“You know you want to… just give me a little taste,” Lex cajoled, running a finger down the long leg draped over his shoulder.
The blonde lying on the couch above him giggled at the light, tickling touch. “I don’t know. What’s in it for me?”
He spun around so she could get the full effect of his “starving orphan” expression. “Besides the nourishment of your lover who has expended unmeasurable energy for your pleasure? How about contributing to yet another night of blinding, heart-stopping orgasms? You should know a mutually beneficial arrangement when it’s proposed.”
“Hmm…” she teased, enjoying the playful flirting. “I might be able to be convinced. How about you get started on that?”
Taking Addie at her word, Lex jumped onto the sofa to straddle her legs. Faster than she could track, her tank-top was ripped in two and flying through the air. As he smoothed the bra straps from her shoulders, the intercom tone buzzed from the speaker in the wall. “Sheriff? Mister Northman is down here. He has an attack victim with him that needs your assistance.”
“God damnit,” Lex grumbled, vaulting from his spot on the couch. He pressed the button to return the page. “Full security check on both. If they’re clean, send them up.”
There were several moments of silence then, “Both are clear of weapons or bugs. The woman is unconscious. Mister Northman says your pet’s presence will be necessary.”
Suspicious blue met worried green from across the den. “Did he now?” the sheriff murmured into the speaker.
“Yes sir. He also says when the doors open, don’t breathe.”
“Fuuuck,” the former prince whined, incredibly frustrated that his carnal playtime was being interrupted. “Send him up,” he ordered through the speaker. From a concealed compartment by the door, he withdrew an ebony and silver wakizashi with an ornate iron hilt that he’d had smithed for him in Japan centuries ago. “Stay in the study, dear one, unless I call you. I don’t trust that his reasons for requesting your presence are honorable. Stay quiet at all costs.”
Addie readjusted her bra so she was somewhat covered as she nodded her agreement. When the elevator toned its arrival, she slipped around the corner into the smaller room as Lex unsheathed his weapon.
Seconds later, a forceful knock reverberated through the penthouse. “Let me in, Sheriff. There’s no time to waste,” the Viking’s accented voice called, muffled by the heavy wood door. A small screen to the right showed the tall blond vampire, clearly distressed, carrying a bloodied blonde woman in his arms, bridal-style.
Cautiously, the sheriff opened his door. “Strange how I’ve never dealt with fairies here until you came to town, Northman. I assume that’s why you gave the warning about inhaling? So what happened?” He stepped back to admit the younger vampire.
“I scented fairy blood as I was flying. When I tracked the source, I found her. My arrival must have scared away her attacker. She needs a transfusion and your pet’s blood may be a match.” Eric skirted the truth, not wanting to incriminate his progeny.
Lex smirked, not moved by the story. “You’re not tempted to finish the job? Why are you so concerned with saving her? I’ve heard the stories. If you bring over a fairy, you have a day-walker you can control…”
“Or you end up drunk, giggling at the sparkly pile of dust that would have been your child. I’m man enough to admit that I don’t know if I have the control to stop before that crucial point. Now, are you going to summon your pet for help?” Although his demeanor remained stoic, his glacial blue eyes expressed his anxiety.
Lex leaned against the door jamb nonchalantly, the grip on his sword not relaxing in the least. “Why should I make this my concern? Her wounds are healed. Just drop her in front of the ER at one of the hospitals and make her their problem. I have better things to do with my night,” he said dismissively.
Eric’s conscience battled between saving her life and keeping her secret. In the end, immediate need won out and he hoped she’d forgive him. “She’s a telepath. She can read humans, Weres, and other fairies. She can tell when a human’s been glamoured and the false memory if one’s been planted. If you do this, she’ll owe you… I’ll owe you.”
Lex felt poised between not giving a damn and salivating over being owed a favor, not only from the anonymous fairy, but from the infamous Eric Northman to boot. Given the woman’s pallor as she laid in the Viking’s arms, he didn’t have much time to make a decision.
In the end, he didn’t. A shuddering gasp came from the study followed by Addie running into the entrance hall. “Momma? What is she doing here? What the fuck did you do to her?”
Both vampires turned to look at the girl with widened eyes. “Momma?” they repeated in unison.
Addie cupped her unconscious mother’s cheek lovingly, slightly put-off to feel the absence of her usual warmth. “Yes, Momma. Sookie Adele Stackhouse Brennan. She wasn’t supposed to be here until this weekend. What. Did. You. Do, Northman?” She looked up at the tall blond vampire as she hissed through her clenched teeth.
Eric refused to back down. “I did nothing but stop her attack and get her to safety. I’d give her my blood, but chances are she’d be brought over and I’d rather not have another child that despises me. So, Little Fae, are you willing to donate your fairylicious blood to save your mother?”
