Sookie had been magnificent. She had glowed like a vampire, claimed me, fucked me. She’d bitten me. It was only her obvious love that kept her from breaking my skin. I wished she had. Now she was panting and gripping me so tight I thought I might come again. In fact if I moved a little…
“Eric,” she sighed, letting me pump into her. She moaned; she liked it. Her head had been resting on my shoulder and now she was kissing me on my neck. That I let her this close was a miracle in itself. Just like her.
“Look at me, my love,” I said, switching my endearment a little. She was more than my lover now. My existence was tied to her life irrevocably.
Her blue-gray eyes bore into me, like they always had from the very first time she looked at me. But unlike then, when I couldn’t know what she was thinking, now I could feel her lust, her love. It mirrored mine and doubled it.
I moved inside her slowly now, savoring the heat of her body, the scent of arousal coming from her blood and her fluids, my scent on her, hers on me. My baser instincts took over and I felt a growl rip through me. It was an unconscious thing. I thought she’d be scared of me when I sounded like that, but she surprised me by becoming even more excited. Right at that moment she was running both thumbs over my fangs, pricked them both and let me suck on her blood.
Sookie’s blood was like no other human’s, and that had only been a pleasant surprise. I say “only” because I had already been a fool for her by the time I tasted her blood. It was all I could do not to throw her down on the couch and fuck her in front of Pam when I licked the arm that Long Shadow had bitten.
Sookie allowed me this: to take her blood when we had sex. When we made love. I heard her cry out inside the conservatory and I knew she was close to coming again. I helped her because she was exquisite when she climaxed, and I was never going to let her miss it. And also for a more selfish reason: whenever she climaxed she milked an orgasm from me. It was a win-win situation, like they say in business. They should say it in pleasure as well.
We disengaged, and she was mortified and embarrassed by what we had done, or rather, where we’d had sex. I didn’t expect anything less from her.
“Sookie, there’s nobody here but us, I swear,” I had to tell her. Her shame pressing on me was almost dizzying. If it was that bad for me, it must have been worse for her.
She looked up at me, straightening her skirt. Her skin was flushed red, and her hair was a mess. But she looked beautiful like this too, because she was mine. She was waiting for me to elaborate, her eyes wide. “The caterer left right as we entered the museum. We’ve been alone for a while now.”
“Oh,” she said, relaxing. I saw her peeking at her ring. She hadn’t even known it came from Cartier. I would not have gotten her anything less just because she didn’t know, but it just went to show the type of person she was: simple tastes, down to earth, fiercely proud, sometimes too much. Like me.
I approached her slowly, like I (almost) always did. She had to see me coming or she would become scared, and I’d had enough of scaring her. I understood perfectly well that I wasn’t done wooing or courting her simply because we were bonded. Now more than ever she needed me to be her lover. She’d find out about the ruler soon enough. She’d probably balk and call me an asshole. She’d forgive me eventually, I was counting on that. Right now I wanted her lips.
Sookie returned my kiss like she always did: hesitant at first and then, acknowledging that she was a passionate woman, she pressed her whole body into mine, lending me her warmth.
“Can we go home?” she asked speaking into my lips. I nodded and obliged. She meant my home. Hers if she wanted it.
Pam didn’t believe me. She’d called me a fool when I destroyed the blood drainers’ trailer in a fit of carefully orchestrated rage. I didn’t care that they were vampire drainers. Frankly, any vampire that got caught deserved to be drained. When I spoke to Merlotte about Sookie, he explained what she could do, and what other people did to her. It was worse than I imagined. She was being constantly raped inside her mind, violated, mutilated. Sookie had been so concerned for my safety that she had no qualms telling me what she had seen inside those people’s heads, and what she had seen had been horrific to her. When I explained everything to Pam, she relented, and when she actually met Sookie, she understood why I’d become such a fool for a human woman.
What surprised me the most was not Pam’s understanding, but her overnight protectiveness of Sookie. She had severely objected to my testing Sookie during the situation with Long Shadow, but it was the only way for me to know exactly how she received others’ thoughts. Touch seemed to amplify her ability. I didn’t know she could tear apart others’ minds to search for what she was looking for. It was awful to watch her seep tears from her eyes and blood from her nose in the effort to reach into Ginger’s memories. She’d gone into a trance, and caused Ginger a great amount of agony. Pam was able to erase Ginger’s memory of the night, but it took her a lot more effort than she normally would have needed. And then Long Shadow attacked Sookie instead of me. Pam had been livid with me. Rightly so.
