Roman waited patiently for his second to arrive. He stared at a beautiful antique sword that hung in his study while his mind churned with worry. It was the first time ever that Nora had not come immediately when called and, far from irate, Roman was anxious. It wasn’t like her. Her row house in the affluent part of Northwest DC was right next to his, and she had not been scheduled for any meetings that night as it was close to Thanksgiving, and Congress had already taken a recess.
“First it was Veterans’ Day, now it’s Thanksgiving. How do they get any work done?” Roman harrumphed. He, himself, was a veteran of so many wars that he’d lost count. The only one he’d taken part of as a human, had been one of the first Roman-Etruscan wars back in the fifth century BC, if his memory served. A quick work of math to determine his mortal age told him he’d been around for… “Two-thousand-seven-hundred and sixty-five years. Man, I’m getting old,” he said to himself as he heard his front door open.
Nora’s familiar scent preceded her as she walked into Roman’s study. “You’re not old, you’re aged to perfection,” she chimed with a smile. It was a forced smile and Roman picked up on it right away.
“What’s wrong? You’ve been with me for too many years, and that smile means trouble my dear,” he said, taking a seat on his burgundy leather chair. Nora’s obvious apprehension did not lessen his anxiety.
Nora dropped the pretense. “It’s not good news. Do you remember Russell Edgington?”
“Please tell me that the phrase ‘good riddance’ still applies,” Roman whined and rubbed his temples, setting his elbows on his desk and bracing himself. The ancient vampire had always been trouble, even back in “the old country.” Roman had vowed to keep away from Russell, and when he found himself in the same country as that nutcase, he knew it would only spell disaster at some point. Disaster came in the form of a dead news anchor on live TV.
“Hardly,” was Nora’s quick reply. She waited until her boss took a deep breath to continue. “He’s been causing trouble in Louisiana, and he can raise the dead.”
“Obviously, since he apparently raised himself from the true death,” Roman pointed out.
“Sheriff Northman of Louisiana’s Area 5 had been charged with the true death of Edgington, but an attack against his life prevented him from carrying out the sentence,” Nora said, twisting the events into something that would make more sense. She would have to ask Eric exactly why he hadn’t killed the son of a bitch.
“Who tried to kill the sheriff?” Roman asked, sounding bored.
“His Majesty William T. Compton…” she paused and made a quick hand gesture, “before he was king.”
“That fucking Compton is getting on my last nerve. Whatever did Nan ever see in him? He’s one mess after another,” Roman said, sitting back and lacing his fingers over his stomach. “The fact that Edgington is still around is Compton’s fault. Let him take care of it. I’m tired of cleaning up his messes,” he said matter-of-factly.
“He would, and he’s tried, but Edgington, as I said, can raise the dead as well as being as old as you. Compton is barely two centuries old.”
“Is Sheriff Northman helping?” Roman asked. He’d only met the sheriff a couple of times in the company of Nora, but knew that the Viking was a fighter. He was secretly glad that he’d been saved from the true death sentence that Nan had so expeditiously procured less than a month before, if only for Nora’s sake.
“Sheriff Northman has tried to help as well, but he is only a millennium old. Edgington is a menace and they need help in Louisiana. All the sheriffs have been killed during the necromancer episode…”
“Let’s not start that; I’m currently trying to forget it,” Roman interrupted. “Isn’t Northman your sibling?” he asked, knowing well Nora’s true motives.
Nora became nervous, though she had many years of schooling herself in keeping calm and therefore didn’t show anything but a cool exterior. “Yes, he is. Godric was his maker as well as mine,” she said in a subdued voice, befitting someone who was still grieving the death of her maker. However, it wasn’t so much grief that kept her voice in the lower registers: it was fear for her brother, the only connection she still had to Godric.
“Edgington can raise the dead, you say? As in zombies?” Roman waited until Nora nodded. “It is not to be believed. What am I supposed to tell the president? That one of his states is about to be invaded by rotting ambulatory corpses?”
“You can tell him we finally know what happened to Steve Newlin. Edgington changed him. I’m sorry, Roman,” Nora said and looked down at her perfectly polished shoes.
“That is terribly interesting indeed,” Roman took another deep breath. “It’s not your fault, my dear. Do what you need to do, gather whatever help you need and go help your brother. Let me know when you’re ready to go to Louisiana. Let’s keep this as quiet as possible for now. But I will tell you this: at the end of this I want Compton gone. I think one year in office is enough to thank him for getting rid of LeClerq.”
“Thank you for your understanding, Appius Livius Ocella,” Nora said, bowing deeply in gratitude and using Roman’s given name in a show of respect. Eric was safe, for now. She would do anything in her power to keep him that way.
“Please! Nora, darling! That name is as old as me!” Roman laughed. If there was anybody who could pull his strings, it was Nora.
Sookie’s deep, even breathing told Eric that she had fallen asleep next to him in his cubby. So much trust pulled at his heart and made it do something it had a propensity to do whenever Sookie was around: it made his heart soar. He smiled to himself and gathered her warm body closer, remembering how he’d woken up in the middle of the day. Her hand caressing his chest was better than any other intimate contact he could imagine except, perhaps, her hand caressing his naked flesh.
