanly fragile when my ex saw me.

"I missed you." I told her. Sincerely, I had. I've always been very fond of Pam and for whatever reason, she has time and time again appeared in my corner. I'm not proud to say she's had a coule of spats with Eric on my behalf. It made me feel icky coming between maker and progeny. "I missed you, too." She smiled radiantly, perched on the chair with her legs crossed and her hands clasped atop her knees. "You know, you're my favorite breather." She wore a turquoise top, with maching seamlessly pressed slacks. Her turquoise wedges, trade mark straight hair and natural make up completed the look to perfection.

"Thanks." I tried to smile back. "So, what the hell is going on?" I asked, getting down to brass tacks. Pam looked relieved that we'd gotten past the mushy part.

"Remember when Sophie-Anne married Peter Threadgill and the whole thing blew up?" I shook my head vigorously in response. Ouch! I wasn't likely to soon forget. Thanks to my 'gift' and my deceased cousin, Hadley who'd been a vampire and the queen's lover, I'd been caught smack dab in the middle of it. Hadley left behind nothing but a few belongings and a boat load of trouble. Not to mention, a small son named Hunter. He lived in another Parish and was as 'gifted' as I am. I see him on occasion. Which is a secret I'll take to my grave. Oh, and she had hidden a very important bracelet. By the time the smoke had cleared from all of it, the bracelet hadn't mattered much. Both Sophie-Anne and Peter Threadgill were dead and Louisiana and Arkansas had been left to fall prey to Felipe de Castro, powerful and much richer King of Nevada. Louisiana and Arkansas are not by any means rich states. By the time we'd found out that we might be taken over, it was already happening. Eric was the only Area Sherriff to survive it.

"This is worse." Pam said, all traces of humor gone.

"I'm in this, aren't I?" My stomach dropped before she could confirm.

"We'll protect you. Just like we always have." She sounded sure, but her eyes told a story of worry.

"So, what happened? Why did everything go to hell so fast?" I asked. Generally speaking, vampire marriages last longer than a year. They're usually for a few centuries, give or take, and an arrainged marriage is based on shared interests of power, not love. The couple meet up every once in a while for a conjugal visit, but are not required to live together. They mostly rule their own states. But Eric had no state. He's only a sherriff. I was surprised, in fact that they were already married, though that was an assumption. Negotiations for vampire marriages are lenghty and it can take years to write up the contract. Yes, there's a contract. I assumed they were married, because Eric had mostly not been involved in the negotiations. Remember when I said he didn't leave totally of his own will? Eric was promised to Freyda by his meddling, ancient maker, Appius Livius Ocella. I despised him and was ecstatic to see him meet his long over due sticky end in my driveway. Unfortunately, I'm not the only one who has vampire relatives that die off and leave you with problems and Eric was stuck with a binding contract to Freyda.

"How screwed am I, really?" My tone warned Pam to not feed my any sugar coated lies or half truths.

"Okay," she smiled and leaned forward like we were regular women, just passing along the town gossip. "That bitch, Freyda couldn't even wait for the end of the wedding ceremony to..."

"Pamela." So, they were only just married.

Both of our heads followed the stern voice to the dining room door. And there Eric stood, all six feet, four inches of his glorious, Viking self, leaning carelessly against my old and worn doorframe, making it look downright decrepit. My breath hitched in my throat, but I refused to cry. I'm a woman, not a school girl, I told myself.

Eric is beautiful; like an ancient Adonis. Did I mention that he's tall? Blonde haired and blue eyed, he is the embodiment of every womans' wet dream, and that's before you even get a look at his statuesque, world renowned body. Usually a t-shirt and jeans kinda guy, he was dressed up for his wedding. Black suit, white shirt, but no tie. His hair had been cut short and slicked back, adding to the sharpness of his features without detracting from his breathtakingly good looks. I had to push away a mental image of when it was long and we would lie naked in my bedroom and I would braid it for him. He was mouthwatering, to say the least. Is it weird that I was jealous of the fact that Freyda got a wedding out of him and I didn't?

