This chapter contains some intense torture scenes. If this isn’t your cup of tea go ahead and skip ahead once they head to Fangtasia. There isn’t anything you will miss out on plot-wise that will impede your going forward. Bill is still alive at the end of the chapter.
After we were done in the office we headed back out to the party, but didn’t stay long. We have been separated for far too long and had a lot of time to make up for. Even before we had been forced to divorce, something had always seemed to get in the way. I was glad that Eric hadn’t decided to rule all four states since that would have kept him much busier with vampire politics than I would have liked. I would have supported him, of course, but I was glad just the same.
We had plenty of time left in the night when we got back to my house and it occurred to me that Eric would have to spend another night in the hidey-hole. I wasn’t sure how he felt about that.
“Eric, I know the light-tight space underneath my closet must be really small for you and I’ve never thought to ask if it bothered you.” I was swept up into the arms of my blonde Viking, who moved us both quickly to the couch, settling me next to him, my legs draped across his lap.
“Sookie I would stay in a hole in the ground every night if that’s all you had to offer me.” He really was incredible, knowing exactly what to say to make me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.
“You’re very sweet to say that Eric, but seriously, you’ve got to be cramped down there.” I didn’t want to mention that Bill had also built it so I didn’t really like him sleeping down there. There would be time for Bill and it wasn’t now. “I was thinking about our living arrangements. I know that you love your house and I love that we can wake up next to each other there, but I’m kinda attached to this house, ya know? It may be too soon for us even to have this conversation and if it is, just say so.” I didn’t want to push him. I mean he’d proposed and all, but still, he’s a vampire so time moved differently for him.
He looked thoughtful. “Sookie, you’re right I do love my house, but I love you more, and it isn’t too soon for us to start talking about this. I find, after my time in Oklahoma, that I am loathe to part with you even for an evening, so if it means that much to you, I’ll stay in your hidey-hole every night for the rest of our lives if you like, but it sounds like you were going somewhere with this.”
I nodded. “Well did I tell you I inherited a bunch of money from my fairy cousins?” He shook his head to indicate that I hadn’t. “Well never mind the details, but I am no longer living hand to mouth and after all that you’ve done for me, I’d like to do something for you. I haven’t really thought it out much, but what if we added onto the house?”
Suddenly I was underneath a very horny vampire who was kissing me for all he was worth. God I would never tire of his kissing.
“Sookie I have thought of that before, but I didn’t want to bring it up since it is your family home and you have always been hesitant in the past about us moving forward. I have no need of my house, though I will probably keep it in case I need to stay close to Fangtasia, but I want to fall asleep with you in my arms and wake up next to you.” He looked suddenly sheepish, which was unusual for him. “But…well it used to bother you when I died for the day. I wouldn’t want you to be uncomfortable.”
He tried to back away from me, but I wouldn’t let him. “Eric, after losing you, I had to take a good hard look at myself and I realized that I wasn’t accepting you for who you are. You’re a vampire, which means that you die for the day and I love you, which means I have to love every part of you. I see now the trust you were placing in me by letting me be with you when you were completely vulnerable. I never want to betray that again.”
He sat back up and pulled me into the curve of his body. “Sookie, I can’t tell you how much this means to me. I haven’t lived with another woman since I was human, choosing instead to seclude that part of myself. I don’t want to hide anything from you anymore.” He paused. “I would like to ask you something my love.”
“Of course Eric, I don’t want to hide anything from you either.” I took his larger hand in both of mine, tracing circles around his palm.
“I want to complete our bond. When you were taken by Bill,” he shuddered his body growing tight with anger, “I worried that I wouldn’t be able to find you again. I know that Pam had the tracking device on you, but what if…” He stopped himself. “What if I hadn’t gotten there in time? But I know that you broke the bond once before, and I couldn’t handle it if you did again. If you aren’t ready I’ll understand, but it would mean a lot to me.”
“Eric, I was wrong to break the bond the first time, though I’m glad I did since it meant that I figured out I loved you on my own, but I did it because I was worried that you were controlling me through the bond. I know that’s not the case, and though it does mean you can influence my feelings, I find that I miss having that connection to you.” I could feel his happiness even through our unfinished bond and I was glad of it. I didn’t want any more barriers between us.
“Would you mind if we did it now?” He asked. “I want us to do this without the sway of lust. I want you to choose to do this free of any influence.”
I leaned forward and whispered against his lips, “Eric, it wouldn’t change anything even if I was under the influence of your incredible love-making. I want this and I will do it any time you want. If this is important to you, then it’s important to me as well.”
