Chapter 1


For all you fangbangers and Twihards…

Disclaimer: I do not own True Blood, SVM, or the Twilight Saga. HBO, Charlaine Harris, and Stephanie Meyer own it all. I’m just a writer who thinks Eric needs claimed…

Sookie watched from her front porch as Tara hopped in her car and drove away, relieved she wouldn’t be around when the amnesiac vampire in her cubby inevitably woke from his rest. As happy as she was to see the girl she loved like a sister, she wasn’t entirely certain Eric remembered how to control himself around humans. His restraint wasn’t something she was eager to test.

She was just about to head back inside when an unfamiliar, red pickup turned down her drive. Alarmed, Sookie descended the steps and waited for the rusty truck to roll to a stop near her front lawn. Though she hoped to send her unexpected visitor on her way quickly, she feared she wouldn’t be able to accomplish the task before the sun dipped beneath the horizon.

The driver swung the door open and an unbelievably beautiful, young brunette hopped out. Clad in a pair of form-fitting, blue jeans and a green, plaid shirt, the girl shut the door and aimed a breathtaking smile her way.

“Well, if it isn’t my missing cousin!” she drawled, her chocolate eyes shining with joy. “You have some explaining to do, young lady. Where the Hell have you been?!”

For one terrifying second, Sookie thought she was looking at another fairy. Then her words registered in her mind and the blonde finally recognized the girl in front of her.

“Bella?!” Sookie cried and the pretty teenager grinned. Bolting up the driveway, Bella threw herself into Sookie’s arms and squeezed with all her might, a relieved laugh tumbling from her lips.

Wrapping her arms around her on instinct, Sookie found herself relaxing into the embrace, relishing the unexpected bliss that always accompanied her baby cousin’s silent mind. Then her eyes caught on the setting sun and her spine stiffened. Panic seized her by the throat. No, no, no! This could not be happening. Bella couldn’t be here right now, not when there was a thousand-year-old, Viking vampire staying in her basement!

“Bella, what are ya doin’ here?” Sookie demanded and freed herself from the brunette’s grasp. Taking an uncertain step back, Bella ran a hand through her hair and nervously straightened her shirt.

“Jason called and said you were back,” she explained uncomfortably, trying to hide her disappointment. She’d been expecting a warmer welcome. “I had to see it for myself.”

If Sookie weren’t so concerned by her arrival, she would’ve marveled over all the changes in her favorite cousin. The girl had been a gangly teenager of fifteen the last time she saw her, just over four years ago. Now she was a gorgeous, young woman; all curvy, long limbs and stunning, dark curls. There was no doubt about it; Bella was all grown up.

“And ya couldn’t just pick up a damn phone?!” Sookie scowled, a touch of hysteria in her voice.

By some miracle, Bella had escaped the attention of the Queen during the whole debacle with Bill. Hadley thought she was normal, so she hadn’t mentioned her to Sophie Ann. She didn’t know that Sookie couldn’t hear her thoughts. Now that she was in Bon Temps, though, it wouldn’t be long until someone figured out that there was something different about her too.

Flinching at her tone, Bella frowned, “It isn’t that far a drive.”

“What are ya talkin’ about?” Sookie wondered, officially confused. She could’ve sworn her Aunt Renee had told her that Bella was living in Forks now. Forks was across the country.

“Didn’t Jason tell you?” Bella asked, faintly exasperated. She’d been under the impression that Jason had caught Sookie up on everything she’d missed over the last year, including her graduation. “I’m going to school in Shreveport, over at LSU.”

“Like Hell ya are,” Sookie snarled, feeling the last bit of her sanity slipping away. The very last thing she wanted was to drag Bella into the supernatural mess she called a life. And she would. Bella had always been a magnet for trouble growing up. Attending school in Shreveport meant it was damn near guaranteed that she’d make it onto the vampire radar. “Ya need to transfer. Immediately. Preferably to somewhere sunny.”

Now Bella was downright offended. No one told her what to do anymore, not since she dumped the Cullens and made a break for freedom. This was her life and no one would tell her how to live it. “Excuse you? I’ll go to school where I damn well please.”

