The Age Of Eric Contest

Title: The Angel of Death

Pen name: evenflo78

Characters: Eric, Sookie, Appius, Niall, Bill and a few minor appearances from others.

Beta'd by: Krismom and SMFogleman

Word count: 8,187 (not including header and ending notes)

Warning: This contains mention of physical abuse and assault. Nothing heavy, but it is inferred. Also contains sexual content.

Disclaimer: None of the characters belong to me, but to Charlaine Harris. No copy right infringement is intended.

Venice ~ Spring 1576

It wasn't the darkness that sickened him, nor was it the repugnant odor of illness and rotting flesh permeating the air. He could even tolerate the storm that had settled in the dark forest he was hidden within.

None of those things bothered him this night.

It was his task that had him seething. His task that sickened him to his core.

His maker, or master as it were, and his disgusting fetishes for young human male flesh had found him in the midst of the trees, rain, and smell of death. Tasked with procuring an untainted male for his maker was no easy feat. Those that had managed to avoid the black death had fled the city and its contagious inhabitants.

At least he found some reprieve in his masters endeavors with humans. He was no longer himself subjected to those desires. This pleased him greatly. If only for that simple pleasure alone, he would prevail upon as many unsuspecting breathers as was desired by his makers long dead heart.

Though with the slowly declining population in the area, he feared they would must soon relocate, lest he himself play part in his masters whims once again. And that was not something he desired in the least. The thought alone made his skin crawl, and his lips to curl in disgust.

The sound of leaves crunching, and twigs breaking under the wheels of a carriage, brought the hulking figure out of his thoughts and back to the task at hand.

There were two he could tell from the rhythmic beating of their hearts. When he caught the smell of their blood, he knew his patience hadn't been for naught. They were both clean and healthy, and from the distinct scent of rose and lavender oils, he surmised that one of them was female.

It had been quite some time since he had known the touch of a woman, but his perfect memory allowed him to recall it vividly. Perhaps his master would let him keep a pet as well. He could only hope.

At the very least, he would taste her. The prospect of which made his mouth water in anticipation, the points of his teeth nearly piercing his tongue. Oh yes, he would taste her. Invade her mind, and greedily drink of her vein.

He stuck to the shadows as the carriage approached. Of course he could do naught about the horses, for they were sensitive to his presence, and easily spooked. Not failing his suspicions, the horses halted as they drew near to his location.

He caught sight of the driver and knew his maker would be disappointed because he was not younger, but he'd have to do.

The unsuspecting man was confused as to why his horses had stopped, and had become so agitated. Stepping off the perch, he gave the beasts a few gentle strokes, trying to soothe them. He had a naturally calming effect on the horses, but they were still wary and jumpy because of the strangers presence.

When the coach made to mount the perch once again, the hidden figure moved from the shadows.

Snagging the breather from behind, he was careless and the man was able to get a warning out to the female in the cabin. "Sookie," he shouted, before a hand clamped over his mouth, strangling his words.

What the hooded figure didn't know, was that the woman could clearly hear the man's unfinished thought as if spoken aloud. 'Run,' it told her, and run she did.

She darted from the cabin, in fear, heading straight for the tree line. She hadn't heard the thoughts of their attacker and that fact frightened her even more. With her skirts and satchel in hand, she hid under the camouflage of the surrounding trees, trying to control her breathing. The rain soaked her hair that had fallen from its pins in her haste, clinging to her face, but she pushed it aside and listened.

As the female fled into the forest, the assailant growled, watching her disappear into the thick. He slipped into the male's mind, easily coaxing him into a trance, before taking off after her. Her breathing went silent, but he smiled to himself. The fool that she was, thought she could hide from him.

Clearly hearing every rapid beat of her heart, the whooshing of the blood in her veins, he crept slowly toward the tree of which she was crouched behind. He was preparing to make his move when she gasped, swinging about and striking him with a fallen limb.

Of course, it didn't hurt him, but the impact certainly surprised him and allowed her a seconds head start off deeper into the forest. He grinned, eager for the chase, even though it wouldn't be much of one, and took off after her.

He grabbed her shoulder, spinning her to face him, easily avoiding her flailing limbs, and covering her screams with the palm of his hand.

"Be calm woman," he said forcefully as she struggled to no avail in his grasp. Her mumbled reply sounded as enthusiastic as her failed attempts at getting away from him. What spirit she had. "I will let you free, if you cease with your attempts to behead me with your bare hands."

He released her mouth slowly, and allowed her room to step away from him without taking his hand from her shoulder. If she so chose to run, he still wanted to at least have his hand on her to deter the thought.

