I decided I was all cried out, at least for that night. I would not think of Eric’s death, or mine, or of the new or ever-present threats. I clung to Eric with a new purpose: to forget. Could I forget it all in his arms? Could everything just go away if I kissed him, made love to him? I wasn’t yet aware that each of us was taking steps to let the other go, each with one single purpose: keep the other safe. At that moment we were still clinging to each other, knowing only one thing: we needed “us.”
As if reading my mind, the moment I looked up from Eric’s chest he crashed his mouth on mine, claiming me with force and intention. This part would not be tender or gentle. It would be raw and fierce like our need.
I pulled on his wet hair, pulling his whole face to me, fusing his mouth to mine. I ran my tongue over his fangs and pushed, pricking my tongue and letting him drink from the wound. He groaned and growled, tasting me, lifting me around him, to then drop me on the bed. He ripped my clothes swiftly, leaving me naked and exposed in just seconds, then turned me on the bed face down and mounted me, his legs straddling mine.
His whole body pushed me down into the bed as his erection sought my slick entrance. He was breathing hard and fast against my neck, as if he was breathless. I offered myself as best I could, lifting my hips, feeling him slip between my legs instead.
“So eager,” he purred in my ear, content to take his pleasure from between my thighs. He, himself, had already made a slick path. I felt his whole weight on me as he reached around for my arms and pinned them up above my head.
“Please, Eric, take me,” I panted, unable to take deep breaths at the same time that my skin erupted in tiny beads of moisture. Not even his cool skin was enough to cool me.
His weight was off me suddenly. He was holding my arms behind my back with one of his hands, the other was guiding his length inside me. At first he entered me slowly, still conscious of the fact that he didn’t want to hurt me, and letting me get used to his girth. I moaned into the mattress and hissed when he was completely inside. His first strokes were short and sweet while he ran his fingertips over my arms and back, kneeling over me. I was completely at his mercy.
Eric began thrusting with longer, faster strokes, faster and faster, until his hips were going at a speed that no human man could match. I cried out as the friction caused more heat to release from our bodies. He let go of my arms, lying on my body again, slowing down just a little. His face was on mine, his mouth a hair breadth’s away from mine. So close but so far. He kissed my cheek and my temple, the sweet kisses at odds with the way he was taking me.
He rearranged us on the bed, with him still behind me and inside me, he made me kneel and brace my upper body with my arms. He held my hips steady and pounded into me. I threw my head back, crying out again in sweet bliss. Eric lifted me and offered me his bloody wrist. I took it and drank, feeling my world tilt the moment my tongue tasted his blood. I groaned and grunted, unwilling and unable to let go of his wrist. The sweet sting of his bite at my neck intensified what I was already feeling, and I exploded and melted at the same time.
Eric held me tight, making sounds just as primitive as mine, climaxing with a mighty roar that he bellowed into the room. The last few thrusts were hard and purposeful, until he had nothing more to give.
I collapsed against him, trusting he wouldn’t let me fall like a limp rag doll on the bed. He held me tight, cleaning the blood from my wounds and sealing them. This hadn’t been fun, monkey sex. This had been rough and needy. But in the end it hadn’t been what we needed at all. Physically we felt good, of course. There had been something lacking, however, and we both felt it.
Slowly he helped me lie down, tucking me close to him. My sweaty skin was now making me shiver, so he covered us both. I had both arms folded against his chest with no way to move them. Our legs were tangled, with one of mine between his, and one of his between mine. Both his arms were around me, holding me tight as he placed soft kisses over my face. THIS had been what we needed. This tender moment. This show of love.
I kissed him back when his lips found mine once again, stealing soft, sweet kisses. When he looked at me with his brilliant blue eyes, I could see and feel how much he loved me. We stared at each other for a very long time.
I didn’t want to be without him, but I had to hide, and he was easy to find. At the same time, how could I bear to be away from him? How could he? He had asked me to marry him. This time it wasn’t something he was doing lightly or to secure an asset. He had asked because he loved me. It was that love for me that would take him away to keep me safe. I knew my wish wouldn’t matter in this case. He almost never gave me what I wanted, but always gave me what I needed.
“Ek ann thér,” I said without taking my eyes away from his. He ran his fingers from my temple to my lips, following the line of my jaw, making me shiver with goose bumps.
“Will you marry me?” he asked, his eyes turning softer, his smile giving away his excitement.
