The three days after Gran’s death were a blur, a hazy nothing, a stupid drama show stuck on repeat, one that should get cancelled for bad ratings. I felt like cursing, swearing up a storm, raging, hitting something or someone. But I had no energy to even clean the house.
Mrs. Fortenberry stopped by, but there was no blood to clean from the floor of the kitchen, so she made me something to eat and left me when I didn’t respond.
Jason stopped by, looking for comfort too, but I had none to give him. At least he didn’t hit me this time. It had a lot to do with the fact that I’d gotten attacked AND lost my grandmother on the same night, and he felt genuinely sorry for me. For once.
Arlene came and had even brought boxes and tape to pack things up, but she ended cleaning me up instead. The door to the house had been left unlocked. She walked in easy as you please, and found me sleeping at two in the afternoon. She nearly had a panic attack until she realized I was only sleeping, and not dead.
“You need to get out,” she said, making me sit up. “You need to take a shower and get out of here. At least take a shower, come on,” she said, pulling, pushing. Her guilt over what Rene had done to me was pressing on my brain, and I didn’t have the mental capacity to block her out. In order to make her leave as soon as possible, I simply did as she asked.
I followed like a robot, showering, brushing my teeth for the first time since the funeral. Arlene left some clothes for me in the bathroom and I dressed in them. She made sure to leave the TV on and me sitting in front of it before she left, and she made sure to lock the door before she closed it.
I succumbed again, which was very unlike me. My body hadn’t known any beatings or any damage, but my mind had. The death of my grandmother, her second one in my mind, was just another beating. If nothing I did was going to fix anything, then why come here to this time? Why go through the heartache again? Sure Gran had passed away peacefully, heart failure in her sleep… but I was alone again.
No Eric. No Eric…
I closed my eyes and fell asleep instead of crying, with the TV just a drone in the background. Sound. Nothing else.
“Don’t blink! Blink and you’re dead,” I heard someone say on the TV. It startled me awake enough to try to figure out what the heck was showing. A commercial break came on. Apparently I was watching an all-day marathon of Doctor Who on BBC America. Terrific. And since I’d gone back a few years in time it was also absurdly appropriate. I drifted in and out, not really listening to the commercials and started paying attention again when the program came on.
“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a non-linear non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big bowl of wibbly wobbly timey wimey… stuff,” the good Doctor said.
I started laughing and knew I’d lost it when I paired my laughter with tears. I screamed, something inside me tearing, breaking. I was Sookie no more. I was the fucking Doctor! My tardis, my time machine, had brought me back to this fucking time and place and then left me stranded. I had to go through all the heartache again. I couldn’t change anything. There was nothing I could do to change my world! The Doctor was wrong! Time WAS linear and strict and subjective and events were NOT subject to change.
Whatever wasn’t anchored or was light enough for me to pick up ended up smashed or broken. My whole life lay splintered in that living room, in that house, in the whole of Bon Temps.
The phone rang, but I was busy smashing everything, hitting the fireplace over and over with a long iron poker. In the background I registered that the old-fashioned answering machine had picked up.
“This is the Stackhouse residence, please leave a message,” my grandmother’s voice said. I started screaming anew, hitting the mantle with force. It splintered and fell with a deafening crash.
“Sookie? Sookie, it’s Eric, pick up now!” he yelled into the machine. I stopped my lunacy to listen to his voice, slowly coming down from wherever I’d been. “Sookie, there’s something wrong with you and if you don’t answer… Fuck this! I’m on my way,” he muttered the last part.
I sank right where I stood, amidst glass shards and wood splinters. I wasn’t sure how long I’d stayed there when I heard footsteps on the porch. All I knew was that the person was a vampire. A pounding on the door sort of confirmed it. It almost splintered the frame. I closed my eyes and blocked the brain out easily.
“Sookie! Sookie, let me in!” the vampire shouted. In the back of my brain I thought “that’s Bill,” and then settled back to closing my eyes. I’d already uninvited him from the house. There was no way he was getting in. I was alone in my misery. Just as well.
