“Did you get to speak to Pam?” Eric’s quiet voice resonated through my body. I was completely draped over him, like he was part of my mattress, with my head tucked under his chin.
“I did, but not about everything. Too many things happened. How’s your wound?” I asked, running my hand between us down his stomach, and shifting a little to the side trying to touch the scars I remembered.
Eric held me tight against him, not letting me move any more than I already had. “I’m perfect, like nothing ever happened. Is there anything you want to ask me? Maybe I can answer some of the questions you had for Pam?”
Lying the way I was, without really looking at him, gave me a little bit more courage than if we were sitting side by side. “You once said you didn’t wish to put me through what I went through with Long Shadow that night again. But you didn’t really say that you wouldn’t put me through it. Once we’re bonded, can you make me do things?”
“No, I can’t,” was his immediate answer. “You wouldn’t be at my beck and call any more than I would be at yours.” He took a deep unnecessary breath, lifting me up with his chest. “I guess I’m not doing this right,” his arms tightened around me. “I love you Sookie. I’m in love with you and I want to keep you safe from whatever else is coming. Those three vampires outside your house tonight were not there by mistake. Somebody sent them to test how well we were protecting you at home. I don’t know who sent them, but I doubt it was Queen Sophie-Anne. Bill wasn’t with them, but they were Bill’s friends, the ones that came to the bar. They probably came to see you that night, to see how well we were protecting you at the bar. I know Bill has ties with people in Washington State, and with the King of Mississippi. He owes me fealty but he’s proving to be fickle.”
“How would people in Washington and Mississippi know about me?” I asked. My brain was sure getting a workout tonight, and dawn was only an hour away.
“Several ways. The Queen might have boasted about having her very own telepath, but that is highly doubtful. I would think your cousin told more people about you than just the Queen. She’s the most likely source.”
“But something is coming,” I said, just to make sure. I was sleep addled.
“Dear one, something did come. But I can understand that making the decision to tie your life to mine is not something you can make while you’re scared. Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of time. Just know this: I’ve already made my decision. I’m yours.” Eric kissed my hair.
His feelings were mute to me again, so I’d lost the only way I had to verify his words. Plus something else was bothering me. “Eric? Why didn’t you answer your phone right away tonight? Were you really at Fangtasia?”
He was silent for a long moment. “No, I wasn’t. I found the house of that man and I was devising ways to… dispose of him. You’ve asked me not to, so I will not harm him.”
It was time to come clean with somebody. Eric would be the only one who knew the whole story. Not even Jason could say that. “Gran was the only one who understood, the one who got the truth out of me. I didn’t want to talk about it. By the time she found out about me, she realized he’d been abusing Hadley too. She almost killed him herself,” I took a deep breath trying to calm down. I’d noticed my voice had gotten higher in pitch. Eric was trying to soothe me by running his hands up and down my back. “I could see everything he was about to do to me, everything he planned later. Sometimes I caught his thoughts about Hadley.” I stopped talking, cringing against the alien memory, alien because it wasn’t mine. “My faith tells me that he will spend the rest of eternity in a very dark and lonely place, and that there will be no redemption. There’s no need for you to avenge me, Eric. I don’t want that on your soul.”
“Do you believe I have one?” Eric asked in his soft deep voice.
“You say you love me and your heart doesn’t beat. That proves to me that the heart is just an organ and that there’s something else,” I said, sounding simple but I didn’t care. That was the way I understood things.
“Thank you, Sookie. You’re too good to me.”
“Sookie, I haven’t seen you in a couple of weeks,” said Mrs. Fortenberry, giving me a hug and transferring several curious thoughts about the company I was keeping.
I’d made a superhuman effort and gotten up in time to make it to church. The strange part was that even though I felt like I was about to keel over and fall asleep, I looked better than ever. Eric’s blood in me had made my hair shinier, my eyes brighter, my cheeks flush, my lips plump. I briefly wondered if that was why he liked to give me his blood. I became Sookie in HD.
Now service was over and we were milling around outside of church. This was standard for anyone who didn’t have to be home right away to cook Sunday lunch. Since I was planning on getting back in bed when I got home, I could be nice to Gran’s friends who all seemed to want to talk to me. Mrs. F. had gotten me aside because she was particularly curious about my personal life. Not that I blamed her. I’d be curious too.
“Are you dating anybody?” she asked, trying to sound nonchalant, but her curiosity was screaming at me from her brain. My shields were failing due to lack of sleep.
