The rain was pounding against the house and the wind was fierce. One would think we were going through a hurricane, but it was only a winter storm. I cursed my luck because I really needed to go to the post office that day, and I knew I would be cold, wet and miserable while I ran my errands. Of all the days…
My day got remarkably better when I found a notice for a certified letter in our P.O. Box. I’d been waiting anxiously for it, and I could barely believe it had arrived today. I didn’t have time to make good use of that letter though. I had to go back home and pack.
Mister Cataliades, who already knew I called him Mr. C., was coming to pick me up that evening. Eric couldn’t go to New Orleans, something he found horribly disturbing. I couldn’t blame him one little bit. The only way he was going to let me go was to take Claudine with me, and since I needed her help, and due to the nature of my task, she agreed.
“Why can’t Eric go? Is everything alright?” Claudine had asked when I spoke to her on the phone.
“Yes, but he lost so much time this month with the witch thing, then our honeymoon… he has a lot of work and Pam is leaving in a couple of days on vacation. Neither of us could in good conscience stop her from going. Anyway, Eric wouldn’t want me to be alone during the day.”
“I understand. I was only making sure everything is okay between the two of you,” she had said. She wasn’t surprised that I was pregnant, just feeling extra protective, since now she was in charge of two people: me and the baby.
I packed, paid bills, did laundry, folded laundry, and kept on doing things up until Eric woke for the night. I’d been nervous to show him the letter I’d received. I wasn’t completely sure if he would approve.
He moved slowly across our bedroom, eyeing me hungrily in more ways than one. When he caught me he licked his lips, staring at mine. “I missed you,” he said, meaning it in a carnal way. “Please tell me we have time for me to pleasure my wife before she leaves me.”
“We have about forty five minutes,” I said, and brought the envelope up to show it to him. He needed to see it before we engaged in any hanky-panky.
“What is this, dear one?” he asked, letting me go and taking the envelope.
“Read it,” I urged, and then watched as he pulled the paper from inside. It was thick and had a seal embossed at the bottom.
Eric read it slowly for him. It took him a whole two seconds. “You did this?” he asked, a smile playing on his lips.
“Yeah… I wanted it to be a Christmas gift, but it took longer than I thought,” I said and shrugged. It was a small thing.
“So Stackhouse is your middle name now?” he asked, eyeing the paper again.
“Yes,” I stepped back a little and held out my right hand. “I’m Sookie S. Northman. Nice to meet you.”
He reached for my hand and pulled me to him, hugging me and still holding the court order that said my new name was Sookie Stackhouse Northman. His happiness filled me through the bond. “You really are mine, huh?” he asked, sounding like me.
“Yes I am. Now I expect you to do the same for me and change your name to Eric Northman Stackhouse, so that we’re even,” I said and laughed into his chest, hugging him tight too. God! It felt so good to be in his arms.
“I have no issues changing my name for my wife. I change my name often. But won’t that defeat the purpose you had in mind, dear one?”
“Yes it would,” I said quickly, “and I was just kidding anyway.”
He released me just enough so he could put a finger under my chin and tilt my head up. We kissed softly for a long lazy moment, until his lust flared once again and he deepened the kiss. I parted my lips so I could taste his sweet tongue, and my whole body warmed up with the desire to have him.
I pushed him to the bed, watching as he arched an eyebrow and gave me a smug smile. Eric loved it when I took charge. He knew I couldn’t resist him, but would never acknowledge that he couldn’t resist me either. I took off my clothes in a hurry, knowing we had less than forty five minutes to make love, shower and dress.
“We’ll have to make it quick,” I said, breathless already with anticipation, plus his hands had started their exploration of my sex.
A low rumble emanated from his chest. “I love quickies,” he said, turning us around and making me fall on the bed when my butt hit the edge. It was a tall bed.