“Yes,” I said simply, without asking any further question, without needing to know anything other than this: I had learned his language so I could tell him I loved him in a way that would invite no question or doubt.
“Then I believe I owe you something,” he whispered, turning slightly to reach something inside the night table. He produced a small box. “One of many,” he said and opened the box. My eyes widened in shock. He’d had it in him this whole time: what I had always wanted from him, it had been there. He was giving it to me now!
Why had I not been able to ask him for it? I didn’t want to hand him a knife so that he could pronounce me his wife! I wanted this: the sweet moment of him asking me, the little bauble that would show the world that I was his, a little thought into what I would like and what I wouldn’t. A ceremony. Words of love. Acts of love.
His face was radiant as he lifted the ring from its box, taking my right hand and slipping it onto the ring finger. I smiled. I would leave it there if that was his wish. As if catching on, he stopped halfway with a tiny look of confusion. “Wrong hand,” he muttered, and slipped the ring on my left hand’s finger. I giggled, looking more at his face than at the ring. I’d never been asked to marry anyone, even if Eric had once offered to share his life with me.
“Do you like it?” he asked, still smiling.
I made an effort to look at the ring. It was beautiful: an oval stone in a simple setting. “It’s beautiful,” I said out loud for his benefit then threw my arms around his neck.
Eric lost his smile when he pushed me back so he could look at me. “This is more than a promise of marriage, Sookie. You will be safe, I swear it. Nobody will come between us, not this time. I will prove to you that saving my life wasn’t for nothing.” His voice was strong and sure, his feelings pointed to his wish for a fight… that’s the best way I could describe it.
We made love the rest of the night, but the tender kind, the slow kind. I explored his body at leisure, learning more, touching, kissing. He explored me, his hands mapping my body to memorize it by touch, his mouth following his hands. At that time we didn’t think that we would be separated by anything, not even by each other.
Martín I of Aragón’s painting was just a small thing, not very detailed, definitely medieval, given the dates he reigned: 1396 to 1410. America hadn’t even been “discovered” yet. Eric would have only been, what? 400 years old, give or take? Only. It was laughable. I stood studying the painting, looking at the clumsy brushstrokes, the angular lines. The strange part was that I’d seen other medieval works that looked like much better renditions, in this very castle even!
I’d explored much of it in the late afternoon waiting for the sun to go down. We had a meeting with Queen Meg and I’d woken up a few hours earlier, unable to sleep anymore. I’d gotten ready and gone downstairs to the human dining room.
I’d gotten a late lunch, although Holy God! Lunch was more like a dinner. I’d gotten a fresh piece of bread with salad, then a healthy amount of a pork dish with a tiny bit of garlic and vegetables, then flan, all served with wine. It wasn’t like I had a choice, either. That’s what everybody was having for lunch. I wasn’t complaining. Everything had been delicious.
Now I was walking and exploring the public areas of the castle, which looked much like a museum. I was able to take my time and look at everything slowly, taking in every minute detail. I had reached King Martin’s painting, the one that held a special place of honor, but I still couldn’t understand why.
“That was my father,” said a female voice behind me. I jumped and whirled, sure that I was about to have a heart attack.
I held my hand to my racing heart and tried to curtsey when I found out it was Queen Meg who had spoken. She gave me a wave of the hand, dismissing my need to curtsey. “I’m sorry for scaring you. Sometimes I think I am making enough noise, and then I end up scaring everybody. I do it to Laura all the time,” she said smiling.
“I’m sorry, your highness. I should be used to it by now,” I said, although Eric knew to make more noise than he thought necessary, simply because he didn’t like to feel my sudden fear.
“I suppose Eric hasn’t told you my story?” she asked. I shook my head, still trying to catch my breath. “I am Infante Margarita de Aragón y Luna. That was my father, Martín I of Aragón, also Martín II of Sicily. My mother was María López de Luna. She ruled Aragón for a whole year while my father returned from Sicily to take the crown.”
“You were a princess,” I mumbled under my breath. That would explain a lot, actually. A princess robbed of a life of luxury to live as a vampire instead. I would have been pissed too.
“Yes, I was. I was born in 1384, and Eric found me in 1405. I was about to be married, in France. Back then we could only go a few miles a day because of the amount of people and luggage that the horses had to carry. The horses needed to be rested or changed. We were traveling up from Saragossa and needed to get to Toulouse. Nowadays a flight over the Pyrenees is nothing. Back then we had to take the long way around, closer to the coast. On our way to Barcelona we stopped at Lerida and,” she stopped talking looking out the window at the far end of the hall, “Eric found me there. It was my fault, I suppose. You see, it was easier for me to escape my room at the inn than for my lover to enter it.”