“Yes, I’m dating someone from Shreveport,” I said giving away just enough. Yes I’m dating, no you don’t know him.
“What’s his name? Maybe I know him,” she pressed.
I knew she wouldn’t, but I answered anyway. “Eric Northman.”
Big mistake on my part: Hoyt had been within earshot of our conversation and he gave me a surprised look. But, God bless him, he didn’t say anything in front of his grandmother. Hopefully he wouldn’t say anything to anybody else either, but I doubted he wouldn’t say anything to Jason. Actually I could have shouted it from the rooftops as long as Jason didn’t find out. I wanted to tell him on my own terms.
“He seems to be treating you well. You look beautiful Sookie,” Mrs. F. said, and I saw her eyes roam over my hair.
“Yes, he’s very sweet,” I said, and I knew I was beaming.
I went home after a few more pleasantries. I changed the stained sheets from my bed and left them soaking in cold water, made sure the clothes that Pam had left for Eric were in the spare bedroom where he could find them, washed my face of the little bit of makeup I’d put on, and snuggled right back in bed wearing one of my soft old nightgowns, one with a frog on it. It was almost noon, so I had a good six hours before having to wake up again. I darkened my room as much as I could and closed my eyes. I thought about all the prayers I’d said at church instead of listening (listening in a general sense, to the Word and to the minds around me). I’d prayed for Gran, of course, and for Dawn and Maudette who died too young and had been good people. I prayed for protection from those who could be my enemies, and for the protection of my friends and especially that of Eric. I couldn’t stand to see him hurt again.
Eventually I fell asleep and slept like the dead… or more like Eric who was inside his cubby hole in the other room. Knowing that he was so close, even during the daytime, actually made me feel better. It was comforting. I actually had wishful-thinking dreams starring a certain Viking, which was a pleasant surprise. It certainly beat the dreams I thought I was going to have.
I was woken up in a way I’d never expected. I’d been sleeping in a fetal position on my left side, my favorite side, and found that Eric had molded himself to me. He was moving his hips, poking me in the back with Mr. Happy, who was very, very happy. Eric’s left arm was under me, reaching across to touch my right breast through the thin fabric of my old nightgown, and his right hand was pulling down my panties trying to reach my center. He’d buried his face in my hair, taking deep breaths and exhaling his own sweet breath saturating the strands with his scent.
“I’m going to make love to you Sookie,” he warned me; his voice was almost a growl. I turned a bit so I could open my legs for him. “That explains it. You’re absolutely ready for me, my lover. You must have been dreaming about me. I kept feeling your lust even in my dreams,” he said and claimed my mouth when I turned to him. I moaned when his tongue and his fingers invaded me at the same time, one above, two below.
He turned me back the way I had been, searching and finding my opening, gliding inside me with hardly any resistance. I moaned again, reaching up and behind me to thread my fingers through his hair, to touch him. He took my hand and guided it down, to touch him as he entered me and touch myself at the same time. He held my leg up, gaining deeper access, making me arch against him. I lost control of my vocal chords and filled the room with cries that were timed with every one of his thrusts. I was so close, so close. Eric growled close to my ear, a low savage thing, sinking his fangs into my neck and I was gone, catapulted off the Earth into some kind of twilight galaxy where everything was purple and euphoric.
When I came back into myself I was lying on my back, still panting and crying out, with Eric planting soft kisses everywhere, shushing me a little. “I got you, my lover. I got you,” he said, his voice more seductive than usual, which I didn’t know was possible.
“Oh, my God in Heaven! What just happened?” I managed to say, or mumble, rather.
“Your one and true lover gave you an amazing orgasm,” he answered chuckling beside me.
“Yes, you did.” Hey! Credit to who credit’s due. “I didn’t know. I didn’t know,” was I crying? Oh, my God! What was wrong with me?
“What is that, Sookie?” he asked, getting closer so he could lick my tears. He really liked to do that. I suspected they tasted a little of my blood.
“That we could do that, that it was possible. Is it really bad if I tell you that I love you now? ‘Cause I don’t want you to think it was the sex, but it has a little to do with it,” I was blabbing, probably still lost in outer space.
Eric chuckled again and kissed me some more before answering. “Sex is called making love when it’s between two people who love each other, and often it’s very deep and passionate because there’s so much trust.”
Smart old man, I thought to myself.
He made a “tsk” sound, eyeing my neck. “I went and bit your neck. You can’t let me do that. Nobody needs to know where I bite you,” he said, and his fangs ran out. He pricked his thumb on one of them (making me jump as I remembered the pain on my own wrist when I’d done that) and he smeared the blood on the bite.