"Funnily, I always knew my death would be at the hands of an angel." The woman glowered up at him, her bright blue eyes angry and fierce, but strangely appraising.

He knew he was pleasing to the eye, knew that his good looks were as beautiful as they were deadly. But he had ne'er in his existence seen a woman who made him feel...less.

"Sookie," he started, tasting her name, trying it out on his tongue. Strange name, he thought.

"It's Susannah, Miss Stackhouse to you," she said defiantly. Her nose turned up in the air, and her jaw was strong, her shoulders squared. Even in the face of death, she wouldn't go down without a fight. "What did you do to William?" she asked, not flinching back from his cold stare.

"He lives," was his only response. The sweet ambrosia of her blood had him distracted. It was in his head, staining his nostrils, feeling almost as if it was under his skin. Her blood was making him drunk with hunger. And her beauty was making him hungry for the pleasures of the flesh.

"Well, if you mean to kill me, I am sad to say you will have to wait." She jerked her shoulder easily from his hold, gripping her satchel to her chest.

"It is not my intention to kill you this night," he said, breathing her in. The fire in her awakening an intense burning in his loins. Simply tasting her was not going to be enough. He had to have her.

"And yet you deny not your intent to kill me," she quipped. "You are not human." It was a statement, not a question. She knew it to be a fact.

"I am not, and yet you show no fear. In light that I could kill you with a simple flick of my wrist. And still you speak to me in such a way. You are an enigma." His feet moved him towards her without a conscious effort. Her body was the flame, and he was the moth, drawn in, undeniably.

She huffed, turning her nose up at his words and ignoring his advance. "Why should I be cordial with my would be murderer. If I am to die, then my kind words will do nothing to dissuade you of that. You deserve not my kindness."

He had nothing to say to that, but he smiled at her. "You will come with me," he said as he probed his way into her mind, gently encouraging her, convincing her thoughts that was what she ultimately wanted.

"Stop it!" she exclaimed, shaking off his trickery as if it were nothing. He stared at her baffled as she carried on in that same petulant tone. "I must get this to my Grandmother. She is dying. Take me, kill me if you must. Allow me this, and I will go without a fight."

"And you will speak to me with respect," he said without thought. His mind was still going over why she wasn't subject to his invasion. He could feel her mind, as he could others, but it didn't give way. Truly, she was a mystery to him.

"That I cannot guarantee," she said truthfully. He found her honesty refreshing. "But I will not try to escape."

"I will allow this. I may not be human, but I am not a monster."

"That is yet to be decided. You have given me no reason to think otherwise. But I thank you for this one kindness, even if that is all you offer." Speechless, is where he found himself once again. "And what of William, what is to become of him?" Her eyes softened. She cared for this man, and that angered him inexplicably.

"He is none of my concern. I am simply completing an assigned task. What happens to him, is not for me to decide."

"He is a good man, you know? I know if it weren't for the difference in our statuses, he would have asked for my hand." Her words were meant to persuade him from taking this William to his inevitable death, but they only proved to anger him further.

"Enough of this talk," he commanded, taking her roughly by the shoulder once again. "You will go to your home, give your grandmother kisses and her medicine, and we will be on our way. Do you understand?"

"Yes," she sneered, ignoring the pain in her arm from his grip. She wouldn't give him the satisfaction of knowing he caused her any pain.

"Good. Now, go. I will follow you. And do not even try to attempt anything courageous for yourself or your dear friend the horseman. It will only result in furthering my anger. This isn't something you wish for."

"I gave you my word, I will not run. Your threats are unnecessary, and only further prove to me what a brute you are."

He was unable to hold in the fit of laughter as it bubbled through his throat and rang out into the night. She gave him a strange look, her eyes sparkling with something he had never before seen, and continued on her trek back to the carriage.

Susannah was shocked when she caught the sound of Williams mind in her own. His eyes were open, but unseeing, and his thoughts were much the same. She knew then that was what their abductor had tried on her moments before.

What kind of angel was this? His thoughts were silent to her, only a gentle humming sound she had ne'er before experienced. His beauty was undeniable, and enchanting. He was truly the worst kind of monster out there. A wolf in sheep's clothing. The thought made her blood turn to ice in her veins.

She hoisted herself into the carriage as William and the unnamed fallen took to the perch and were on their way. The ride was silent, and to her dismay, she felt rather calm riding toward her impending death. Her thoughts were centered only around getting her grandmother the medicines she required. She could only hope that it wasn't too little too late.

