Eric chuckled as he took a step toward Sookie and pulled her into his arms. Seeing her lay down the law to Bill as she had was an incredible turn on, and as he rubbed himself against her he lowered his head and captured her lips in a sweet kiss. He still couldn’t quite believe she had come back and was in his arms, and a part of him still expected to rise and find it was all a dream.
Please, don’t let this be a dream.
“Not a dream,” Sookie mumbled against his lips as she wrapped her arms around him. “I’m here, I’m real, and I love you…” Sookie whimpered when she felt Eric pull back from her slightly and she peered up at him through her lashes. “Eric?” She questioned softly, seeing the thoughtful look on his face.
“I never said anything about this being a dream,” Eric replied as he stared at her.
“Yeah, you did,” Sookie replied with a tiny nod. “You said, ‘please, don’t let this be a dream.‘”
“No, Sookie, I didn’t… I thought it,” Eric told her, concern leaking into his tone.
“You thou…” Sookie trailed off as his words registered with her and her eyes widened slightly in alarm. “But I can’t hear vampires,” she continued, staring up at Eric. “I mean, I get the occasional glimpse, but…” she paused and took a deep breath.
Maybe it was just a fluke, she thought as she chewed on her lip. Just one of the occasional glimpses I sometimes get…
Would it be so bad to hear my thoughts?
Of course not. I just… I… I know how vampires like their privacy. Soul Seer or not, being able to read vampire minds would be dangerous to me. It could get me killed…
You think I would hurt you?
NO! Not you. Never!
“I know you’d never hurt me, Eric,” Sookie said, reaching for his hand when she felt his dejection. The last thing she wanted was for Eric to believe she thought he would hurt her. She knew deep down in her soul he wouldn’t. Sookie frowned as she stared up at Eric, wondering why he was smiling like an idiot. “Eric, wh…” The rest of her sentence died on her tongue as Eric swooped down and kissed her hard.
Sookie was breathless when Eric pulled back and she clung to him while she tried to get her bearings. “What…” She tried again.
“Lover, you do realize that I never said any of that aloud and neither did you?” Eric said, filling her in on what she had been missing. I love you…
I love you, too.
Eric laughed when he heard Sookie’s voice in his head again. He wasn’t sure what was happening and he knew he would have many questions once he got over the surprise and joy of it, but at that moment he didn’t care. He would worry about what it meant later.
Pressing his lips to hers, Eric poured every ounce of love he felt for her into the kiss as he stole the very breath from her body. In his thousand years walking the earth he had never loved anyone even a fraction of the amount he loved Sookie, and he intended to show her that every single night. Eric was just about to peel his shirt from her body when a knock at the door interrupted them and he groaned as he broke the kiss.
“You think if we ignore them they will go away?” Eric asked only half kidding.
Sookie laughed softly as she gazed up at her love. “Given who is on the opposite side of that door, I can answer unequivocally, no,” she replied. “Believe me, she will sit outside that door all night if she must; she won’t leave until she has done what was intended.”
Eric cocked a brow at her words and, with a put-upon sigh; he released Sookie from his arms and pulled open the hotel door. He frowned when he saw the young woman who had delivered the previous message earlier in the night outside the door.
“I bring a message from The Ancient Pythoness,” Cahira said, giving both Eric and Sookie a bow of respect before handing Sookie a gold-colored envelope. She nodded to the couple once more before excusing herself to return to her mistress.
“I wonder what the old gal wants now?” Sookie questioned, chuckling at Eric’s look of shock at the way she addressed The Ancient One and opening the envelope.
Both yours and the Viking’s presence are required in my room in twenty minutes.
“Looks like she wants to see us,” Sookie added passing the note to Eric so he could see for himself.
Eric frowned while he read the note. He couldn’t help but worry about what The Ancient Pythoness wanted. Unlike Sookie, he wasn’t accustomed to receiving messages from her, and he feared whatever she wanted wouldn’t be good.
