I had to wait a few days so that Eric’s schedule and mine coincided and we both had a night off. Tuesday and Wednesday were usual nights at Fangtasia. Eric was there but I tried to avoid him as much as I could
“I hope you’re not this shy tomorrow night,” Pam said to me on Wednesday as we were leaving. We’d parked next to each other and were standing between our cars.
“What do you mean? I’m not shy,” I said, not completely believing my own statement.
“The man gives you a kiss and you avoid him like the plague. It can mean one of two things: either he kisses badly, and I happen to know that’s not it, or you are shy to be close again,” she explained.
I felt my cheeks turning red and hot. I didn’t like it when she reminded me that she and Eric had a sexual relationship (even though it had been well over 250 years before, and she didn’t speak of it often). Plus, she might have been right about my being shy. Or maybe a prude. Or inexperienced. All of the above?
I shrugged. “I’ve been nothing but my usual gracious self.”
“Yes, to everybody else,” she opened her car door. “It’s only Eric,” she added and got in her car.
I got in mine and drove home thinking so hard that I didn’t even turn on the radio. Maybe to Pam, Eric was simply just another man. To me he was incredibly scary, but not because he was a vampire (though that was certainly something to consider). He had shown me what it should feel like to be a woman.
I’d had crushes that had quickly been extinguished by the thoughts I could read in the mind of each guy. I had liked unattainable actors or singers, but those were the safe ones, the ones I’d never meet and would never hurt me.
Now I had the opportunity to have a normal relationship, or as normal as someone like me could have. Eric’s thoughts were closed to me, so there was a great deal to learn the normal way, through talking and watching. There was also the incredibly scary fact that he could hurt me, not physically (I didn’t think him capable), but in other less tangible ways.
Everyone hurt their heart at one time or another. I knew this because I could see it in the minds of every single person I’d ever been in contact with. I remembered when we were younger, and Tara’s first boyfriend had broken up with her. She was devastated, like a piece of her heart had died. I’d read that pain right off her brain.
I couldn’t swim if I didn’t get in the pool. I couldn’t dance if I didn’t go out to the dance floor. I had to do it. Eric had asked, so I would go out with him, and let the chips fall where they may after that.
My decision made, I felt better about it. I could breathe. This was an adventure, after all. Dating a vampire, an amazingly beautiful one, who danced so well and could kiss like the devil… It was a little exciting. I got a little trembling in the middle of my belly at the thought. It was like a quickening of my whole body, I would call it a small thrill, and I smiled like a loon.
When I got home I found a kitten on my porch steps. That was unexpected and a little creepy, knowing what I knew about shape shifters. She meowed at me, a tiny little nothing, and my heart broke. She was so cute. I wasn’t going to bring her in, but I did bring out a can of tuna, the closest thing I found to cat food. I’d had cats before, and from experience I knew she had to be around six or seven months old. How she had ended up at my house was beyond me. After making sure she’d eaten, I left her outside. If she came back I’d ask Sam or one of the vampires if she was a real cat or something more.
My life had turned very… interesting.
“Did you polish your nails?” Pam asked on the phone.
“Quit it, Pam. You’re making me nervous,” I said. I had followed all her instructions because I knew she would ask later, and I could lie but I didn’t like to. She’d told me exactly how to do my makeup, my hair, my nail and toe polish, what to wear over the dress if it was a cool night, to walk all day in the shoes (yeah, that had been bizarre – Mickey Mouse nightgown and Jimmy Choo heels – a winning combination).
“Alright, let’s talk about something else,” she offered.
“I found a kitten on my porch last night, but I don’t know if it’s a real cat or a shape shifter,” I said, remembering I needed to ask.
“Oh, that’s easy. Ask Sam to sniff it.”
“It is a she,” I said, a little offended. I’d seen her that morning again and noticed her markings. She was a mackerel tabby, mostly black with orange stripes and spots, with green eyes. I’d also ascertained that she really was a girl.
“Well, if she let you look that well, I’m thinking she is probably a real cat. Eric will be there any minute, have him look at her.”