“That sounds awfully familiar,” I said, remembering Pam’s story. Something tickled my brain. “Weren’t you afraid of getting pregnant?”
When she looked back at me she was smiling in a mischievous way. “That was part of the fun: playing with fire, hoping not to get burned. I’d had my fair share of lovers, and my ladies knew what to do. We were very inventive back then. I think the best was a lemon,” she said with a faraway look. I was having a hard time imagining how a lemon could help. God, I’d been sheltered!
“Eric loves you very much,” she continued in a soft voice, eyeing my new ring. “I’m happy he’s found someone who can love him back the right way. I thank you for saving his life. He thought all this time that I hated him, but hate is a very strong emotion and not easy to sustain for very long. I did resent being turned for a very long time, but now look what I’ve accomplished,” she swept her arms wide. “I am queen in my own right, I have immortality. Eric gave me a… mostly good life.”
“He’s scared of turning me because he feels I might resent him too,” I said in a low voice, unsure of whether I should have confessed that to her or not.
“It’s not only that, Sookie. He loves you more than I’ve ever seen him love another. You don’t take away the life of those you love. He is selfish, to be sure, but not when it comes to you,” she said, echoing words that he’d said before. “He wants to give you everything and not take anything away.”
“Yes, I’m aware of that.”
“Not that I agree. He should turn you immediately. It might be the only way to keep you safe, but then again, who is to say? A powerful old vampire can dispose of a new one quite easily, so perhaps you would not be any safer.” She stopped talking abruptly and turned in the direction of the marble stairs. Eric and Pam were making their way towards us. “Are your ears burning?” she asked Eric.
He smiled and reached me quickly, hugging me against him and dropping a kiss on my hair. “You two can talk about me anytime.”
“Sookie, your finger is blinding me,” Pam said, taking my hand and examining my ring. A slow smile curved her lips, visions of a wedding dancing in her head. Something else to tease Eric about, no doubt.
“Let’s go to the greenhouse,” Queen Meg suggested and led the way. She didn’t feel the need to bring guards with her. Considering her maker and sibling had her back, I could understand her lack of security. Either that or the guards were carefully arranged so as to spring up at a moment’s notice if they were needed. Maybe they were hidden inside the suits of armor. It wasn’t like vampires had to move, breathe, or go to the bathroom, and their immense strength would not be hindered by the armor.
“Are there vampires inside those suits?” I asked in a tiny voice before I could stop myself. All three vampires stopped in their tracks and turned to look at me. Queen Meg smiled, and then nobody said anything. We simply continued walking. I rolled my eyes and shook my head.
The quick walk from the castle to the greenhouse made me glad that the greenhouse was so warm and humid. It almost reminded me of the middle of summer in Louisiana, and Eric and Pam concurred with my observation.
“Smells better, though,” Pam said.
That it did. It smelled of tropical flowers and dirt. The scent of gardenia, in particular, was very strong near the entrance. We sat at an iron table with scrollwork chairs in the middle of the greenhouse, and I looked around me admiring all the blooming flowers, some of which were new to me.
“I got the report last night before dawn,” the Queen began, her face clear of all emotion. She was getting down to the nitty-gritty.
Eric inclined his head, silently asking her to continue.
“Sophie-Anne knows you are in Spain, but not where. She hired people in different parts of Spain to look for you two: a large man with long blond hair, small woman with hair the same color. The description of Sookie fits many women, but Eric is like finding a zebra at a horse farm.”
Eric let out an exasperated sigh. He was angry and upset. Before he said anything, he reached for my left hand and played idly with my ring, caressing my fingers while he was at it. There was no mistaking that he was deep in thought, moving chess pieces in his mind.
“Sookie can’t stay inside the castle forever,” Pam offered, voicing my thoughts.
I could have spoken aloud, but I felt like the little kid at the table full of grown-ups. These three beings sitting before me had centuries of experience, and I felt that they had my best interests at heart.
“The best solution is to move around,” Eric muttered. He was still thinking. “Get lost inside large cities for a week or two then move on.”
“You can remain here for a few weeks until Sophie-Anne figures out what happened to the scouts she sent here,” Queen Meg offered. She turned and smiled at me, a soft smile that read like pity to me. “You can explore all of Europe,” she said, waving a hand in the air in a grand gesture. So, why the pity look?