He pulled out a small engraved knife that he had in his pocket. It wasn’t the jewel-encrusted ceremonial knife that had caused us so many problems, thankfully. He turned sideways to face me, tucking one long leg up under the other and asked, “Are you sure? I promise I can wait if you need to.”
“No Eric, I don’t want to wait. I want to be a part of you now and for the rest of our existence.”
He smiled and removed his t-shirt, distracting me momentarily with his magnificently sculpted chest, but then he pulled me closer to him so that my legs wound around his waist. He took the knife, opening a vein for me and I pressed my lips to catch the life force that flowed out of him. Very gently he swept my hair aside and lowered his mouth until his fangs penetrated and he drank deeply. I felt our bond soar back to life and a tear fell when I realized I could feel him again fully. Our happiness entwined. We pulled back at the same time just looking at each other and feeling the wonder of our reconnection.
I reveled in it for a bit before I stood and began slowly removing pieces of clothing until I was naked in front of him. He reached out, stroking my skin and sending shivers through me. Bending down I unbuttoned his jeans and slid them down his legs, my lips trailing the skin that was being revealed as I did so. When he was finally naked I admired him before lowering my body and slipping him inside of me. We spent the remaining hours before sunrise lost in the sensation of one another.
We spent the evening after waking just enjoying each other’s presence. She made some coffee for herself and warmed me up a True Blood despite the fact that I was old enough that I didn’t really need it, but I liked sharing the little things she did when she got up. We sat across the kitchen table from one another and it was incredibly pleasant, but there were still a few conversations I wanted to discuss with her.
“Sookie,” I began.
“Yes, my hot hunk of Viking,” she responded coyly.
“I want to marry you as soon as possible.”
“Good, because the feeling’s completely mutual.” Her face radiated happiness.
“Yes, but there’s still something we haven’t discussed. A life with me means that you will never have children of your own.” I glanced at her worried about her response. I didn’t want to lose her, but I wouldn’t keep her from becoming a mother if that was what she truly wanted.
She sipped her coffee. “I know Eric, I’ve already considered that. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t want kids, but I need to know if you would ever want one.”
“Sookie, you know it’s not possible…” I started, but she interrupted me.
“I know that Eric, but what I’m asking is if you would ever want one. I know you had a family when you were human, but you’re a vampire now, and I want to know if you would ever consider starting a family with me.” She set her cup of coffee down and looked at me intently, searching my face as if the answer were written there.
“One of my greatest regrets when I was turned was losing my family. I regret never seeing my children grow.” Saying the words brought back a buried sadness and the idea that Sookie wanted a family that I couldn’t give her almost broke my heart. “There is nothing I would like more than for you to be the mother of my children. I won’t keep you from having one with someone else if that is what you wish.” The words burned me even as I knew I told her the truth.
She took her time before speaking, as if unsure of my response. Sadness overtook me. I was going to lose her before we had even started our life together. “Stop Eric, I can feel your sadness. What I want to know is if you’d be willing to adopt?”
The depression that threatened to drown me lifted immediately and I beamed at her. “Of course, I would love to. You would make such a wonderful mother and it warms me to know that you would be willing to compromise on this.”
“It’s not really a compromise,” she responded. “I had always worried about passing on my telepathy. Though I don’t regret it as much as I used to, it has made my life harder than it needed to be. It doesn’t have to be anytime soon, we have hundreds of years ahead of us.”
I jumped from my seat, racing over to her side and picked her up, twirling her around. I felt like a teenager again I realized suddenly, and I squeezed her even tighter. This was going to work, it really was.
Her laughed echoed as she spun. “Eric, you big lug, put me down.” I obliged her, but not before I kissed her. “I never thought I’d be this happy ever again, Sookie. You really are the most amazing woman, and the mate I would have chosen no matter when I had met you.”
She was back in her chair and I settled down across from her. We sat silent basking in our happiness for several minutes, but slowly I could tell that she was wrestling with saying something.
“What is it lover?” I asked tentatively. “I can there is something you want to discuss.”
“Well. I didn’t want to ruin the moment, but…” she paused, “I want to deal Bill tonight. I don’t like knowing he’s in the basement of Fangtasia.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize. We can move him somewhere else if it bothers you. You didn’t say anything last night when we were there.” I should have realized that his captivity would upset her, no matter what she said in the heat of battle.