At Pam’s mention of Eric my heart did a somersault and I forgot all about the cat. I was nervous about the date, and some of it stemmed from the fact that he hadn’t told me where we were going, and Pam didn’t want to give away the surprise. She kept saying she didn’t know; the little liar.
“Pam, I’m really nervous,” I confessed in a small voice. If not to her, to whom?
Pam’s voice was softer when she answered. “I know, Sookie, you’ve been like that for days. But there’s nothing to be nervous about. You two get along great. If it makes you feel any better, I know he’s nervous too.”
“Really? Really?” I was so bewildered I repeated myself. Eric? Nervous?
“Maybe not as much as you. He means to please you and you’re hard to please,” she said, back to her monotone.
“Sookie…” I heard an intake of breath, “sometimes I wonder about you. Tell you what: be your sweet Sookie self, no more and no less.” To me she sounded a bit cryptic, but since I had no intention of being Mean Sookie, I just shook my head and dismissed her statement.
“I think I hear a car,” I said, standing up from the sofa where I’d been waiting… impatiently. Eric wasn’t late. I’d been ready early.
“Good night, Sookie,” Pam said, and didn’t wait for me to say anything before hanging up. Typical vampire, by the way. They always got the last word in.
I took some deep breaths waiting for the doorbell. It didn’t slow down my heart, but it calmed my brain enough to move deliberately to grab my clutch purse, put my phone in it, and check my lipstick in the mirror above the fireplace.
I opened the door a modest amount of time after Eric rang the doorbell. I knew it was him because there was a big round void of mind behind the door. I hadn’t noticed I’d put up my shields until I relaxed into the mind behind the door. What a strange habit to develop…
“Hi, Eric,” I said when I caught sight of him. I knew I had my nervous smile on, so I tried to soften it a little. He wasn’t helping. He looked too good, if that’s possible. He’d put his hair into a low ponytail, so his face wasn’t obscured in any way. He was wearing a dark gray suit, definitely tailored, with a light blue shirt, and no tie. I could see the little dip where his throat met his chest, and quickly looked back up to his face.
“Sookie, you look beautiful,” he said. His smile had spread to his eyes, and I knew Pam had done a good job. “Are you ready?”
“Yes,” as ready as I’ll ever be, I thought, but it would have been rude to say. I took the hand he offered and followed him to the Corvette.
Inside his car I noticed he’d worn just a tiny bit of cologne, something fresh and citrusy, but still manly. It was hard to describe, but it smelled wonderful. Pam had made me wear one of the purchases, and only on my wrists and the back of my knees.
“Our sense of smell is much better than yours, so one little spray for all four points is all you need,” she’d said. So I had sprayed the perfume on my left wrist, rubbed my right, and reached behind each knee.
“So… where are we going?” I asked, and forced a smile. I figured if I forced it, it might actually turn into a sincere one.
Eric shot me a sincere one of his own. “It’s a surprise. What did you do today?” he asked, changing the subject.
Besides getting ready for the date of a lifetime? Oh, well… I guessed I’d better answer him. “I baked some cookies and took them to one of Gran’s friends who’s been under the weather…”
“Sookie’s cookies,” Eric mumbled from his seat, smiling to himself.
I giggled a little. “And then I did a little laundry. Nothing too interesting,” I concluded. “What did you do?” I turned the tables on him. Take that!
“I slept, of course,” he smiled and looked at me, “and dreamt of you.”
Oh, jeez! I looked away, shy, yes. I was admiring the scenery from my side of the road when I felt a soft finger on my neck.
“I like you, Sookie. Surely you know that by now. I like dancing with you, and kissing you. Even watching a movie with you is an enjoyable experience. Do you not like me?” he asked.
I’d turned to him, watching him speak. He was trying to look at me and look at the road, back and forth. “I like you too,” I said in a very low voice. He’d heard me.
“Do you think maybe you’ll stop running away from me and kiss me more often? I truly like your kisses,” he said while I became a Sookie-like puddle in the fancy leather seat.
I nodded and looked away. Nobody had ever spoken to me that way. I really hoped he meant it. I gathered a shred of courage, “I like kissing you too,” I all but whispered.