Suddenly it dawned on me. “Without Eric,” I concluded, feeling my heart sink into my stomach and then continue on.
He squeezed my hand, and I had my answer. I knew I would throw up at any moment, so I excused myself and walked out of the greenhouse, immediately glad that the outside air was so cold. I decided to stay outside, seeing as the cold was helping me keep my food down. I walked a ways onto a parapet, looking below at the other side of the castle, the side that was wild with woods, the side where you could see how the castle rose from the stone beneath it. I braced my hands against the stone and bent to breathe, staring at my shoes. Another pair of shoes came into view. Men’s shoes.
“Turn me, Eric. Turn me now, do it tonight,” I whispered, barely believing the words were coming out of my mouth. “Let Pam or Meg do it,” I continued, convinced I had completely lost it.
“I would stop them, or they would stop themselves when they felt me dying along with you,” he said in a soft voice. “Do you know what made me stop from turning you that night?”
“No,” I answered, straightening because I wanted to listen. The trembling began in the middle of my stomach. I wasn’t convinced it was the cold.
“You told me about your uncle and how he molested you,” he paused, taking in the pain that must have been evident in my eyes. “Then you told me everything Bill did to you, from the beginning. You don’t remember telling me…”
He reached for my hands. “I cannot be glad that this body hasn’t suffered when it’s all locked in there,” he said pointing to my head. “I wasn’t fair to you, yet you still loved me. I have to show you that I can be fair, that I deserve you. Turning you is not the answer. As long as the threat remains, you are still in danger. I have to remove the danger completely. If it means killing Sophie-Anne and Felipe, then so be it.”
The wave of nausea visited me again and I had to turn away from him, just in case. “They will kill you, Eric. I will lose you.”
“I am stronger and more cunning than both of them. Give me some credit.”
“You have it, Eric. But I did see you bound in silver about to be staked, remember that? I don’t have another cluviel dor. I don’t have another way of saving you or helping you. I’m not even strong enough to help you.”
“You wouldn’t be strong enough to help me if I turned you now, my Sookie. This,” he gestured at everything, “is not what I want. I just want to be with you in peace. I want to turn you, yes, but as a young vampire you would need me in ways that you cannot even fathom. Every night for a whole year or more you would need me beside you. I cannot see to your safety as a young vampire and your safety as Sookie at the same time. We would both be vulnerable.”
I understood. I really did. My brain was getting it very easily. My heart, however, was screaming at the pain of being away from him. My brain even offered up the fact that having his blood inside me made me miss him even before he was gone. But again, my wretched heart would not listen to reason. I looked up and his pain was just as evident in his eyes as in mine. He didn’t want to leave me. He felt he had to.
Eric led me back inside the castle, where Meg and Pam joined us. We went to Queen Meg’s office and sat around her desk. Juana brought me a cup of tea without my saying anything, then left us. Carlos appeared briefly but was quickly dismissed by Queen Meg. We were going to talk strategy… again, these three beings, figuring out ways so that I could remain safe, so that Eric would have his heart’s desire.
“This feels a lot like running away, and I’m not used to that,” I mumbled as I packed my bags. I’d said something similar as we had packed to disappear to Spain. This time, Pam and I were catching a flight the next night to Barcelona. Eric’s flight would be heading in the opposite direction, across the ocean and back to Louisiana.
“I understand, Sookie,” Eric said for the umpteenth time. “And as a result of always wanting to be in the middle of everything, you were beaten, raped, staked, almost discovered by the FBI, tortured… shall I continue?”
“No,” I croaked.
“I know this is very difficult, dear one. Your independence has been compromised. Believe me that I understand how hard this must be for you. If the situation were reversed I don’t believe I could have handled it as well as you have. I am trying to think of everything, and it seems that your safety is winning over your happiness for the moment. This will not always be the case.”
“I know that. It still feels wrong.”
“You’re brave,” he smiled at his conclusion, and I smiled back at him. He walked over to me and started taking out his credit cards from his wallet. We had come to this arrangement earlier: I would have to manage his finances while he was in Louisiana. He would be in hiding, therefore unable to do anything with his money. Meanwhile, by my using his credit cards in Europe, they would think he was still here – if any vampire was savvy enough to look. We had to assume they would be trying to look for us through any means, and not only Sophie-Anne, but also my family.
