The longer we were in the truck, the more excited I was about finally taking Sookie home.
Granted, there was a certain amount of anxiety involved… if Sookie was intimidated by the size of the house or thought it was pretentious…
I wanted her to prefer it to her grandmother’s house. I would’ve been willing to renovate her house, but I was selfish enough to want her to make some manner of change for me.
I’d slipped when we had our talk. I’d told her what lengths I was willing to go to so that we could be together without asking her what she’d be willing to do.
She hadn’t mentioned quitting her job yet. She hadn’t mentioned light-proofing any part of her house for me so that I wouldn’t have to rest in a filthy nook in a crawlspace either.
Even if I had ‘cheated’ by using telepathy, I was warming to her Were. I’d been polite enough to her brother’s Packmaster. I’d taken the offer of partial answers about her clandestine dealings instead of forcing her to explain fully.
I might have had more to prove because of our rocky past, but I’d been making an effort.
I’d shown my willingness to compromise.
I was waiting for her first move.
I wanted both. As much as I wanted her to move to my house and only ever (and rarely) work as a telepath, I knew well enough to not expect both… Sookie was stubborn to a fault.
Being in Bon Temps, by extension working for Merlotte, put her closer to an inbred Packmaster who proposed marriage for breeding purposes, a Shifter that didn’t know when to shut up, a friend and co-worker with Fellowship ties, and a Vampire stalker. It also gave her annoying great-grandfather an open invitation to pop by whenever he wanted to present Sookie with a pointy-eared potential sperm donor.
The mass of threats hiding in her tiny hometown were enough that I’d have been willing to build another house to her liking as a further compromise. I really just wanted her to get the fuck out of that town. Too much had happened to her there.
But if the Wolf couldn’t convince her to move, I wasn’t holding much hope that she’d let me convince her for my selfish reasons.
When I typed the passcode into the panel by the security gate, I felt her anxiety start to become a problem…
I started catching a few stray thoughts, wanting more of them, and resenting Niall for robbing me of the few clues that I used to be able to get before her shields were strengthened.
I caught her searching for the minds of neighbors I didn’t have because she initially thought my house was in a gated community…
She tried to guess how long the driveway was and then blamed how excited she was to see my house for how long it seemed…
When the house came into view, she counted each of the garage bays and watched my hand when I reached for the remote button so that I could open the door…
She looked over the assortment of cars inside as I exited the truck to go open her door. She gaped, terrified of Pam’s BMW. It was hard to not laugh. I knew better than to think Sookie would accept a BMW. I took her hand as she slid out of the truck.
“I’ll come back for our things later.”
She nodded slowly, still intimidated and silently admonishing herself for forgetting about seeing her car because she hadn’t braced herself.
I led her to the front of the car, practically pushing her so that she’d move. “Sookie, do you not like the Z4?”
“I… I… it’s a little much, dontcha think? I mean… even if I had the money… that just kinda says… I dunno…”
“You don’t like it…”I waited long enough for her to open her mouth before I said, “Pam will be disappointed. You know how she likes the smell of envy. She calls the car her ‘happy place’.” She was relieved so quickly that when her body relaxed, mine did too.
She grumbled, “You turd. You did that on purpose.” And?
I steered her past my Corvette to stop in front of her car and hoped for a clue, only hearing her read the license plate to herself. BONDED1. “Pam made fun of me.”
“Because she figured I wouldn’t like it…” She amused herself with painfully accurate sarcasm, “Or did the world’s oldest Daddy’s Girl think Eric was ‘cute’ for getting me something I’d be more comfortable in instead of the most expensive thing he could find?” She almost discovered my secret. It was painful to not agree with the latter/silent option.
“The whole situation, really. She’d have made fun no matter what I chose because she was sure you wouldn’t accept it… and she made fun of me for how much thought I put into it.”
She glanced over her shoulder to smile at me. “What made you pick a Charger then?”
“I researched prices. The cost wasn’t a factor for me, but I knew it would be for you. I wanted to spoil you, but knew you’d object to something too luxurious. This is comparable in price to your old one.”
She shook her head and giggled, “You mean that a new, fully loaded Malibu costs the same as a base model Charger. You know, one without leather upholstery or CD player.” I’d been hoping she wouldn’t discern that tiny detail.
“I was comparing it to your Civic… then adding a few upgrades… And if you argued about Bluebook values, I was prepared to tell you that I bought it from my own dealership at cost.”
She snickered, “Bravo…” She stopped suddenly, processing through a thought. “Wait… My Civic? When did you do this?”
“A few months ago, when the old one was burned with your house. Tara signed over her Malibu before I had the chance to give this to you… It’s been here ever since.”
She turned around to look at me with her head tilted to the side. “You didn’t give it to me because you knew I’d be a brat if you tried to… because I’d have thought you were trying to best Tara’s gesture.” The chances of Sookie accepting the Charger before she was surprised with a free substitution for her old one were slim enough.
I nodded, wondering why she asked as though she was only just realizing she had a stubborn streak that blurred her understanding that there was a difference between being taken care of and being cared for. I doubted that accepting my part of the blame for Twinning’s arson would’ve swayed her to accept it since she insisted on paying rent to the Shifter instead of ‘being a burden’ to her friends and family.