Lex watched the emotions play across his pet’s face. Fear, distrust, anger, sorrow, and hope. The hope in her evergreen eyes is what forced his action. Using the intercom system, he paged the security desk. “Send up and IV kit, a donor kit, syringes, a fruit plate from the kitchen, and spare bedding. Also send two A-negative donors to Northman’s suite. Tell them they are to wait in the hall until he arrives, no matter what time that may be. If necessary, remind them they are paid by the hour, not the pint.”
Once they paged back confirmation, Addie turned to the younger vampire. “What’s in this for you? Hoping that by saving a fairy, you’ll get a sunny little drink every now and then? Why did you save her?”
He leaned down with a menacing sneer that made the former prince growl in protectiveness. “I’ve known Sookie since she was just a few years older than you are now. We have a history that you can’t even fathom, child. Save your questions for when your mother awakens. Right now, she simply needs your blood.”
Addie tried to remember any mention of The Viking or Northman from her Momma’s stories and came up blank. Before she could pose further questions to the annoyingly smug vampire, the door buzzed. A Were delivered the requested food, linens, and medical supplies before leaving without saying a word.
Hopping into action, Eric connected a bag of saline nutrients for hydration to Sookie’s arm as Lex tied a tourniquet around Addie’s. Smoothly and quietly, he inserted the needle for the donation bag and watched the tubing fill with what he’d hoped to snack on. The girl squeezed and relaxed her left fist to encourage blood flow as she munched on melon cubes and orange slices to keep her blood sugar up.
Oblivious to the other eyes in the room, Eric tenderly wiped Sookie’s face clean of dirt and dried blood. “How did this happen, min karlek? You’ve barely changed in twenty-five years. You smell like heaven, princess. What have you been doing, Sookie?” He brushed some golden strands back from her face. “You’re still sunshine in a beautiful blonde bottle, Miss Stackhouse,” he murmured.
Addie remembered everything she had ever read in her mother’s notebooks. Only one person had ever referred to her so… intimately. “What? What did you say to her?” The Viking shook his head, keeping his eyes on his fairy, but the woman’s daughter persisted. “You called her ‘sunshine in a blonde bottle’. And she hasn’t been ‘Miss Stackhouse’ for more than twenty years. Why do you care what happens to my momma?” she asked again, daring him to answer. Even if he didn’t deign to acknowledge her question, it didn’t matter. She knew.
Lex interrupted the standoff to remove Addie’s half-filled bag and replace it with an empty one. As he connected the bag to drip intravenously with the saline into Sookie’s system, he voiced his opinion. “Wait until your mother wakes up, love. She’ll tell you anything you want to know, you know that.”
Green eyes stayed narrowed on the tall blond. “No… I’m certain she’s already told me this story. I want to see if he has the balls to admit it.”
Eric refused to believe that Sookie would intentionally expose her daughter to vampires, especially after her own experiences. His mood picked up slightly, seeing some pink return to Sookie’s lips and cheeks as her daughter’s blood entered her veins.
Addie continued to stare at the younger vampire and Lex could feel her intrepidity in their tie. “Sheriff, were you aware that when vampires came out, the sheriff of Louisiana’s Area Five conducted business from a throne… on a stage… of a vampire bar… called Fangtasia?” she asked with a sneer. “It even came with a fully-functional dungeon, with chains. Chains for prisoners… chains for six-hour sex marathons with Estonian surgeons-turned-pole-dancers… chains for holding fairy hybrids hostage while planning a murder/suicide. Sounds like a place I’d like to drop in on next time I’m home visiting… but I suppose it’s under new management now.”
A pair of arctic blue eyes glared at her from across the room, unwilling to believe that Sookie would tell her daughter so much about their past. Darker blue eyes, less gray and more like lapis, started down at Addie curiously, wondering why she felt like disclosing such information. He was more interested, however, in the reasons for the venom in her glare when directed at Northman.
“Oh yes, that Sheriff of Area Five was certainly a rascal. He blackmailed the claimed pet of a subordinate into using her fairy talent to find a thief and didn’t lift a finger to defend her when that thief tried to kill her to keep her silent. He tricked that same pet, still belonging to someone that wasn’t him into taking his blood. Yet again, he used that same pet as a pawn in a quest for revenge that had absolutely nothing to do with her or her master. He bought her house out from under her in an attempt to own her. He never did anything without an ulterior motive.” Addie’s selective memory focused on The Sheriff’s worst transgressions against her mother.