She screwed up her face, causing crinkle lines to form between her brows. “No, you misunderstand. It doesn’t bother me that he’s being held captive. It bothers me that he’s still alive. When I say I want to deal with him, I mean I want to go there and make the bastard pay.”
“Oh,” I said startled. “Are you sure? I mean it will be very intense and you don’t have to do it yourself. I am happy to do the dirty work Sookie. I’ve waited a very long time to make Bill pay. The only reason I didn’t before was out of respect for you, because you still seemed to care for him.”
“No. I want to. I wouldn’t be able to do it without you, but you’ll be there if I need you, or if I can’t handle it. But promise me you’ll make him pay if I can’t.”
A cruel smile drifted across my face. “It would be my genuine pleasure.”
“Good. When can we leave?”
“Whenever you’re ready, though I’d suggest wearing clothing you won’t mind burning afterwards.” She nodded, dumped her coffee, and rinsed out her cup.
“It won’t take me long and I still have those old sweats I got you when you were amnesia Eric if you want them.”
“No, I have fond memories of that clothing. I’m not worried about my jeans and I have a hundred black t-shirts.”
As promised she didn’t take long and within a half an hour we were on our way to Fangtasia.
The ride to Shreveport was quiet, and I was glad we had decided to keep Fangtasia closed for a few days while we all got settled back in. I popped my head into the office to let Pam know that Sookie and I would be downstairs.
“I can’t join you?” She asked pouting.
It was Sookie who answered. “No, I’m sorry Pam. This is not something I’m willing to share with anyone besides Eric.”
“Understood,” she responded and bent back down to her paperwork. “It’s just too bad it’s soundproof down there.”
I led Sookie to the entrance to the basement and we walked slowly down the concrete stairs, her fingers laced tightly in mine. The bare light bulbs illuminated small circles on the damp grey floor and left the rest of the room in a murky darkness. There was a single thick metal door in the far wall locked with several deadbolts. I knew when Sookie’s eyes adjusted because her heartbeat stuttered and her feet froze.
“There is no reason you have to be here,” I said, my voice gentle as I turned to face her. Her face downturned, I used my free hand to tilt her chin up so that she was looking at me.
She took several deep gulps of air before she responded. The lines of her face hardened, “Yes. I do. After everything that’s been done to me, I need to. Every other time, someone else has taken care of the people that have hurt me. Do you know what it’s like to wake up worrying that two psychotic fairies are still coming after you? I know they’re dead, but in my nightmares they’re not. What they did still haunts me. I won’t let it happen again. I need to know for myself that Bill is gone and not coming back. That he won’t harm me again. Just gimme a sec. I need to gather my strength.”
“You are one of the strongest people I know Sookie and if this is what you want, I’ll be right there beside you, but I warn you, it may create new nightmares.”
She nodded. “I know, but I have to try. I don’t want to feel helpless anymore.” She gave me a slight smile and I fell silent giving her the space to calm the turbulence that raged inside her.
She lifted her eyes to meet mine. “Okay. I’m ready.”
We crossed the rest of the room and I pulled out the keys, unlocking the deadbolts with a dull thud that ricocheted through the bare space. The metal creaked as the door opened and I stepped through, speeding to light the torches that lined the mildewed walls. To the left of the door was a worn wooden table lined with a series of sharpened silver knives of differing lengths, several branding irons, as well as blunt and bloodied instruments designed for pain. An iron coffin leaned against the wall to the right of the door, the interior of which was lined with silver nails and left no extra space for movement. In one corner there was a low fire that burned beneath an iron pot that held molten silver, always available whenever it might be needed.
In the last corner hung Bill, suspended by silver chains that ended in manacles attached to his neck, wrists, and ankles, which could be raised and lowered at will. His skin was ragged and raw where the silver chafed. He had been stripped naked and his body bowed like a sail blown by a storm wind, his manhood dangling only centimeters above a series of silver tipped pikes set into the floor. He was filthy from the battle in the Nevada desert and the stench of him filled the small stone room.
I felt Sookie recoil in disgust, but she held her ground, unwavering in her resolve. Her eyes followed the chains that held him in place to a lever set into one of the walls. She walked to the table laden with knives, picking up a few of them and inspecting their edges. Setting them down she proceeded to pick up one of the branding irons that flat edge of which was formed into an X shape. She walked over to the burning fire and stuck it in the coals there.
