Glass Houses

By Terri Botta

Disclaimer: I don't own the Southern Vampires. Sole copyright belongs to Charlaine Harris. I'm poor so don't sue.

Rating: PG.

Timeframe: Post Dead and Gone

Pairing: Eric/Sookie

Summary: Sookie must live with the consequences of her choices. Eric POV.

A/N: Eric made me do it. The conclusion of Glass Houses. Enjoy.

Chapter Two

It takes four more years before his plans come to fruition; four years of careful plotting and maneuvering, of garnering support and forging allies. Many times he fears his treason is about to be discovered, but each time his superior intelligence and knack for strategy saves him. He moves all his pieces into place, playing the dutiful subject all the while waiting for his chance to strike.

Over the past four years he has carefully orchestrated the demise of some of de Castro's most powerful employees, including Jonathon and Sandy Sechrest. Now only Madden remains from the original group that invaded Louisiana and killed Sophie-Anne. He owes Madden pain for his part in helping Felipe take Sookie, but revenge on the King's Second will come after he has seized the throne.

Planning and staging his revolution is not as hard as he had thought it would be. Felipe is hated by the vast majority of his subjects and most of the other Kings and Queens. Russell Edgington, the King of Mississippi, in particular lives in fear of Nevada taking over. Edgington is still healing from the massive wounds he sustained in the bombing in Rhodes and relies heavily on his Second, Joseph, and his mate, Bartlett Crowe, the King of Indiana for protection from invaders.

It is easy for him to secure Edgington's support, and Crowe's by proxy, when he sends an emissary to Mississippi to test the waters. Russell practically knights his messenger and sends him back with a pledge of full support in return for Felipe's guaranteed demise, and a treaty of non-violence between Russell's territory and that of the new King, or Kings.

He doesn't want Nevada. In truth, he doesn't want Louisiana or Arkansas either. He never wanted to be King, but he realizes that he has no choice. If he wants his bonded back, and wishes to be left in peace, then he must rule so that no one can control him. He's pledged Nevada to California, and he'll probably make Pam Queen of Arkansas if she wants it. If she doesn't, he'll think of something. For now he must secure his victory and claim his prize.

When the night finally comes, he is almost taken by surprise by how quickly things happen. The coup is planned for the very night the King and his entourage are to return from a summit of the Western State vampires held in Colorado. Not being in the King's favor, he is not invited to attend the summit, but the old saying, "While the cat is away, the mice will play" holds true in this respect, and he seizes his opportunity to infiltrate Nevada while Felipe is otherwise occupied.

Unlike Felipe, who stayed safe while his underlings waged battle with the vampires of Louisiana, Eric goes with his little band of seasoned soldiers. He will not ask any of those in his retinue to do what he is not willing to do himself, and he leads the charge to breach Nevada's protections. The King and his people are not expecting an attack so soon after their return from Colorado, and the element of surprise works in Eric's favor.

He kills five in short order, and he sees Pam take out three more. There are vampires from four other states all helping him take over, and they are conducting simultaneous attacks on the leading Area vampires all over Nevada. They are given instructions to offer Felipe's Sheriffs the chance for surrender, and so far all the reports he has received on the status of the coup have stated that Felipe's underlings are laying down their weapons when given the choice. It is a sign if a truly hated leader when his own subjects are not willing to die for him.

His people will gladly die for him, and they will do so because he will not ask it of them. Even though he does not want to rule, he will do it and do it well because it is the only way to keep the one he loves safe.

He hasn't seen Sookie since that brief meeting where she called him a bastard and told him to get out, but he's heard of the King's dealings with her. After the death of the Weretiger, and Eric's refusal to help her, Sookie no longer tried to escape and served her King as ordered. From what he has been told from the spies he has in Felipe's court, Sookie has not been abused, but she has suffered under the King's rule, and her situation enrages him and many others.