The next time I heard anything, it was footsteps on the stairs inside the house. I figured I had a ghost in the house now.
Whoever said my name had come inside the house and it was a man. Great, another killer. What did it matter anyway? I couldn’t stop Gran’s death, what made me think I could stop mine?
The great figure of the man lifted me. I’d just noticed that I was lying on top of all that glass and wood. I wasn’t sure when I’d done that, and I was almost numb to the man’s touch as he carried me through the house.
“Sookie, where do you keep a first aid kit, tell me now,” the man demanded, almost growling.
“On top of the sink in the hall bathroom,” I answered through lips that felt cracked. My mouth felt like cotton. He laid me on the table in the kitchen, on my stomach, which I thought was very strange.
“Don’t move,” he said and I obeyed, closing my eyes again.
Footsteps on the wooden floor, receding, returning. Water running, metal scraping. Then pain at my legs. The pain was keeping me from falling asleep again. The pain moved up, little pricks that stayed sore. Then the pain moved to my hands, then my arms, moving up.
“Who did this to you, Sookie?” the man asked, his voice hot. The way it got when he was mad. Eric.
“Eric?” I tried to lift my head and look around to see him. When I did I heard some glass and debris hit the floor, as if it had been stuck to my hair.
“Who did this to you?” he repeated the question.
“I did,” I said and blinked. “Oh, my God in Heaven… I did,” I said, coming down again. Did he really have to see me like this?
“Tell me what happened before I… Tell me what happened,” he said. He was trying to not shout, I knew.
“My grandmother died overnight,” I choked out, new tears falling down my face and hitting the table. I couldn’t really see him well from the angle I was in, but at least I wasn’t alone anymore. He was inside my house, in my kitchen. Everything was mine now. My brain jumped from one idea to the next like a nervous fly.
“Did your grandmother die last night?”
“No, it happened on the night of my attack, when you came here,” I said, feeling that familiar pang of guilt that had visited me often over the past three days.
“Do you think you could have stopped it if I hadn’t been here?” he asked, but didn’t wait for an answer, “because she was alive up until I left.”
That’s what I’d thought too, but still the guilt gnawed at me like a horrible living thing. I couldn’t stop her death, no matter what I did, she was still gone.
“I’m going to lick your wounds to close them, Sookie. I will have to suck a little bit of your blood in order to release the coagulant,” he said, and his voice wasn’t hot anymore. He sounded worried. Strained.
“Okay,” I said, trusting him with my body, at least. I wasn’t even sure what he was trying to heal me from. He’d called them wounds.
The numbness in my body retreated slowly as Eric licked the back of my legs and thighs. One lick was very close to the hem of my shorts and felt particularly good. He moaned at the same time I thought that. Here was my tiny bit of fairy blood in action… great.
He helped me sit up on the table and continued licking my arms. I had tiny bleeding holes all over. I looked at them in confusion but then my gaze settled on those pretty blues that were looking back at me. He’d caught my befuddled expression but continued licking. My lids started to close at how good it felt. He moved to the other arm, lifting it and sucking a little on a wound. I was finally myself enough to enjoy this. I watched fascinated, taking in all that was Eric. He was wearing his usual jeans and Fangtasia T-shirt, which meant he hadn’t been out with the “vermin” as Pam had once called their clientele. Other than being concerned for me, his face was clear of other worries. And he was enjoying the tiny bits of my blood he was getting from me. I finally recovered enough to figure out that I’d fallen on the floor, on top of pieces of glass, porcelain, and God knew what else. I’d gotten hurt and he was healing me. It felt familiar, but it was probably wrong.
“I’m sorry you had to come here and find me like this,” I said, forcing the words out instead of a moan of pleasure.
“I’m not, but you gave me a fright, Sookie. Why didn’t you call me?” he asked, and continued licking slowly, his eyes becoming hooded.
“There was nothing for you to protect me from, other than myself,” I said in a small voice. I’d never lost it like this. Never. I prided myself in always keeping it together, but the frustration of it all had me lashing out like a four-year-old child.