“It’s okay to be shy, Sookie. Eventually it won’t be so hard for you, once you know me better,” he paused. “I do bite though” he said and smiled wide.
I snickered. He’d given me permission to be shy, but I didn’t want to be. I’d just have to make an effort. I would start by changing the station on the radio because it was driving me nuts. Of course, I wasn’t going to be rude about it.
“May I?” I asked Eric, pointing at the radio.
“Of course,” he said immediately, reaching for something which turned out to be a tiny remote. Huh.
He’d been listening to hard metal, and I just wasn’t in the mood. I wanted something peppier. I found the Top 40 station and regretted it. Lately the Top 40 included some not-so-interesting stuff. So I kept searching and settled on a mix station. We rode in silence for a little bit until the station decided to play “Bad Things,” and I made a less than ladylike sound.
“What’s the matter? You don’t like that song?” Eric asked. I knew he was smiling. I wondered if he was making fun of me.
“They would play it over and over at Merlotte’s. I grew to hate it,” I said, listening to the singer’s soft twang.
“I like it. It was the song that was playing when I saw you for the first time,” he confessed.
I blinked. I remembered. The song had just started playing for a second time in as many minutes, but I forgot about it because Eric had walked in and I was excited that there was a vampire in the bar.
“I can’t believe you remember that,” I said.
“Super vampire memory,” he said helpfully, tapping his temple.
“Really? Vampires have better memories?” I asked.
“We have better retention of memories, yes, though not better memories. Not in my experience.”
I was quiet after that revelation. Fifty lifetimes full of everything, good and bad. What horrors had he seen that he was doomed to remember? And always at night. No sunshine for a thousand years. I chose to redirect the conversation a little.
“What wonders you must remember over such a long lifetime,” I said in a soft voice. I was awed by both wonders and horrors.
Eric appreciated my effort. “Yes, many. Some of my favorites are the natural things, like meteor showers and lunar eclipses. Have you ever seen the moon turn red?”
“No,” I said wide eyed.
“During some lunar eclipses the moon turns as bright as your dress. It doesn’t last very long. You have to catch it at the right time.”
“What else? What else do you remember?”
“Phosphorescent bays are beautiful. There are these little worms at the bottom that light up, like fireflies inside the water.” Eric kept describing things he’d admired: a castle made of rock, the aurora borealis, Stonehenge, Alhambra, fields of tulips, Stockholm.
“How many languages do you speak?” I asked suddenly. We’d gotten off the highway by then, and we were headed to downtown Shreveport.
“Twelve, though I can only read and write in six of them.”
“I feel very small and insignificant,” I muttered out loud.
“Sookie, you can’t compare yourself to an old man. You are extraordinary in your own way.”
“I know I am.”
“You are very old,” I said and laughed. He caught on. He may have been old, but his mind could cut diamonds.
“We are here,” he announced, pulling up to the front of a fancy building. I couldn’t tell what it was from just looking at it. There were no signs. The building was several stories tall, with a brick façade and ornate ironwork. It looked like a historical building.
A valet opened my door. He was a young man with a brain that screamed “other.” I quickly blocked him and didn’t accept his hand, politely telling him that I preferred my date’s help. Eric obliged immediately, taking my hand and threading his long fingers through mine.
We walked through two sets of doors before I saw where Eric had brought me. It was a Latin club for supes. Who knew? We got there relatively early, and were shown to a table. They had a menu for me and a list of available drinks for Eric.
“This is really nice,” I said, truly enjoying the place. The tables were raised in two tiers above the dance floor, and the dance floor was significantly larger than Fangtasia’s. Nobody was dancing yet. Most of the people that were there at that hour were having dinner. The music was on, but it wasn’t deafening. We could hold a conversation easily.
“I’m very glad you like it. I was hoping you’d join me for a dance later,” he winked.
I made a face. “I don’t know how to dance to Latin music. I might trip you.”
“Nonsense. You dance very well. Besides, it’s all in the leading,” he said smiling wide. Where had I heard that line before?