Immediately Eric felt his desire stir. Sookie was warm and smelled like heaven. He wondered briefly if they would make love that night, before Sookie’s soft voice pulled him out of a reverie.
“Hey, good morning,” she said in a sleepy giggle and threw a leg over his, getting that much closer.
“It’s wonderful to wake up next to you. We should do it more often,” he said, wondering at every one of her gestures.
“We should,” she agreed, traveling up his body. A good morning kiss was in order. He looked down with wide blue eyes and a smile playing on the corner of his lips. It was obvious he was happy. She smiled widely and planted a soft kiss squarely on his mouth.
“More,” Eric said and couldn’t help his own broad smile. Sookie delivered another kiss. “More, please,” he begged, bringing his fingers up to stroke her soft hair. She kissed him again, this time deepening the kiss for just one brief moment. When she pulled away, it was her who wanted more, and didn’t wait for Eric’s soft entreaty to kiss him fully and deeply.
The silence of the cubby was broken only by Sookie’s soft breathy moans. Eric turned his body toward hers, enjoying how she was practically wrapped around him. He didn’t expect to be pushed back and away. But the disappointment he felt lasted only a split second and was quickly replaced with a new kind of excitement when he realized she had climbed his body and was taking over.
“I’m in charge,” Sookie said and smiled over him, stroking his chest over the gray T-shirt he was wearing. Eric smiled and let her take over with no complaints.
“You’re the boss,” he agreed, looking for her naked skin and finding it at her waist, where her shirt met her shorts. He caressed the sensitive spot, making her giggle. In that moment, nothing made him happier than having a smiling Sookie enjoying him in this way. It was his dream come true, with a twist he hadn’t expected but liked very much. She wasn’t the tempting seductress he had imagined, but the sweet woman that he truly wanted.
Sookie helped him take off his shirt, running her hands softly over his middle, her eyes following her hands over his body. She wasn’t shy about what she wanted, and soon her shirt joined his on the floor. Eric tried to sit up when she fiddled with the back of her bra, but she pushed him back down onto the small bed. “Just watch me,” she said, her voice giving away her nerves. Seeing the desire flash in Eric’s eyes gave her a boost of confidence, and her bra flew to the floor soon thereafter.
“So beautiful,” Eric whispered, his hands itching to touch the flushed pink skin of his lover. He caressed her legs at either side of him instead, and his patience was soon rewarded. Sookie reached for his hands and guided them to her breasts. Eric’s eyes closed briefly as the soft flesh met his fingers, but opened again when Sookie’s fingers found his own nipples and teased. His hips bucked under her body in an involuntary bid to get inside her, and his fangs lengthened in response to the scent of her arousal.
She leaned over him to claim his mouth once more, aware that his hands had drifted down her body to undo her shorts and his pants. Since that was the case, she took her time with the kiss, moving slowly from his lips to his neck, to his jaw then his cheeks, and down again. She gave his shoulders open-mouthed kisses as the rest of her clothes and his disappeared. Sookie knew that even though she’d said she was in charge, it was Eric who had ultimate control. She felt his fingers caress slowly over her center, and she couldn’t stop her body from trembling at his touch.
Eric watched Sookie as she slowly brought her body up and centered it over his own. Her eyes never left his, and he could hear the faster pace of her heart and the deeper breaths she took, her fingers curling over his chest when she tried to find leverage. Her heart sped up more as she opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out.
“What’s wrong, my Sookie?” Eric asked, propping his upper body up on his elbows.
Sookie shook her head and tried to smile. Her smile faded as she took a deep breath and gathered the courage she needed to ask for what she wanted. “Love me?”
Eric sat up fully and took Sookie’s face in his hands. “Of course I love you. Don’t ever doubt it for one second, and if you ever do, ask me to show you. I will prove my love to you over and over. Please, Sookie.” Eric swallowed. His voice had gotten too loud too quickly. “Please,” he whispered, “let me love you.”
Sookie nodded and saw Eric’s shoulders relax, like she’d taken a giant weight off them.
“I know I hurt you, and I am so sorry,” he continued. “Never again, okay? Never, Sookie, I swear it.”
“Okay,” she said, feeling too many emotions to settle on just one right at that moment. As if reading her mind, Eric hugged her tight then laid them down on the bed facing each other.
“This is new to me, Sookie. It’s something that you taught me. Making love doesn’t have to mean sex.”
“We made love so sweetly, you and me,” she pointed out, remembering their shared dream when they’d made love in the enchanted wood. She propped her leg high on his hip, feeling his hard length against her core. Eric’s blue eyes flashed with unmistakable desire, proving that under the sweet façade of the lover lay the seducer and sex god. He didn’t act upon his baser instincts, which only went to prove that his words were sincere.
That was all the proof she needed. Reaching between them, she found him hard and ready, and guided him so she could take him inside herself. Eric’s mouth slackened in response, giving him the look of someone enjoying the most ecstatic moment of his life. He moved his hips slowly as her heat enveloped him fully, the warmest liquid, the softest sheath.