I leaned against the metal door, watching her, checking her emotions to ensure her wellbeing. I felt nothing but a grim determination coming from her side of the bond and I sent her my strength to add to her own. I knew that she was burying the discomfort of the situation, but I would allow her the space to get out her anger and I would be there for her in its aftermath as well. She headed back to the table and picked up one of the longer knives. She walked over to Bill and shoved it clean through his right shoulder so that the pointed edge poked out dripping blood down his back. He had been unconscious until that moment.
“Oh good, you’re awake,” I said, pushing off the door and striding across the room. I grabbed him by his hair, yanking his head up to force him to look me directly in the eyes. “You have been a very naughty vampire Bill. What made you think that you could betray us and get away with it?”
Sookie interrupted by skewering him just above his left hipbone. His eyes squeezed shut, but made no sound. Yet.
“Why Bill?” Sookie asked, though I’m not certain she thought she’d get a response.
“You are mine.” He choked out and she plunged another knife, this time into his chest just shy of his heart.
“No I’m not and I haven’t been for quite some time. Try again.” This time she grabbed an iron poker and walked over to dip it in the molten silver.
“If you had never met Eric you would still be with me.” Bill squawked out, and I punched him.
She thrust the silver covered poker into his left shoulder. “Wrong again. You left me and when I rescued you I was rewarded by being raped and almost drained.” She stepped back and folded her arms over her chest.
“I apologized for those things Sookie,” Bill pleaded. “Why won’t you believe me?”
“Punch him again please Eric.”
I released the chunk of his hair I held in my fist, and grabbed the silver spiked brass knuckles from the table walking back to oblige her. His head snapped to the side, shredding his chin which leaked blood over the drain in the stone floor. Grabbing the knife in his right shoulder I twisted and felt better when he finally screamed.
“That’s better. Now, you know that I take care of those I love and you’ve hurt Sookie. So here’s what going to happen, I’m going to help her torture you until the demons are gone and then we’ll decide how to kill you. I must remind you that I have a thousand years of memories to draw from.” My gaze flickered over to Sookie, but she stood stone still glaring at the restrained vampire.
“She is mine,” he screamed.
“You really should stop saying that,” she declared.
She crossed behind me, withdrawing the branding iron from the fire and dipping it in the silver. Her free hand touched my arm, handing the iron to me. I knew what she wanted. I turned and pressed it into the flesh just above his dangling cock. She turned away choosing instead to use one of the levers to lower him onto the pikes below. She left him there for a few moments before bringing his body back up oozing blood.
“Sookie, we don’t want him to lose too much blood too quickly.” She shrugged and removed the knives and poker from his body, placing them back on the table.
Waiting while he healed she fingered a mallet, hefting its weight and turning it over in her palm. “Release his feet.”
I sorted through the keys to find the right one and did as she asked. She stalked over to him and handed the mallet to me. I gleefully smashed both of his feet, shattering painfully all the tiny bones there and handed it back to her. She took it in hand and pummeled both of his knee caps.
“Lock him back up.” Sookie’s scrutiny was cold and calculating. She had never tortured anyone before, but in the last few years she lived through so much that all of her pent-up aggression was being released on the man in front of her.
“Look what he’s turned you into Sookie. You were innocent and now you are just like him,” Bill said snidely.
She whirled on him. “No. This is not Eric’s fault Bill. You know whose fault this is? It’s yours. It’s Steve Newlin and Johan Glassport’s. It’s the Rattrays, Rene Lenier, and Debbie Pelt’s. It’s Hallow and Claude’s. It’s Alexei, Appius, Freyda, and Charles Twining’s fault. Oh! And let’s not forget Neave and Lochlan. But most of all it’s mine for never dealing with any of it, never standing up for myself, and simply letting everyone else do the dirty work.” She brought her arm back, swinging the mallet into the side of his ribcage. She whirled again bringing it across his hipbone.
She was winding up to hit him again but froze when he choked out, “I should’ve had Eric killed instead of Bubba. I would have saved you this pain.”
Sookie dropped the mallet, staggering backwards into the door, and fell to the floor. The bloodlust surged through me.
“What did you just say?” Bill seemed to realize his mistake because his eyes went wide with fear. I sped over to the lever, dropping his body down onto the pikes, and hurried to Sookie’s side.
I took her face in my hands asking gently, “Are you okay my love?” Her eyes were vacant and I began to worry that I should never have allowed her to do this. I should have known that Bill would say something to push her over the edge. He was screaming and I rushed over, shoving a gag in his mouth, and was back at Sookie’s side in seconds. She seemed to have come back to herself.
“I want him to pay.”
“Of course, but let’s get you out of here.” I moved to pick her up and she shook her head.