Minutes, or possibly even hours later, found them pulling up to the estate. She stepped out of the cabin, ignoring her murderers proffered hand, and made her way to the door. A scream escaped her uncontrollably when she found herself crushed between the hulking figure and the wooden door.

"You will invite me in," he demanded, and she nodded mostly in fear, but part in acceptance. As much as she wanted to argue, even she could tell when a battle was lost.

"You mustn't come upstairs. My uncle...you mustn't." Her eyes showed true fear for the first time since he had encountered her, and he found himself wondering what caused it. "I will be as short as possible. You can hear me from here, yes?"

He found himself nodding, curious as to how she seemed to know that. "I will. And I can be at your side before you take your next breath if you so much as think of trying anything idiotic."

"I have told you once, but if I must tell you again, child that you are, your threats are duly noted and unneeded."

His lips curved into a smile, exposing the sharpened canines, and eliciting a shiver from his dear pet. His grin widened, and he watched her retreating form as it ascended the staircase, until he could see naught but a flicker of the light from her candle.

As Susannah made her way through the halls towards her grandmothers bedchamber, she silently prayed that her uncle had found his rest and would not bother her. It was only a moment later that she knew her prayers weren't going to be answered on this night. Perhaps ne'er again if she found her death at the hands of the man downstairs, or even the man approaching her from behind.

She had prayed for death often because of her wretched uncle. And perhaps if her will were not so strong, she would have given up on the sentiment long ago. But she found herself still in hope, that either she would find her death, or death would find her uncle. It seemed as though the former had been answered in the form of the angel in the foyer of her uncle's home.

She knew from his thoughts as Bartlett approached that he had been hitting the bottle, and her fighting would be in vain. So she steeled herself, awaiting the inevitable attack.

Her body still flinched in response when his hand gripped the fabric of her skirts, tearing it over her backside, and when his filthy body pressed her hard against the wall. Her stomach threatened to retch, but she gave no fight. She had long ago lost that war. The sooner he started, the sooner it would be over.

Her breath caught in her throat as his hand went for her underthings, and her body was frozen in shock when his hands were suddenly ripped from her body. Her eyes were focused solely on the wall, all the while there was snarling and growling and the cracking of wooden beams behind her. She knew without looking that her angel of death had sent her uncle swiftly and painfully to his.

The smell of blood was in the air.

His spirits were high as he watched the life of her sordid uncle drain from his beheaded body and stain the floors beneath him. He was unworthy of the swift death he had inflicted, and the thought alone of drinking from the disgusting cur, made his stomach revolt.

When his eyes found Susannah again, she had already righted her skirts, but was still staring blankly at the wall before her. His head tilted as he observed her. The golden locks of her hair fell in a curtain around her face. Her deep and regular breaths, the steady thump thump of her heart. She seemed to not even care that not only was her uncle about to defile her, or that he himself had just shredded him to bits. Odd.

One moment she was fine, and the next moment his eyes followed her crumpling form as it fell to the floor. Her reaction gave him pause, and when her sobs echoed within the walls, his feet moved him forward. Though he had no clue what to do.

Instead, he found himself in some sort of limbo, part wanting- needing, to give her some form of comfort, but not knowing how or why he desired to do this. So, still he stood, watching, waiting for her cries to cease.

She stood slowly a few moments later, her shoulders squared and her head held high as she turned to face him. The tears had been wiped away, but the red staining her eyes would remain. It made the blue of her iris that much more vibrant.

"What is your name, angel of death?" she asked him.

"I am Eric," he answered, lifting her hand customarily to his lips, as if it were a formal introduction. Why the formalities, he didn't know.

"Thank you, Eric," she said in a small voice.

He nodded, bowing his head briefly in response, and watching her retreating form once again as it disappeared down the hall. Her eyes never gave the mangled body a second glance as she lifted her skirts and stepped over it. He knew then, he was completely bewitched by her.

Susannah opened the door to the bedchamber with shaking hands, the sound of her grandmother's vomiting audible even in the hall. Her mind was trying to convince her heart that it was too late, but her heart couldn't- would not give in to the prospect of her death. Inevitable as it was.

The smell was a repugnant cloud in the room. Her sheets were stained with sweat, and quite possibly some other bodily fluids, and her chamber pot was full.

"Sookie, is that you dear?" her grandmother asked before her body heaved once again.

"Yes, Gran. I am here. I have the elixir. I have it here. You must drink it." Sookie eased her into a sitting position, hastily reaching for the bottle from her satchel.

"I'm afraid it's too late for that, my child."