If the King is hated, his former bonded is well loved because she is kind and treats even her captors with respect and consideration. Sookie's vampire handmaid, Renee, is one of his spies, and she has been sending Eric regular updates on his former bonded, keeping him informed on Sookie's whereabouts and overall condition. Although he has been sorely tempted to send his former bonded a message of hope through Renee, he has refrained from doing so. De Castro has forced his blood into Sookie, and their bond would have allowed the King to know that something was amiss. While he hates to admit it, hope is not something his bonded is allowed to feel just yet.

He does not like keeping his former lover in the dark because the Sookie he knew was alarmingly unpredictable when kept out of the loop. In fact, he could once guarantee that his willful telepath would do anything but what she had been told to do. He both loved and hated that about her, and her stubborn refusal to take direction ultimately led to her downfall.

He was worried that his former bonded would prove to be a wild card once again during the coup, but Renee tells him that Sookie no longer challenges the King's will. She has learned, through brutal reminders, how to obey and please her ruler, and she does as she is told without question or complaint. This stunning achievement on de Castro's part was facilitated by a betrayal that all but destroyed his bonded's spirit, and it sealed the King's fate when Eric heard of the despicable act.

In an attempt to create another telephath, Felipe arranged for Sookie to have a child with a half-fairy. The unfortunate sperm donor was one of the few humans of fey descent who opted to stay in the human world after the fae closed the portals to Faery. Somehow Felipe learned of his existence and had him captured in order to be used in the King's breeding program. He is dead now, of course. Once he had served his purpose, and sired a live child, Felipe drained him and disposed of his body.

From all accounts, Sookie is aware of the young half-fairy's fate, although reports that Felipe killed the man in front of her cannot be confirmed. What can be confirmed is that the child was taken from Sookie shortly after the baby girl was weaned, and now Felipe holds her hostage to secure Sookie's complete cooperation. Renee tells him that Sookie is allowed to see her daughter only when she has performed a service for the King.

In their short time as mates and bondeds, the one thing he knew Sookie wanted that he could not give her was a child. Had they stayed together, he might have arranged for something similar – a donor of some kind who would be willing to impregnate his bonded so that she could have the baby she wanted – but he would never have forced Sookie as Felipe had done, or used her like a prized broodmare, nor would he ever have taken her child from her. Knowing such a heartless cruelty had been inflicted upon the one he loved so dearly is a pain that fuels the fire in his heart, and he cannot not deny that part of his rage is Sookie's coming from the faded vestiges of their bond.

Although Felipe sought to completely erase the bonding Sookie had shared with Eric, he was not successful. The blood bonding of Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman was one of the strongest ever recorded, and would probably have been the strongest if Sookie had not been an idiot. He fully intends to renew their bond as soon as possible once de Castro has been sent to Hell where he belongs.

The blood lust is upon him as they storm their way through Felipe's compound. The King's terrified guards surrender, and some even join their cause, as they press forward to de Castro's inner sanctum. The King has barely had time to sit down from his trip when they bust down the doors to the main household and lay waste to all who are within it.

He is not Thor or Odin as his vision goes red and he screams a battle cry. He is Loki and Fenrir and Surt, bringing Ragnarok down upon Felipe's head and setting fire to the world.

When it is over, he stands amid the carnage and roars his victory, holding Felipe's severed head up high or all to see. His subjects bow and kneel at his feet, and the survivors are brought to him so that he may decide their fates. There is one survivor whom he does not have dragged in front of him, however. He leaves Sookie locked in her cell. Felipe had tried to send someone to grab her and steal her away, but his bonded's own handmaid killed the one de Castro sent and locked Sookie in her room. Renee is now one of the supplicants kneeling before him, and he smiles at her. For her service, she will be richly rewarded.

Renee was told not to warn Sookie of the impending coup, and he knows that Sookie is now confused and terrified, not knowing what is happening but knowing that something is wrong. Sookie must have felt the moment de Castro was killed and their blood bond broken, but she does not know who will be her new master. He can feel her more strongly now because Felipe's blood is no longer drowning out his own, and he wishes he could send her comfort and calm, but their bond is still too weak.

