I knew something was off.
Before any of my senses came to me fully, it was as though I could feel something was wrong.
Sookie wasn’t with me.
It was the first conscious thought that came to me.
Even though she’d already told me that she likes to be with me when I rise, she wasn’t with me.
I was alone. I found myself enjoying it almost as much as when Sookie was unresponsive.
As I reached out, testing her mood and distance, she seemed bored and was close by… the unusually quiet house.
I immediately regretted putting the jewelry on her before I went to rest. Had she been awake, I’d have had the opportunity to explain my loophole.
She’d have called me a ‘giant brat’, slapped my arm and made fun of me for getting my way.
Instead, she’s been left to fume all day.
Since the reception wasn’t until 11, I thought it might be feasible to calm her down.
She wasn’t angry to any degree. The only thing I was able to decipher was boredom, but it didn’t seem as though she had been into the room for most of the day.
I hoped, like I had a few nights ago that she might be joining me in a moment, so I reached for my phone to check for messages…
…And when I did, something caught my eye.
It was the only thing I could think of at the moment…
Brat… Brat… Brat… Brat…
I stared at my hand, more specifically, the white gold band on my ring finger for a while before it occurred to me to slide it off.
It was simple, but solid. No stone or design. Just a band.
It was ‘just a band’ until I realized that it looked like a run of the mill wedding band.
I studied the damn thing though, trying to decide if she was implying that the ring I’d bought for her implied more than I originally imagined.
No, the human custom… Fuck. Like I’d know. I ended up using my phone to look it up online.
I went back to studying the ring while my phone loaded the Google results for ‘engagement ring’…
The custom IS diamonds. Diamonds alone. Not diamonds with sapphires. She had to be trying to get a reaction out of me.
Just for reassurance’s sake, I searched for ‘wedding bands’ and the first four pages were of pictures of simple bands just like the one I was rolling between my fingers.
Sookie was teasing me.
The point was only pushed further when I noticed that there was an engraving…
‘Two can play at that game’
She’d been expecting the necklace and bracelet, not the ring.
Knowing how sensitive her hearing is, I had to fight my urge to laugh at her feisty rebuttal and slid it back onto my finger to go dress.
Her bored mood continued until I reached the doorway to the kitchen to see her peacefully reading a book.
Without looking back she offered, “Good evening.” Her dull mood was seemingly being replaced by anticipation.
She was waiting for my reaction.
I walked up behind her, placing a kiss on her neck next to her necklace. “Good evening, to you. I hope you like yours as much as I like mine.”
She inhaled sharply. “You like it?”
“Of course. It’s very thoughtful. Thank you.”
I dialed my smile back to a grin to sit across from her. “Truly… Where is everyone?”
She looked like she was choking as she watched my hands lift her foot into my lap to start massaging her calf. Her eyes fixed on my left hand while it massaged… “Uh… Gran decided to take a nap so that you wouldn’t have to hold her up during the reception and Jason passed out watching a movie while the house was quiet.”
“Why didn’t you decide to get any rest?”
“I got plenty of sleep. I couldn’t have slept if I tried.” Her eyes still hadn’t met mine.
“Did Pam’s boutique come through with a dress?”
She nodded, gazing at the band.
“Will it remind me of your slip?”
“Huh? Uh… yeah. The color is close and it’s cut low.”
I smiled at the prospect of the dress, but she didn’t notice. “I hope you don’t mind. I remembered that you said you don’t like flashy, so the things you’re wearing now are more simple for regular use. There are more formal pieces for you to wear tonight.”
She nodded again, filling with concern… I was starting to get the feeling that she thought I’d be disappointed to realize it was a joke.
“Sookie, are you feeling well? You’re troubled about something.”
She barely shook her head. “No, I’m fine.”
“You aren’t upset because there are diamonds in your jewelry, are you?”
“No. It’s beautiful. All of it. Thank you.” Her voice was strained.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah. I’m sure I’ll like the other stuff too… for special occasions.”
“I hope so. I found something for Adele too.”
“Simple enough for her to be comfortable, but probably sufficient to turn her gossipy friend green.”
“That’ll be fun. How did things go with Paulette last night?”