The tears fell freely from Sookie's eyes, but she was not giving up on her Grandmother just yet. She held her head, tilting it back as she slowly poured some of the medicine down her throat. Her Gran swallowed reflexively and sagged against the bed. It wasn't even down for a full minute before her stomach expelled its contents.

A sob broke through Sookie's lips as she watched her dying right before her eyes. She felt helpless, and small, and angry, and most of all an immense sadness. She was all she had left. It was selfish to watch her suffer, and still yet want her to live, but she couldn't help how her heart felt.

Sookie held her Gran's hand as the retching finally ceased, but the shakes of her fever tool over her body. Incoherent words fell from her Gran's lips as she slowly drifted off to sleep. Sookie knew all too well, she was praying for her death, even without understanding the words. And Sookie could only sit and watch as it came.

As the old woman took her final breath the door to her bedchamber creaked open. Sookie knew death had come, an answer to her Gran's prayers, but she asked her prayers aloud no matter how in vain they were.

"Save her, oh sweet cursed angel of death. Save her, if you can," she cried, pressing her ear to her Gran's chest and listening for the beats she knew would ne'er come again. "Can you save her?" she asked, finally looking to the frozen statue in the middle of the room.

His eyes were as bright as the deep blue sea, but there was something else there in them, something darker, something frightened, and Sookie thought that maybe, just maybe there was something he could do.

"She has already gone," he replied in a low voice. "What I can offer her is not something she would wish for. Even if it were not too late."

His words angered Sookie, and she slid off the bed, stomping over to the man. "You knew she was dying? And you could have saved her? Yet, you did nothing? You...you really are a monster."

"It would have been for naught. Death was already upon her. What I could have given her was not what she would have wanted," he said in defense, though he did not know why he felt the need to explain himself to this human woman.

"But you deny not that save her, you could." Her cheeks glowed with her anger, her eyes fiery pits trying to burn through him.

"Yes, I could have saved her," he admitted, his eyes straying to a large painting in the room. "But I would not have cursed such an old woman to walk in the darkness for all eternity. She would have preferred the death she had over the life I could give."

He felt her tiny fists as they pounded against his chest relentlessly. Eric could not understand her words through her sobs, but the meaning was clear in her tone. She hated him now more than e'er before.

Sookie's tiny body sagged in exhaustion, leaning against his chest, her fists hitting against him once, twice more before they gripped the fabric of his tunic. He stood stiffly not exactly knowing how to respond as her tears soiled his clothing. He could feel her pain as if it had taken a life of its own and taken up residence in the room. He couldn't handle seeing her broken.

Eric moved carefully, unsure. He was so hesitant and so gentle when his arms went around the shaking woman clinging to him. But as soon as they had her in their grasp, he knew what he had to do, and held her tighter.

Sookie collapsed, pulling Eric down to the floor with her, but he kept her in his hold and waited. His hand sifted through her hair that had tangled. It smelled of the rain, and of the sun, and his nose drew closer taking it in. He held her and soothed her with his touch until her sobs ceased and her tears dried, unable to move. The way she felt in his arms was...right and yet, so very wrong.

Eric wasn't sure how much time had passed as they sat there huddled on the floor. Her clinging to him as if she were threatening to fall apart. And him holding on to her as if she weren't real, simply his greatest desire brought to life for only a moment. But when her breaths had become deep and regular, he knew she had fallen asleep.

Slowly, he lifted her, cradling her close to his chest as he descended the staircase and to the carriage. William was still where he had left him, and he entered his mind instructing him on where to go. With Sookie still in his arms, he hoisted himself into the carriage, closing his eyes as they took off into the night.

He made a silent vow to her as she slept in his arms, promising to return and give her grandmothers death the treatment it deserved. His time was too short this night, but it would be done, no matter.

They were only a little ways away from his masters estate when she stirred in his arms. She almost immediately awakened and scurried out of his lap and into the seat across from him, scowling at him the entire time.

Eric watched her in silence, her arms crossed and her face hard. A beat of silence passed between them before her face softened, and with it her body.

"Why did you do that? Hold me like that? I asked not for your comfort, and yet you gave it, freely. You are a truly deceptive creature. The worst kind of monster to make me trust you, when your intent to kill me is so strongly written."

"I do not know," he answered truthfully. "But do not expect the same kindness from my maker. He is a monster of the worst kind."

"Your maker?" she asked and he nodded. "What are you?"

"A vampire," he responded without emotion. "A killer, a drinker of the life that flows in your veins. A monster as you would define me."

She fell silent, mulling over his words before speaking again. "What have you done to Bill? His mind is in some sort of glamour, his task his only thought. What have you done to him?" she repeated more firmly.