He sends Pam to retrieve his bonded's child, and the girl is brought to him shortly. He is not good at judging human children's age, but the child looks to be about the size his own daughter had been before he died, which would make her around two summers old. The child's name is Adele he is told, and he smiles. Of course Sookie would name her little girl after her grandmother, but he is surprised Felipe allowed it. In retrospect, however, it makes sense: allow the captive to name the baby right before the infant is taken away.

He holds the little girl, marveling at how much she looks like her mother. She is all blond curls and blue eyes, and she has Sookie's nose and generous mouth. He is amazed by how little fear the girl shows when she is presented to a strange vampire and picked up for examination. Perhaps she has spent so much time around the dead that she hasn't learned to fear them.

The toddler is in good shape: well fed, clean and dressed in nice clothing. It is obvious that she has not been abused or neglected by her captors, and she bravely reaches out to touch his long hair with one chubby hand. He smiles at her and she smiles back. He wants to tell her that she will be reunited with her mother soon and never forcibly separated from her again, but any show of weakness so soon after his victory would be a bad idea.

"This child is under my protection," he states clearly. "None shall harm her or her mother."

There are murmurs in the room but he silences them with a look. He has made it no secret that he fully intends to claim Sookie as his own, but only a few know that her fate was a primary motivation behind his quest for the throne. Pam gives him a wink then lowers her head again. Scowling, he hands Adele to Renee and finishes deciding the fate of the rest of the survivors.

Unfortunately, Madden died protecting his King so there will be no revenge for crimes committed, but he accepts that and moves on. There are many other things to celebrate. He shores his position, declares himself King of Nevada, Louisiana and Arkansas (the transfer of Nevada to California will happen within the next few days), and delegates responsibilities to his people. He knows his delay in gong to Sookie amuses and surprises Pam, but he has his reasons for not running to secure his bonded right away.

It is not until many hours after his victory that he finally makes his way down the stark hallway to Sookie's cell, and he even takes the time to change out of his blood and gore splattered clothing into a simple black jeans and t-shirt outfit. He also brushes his hair and washes his face and hands so he will be clean and fresh looking.

He walks down the corridor to Sookie's room with purpose, but pauses at the closed, sliding door. He is oddly hesitant and unsure of himself for the first time in years. In truth, he does not know how she will react to him or what she will do now that Felipe is dead. If she is smart, she will yield to him willingly so that he can renew their bond and bring her under his protection. If she chooses to be stubborn, he will be forced to make her submit, and he doubts that will go over well.

There is a keypad beside the metal door. He knows the code now so he can open it at will. He has learned from Renee that Sookie's cell is soundproof with a closed-circuit television system. He instructed one of Nevada's surviving geeks to turn off the cameras and vacate the monitoring room, and he sent Pam to make sure his orders are carried out, although he wouldn't put it past his child to leave the cameras running just so she can watch. She has waited for this night for twelve years, and he knows she is looking forward to have more things to tease him with again.

He was a horrible tyrant after Sookie was taken from him, and his disposition was sour for years. It has only been recently, as the night of the coup grew closer, that he started to be something other than a bastard. He knows half of his people are with him tonight just to help him get Sookie back so he will stop being such an S.O.B. He doesn't really know what to think about that; he just knows that he wants to stop feeling empty and incomplete. He takes an unnecessary breath and inputs the code on the cell's keypad.

The door slides open and he once again sees the opulent cage de Castro fashioned for his captive bird. This is the room where his bonded was held against her will. It is where she was drugged and forced to conceive a child at the whim of the King. It is where she gave birth and nurtured her newborn daughter. He wishes he could take the vulgar silks and overstuffed throw pillows and burn the whole room. Perhaps he and his bonded will do just that for he knows that Sookie will not spend another night trapped in this prison, no matter what she does when she sees he is her rescuer.

He steps in warily because there is no sign of Sookie and lets the door close behind him, extending his senses in an attempt to locate his bonded, and he finally homes in on her too-fast heartbeat, fluttering somewhere in the vicinity of the attached bathroom. He smiles, imagining her hiding in the shower, a makeshift stake clutched in her small hands, and he almost laughs. Levitating so his feet make no sound on the floor, he glides over to the closed bathroom door and gently pushes it open.