“Then I should protect you from yourself. Tell me what brought this on,” he insisted, and I had no good enough answer. The truth would peg me as a crazed lunatic who’d watched too much Doctor Who, so I went with a half truth.
“It was a very big shock and now I’m truly alone. I only have my brother as family, everyone else is dead. I became frustrated at the unfairness of it all…”
“I’ve lost more than that, Sookie. You need to learn to redirect all that rage into something constructive,” he said. I knew he had little nuggets of wisdom tucked away in that brain of his, but he didn’t like to share them often. “Imagine if every vampire became a raging machine whenever we lost someone,” he chuckled, finding it funny.
I made a face. “Yeah… cities razed to the ground, civilizations crumbling, I get it.” He gave me a half smile and nodded. The smile disappeared.
“You had me very worried. I can feel what you feel. I knew you’d been sad, but tonight… Wow, Sookie! What you did made me think you were fending off an attacker,” he said, straightening up and running his hand through his hair. His eyes were still fixed on me. He frowned, but in a worried way that made his lips pucker too. “I have to go back to work. Would you like to be alone or would you like to come along?”
My eyes opened wide in surprise. Utter shock ran down my spine. “You’d take me along? What about…?” I didn’t finish my sentence because I knew it was going to be something stupid about fangbangers, and he didn’t deserve that. He’d shown me his true self, without any of the manipulation I’d known from him.
Something dawned on me, unexpectedly, given the amount of mental anguish I’d been in and thinking that my brain wasn’t clear enough for coming up with revelations. Eric had manipulated me only when I hadn’t given in to his better judgment. This time around, I had given in without arguments. I was getting to see the Eric I’d fallen in love with when he’d had amnesia, the one who didn’t need to force me to do anything. My protector, the one who’d worried incessantly about me and for me.
“You can help me in the office if you like, or sit and read and keep me company. I have a lot of paperwork to do,” he said and got closer. He cradled my face in his hands, tilting my head up a little. His hands were huge on my cheeks, and smelled of dish soap. He’d washed his hands before giving me first aid.
“Sorrow doesn’t become your beautiful face,” he murmured, kick starting my battered heart like a finicky generator.
I blinked, surprised yet again then gave in to the kiss that was coming at me. Eric’s lips were soft on mine, more like a caress than a kiss, really. Right then I made a decision. I was not going to miss another chance. I would not push him away. He was mine and I was going to be his. And HE would not die at the hands of Felipe De Castro.
“You’re very persuasive,” I said into his lips.
He pulled away, a huge smile gracing those lips that had just been on mine. “I thought it would take more persuasion. Perhaps you’d let me persuade you some more?” he said and leaned into me. I smiled but hissed. My lip had cracked. Oh, God! I must have looked a fright! Eric pouted a little, inspecting the damage. He let his fangs elongate a bit more and pricked his tongue. He ran his bloody tongue over my lip, and immediately it felt better. He pulled away and I took the opportunity to run my tongue over my lip, tasting his blood.
I should have seen it coming, but somehow I missed it and it caught me by surprise. Eric came at me with the force of a freight train, kissing me as if he was a starved man and I was a cheeseburger. I held onto his waist, fearing he would… I don’t know… make me fall off the table or something. His lips were demanding, and mine responded. His tongue found mine easily, dueling with it. His arms circled me, one on my back and one over my butt, bringing me up. My legs wrapped around him like they knew the way. And then he stopped. I groaned my disappointment and he chuckled.
“I will not take advantage of your weakened state of mind, Sookie,” he said, with me still wrapped around him. “I only wanted your tongue.” I could feel his arousal on my pelvis, and I spared a thought to the fact that I still had it… a bigger part of my brain was devoted to the fact that I’d lost my virginity on this very night to a different man. And it had hurt. But then I had catalogued it as a special moment in my life.
Eric’s simple gesture of not wanting to take advantage of me beat losing my virginity to Bill, hands down, no contest. I finally breathed. “Thank you.”
He set me down gently. “Come with me to Fangtasia. You should have company, even for a short period. You’ll feel better to get out of the house.”