What if The Ancient One doesn’t approve of us? Will she try and separate us?
“That is never gonna happen,” Sookie said answering his thought without thinking. Moving toward him, Sookie wrapped her arms around his waist and stared up at him. “No one will ever separate us,” she promised. “It’s gonna be me and you forever! Besides, did you forget about Pythia telling me about my one true love? Don’t tell her I told you, but Pythia’s been in your corner all along. She’s very much Team Eric.”
“Team Eric,” Eric repeated with a smirk before pressing his lips to Sookie’s in a quick kiss. “I have always been partial to Team Sookie myself.”
“How do you feel about Team Eric and Sookie?” Sookie asked as she smiled up at him. “One soul, one heart, together forever.”
“I like that team much better,” Eric replied not even attempting to hide his smile. He had never been happier than he was in that minute. He had Sookie back, and this time she was in his arms where she belonged.
Looking at the time, Sookie let out a sigh when she realized they would have to get ready to go and see The Ancient Pythoness. As much as she wanted to lock herself in the hotel room and enjoy her reunion with Eric, Sookie knew it wasn’t possible, at least not yet. They had the Ancient One to go and see, and Appius to deal with still. Sookie suspected that was one of the reasons Pythia had requested, no; demanded their presence.
“We should get ready,” Sookie said with a put upon sigh. “Pythia doesn’t like being kept waiting. She’s awfully impatient for a vampire and seer.”
Nodding in agreement, Eric stole a quick kiss before taking a step back. He grinned when he saw Sookie pout at the space between them. Later, Lover, he promised as he ran his eyes over her in tempting manner.
“I’m gonna hold you to that,” Sookie replied before realizing she had replied to his thoughts aloud. “That’s gonna take some time getting used to,” she grumbled good-naturedly before darting into the ensuite bathroom and cleaning up quickly. The Ancient Pythoness may not have liked to be kept waiting, but Sookie wasn’t going to walk through the hotel smelling like sex. She wasn’t embarrassed by what she and Eric had done; she would gladly shout it from the rooftops, but given how the scent of sex often acted as an aphrodisiac to Supernatural creatures, she didn’t want to tempt fate or cause an orgy. Her Fae side was more prominent, and now coupled with the scent of sex, there was a strong chance they would cause one.
Grabbing a red wrap dress, Sookie slipped it on, and then pulled on a pair of black heels. She took a minute to freshen up her make-up, and then held her hand out for Eric. She wouldn’t hide their relationship from anyone. She knew people would talk, but she didn’t care. Neither of them had done anything wrong. She wanted the world to know they were together and in love.
Eric grinned as he linked his fingers with Sookie. He had been wondering how she would address their new relationship. Would she want to keep it a secret? Would she want to tell everyone? He was happy to know it was the latter. The last thing he wanted to do was hide who and what they were to each other. He loved her. He was in love with her, and he didn’t care who knew that.
Sookie handed Eric the key to her hotel room and smiled silently telling him it was their room now if that was what he wanted.
Eric slipped the key into his pocket before leading her to the door. He would move his things into the room after they had met with the Ancient One. There was no way he would go to rest without her beside him. He had waited for her for two years; he wouldn’t waste one more night.
It was just a few minutes later when they stood outside The Ancient Pythoness’ hotel room. Sookie could sense more than one person in the room and she told Eric telepathically preparing him for what was to come. Lifting her hand, Sookie knocked on the door and waited for one of her handmaidens to answer. She had no idea why Pythia wanted to see them and she couldn’t soothe her curiosity.
Sookie nodded at Cahira when she answered the door and stepped inside, her hand still firmly encased in Eric’s. Looking around the room, Sookie couldn’t say she was surprised to see Kynan. Sookie was closer to him than anyone else on the Council, the Ancient Pythoness included. The two of them had developed quite the friendship since they had met eighteen months earlier. Other than Stella, he was the only one in whom she ever really confided. He knew of her past and where her heart truly lied. He may have voted in favor of Oklahoma and its Queen, but Sookie knew for a fact he would have never permitted the marriage to take place. The Council may have needed to have been neutral when it came to their decisions, but where Sookie was concerned, Kynan was biased.