I wanted nothing more than to throw my arms around his neck and then slap him, like some old black and white movie. I shoved that aside, as well, though and opted for maturity.

"Eric." I greeted him and was proud of how strong and steady my voice was, despite how weak and quavery I felt.

"Pam, will you give us a minute?" He never took his eyes off of me. His immensly blue eyes that looked right through you. Stop that, I told myself again. He's married.

"Sure." She went into the kitchen.

"Sookie." He came to sit beside me and I scooched to give him room. Without another word, he placed a kiss on my forehead. It took a great amount of self restraint to not repay him with one to his lips. Eric was the best kisser.

"I know that I truly do not deserve it, but forgive me?"

"For what?" I was honestly curious. There was a lot. For almost getting me killed for the 900th time or for leaving me? Though I know he did not want to leave me, I sometimes still find myself angry about it. He could've fought it harder...but, that isn't fair. The blame is as much mine as it is his. There was something I could've done as well. My thoughts momentarily flickered to the cluvier dor, still hidden upstairs. Neither of us had been willing to make the sacrifices necessary to get him out of the contract Ocella had put into place. I mean, what if I had used the cluvier dor and there was a much more imminent emergency later on that called for it, and I didn't have it?

Not to mention, that Eric and I both pictured very different things in our futures. He pictured an eternity as a powerful vampire. I respect that, I do. If you're going to do something, do it well. However, I want to grow old with a husband. That's not possible for us and Eric had never understood my human desires. And he wanted to turn me. We'd fought about it. It wasn't something I wanted. Sometimes, love isn't enough, but it was there. Big love. And not a single one of the logical things I would tell myself on sleepless nights, made me miss him any less. My heart throbbed, making my throat ache. Maybe we should've fought harder.

"I didn't mean to bring you trouble or intrude on your life. Again." He said gently. Sort of an apology...not exactly a 'sorry,' but I'll take what I can get.

I nodded. "So, the crazy lesbian and her friends work for your Queen?" If I sounded sounded a tad bit vinegar filled, well, I thought I was entitled to it.

"Yes." He ignored my tone. Typical. "I suppose you would like to know why she wants you dead." It wasn't a question. I didn't answer his non question. Okay, so maybe I am angry. Big love, big loss, remember?

He slow blinked at me. "Turns out, Freyda has been plotting against me since she began arraingments with Ocella." I was already sick of hearing her name.

"I guess, that's why you don't trust anyone?" I was deliberately trying to remind him of what he once told me; that he trusted Pam and I only.

He smiled at me. "Indeed. Tell me, Lover, have you been well?" He settled into the couch. Having him there felt so familiar, like a breath of fresh air.

"Well, I was, until vampires crashed a car into my tree and sucked me dry. Now, I'm mostly just tired, but also a little dizzy. And I might be sick later."

"Can I heal you?" He asked. Wow. Asking first, that was new. Eric's highhanded demeanor usually led to him making decisions for my best interest, without my consent.

"As much as I appreciate you asking first, I don't think your wife needs any more reasons to want to kill me." I tried to keep the bitterness out of my voice.

His smile was dazzling. "Well, I am going to make sure you are at least, a little better before we leave." He got up and left the room.

My head was swimming. Okay, so, Freyda wants to kill me, Eric and Pam are in my kitchen, Eric's trying to take care of me... Whoa! Deja vu? I felt like I was walking back into my real life. It was immensly relieving, but it was a lie. My heart hit my shoes. I should probably tell him to leave. Now I really felt sick.

I thought I had stood up slowly enough, but I still had to wait for the room to stop spinning before I slowly made my way to the kitchen. Pam was pouring juice and Eric was rummaging through my vitamins. A vision of normalcy. At least, in my world, it was.

"Hey, Guys." They both looked at me.

"Sookie, you need to sit down." My ex said a little too lovingly. It ticked me off.

"Sit down?! I've been sucked dry; I need to go to the hospital!"

"Nah." Pam waved a hand at me, unconcerned. Eugh!