“I wasn’t thinking very clearly when you did that,” I muttered.
He kissed the area and licked it clean. “Good as new. Shall we get ready for work?”
I sighed and nodded, getting up slowly. I’d just noticed I was HUNGRY. Even Eric made a shocked face when my stomach made an angry growl. It could have rivaled one of Eric’s growls.
“I must be a bad mate if your stomach is that noisy,” Eric said wide eyed.
“I haven’t eaten all day. It’s my fault. I’ll eat something before we leave,” I said, waving my hands like being hungry was nothing.
“Go take a shower and I’ll make you something to eat,” he offered.
My eyes went wide. “When was the last time you cooked?” He started thinking about it before I interrupted his thoughts. “No, Eric. Thank you for the offer, but it won’t take me any time at all to make something.”
“You feed me. Why can’t I feed you?” he tried to reason deepening his voice, pretending he was making sense.
“Because I don’t do anything to feed you other than look tasty,” I smiled.
He smiled back, his fangs running out. I jumped and tried to run away, giggling the whole time. He caught me, like I knew he would. He was laughing too and nuzzling my neck. This was why I loved him, because we laughed together. This was the cake. The rest was just frosting… and sprinkles.
We managed to make it to Fangtasia in record time, even though we took a shower together and he couldn’t keep his hands off me while I tried to get dressed. I had to promise and swear that later we’d be together for the rest of the night. He even talked me into staying the night and day at his house. I made sure Tina had tons of dry food and a huge bowl of water. She’d be okay for a day without me… or rip my curtains to shreds. We’d see.
Eric got more and more serious as we approached his bar. He was putting his Sheriff face on, I recognized it now. He was going to deal with the attack outside my house and start the inquiries. In the car he said he didn’t want to take it too far yet because he didn’t want to get the Queen involved. In the meantime, Bill was in trouble for sure. I didn’t even want to think about what they could or would do to him… they being Chow and Pam. Chow had learned to be sneaky and conniving in getting information when he was part of the Japanese mafia. Pam was just a very creative evil bitch.
It was a typical Sunday at Fangtasia, not too crowded, but busy. I kept out of trouble and did my job, the usual. We were about to close and Eric pulled me aside, getting Ginger to finish cleaning my area (there wasn’t much left other than carry a tray to the back).
“Bill wants to talk to you. He won’t tell us anything until he talks to you,” Eric was stressed and wasn’t even looking at me when he spoke. He ran his hands through his hair and finally fixed me with his dark gaze. “You don’t have to. We’ll make him talk some other way.”
I thought about it. “This is easier,” I said, and started walking to Eric’s office.
Bill was sitting on one of the chairs in front of Eric’s desk, bound by a thin flimsy chain. I realized it was silver. He looked very subdued, though his fangs had run out. I stood in front of him, adopting a pose worthy of Pam.
With my arms crossed over my chest, I stood up stick straight. “I am here,” I said. I looked like Pam and sounded like Eric.
Bill looked up, taking in my posture and smiling a little. At that moment I wished more than ever that I could flash some fang, but I remained impassive. He moved forward a little bit, but seemed unable to move beyond that. “Did he tell you he was sent to get you for his Queen?” Bill asked.
I arched an eyebrow. “Who are you working for, Bill?” I asked. He probably wouldn’t tell me anyway.
“The Queen of Louisiana is my employer, but my job is not to come get you like they’re implying,” Bill pointed at the three vampires in the room with his eyes.
“What were your friends doing at my house last night?” I pressed.
He gave me an innocent look. “They were only acquaintances. The last time I saw them was in Arkansas.”
Eric and Pam were directly within my path of vision, and I saw them exchange a very quick glance. Bill was telling me things he hadn’t told them, things that had meaning for them.
“What were you looking for inside my house?” I asked. The fact that he’d been searching my house really pissed me off.
“I was curious to see what kind of supernatural being you were,” he answered, again with the innocent look.
“And nothing. I don’t know. What are you?” he asked, wincing when he tried to move forward within his chair. The silver wasn’t touching his skin, but it must have been uncomfortable.
I was done. My ire erupted, worthy of a vampire. “First of all, Bill Compton, how would you like it if I were looking through your house during the day? Huh? I have half a mind to find your hiding place, find you while you’re dead and kill you for real. Second, what business is it of yours if I am a supe, or what kind? I’m a banshee and I’ll bring your death!” I screamed, and stormed away, slamming the door of the office. I admit it wasn’t my most grown-up moment.