Eric stripped his boxers, his yummy gracious plenty saluting as he kept pushing me further into the middle of the bed. He opened my legs wide and settled between them, staring. His fangs were fully out now, his pupils a sea of black, and kneeling above me he looked spectacular. The now familiar heaviness settled way down deep inside me, making me want him so badly I could have cried. His nostrils flared as he smelled my arousal in the air. With one index finger he parted me, tracing a slow line from my nub to my entrance. I was so hot that his normally cool touch felt downright frigid. It made me shiver at the same time that I let out a low moan.
“Beg,” he said. I looked up astonished. What? He was stroking his full length with long languid strokes, still staring at me.
“Please,” I said, because I wasn’t above begging when it came to having my man inside me.
“Please, what? What do you want?”
We were doing this again, and I was no good at this. I gave it my best shot. “Please, Eric, I need you…”
“What do you need and where do you need it?”
He was going to kill me. One of these days I would self-combust. I sat up a little, resting on my elbows, and looked him in the eye. “I need your cock inside me now,” I said in a low growl worthy of a vampire.
His answering smile was triumphant. He lowered his whole body against me, never taking his eyes off mine, and let our joining come naturally. His body already knew the way. After a moment he ducked his head to kiss my neck.
“I love it when you talk dirty. You turn me on, Sookie,” he said into my ear before kissing his way to the other side of my neck. I held on to his butt of dear life. “You’re so wet for me. Do you enjoy my cock inside you?”
“Oh, God! Eric! Yes!” I panted. He picked up the pace, and our bodies started to make the sounds I associated with lovemaking: wet, sloppy, slapping sounds that turned me on even more. I was so hot that the only thing keeping me from igniting was the cool body of my husband. “More!” I cried.
“Harder,” I qualified, since he couldn’t give me any more. Eric complied, and started going faster too.
I moved so that my neck was exposed. I wanted him to bite, to take me that way too. “No,” he said, and in a flash he had me on all fours, with him still inside me going as fast and hard as before. He brought me up and presented me with his bloody wrist. I sucked on it greedily, enjoying the warmth as Eric’s blood made its way down my throat. It wasn’t until I felt the soaring euphoria that I realized that he had bitten me too. I came so hard that I found myself making grunting sounds like an animal. I wasn’t alone, either. His answering growl was just as animalistic. Eric’s mind invaded mine. His main thought was to keep me safe.
We showered quickly and dressed. We were ready just in time. We got a call from the guard at the community’s main gate to let us know that a limo was waiting up front. They weren’t allowed inside, much less to see which house Eric lived in. So Eric drove me out to the main gate to meet with the limo.
The cute girl with the silver spiky hair got out from the driver’s side and met Eric to take my suitcase. I knew her name was Diantha. She and her sister Gladiola took turns driving and guarding Mr. C., who always had important paperwork that needed to be guarded. These were the two girls that Eric had told me about, the full demons, and he had been right. I thought both girls were as nice as nice can be. I was learning a lot.
While Diantha put my suitcase in the trunk of the limo, Eric grabbed me and gave me a fierce hug. “Come back to me,” he whispered. If I hadn’t had his blood, I would have never heard him. The sadness and longing I felt through our bond was only a taste of what I would feel while I was gone away from my other half. Sometimes his feelings were so much stronger than mine within me. The sadness was shadowed by his love when he pulled away a little to run his fingers through my hair. “Take care of yourself and our baby. I love you both, so much.”
I reached up to caress his face. “We love you too, Big Daddy,” I said, which made him laugh. At least I could leave him with a smile. It was a small comfort. We kissed deeply before he let me go.
Diantha held the door open for me, and I sat beside Claudine, who was already there. Mr. C. was sitting on the opposite side. Being a gentleman, he took the more uncomfortable seat and left us ladies facing forward. I watched Eric as we pulled away. His sadness and longing pulled at me as he stood there with his hands in his pockets, watching me too, until the car had to make a turn and he was out of sight. I already missed him, and his longing was the way I knew he already missed me too.
Claudine turned in her seat, grabbing me and giving me a big fairy hug and a kiss. I felt better immediately.