I nodded and looked down at myself. I wasn’t exactly dressed to go clubbing. I was wearing a pair of shorts and a too-big T-shirt. God only knew what the rest of me looked like. Eric took my chin in his fingers and made me look up.
“You’ll be in my office the whole time. You’re fine as you are.”
It should have been against my better judgment to go anywhere alone with Eric, but I simply lacked the brain cells necessary to act normal. So when he asked, “Aren’t you afraid to be alone with me?” I answered, “No,” and meant it. It gave him cause to pause.
“I thought you were scared of me when we first met,” he said, not acknowledging the fact that he could truly tell I’d been scared by scent alone.
“I changed my mind,” I said, walking slowly down the hall. I had to stop in my bedroom to get my purse.
“What changed your mind?” he asked, following and probably taking a gander at my butt, knowing him.
“You smiled,” I said and shrugged. I grabbed my purse and Eric grabbed me, holding me tight against him and moving me quickly, too fast for me to see what I’d done to the living room. Before I knew it we were on the porch and the door was closed. I started locking it.
“Didn’t I tell you to go home, Bill?” Eric asked. I hadn’t seen Bill, but when I turned he was standing at the bottom of the porch steps. I closed my eyes to gather patience and restraint, two things I’d been sorely lacking this day.
“I needed to make sure Sookie was fine,” Bill said, his voice growing cold when he saw that I was just fine. I vaguely remembered he’d come to my door while I was having my breakdown.
“I’m fine, just sad,” I said quickly, getting a smidge closer to Eric. A new wave of guilt hit me. I knew Bill had done many bad things, but he’d also loved me. This time around I’d been the bad person, leading him on and ending up with a different man.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” Bill said to me. I could have sworn his nostrils had flared, as if trying to take in my scent. Could he smell Eric on me, in me? Or did having Eric there make it impossible? I decided not to think about it for very long.
“Thank you, Bill,” I said, almost shy.
“Are you Eric’s?” he asked. I knew what he was doing. Bill knew how much I’d detested it when he’d called me “mine.” The show of male possessiveness had always rubbed me the wrong way, and he’d done it to me twice before we’d even had sex.
I noticed Eric didn’t answer for me, which would have been standard operating procedure in a case such as this. He was waiting for me to declare myself, to see what I would say and even… give me some freedom. Upon my answer hinged my future with Eric. When he’d given me blood he made me understand I was his, and I had accepted it. I could not turn away from it now to make another male feel better.
“I am Eric’s,” I said finally, with the surest voice I could manage under the circumstances. Eric’s arm wrapped itself possessively around my waist. He’d been waiting for my answer before he did that.
“And I don’t share, Bill,” he said. I vaguely remembered him asking Bill if he’d share me when we first went to Fangtasia, but since I hadn’t relived that particular moment, I couldn’t remember the specifics.
Eric pulled me towards his car, making sure he took short steps to match mine and not trip me. All the while I felt Bill’s gaze burning in the back of my head and that guilt just wouldn’t let up. I guessed it would be just one more thing to live with. There was no way, no way in heaven or hell that I was going to be Bill’s anything this time around. My reasons were sound, so I shouldn’t have worried or continued on this guilt trip, but I did anyway. I just couldn’t shake myself free from guilt, period.
“This driveway needs repaving,” Eric muttered, taking the Corvette slow and trying to maneuver around the deeper ruts.
“I might sell the place, so it might be a good idea, but I don’t know if I’ll have enough to cover the cost,” I mumbled, surprising myself. It was the first time I’d ever thought of selling the house. Well, maybe not the first time, but certainly the first time I was serious about it.
Eric groaned when the Corvette hit a deep rut and the road scraped the undercarriage. “When I said you’re mine I meant it. If you need help with something, I’m here to help you,” he pointed out. Yeah… he’d gotten me a new driveway once, and it had been the most thoughtful and generous gift I’d ever gotten from anyone. He’d given me something I needed.
“Can I ask you something?” I started, trying to warn him with my question that what followed would probably be hard for him to answer.