“Eric, really? The book is for teenagers,” I said trying not to laugh, and failing.
“I had to see what my child was reading. She was a teenager when I turned her, after all.”
I leaned forward. “Really?”
“Pam was nineteen, and very independent and headstrong. Some things don’t change when you turn,” he shook his head. “She was considered a grown woman back then. Nowadays a nineteen year old is just a little girl.”
I felt like I was reading somebody’s diary. “Maybe we should speak of Pam when she’s here,” I said.
“I agree. Don’t tell her I said anything, please.”
I nodded, “Of course. She’d have our asses on stakes.”
Eric reached across the table with both hands palms up, asking for my hands silently. I put my hands in his, seeing the difference in size for the first time before closing mine around his.
“How about that dance?” he asked again.
I looked up from our hands to his eyes. “Yes, I’ll dance with you.”
I ate my food and he nursed a True Blood. We spoke more about our likes and dislikes, our loves and hates, passions, must-haves. The conversation was easy and came naturally. There was nothing forced, no awkward silences. I drank some liquid courage in the form of a mojito and told Eric we should go try the dancing thing.
There were several couples on the dance floor, but it wasn’t full. Eric chose a corner, so he could teach me basic moves, and then we were off. Latin music was not that difficult, if you got into the rhythm. Plus it was all in the leading. He really, really was a great dancer, and a good teacher to boot. We turned and moved in synch. Just like our conversation, it was easy, natural.
The salsa rhythms were sensual, soft and sexy all at the same time. I had the least difficulty with that dance. Eric seemed to love the way my hips swayed, judging solely by how often his hands drifted down to them and how many times I had to guide them back up.
The trick with merengue was to leave your partner and come back, without letting go of his hand. Eric wouldn’t let go of my hand, but time and again I ended up slamming into him when I returned, making us laugh every time, until I was doing it only because I was laughing so hard and not paying attention. Eric’s determined smile told me at some point I’d get it.
Eric also taught me a new way to dance close during a bachata. It was like a slow merengue, that’s the best way to describe it. During one of the bachata dances, Eric brought me very close, pressing me against him. I found myself leaning my face against his chest, comfortable with this type of closeness for the first time in my life. The song that was playing sounded beautiful and sorrowful. I could understand its general tone, even if I didn’t understand the words.
Eric bent his head over mine to whisper the meaning of the song in my ear. “Little white dove, tell her my song on your wings. Tell her that the nights haven’t changed, of love they spoke and haven’t left. Tell her that I love her and I miss her, that I’ve not forgotten and I’ve suffered.” He wiped the tear from my cheek with his thumb. It figures the song could be interpreted in two ways. He meant to make me fall in love with him, and I got a little heartsick for my Gran.
“My poor Sookie, I’m sorry,” he said, kissing the cheek that was still damp. I was going to say something about how silly I was being, but he didn’t let me. His kiss continued to my mouth, where he left soft reminders of kisses past.
“Do you want me to take you home?” he asked. We’d been dancing for three hours, at least. I was tired and now sad. Plus the end of the night meant a kiss. I hoped.
“Yes, please,” I said looking up, still close to him. He smiled softly and nodded.
Eric switched the radio station in the car to some classical music, which was nice. When I was little and had nightmares right after my parents died, Gran had put a tape of classical music to help me sleep, so I always associated it with something soothing and nocturnal. I reclined the seat a little and turned to my side, curling up as best I could.
In the dim lights of the highway, Eric’s natural soft glow looked supernatural. I reached up to touch his cheek, feeling bold. He turned his face to me, a little surprised I guessed, but then pressed his cheek into my hand. He took my hand from his face and kissed the palm, holding it captive for as long as he drove on the highway.
At my house, I refused to let go of his hand as I walked to open the front door. He followed without pulling away. Once the door was closed and locked, I turned back to him.
“What do you want, Sookie?” he asked, getting closer.
I felt my breathing pick up along with my heart rate. “A kiss.”
“Just one Sookie?”
I shook my head. I wanted many, but had lost my ability for speech.