“Mr. C. brought me up to date on everything. Shall I show you?” she asked. We were on a mission. The quicker the mission could be accomplished the better, so she wasted no time.
“Go for it,” I said and let her flood my mind with information. Fintan was helping us from the other side. Whatever we found about Hadley when we got to New Orleans, we could then pass to him and he would make further inquiries. We were hoping we could track her, even as a vampire.
The back story was told using Claudine’s imagination, since she had never met Hadley, and she could only guess she looked like me. It was kind of funny to see myself as a vampire in Claudine’s mind, since she was trying to convey what she thought Hadley would look like. I went ahead and showed her Hadley, except the last image I had of her was of a feral vampire about to attack me. She jumped a little at my side before I adjusted the memory to see Hadley before she’d turned crazy vampire.
Claudine continued with her mental story, using the new image. We were going to Hadley’s apartment first, to see what we could find. For some reason she wasn’t answering her maker’s call, so there was some concern there. The jewel she’d stolen was actually a large diamond attached to a bracelet, and there was a matching piece. The King of Arkansas would expect Sophie-Anne to wear both at an upcoming engagement party, and we needed to find the bracelet. Honestly, I couldn’t have cared less about the Queen’s plight, but I did care about Hadley, and Eric did care about the woman who had made him sheriff. So I had to do this for two very important reasons: one, to find my cousin who wasn’t right in the head, let’s face it. Now her maker and lover was about to marry another vampire and she had become a jealous wretch. I could understand, even though she was being stupid. Sophie-Anne’s marriage wasn’t a love match; therefore her affections for Hadley were not going to suffer.
The second reason, and more important to me in my own humble opinion, was to make sure the status quo remained in vampire politics within the state of Louisiana. If Queen Sophie-Anne was delivered to her final death, the King of Arkansas would take over the state, and God only knew about Eric’s safety then. He would be left in a precarious position, and I couldn’t allow that if I could avoid it. At best the King would simply make him step down from his post so that someone else could take over. I hated to even consider what the worst case scenario could be.
“Fucking Hadley,” I muttered as Claudine closed off the information exchange.
Mr. C. shot me another dark look, like he’d done before in Eric’s office when I’d said it in front of the Queen. Claudine smiled indulgently. She knew the story and my feelings on the subject better.
“I’m sorry, Mr. C.,” I said, needing to explain. “Hadley thrust me into the world of vampires with her big mouth. I’m very happy now that I’m married to Eric, but things like these,” I made a circular motion in the air with my finger, to indicate this new mess, “Things that keep me away from him, they upset me. She made her family suffer when she ran away in her teens, instead of seeking help or accepting the help we offered. She didn’t even know her mother was sick with cancer, and my aunt died not knowing whether her daughter was dead or alive. Hadley has given my family nothing but heartache, and now she’s doing the same thing to Queen Sophie-Anne.”
Mr. C. nodded, understanding lightening his features. Gladiola, who was sitting on the front passenger side next to her sister turned so she could look at us.
“That’smessedupthat,” she said in that way both sisters had of talking. I usually had to pause so I could let my brain decipher what they were saying.
“The Queen is very grateful for your help. She also understands you might bear some resentment towards her, but she is willing to pay for your efforts and hope you can forgive her,” Mr. C. said.
That just floored me. The Queen wanted me to forgive her? “She was just doing what anybody in her position would have done,” I said, being more civil about it than I should have been. “Like I said, it brought me close to Eric,” I said, hoping to close the subject.
Claudine, being way older and having more spine than me, I guess, named a price for my efforts. Mr. C. accepted it without haggle or question, and said he would wire the money to my account. It was an outrageous sum, and it wasn’t like I needed the money. I thought of giving it to my cousins. They had been putting money together to buy the club where Claude and Claudette worked. They could consider me an investor.
“That’s very nice of you. We would repay you,” Claudine said in a quiet tone beside me.