“Are you mine too?”
Silence. But only for two beats of my heart. I was looking down at my hands on my lap when the car stopped. This felt oddly familiar.
“I’m looking at you, Sookie. Won’t you look at me too?” he asked, and his hand let go of the shifter to land on mine. He squeezed my hand lightly as soon as I looked up. There was a strange expression on his face, one I’d seen before but not very often. I was trying to remember when was it that he looked at me that way when he spoke. “Do you want me to be yours and nobody else’s?”
“We barely know each other,” I said, which wasn’t the answer he was looking for. He was about to call me on it when I lifted my hand to stop him from speaking. “I understand why you want to say I’m yours. I’m an asset to the Queen and you have to protect me as her sheriff. In your world, declaring that I am yours is part of the protection. If that is all you’re offering, then I’ll understand. But if you’re offering more, in terms of a relationship, then I would like you to be mine too, and nobody else’s.”
“It is amazing the way your mind works. You remind me so much of Pam sometimes,” he said with a little bit of awe in his voice. I took it as a compliment. I knew Pam well and I knew how much he loved her. “Yet you’re so young…”
“I grew up fast,” I interrupted, pointing at my temple. I always believed I was an old soul, but my curse was the reason and motivation for most of my actions.
“Of course you would,” he said and paused, searching my eyes in the soft light from the instrument panel. “You would want me to abstain from others, to drink only from you, to make you mine in every way?”
“Yes,” I said, trying to keep my voice steady. Inside I was shaking. “I would like to get to know you better first, but yes.”
“As in dating?”
“Yes, that would be nice. I know you’re busy…”
“I will take you out on dates,” he said immediately, a smile curling on his lips. “Because then I get to bring you home.”
I smiled. He was always this way with me. Correction: he’d been this way with me when we’d first met, when none of the horrible mess of De Castro, Appius Livius Ocella, Alexei, and Oklahoma had yet happened. We had been happy. HE had been happy. And here he was again. No matter what I thought about the inevitability of death, I could keep him happy until that awful fate took him from me. I could help him avoid the bad things, die peacefully, like Gran… although I couldn’t for the life of me fathom a peaceful death for a vampire. Still, this was my chance to make it better.
We settled into a comfortable silence as we drove out of Bon Temps and onto the highway. He had the radio set on WDED, but it was playing softly, part of the road noise. Then I remembered I wanted to ask him a question.
“How did you get in the house?” I turned to him under the pretext of waiting for his answer, but really I wanted to look at him.
“There is a window unlocked upstairs. That’s how I got in the other night as well,” he said and smiled when he caught me looking.
“So… you did a Spider Man job?” I asked, again feigning ignorance. I wondered if he’d tell me about his ability to fly. He admitted it, to which I said, “you’re kidding,” playing along with my role in this reality. It was exhausting.
“I do not kid. I am capable of flying,” he said, the picture of smugness.
“Bill can hover, but I don’t think he can fly,” I said.
Eric laughed. I knew he didn’t much care of Bill. “He might develop the ability later,” he conceded between snickers. He sobered up some before he talking again. “How do you know about Merlotte being a shifter?”
“The same way as you, I suppose,” I said, still playing my role.
“I doubt it, Sookie.”
“He told me when I confronted him about his different brain pattern. It was actually a nice conversation and he explained a lot of things about weres and shifters,” I said, not wanting him to think I’d gone all berserk on Sam too. One berserker rage at a time, I told myself.
“That’s interesting, the way you read brain patterns. And you say you’re psychic too?” he asked.
Oh, crap on a stick! That’s right! I’d told him about Long Shadow’s maker. “Um… some things come and go. But I’m never wrong,” I added, because I hadn’t been wrong so far, and I knew I wouldn’t be in the future. Time was wibbly wobbly my butt.
“Is that how you knew about Long Shadow’s maker?”
“The two things were connected,” I said, leaving it vague. “Were you able to resolve that issue?”
“Yes I did. I made him sign a note and he has to pay back the money or I take him to the Queen and let her take it from there. She doesn’t look kindly upon thieves,” he said, the last was said with a growl.