I looked over at little Sookie, bundled into my blazer, lying on her side in the passenger seat of my beloved Corvette. Hers too, if she wanted it. But she never would. That’s what made her different and special and a pain in the ass. She had been very difficult with Pam when they had gone shopping together. She’d called the flowers I’d sent extravagant. I took her virginity, the highest prize, and she complained about the size of the flower arrangement I’d sent. Because it was too big. Somehow I had won anyway. She was wearing the ruby earrings I’d gotten her. They shone in the lights of the highway. She deserved that and so much more after all she’d been through.
We arrived at my house and Sookie had fallen asleep. I carried her up to the bedroom and she woke up in my arms just as I set her down on the bed. She clung to me for a moment, and then made the effort of getting up.
“I have to brush my teeth,” she mumbled. She was embarrassed by her human needs. Any day now she was going to have her period. I wondered how that would go. Meanwhile I was fascinated. Call it a morbid curiosity. I supposed I shared it with human doctors. I almost followed her to the bathroom but she stopped me with a look. The only other person who had ever been able to do that was my own human father. He would have approved of my choice to make Sookie my wife. She was beautiful, healthy, hard working (she’d done my laundry, for fuck’s sake!), and would have borne me many children. Unfortunately that was something that Sookie would not be able to have, not with me. I cut off that thought immediately.
When Sookie finished using the toilet and I could smell the scent of soap, I entered the bathroom. I brushed her hair, so much like mine it was uncanny, and put it in a ponytail. She’d already taken off her shoes in the car, so instead I helped her with the dress. She brushed her teeth and stepped out of it. I finally saw the red underwear in its entirety for the first time, and it made me want her again. I’d try my luck, otherwise I’d have to jack off later and I hated doing that with Sookie so close and so available.
I took off my clothes while she washed her face and stood naked behind her so she could see my reflection. Her face said it all, and her feelings said more. She wanted me like I wanted her. Of course she did. My blood in her made her like my vampire child. Unfortunately the human was tired.
“I’m no good to you, honey,” she said. She was truly contrite. I could see and feel how sorry she was not to be able to deliver.
“Let me take care of you,” I crooned in her ear. She bit her lip and nodded.
I made love to her slowly, taking my time with my new blood bonded, worshipping her like she deserved. She was mine, after all: my equal and my beloved. Having sex was great, but making love was needed to heal. She’d never had either love or sex, and I’d never had love, not the kind I got from her. Sookie had cried from the intensity of it, her poor battered soul unable to take all the emotion she felt. And now, as we joined for a third time that night, as tired as she was she still wanted to kiss me or touch me. When my face wasn’t close enough for her to kiss, she’d kiss my arms. She caressed my back, my shoulders, my face, every touch so hot it felt like lightning was searing my skin.
She came underneath me, so tired she barely whimpered. She still took me with her. It felt so good to come inside her, as she clamped down on my cock like a vise. So tight.
I stared at her for a long time, as long as it took her to start dreaming. I had to leave her and attend to business. As much as I abhorred the things, I’d have to get a laptop. They just never moved as fast as desktops.
“Sweet dreams, my Sookie,” I whispered in her ear, only to see if it would elicit some kind of acknowledgement. Her feelings of love flared within me. She’d heard me.
I wondered if I could hear her too. Ever since she’d taken my blood the first time, I’d had dreams. I hadn’t dreamt of anything that I could remember since my turning. Suddenly I was dreaming of her house, of her Gran, feelings of anguish or elation. Right before our date I dreamt she’d lied beside me in bed, to kiss my hand. It had been so real. To dream was unsettling at first, until I realized what was happening.
My cell phone had one missed phone call from Pam, so I went to my office to return it.
“Master,” she answered her phone on the first ring. She must have been with somebody to be so formal. Somebody important.
“You called,” I said.
“Yes, we have a visitor who would like to know our progress. He will come back tomorrow seeing as your business has kept you so long,” Pam said.