Eric put me out of my misery by ducking his head and kissing my neck, threading his fingers in my hair so that he could move me to his will. I didn’t want to close my eyes; I didn’t want my hands to be empty. I wanted his scent, his tongue, his shoulders, his face.
I struggled to put my mouth on his, until he relented and let me do as I wished. I pulled him down to me, or pulled myself up to him. Somehow I’d caught hold of his lips, feeling a strange frenzy build inside me, pulling him even closer, wanting to get inside him through osmosis.
He picked me up without breaking the kiss, and carried me to my bedroom, setting me gently on the bed and finding his place above me. He knelt briefly to take off his jacket. It landed somewhere in my bedroom, along with his shoes.
I caressed his face while we kissed. I wanted to keep touching him, touching his skin. Emboldened by the kiss, I began to undo the buttons of his shirt. Eric pulled away.
“Sookie, do you want this?” he asked, his voice husky.
“Yes,” I answered, almost without voice; almost without air.
He ducked his head to kiss my earlobe, making me gasp at how wonderful it felt. He followed with soft kisses down my neck, over my throat, at my jaw, as his hands started undoing my hair. I remembered I’d been undoing buttons, so I continued with those, only to be stopped by his hands on mine.
He stood up from the bed, and brought me up too, drawing me close. He reached behind me and pulled down the zipper of my dress, gently tugged at the shoulder straps and let it fall to the floor. I felt hot all over and hotter still where his eyes roamed. I stepped out of the dress and he caught me, to kiss me again, his mouth on mine was smooth. Delicious. I was so lost in the kiss that didn’t notice he’d taken off all his clothes and was standing naked before me when he made me sit back on the bed.
I’d never seen a man naked before, not in person, and Eric was spoiling me for other men. Every muscle was finely sculpted and I was mesmerized by the sight of his movement, soft glowing skin over hard sinew. He reached for my leg, bringing it up to undo the shoe strap at my ankle, caressing my leg and making me shiver. He did the same with the other shoe, this time kissing his way down my leg. I was panting, trying to keep my wits about me, if only to enjoy everything fully.
“Eric,” I said his name and it sounded like a moan.
“Mmm?” he mumbled from the back of my right knee. His left hand was holding my leg up, and his right hand was making its way down the inside of my thigh.
“Eric I’ve never done this before,” I said, grabbing his hand to stop him.
He looked at me then. His fangs were fully out and his pupils were dilated enormously. He never looked more beautiful. “I’ve never done this either, Sookie. This will be our first time making love.”
“No, Eric,” I sat up. “This is my first time ever.” I made myself into a small, semi naked ball sitting on the bed.
Eric sat next to me, coaxing me legs straight in front of me. In one quick motion he had me lying snuggled against his side, with my head tucked between his shoulder and his neck. From this vantage point I could see all of him. All of him. Was that supposed to go inside me? I looked up before I could chicken out due to size.
“My dearest Sookie,” he breathed against my forehead after planting a soft kiss. “I know this is your first time, and we don’t have to do anything. I can be patient. But I’ll be gentle, if you let me.” His deep silky voice rumbled within his chest, and his hands were caressing my back and my arm. My own hand roamed of its own accord over his chest. I marveled at how smooth his skin was there: no pimples, no blemishes or dry skin, just soft downy hair until I came across a perky nipple.
Eric brought me up a little, looking for my mouth again and finding me eager to return his kiss. “Touch me, Sookie,” he said against my lips. “I am yours, touch me.”
My heart stuttered before it restarted at double time. It wasn’t only his command, but his words telling me he was mine. Mine to touch. Mine to make love to. I kept kissing him, letting my hand wander over his chest once more, down to his stomach, pausing to stretch there, then moved down a little more, pausing at the diagonal line of his hip. I pulled away from our kiss. I’d never seen a man up close before. Color me curious, as well as excited and scared out of my wits, which would explain why I was now running a finger softly over his most intimate part, making Eric twitch under my touch. I had no brains left.