“No. I want to see this through.” She gathered her strength and stood. God this woman amazed me. “I don’t have the skills that you do. Tell me what we can do to really hurt him.”
I hesitated. There was so much she didn’t know about my past, about the man I used to be, but I refused to hide anything from her. I only asked, “Are you sure?”
“Okay then.” I walked over and picked up a silver tipped scalpel. I pulled Bill’s body off the pikes, lowering his legs slightly, and straightening his upper body. I walked back over to Sookie’s side. Using the connection of our bond I felt her need for vengeance. I glanced down at her to make sure she was really prepared. Her eyes hardened. I dragged the edge of the scalpel down Bill’s chest carving a single line and then repeated the process only the slightly to the left of the first cut ensuring that the tops and bottoms of both lines met. I then used the point to create a small flap of skin, which I took hold of and peeled downward. My eyes flicked to Sookie’s worrying about how she was taking this, but she was detached. Bill’s mouth was still gagged and his muffled screams were the only sound.
Sookie leaned over and took the scalpel from my hand. “How do I do it?”
“Start at the top of the line I just made and draw down the blade, making sure not to slice too deeply.”
“Like this?” She slowly drew a parallel line a few centimeters away from the one next to it.
“Exactly. Now use to tip of the scalpel to pull back a bit of skin that you can grab.” She did so and then slowly peeled the skin away from his chest. “Nicely done.”
Our bloodlust mingled and flowed between us like a river. We took turns flaying the skin from the traitor in front of us, not just for his betrayal, but for the calculated killing of Bubba. His blood ran in streams down the front of his body, pooling at his feet. When we finished with his chest, we moved onto his back, and then his lower extremities. Sookie stayed strong the entire time and I could tell that this was cathartic for her.
When we finished with his left leg, she stretched and made a small joke. “The couple that flays together stays together.” Though we were both covered in Bill’s blood, something inside her had been freed by this retribution.
“Are you finished with him Sookie?” I asked matter of factly. Bill was barely conscious and there wasn’t much skin left on him.
“I am, and though I feel much better having gotten this out of my system, I don’t feel the need to repeat it anytime soon. That being said, I think that simply killing him is too good. What was the worst way you ever saw someone die?” She asked shocking me yet again.
“Well since I was alive in medieval times I witnessed some truly horrible deaths.” I considered her question. “I think I know just the thing, but we should also discourage others from betraying us. To do that I think we should invite the other vampires under me to witness his death, though I will understand if you don’t want to participate.”
“No. I told you Eric, we’re in this together. I want to ensure the safety of our love and our family. If this is the way to make sure that no one ever tries anything again, then I will be standing right by your side. I won’t be your weakness anymore.”
Though we were both filthy I charged across the room and swept her into my arms, kissing her ardently. “You were never my weakness Sookie, and even if you didn’t want to witness his death, I would never hold that against you. I only wish that I could have protected you from all the pain you have suffered. No one will ever harm you again.”
She laughed ruefully. “Don’t make that promise Eric, neither of us knows what the future holds, but I’ll tell what you can promise me. Promise me that you will continue to train me so that I will never be a detriment to you or anyone else ever again.”
“Done.” After all we had been through I was elated that we were moving forward together.
“Now, I’m finished with him, so I’m going to head up to the bar and make myself a good stiff drink while I wait until you’re done here.” She said, taking one last look at the flayed man in front of her.
I watched as she spun and walked out of the room. Then I turned heading back to Bill. I wouldn’t find much enjoyment with him unconscious, so I shoved a few knives in his body to rouse him.
“Alone at last,” I said when I saw that he was conscious. I could see the fear in his eyes. Good. He should fear me. I spent the next hour removing pieces of him, small bits at a time. First his fingers, taking them one knuckle at a time, then I moved to his toes, savoring his screams, and then onto his ears and his nose, cauterizing each piece after I severed them from his body. I purposefully left his manhood until after Sookie was gone, knowing that there were some things even she couldn’t handle. I took it off in three slices, making sure that he knew it was for his rape of Sookie in the trunk of the car and the one he had intended for her in the Nevada desert. I felt no remorse, nor would I. It was less than what he deserved, and though I knew that Pam would keep her company, I didn’t want to leave Sookie alone too long.
He passed out shortly after that. I considered rousing him again, but I doubted he could be revived after everything we had put him through anyway, so I settled for unlocking his manacles and transferring his broken body to the silver-lined coffin. He could stay there until everything was prepared for his final death.