Tugging on her hair in frustration, Sookie implored, “It’s not safe for you here, Bells! I’ve got vampires constantly knockin’ down my door-“

The last rays of the sun faded and an amnesiac vampire was suddenly standing right beside them. Eyes growing large, Bella met Eric’s gaze and breathed, “Hello, vampire.”

Immediately falling quiet, Sookie nearly smiled at the adorably confused frown on Eric’s face. Perplexed, he studied her cousin for a beat before looking at Sookie. “Why does she smell like you?” He moved closer to Bella. “Why do you smell like her?”

Sookie froze, scrambling for a reply. If Bella smelled like her, then she possessed a fairy spark too. That was information she didn’t want Eric to have.

“How do I smell?” Bella asked playfully, wrapping a dark curl around her finger. She wasn’t normally so forward, but she’d never met a vampire as attractive as Eric before. If Edward was an Adonis, then this man was a god. He put all the Cullens to shame.

“Like sunlight and flowers,” Eric murmured and licked his lips. Bella’s eyes traced the path of his tongue. “And rain. You smell of springtime.” She blushed and the vampire slowly advanced on her. “Of life itself.”

“Eric!” Sookie warned, disliking the predatory look on his face.

Visibly shaking himself out of it, he glanced at Sookie and added, “The same, but different. No honey. No wheat.”

Sookie flushed as Eric’s gaze returned to Bella. From the adoring look on his face, she could tell which scent he preferred. The blonde wasn’t sure whether the revelation filled her with relief or alarm.

It was probably a mixture of both.

“Well, aren’t you sweet?” Bella responded, sounding stunned. Sookie blinked at her, a hysterical giggle trapped in her throat. It was like watching a warped replay of the first time she met Eric.

The Viking smiled bashfully and Bella practically swooned. Shaking her head, Sookie scolded, “Don’t even think about it, Bella Swan! Quit makin’ eyes at the lethal vampire!”

“Why?” Bella demanded, missing the way Eric’s eyes lit up when she didn’t deny it. Now he knew she was attracted to him too. “Is he yours?”

Eric turned to look at her, equally curious. Sookie just about swallowed her own tongue. “Of course not!”

Bella narrowed her eyes and looked at Eric, “Do you want to be hers?”

Eric quickly shook his head, surprising the heck out of Sookie. “Not anymore.”

A slow, dazzling smile swept across the brunette’s face. Lowering her voice, she teased, “Do you want to be mine?”

Eric nodded eagerly and Sookie couldn’t help the disbelieving snort that escaped her. She dearly hoped the Viking appreciated the humor of this moment when his memory returned. Instead of claiming the fairy hybrid he’d so desperately wanted, he was letting a different fairy hybrid claim him.

Bella grinned and started to open her mouth, but Sookie beat her to the punch, “Bella, honey, stop. Eric has amnesia. This version of him? It doesn’t exist anymore. This is what he was like when he was human.”

A sane person would’ve asked how a vampire could get amnesia, but Bella had always been a little off. Sookie feared it was a Stackhouse trait. Women with Stackhouse blood were all a bit crazy.

“What’s he normally like?” the little trouble-maker wondered, her eyes alight with curiosity. If she liked the human version of him, the brunette suspected the vampire one would please her too.

Sookie considered the question. “Dangerous and demanding.”

Bella wasn’t so sure that was a bad thing. A little danger was exciting and she liked a man who knew what he wanted. Dominant men were sexy.

“Yeah, I’m not seeing a downside.”

“Bella!” Sookie exclaimed, scandalized. Shaking her head, she did her best to ignore the faint, Eric-like smirk on the Viking’s face. She was seriously beginning to think he’d been pursuing the wrong hybrid.

Biting her lip in an effort not to laugh, Bella shrugged. She didn’t see anything wrong with voicing her desires. Dating a hundred-year-old virgin had taught her that repression was unhealthy.

Sookie stomped her foot. “You have no idea-“

“Are you a telepath too?” Eric interrupted curiously.

