Eric noticeably stiffened and the bond was suddenly alive with tension, worry, and anger. The sheer force of it almost made me doubled over.
“A telepath would be very helpful when investigating the humans that may be involved.” The Magister spoke while starting to walk towards the door.
“We will leave immediately.” Eric said forcefully.
“Absolutely not.” The Queen said as she stood up and joined us where we were standing. “I will not allow you to serve another state.”
“You were not asked, your Majesty.” The Magister said with disgust before stopping ten feet from the door and settling his attention back on Eric. “I will inform the Authority that you and your child will be traveling to Dallas to investigate.”
Suddenly the overwhelming emotions in our bond made sense to me.
The missing Sheriff was Eric’s Maker.
I was distracted from my epiphany as the Magister spoke again. “The Fellowship is rumored to be involved. Perhaps your child will be better equipped to gather information than the vampires of Texas.”
“Yes, Magister.” Eric seethed and I could feel that he was barely containing his rage at the thought of his Maker being taken.
“I’d like to offer the assistance of my area Investigator.” The Queen said in an obnoxiously sweet voice. “Mr. Compton is excellent with computers and may be of some use in the investigation.”
The Magister glared at the Queen. “I’ve seen enough of your Mr. Compton to know he would only be a hindrance to their mission, Sophie Ann.”
The Queen looked ready to protest when the Magister’s voice cut across her, “Do not interfere, Your Majesty. This is not a simple case of a disappearing Sheriff. If the Fellowship is involved, then they were able to capture one of the oldest vampire in this country and none of us are safe. The Authority is very concerned about the situation.”
“Very well.” The Queen reluctantly agreed before turning to face Eric. “I expect nightly updates and you will both visit my court once you have returned from your trip.”
Eric nodded curtly as the Queen breezed past us with Bill and some of the guards following in her wake. The Magister waited until the Queen had left the room before speaking again.
“The AVL expects you to handle this issue discretely.” The Magister spoke with an obvious subtext that I was not able to comprehend with my limited knowledge of vampire politics.
Eric nodded and the Magister was gone in the next moment. I instantly felt the command that was keeping me silent lift so I turned to speak to Eric.
He was already gone.
I panicked for a moment thinking he had left without me until I heard him moving around in his office and felt him close by through our bond. I used my vampire speed to join him and I found Pam already sitting on the couch. She nodded silently towards the seat beside her and I wordlessly followed her direction.
Eric was already on the phone making travel reservations. Even though his exterior mask of calm was in place, my emotions felt overridden by his turmoil. He was feeling an incredible amount of rage and worry. I was no longer feeling any calming effects from our bond and I suddenly wished that Eric’s cool confidence would return. Now more than ever I realized that he was my anchor and without his calming influence I was a ship adrift in a hurricane of emotions and thoughts, that were beginning to swirl out of control.
Suddenly I felt like I was worrying about everything at once.
What was the Queen’s game and how were we going to stay ahead of her? Why was Bill always around? Did he really think he could convince me to love him again? Why did the Magister mention the AVL like he didn’t support them? When would we be leaving? I hoped I’d be helpful and not embarrass myself. And didn’t we need to pack something? Should I be doing something right now instead of just sitting here? I felt so overwhelmed and mixed up.
My head suddenly cleared somewhat and I looked up to Pam since Eric was still on the phone. I knew what I needed.
“I need to feed.”
Pam looked at me for a moment and then looked at Eric for approval. He nodded to her before he threw a stern look of warning towards me that I interpreted as a reminder to behave myself. We took that as our tacit approval to leave the room and Pam led us out of the office.
When we were alone in the mostly deserted bar area, I asked Pam the most important thing I needed to know at the moment. “How do I block him from the bond, Pam? His emotions are overwhelming me.”
“You can’t block it completely.” She said in her normal bored tone.
“I know, but even a little will be something.” I felt like I couldn’t concentrate on anything and I didn’t see his emotions getting better anytime soon. Probably not until we found Godric.