I knew exactly what that meant. Andre, Sophie-Anne’s second, had come to see if we had Sookie. I had planned for this, but I didn’t expect it so soon. The Queen must have heard about the three motherfuckers at Sookie’s house, probably from cocksucker Bill Compton.
“Thank you, Pam. Set up the meeting for eight o’clock,” I said, sounding official, even though I wanted to rip something or someone. Preferably into little pieces.
After hanging up with Pam I attended to some things that I could do online. She would call me again when it was safe to speak.
My Area Five email was not incredibly heavy tonight. I addressed most problems with a quick reply (“Can I burn my neighbor’s dog?” “No, if it’s barking all night, call the human police” That type of thing). Some problems I would have to address by making phone calls. The Sheriff of Area Six in Dallas had lost one of his nest mates. I did not care for my staff to live in nests. It bred vampires like those who attacked Sookie’s house, always one-upping each other into becoming perverse. However, I had to help a fellow Sheriff whether I liked his living arrangements or not.
“Mostly I wanted to see if anybody had spotted him around Shreveport,” Sheriff Stan said. “He has a friend that lives in your neighborhood, so I’m covering all the bases.”
“He has not checked in with me. When did he disappear?”
“Two days ago. It’s not like him to not say where he was going or returning. We lost a nest mate that way, and we’re all very vigilant of each other ever since then,” Stan said, truly concerned.
“I will make inquiries and get back to you as soon as possible,” I promised.
Pam called a few minutes later. “It’s all set. How’s Sookie?”
“Asleep,” I answered, waiting to see exactly what she was asking.
“So she doesn’t know about the little fucker?” Pam asked. Andre looked younger than her, so even though he was bigger and taller (and older in vampire years), he was still a whelp to her.
“Good. One night of peaceful sleep will do her good. How did your date go?”
I knew she’d been waiting impatiently to ask. “She accepted. We are now bonded. To celebrate we had sex in the conservatory, under a rose canopy.” She liked detail.
“Great. Knowing you two you probably had people wondering about the monkeys in the rose bushes.” Pam had blossomed after meeting Sookie. She smiled more, laughed more. Right now, the tone of her voice told me she was smiling at her own joke. I loved Sookie all the more for making my child happy. “Did she like the dress?”
“Yes, very much. I am sure she will thank you as soon as she can. You know how she is,” I said, imagining Sookie sending Pam a Thank You card. She would too, as well as thank her on the phone, AND doing it in person next time they saw each other. When Sookie thanked you, you knew it.
“I do know, that’s why I asked.”
“I was expecting her to be upset about the earrings, but all I got was a short version of not wanting to be with me for the things I can give her, other than myself.”
There was silence on the other line, followed by a “Wow!”
“I suppose taking her shopping was not the best idea. You should have waited until she was asleep and dressed her,” I said, and couldn’t help it: I laughed at my child.
“Blast! You’re a conniving wretch!” she yelled at me, reverting to her old accent and idioms, which only made me laugh harder. She hadn’t known how I’d given Sookie the earrings.
She waited until I settled to ask me the most important question. “What does it feel like?” Her voice was quiet, reverent, when she asked.
“A lot like she’s my child, but I can feel her when I’m asleep as well,” I answered just as quietly.
“Does that mean she’s my sibling?”
“Perhaps. I don’t understand it all completely, and when I ask Sophie-Anne she will be very upset with me. I’m counting on her love for her own children to make her understand why Sookie has to stay beside me,” I said, running my hand through my hair. If my heart beat at all, it would have been racing.
I felt something tug at me. I was being called. I kept Pam on the phone and zoomed upstairs to Sookie. She was sitting in bed, wide-eyed and scared.
“Pam, I will speak to you later. Sookie is awake,” I said, and hung up.
“What happened?” Sookie asked immediately. Her heart was racing enough for the both of us.
“I don’t know Sookie. What woke you?”
She shook her head, to clear it apparently. She did that a lot. “I dreamt… I had a nightmare. They came to get me. They took me away from you and you were,” she made a motion with her hands as if I’d been weeping, “you were beside yourself. You killed so many,” her voice was a whisper.
She’d described my thoughts back to myself. Those were the same images that had run through my mind when I spoke of the Queen. Could she read my mind? I couldn’t let her know. She needed to rest.