Her attack is so sudden that it would give even a vampire pause, but her aim is off because she is not expecting her target to be floating four feet off the ground. The caustic mixture of bleach and bathroom cleaner hits him in the stomach, bleeding out the black dye on his shirt and jeans and staining his shoes. Had it hit him in the face, it would have caused considerable pain, maybe enough pain to have allowed Sookie one chance to run for freedom. How far she expected to actually get…

He frowns. If Felipe had been the target or Victor…

There is no recognition in her eyes as she throws the liquid at him and makes a desperate break for it. She barely gets through the open bathroom door to the bedroom before he grabs her. She screams and writhes in his grip, curling her fingers into claws and going for his eyes. She is wild, hissing and spitting, kicking and jerking, until he pops out his fangs and snarls at her.

"Sookie! Sookie, it's me!" he yells because he knows that she does not realize who has her.

He shakes her once, twice, and she stills, finally looking at him and seeing him for the first time. She blinks, calming down as a myriad of emotions crosses her face.

"Eric?" she whispers.

He sets her down gently and eases his grip. She is dressed in a terrycloth bathrobe, and he is afraid he's bruised her in her struggles, but she is otherwise unharmed.


She looks around and he can see her puzzling things out, almost hear the thoughts buzzing in her head. She touches her chest, frowning.

"Felipe is dead," she says, rubbing a phantom sore spot near her heart. "I thought…" She looks at him, worried and afraid. "Victor…"

"Victor is dead," he tells her.

"Oh. Oh," she breathes and slowly sinks to the tile floor. He kneels on one knee beside her, one hand on her thin shoulder. She's lost weight, but her breasts are fuller after her pregnancy.

"I am king," he says, watching her face carefully to see how she is taking the news.

Her head comes up and she stares at him, then she laughs bitterly.

"You? You're King? Oh that's rich," she blurts and bursts into tears.

"Sookie?" he asks, not understand her sudden sobs.

"You'll never let me go," she cries, her eyes squeezed shut and her shoulders shaking.

For the first time in twelve years, he is tender, and he lightly brushes her arm.

"Shhhh. In me you have your freedom. You know this," he reminds. "You will have no need to be set free because you will no longer be a prisoner."

If anything his gentle words only make her cry harder and he is at a loss. He always hated it when she cried, but there is nothing he can do for it now. He accepted the possibility that she might reject him after he took over, but he had hoped she would be smart enough to know that it was in her best interests to renew their bond. Now it is looking like the last twelve years have taken too much from her, and she has nothing left to give.

He remains quiet and still as she cries herself out. Her face is puffy and red and her nose is running with acrid-smelling mucus. He crinkles his nose, but says nothing. When he thinks she is finally winding down, he gives her his T-shirt to blow her nose. It's ruined anyway from the bleach she threw on him. She accepts his offering with shaking hands and what might be a tiny nod of thanks, and she blows her nose with a loud honk. He almost laughs. Even weeping and sweaty and a ragged mess, she is still beautiful to him, and he watches her every move with rapt fascination.

"Adele?" she asks finally, sniffling.

"Your daughter is safe. She is with Renee. I will have her brought to you shortly."

She nods and swallows, her upper lip trembling. "For how long?"

It takes him a moment to realize that she is asking him when he will take her child away and he scowls.

"You will not be forcibly separated from your child again."

She is shocked by his declaration, and he feels a twinge of pain. That she would expect him to rip her daughter from her arms as Felipe had done… It makes him angry that he cannot kill the King again.

"Eric…" she whispers, the tears starting to fall anew.

He hurries to wipe them away. "Please stop crying," he says, an edge of desperation in his voice.

She draws a deep breath, getting herself together, and he sees a spark of his former lover in her eyes. "So what now?" she asks, putting on a brave face.