“Fine. You could try sending him calm or confidence by thinking about the emotion and visualizing pushing it in his direction.” I nodded to show I was following along. “You can also dampen what you feel from the bond by using a type of mental shield. I would venture to guess it would be similar to the shields you use with your telepathy, but you are probably too young to do it.”
“I don’t have enough calm for myself let alone trying to send him any.” I said quickly. “I’ll try to dampen the bond then . . . “
“You. Will. Not. “ Eric’s voice boomed behind us and I felt a chill travel up my spine right before he grabbed my elbow and pulled me back into him. “What are you doing?” He growled.
I swallowed uselessly. “Trying to tone down your emotions in the bond, Eric. They’re suffocating me. I can’t think.”
“You will not attempt to dampen our bond unless I say to do so. Do you understand?” I didn’t feel the weight of a command, so he didn’t use his power as my Maker, but I was still shocked by his reaction. Seemingly feeling my confusion amongst all his own emotions, he answered my silent question.
“The bond is there for a reason and is not to be ignored. I will not allow you to run from it whenever it suits you. You will learn to adapt and use it to your advantage.”
Before I could say anything in response, Eric turned to address Pam. “Go to my home and pack bags for Sookie and myself. You will stay and run the bar and the area while we are gone. Go now.”
Pam nodded and was gone in the next second.
Eric’s emotions were still reeling with rage and concern but now he had added annoyance to the mix. Well, that was fine because I was annoyed with him as well. How was I supposed to know he didn’t want me learning to dampen the bond yet? Maybe he should tell me things like that if they are so important. I’m only a couple of days old and he expects me to just anticipate his thoughts and orders. He acts like . . .
Eric’s voice broke me out of my annoyed thoughts and brought my attention to the bony, blonde woman he had led over to stand in front of me. I didn’t think about anything else except feeding once my attention was brought to her, and her exposed neck. I immediately sped to stand in front of her and sink my fangs in her pulse point.
Her blood was bland compared to the earlier fangbangers I had tasted and I decided I wouldn’t be feeding from her again. However, my problem surfaced when I heard her pulse start to slow but I couldn’t bring myself to stop feeding. I was angry, annoyed, and hungry. I wanted more and she would give it to me. I kept drinking her blood deciding that she could spare a little more than her pulse indicated.
“Stop.” Eric’s voice held a command that my body couldn’t deny and I immediately disengaged and sealed her wounds.
The fangbanger swayed in front of me and I immediately felt remorse.
I would have drained her.
Eric took the woman over to a booth and she laid her head down on the table. I started to go over to offer my assistance when Eric glanced in my direction and pointed towards his office. I hung my head as I sped to the back. I entered his office and flopped down on the couch before putting my head in my hands.
“We don’t have time for your remorse right now.” Eric said harshly as he entered the office.
“I would have drained her!” I cried out indignantly. “I just fed an hour ago and I was going to drain her!”
“You are feeling my bloodlust through the bond. That is why you needed to feed and why you couldn’t stop.”
I jumped up from the couch and stood in front of him. “Then get yourself under control instead of taking it out on me! What happened to your centuries of learned calm in chaotic situations?!”
Eric’s jaw set and his face looked as hard as stone as he stared at me.
I instantly realized my mistake in challenging him and confronting him, but my stubborn nature took over.
I didn’t flinch from his stare. Instead, I set my own jaw and stared right back at him.
Shockingly, I felt pride and a bit of amusement through the bond.
Eric relaxed his rigid posture and leaned in to kiss me on the forehead before walking away and sitting down behind his desk.
What the hell just happened?
“You have more strength and courage than you know, Sookie. I admire that. However, think carefully before challenging me again as you will not like the outcome if you are wrong.”
I blinked uselessly for several seconds before mindlessly walking back over to the couch and sitting down. I immediately noticed that I felt calmer and more centered. The rage and concern were still in the bond but they were being smothered behind determination and calm.
Did Eric just admit that I was right?
Well, that was a first.
Several hours later, our chartered plane landed in Dallas and we were stepping out of our rental car to approach the Dallas nest’s home. Eric had been relatively quiet since our confrontation in his office. I assumed he was using the time to plan and make contingency plans for those plans. He had only broken his silence once in order to remind me that I was to act like I would at Fangtasia while we were around the Dallas vampires.