"How do you know this?" he asked looming towards her. "How do you know of his mind?"

Sookie looked away, considering answering him truthfully. What could it hurt? She was to die anyway. "I can hear the thoughts of others," she said not meeting his intense blue eyes. "Thoughts are as loud to me as unspoken words."

"You can read minds?" he asked in shock. "And what do you hear in mine?" he asked leering at her, taking her in from head to foot, pausing for a few beats longer at her bouncing bosom.

"Even if I could read your mind, which I cannot- not something that I have ever experienced, I would know your thoughts right now are less than pure."

He smiled at her, flashing his fangs. "My thoughts are silent, this is good to know. This must be a refreshing change for you."

"Perhaps I could enjoy it more if it weren't for your desire to kill me," she quipped with a twist of her head. His face fell. "But yes, the silence is...quiet, nice."

"Your death will not come by my hand if I can help it, Sookie. You have my word." He placed his palm over his unbeating heart both in show of respect and honesty.

"Then why am I here? If you mean not to send me to my everlasting sleep, then what is it you want with me?"

"I...I do not know, but I find you...fascinating." The unsure tone and cracking of his voice was disconcerting to him.

"I am flattered, truly," she said boldly. "But if you mean to keep me as some sort of pet, then I really must protest. I wouldn't be much of a cooperative prisoner. Perhaps there is another woman that could see to your whims and desires. You are a beautiful angel, despite the blackness in your heart. Surely some other female would be more suited than I."

"Perhaps," he agreed reluctantly. "But I do not desire another woman. I desire to have you, and you will yield to me, eventually. I am a patient man."

"You assumption is very presumptuous and very vainglorious." She couldn't deny aloud that she found him desirable, no matter how her lips longed to form the words. If only to bring his arrogance down from the heavens. And yet, she found she could no more lie to him than she could defeat him.

Sookie crossed her arms over her chest ignoring his piercing stare. Though she may have thought differently if she had realized how perfectly framed her breasts were. Eric felt the stirring in his loins, but ignored it. At least, for the time being. From the sudden increase in her pulse, he knew that she desired him, as immoral as it may have been. And she would be his.

Even in the dead of night, the isle of Lazzaretto Nuovo and its over-run graves was visible to Sookie's eyes. It still caused ice to cover her bones, and her body to shiver. Had it not been for her parents being laid to rest there, she would ne'er have visited the dreadful place. She could only hope that was not where she was being taken. It would have been a might unbearable for her.

Upon arriving, Eric stepped down from the carriage first. "I must insist that you keep those beautiful lips of yours closed when in the presence of my master." He warned as he took her hand and helped her from the carriage. "Do not make eye contact, and keep your head bowed."

"I bow to no one," she said defiantly.

"Then perhaps he will deliver your death swiftly," Eric threatened. "If he makes the decision to kill you, I will be powerless against him. His years and power exceed mine. You would be wise to heed my words."

"Duly noted," she sighed. "And Bill?" she pleaded, her voice cracking with emotion.

"Bill's future is not in my hands, but you should say your goodbye's now." His honesty was beginning to annoy him. What was it about this woman that made him...feel?

"Bill is not in there," she argued. "Release him from your hold."

"It will be easier for him this way. He will take to his death happily."

"He will do so blindly," she persisted with venom dripping from her every word.

"Better to be blind than to see with eyes that fear. I do him a kindness by leaving him in his current state." Eric left no room for argument by walking away from her.

Sookie huffed, but walked over to where Bill stood awaiting his next command. She hated seeing him this way, uncaring and yet cheerful in his lack of knowledge. She kissed his cheek, wrapping her arms tightly around him and holding her tears at bay.

Perhaps in another life she could have loved him. He had goodness in his heart, and his eyes were kind. Perhaps she could have loved him in this life. But their difference in class would have made it impossible. Either way, she would miss him, and his gentle smile as rare as it was.

Eric approached them then, speaking with words to Bill that Sookie ignored. She'd had enough of an emotionally draining day without concerning herself for his well-being. Perhaps Eric was right, it would be better for Bill to go into his death blindly. Perhaps not, but she didn't have the energy to dispute it. Maybe it was just her cowardliness finally shining through.

Appius greeted them with a menacing sneer and snarl directed at Eric. "This is what you bring me after hours of waiting? You bring me a man. He is too old, send him on his way."

"I fear that is not an option, master," Eric responded having expected this very argument. "Our choices our slimming, and he is clean as requested. You must make due until the decision to relocate has been made." Eric chose his words carefully, trying to sound firm without being defiant.