“It was just a bad dream, my love, brought on by my mistake of leaving your side.” I made her lie tucked into me, she on her right, I on my left, so I could see her face. “Don’t cry. We are one now. Nobody will dare separate us.”
She nodded and put her damp cheek on my chest. It didn’t escape my notice that what had upset her wasn’t that she was being taken away, but that I had wept and gone into a berserker rage worthy of my lineage.
I awoke upset, half hearing an imagined conversation. Sookie wasn’t in the house; I could tell that right away. A paper with her scent was on her pillow. It was a note: Sweetie, I had to go home. I took your car and I’ll be back by 7. I promise not to ding it or otherwise damage it. I love you, Sookie.
Something was wrong. She’d gone home and was still there. It was only a little after six. I wasn’t worried about the time. I was worried about this alien feeling of rage within me. She was beyond angry. I got dressed in a hurry and took to the sky. I arrived fifteen minutes later.
“Fuck off, Jason!” I heard Sookie yell. I’d landed in the woods, just in case something more sinister was going on. But since it was only her asshole brother, I immediately joined Sookie.
The sight of me made her brother take a couple of steps back. They’d both been standing in the driveway in front of the house, near her brother’s truck. He had a shotgun in his hand and immediately my instinct to protect my blood bonded made me go after him. He landed on the ground with one of my hands on his neck. They seemed to like to strangle him. It was all I could do not to crush his windpipe.
Sookie’s overwhelming fear made me stop. I hated scaring her. I released her brother but took the gun, and rejoined her where she’d been standing.
“Eric is important to me, Jason,” Sookie said, her voice calm but inside she was in turmoil. “If you can’t understand and respect that, then you have no business being Adele Stackhouse’s grandson.”
I could understand perfectly what had happened, and didn’t need her to explain, so I didn’t ask for an explanation as she pulled me inside the house.
“I was about to leave and Jason showed up,” she said, gathering things. She was already dressed for work. She held out my keys, refusing to meet my eyes.
I had enough experience feeling somebody else inside me to guess what was wrong. “I’m not mad at you, Sookie.”
“You’re the only one then. I’m mad at me. I shouldn’t have taken your car. That’s what started this whole thing. When Jason saw it he lost it.” Sookie’s voice had gone up in volume and her hands were gesturing wildly in the air.
“He thinks you’re sleeping with me for favors,” I summarized.
“Of course he does. That’s how people around here think, including me. Now you see why it’s so difficult for me to accept gifts? And I was only borrowing your car!”
“But you know that’s not true,” I made my voice soft, even though I felt like yelling. Who the fuck cared if she was sleeping with me for gifts or fun? They never cared about her before.
Sookie looked up. She was calming down. “I know,” she paused. “God, this is so strange. It’s like listening to your thoughts, but not. It only stops when you sleep.”
“Do you regret it?” I asked carefully.
“No, not at all. I felt you wake up and I knew I wasn’t alone. It was a relief,” she said, but she didn’t look relieved. “I’m so sorry you had to fly all the way here because of my stupidity.”
I breathed in deeply as a gesture to show my exasperation. “I’m not mad at you.”
“You should be,” she quipped.
“Why? So you can apologize by making love to me? In that case pretend I’m mad at you and let’s go to your bedroom,” I gave her one of my most seductive smiles, and I heard her heart flutter. I loved when it did that.
She gave me a shy smile and bit her lip. I wondered if I could persuade her, then my higher brain functions reminded me of the meeting we had with Andre at eight. I preferred to arrive at Fangtasia early so I could prepare Sookie.
“I think we better go. I would like to be at the bar early tonight,” I knew once I said that, she would jump and we would leave immediately. She always respected my position as owner of the bar. That’s why it had been so difficult to convince her to go out with me to begin with.
“I’m ready when you are,” she said, and her smile widened. I couldn’t help it. I kissed her. I’d never craved anybody’s attentions like I did hers. Maybe it was because they were not easily given.
On our way to the bar I brought up the subject of Halloween in order to mask my growing concern. Sookie was more curious than excited at the prospect.
“Don’t tell me… humans dress up like vampires and vampires dress up like humans,” she said laughing.
I laughed with her. “Maybe I’ll wear my pink Lycra pants.”
“No!” she said immediately. “No way, no how. Nobody gets to see you in those but me.”