I sighed loudly. "Look, it's been great catching up and I really appreciate your saving me, but I really think y'all should leave." I tried to sound in charge, but I swayed just then.

"Okay, Sweet tart, time for bed." Pam grabbed me gently by the arm and steered me toward my bedroom.

"I mean it." I tried to tell her.

"Yes, yes." Was all she said. She put my in my bed, pulled the covers up to my chin and began stuffing pillows behind me until she was satisfied with how propped up I was.

"Look," she said quietly. "If you really want us to go, you know we will, but you do need taken care of. And he missed you." She said that even lower. My heart jumped. "He just wants to see you, and he's single again." She waggled her eyebrows at me. Oh, Jesus Christ, Shepard of Judaea. I narrowed my own eyes in response. What did she think she was doing?

"I don't know, he seems pretty married to me." There. That sounded nuetral enough.

"Yes, but you're missing a key word here." I stared at her, waiting for her point. "Happily. He is not 'happily' married."

I a felt rage bubbling up that had been beneath the surface all night. "Well, boo hoo! Who's fault is that?" I snapped before I could stop myself. She pulled away to look at me evenly.

"Well, well, look who has abandonment issues. Dear, Abby always says that when a woman has abandonment issues, it's always either because of a man or.."

"No offense, Pam, but I don't give a flying frick what Dear, Abby says. If I do have abandonment issues, they're pre-Eric." Dear, Abby is an advice colum that Pam just loves. Not a clue why. Entertaining when I'm in better moods, though.

She eyed me testily. "It's always either because of a man or because of the parents." Pam finished, anyway. She had me there and she knew it. I glared.

"Look, he's miserable without you. Aren't you miserable without him?"

I chose to ignore her question and ask my own. "Did he tell you that?"

"What do you think?" Her expression would lead one to believe she were speaking to a mongoloid. "He is still Eric. Besides, I know my maker, he doesn't have to say something out loud for me to know it."

"Like telepathy?" I asked just to annoy her. She rolled her eyes.

"Like intuition."

"Sorry, Pam, but I am not going to chase a married man based off of your intuition." I was probably more disappointed by my words than she was, but I have some strong morals.

"Who said anything about chasing? All you gotta do is.."

"Pam.." I cut her off.

"Okay, I'm gonna need you to stop doing that." She glared at me.

I pointed to Eric standing behind her. "Oh!" She left the room too quickly. Subtle.

He came in carrying a tray filled with soup, juice, vitamins and even a flower. Wow.

He placed it in front of me and I thanked him, feeling self conscious.

"I suppose Pam has been divulging everything to you?" He asked while I slurped my Campbell's chicken noodle soup. I wasn't going to mention the comment she made about him being single.

"Marital spat?" I didn't look up from my bowl.

"More like war."' He asnwered.

"What's the difference?" I scrunched up my face in confusion.

He laughed and it was a great sound.

"Fair enough. The thing is, it's not really marital at this point, I think it's to the death." His firm tone was flimsy and there were underlying traces of humor. He'd always been fun and I loved talking to him.

"Still having trouble differentiating." I said and He smiled again. "But why does she need to come after me? We haven't been a 'we' in a while."

"I am sorry. For everything." His voice was genuine and he reached up to re secure my bandage. "Isn't it obvious, though? You're the wife I actually want to be with." His words confirmed my theory about her being jealous.

"Wife; that term is just so..." I tried to ramble nervously, but he interrupted me, for which I was grateful. For a second.

"You're the woman I love, Sookie." He touched my face.

"Oh, boy." Not an intelligent reply, but I was feeling a little overwhelmed.

"Unfortunately," he continued. "Freyda is not only vindictive, she also 'has a thing for me' as you Americans say." I smiled at his use of modern vernacular, always have. "It's illogical, considering she's been planning my demise, but I do believe she is jealous of you, Sookie." What else is new? "Not to mention, I did just send her closest friend to her final resting place."

"At least you didn't sleep with her. Lots of husbands do that." He chuckled. "So, Serena was telling the truth about her and Freyda being BFF's?" I asked.