"Very well," Appius agreed reluctantly. "And what of the woman? Though she smells divine," he said as he greedily sniffed at the air and with it her blood. "You know I have no desire for a woman."

"The woman would please me, if you'd be so kind, master."

"Hmmm, has my prodigy found himself a pet of sorts?" Appius said as he stalked around the woman.

"Yes, master. I wish to make her mine." Much to Eric's pleasure, Sookie remained silent through their exchange. The task of convincing Appius would be difficult enough without her interjecting with that dangerous mouth of hers.

"I'll allow it," Appius agreed as he lifted a lock of Sookie's hair, breathing it in. Eric felt a weight was lifted from his shoulders. "However, after you've had your fill, I may wish to taste her on my tongue. She has stirred a desire in my palate I have ne'er felt for a woman."

Eric forced back the growl, swallowing his emotions. Over his dead body would Appius drink of Sookie. "If it would please you, master, then it would please me. I do request that I have had time to accustom her to our way of feeding." Again his words were chosen carefully. It would not bode well for him to anger Appius or show his weakness for this human woman.

"A soft spot for this one, you have formed." Appius replied with a chuckle that was far from humorous. "Very well, my child. Take her, do with her as you please. I will bide my time with this one."

Eric breathed out a sigh of relief as Appius and Bill's forms retreated out of the foyer. Sookie was safe from his masters hand, at least for the night.

"Thank you, Eric," Sookie said as he bolted the door to his private chamber behind them. "I realize what a risk you have taken in your attempts to protect me from your master. So, I thank you."

"Do not thank me yet. He desires your blood, and I will not be able to deny him if he insists. Your life is still at risk."

No truer words had he ever spoken. Surely this woman would bring his death. His master was right. He had undeniably formed a soft spot for her. In the end, he knew it would be his demise.

"You should rest," he said when she made no attempt to break the silence. "I will not feed from you tonight. You have had enough of a drain today. My hunger can wait."

Sookie yawned as if inspired to be tired simply by his words. She didn't miss the fact that he had ultimately told her he would drink her blood on another night. And she found some strange sense of peace and comfort in his honesty. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad. Perhaps she could find some pleasure in it, if only simply in thanks for the death he had brought with swift hands upon her uncle.

It seemed to Sookie as if she had just closed her eyes when she was awakened with a scream dying in her throat. The hard body pressed her forcefully into the bed despite her struggle. For the lack in size, Appius held an infinite amount of strength in his limbs.

She caught Eric's tall form in the corner of the room, a look of helplessness in his eyes, but she pleaded with him silently nevertheless.

A snarling growl and a drip of saliva on her neck was the only warning she received before a rip tore through the flesh of her neck. She felt her blood trickle thick and warm down her shoulder, soaking the pillow beneath her. The cries of pain were muffled by her attackers cold, clammy hand over her mouth.

The tears fell from her eyes as Appius gulped her blood down with menacing snarls and sighs of pleasure. Sookie felt him growing hard against her and struggled anew, the memories of her uncle's attacks still fresh scars in her mind.

Sookie felt her skirts being lifted and Appius's cold frame forcing its way between her thighs. The sobs in her chest, the pain in her neck, and the inevitable assault too much for her to cope. She closed her eyes, defeated.

The intrusion never came.

Her hand went to the raw, torn flesh of her neck, as the sound in ripping flesh and growls and hisses echoed throughout the room. Both figures were a blur of movement in the room, her eyes couldn't follow, leaving destruction in their wake.

Appius's ravenous growl prepared her an instant before his teeth were snapping at her neck once again. The scream erupted from her throat, nearly shattering the glass in the room and prickling at her ears painfully. She was unprepared for the sudden gush of blood that had once been Appius, and surprised as it rained over her, soaking her and the bed she was lying on.

A shiv of wood landing on her stomach with a soggy thump forced her eyes opened. Eric was standing at the end of the bed, his face marred with teeth and what looked to be claw marks, and blood was staining the ends of his blond hair and soaking his clothes nearly as much as her own.

Sookie couldn't form a thought. Appius was gone, she knew, for she was covered in his blood. And she knew that she lived, and Eric with her. But how it had happened, she hadn't a clue and could not find her voice to ask the question.

She fell against the bed, exhausted, as Eric fled the room. It was too much for her to process, too much for her to comprehend. So much blood, so much death, and yet she was grateful for the life she had retained. Her cries were silent, but her breathing ragged as she tried to wipe the gore, and blood and violent images from her brain.

