Warlow stood outside his intended's home, hidden behind the trunk of one of the many trees scattered across the Stackhouse property. Hope and fear surged through him as he'd listened to her prepare for work.

The hope was nothing new; it was the light he'd chased for hundreds upon hundreds of years. He'd clung to hope tenaciously through despair, guilt, and loneliness. He'd used it to silence the whispers in the back of his mind that told him to surrender himself Niall's justice. Yes, hope was an old companion, but fear…Warlow had not felt fear for quite some time.

Over the past six thousand years many creatures had sought to end his tortured existence, but the attempted assassinations had never frightened him. Perhaps it was that he doubted that any one had the strength to destroy him, or perhaps it was that a part of him was tempted by the oblivion death promised. Either way, fear had been a distant memory until he'd finally clapped eyes on the woman who'd haunted his dreams for millennia.

She was almost exactly as she'd appeared in the vision he'd seen all those years ago; long blonde hair, chocolate colored eyes, and sweet features. The only variation he noted was the absence of her smile, its warmth and beauty somehow enhance by the slight gap between her front teeth. That image of Sookie smiling had been the only thing keeping him sane those twenty years in the prison dimension. What it would feel like to have that smile directed at him? He hoped he wouldn't have to wait much longer to find out.

He was determined that today he would meet his destined mate. Appearance-wise, he felt fairly confident. He was clean shaven, his hair and clothing had been conformed to the societal norm, and as a born fae, he knew he met the standards for human beauty. Warlow felt less assured about his plan to infiltrate Sookie's life.

Given the preconceptions Sookie had about him, introducing himself as Warlow was out of the question. He'd need to earn her trust as someone else, and then later, when he felt confident she understood his heart and intentions, he would reveal his true identity.

Warlow had gone over and over his plan for the past two decades, ever since the terrible night where he'd made the second greatest mistake of his life; the mistake that could cost him the happiness he'd been waiting for six thousand years. What if it didn't work? What if she couldn't forgive him? What if she only saw what that rest of the world had for six thousand years: a monster?

No. He would banish this fear and uncertainty. Everything would work out if he could just maintain control of himself. Sookie would love him. She had to.

Sookie's front door slammed, jerking Warlow from his thoughts. His eyes followed his intended as she strode purposefully down the road. She was walking to work. Warlow smiled to himself. The fates, for once, appeared to be on his side. All it took was a quick slip through dimensions for him to appear a half miles down the road. She'd be there in a matter of minutes. He'd need to think quickly.

Should he pretend to be lost, a drifter who's wound up on the wrong back road? No, that wouldn't do. Even in broad daylight a man approaching a woman in the middle of the woods might register as a threat. He needed to make himself appear less dangerous…injured! He used his fangs to rip up his arm and leg. Prey, not predator. He dragged himself down a few feet into the ditch beside the road.

A half-ling attacked by a vampire, simple, plausible, and even a little bit true. Warlow focused on keeping his self-imposed injuries from rapidly healing. Only a few more minutes and she'd be rounding the bend. Warlow felt like he was about to jump out of his skin. He took a deep, calming breath. He could wait; after all he'd had plenty of practice.