“Everything I have is now yours,” he said with finality, handing me the last card, a black American Express.
“I’m afraid to use any of it,” I said, tucking all the cards into my wallet. “I’d rather use my own money.”
“Yours won’t last you long enough. Besides, we are to be married. What’s mine is yours. Sookie, darling, I trust you with my life! Why wouldn’t I trust you with my money?”
I forgot about the money and remembered to ask something much more important. “Can you look after Jason?” I had phrased the same question in different ways, and Eric had always agreed. I still felt the need to ask.
“I will make sure he is safe at all times,” he answered, again, putting me at ease.
As far as I knew everything was still okay with my house in Bon Temps, and Eric would be using it for a little while. I’d spoken to Jason a few times while in Spain, making him think I was traveling for business – and keeping the location very vague – and he had been looking over my house every other day or so.
We had spent two weeks in Segovia. Every time I left the castle it was at night with Eric and a few guards that kept their distance. Nothing else had happened and I’d been able to see the sights, even though I felt like a prisoner. The arrangement wasn’t ideal, and even Eric didn’t like it. After all, he’d wanted us to move so that I could lead a normal enough life. I think that at some point he’d even considered the idea of simply settling in Spain and remaining far away from everything. That was not to be.
Part of the problem – apart from Sophie-Anne’s vehemence at acquiring me as an asset – was the fact that the culture shock made us all miss our home. Eric and Pam felt it just as I did. One would think vampires would have been immune to such things, but they too needed a period to acclimatize. The idea of Pam and I moving from place to place to escape notice hadn’t sat well with either of us. We really just wanted to go home. However, moving around and remaining in Europe would ensure not only my safety, but Pam’s as well. She was now a target because she was the child of Sophie-Anne’s rogue sheriff.
Besides, we were two American blondes traveling through Europe. We would be able to mix in well. And something else: I would be able to do the tourist thing during the day in other cities. Even if Sophie-Anne sent human or shifter scouts after me during the day, which was highly unlikely, by the time they discovered our new location we would be gone. The trick was relying on one little credit card, one that both Pam and I had copies of: Leif’s credit card. He was not someone that anyone would be looking for. At the last possible moment, we would use either another one of Eric’s credit cards, or one of mine or one of Pam’s, then leave the city.
That was IF somebody truly was able to look at our finances. The chances of that were minimal. We were not going to take any chances.
“I want to see every piece of architecture by Gaudi,” Pam announced as she came into our room. The dividing door had been left opened as we listened in on each other.
“Yes. I’ll make sure to visit beforehand so I can give you the tour,” I said. I’d already availed myself of a travel book on Barcelona and had read it cover to cover. Nobody would ever accuse me of not being a good tourist. Eric and I had even taken pictures in Segovia with my pink camera, and I’d gotten a good laugh out of watching Eric handle the tiny machine.
Pam wiggled her eyebrows letting me know that my giving her a tour would actually be an enjoyable experience. At least my travel companion and I got along.
“Think of it as an extended bachelorette vacation,” Pam said. The whole two weeks we’d been here she had tried really hard to make everything look better than what it was, and I tried really hard to not rain on her parade. We were both scared enough for Eric to show any kind of sour mood.
Later that night we all said goodbye to Segovia by going to a vampire club. Our guards made sure all three of us were in their sights at all times, while we danced the night away. I didn’t drink that night. I wanted to have all my wits about me so that I wouldn’t start crying at having to part ways with Eric.
Afterwards, at close to four in the morning, Eric and I walked around the parapets and fortified walls, enjoying the cool air and the stars… and each other.
“I will miss you,” he said as we stood on a lonely corner outside.
I smiled, even through my sadness. “You used to say that to me when you first met me, when we talked on the phone, remember?”
“Yes, I remember. I didn’t know what I was feeling at first until Pam pointed it out. I wanted to see you so badly, to feel you and kiss you again.” He followed his confession with a soft kiss on my lips.
“I will miss you too, my Eric,” I said, trying the endearment on for size.
He liked it. “I am yours, Sookie. Einn ykarr, minn kona.”
“What does that mean?” I asked about the last phrase. I hadn’t learned it yet.
“It means ‘my wife.’”
And with that he kissed me, on top of a castle, under the stars, pouring all his love into the kiss. And I knew I would miss him with all that I am.
Ek ann thér: I love you
Einn ykar: Only yours
Minn kona: My wife
Martin I of Aragon (Source)