He gives her a little smile, trying to comfort her. "Well… it would be in your best interests for you to renew your bond with me. I will give you your freedom, of course, but if you were to run out of my jurisdiction, another King or Queen would quickly snap you up. Felipe's constant bragging of your talents has made you quite famous."

She tightens her jaw and nods. She knows how much Felipe loved to parade her in front of the other Royals. He's heard reports of de Castro showing her off in Colorado and keeping her tethered to him like a lapdog. If he could vomit, he would.

"So you're telling me you're my best bet. Is that it?" she replies.

It's almost a challenge and he delights in it. For all of Felipe's abuse and debasement, she still has not lost her fire. Will she be a Phoenix that rises from the ashes more magnificent than before or will she crash and burn again?
"I think you should consider your options carefully," he answers.

She snorts and looks away. "What options? Can I at least redecorate?"

He frowns again and sweeps his eyes around the room. "I was considering setting fire to the lot of it."

"Might be nice, but I don't like scorch marks on my walls," she counters without humor.

"Forgive me, but you seem to be operating under the false assumption that you will be remaining in this room," he states evenly.

"Gonna build me a new cell in Louisiana?" she accuses.

It hurts him to hear her imply that he intends to keep her prisoner, and he wonders if he is mistaken about her not being broken. She is making many assumptions about her new circumstances that are not based in any history of their relationship, and it worries him. She is treating him as if he is the villain in their story when in reality it was she who left him while he nearly lost everything trying to keep her. Felipe fined him the amount of all of his profits for five years as punishment for his insubordination and almost stripped him of his Sheriff's title. Yes, her stubbornness and naiveté made her Felipe's property, but he did not escape the aftermath of her betrayal unscathed.

"The thought had not crossed my mind. I had hoped that you – and your daughter – would come live with me." He makes sure that she understands that Adele is included in his invitation.

She laughs again, a short, self-deprecating laugh. "You thought I'd just fall back into your arms, the grateful damsel swooning over her white knight. Well, I'm no damsel and you're no white knight, Eric."

"I never thought of you as such," he replies, trying to keep his voice steady. She's baiting him and he isn't sure why. Maybe it is just her anger and pain over the last twelve years coming to the surface. Whatever the reason, he can feel through their frayed bond that it really isn't about him.

"Why you'd want…" She stops and shakes her head. "No. Doesn't matter. I'll bond with you, Eric. I'll even have sex with you. I've gotten really good at faking it."

The last snaps the thin hold he has on his temper and he growls. "Enough of this, Sookie. This is me you are talking to."

"So what? What the hell is that supposed to mean? You left me rotting in this hellhole for twelve years, Eric! Four years ago, I begged you to help me and you abandoned me here," she seethes.

"I did not abandon you here and leave you to rot. I left you here to insure your safety. Plans to take over Felipe's kingdom were in place, but I wasn't ready to seize the throne. If I'd tried to take you then, I would just have been killed," he says through gritted teeth.

"Oh yes, because I was so safe here," she snarls. "He had me drugged and raped, Eric! Then he took my baby from me. I was only allowed to see her after I'd done something for him or if I'd have sex with him. That is how safe I was here."

"You are alive and I am alive," he says forcefully. "That was safe enough for me. If I could have killed him before he did those things, I would have, but it wasn't the time. In fact, his doing such things to you helped me garner support for my cause. You are much loved by the supernatural world, Sookie. At least three Kings wish me to send their regards to you."

She rolls her eyes. "Oh, yes, I am sure they are sooo sorry at how awful I was treated."

"They are. It is why they pledged their support for me. Russell Edgington in particular was very eager to offer his assistance."

Her stubborn face relaxes and she looks at him. He can see the ghosts of Rhodes in her eyes. "How is Russell?"

"Healing. His limbs have grown back and he is able to rule again, but he is still weak. Joseph and Bart look after him and his kingdom," he replies.

She smiles softly. "That's good. I've always liked him. He was nice to me."

He can't stop the smirk that comes to his lips. "I was nice to you, too, but as I recall you were not very nice to me."