“No,” I said, and with that I closed the subject.
I fell asleep against Claudine. During the past few days, as my hormone levels had spiked, I found myself feeling exhausted. I’d read all about it on Baby Center, and I was tracking my pregnancy with a calendar personalized for me. I’d set it to send updates every week to Eric’s email. He would get a surprise in a few days. He didn’t know I’d done that. I woke up because I heard the faint rustling of paper.
“Are you hungry? I got you a burger,” Claudine said, holding a Wendy’s bag to me.
“I’m starving,” I said, rubbing the sleep off my eyes. I noticed everyone was eating. “Did I miss the limo going through the drive-thru window?” I asked.
Everyone started laughing in earnest. “Yes you did,” Claudine said between giggles. “You should have seen the attendant’s face. It was priceless!”
I ate my burger, the fries that came with it, and the medium Frosty. I felt like a piggy, but I told myself that my baby needed Frosty for the calcium of the milk in it. So there.
We arrived at Hadley’s a little after midnight. Her apartment was the upstairs of an L-shaped building. The lights were on downstairs. Mr. C. handed us the keys to the place, and the code for the alarm system. He would wait for us downstairs, and when we were done with a few preliminary things he would take us to a hotel.
Hadley’s apartment was decorated like she hadn’t lived there long. She probably hadn’t. She was probably put there by the Queen when her nuptials got closer. Something was off about it. I wasn’t sure how to pin the odd feeling. I cast out a mental net, picking up the loud broadcaster downstairs and a void. I knew who the loud broadcaster was immediately. Amelia, Octavia’s witch apprentice. But the void was disturbing. It wasn’t moving, and it should have.
“Claudine, there’s a vampire here,” I said.
“How do you know?” she said, looking around her and scenting the air. Fairies seemed to have similar powers to vampires.
I looked at her confused. “Don’t you feel the void of mind? That’s a vampire.”
She shook her head slowly. She walked forward and positioned herself in front of me. I found it odd that she couldn’t sense the voids, but at that moment she could certainly tell something wasn’t right. She put both her arms out, one to shield me, one to conjure a sword out of thin air.
“Go tell Mr. C. there’s someone here and that I need the sisters,” she said, crouching a little as she brought the sword forward to hold it with both hands.
I heard a growl from further inside the apartment. I started walking backwards but my foot caught on something and I stumbled before falling. Faster than I thought possible, Diantha and Gladiola had run past me to stand next to Claudine. Diantha had a little fireball in her hand, and Gladiola was holding onto a long sword not unlike Claudine’s.
I felt a pair of strong hands under my arms, and I was pulled up to standing by Mr. C. As he did that I saw the blurry shape of what I knew to be the vampire in residence. He or she was moving too fast for me to see properly who or what it was. It was definitely trying to get to Claudine. She swung her sword wide and the same time that Gladiola swung hers. The body stopped moving, falling to the floor into four pieces of blood and guts. The sudden stench of rotting vampire flesh hit me and I had to walk away immediately, lest I throw up my whole dinner. I also feared it had been Hadley. All I’d seen was a blond head.
Not Hadley, not Hadley
came Claudine’s comforting thought. I relaxed a little but had to keep moving down the stairs to get away from the revolting smell. I’d only smelled it once, when Eric and Pam had killed the three vampires in front of my house.
I was leaning against the railing, taking deep breaths to keep the nausea at bay. The cold air was helping too. Amelia’s mind approached, and I found myself answering her mental question.
“There was a vampire about to attack us upstairs. My cousin and Mr. Cataliades niece killed him or her. It wasn’t Hadley,” I filled her in. When I opened my eyes I found her standing in front of me. She was eyeing me carefully.
“I knew you did that, the reading the minds thing, but that’s just uncanny. Good thing I always say what I mean,” she said and then turned her head to look up the stairs.
“Yes you do,” I said, having to close my eyes again. She was wondering if I was okay. “I’m fine. Vampires start rotting right after they die, and the smell got to me.”