"BFF's? I'm not familiar." It was his turn to scrunch.

"Best friends forever." I filled him in. "Wow, being a vampire must bring a whole new meaning to that." I realized aloud. Eric raised a perfect brow and smiled again. I'll be damned, but I've never been able to not return Eric's smiles.

Not totally unexpectedly, he leaned in and kissed me. Utterly unable to deny him of anything tonight, it would seem, I reciprocated. He kissed me deeply before pulling away. Whew!

"Is this alright with you?" He asked sweetly. We both knew he was trying to manipulate me. At least one of us knew that it wouldn't work.

"Eric, cut the shit, nothing has changed."

"I am soon to be a widower." He winked and smiled at me seductively. I smiled back again. Damn it.

"That may be true, Sweetie, but I thought we understood each other when we broke things off. We both know that our futures are headed in exactly the opposite direction."

"Yes, and yours is straight into an early grave." He said bitterly. That irked me.

"Well, I do actually plan on living a full life, but these things that keep happening to me, are only so much my own fault, Eric." Now that I'd said that out loud, I was kinda pissed. All these supes keep almost getting me killed. It's old.

"I know that." He said softly, taking both of my hands into his own. "Do you not understand that anything short of centuries is early to me? This," he waved a hand between us. "Is not enough for me. A few short months is not enough for me. I want to have you and keep you for much, much more time than that. You want to get married and grow old, I know, but what I want to give you is so much bigger than that. You deserve the world. I can give it to you." His eyes bore into mine.

"I don't want the world." I said stupidly. I sounded like a defiant child.

"I don't understand, Sookie. Is it the thought of leaving your home? You don't have to. Mainstreaming really has changed everything. It would be so much different for you than it was for me or for Pam. You can stay as long as you like and come and go as you please. Moving doesn't have to mean selling and time is so relative when you're immortal. I know you don't want to watch everyone you love die, but I keep failing to see how your remaining human would prevent that?" Wow, he was covering everything.

"Is it children you want? Love? You can adopt as many as you like and watch them all grow. I'll never try to tell you no." He touched my face again. I gulped air, not realizing I'd been holding my breath.

"And for all my faults as a husband, I have always loved you truly, Ms. Stackhouse. Isn't that exactly what you want? You see, I can and will give you everything you want and need while never hindering your independence. Doesn't growing old pale in comparision to everything you want? Why not have the world as well?" He grinned at me.

He didn't promise me forever and he wasn't lying to me. Eric rarely lied, he didn't see the point. Why take actions you cannot justify, at least to yourself? I didn't have the first clue of what to say. The bedspread seemed like a good thing to stare at.

"Sookie." I looked up to meet his eyes, feeling as though I were a hundred years old. He waved his hand between us again. "Was it enough for you?" Before I could think of what to say there was a ruckus.


The woman hollering was not Pam, but she was pissed. "Fuck!" He put his head in his hands, mine still tightly clasped in them.

"I have Pam, Get out here! I am Not fucking around!" She screamed. "And bring your barmaid bitch with you!" We locked eyes.

"Of your two wives I've met, I can't honestly say she's my favorite." I said flatly.

"I really have to agree." He replied, mirroring my tone. "Well, I guess we better save Pam." He moved the tray and reached his hand out to me. "Yeah." I said, accepting it and letting him help me from the bed. I followed him to the living room where the front door was wide open.

There in the doorway Freyda had Pam with a stake to her chest. She was pretty, about my height, brunette. Dangerously pissed and fangs fully extended, her hawk like gaze was fixed on me.

"So, this is the husband stealing tramp?" She said venomously.

I couldn't help it and I snorted loudly. "Look who's talking, Bitch!"

She pressed the stake against Pam harder and a trickle of blood ran from the point.

Eric grabbed me firmly by the wrist. "Sookie." His voice warned me to tread carefully and I bit my tongue after that. "Freyda," he said evenly, reaching his hands out to her as though she were a wild animal. "Release my progeny."

