She rolled over and her arm stretched across the open space beside her. He wasn’t there. Her eyes opened, thick with sleep. She tried to clear her throat but couldn’t. It burned. She sat up slowly in the dark. She could see the moon peaking through her window. Was it all a nightmare? A terrible nightmare?
She sat quietly, listening for activity in the house. She could hear Eric’s voice. She looked around her room and saw the dark streaks against her bedroom walls. No. No, it was not a dream. It had been a waking nightmare.
She slung her legs over the side of the bed, shoving her bare feet into her slippers. She was still naked so she wrapped herself in her bathrobe and shuffled into the bathroom to shower. She didn’t bother with the light, but reached inside of the shower to turn on the water. A hand reached over hers and she gasped.
“It’s me,” Eric whispered against her neck. He turned on the hot water and switched on the shower.
She turned to him, he was standing so close to her that her face brushed his chest. “Eric,” she said. “I am so glad you are still here.”
Steam filled the small room as he wrapped his arms around her. “I have no intention of leaving you here alone. How are you?”
She thought for a moment, stretching her limbs. “Physically I feel pretty good.”
He eased the robe off of her shoulders, helping her under the water. “I understand.” A nightlight illuminated the small room. He pulled his shirt off and she noticed he had laid a pair of pants and a clean shirt on the bathroom counter and wondered if Pam had brought him clothes when she came.
She watched him in the dark as he shucked out of the rest of his blood stained clothes. The hot water burned her skin but it felt so good. She stepped directly under the showerhead and let the water pound into her skull. She opened her eyes as he stepped in front of her, reaching over her to grab her shampoo.
“Turn.” His voice was firm and she turned her back to him. His hands and fingers began to work their magic on her scalp, scrubbing her hair into lather. His fingertips massaged and stroked her scalp and she let a small sigh escape.
“Do you know why this happened, Eric?’ She asked quietly.
His hands paused for a moment and then continued. “Why? Not precisely. From what we have been able to determine, these men were not sent by the Fellowship of the Sun. Pam had suggested it was retribution for me ending Russell, but the magic is too familiar.”
“The magic?” While he washed and rinsed her hair, her body began to relax.
“The magic that blocked their minds from you, so you did not hear them approach.” He worked conditioner through her hair. “The magic was dark, which is why he was able to mark you with his scent.”
She looked back over her shoulder him, her heart racing. “But we fixed that, right? You can’t smell him anymore right?”
He leaned forward and brushed his lips against her cheek. “No, lover. I can only smell your sweet scent and my blood in you.”
She faced forward again and he pulled her back against his body as he began to wash her front side. “So who do you think gave them this magic?”
“I have some ideas, nothing concrete yet.” He worked the soap over her stomach, gently massaging her.
“Like?” She moved forward a bit as he began to scrub her back.
“Hallow.” He said shortly, his fingers manipulating her back.
“Hallow? Hallow is dead!” She was confused. “Isn’t she?”
“Yes, my lover, she is dead.” He nodded his affirmation. “We can not assume we eliminated her entire coven.”
She stared at him in shock. “The other witches? But why would they want me?”
“Because you are important to me. I took away something important to them. If they can’t get to me directly, then they can hurt me by going through you.” His voice was low and even.
She leaned her head against his chest, taking in a deep breath. His hands continued to move over her, rinsing the soap off. When he was done, his hands moved to his own hair, washing it clean. The soap ran down the sides of his face, to his chest and around her cheek that was still pressed to his chest. When he moved to wash his body she took the loofah from him. He turned his back and she scrubbed it until his skin pinked. He braced his hands against the tile wall and leaned forward. She made her way down his back, scrubbing his bottom and over his legs.
She stood and leaned her body against his, nestling her face between his shoulder blades. “We’re in a lot of trouble, aren’t we?”
He was quiet and she waited for him to speak. “It is a distinct possibility.” He responded and turned to face her. He took to the loofah out of her hand and washed his front side. Normally she would take pleasure in watching him soap his body, washing his gracious plenty. Instead, she replayed his words in his head.