“More like a valkyrie,” Eric’s voice came from behind me. I’d been pacing in the hall in front of his office.
I stopped when I felt his hands on my waist. “That didn’t help at all, I’m sorry,” I said, considerably calmer but not quite there.
“He spoke more to you than to us. Bill wanted you to lose trust in me, not knowing that I already told you everything. Let me finish with him and we can go home,” Eric said and kissed the back of my head.
“Yeah, okay,” I said a little dismissively. I was still mad and Eric’s attentions, though not unwelcomed, were not exactly what I wanted. I wanted to hit something. I was definitely more like my brother than I cared to admit, not that I was about to follow through on my desire.
I needed a drink.
Eric found me behind the bar with a Cape Cod in my hand. The vodka was the first thing I’d found. He raised an eyebrow, knowing I wasn’t much of a drinker.
“It’s either this or hit Bill while he’s chained with silver,” I said, making the ice clink in my glass.
“I’m beginning to think you’re too good to vampires in general,” he said, sitting on one of the stools right in front of me. “We can’t do much to him. He really is working for Queen Sophie-Anne.”
“How do you know? He could have said anything.”
“I have ways of finding out,” Eric said looking at me through half-lidded eyes. He looked predatory when he did that. Or else really sexy. The small thrill that ran through my body at that particular moment told me I was leaning towards sexy.
I took a deep swig of my drink and was already feeling it in my legs. I was really bad at holding my alcohol. “Spies?” I asked, imagining Daniel Craig with fangs.
Eric didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to. I was getting good at reading between the lines. I nodded and finished my drink quickly. The room started spinning and my lips felt a little numb. It wouldn’t last very long, but it would be fun while it lasted. I felt like anything Eric said next would be hilariously funny. He seemed to read my mood.
“Oktoberfest tomorrow?” he asked.
And I was off. I almost fell on the floor laughing. He had to carry me out over his shoulder, my hair almost down to his thighs. When we passed by his office Pam gave me a strange look. I knew she wanted to join in. I just knew it.
“Lederhosen!” I yelled, pointing at Eric’s butt and patting it with both hands. I couldn’t breathe, but I couldn’t stop.
“Is she drunk?” Pam asked. I could hear her chuckling, but I wasn’t looking at her because my eyes were trained at how Eric’s ridiculously gorgeous gluteus maximus moved when he walked.
“Not really. She only had one drink,” Eric answered and patted my butt.
“Honey buns,” I whispered. Pam heard and started laughing in earnest, which made me laugh harder.
“Stop making her laugh,” Eric said in a droll tone. He didn’t really mean it.
“She started it,” Pam whined.
“He started it,” I called out to Pam. We were almost outside.
We rode home, but not in silence. I kept singing along to whatever songs were playing on the radio. If I ever doubted Eric loved me, I could stop doubting now. I can’t hold a tune in a bucket with a lid on it. He didn’t stop me, just kept looking at me with either a half a smile or a pained expression. Too late I remembered his super sensitive hearing. By then I was coming down my buzz and we were almost to his house.
“I’m sorry,” I said, feeling foolish. I did that a lot around vampires.
He turned to me, surprised. “About what? Being a bad singer?”
I snickered. “Yeah, that too. It’s just… I’ve been feeling a little helpless and to see Bill more helpless than me… I really wanted to hit him for searching my house and bringing his friends to me. That’s not like me,” I made a motion with my hands that emphasized how not like me hitting people was.
“I know. Come on, let’s go inside.” Eric unfolded himself out of the Corvette and came to get my door, even though I’d gotten it already. He did bring my overnight bag inside.
The minute he locked the door to the garage he was on me like white on rice, unzipping my dress trying not to rip another one. I was going to let him. He wanted to ravage me in the kitchen and I had barely any qualms about it (other than the prospect of cold tile on my back, I was all for it). But he stopped when the dress was only half off me.
“No, not here,” he mumbled, his fangs out. I almost stomped my feet in frustration, but then realized he wasn’t finished. He just didn’t want to do it in the kitchen.
I followed him to the master bedroom upstairs. He finished taking off my clothes in a flurry of movement. A second pair of panties bit the dust. They paid the ultimate price for being in the way of a horny vampire who couldn’t wait the two seconds it would take me to slip out of them like a normal person.
Eric made me sit on the high bed and backed away from me a couple of paces. “Eric, what are you doing?” I asked, beginning to stand up again.