“I wanted to tell you this morning… I got her. She’s moving to Shreveport. Bobby is getting fired… or taken to a taxidermist.”
“Wow. That’s great.”
“I think so. He’s not a large man, so it shouldn’t cost nearly as much to have him stuffed as my last day guy.”
“Cheaper is better.”
“Sookie?” I reached over to her with my left hand, asking for hers. She eyed it until her own hand covered the ring and I led her over to sit on my legs.
“Yeah?” As soon as my hand rested on her thigh, she was locked on it again. Her preoccupation with the ring was making it nearly impossible to keep from laughing.
“You’re worrying me.”
“You’re distant, distracted, barely engaged. You’re not acting like yourself.”
She tensed as ‘engaged’ filtered through her mind. “What do you mean?”
“I just told you that I plan on having Bobby stuffed and mounted and you agreed that it was a good idea.”
I slid my hand up her thigh to rest on the back of her hip and waited. “What?”
“You’re being spacey. I have a collection of fitting blond jokes to go along with the vacant look you’ve had since I joined you.”
“I was… I wasn’t sure how you’d react to the…” She interrupted herself as we were joined…
Pam breezed into the room and, as I expected she would, she noticed the ring in less than a second. Fashion. Jewelry. Torture. Pam is a venerated authority on the subjects.
“What is that!?” Her gratuitous gasp caused Sookie to whip her head around.
“My ring? Sookie gave it to me. You like?” I pulled my hand back to ‘admire’ the ring. “I’m impressed. It’s a perfect fit.”
“Sookie, you… Eric… you…” This was perfect. I’d managed to baffle them both in the same joke. “Eric, you realize that you’re wearing a wedding ring, right?”
It had been hard enough to keep my smile (laugh for that matter) to myself, but the faked grimace was pushing my acting ability. “A wed… Sookie?”
When she turned back to me, her expression and her mood were both bordering on ‘crushed’. “Eric, I…”
I knew Pam would quickly feel that my mood wasn’t matching my behavior. She would spoil my fun if we stayed in the room with her…
I stood up, setting Sookie on the floor and set an angry stride towards our room. “We need to talk. Now.”
Sookie sheepishly closed the door behind her.
“A wedding band?”
She started shaking her head defensively. “That’s not… Eric, I…”
I put my eyebrows up as though I was excited at the prospect of marriage. “Is that what you want?”
She only staggered back half a step before I caught her. “What?”
I smiled at her, pulling her closer. “It’s a little soon, but… you’re already considering much longer term… It isn’t legal yet, but we could start making plans. Pam enjoys a show called Bridezillas… I understand these things take a while to plan anyway…”
Her jaw bounced, trying to find words as I carried her to the bed and rested over her on my knees. I was going to pay for how much fun I was having later, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.
“…We can announce our engagement when our bond is permanent and then marry as soon as it’s legal. Pam would be my… my… what’s it called?”
She cringed. “Best man?”
“That’s it… We could have a relatively traditional ceremony. The only thing I ask is that we skip the cake exchange… That wouldn’t work out well.”
“Eric, I need to tell you something.”
I nodded. “Just one more thing, then it’s your turn?”
She furrowed her brows and tried to swallow the panic back as she nodded.
I leaned in, getting right up to her ear. “Two can play at that game.”
She was so still she might be mistaken for dead for just a moment before she started punching my sides. “OH. YOU. SON. OF. A. BITCH! Get off! Get…” She started laughing, but I could barely hear it over my own noise. “…I’m going to… You shit!”
I kissed her before pulling away just enough to face her. “Do you not like your ring?”
She was still chuckling. “It’s beautiful, just like everything else. But I told you why I didn’t want a ring. I’m afraid it will get messed up.”
“I don’t expect for you to wear it while you’re waiting tables, but after the way you were talking last night it didn’t seem like you were going back to Merlotte’s.”
She turned her mouth down mockingly. “Nice loophole.”
“I think so. Thank you.”
“You had me Goggling engagement rings and you call me a brat?”
“Why would you Google those?”
“Because it only took me a moment to recognize my ring as a wedding band. I was worried that I might have sent the wrong message since I’m not sure of the standard… then I found the engraving.”