"Oh! Like you released mine?!" Blood filled her as she looked around at the bloody piles around the yard. "Which one is she? Don't try to lie to me, Eric, I felt Serena meet the true death!"

"I am not the liar here. She is there." She followed his pointed finger to the corner of the living room. Inside. Her features contorted in rage and red ran sluggush rivulets down her cheeks. Her eyes then zeroed in on my bandages as she put the pieces together. Not good.

"You..." Her predatory glare switched to him, voice shaking with grief.

"Please, give me Pam. You can have me." He slowly stepped forward, hands still raised in peace.

"No!" I yelled. There had to be a way to save them both.

"Be quiet, Sookie." He told me firmly.

To my astonishment, she released Pam. She went to Eric's side and he held out an arm to her. I sighed heavily in relief.

When we looked back at Freyda, the large glock was already pointed at Eric. She fired. bang! Blood splattered from his neck and he hit the floor. A shell casing landed unheard after the ring of the gun shot. I looked up to see the gun pointed at me. Another shot rang. The first had clearly been a diversion. Of course, she didn't want Pam. She wanted me. Ha!

She missed! I looked down to see red was spreading around my heart. "Damn."

Everything became loud and fast moving; chaotic. I don't remember hitting the ground, but I must have, because Eric appeared above me, bullet wound already closing in his neck. I heard Pam rattling off my address to emergency response as Eric pressed something tightly against my wound. Trying to keep in what was left of my blood, as if I hadn't lost enough already to Serena. I coughed painfully, and blood spattered my face, gettng in my eyes. Eric's eyes widened in fear. Never a good sign when Eric is afraid. "Hang on, Sookie! Hang on! They're coming."

"They won't make it in time, Eric." Pam said somberly.

"Shut up, Pam!" He roared over his shoulder. When he looked back at me, he stroked my hair and tried to smile soothingly. Pam was right, though. I was dying. I felt awfully alert, all things considered. I could feel my body draining with each feeble heartbeat. My extremedies were shutting down. The wound site was wet and increasingly hot, the rest of me was cold.

Where was Freyda? Does she really kill me? Husband stealer, indeed. Eric's words from before rang in my head while his lips moved, but I heard nothing. 'I've always loved you. This isn't enough for me. Was it enough for you?'

I was almost out of life, I knew it and I still didn't hear any sirens. I don't suppose even a vampire with blood as powerful as Eric's could restore me to my former self now. My thoughts flickered again to the cluvier dor. Like I was in any condition to go get it or even send Eric to find it. He didn't even know that it existed or that I had it. I made up my mind. One last time.

"Eric." I choked again and wheezed. Blood was filling my lungs, I had mere seconds to say my final words.

"Shh, Lover." He whispered, blood pooling in his eyes. I prayed he'd understand me over the gurgling of blood. "Eric, it wasn't enough." I tried to convey it to him with my eyes in case he hadn't heard me, but my time was up. My lungs had filled and my eyes closed.

When my eyes finally opened, I was ravenous! I bolted upright in the dirt to see Eric at the edge of the hole. He was dirty and shirtless and he was smiling at me. I smiled back, ecstatic to see him. He had really come through for me, big time! He reached down a bottle of True Blood to me which I downed greedily. Eugh! He smiled wider at my expression and handed me another, which I also made disappear. When he offered me a third, I shook my head, feeling temporarily satiated. He reached out his hand and hauled me out of the ground, and pulled me against his chest and his lips crashed down onto mine. I kissed him back hungrily, every nerve in my new body was positively electric! When we pulled apart, I stared deeply into his eyes, counting new colors I was unable to see before. I smiled and kissed him again, feeling stronger than I ever had. When we pulled apart again, I had questions.

"Where is she? Where's the bitch who killed me?" I asked, feeling my fangs for the first time. I took a few steps around him as though she might appear right before me.

Eric reached his hand out to me. He never stopped smiling proudly. "Let's go get her." He said pulling me back against his chest. "By the way, did I mention how sexy you look with fangs?" He kissed me yet again snd we smiled at each other as he took to the sky.