As we approached the front door of the Dallas nest, it was pulled open and a beautiful vampire with long dark brown hair stepped forward wearing a pristine white suit. She seemed relieved to see us but her dark chocolate eyes were tense.
“Sheriff Northman.” She greeted with a nod.
“Isabelle.” He nodded in return before gesturing to me. “This is my new child Sookie Stackhouse.”
“You are welcomed in our nest.” She answered with another nod before leading us into the ranch style home.
When we followed Isabelle into the living room area, there was another vampire pacing around the room. He was tall, but still a few inches shorter than Eric. He had dark hair, broad shoulders, and a neatly trimmed beard and mustache. He was wearing a cowboy hat and boots. He looked like a stereotypical Texan.
“Stan.” Eric greeted the other vampire and he nodded in return.
Guess I didn’t warrant an introduction this time.
“I’m glad you’re here, Eric.” Isabelle started the conversation but was interrupted by Stan before she could continue.
“I don’t see what he can do to help unless he can feel Godric through their bond and locate him.” Stan spits out. “Can you feel him?”
“Regretfully, no. He is blocking our bond.” Eric admits.
“See?” He gestures to Eric while speaking to Isabelle. “There was no reason to wait for him to arrive. We need to go to the Church and take back our Sheriff.”
“We don’t have any evidence that the Fellowship has him, Stan.” Isabelle tried to reason with him. “If the Authority sent him here, then there must be a reason they thought he could help.”
“We don’t need any other vampire’s help!” He spat out.
As the two vampires continued to argue and Eric started to get more angry and annoyed, I decided to do what I was supposedly brought here to do. I dropped my shields and listened.
There were four other voids in the house besides Isabelle, Stan, and Eric. They were spread out through the rest of the house and were each accompanied by a human brain. I flitted through their companions thoughts quickly and determined that they were thinking the normal sex and biting thoughts of any fangbanger. However, towards the back of the house but not too far from where we were standing, was another human mind. I focused in on their thoughts, since they were the only person alone in the house.
I can’t understand them anymore. They are talking too fast. I wonder if the recording can be slowed down at the Church so we can hear them better. I hope they stay in that room because I haven’t been able to bug the other ones.
I stiffened instantly as I realized I’d found a spy for the Fellowship already. Eric stopped mid-sentence in his rant at Stan and stared at me.
It’s her fault. He thought as I saw Isabelle’s face in his mind. She should have turned me when I asked. She’s just using me like they all do.
“Sookie?” Eric question sounded like a command but Stan interrupted again before I could speak.
“Enough of this.” He said as he started to leave but I sped off towards the spy before he could leave the room. I hoped they would follow me so we could talk outside of the room with the bug in it.
When I found the spy by following his brain, he was standing in the kitchen off the living room with his head near the doorway. He was shocked by my sudden appearance and tried to back up. I stepped forward and asked his name as the others showed up behind me.
“Hugo. I’m Isabelle’s.” He said quickly.
I made a disgusted sound and Isabelle quickly moved to stand between Hugo and myself.
“What is the meaning of this?” She asked as Stan moved behind her to stand with fangs down.
Eric placed a hand on my shoulder and pulled me back behind him slightly. “My new child is a telepath. That is why we were sent here.”
Surprise flitted across their faces and they both looked ready to ask questions but Eric was quickest.
“What did you hear?” He asked me.
I bowed my head slightly in deference, and against my inner feminist, before answering, “Hugo is a spy for the Fellowship. He has placed a bug in the living room. He is angry that Isabelle would not change him.”
Stan grabbed Hugo and threw him against the wall where he held him by his neck. Isabelle’s expression made her look broken hearted as she asked him if what I said were true.
Of course he couldn’t answer when another vampire was holding his throat.
“I assure you that Sookie is never wrong.” Eric said sternly and I felt a wave of warmth spread through me as I registered his confidence in my ability. “However, we should let him live while she ask more questions to see how much he knows.”