She laughed. “Good. That’s what I was going for… Just a second or two of panic. How many times did you call me a brat?”
“Then we’re even. I did too… You can take it off now.” I thought about it, but only for the briefest of moments…
“No. I think I’ll wear it.”
“Eric, it’s a wedding band. Why would you want to wear it?”
“As a keepsake… Once we’re bonded, I won’t be able to fool you like that anymore. You’d have felt how much fun I was having.”
She grinned, putting her finger up to rest over my lips. “Shhhh. Don’t bullshit me, you’re still going to try.”
Before I had the chance to jokingly deny her accusation, her finger slid over my lip slowly and started to trail down the side of my neck…
I growled at her, caught on my knees between her soft, inviting thighs…
Reluctantly, I held my hand out for hers and guided her from the bed.
She pouted, standing toe to toe with me, huffing out a deep sigh. “What do I smell like? I’m going to be in a room full of vampires. I should smell like my master, shouldn’t I?” My master.
I leaned only slightly to take her in… nothing.
“I don’t smell like anything, do I?”
“Did you do that on purpose?”
Her eyebrow twitched, giving her away. “I did my thing during the day and then took a shower a little while ago so my hair would be dry for Pam to take care of.”
“You only smell like your bath items.”
She smirked, lifting her shirt over her head to let it fall to the floor and started pulling my shirt from me. “It’s your fault.”
When her soft warm body pressed against my chest, my arms went around her as if on their own accord. “I most definitely want to hear how this was my doing.”
She chuckled, swaying her body to ‘transfer our scents’. “I went to bed alone last night.”She continued trying to provoke me, blowing a heated breath over my ribs and brushing her fingertips up my spine.
“I’m sorry for that.”
She giggled and dragged her hot tongue over my nipple. “You should think of a way to make it up to me.” Spectacular… She was wearing five figures worth of jewelry and she considered herself slighted by being denied ‘alone time’.
“I can think of hundreds of ways to make it up to you, and all of the positions and places to do it in, but now isn’t the time. We need to ready.”
She whimpered. “I know… when we get home tomorrow night, will we need to go to Fangtasia right away?”
“No. Not until the next night for the interviews.”
“So I’ll have all night?”
“And my undivided attention.”
“In your room?”
“Until you can’t walk.”
“Could I still swim? We have some unfinished business with your pool.”
“I could be convinced.” My attempt at being coy was failing miserably. Her arms had strapped around me so tightly that my cock had stiffened at the friction from her rocking.
“How late do you think we’ll be tonight?”
“We should be back by 3.” Two, if we can convince Adele to use fatigue as our escape plan.
“Giving us 3 hours.”
“That might be enough time.”
She purred, “Enough time for what?”
I lowered my mouth to her ear, dropping my fangs. “I could completely ruin you.”
Her skin rolled with goosebumps and in an instant she had released her hold on me and was darting for the door stooping to snatch her shirt up along the way.
“Where are you going?”
She giggled without looking back. “If we want playtime later, then I have shit to do, master.”
It was no chore to catch up to Sookie and as we arrived in the kitchen to find the entire household gathered, Jason shot a worried look to his sister.
“Sook, you alright? I heard you yelling?”
She scowled in my direction. “I was trying to play a joke on Eric, and the butthead turned it around on me. You heard my reaction to his ‘reveal’.”
He offered an uncomfortable grin in my direction. “That’s what I was hoping. You’da been toast otherwise.”
“No kidding… Okay, this session of the Stackhouse family meeting is now called to order.”
“More like a lecture. You and Gran need to know what to expect when we get to the palace tonight.”
“Well, for starters, do you get the maker/child thing?”
“Eric is Pam’s maker. She is his child. The queen is Hadley’s maker. That’s who turned them into a vampire in the first place.” She lowered her chin and raised her eyebrows waiting for him to ask what he needed to.
He thought about it for a minute before starting to nod. “Alright… like a sponsor… like when Grampa sponsored Hoyt’s dad to join the Masons?”
She looked surprised that the information had absorbed so quickly. “Yeah, or a fraternity. Someone has to ‘open the door’ for them. And if, say Pam, went berserker and started draining folks willy-nilly, Eric’s ass would be on the line too because he’s responsible for her actions as her ‘sponsor’.” In the simplest of terms… and he looked like he was catching on.