I felt flattered. “What should I wear instead? Should we dress as a couple?”
“Sure. I’ll be Little Bo Peep, you’ll be my sheep.”
“You’re confusing me with somebody else, my love.”
“Oh, honey! I dunno! Besides, do you want to announce to everybody that we’re together?”
I was confused. “Of course. Don’t you?”
She was confused too. “Um, yeah… For some reason I thought we should keep it a secret. I don’t know why I thought that…” her voice drifted. She was thinking hard about something. “Is it something I should tell humans? I mean… we’re what? Engaged? Sort of? I don’t even know what to call you. My boyfriend? That sounds like not enough.”
“Sookie, you’re over thinking it. If it makes you feel more comfortable to tell your human friends that we’re engaged, then call me your fiancé and problem solved. We can’t say we’re married because in the United States that is illegal.” Shit, she could call me her boyfriend, her boy toy, her bootie call for all I cared. She was mine. Period.
“You don’t mind?” she asked, always making sure.
“Not at all.”
“It makes sense, what with the ring and all,” she turned the ring on her finger. Earlier I’d noticed she’d developed a quirk to caress it with her thumb. She really liked it. “Did I thank you for it? It’s really lovely. It’s really perfect,” she was shy again.
“I think you thanked me profusely, yes,” I answered, remembering the night before and immediately wanting her. The way her scent inundated every part of my car didn’t help. Then I remembered she had driven it, and I imagined her shifting gears. It would be amazingly sexy to see her do it, unless… “Did you have any problems driving the car?”
“Nope. I learned how to drive on a standard, although it didn’t have as many speeds. This car is awesome! I was doing eighty before I realized it; I didn’t feel the speed… so I had to watch it ‘cause the last thing I needed was to get a ticket in the middle of the day for driving a vampire’s car. Not cool,” she was laughing.
“That’s it. You’re not using my car again,” I teased. She knew I wasn’t serious.
“Oh, whatever, it was only for a couple of minutes before I caught myself. You should have seen the looks I got, though. I look good in a Corvette.”
“In it and out of it. On it you’d look good too, I bet, with me on you even better,” I reached for her cheek. She was blushing and it looked so good. Fuck! I wanted her.
She changed the subject quickly. “I can’t believe I didn’t think of it! You can be Hansel in lederhosen, and I can be Gretel in a dirndl. Pam can be the witch. I’m sure she’ll have fun eating people’s fingers, or at least biting them.”
“Sookie, you’re about to get fucked by the side of the road. You better start talking about global warming or El Niño,” I had to tell her, because she had spoken about fingers and all I could think of was the way she had let me suck the blood from her thumbs. I was so hard it hurt.
I knew she’d looked down at my crotch, which didn’t help at all. “I’m sorry,” she said, and grew quiet. There was that shame again. Who in the fuck told her that sex was shameful?
“I’m sorry, my love. I didn’t mean to sound cross. I really want you and I don’t want to have you until we can get to a nice bed. The side of the road is not for you,” I said, trying to explain.
The bad part: Sookie shrugged and her lust flared, letting me know that to her it didn’t seem so bad. The good part: we were only five minutes away from Fangtasia, and we were early.
“I still think my idea was good,” she said, pouting a little. She wasn’t upset, she just wanted validation.
“Yes it was. Talk it over with Pam. Maybe she’ll agree. Although I was thinking we could do the Harry Potter cast. I’ll be Harry, since I can fly on a broomstick,” I smiled at her, easing the tension between us. She smiled back, appreciating my effort.
“I think that sounds even better. Pam would make a great Hermione, since she’s the one who’s always kicking peoples’ butts,” and she laughed, that ringing bell that told me all was well in Sookie’s world.
At Fangtasia, Sookie couldn’t wait to corner Pam and tell her all about dressing up like the Harry Potter cast for Halloween. Pam was nervous and looked at me concerned. I begged her to play along with only a pleading gaze. Sookie’s spirits were about to come crashing down in a minute. I wanted her to have a little something good this evening.
“And who would you be?” Pam asked her. Her face was stoic, but I could feel a little bit of her excitement.
“Luna Lovegood with the goofy glasses,” Sookie beamed, but just as quickly as it came, her smile faded. “Something’s wrong,” she pronounced, and looked at me. “You’re worried about something, or angry.”