Stopping before the Ancient One, Sookie bit her lip and fought the urge to say something when she saw Eric bow on one knee before her. The sight of Eric on his knees before anyone didn’t sit well with Sookie, and she wanted nothing more than to tell him to stand. After giving The Ancient Pythoness a small nod of respect, Sookie turned her attention to Kynan and smiled brightly at him.
“You look happy, kin mea,” Kynan said with a smile. “Your reunion was a happy one?”
“I am, and it was,” Sookie replied smiling at Eric as he rose to his feet. Taking his hand in hers again, Sookie tugged on it slightly. “Eric, I’d like you to meet my great-uncle, Kynan Tolmach.”
Eric’s eyes widened in surprise at the introduction. He knew Kynan from his place on the Council, but he had no idea he was related to Sookie. Recalling Sookie’s words from earlier in the night about Niall, Eric peered down at his lover. “That is what you meant when you said Niall Brigant is not your only nor eldest relation.”
“It is,” Sookie nodded. “It’s a long story and I will explain it all later, but Kynan is my great-uncle from my mother’s side. Momma wasn’t aware of it, but she had some Supe DNA in her.”
“My brother is Sookie’s maternal grandfather,” Kynan explained, giving Eric a nod of respect. “We were all unaware of Sookie until The Ancient One introduced us. It seems the magic Fintan used to hide her from his father as well as his enemies blocked us from seeing her also.”
“So Sookie is related to the Prince of the Dae as well,” Eric replied, putting it all together in his head. Sookie’s words of Niall not being her eldest relation all made sense now. Prince Dante Tolmach of Dae was her eldest blood relation. Sookie had the royal blood of two separate races running through her veins. Niall would not like that. Prince Dante was at least a thousand years older than him, and was ruling Dae while Niall was still a child.
“Yes,” Kynan said with a smirk. “However, no one outside of this room and the family is aware of that yet; although I fear Niall will soon discover that little bit of information… I can hardly wait.”
“There will be time for family reunions later,” The Ancient Pythoness interrupted, turning her milky white gaze to Sookie and Eric. “First, we must deal with why I called you both here.”
Eric tightened his grip on Sookie’s hand as he stared at the Ancient One. Despite Sookie’s words from earlier, he couldn’t help but fear Pythia was going to try and come between them. Sookie was a member of the Council while he was just a Sheriff in Louisiana.
“I know what you fear, Norseman,” The Ancient Pythoness continued, her blind eyes trained solely on him. “However, that fear is unfounded. There is no power on Earth, or in any of the realms that can separate you from your Fated. Your soul was forged through love; it endured time, and always will. Only you and The Soul Seer have the power to destroy what you build. No one and nothing can come between you unless you allow it. Stay true to each other and the love you share and you will never be parted… Not even in death.”
Sookie swallowed hard while she listened to The Ancient One tell Eric what she already knew. Her knowledge didn’t come from a vision or by looking into someone’s soul; it came from the heart, her heart and his. Even though she already knew it, felt it deep down inside, it was still exhilarating to hear. To have that kind of love was both a blessing and a curse. It was all consuming, exciting, and yet frightening as well… She was ready for it. She was ready for the next part of her life to begin, a life with Eric.