“Yeah. I guess that makes sense. Is there more?”
Sookie nodded. “And then there’s pets.”
“Like Tina?” The cat was coincidentally enjoying Pam’s absentminded stroking.
“No. A human pet. Vampires, some vampires, keep human pets. The pet gets taken care of to an extent, depending on the vampire, because the pet serves a purpose…”
He began shaking his head, needing more help on this matter. Poor squirrels.
“…Like Terry’s hunting dogs or the dog Sam keeps to scare scavengers away from the dumpster.” Pam and Adele started snickering, knowing that Sam himself was the one who carried out the ‘opossum patrol’.
“Alright. A purpose? What do humans do for vampires?”
She cringed having to spell it out for him. “Sex and blood normally. Pets are only a step above fangbangers, right?” She looked up at me.
I nodded. “Only slightly. They cost more, but they’re more reliable.”
“Cost more?” The only reason I was indulging him at this point, was because he was going to see more than a few ‘pets’ tonight. Sadly, this needed to be done so that he didn’t cause a scene.
Thankfully, Adele stepped in while I was still wording my answer. “Jason, fangbangers tend to throw themselves at vampires. They come out of the woodwork wanting to get bitten. Pets are taken care of. They get something more out of it. To put it in terms you can understand, fangbangers are booty calls. Pets are loveless marriages.” She hit the target dead center and she did it without mentioning that there was nothing between Jason and Dawn or Maudette but sex like I would have.
Hadley joined the conversation, patting Jason on his knee. “Then there are special circumstances… Like me and Sophie-Ann. I was a pet, but we were friends too. Some of us are just ‘pets’ in public because most vampires are just hard asses. Like… well, there aren’t many who didn’t live in a time when there was a breadwinner and then a slave type. Think about it. Eric is really old and women have only really had any rights for like a tenth of his life.”
He shot a half hearted dirty look in my direction, but Pam cut him off. He was getting a ‘round robin’. “Don’t go throwing around critical looks, sugar. His age was the example, not his attitude. I’ve been annoying the shit out of him since he turned me and I rarely ever get punished…”
She snickered at him. “Yes. In fact the last punishment I received was horrific… I glamoured all of the waitresses to serenade him with Unchained Melody while the club was at capacity a few weeks ago and…” She started to put on a crying fit. “… He made me… He made me donate all of my Hermes bags to a church auction. It cost me a fortune to replace them one at a time on eBay.” Those bags are ghastly and the only real reason for a bag that big is to move a body.
He snorted. “That had to be hard.”
She smiled at him. “He wouldn’t even let me get a receipt so I could write off the donation.”
He looked back to Sookie when he was done laughing. “Is that it? Makers and children and pets?”
She nodded. “I am Eric’s pet. He’s my master.”
“Just what I said. He’s my master. Tonight, in that reception hall, I’m nothing but a submissive pet with a talent that has proven useful to the queen. You’re going to hear me called ‘Northman’s little blood-bag’ and other stuff like that… Just because we like spending time together doesn’t mean a hill of beans to most vampires. We’re beneath them on the food chain and if you found out one of your friends had gotten attached to a plate of hot wings, you’d think he was off his rocker too.”
Adele added, “You also wouldn’t take him seriously anymore. There are vampires like Bill Compton who would use or harm your sister, Jason. If Eric is going to keep her safe, then other vampires will need to continue to respect him.”
Hadley shook her head. “No it isn’t. Do you cuss around children?”
“No. Gran would beat my ass.”
“Do you fart at the dinner table?”
“Do you tell dirty jokes at church?”
He lowered his eyes. “Not since the pastor overheard.”
“Right. There’s a right time and a wrong time for all that stuff… consider tonight the time for ‘church manners’. I’ll be minding my Ps and Qs too.”
His neck jerked a sudden nod as though he’d set himself to behave and looked up at me. “Alright. I get it. So… uh… how high up on the food chain are you?”