I knew, I just KNEW, that Long Shadow was going to die in a few weeks anyway, but at someone else’s hand. Not Eric’s. Not him. He’d be safe from that mess and so would I, actually. There was nothing wrong with saving myself from some aggravation, right?
We arrived at Fangtasia too fast, because it was late and Eric liked to put the Corvette through its paces on the open highway. The engine’s purr and even the smell of the car were so familiar to me, soothing in a way. I knew this car, and I felt like it knew me too. An old friend.
Eric got my door and took my hand to help me out. He didn’t let go, pulling me through the back door. Pam had opened it, eyeing me curiously. That meant she knew where Eric had gone, but wasn’t expecting to see me there.
“Sookie, what a pleasant surprise,” she drawled out and shut the door behind us. She followed to Eric’s office.
“It’s nice to see you again, Pam,” I said to be polite. Since Eric was pulling me, there was no way for me to stop and greet her properly.
Eric’s office was at once familiar and not. He’d replaced the couch eventually with a leather one, but still had the original one there. I didn’t want to think about the manner of ickyness that was embedded into the soft chenille.
“Sookie had a bad night and needed company. She will stay here until I’m finished and then I’ll take her home,” Eric said to Pam in a harsh tone, inviting no comments from her. He turned to me softening both his tone and his face. “Would you like something to drink?”
I was about to refuse but my failure to produce saliva reminded me that I’d barely eaten or drank anything in the past three days. Better to drink something.
“A Sprite or a 7Up, but I can go get it,” I said, making a move towards the door.
“You stay, Sookie. Pam will bring it,” Eric said, moving behind his desk and taking over the executive chair behind it. He was so big that his shoulders didn’t quite fit inside the backrest.
Pam left and I was feeling nervous. I knew what she saw in me. She wasn’t my BVFF (Best Vampire Friend Forever) yet. She was looking out for Eric, and saw me as someone who would take advantage of him. Although, how Eric would let me take advantage of him was beyond me. He saw through people easily. Besides, another feeling of guilt was running through me. This time I felt guilty for interrupting Eric’s work.
“Let me help you with something,” I said, still standing in front of the desk.
“Are you sure? You don’t have to…”
“I want to, please. Let me be useful,” I insisted.
Eric lifted an eyebrow and then looked to the left of his desk at a set of three filing cabinets against the wall. “I hate filing,” he muttered. I saw the pile of papers waiting patiently on top of one of the cabinets. It would keep me occupied for a while.
“I’ll do that, then,” I said, and moved with purpose.
Since I knew Eric and Fangtasia pretty well, I knew where everything went. There was no rhyme or reason to the stack of papers, though. Pam found me working on the pile when she returned with my drink, and seemed taken aback. I knew it was in a good way. She would soon know me again and we would be friends.
I thanked her profusely for the drink and gulped it quickly and noisily. I hadn’t known how truly thirsty I’d been until the Sprite hit my lips. It was the best drink I’d ever had in my life, as far as I was concerned.
“I’ll bring you another,” Pam said and left while I finished the first one.
I could feel Eric’s eyes on me. He was worried about my thirst. He excelled at worrying, so I paid him no mind and went back to work. Pam came back once more and I was able to nurse the second glass while doing my work.
In the background I could hear Eric’s typing on the computer, sometimes he shuffled papers or stapled something, sometimes he handed me another piece of paper to file. Once in a while he would stop all noises altogether, and I knew he was watching me work. This continued for a few hours, maybe three. Eventually all the papers were neatly filed and I had even rearranged a couple of the files that had been discombobulated. Eric really hated filing. Some of them looked as if he’d shoved the paper so hard that he’d balled up the paper.
As soon as I put the last piece of paper in a file, I felt Eric’s arms wrap around my waist from behind me. He buried his nose at my neck, inhaling and almost purring. He really liked my blood.
“You make me hungry,” he said. His lips were soft at my neck and tickled a little, giving me goose bumps.
“Take what you need,” I said without thinking. His hips crashed against my lower back when I said that. Oh boy!