He sees her eyes flash with anger, and he is ready for her outburst, but amazingly she swallows it and has the decency to look ashamed. "I know," she admits in a whisper.

He softens and caresses her arm, noting for the first time that she is naked under the robe she is wearing and her hair is still slightly damp. She'd just taken a shower when the coup occurred, and he remembers all the showers they took together when they were bonded.

"That's all past now," he assures her.

She shivers but does not pull away from him. "Eric… what will happen to me?"

"I am King. You are under my protection. None shall harm you," he vows.

"Would you really let me go?"

He keeps his fangs from running down as he answers calmly, "If that is what you wanted. As long as you stayed within my Kingdom, I could offer you protection even if you were not with me."

"But I wouldn't be safe, and neither would my daughter. If I wasn't with you, anyone could come in and kidnap me or Adele."

He thinks of a diplomatic way to answer her. "If you were not by my side, yes, it would be harder to prevent someone from another Kingdom from sneaking into my territory and taking you… but it would not be impossible. I could provide you with a personal bodyguard who could stay with you."

She frowns and shakes her head. "Then I'd be a prisoner in my own home instead of a prisoner here. I'd just be trading one cage for another."

She leans towards him ever so slightly, and he reads her body language and takes her into his arms. They are alone here, and theoretically Pam has followed his orders to turn off the cameras, so he can afford to be demonstrative with her. She doesn't try to pull away, and he is surprised by how familiar holding her feels even though he has not touched her in over a decade. He takes a deep breath to inhale her scent and sighs when she still smells the same.

"You know that I will never force you to do anything against your will," he reminds her.

"Except marry me without my knowledge," she replies.

"You know why I did that, and if you hadn't run from me that night, and if the hotel hadn't been bombed, I would have told you what I had done, but I didn't get the chance," he counters gently.

"It seems like we never got the chance to talk to each other about the important stuff," she says with a sigh and he feels her creep a tiny bit closer.

"Or we just assumed the other understood what wasn't being said."

There is a moment of tense silence, then she exhales and presses against him. "Yeah."

He tightens his grip and pulls her closer. Her warmth against him again is a sweet pain.

"I did love you," he tells her in a fierce whisper.

"I loved you too," she admits. "I just… I dunno. Everyone else was moving with their lives. Tara. Amelia. Holly. They were all getting their dreams, and there I was still stuck in Bon Temps. I kept thinking of all the things I didn't have so much that I couldn't appreciate what I did have. I'd convinced myself that if I could just get away from the vamps, I could have the life I thought I wanted. I know you tried to warn me, but I just didn't listen. I… I was good at that."

"Yes, you were very good at running away from me," he concedes, speaking into her hair.

"You weren't so good with the explanations either," she retorts back, but her voice is kind.

He chuckles. "No. That is true. I was used to guarding my secrets. A good poker player never shows his hand before he is ready."

"Except I was the one who was supposed to be reading the other players' cards for you, but you left me out of the loop."

He nods. "Yes. I should have been more forceful in my warnings to you. I should have been more blunt as to what would happen to you if you were to separate from me. I thought I was protecting you by shielding you from the political maneuverings of my world, but instead I gave you a false sense of security. For that, I am sorry."

"I'm sorry too."

It's the first time since her rejection of him that she has apologized, and he wishes those words had the power to wash away the pain and suffering of the last twelve years. But they cannot, and all he can do is try to make her next decades as happy and pleasurable as he can. To that end, he kisses her head and turns her to face him.

"Will you accept me?" he asks.

She looks at him for a long time, her eyes searching his face. He doesn't know what she is looking for so he keeps his expression neutral, but he can't help but let his fangs down. One of her hands comes up to touch his face, brushing her fingers against his fangs, and he closes his eyes at the intimate gesture.

"Yes, I will accept you," she agrees.

He sighs and bends his head down to kiss her. She opens her mouth and invites him in, and it feels so good to hold her and touch her and breathe in her scent that he almost loses control, but he stops himself and forces himself to pull back.

"Sookie…" he breathes.