Sookie fought not when Eric disrobed her, lifting her free of the blood stained sheets and setting her gently into the tub of warm water. Perhaps his morals were not as dead as he once feared, for his eyes and hands lingered not on her bare flesh, and kept methodically to his task of cleaning her.

She had retreated into her mind, he was aware of this, and felt powerless and ignorant on how to retrieve her. He knew she was strong, but the events of the night had been draining for even him. His spirits were high, for he was free of his maker, and yet he still found it hard to believe the fact. Even as Appius's death had come from Eric's own hand.

After Eric was pleased that Sookie was cleansed of the remnants of his makers death, he left her in the tub as he changed the soiled sheets. There was naught he could do about the bed itself, it would need to be replaced. But he added extra blankets to ensure it would not soak through.

He stripped and washed himself in haste, eager to get back to Sookie, clothing himself in naught but a robe. His bare feet slapped against the marble floors as he hurried back to his room where Sookie was still resting in the tub. Perhaps it would be best if he was not to tell her of Bill's demise this night. Perhaps she had endured enough without that knowledge.

Eric dried Sookie's body and brushed through her beautiful, blond hair with a care and tenderness he wasn't aware he possessed, before slipping her naked body beneath the covers and moving to lie beside her.

As his hands brushed the hair from her neck, making move to inspect her wounds, she seemed to snap back into reality. "Some murderer you are," she said with a forced laugh. "That is thrice this night I have been saved by your hand. You have to see the humor in the irony."

"I told you that you would not die by my hand," Eric said with conviction, but smiling lightly at her obvious attempt at a joke. Her returning smile blinded him in its beauty.

Her strength amazed him, and her character made him adore her. She would not find her death ever by his hand if he had his desires. In fact, he wanted her with him. Always.

"Would you allow me to heal you?" he asked, eying the gaping wound on the column of her beautiful neck. The blood flow had slowed, but it wasn't enough for his liking.

"Yes, please. They do hurt excruciatingly." Sookie gingerly touched the flesh surrounding her wound, wincing and rolled to face Eric. "What do I need to do?"

"Do not fear me," he said soothing her hair away from her face.

"I trust you. God help me, but I trust you," Sookie said in a whispered laugh.

Eric smiled in response. "Be still," he whispered as he lowered his lips to her neck.

Sookie gasped as his cool tongue made contact with the sensitive flesh. Eric knew her blood would be delicious simply from smelling it, but nothing could have prepared him for the bliss he felt as her flavor filled his mouth.

He longed to take a pull from her vein, only one, but knew that even the one would not be enough, and she couldn't afford to lose another drop. He forced himself to his task, cleaning her thoroughly before piercing his tongue and going over the wound once more.

Satisfied with his work, he pulled back watching the wound as it began to close and heal before his very eyes. Perhaps he had his maker to thank for the strong healing properties in his blood, but even that seemed like more than the wretch deserved.

Sookie was confused by the reaction her body had to Eric. She wouldn't have thought it possible for her to ever have a physical want for a man, especially after the events of the night. But she did. She had a want for him so strong she could feel it in her bones.

The way his blond hair fell in a curtain framing his face, his lips slightly parted, his breathing as ragged as hers, had her transfixed. Perhaps she was drunken by his very presence.

As he gazed at her neck with gentle eyes, Sookie mustered the will to touch his cheek, stroking it softly before moving along the length of his strong jaw. His eyes held the same longing and fire she was certain hers did, and perhaps that is what made her to move again.

Perhaps it was simply something inside him that lifted her head from the pillow and forced her to press his lips tenderly against his. But when her body responded with a delightful fire that sent her pulse soaring, she doubted it was any will but her own.

His lips responded in kind against hers and his tongue stroking slowly over hers sent her skin ablaze despite its cool temperature. Even to her, the resulting moan that fell from her lips sounded wonton.

Eric was barely maintaining his control, and knew all was lost when Sookie slipped the sheet from between them, exposing her beautiful body to his eager eyes. Her hands tentatively pushed the silken robe from his shoulders and despite his strong will, he was powerless to deny her.

He hissed in pleasure as her warm body pressed against his, the pink tips of her breasts hardening against his cool flesh causing her to shiver. His body longed for her, his flesh hard for her.

"Sookie, we do not have to do this," Eric said in a pant. He ached for her, but feared for her reasoning.

"Do you not desire me?" Sookie asked, stiffening in his embrace.

"Of course, I desire you. I desire you more than anything. But you've had a traumatic and stressful night as it is. My only wish is to not cause you anymore," he answered truthfully. His eyes implored her to understand he was only trying to do right by her.