Hadley grinned from ear to ear. “Well… Eric is the shit. He’s Sophie-Ann’s favorite sheriff. He’ll technically be the 3rd ranking in the room tonight, but he’s the strongest of all of them and the scariest.” Her age aside, Hadley was still the talkingest fucking vampire I’d ever come across…
Jason’s eyes grew. “So… you’re like… pretty far up there, huh? You’re big and all, but you’re not that scary looking.”
I wanted to laugh at him. “I have my moments.”
The crash course in vampire relations had gone better than I could have imagined. Jason managed to take the information in stride as though he was learning how to dine at a formal place setting. Pam and Hadley were explaining that vampires aren’t fond of human contact such as hand shaking (any more than he’d rub himself with food) when there was an unexpected knock on the door.
Mr. Cataliades flashed his excessively genial smile when I greeted him.
“Good evening, Sheriff. My apologies for stopping by unannounced, but the queen sent me to take care of a few business matters and… well, bring Hadley’s attire for the reception as well.”
I offered a nod as I took the garment bag from over his arm. “I wasn’t aware that we had unfinished business.”
“More to the point, I’m here to speak to Mr. Stackhouse. Majesty was hoping that you might serve as his guide through the matters at hand.”
After delivering Hadley’s dress, Jason and I assembled in my office with the lawyer…
My curiosity was more than piqued. What ‘business’ the queen had with Jason, was beyond me. It wasn’t any surprise that Jason couldn’t have been more confused.
Mr. Cataliades opened his brief case as soon as he was seated and handed a file to me, turning to Jason to thank him for his time…
“…I’m here to discuss settlement with you.”
“For the injury and loss of work that you sustained at the hands of one of the Queen’s employees.”
“You mean Bill nabbing me and feeding on me.”
Mr. C nodded. “…And I was told you were under an extended glamour as well.”
Jason shifted nervously. “Yeah. I guess. I don’t remember nothing though.”
Mr. C chuckled through closed lips. “I’m sure that it could be arranged for you to get your missing time back, but would you really want to?”
“Naw. I guess you’re right about that.”
“Very well then, Sheriff Northman is looking over a settlement contract. Since Mr. Compton committed his wrong to you while on an assignment from the Queen, she’s fining him for his error.”
“I thought he was getting beat up and stuff for that.”
“Technically, that portion of his punishment is in regards to his failure in his task and his plans toward turning your sister. This proposal is specific to you as a private entity.”
“Oh… Eric, I have no idea what’s going on.”He was so simple, almost like an infant.
“If you got into a fist fight as a child, you’d have been punished, and then Adele would have made you apologize to your challenger also. Yes?” Hopefully, Adele was rubbing off…
“Got it. Thanks”
Cataliades smiled as he continued, “Since the queen’s intent is to eject Mr. Compton from her state formally, his ‘apology’ is coming in the form of his Louisiana holdings; notably, his Bon Temps properties and accounts.”
The daemon chuckled and handed over a file. “Compton Manor and its sizable tract of land, a pair of strip malls near Baton Rouge and his condo that was recently closed on here in the city. His 3 local bank accounts have nominal balances and we can either close out those accounts to give you the funds or transfer them to your name. He also had a couple a vehicles. An Enclave as well as the Caddie Sedan he took to Bon Temps.”
“The queen is giving me all the stuff he has in Louisiana because he fed from me?”
A simple nod.
“Shit, Eric… you hungry?”
I couldn’t help but laugh at the fool. “If you’re offering, then it wouldn’t pay off for you.”
He chuckled in turn. “What do you think ‘bout all this?”
I ‘called’ Pam and asked her to take Mr. Cataliades to the kitchen for some refreshments to spare the man of hearing the longer explanation that would normally not be required.
“It’s weird.” I was quickly coming to understand that he used the statement instead of admitting that he was flummoxed… and the squirrels weren’t helping.
“It’s simple… Did you watch the OJ trial?”
“Yeah. You did?”
“Pam. She was convinced that OJ is a… never mind. Yes. I saw enough of it. Not only was there the criminal aspect, but there was a civil trial as well. Bill has already been found guilty of being a complete moron and disappointment to his queen. This settlement is the civil… his recompense for injuring you.”
“What the hell am I gonna do with all of it though?”
“Whatever you like. It’s yours once you sign.”