"Eric," she replies and offers her neck.

He is almost consumed by the lust that hits him, but he fights it back. He will not take her now. He allowed his passions to rule him in the past and he will not repeat his mistakes.

"Sookie. Sookie, look at me," he commands softly, and he waits for her to open her eyes. "While we are alone, you may engage and challenge me all you like, but if we are in front of witnesses…"

"I need to defer to you," she finishes. "Yes, I know. Vamp politics is all about appearances."

"Yes. So when we go out there and I present you as my bonded, you know what to do."

She frowns. "Felipe made me kneel at his feet. Sometimes he'd even…"

He puts one finger on her lips to silence her. "That will not be necessary. I only ask that you sit by my side and not refute me. I will not be a tyrant King."

"You will be a good King. Your subjects will love you."

He caresses her face, letting one finger trace down the side of her neck. He is practically shaking with need, but he keeps himself in check.

"And you will be their beloved Queen."

"Can't be a Queen, I'm not a vampire."

He smiles at her, the offer on his lips, but he knows she doesn't want it. "They will love you all the same, and for me, you will be my Queen."

"I really will be, won't I. You won't take any others. You are loyal to the end," she states with some degree of admiration.

"Yes, I am faithful."

"Do you know what convinced me of that? You never told them about Hunter. Even when offering Felipe another telepath might have helped you, you still protected him. I know what you did, Eric, and I know you did it for me."

He tightens his jaw and nods. She is referring to his protection and relocation of her cousin's son. She had told him about the boy one night when they were curled around each other and speaking their truths. Her admission that Hadley had borne a child, and that the child had inherited the telepathic Gift, had been a bombshell, but he had kept the secret.

Shortly after he lost Sookie to Felipe, and he feared that soon he would lose his Sheriff's position and maybe his life, he arranged for the boy and his family to be moved out of Louisiana to a safe location. The child was enrolled in private schools and someone was provided for his training as a telepath. He and Pam are the only ones who know the truth or whereabouts of the boy, and he intends to keep it that way at least for another two or three years. Hunter is eighteen now and from all reports doing very well.

"I knew that you would want me to keep him safe," he tells her.

"Thank you."

He kisses her forehead. "Anything for you, my lover." It feels so good to call her that, and he hugs her tight again, burying his face into her hair and taking a deep breath.


"Yes, my lover?"

"Bite me."

He laughs, nuzzling her neck. "For anyone else that would be an insult not an invitation."

"What makes you think it isn't both?" she teases.

He laughs again and scrapes his fang along the sensitive spot behind her ear. "My Sookie," he murmurs and bites.

The moment her blood hits his tongue, he groans aloud. He's forgotten how wonderful she tasted, and now he is reminded of how delicious she is. He draws deep, then breaks it off, seizing her lips instead. She returns his kiss and arches against him, moaning, and he parts her robe to lick her down to her breasts. They are full breasts, mothers' breasts that have suckled a babe, and he takes one nipple into his mouth, sucking as he grinds against her.


He pushes her down to the carpet wanting nothing more than to claim her, take her, shove his tongue and his cock into her, and make her scream her pleasure to the heavens, but a flash of blue silk catches his eye and he remembers where they are.

"No," he rasps, pulling away even as she reaches for him, her body laid out for him to worship.


"No," he says more firmly. "I will not take you in this room. I will not taint our reunion by fucking you in this gilded cage."

She seems to come to her senses and nods at him in understanding as she covers herself. He knows she will be grateful for his restraint, and that will make her all the more eager to have sex with him later. He imagines the night ahead and grins. With him, she will never have to "fake it."

"But you should take my blood," he tells her. "Our bond should be renewed before I present you to the court."

He bites his wrist and offers it to her. She accepts his blood without complaint and latches onto the wound, sucking hard. The sight and feel of her lips on his flesh almost makes him lose control and he nearly climaxes in his jeans.

She drinks until the wounds close, and he can feel her inside him again as their bond opens. The sense of her life and emotions melding into his own is such a relief that he cannot help a tear from falling.