Both girls jolted in surprise, wondering how he knew about her gift. With a guilty wince, Sookie realized that he must’ve overheard her bitching to Tara earlier. She’d been complaining that he only wanted her for her ability and her blood. Since Bill never rose before sunset, Sookie hadn’t expected him to be awake that early.

Bella shook her head. “I’m a shield. I do the opposite of Sookie, really. I protect minds instead of intruding on them.”

That was news to Sookie. “Wait, what? When did ya learn that?”

“While you were gone,” Bella admitted. “I caught the eye of a mind-reading Cold One back in Forks. The other type of vampire. Long story short, a vampire friend of his told me that I was a shield. I can stop people from messing with my thoughts. That’s why you can’t hear me.”

Meeting Eleazar and his mate, Carmen, was the reason why Bella had finally gotten her act together and left Edward. Carmen had a gift for seeing relationships and knew the second she laid eyes on Bella that she wasn’t Edward’s mate. He’d fallen in love with her ability and her scent, nothing more.

Looking back on it, she really should’ve seen it for herself. He’d treated her like a prized possession instead of a girlfriend. If he’d truly desired her, he would’ve acted on it.

Eyes rounding in surprise, Eric gave her a hopeful look. “Can you protect mine too?”

Bella glanced at Sookie, who looked equally hopeful. “Did someone mess with his thoughts?”

Eric nodded. “A witch.”

“A necromancer, specifically,” Sookie felt the need to add. She didn’t know if fairy magic could counter necromancy. “She cast a spell on him that stripped him of his memories. That’s why I’m watchin’ him.”

Looking pensive, Bella moved directly in front of Eric and raised her hands towards his face, “May I?” Eric nodded and Bella gently cupped his cheeks. Closing her eyes, she admitted, “I’ve never tried projecting it before, so give me a minute…”

Sookie could see it the second Bella’s gift started to work. Though no glow emanated from her hands, Eric’s entire demeanor slowly shifted. Instead of the insecure, amnesiac vampire she’d been reluctantly growing fond of, someone much more confident and lethal had taken control.

A million different emotions flitted across Eric’s face before settling on one that Sookie had never seen before. Wonder. He was staring at Bella in pure, unadulterated wonder.

The telepath felt a pang of sadness at the sight. Eric had never looked at her that way. Maybe that was why she could never bring herself to succumb to the attraction between them. Bill might’ve turned out to be a horrible person, but there’d been genuine wonder there at the beginning of their relationship. The most Eric felt for her was a possessive fascination.

Eric lifted a hand to gently cover one of Bella’s. Staring at her intently, he said softly, “Thank you, Bella.”

Bella’s eyes snapped open in surprise. She stilled, taken aback by the intensity of his gaze. Blushing heavily, she whispered, “You’re welcome, Eric.”

Eric continued to stare at her and Bella tilted her head. Curious, she tested, “Do you still want to be mine?”

The smile he gave her sent a tantalizing thrill racing down her spine. It was slow, dark, and seductive. It was everything Sookie hinted it would be.

Sookie blinked and the pair vanished. Realizing that Eric had stolen her cousin, she exploded, “Fuckin’ vampires!”

She stormed inside to call Fangtasia, only for someone to start pounding on her door seconds after she closed it. Throwing it open, she barked, “What?”

“Where is my maker?” Pam demanded, fury on her face. “I can’t feel our bond anymore.”

Sookie stilled in surprise. If Bella had accidentally shielded Eric from his blood bonds, then Eric wouldn’t be able to use his blood against her. Any relationship he shared with her cousin would have to be a completely genuine one. Even if he turned her, he’d never be able to control her.

Grinning for the first time since she returned from the fairy realm, she admitted, “He ran off with my cousin, Bella.”

Pam paused, taking a thoughtful step back. “And that makes you smile?”

“She’s perfect for him,” Sookie decided. “Face it, Pam, your maker is the very definition of trouble.”

Pam cocked an eyebrow at her. “So?”

“So nothin’ attracts trouble like Bella Swan.”