"I want you, Eric. I want to be one with you, here, tonight, right now. For once in my life, it is my choice." A tear rolled down her cheek, and Eric kissed it away. No matter his concerns, he could never deny her.

With tender touches and gentle fingers, Eric explored the peaks and valleys of Sookie's cream colored flesh, enjoying her mews of surprise and pleasure, and searching for the places that caused them. His mouth tasted every crevice of hers before moving to her neck and back again.

Her body accepted him eagerly as he settled between her thighs, her hips lifting, her limbs wrapping around his. And when he pressed his way into the silky heat residing at the apex of her thighs, he moaned loudly, drowning out the sound of Sookie's responding moan.

Together they moved, with soft kisses and hungry kisses. With heavy breathing, and roaming hands, their bodies danced, and surged, not one moving without the other responding in kind. When he gave, she took, their bodies in contrast and yet as one.

They reached the end of the journey together, each pulling the other into the blinding bliss of lights and colors unseen, and sounds unheard. They were wrapped in each other's embrace, her body slick with sweat and his shaking from the sudden rush of warmth at the feel of her coming undone around him.

When their bodies naturally slid away from each other, Eric pulled her to his side, curling around her as if wishing she could just crawl underneath his skin. He would never let her go. And though he longed to taste her, he withheld, settling for inhaling the intoxicating ambrosia of her blood, and her lingering arousal.

Eric felt the pull of the sun drawing him nearer to his rest, but refused to part from Sookie's side. It wasn't exactly customary for a vampire to take to his daytime rest in the presence of anything other than another vampire. But then again, there wasn't much Eric had done since meeting Sookie that was customary.

The force of the sun pulling him to slumber distracted him from the other presence in the room. And when Sookie was pulled from his grasp he was unable to respond, save a warning growl that rumbled in his chest.

"This is not the place for you, my child." The strange presence spoke to Sookie.

"Who are you?" she asked, feeling a certain connection to the stranger. She had ne'er before laid eyes on him, and yet...she knew him.

"I am your grandfather," the kind voice said. "I know you are alone, and I am here to take you home."

Eric growled again, forcing his body to lift from the bed, but still unable to stand. The intruders scent reached Eric finally, and he now understood the reason for the draw to Sookie's blood. Though he was knew it wasn't simply her fairy blood he thirsted for, but simply for her.

"I wish to stay here," Sookie said vehemently, stepping away from the fairy. Her eyes caught Eric's, pleading with him, willing him to move. And Eric felt defeated as his limbs weighed so heavily upon him. "I wish to stay with Eric."

"I'm afraid that is not possible my dear. Did your grandmother never mention me, never mention the name Niall?" he asked as he took Sookie's hand in his own.

"She never mentioned you. I'm not afraid, because I do feel as if I know you. I feel it inside me." Sookie said reluctantly. This man knew her, claimed to be family, and yet he had sat and watched as she took the abuse from her uncle? No, she would not go with him. "But that doesn't alter my decision to stay."

It may have been asking for her death, but she knew within her heart she was in love with Eric. Irrevocably and undeniably in love with him, no amount of time or space would change that. Why wouldn't he move? Why was his face so sad? Did he not love her in return? She could have sworn he did.

"Like I said child, you have no choice. We will go to The Summerlands and you will live in peace for once until it is time for you to be reborn."

"I must protest," Sookie said with a shake of her head, the sheet clutched tightly to her body.

"And I must insist," Niall said, gripping her arm tightly. There was a pop and a flash, and Eric felt the pressure increase in the room before they disappeared. His arm reached out towards Sookie of its own accord.

"I am sorry," Eric whispered into the empty room. He could only hope the ears his words were meant for had heard them.

He stared blankly at the spot in which Sookie had just been standing, as if to will her back with his mind alone. But he knew she was gone, even without having fully tasted her blood, he could feel the loss of her presence.

He cursed the sun for taking away his strength, though from the little knowledge he had of fairies, he doubted he would have been able to stop him regardless. The last look Sookie had given him would forever haunt his memories. Thrice he may have saved her, but he had failed her once. And that was more than he ever wanted.

As the sleep of death weighed heavily on his body, forcing him to rest, he vowed to himself to find her once again. He would search the ends of the earth for all eternity for one more night with her. She would be his again.

A/N: I am biting my nails with this one, and I do hope you liked it. Please press the button and let me know, leave your thoughts and put me out of my misery.

There is a really neat article you should check out on the island of Lazzaretto Nuovo. Thanks to my beta Krismom for pointing it out to me. Here is the link...

http: / www. Livescience.

MUAWW!