“But I don’t… I mean having a cushion in my bank account would be nice, but… I don’t need the houses or the cars…”
“You do need one of them.”
“You were in an accident, remember?”
“Oh shit! My truck?”
“Your insurance company will send you a check in a couple of weeks. You’d have been free to borrow your sister’s car in the interim. Otherwise, you’d have been forced to explain that you’d been glamoured, abducted and fed from.”
“Is it totaled?”
“Yes. You hit a large deer and rolled into a ditch…”
“…The severity was the only way to explain your ‘coma’. A fender bender only would have worked if you could immediately return to work. The more ‘harsh’ injury allowed you the time to stay and see Hadley. Your mood might change when you see the Enclave. It’s an excellent vehicle.”
He huffed, “You think Gran would like the Caddie?”
“Possibly. I would have gotten her a crossover type of car to make it easier for her to get in and out of. She has difficulties with my Corvette and my Escalade… Sookie refused new cars though.”
An evil grin took over his face. “You met Maxine, right… Her skin’ll crawl to see Gran drive up in a Caddie.” He might not be as insufferable as I thought. Just unrefined.
“Be careful. Someone might think vampires are rubbing off on you.”
“Aw, hell… that woman’s been bragging about everything she gets and does as long as I can remember. Last year she stopped by to show off her new vacuum because Gran won’t replace her ole Kirby. She’s just prideful. And nasty about it.”
“Sookie is very excited to be making enough money to spoil Adele a bit; pay her back for all she’s done for the two of you… If nothing else, you could sell off the properties and be able to enjoy the same.”
He nodded thoughtfully. “Is this normal? I mean so much for a few pints of blood?”
“No. Not at all. I’m sure there are many factors that explain why the queen is being so generous.”
“To start, you’re Hadley’s cousin. In addition, you’re Sookie’s brother. You and Adele are being extended formal protection because of her interest in keeping them content. When you take into consideration that Compton not only failed her, but betrayed her, you are benefiting from the example being made of him. At best, a victim like you would be glamoured to forget it all. When he is expelled from the state, the items in his cache would be forfeited to the queen anyway so that he’d have no excuse to return to the Queendom.”
“Shit… Y’all are old school.” I smiled at his understatement.
“Considering we’re both over a thousand years old, we’re pretty forward thinking. If this had happened as little as a hundred years ago, he’d have been publically executed for treason.”
“Damn! That ‘old’?… Cradle robber.”
While Jason nearly shit in his pants finding out that his bank account would soon exceed double his yearly salary, I asked Mr. Cataliades to courier a package to Andre. I sent Pam to retrieve the knob’s ‘uniform’ and wrote the note to accompany it…
In the interest of not exterminating the prick, I’m not interested in having Compton return to my area with my party. My primary reason would be my resistance to provide the transportation he needs to be so close to Sookie that he might fulfill his threat.
Since the Queen intends to expel him from the state, I was hoping you’d be interested in a little fun before we leave for Shreveport. The package includes what Bill would have worn to wait tables at Fangtasia (including something to help tidy him up a bit). Sookie suggested that since you are low on staff at the moment, Bill could prove himself useful during the reception.
If you and Majesty find my suggestion to be exceedingly garish, I do understand, but I thought you might enjoy taking part in my brand of ‘torture’.
Just as I was finishing the note, Jason was being handed a copy of his settlement, titles and deeds… and Pam sashayed into the room holding a bag and wearing a smile that might as well come with a pitchfork.
She took each item out of the bag, holding it out or removing it from the packaging to display… Jason and the daemon were near hysterics by the time she’d completed her ‘show and tell’, making it nearly impossible for me to seem calm.
If Andre had any sense of humor at all, tonight was going to be far more entertaining than the usual events held at the palace.
Now the only issue would be not laughing hard enough to keep me from dancing with Sookie.
With that settled, we went our separate ways to dress for the evening.
By the time I reached our room, Pam was ready and helping Sookie with her hair in the bathroom… the two of them were prattling compliments back and forth about their dresses and shoes.
I only noticed Pam’s dress enough to be grateful that I’d gotten light pink diamonds for her. She might take a second to be appreciative since they wouldn’t clash with her bright pink sheath.