"Oh. Oh, my lover. My Dear One," he whispers, pressing her body to his. She is lush and fragrant and horny.

"We should get out of here before we do something we both will regret," he hears her tell him, and he shakes off his bloodlust enough to see clearly again, but his fangs are still out.

"Yes. You must get dressed, and we must leave this place."

She rises to her feet, letting the robe fall to the carpet, and he sees her naked once again. She is too pale and wan. It seems Felipe did not allow her to practice her favorite past time of sun bathing so she's lost her beloved tan. He will put some weight on her and return some of the rosy blush to her skin. She carries the scars from the maenad attack and her torture at the hands of Lochlan and Neave, but she is still a picture of female perfection.

"What should I wear?" she asks him, opening the door to a cavernous closet full of expensive clothes.

He grins and pulls out his cell phone. "Just a moment," he tells her as he calls Pam and waits for his child to answer. "Bring the bag and the… other things. And bring me a set of clean clothes."

He hears Pam laughing over the line, but he ignores her and hangs up.

"Pam will be here momentarily to help you dress. I will not have you wearing anything that bas… the former King gave you," he says.

She smiles gratefully at him and leaves the closet open. He peers inside, inspecting the dresses and suits Felipe bought for his human doll. None of it could be considered Sookie's taste, although there are one or two evening gowns that he thinks would look stunning on her.

"I foresee a bonfire in the near future," he comments, casting a glance at her. She is putting on panties and a lacy bra.

"Don't burn the blue gown or the black and gold one. Those are mine," she replies.

He smiles. Trust the dresses he likes the best to be the ones his bonded has chosen for herself.

"He let you choose clothing?" he asks curiously.

She frowns as she fumbles with the clasp on her bra. He steps forward and hooks it for her.

"Thanks," she mumbles, then flicks her eyes towards the open closet. "They were gifts, actually. We were guests of Salvatore Benedetto, and he insisted on taking me shopping. Felipe couldn't refuse him, though I'm surprised he let me keep them. I have a couple of pant sets too."

He makes a noise of understanding. Benedetto is the Regent of Milan, and he is a formidable vampire. De Castro would not have wanted to anger or offend him.

"More than likely he wanted you to have them in case Benedetto came for a visit. He would have expected you to wear one of the outfits he'd bought you."'

She nods. "Yeah, that's what I figured."

There is a knock on the cell door, and he moves to the keypad to input the code and admit Pam into the room. She is holding a garment bag, and she is accompanied by Renee who is holding Sookie's daughter. He steps aside to allow the women to enter, smiling as he hears Sookie's delighted cry.

"Mama," the toddler calls and he watches with pride as his newly re-bonded rushes forward to take her child in her arms and pepper her little face with happy kisses.

Pam catches his eye with a smirk and raised eyebrow, and she hands him a smaller bag with black pants and a button-up shirt. He accepts them and roughly pulls on the shirt, then he strips off his bleach splattered jeans and dons the pants, ignoring his child's amused look. When he is done changing, he opens the door and stands up tall, like a King.

"I expect you to have her ready and brought to me shortly," he orders with authority.

"Yes, your Majesty," Renee says, bowing.

Sookie gives him a brief glance over her handmaid's bent shoulder and he winks at her. She smiles, and he can feel her relief and hope in the bond, and perhaps even the stirrings of rekindled love. It makes him very happy.

"I will be waiting in the Receiving Room. Make sure she is presentable enough for a King."

"Of course, Your Majesty," Pam replies with a twinkle in her eye. Oh yes, she already has things to tease him with, and she won't let him forget it.

He gives her a stern look that warns her to keep up appearances or else, then he stalks into the hallway. Several of his new subjects are waiting for him in the corridor and all of them bow deeply as he passes. He strides past them with barely a nod that they exist, and he smiles to himself as he thinks that he might just like being a ruler. With Sookie at his side, there is nothing and no one who can stand in his way, and they will lead Louisiana back to her former glory, just as he will restore his bonded to her glory as well.

It will be very good to be the King.