“How long did I sleep?” She asked as he soaked under the water.
“About three hours.” He turned off the shower and stepped out, reaching for a towel. He quickly wrapped it around his waist and held out a second towel for her to step into. He dried her off with lightening speed and snuggly placing the towel around her.
Eric picked up his clothes and ushered her into the bedroom. The moon lit her room and she watched as he dressed. His long lean frame glowed in the light as he tugged on a pair of track pants over his finely muscled legs and firm bottom. His back muscles flexed as he pulled his tank top over his head.
“Are you going to dress, or just admire the scenery?” He asked wryly, turning to face her with a sad smile. He felt too far away from her when he was actually only a few feet away.
Howling erupted in the distance and she startled. “It’s just the Were’s, my love.”
“I’m scared, Eric,” she whispered. “After what happened today-”
He crossed the room to her in a beat. “That will never happen again.” He pulled her into his arms.
She trembled as he tightened around her. “But-”
“I failed you today.” He growled quietly into her ear. “I will not fail you again.”
“Eric, it wasn’t your fault!” She pulled back anxiously, placing her hands on his cheeks. She stretched up to kiss him. “I don’t blame you for this.”
He rested his forehead against hers. “You should.”
“Eric,” Pam’s voice came from outside the door. “We really need to get going.”
“You’re leaving me?” She startled and stepped back.
“No, you are coming with us.” He responded. He opened her dresser drawers and started pulled out clothes. “Get an overnight bag.”
“I don’t want to leave my house!” She began putting her clothes back in the drawers.
“Sookie, don’t fight me on this. I can’t protect you here.” He threw open her closet door, looking around until he found what he was looking for. He placed the bag on her bed and began stuffing her clothes into them.
The bedroom door opened and Pam came in. “Eric—we need to go. Something is coming. The Were’s are gone, the moon is full. We are unprotected. They held off the change as long as they could.”
His head snapped up, his eyes unfocused as he listened. He went to the window and threw it open, looking, smelling around him.
Pam shoved clothes into Sookie’s hands. “Get dressed, quickly..”
Sookie started for the bathroom. “Here, Sookie, now. We don’t have time for this.” Pam tugged at her towel and Sookie blushed as it fell to her feet. Out of respect, Pam turned her back. Sookie hurriedly yanked on a pair of shorts and a tank top. She skipped her undergarments at Pam’s urging. By the time she was done, Pam had packed her bag with her clothing and toiletries. Eric had gotten into his boots and shrugged into his jacket.
“Come,” Pam took her by the hand and led her down the hall. Chow was standing at the door, looking out into the woods.
“Do you know what it is?” Sookie asked, standing behind him.
“No,” he shook his head. “It’s not good, whatever it is.”
“We must leave now,” Eric came in behind her, sweeping her into his arms. “Pam, I will meet you at –”
“Yes, I know. Fly.” Pam rushed down the steps and Chow followed behind her. Her car gunned to life and she tore out of the driveway.
Sookie looked at him expectantly. “Fly?” She gasped as Eric picked her up into his arms and stepped off the porch, shooting into the air.
A sudden jolt stopped him and they both looked down. A hand was wrapped around Eric’s black boot. The dark magic crept up his leg and Sookie trembled as she felt it getting close to her. Eric kicked his leg and bared his fangs, hissing at the threat below them in the dark.
The hand tugged again, pulling them down a few more inches. She held on tightly to Eric’s shoulders as his whole body tensed. “Let go!” She cried out, fear taking over her body. Whoever-or whatever- was below them was evil. She tried to kick her leg but Eric caught it and pulled her up tighter.
“Hold on, Sookie,” he growled as he brought back his free foot, the steel toe of his boot kicking their captor in the head. A pained cry came from below them, but it was too dark to see the face. Eric kicked repeatedly, his boot connecting with the person’s skull into he was free. A sickening cracking sound filled her ears and Eric shot into the air and away from the house.