The sky blue gown that Sookie was wearing was much more reminiscent of her little slip than I could have hoped…
Hugging her curves until it broke away over her hips to allow her plenty of movement for dancing.
Long enough that it would drag the floor if it weren’t for the heel on her sandals.
Striking enough to make me hard as well as hope to make it through the evening until we could return for playtime…
The two of them finally asked about the lawyer’s visit while I pulled on my blue pinstripe suit and laughed at the idea of Jason being a ‘land baron’.
…And I found myself sitting in the chair of our room, waiting for the primping (and pleasant conversation) to be over.
Not only was Sookie enjoying the ability to befriend someone whose thoughts wouldn’t rattle about in her own mind, but Pam was truly enjoying the camaraderie.
Sookie finally crossed the room to stand over me with a shy grin on her lips…
“What do you think? Not bad for a pudgy, white trash waitress, right?” The amount of derision she’d suffered galled me.
“Sookie… ‘Not bad’ for Grace Kelly. You look marvelous.”
Pam smiled from behind her. “She polishes up nicely, not that there was much tarnish to start with.”
I stood, holding the bag from the jeweler and Pam tried to snatch it from me like a greedy child. “What makes you think any of this is yours?”
She folded her arms, fixing her pouting stance. “Because if all of that is for Sookie, you’d have to hide from her.” Fair point.
I pulled the velvet boxes containing her necklace, bracelet and earrings and tossed them into the air one at a time… Sookie laughed at the sight as Pam scattered about the room in the snug dress and heels to catch them all. “There. Now go away.”
She snickered as she greedily sped from the room with her ‘Manna from heaven’…
Balancing Pam’s indulgent behavior was the obvious reluctance Sookie was oozing. “I’m going to need to brace myself, aren’t I?”
“You should have been already. I warned you a while ago.”
“I told you that I’m not into ‘flashy’.”
I nodded, pulling her platinum and sapphire cuff from its box to put it around her wrist in place of her more modest tennis bracelet. “That is why I had your hatchback cleaned instead of replaced with a Benz… and why I’m having your house repainted instead of buying a house for you in my neighborhood.”
She studied her wrist impressively as I reached into the bag for her choker. “It’s beautiful, but I… I don’t want you to think I want this. I don’t… This had to cost a fortune.”
I stepped behind her, knowing that she meant every word… Basking in that realness. “My Sookie, soon you will be able to distinguish between the concept of cost and worth. There is price and there is value.”
She sighed as she turned to let me fasten her necklace. “I wouldn’t ever… it’s so extravagant… I…”
“I want you to adjust.”
“Adjust? I’m practically wearing a new car.”
I chuckled. I hadn’t gotten to her earrings yet and she was already ‘wearing’ a Porsche. “I don’t expect you to behave like Pam. You’re simply not the type. What I want you to adjust to is that you are worth this. Some women wear these things and it’s painfully clear that they are hoping no one will notice the insignificant mannequin underneath… The rarity is finding a woman who outshines even the most lavish of adornments. You are distinctive and important and worthy of having and wearing nice things. Adjust.”
I lifted her hand to place her earrings in it and somehow she managed to smile and frown simultaneously while she pushed them through her ears. “You’re the sweetest asshole I’ve ever met, you know that?”
I shrugged. “I try.”
She giggled. “How am I supposed to thank you though?” Her acceptance was thanks enough considering her initial reaction to the ‘punishment’…
“I’m fine with a kiss.”
“An alternative to that? Pam would open fire with a staple gun if my makeup gets ruined.”
I stopped resisting, stepping closer and kissing her neck to linger at her ear. “How about… your panties.”
She snickered against my neck. “Try again.”
I nibbled down, letting my fang nick her and stealing a taste that made us both shudder. “It’s the only thing I can think of at the moment.”
She shifted to my throat and began dragging her teeth, licking. Scraping. Sighing. Her hand found the front of my pants to start making me pay for starting something we couldn’t finish and just as I was about to stop her, she pulled away and wiped her lipstick away from my neck with something soft…
…and then handed it to me…
Her delicate, pale blue silk panties.
She whispered, “Happy now?”