He had me on my back and pinned to the bed faster than I could blink. He reached behind me, unfastening my bra in one easy move. It landed somewhere in my bedroom, I was sure of it. Eric knelt in front of me, pulling down my panties and trying to admire me. But I was still feeling shy, or call it self-conscious, so I quickly closed my legs and covered my breasts.
“Let me see you, my lover,” he whispered, caressing my arms. I’d expected him to tug, but he was keeping his promise of being gentle. My arms acquiesced (not a Word of the Day, I knew that one) and fell to my sides, my legs doing the same when he ran his smooth hands over them.
I was trembling a little out of nerves and excitement, when he descended onto one of my breasts, to kiss it softly. Immediately my body responded by offering everything to him: my nipples hardened, my skin got goose bumps, and I could feel a wetness between my legs. I had to touch him again, so I ran my hands over his forearms, softly scratching them with my nails on the return. Eric’s mouth was doing clever things to my nipples, and though the feeling wasn’t unpleasant, I was getting more of a kick out of seeing him do that to me, than out of the feeling itself.
He caught me looking and smiled. “You like this,” he stated. It wasn’t a question.
“Yes,” I managed to agree.
“That’s good. There’s more.”
“Okay,” I said, out of breath again because his hand started roaming south of my navel.
Eric kissed a path from the bottom of my breasts down to the part that makes me woman. To say I was surprised when he kissed me there would be an understatement. He gently parted my legs further, pushing my knees up for better access to my center, and apparently found what he was looking for. I knew what he wanted, it was one of my favorite parts too, but I didn’t know that the sensation would be so different when your partner was the one giving you pleasure. I gasped when his tongue found the little nub, playing with it lazily before making a deep path to another part altogether different.
I arched my back, bucking against him when his attentions made me shiver with a thrill. I felt one slender finger reach into my core, as his mouth kept its gentle assault on my senses. I felt another thrill run through me and I moaned a little, unable to stop it. He made a little “mmm” noise from somewhere inside me, sending sweet vibrations to my core at the same time that another finger entered, stretching, preparing, slowly torturing me. The little thrills started coming more often, building up as I watched his beautiful face buried inside me, his blue eyes caught mine as he turned a little, biting the very inside of my thigh and sending me into convulsions of ecstasy.
I don’t know what I said, I don’t know what I did, all I know is that Eric reappeared above me, his hair wild around his head, kissing my lips while I moaned into his and tasted my juices and my blood on his lips and tongue. I felt him at my entrance, a soft thick pressure asking permission. I nodded frantically, feeling the pressure slide further in, slowly, so slow.
“Eric,” I gasped. I was so hot and he was so cool. I never knew I would need someone inside me so badly, and there he was, but it wasn’t enough.
“Am I hurting you?” he asked, about to pull away.
“No! Please, please,” I begged. I didn’t know what had come over me, or what I was asking for exactly. I pulled him to me, wanting to feel his weight and all of him inside me.
“Sookie,” he breathed, letting me pull him closer. “Look at me my lover,” he said, his voice so tender I didn’t ever want to look away. “That’s right you’re my lover, mine, my Sookie.”
His words had distracted me, and he was fully inside me, not moving, letting my body get used to the invasion for a minute or two while he kissed me. It was a bit uncomfortable when he started moving a little, but it wasn’t painful.
“Are you ready, my lover?” he asked. His voice had gotten raspy, almost.
“Yes, Eric, please,” I begged again.
He picked up the pace a little, with longer thrusts, holding himself up with one arm, and reaching between us with the other. He found my little nub and rubbed around it gently as he made love to me. I couldn’t look away from his eyes, the blue in them almost gone into a sea of black. His need was a wild thing, and it started sending thrills through me again, building up, until I cried out and exploded under Eric’s body. His mouth was on mine, muffling my cries and his name on my lips. He threaded his arms under my back, bringing us close. I crossed my legs over his hips, and he began thrusting deeper, and faster.
I cried out one more time, losing my hold on him. Eric curled into me, saying my name over and over until he thrust deeply and convulsed inside me, making a deep guttural sound against my neck. Then he collapsed. I took his weight, marveling at what we had just done.