Eric couldn’t help but let out a small sigh of relief at The Ancient One’s words. His fears eased and he stroked his thumb over the back of Sookie’s hand. From the moment she had walked into his life all those years ago, he had been lost to her. He hadn’t understood it at the time, but as he stood in front of The Ancient Pythoness with Sookie’s hand clutched in his, Eric realized all roads had led them to there. He was made to love her, not because fate decreed it, but because she was his heart. If his heart still beat, Eric was sure it would beat in sync with hers. It was as Sookie had said…
One heart, one soul, together forever…
Turning her head toward the window, The Ancient Pythoness gazed out of it, her eyes seeing nothing and yet seeing everything at the same time. “There is a storm on the horizon,” she said, her voice taking on a faraway quality. “It will rage fiercely and wild and you must weather it together.” Turning back to Eric and Sookie, The Ancient One smiled as she added, “The future began this night, and there are those out there who will do anything to stop that future coming to pass. You must hold true to yourselves and face what is to come head on…”
Sookie frowned, not quite understanding what The Ancient One was going on about. In the two years she had been with her, she had never spoken about a storm coming, even though she told her she saw the outcome of the trial before it even happened. As she looked at The Ancient Pythoness, Sookie noticed her eyes looked clearer than ever, and for a second Sookie wondered if she could actually see them.
“I am still blind, Child,” The Ancient One said, answering her unasked question. “However, for the first time in centuries, things are clearer.” She chuckled when she heard Sookie let out a sigh of frustration, knowing how much she hated it when she answered the questions she never asked. “There is a change coming; one you will spearhead. The old ways are dying out. The end of the conference will begin that change, and despite the angry voices of the opposition I already hear, it will go ahead…”
“What kind of change?” Sookie asked, interrupting her. She knew if it was anyone else who had done it, they would have probably had something thrown at them, but she could always get away with it. The Ancient One often treated her like a granddaughter, doting on her, but not afraid to give her a clip around the ear if she needed it.
“There will be an audit of the vampire hierarchy starting in the United States,” The Ancient Pythoness told them. “This conference has shown those who are unworthy and are holding thrones. That cannot continue. The Council will remove those who are unable to manage their territory and place those who are able in their stead…” Meeting Sookie’s gaze, The Ancient Pythoness curled her withered lips into a smirk.
“No!” Sookie cried pointing a finger at her in warning, knowing what she was about to say. “You can’t mean…”
“The Soul Seer will be in charge of the audit,” The Ancient One said, cutting her off. “Kynan will assist you as will Athena, but the duty is yours.” She croaked out a laugh before adding, “Do not pout, Child, you know this is your destiny. One day you will rule over us all…” She turned her gaze to Eric. “With your champion. The future is yours. You know this.”
“Doesn’t mean I have to like it though,” Sookie grumbled.
Eric cast his gaze between Sookie and The Ancient One and back again as he played her words over in his head. Sookie, his Sookie, would one day rule the Council… With your champion… Her champion… Him! He was her champion.
Well, who else would it be? Eric heard Sookie ask in his head and he fought the urge to smile. Her champion. That was a title he would be happy to have.
My champion, my lover, my husband, Sookie thought, projecting her thoughts to him. They are all you, my love.
Eric didn’t even try and hide his smile while he heard her thoughts. He wanted that and so much more. He wanted everything and to in return give her everything. He knew the new path they were on would be dangerous and there would be many people who would want them to fail, but as long as they were together, Eric was sure they would be okay.
“That is still to come, however,” The Ancient One said, interrupting their telepathic musings. “Before that can begin, you must first say goodbye and cut the ties to your past.” Catching Eric’s gaze, The Ancient Pythoness stared at him as she prepared to impart her next words. “Before your future can truly begin, Norseman, you must say goodbye to your past. Your Maker, Appius Livius Ocella, will meet the True Death tonight. It is written, so it must come to pass. There is just one question mark left hanging over it… By whose hands will he die?”
As he stared at The Ancient Pythoness, a thousand memories played over in his mind. In a single moment he relived hundreds of years at his Maker’s side, and he understood what she was asking. No one would think less of him if he chose to walk away and let someone else drive the stake into his Maker’s heart. Killing your Maker was not an easy thing to do. It was painful to witness and painful to do. However, he had lived with the pain of living with Appius, so maybe killing him would cleanse him of it.
“I will,” Eric said his voice strong. “Appius Livius Ocella will die by my hand.”