“Again, uncanny. Do you need some water? Why don’t you come over here, sit, I’ll get you some water.” Amelia took my hand and led me to a patio chair set up in front of her apartment. I knew she wouldn’t take no for an answer, and I knew she could already tell not all was well in Sookie’s world. She had a type of sixth sense, more like an empath, like the girl from Star Trek. She didn’t seem to be aware of her gift.
Amelia handed me the water and sat with me. “How’s Eric? Everything going well?” she asked. She actually was more worried about me than him, which I found touching in a way.
“He’s doing great. Back to his usual scary vampire self, thank you. We owe you so much for your help, you and Octavia. He actually sat down and wrote Octavia a thank you note,” I smiled weakly. He’d gotten the idea from me. I was the one who always wrote and sent thank you notes.
“Yes, I know. She shared it with me. He never struck me as the scary vampire kind,” she smiled too. She was really pretty now that I saw her without makeup. She was the kind of person who looked very young when they wore no makeup.
Before we could resume our conversation, two official-looking vampires knocked on the front gate. From my vantage point I could see they were wearing something that resembled a police uniform.
“Oh, shit!” I thought VAMPIRES at Claudine, over and over, and heard a loud pop inside Amelia’s house. I turned to Amelia. “My cousin is in your house hiding from the vampires. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Fairy?” she asked. I nodded. “No, I don’t mind. Let me let the law in and I’ll join you in a jiffy. You go on in, too.”
Claudine looked uncharacteristically upset. I got close to her and she pulled me in for a hug, probably to make herself feel better with my own fairy proximity. “I’m sorry,” I mumbled from her shoulder.
“I don’t like killing things. I’d rather hurt them to stop them,” she said, “but he was about to attack me or you, and I couldn’t let him. He was too close for me to aim any better. I had to take him out or risk injury.”
“It was a ‘him’? Does Mr. C. know who?” I asked.
She shook her head. “Diantha and Gladiola will give the vampire cops the description of the man. Maybe they’ll find that there is a vampire missing, and they’ll know who he was.” She cocked her head. “That Amelia is shouting, isn’t she?”
Claudine didn’t mean it literally. She meant Amelia was so excited that her loud mental broadcast sounded like the news at five. We listened to her. The cops didn’t have any reports of missing vampires, but would keep an ear out. The description of the dead vampire didn’t match any of the vampires that were currently in the area. Mr. C. and the demon sisters were saying that he was about to attack Eric Northman’s wife and blood bonded, omitting Claudine altogether. Mr. C. was the attorney; he knew what he was doing. The cops knew there had been a fairy, but Mr. C. explained that the fairy and I were cousins and that Claudine had only shown up at the end. In other words, Gladiola said she had killed the vampire all by herself, because she wouldn’t be punished nor her decision to kill him questioned.
Claudine breathed a sigh of relief. “One less worry. I hope we can leave soon. I’m tired.”
Amelia came downstairs to her own apartment, which had been decorated more to my taste than to what I had pictured for her. She told us that the vampires had left.
“Mr. C., if it’s okay with y’all, I think it’s time for Claudine and me to go get some rest. We can come back tomorrow,” I said to him, because I was about as tired as Claudine.
He understood. I didn’t expect anything different from him. He stayed behind with Gladiola, waiting for the cleaning crew, while Diantha drove us to our hotel. I told Eric everything in the car, because otherwise he would worry about the upheavals in my feelings. Even this far away, I could still feel him. If I could feel him, he could feel me.
Claudine and I shared a room with two beds, but I was missing Eric and she was still reeling from what had happened. So we crawled under the blankets of one bed, like little girls at a slumber party. We shared a bed to make each other feel better.
In all my years on this Earth I’d never had that. Slumber parties were impossible for me. I never had a sister, and Hadley was older than me and therefore not into little girl things that I liked. It took twenty six years of heartache for me to find my true family and what had been missing from my life: unconditional love from a true friend.