Sookie’s soft moan filled the small room as her body accepted the welcomed invasion. She tried her best not to close her eyes so she could keep looking at the face she loved. Eric never looked away either, their locked gazes connecting them in a way they had never experienced before. This was their true first time, what should have been but could have never been until Eric had been forced to find his true self, and Sookie had been forced to let go of the past.
For a long time they moved together, each discovering how it truly felt to love the other fully. Eventually their desire took over as their bodies started moving faster, seeking release, seeking to connect once again. Hands and limbs moved in synchronicity, mouths searching and finding naked skin. Sookie tasted Eric’s skin before planting soft kisses on his neck, at the same time that Eric’s nose found the vein under her arm. He would never bite without permission, but the heat of her body had made her blood that much sweeter to his sense of smell.
“Eric,” Sookie said in a breath. “I want you to bite.”
“No,” he growled, feeling his hunger surge at her words. A younger vampire would not have even hesitated, and he was completely denying his nature altogether.
“Bite or I’ll bite you,” Sookie said, doing her best imitation of a growl against his neck. Somehow she knew he was hungry, and she would not have her lover feed on another. Never.
“No,” Eric repeated and switched his focus from his hunger for blood to his desire and drive. Sookie’s muscles tightened around him, giving him the first taste of ecstasy.
Without another word Sookie bared her teeth and bit Eric’s neck. She succeeded in drawing the very smallest amount of blood, but even the tiny bit was enough to send Eric into a frenzy where two needs vied for equal attention.
It was impossible to deny Sookie now, in any way. He sunk his fangs in that tender spot on her arm, leaving her to draw the blood she wanted from his neck. Sookie’s blood was sweeter than ever, tinged with arousal and even with his own blood. She cried in bliss as Eric’s dual invasion took her over the edge. Eric’s own sweet moment followed, made that much sweeter because he could feel Sookie’s love inside him, now stronger than ever with this third healthy exchange of blood.
Their bodies settled and stilled, Sookie breathing hard but her heart finally calming, Eric licking the wounds he’d made on her arm and then sealing them with blood. No mark would ever mar her beautiful skin because of something he did. If there had been a way to feed without hurting her, he would have done it.
“I guess we skip class tonight?” he asked, running his hands slowly over her soft skin.
“Uh-huh,” she agreed and snuggled closer to Eric. She took a deep breath, enjoying that she could smell his own unique scent that much stronger, even with the little bit of blood she had taken from him. This time the blood exchange had been her choice, a way to excite Eric and make him feed from her, and also a way to feel closer to him. By now she knew enough to understand that a blood exchange while she was healthy was not the same as when it was done while she was injured. Otherwise, she thought, she would be much more attached to Bill than she already was.
The peaceful silence of the cubby was interrupted by Eric’s cell phone, which had been charging on his small nightstand. Without letting go of Sookie he reached for the offending object, if only to glance and make sure it wasn’t an emergency. Unfortunately, when a king called, one had to answer.
“Yes?” was Eric’s curt greeting. Just because he had to answer didn’t mean it had to be in a courteous manner.
“Russell has struck again, or so we believe. There are several disturbed fresh graves around Shreveport and Monroe. Several news outfits picked up the story this morning,” Bill said, wisely overlooking Eric’s terseness in favor of his help.
“Why didn’t your human staff inform you before now? Sookie could have been in danger!” Eric yelled into the phone. It was only by pure chance that Sookie had spent the whole day in the cubby with him, but Bill had no way of knowing that.
“They have already been reprimanded. I’m about to call the Authority…”
“Don’t bother,” Eric interrupted. “For once follow the advice of someone older and wiser, Compton! Get as many as you can that are willing and able to fight and get them here now. Don’t overlook humans or Weres. I’ll make the phone calls.”
Bill was about to balk when Jessica walked into his office. The sight of her, remembering that the witch had almost made his progeny burn in the sun because he had not listened to Eric to begin with, was enough to have him rethinking his strategy – or lack thereof. Perhaps it would be better to let Eric handle the response needed to deal with a fledgling army of zombies, Russell Edgington, Steve Newlin, and whatever other vampires had decided to join their ranks. “All right, Eric. I’ll start gathering fighters.”
Sookie had heard Eric’s side of the conversation. She listened intently as Eric told her everything and got dressed. “I want you to stay in here. I’m really sorry about this…”
“I can’t stay here, Eric. I’m human, remember? I need to use the bathroom and I need to eat,” Sookie interjected.
Eric’s mouth closed into a thin, tight line. She had a point. Having a human lover had always been a tricky proposition for any vampire, but being in love with one bordered on insanity because of the fragile nature of their bodies. Keeping Sookie safe was imperative, but keeping her healthy also took priority. How to reconcile both needs? His first thought, to call upon Herveaux, was quickly dismissed when a surge of jealousy attacked him.
“I’ll make my phone calls while I watch over you,” he decided as he watched Sookie dress with more than a hint of regret. He had imagined a whole night devoted to her. Now it would be a long night, but for a different reason. There was nothing to be done about it other than to get ready for what was sure to be a gruesome fight.