Eric tore his eyes away from his fairy’s pinkening complexion to return the glare. “That subordinate left his pet vulnerable to being hunted by a serial killer who targeted her simply for her association with him. The Sheriff of Area Five also spared the life of her friend, a known V dealer as well as the hybrid’s brother, not only an addict, but an accessory to murder and a one-time member of The Fellowship of the Sun. He offered her protection when his subordinate was kidnapped by a rival kingdom and procured her a guard when she insisted on a foolhardy rescue mission. Despite being used as a ‘pawn in a quest for revenge’, that tenacious, stubborn little hybrid saved the sheriff’s life, giving him her blood to help him heal, even though she had nearly been drained just hours before. In return, he told her how her… whatever-the-fuck he was to her by then… how the sheriff’s subordinate was using her and seducing her under orders from the queen. When she went missing – for over a year – he bought her house so she would still have it after her witless brother lost hope for her return and put it on the market. When he was cursed by necromancing witches, she housed him, clothed him, and kept him safe when his memories of everything were wiped away. She loved him, gave him her body and blood voluntarily, restored his memories, and then rejected him when he came to her whole and unbroken.”
Addie countered, “He fucked his sister hours after telling the ‘stubborn little hybrid’ how much he loved her,” with a contemptuous sneer.
“She didn’t want him. And he saved her from being drained by that same, undisciplined sister and an ancient psychopath hopped-up on fairy elder blood.”
Addie’s arguments sputtered, then stopped entirely. She returned to clenching and relaxing her fist, her concentration on her fruit plate.
Lex had, of course, known of Eric’s sheriff appointment in Louisiana, his relation to Godric the Gaul and Chancellor Gainesboro from the now-defunct version of The Authority. He even remembered hearing mutterings, unsubstantiated rumors, of the fortunate bastard having access to a telepath. He wondered what stars had aligned to allow him to claim the telepath’s daughter. As he puzzled over the statistical formula to determine the possibilities, he connected the second half-filled bag to the unconscious woman’s IV. When he returned to Addie, his fangs were down. However, he simply removed the tubing and needle, swiped his tongue over the wound to seal it, nicked his lip, then kissed the crook of her elbow to heal and erase the injury entirely.
While the younger hybrid was distracted by her vampire, Eric found a syringe in the hodge-podge of medical supplies that had been delivered. Discreetly stabbing his own vein, he injected several milliliters of his own blood into the IV tubing. He felt it take hold when the tiny grain of their existing tie bloomed to life inside him. Moments later, a weak voice said, “Geez Addie. Momma loves you, baby, but I don’t want to know that much about your private life.”
Eric’s eyes found his fairy’s daughter, eyes closed with a relaxed smile, as a Greek-Roman vampire raised in Egypt that was older than Jesus kissed and nibbled the sensitive, thin skin of her inner arm. “Momma!” she exclaimed, jumping up and running to the bedside. “Are you okay? What happened?”
The older woman sighed and struggled to sit up. Addie helped her get upright and adjusted some pillows to support her back. “I got lost in my thoughts and lost track of the time. You know I was never that good at masking, no matter how much Niall and Parker forced me to practice. I wasn’t focusing on blocking and I guess I got jumped. Right?”
Addie’s green eyes flicked up to Eric’s bewildered face. He was silent as he mentally berated himself, seeing mother and daughter side-by-side. Had he forgotten her features that much? They look like sisters, with only slight differences in their faces. He should have known the minute he saw her. He didn’t know when he’d become so unobservant.
“That’s one way to put it, Mrs. Brennan,” Lex answered for her. “You were attacked by a vampire and nearly drained. Mr. Northman was able to frighten away your attacker and bring you here to safety.”
Even woozy, she caught the name and her eyes widened. “Eric?” she whispered and turned her head. When Sookie saw the silent vampire watching the scene as he leaned against the wall, her chin puckered and her eyes watered. “Hi,” she hiccupped, choking back a sob.
He gifted her with a ghost of the smirk she was familiar with, but his mind was buzzing. He needed to figure out how to get her alone, when and where they could talk… wondering if his child had any comprehension of how much trouble she was in.
That specific thought came to the forefront moments later. Mother and daughter were sitting close together having a seemingly one-sided conversation as Sookie was the only one speaking aloud, and even then it was only one or two words. Parent and child were obviously well-versed in half-telepathic conversing. The District of Columbia sheriff approached the former Louisiana sheriff and gestured toward the den so they could speak frankly, in private.
The two vampires left the room and, once alone, Eric smirked. “So you’ve claimed the girl. Was she worth the wait?”
Lex was not in a gossiping mood. “Where is your child, Northman? I’d begun to think it was impossible to see one of you without the other.”
“My progeny is an independent woman. I don’t require her to clear her plans with me like a teenager. She’s out.”