Shit. Can she really read my mind? God, I can’t breathe.
As Stan let go of Hugo’s throat and he started coughing and sputtering to get his breath, I stepped forward. “Yes, Hugo. I can really read your mind.”
“Completely possible.” I answered him again. “Now, tell me where the bug is in the living room.”
Predictably, he started telling himself not to think about it but ended up revealing that it was under the coffee table. Once I told the others, Stan sped away and came back with a small crushed device in his hand.
He still looked surprised and I realized he hadn’t truly believed Eric’s claim that I was a telepath.
Turning back to Hugo, I asked the most important question. “Do you know where Godric is?”
Again, Hugo tried to avoid me by directing his thoughts elsewhere, this time to a grocery list, but I still heard the Fellowship’s plans.
Eric immediately felt my shock, disgust, and worry. He was in my face in a second, “Tell me now.” He ordered.
“Godric was captured by the Fellowship with the help of another vampire who wants to meet the sun.” Isabelle gasped. “They are forcing Godric to meet the sun tomorrow morning. Newlin is having a lock-in with the Fellowship members tonight, including women and children. He is going to surprise them all with the vampires silvered to a cross at sunrise.”
Eric growled menacingly and was joined in his rage by Stan. I wasn’t sure at the moment which one of them was more eager for bloodshed.
“Who is the other vampire?”
I listened to Hugo’s thoughts after Eric asked the question but I didn’t get an answer.
“He doesn’t know.” I said as I shook my head. “He only knows the high level plan. He wasn’t a part of Godric’s capture.”
“Does he know where Godric is at the church?” Stan asked.
“No, but I can find him if we get close enough.”
Isabelle and Stan tensed and I immediately recognized my mistake. Eric was a step ahead of me however and explained before I could.
“She cannot hear vampire thoughts but she can locate our minds. They are a void or black hole to her.” Eric explained before turning back to me. “How close do you need to be?”
I thought about it for a moment before answering. “I know I could feel him from about two hundred yards.”
Eric nodded. “Then we will get you close enough to find him and then we can go in and get him.”
“We should kill the power first.” I said quickly before I even thought through my words.
They all looked at me with confusion and I shrugged. “If they have bugs in your nest, then they will definitely have security cameras. Plus, we can get in and out while they are confused by the blackout.”
“What do you mean in and out?” Stan asked indignantly. “We’re not going to just let them be.”
Eric answered him in an annoyed tone. “The AVL expects us to do just that.”
Isabelle tried to be the voice of reason. “We can’t just go in a slaughter hundreds of humans. We should retrieve the Sheriff and consider our revenge later.”
Eric’s answer came from between clenched teeth. “Agreed.”
I could feel from our bond that he wasn’t happy with the proposal but he would do what had to be done to protect his Maker.
“Fine.” Stan spit out. “But if they attack us while we are there, then I’m not holding back.”
Before another word could be spoken, Stan snapped Hugo’s neck, dropped him in the kitchen floor, and left out the back door. Eric and Isabelle followed him immediately but I was still staring at Hugo’s limp body. My stunned state was quickly remedied, however, when I heard Eric call for me to follow them.
I would have to consider my role in Hugo’s death later.
When I exited the house, the three of them were already in an SUV in the driveway. As I climbed in, I turned to Eric.
“Should we take donors with us since he’s probably injured?”
Isabelle hopped back out of the SUV, “I’ll get some bagged blood.”
In a flash, she was gone and back again with a cooler that she placed in the back of the car. She was barely settled in the passenger seat when Stan peeled out of the driveway and we were off to save Godric.
As I sat back in my seat and tried to ready myself for what was to come, I could easily feel Eric’s bloodlust rising and I could see from Stan’s rigid form that he was ready for a fight.
I instantly started worrying that Stan wouldn’t be able to control himself long enough to stick to our plan.
Then I began worrying that I wouldn’t be able to control myself since my bond with Eric was overflowing with barely contained bloodlust.
Most of all though, I was worrying about Eric. I had a feeling that all the plans in the world wouldn’t be able to control Eric if we didn’t get to Godric in time.