Our bond was weak if she’d only noticed this now. That was something to think about. Either way, it was there. She could tell what I was feeling.
“Sookie, Andre is coming tonight. He is Queen Sophie-Anne’s second in command, her trusted confidant, and the one who first came to tell me to find you and protect you,” I said, and waited for her reaction.
The first thing that hit me was her rage and fear, both of them mingled together like serpents tangled in each other. That surprised me. I thought she’d only be scared.
“And you were going to tell me about this when?” she answered. Her voice was like ice. Her rage was directed at me. Just as well.
“I was going to tell you now. You had enough to worry about already and I made a decision not to worry you further. Besides, we’re bonded. Once Andre sees that he will have to leave us be,” I said, half believing it myself. He didn’t have to, but it would behoove the monarchy not to separate a blood bonded pair. It was a punishable crime, not to mention the scores of vampires who would oppose the Queen if she ever attempted it. She would lose her crown and possibly her life, but only if people knew about it.
I turned to Pam, ignoring Sookie for a moment. It was for her own good. “Get everybody in here. Tell them to be in this office when Andre arrives.”
“Unbelievable. Nobody trusts me, not even with myself, not even the guy that’s supposed to love me and wanna be with me, blah-di-blah,” Sookie was pacing within a very small space, looking up at the ceiling.
“Sookie, I trust you. But you have to trust me. I’ve been doing this for much longer. I do love you, I do want to be with you, and right now I’m keeping the promise that I made to you. What purpose would it have served to tell you sooner? Explain it to me,” I said, standing my ground and trying to make her see reason.
She stopped pacing. She was still very angry, but also very afraid. It was her anger that spoke though. “What happens now?”
“Now I will have everyone, including Andre, witness our union,” I walked past her to the large safe. I only locked it to keep out the humans.
I pulled out the ceremonial knife I had acquired as part of the ordaining course for the Church of the Ever Loving Spirit, which I did as part of my Sheriff duties. Sometimes I amazed myself. I could perform the ceremony to marry vampires. I knew what to do to make Andre understand, and by extension Sophie-Anne, that Sookie was my bonded. But more importantly, those who owed me fealty would witness it.
“Sookie, do you love me?” I asked her, coming closer to show her the knife. It was about ten inches long, with a stainless steel blade and gold handle. It looked more like a dagger than a knife.
“Eric, you know I do. That’s why you have the ability to make me crazy, and not in a good way,” she said. That made me smile.
“Will you agree to marry me in front of other vampires? You would have to give me this,” I showed her the knife, “and I would use it to give you my blood. I would have to take yours too.”
“Like we did last night?” she shrieked.
“Yes. We would have to keep off each other until everybody left us, but yes.”
She mumbled something about “too fast, too fast,” and she was right. I had just thought about this, so it was happening fast. Perhaps I should have told her earlier.
Sookie knelt in the middle of the floor where she had been pacing. She held her hand up to me, “I’m going to pray for a minute, and I really want God to listen, so just… back off.”
Whatever she was saying to her God was making her feelings change. She was not as scared, or as angry. It felt like Pam’s feelings when she was in battle mode: determination. That was the best way to describe it. Sookie stood up after about two minutes and turned to me.
“I prayed for my soul for wishing evil upon Hadley. I also asked my God to bless this union, since there’s nobody of my faith who can do so,” she said in a business-like way. She would forgive me, eventually. “Eric, I also want you to swear that you will always tell me right away if there’s something wrong that I should know. Let me figure out how to deal with it on my own terms. In exchange I swear to you that if I need help, I will ask.”
“I swear it, Sookie,” I said, because that’s what it would take to make her agree.
She nodded. This was Sookie the woman who did whatever needed to be done. This was the same Sookie who had fed me her blood to save me from an agonizing recovery. Now she was saving herself from a lifetime of servitude.
“What do I do?” she asked.
“The knife will be wrapped, and you will present it to me. You will know when to do it as it is a simple ceremony. I will cut my wrist in the same spot as last night, and you will drink from it. I will bite you just like last night. Then we kiss if you still want to kiss me,” I said, feeling like she never would.
I rewrapped the knife and set it on my desk, closed the safe, and we waited for Pam.