“You’d give it to me so easily, would you?” he asked. I felt the tips of his fangs scraping my skin without breaking it.
“Yes,” I said breathless. I was starting to feel what he was feeling.
“Have you ever fed another?” he asked, and I knew he wasn’t talking about food. Of course, I’d fed him many, many times and knew exactly what to expect. But I couldn’t tell him that.
“Never,” I answered and it was the half truth. My current body had never fed anyone. By now Eric’s body was going through the motions of lovemaking, and mine was responding. I knew he could smell my arousal in the air because I was feeling it spill between my legs. That sweet ache was almost too much to bear, but I didn’t want to give in so easily. “Can I give you blood without sex, for now?” I asked, almost choking on the words because I didn’t want to say them. I wanted him so bad.
He moved quickly, sitting on the couch and sitting me on his lap, cradling me softly, making sure I was comfortable. I wrapped my right arm over his shoulder while he brought my head into the crook of his neck. I put my hand on his throat, caressing, knowing the way so well. I breathed in his familiar scent. Somehow we’d gone from a kind of passion to this gentle embrace, and I smiled. Eric liked to cuddle.
“I don’t need blood yet,” he said, mostly to himself, it seemed. “I can wait, Sookie. You’re probably dehydrated. When was the last time you ate?”
“I, uh…” Huh? I tried to de-scramble my brain, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember. I knew I hadn’t eaten any of the food after the funeral. It was all still sitting wrapped inside the fridge. I hadn’t eaten what Mrs. Fortenberry had made. I probably hadn’t eaten anything since the DoGD meeting, and then I’d vomited everything I’d eaten.
“That’s what I thought,” Eric said, not waiting for me to reply. He wasn’t mad, though, just worried. “I would like you to take better care of yourself. I don’t require much blood, but I don’t want to hurt you.”
Eric drove me home a short time later. Through the whole ride back I thought how nice it was to have him back, how much alike we both were. He would find a song I liked on the radio, crank it up, and let me belt it out at the top of my lungs, tone deaf as I am. He thought it was hilarious, and then would show off and sing harmony with perfect pitch.
“I’ll tuck you in,” he said and went to get my door. I wasn’t going to argue. I wanted to stretch my time with him as long as possible.
When I opened the door I suffered a shock. Though I hadn’t taken stock of my living room as we left, I knew I had left it a disaster. It was a disaster no more. Except for the mantle missing, everything else looked clean. I even had a new lamp to replace the one I’d destroyed. I shook my head slowly taking it all in, before looking up at Eric.
“You did this, didn’t you?” I asked. I could feel my eyes starting to betray me for his thoughtfulness. Any moment now I’d start crying.
He saw it. “Sookie, please, please don’t cry. They couldn’t get a new mantle at this hour but they’re coming tomorrow and installing it.”
“I’m not crying about the mantle,” I said and threw my arms around him. “Thank you so much,” I said and lost it, staining his shirt with my tears.
“I can’t take your tears Sookie, and I can’t understand why you’re crying and happy,” he said, bringing the hem of his shirt up to wipe my face.
“This is very thoughtful of you,” I sniffled.
“There was no way I was going to let you punish yourself for expressing your sorrow, and I knew you would do that if I left you to clean this on your own,” he said, ever logical.
Eric tucked me in and sat at the edge of my bed. Except for a few of his usual innuendoes, he was the perfect gentleman. He only asked me for one thing.
“May I kiss you goodnight?” He leaned over me, fully expecting me to say yes.
“No,” I said, and tried to keep a serious face. When his one eyebrows shot up in incredulity I smiled. “Yes,” I said.
He leaned closer, and I could imagine the twinkle in his eye. “I’m irresistible, admit it.”
“Never,” I said. “Your ego is large enough.”
“Not as large as some parts of me,” he said and waggled his eyebrows.
“Yes, your beer gut is huge!” I laughed and he laughed with me. I wrapped my arms over his neck and brought him down to claim that kiss he wanted to give me.
Our lips met while we were both still smiling.