He made a motion telling me to sit back down. “Watch me,” he ordered.
Okey-dokey. I watched as he took off his Fangtasia T-shirt, his muscles rippling as he moved. By then I knew I was dripping on the sheets, and he wasn’t even naked yet. How could I not? The most amazing Norse god decided to strip tease me, and I happened to know what was coming. I whimpered a little when his fingers started undoing his belt, and then I gasped when I remembered that Pam had left a change of clothes for him, but no underwear.
“You don’t have any underwear on. You’ve been like that all night,” I almost accused him, even before he took off his pants. I was glad I hadn’t realized it earlier. That would have been a disaster.
“I am guilty, my lover,” he said, smiling seductively.
Two could play that game. “Turn a little,” I ordered him, making a swirling motion with my index finger. He turned just enough so that when he took off his pants I had an excellent view of his splendid honey buns and Mr. Happy saluting, as he liked to do. I needed a new name for Mr. Happy.
The heat built inside me and I was about to hyperventilate when he approached me, scaring me. Mr. Happy was very close to my lips, and I had an idea what to do, but not a good one.
Like the very first night I saw Eric naked, I ran my fingers over him tentatively. I’d touched him earlier, but this was different. He wanted me to do something more.
“Kiss me Sookie. I’m yours,” he said, reminding me of his words. There was nothing to fear. He was mine, as much my lover as I was his.
I kissed the head then licked the tiny droplet of fluid that had formed on the tip. It was sweet and salty, like his blood. I kissed my way down the shaft, touching other parts of him, exploring. He seemed to enjoy even the little bit that I was doing, judging by his soft grunts and his hands lovingly caressing my hair.
“Lick me,” he ordered, and he didn’t have to tell me twice. I was encouraged by the way he shuddered as I licked my way up back to the head. Who knew that I had as much power over him as he did over me?
He didn’t need to tell me what to do next. I put him in my mouth as far as he would go, which wasn’t nearly half of him. I clamped down with my lips, trying to keep my teeth from scraping him. He made a hissing sound as I began moving. It was harder than I thought. My lips started hurting after about two minutes.
Eric felt me flag and drew himself out of my mouth, kneeling in front of me and pushing me back onto the bed. I propped myself up on my elbows and watched as he returned the favor. He definitely had more stamina than me and was unrelenting. He didn’t stop his assault until he’d made me come twice under his mouth.
He licked his lips as he rearranged me on the bed. Eric flipped me over like a pancake and brought me up to my knees and hands. “Give yourself to me, Sookie,” he said right after I felt the soft pressure at my entrance. I came down to my elbows and he pushed in, holding my hips steady, lest I be catapulted off the bed.
I couldn’t be any hotter because it wasn’t the middle of summer, and he was too far away to cool me. As if reading my thoughts, he bent over me, squeezing my left breast while his free hand had gone in search of my little nub, found it, and began stroking around it, driving me wild with the intensity of it all. He pushed harder, faster, I knew he was about to come and the thought, the knowledge, pushed me over the edge, clenching around him. He gave a mighty battle cry as he spilled inside me.
“It hasn’t escaped my notice that we’re very noisy people when we make love,” I said while we laid tangled in each other.
“It’s your fault,” he rubbed the length of his body against mine, like a giant cat. He rubbed his face between my breasts. “You smell so good, and you’re so warm, so soft, so… tight.”
“Eric! That’s not nice to say,” I said, smacking him very lightly on his arm.
“It’s true, Sookie. I mean that in the best way. You honored me by letting me be your first lover.”
I didn’t know what to say to that, so I didn’t say anything. I’d just been happy I couldn’t hear his thoughts and he had been so attentive. He’d won me over.
“Tomorrow we’re going out on a special date,” he announced. I didn’t say anything, mostly because I’d half fallen asleep. “Are you mad?”
“No, I’m not mad. ‘S okay. How special? Do I have to dress up?” I asked, since I hadn’t brought anything to dress up with. I might have to go shopping during the day.
“All that is taken care of.” I knew what that meant. Somebody (probably Pam) had gone out and gotten me something to wear for this special date. Probably something too expensive.
“Okay. I’ll be mad later. I’m too sleepy now,” I mumbled, and tightened my hold on him.
I woke up the next morning because my bladder was kicking my spleen. After using the toilet and as I washed my hands, I glanced up at my reflection, only to find I was now the proud owner of a pair of tear-shaped ruby earrings, each about half an inch in size, set in gleaming yellow gold.
That was just not going to work.