The older vampire leaned back against his desk with his arms crossed over his chest. “So it was pure serendipity that a fairy hybrid that you have an extensive history with is attacked and you just happened across the scene? I’m not a believer in consequences that fortunate, Northman. Do you know what my vampire gift was?”
The abrupt subject change slightly discombobulated the Viking, which was the intention. “How would I?”
“Rhetorical question. My sense of smell is extraordinary. It’s why my pet has such a notable effect on me. I’m also quite learned in high-end accessories coveted by more… material-minded females. When you and your child appeared for our first meeting, I noticed she favored 24 Faubourg… Hermès I believe… very rare. It’s almost unnoticeable under Mrs. Brennan’s undeniable fairy fragrance, but it’s definitely there. I’m supposing that Pamela attacked and Mrs. Brennan attempted to defend herself. You felt your child’s distress and rushed to her aid. Upon arriving you found an intoxicated, undead, former whore and a nearly drained fairy.”
It was in the rare moments such as this that Eric was reminded that, even at his remarkably advanced age, there were other vampires that were older, smarter, stronger, and with more experience. As lackadaisical and happy-go-lucky as Lex seemed, he could not have survived for as long as he had and built the business empire that he had without sharp intelligence and a certain level of ruthlessness. In spite of himself, Eric was impressed by both Lex’s deductive skills and level of control. “How were you able to scent Sookie and not attack her? I was barely able to restrain myself, even with our history.”
Lex smirked. “My pet suggested I ‘temper’ myself to her scent. She masks its strength in mixed company. Mrs. Brennan is only slightly more intense than her daughter at full strength. Huh,” he chuckled, mostly to himself. “She’s going to be completely impossible when she finds out she was right. Now…” he returned his focus to the Viking, “… how to punish Ms. de Beaufort for an unprovoked attack while in my area? I’m afraid I have to be rather strict when the rules are broken or my subjects won’t hesitate to take advantage. The typical punishment when the victim survives is a month in silver. The threat alone is a rather effective deterrent, especially as there are several feeding lounges in my fair metropolis, including a specialized course when a specific outlet is required. The donors are athletic and are paid on their evasion skills. Public hunting is only done by deviants and criminals in my area,” Lex concluded, unable to resist a final dig at the Viking’s irritating and abrasive child.
Eric bit back a disrespectful growl. Never would he have thought that Pam’s penchant for luxuriant, exclusive accoutrements would be responsible for her spending a month in chains. He could still feel her lingering inebriation and knew she had brought this on herself. She was old enough to know better, but too young to resist the siren’s call of fairy blood. Perhaps her young age would call for some leniency.
He also wanted to know what had changed in the last quarter-century. Why did his little hybrid seem to be more fairy than human and her aging was negligible? He knew she was near fifty, yet still looked to be in her early-to-mid thirties. With her worship of the sun, he had pictured the worst – wrinkles, leathery skin and dry, dyed hair (much like Ginger the last time he saw her) in an effort to reclaim faded youth. He was anxiously anticipating catching up with his Sookie. And she was His, whether she acknowledged that fact or not.
That very same woman was lying in a stranger’s bed in a strange house in an even stranger city… and was remarkably calm regarding her situation. Her daughter was with her… and so was Eric. It seemed as though her hasty prayers were unexpectedly answered.
She and Addie had practiced telepathic conversations as the girl was growing up. They had perfected having a full exchange using yes/no questions and single-word prompts. In her head she heard her daughter’s mental voice. “Is Eric Northman The Sheriff from your stories?”
“Uh-huh,” she answered, watching her vampire follow the shorter, darker one from the room.
“Were all the stories that you didn’t tell me true?” Sookie furrowed her brow in confusion and Addie rolled her eyes. “You had to know I read your notebooks. They were better than anything I could find in the library. So… Eric Northman was The Sheriff, Bill Compton was The Soldier, and knowing what I know now… Evil, Frigid Bitch was Pam?”
The older woman’s lips quirked up in a small smile. “Mmhmm.” Addie treated her mom to a girlish giggle. When she was done, Sookie changed the subject to something that interested her far more. “When?”
Her daughter didn’t need an explanation. Sookie had woken up to Addie’s thoughts while Lex was being “affectionate” (his words; hers were more along the lines of “tease”). The girl flushed a bright pink and thought, “We’ve been fooling around for a few weeks. The main event was a few nights ago.”
Sookie looked down, incredibly grateful to have such an open relationship with her girl. “Good?” she asked.
Again, Addie didn’t need further words. As close as they were, her mother was not asking for a sexual critique. “He’s very good to me, Momma,” she said in her head and Sookie smiled. “It was definitely worth waiting for.”