She frowned, thinking, “…Son of bitch… better than that… pain in the ass…”
“What’s wrong? If you don’t like it, then drive the truck to work tomorrow. I’ll get rid of the Charger.”
She shook her head and put her arms around my sides to lay her head against my chest. “Eric, why do you put up with me?” If I knew why, I might’ve been able to control myself, at least somewhat.
I kissed her forehead. “I’m patient. I’ve always known that you would come around to my way of thinking.”
“What way would that be?”
“When you recognize that we belong together.”
“I’ve recognized it for long enough… I still wish I know why I resisted.” Her thoughts betrayed her, “…Asshole… bought Bill’s lies…”
“We both know why…”
“I don’t want to talk about him either.” Niall and Compton being on the same list of conversational crimes made me want to laugh on several levels. Her great-grandfather ranked with the Vampire that took her virginity with a lie. My sense of humor was dark enough to appreciate that Niall had managed to wear out his welcome so quickly.
“Is there anyone else I’m not allowed to mention?”
“I’ll let you know… Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Be warned. I might start my own list.”
She tightened her arms around me as she giggled, “I meant the car. It’s sexy, definitely an upgrade from what I was tooling around in before… but not screaming ‘high maintenance pet’. Perfect.”
“Would you have accepted it when…?”
“No. You were right. Your ‘bonded1’ would’ve had herself a tee-total hissy fit about being kept and told you that I didn’t need your charity.”
“But you are accepting it now, yes?”
“Of course I am. Sookie Stackhouse is done tearing apart everything you do, looking for something to be scared of.”
“Everything… Hey, it’s nearly 3 o’clock. If we stay here much longer, you’re not going to be able to show me your whole castle before dawn.”
‘Everything,’ she said… Everything had changed… She’d stated it as plainly as she would mention the color of the sky and then she changed the subject.
The first couple of stops on the tour had been easy enough… the laundry room where Sookie had a stray thought, surprised that I didn’t have a maid. She didn’t sense that anyone but me had been in the room…
The sight of a very bare walk-in pantry inspired a thought that gave me hope. “…Empty… I’ll have to fix that…” I understood that she needed to eat, but the fact that she was thinking about groceries rather than takeout menus was promising to say the least.
And if I had to guess, she’d pushed back her shields considering the solitude of my property. More hope.
She stopped at a door along the hallway the other two rooms were on and asked if it led down to my ‘secret Vampire lair’… and was surprised to see that it led up to the empty room over the garage instead.
The large open kitchen was wasted on me… I’d known that from the moment I first saw the plans, which was why the ‘keeping room’ had been enclosed and used for an indoor pool. Any time I’d spent in that part of the house had been spent swimming. Sookie was awed… rather than any form of coherent thought, she looked over the room, one element at a time… the high ceiling, the pool, the starkness since there wasn’t anything on the counters. It wasn’t as though anyone had ever used it. She seemed to expect it though and spent more time focusing on the pool and large patio just a pane of glass away… She answered her own thought question about why the pool was partitioned with glass by realizing that the smell of chlorine would permeate the house… The thought that warmed me the most was that she could watch the sunset through the floor to ceiling glass while she waited for me to rise.
She was preoccupied with a painting that hung in my office. She wasn’t thinking in words as much as feelings… it was strange… The painting was evocative to say the least, but I hadn’t expected her to take romance from an Edvard Munch work.
When she saw the den, she looked over the open room meant for filling idle time I hadn’t had recently. Even though she seemed to approve of the furnishings, and actually pictured curling up next to me to watch a movie, she joked, “Nice man cave, Sweetie. Do you ever spend any time here?”
“Not often. I moved in around the time that you started… making things exciting.”
She laughed, “Oh! So, it’s all my fault.”
I nodded and took her hand to lead her through the house… I hadn’t set foot in the formal sitting room or dining room since the furniture had been delivered. I hadn’t needed to tell Sookie that though. She already knew somehow, like she’d known about the laundry room.
While the tour was sating her curiosity, mine was only growing.
The first of the bedrooms I led her to was a test.
Sookie liked the décor, but not only was she confused, but she thought, “…This is so not how I pictured Eric’s room… Shit… this is what I was afraid of…” What had she pictured? What the hell had she been scared of?
“This is Pam’s room. She stays here from time to time.”
She smiled and giggled, but there was more to it. She was relieved and slightly embarrassed… possibly still bracing herself. “That makes sense. I didn’t picture you as a blue paisley kind of guy.” That was my opening to ask…
“Interesting. What kind of guy do you think I am?”
She closed her eyes for a moment, taking a deep breath before looking back to me. “You prefer texture to patterns and for some reason, even though the only color you’ve associated yourself with is red… the club, your car, the gifts you’ve bought me… I get the feeling that you prefer orange.” It was more entertaining than having my palm read. The problem was going to be balancing my questions with her patience with discussing her abilities…
Lord knows, I tried to picture Eric’s house as a whole, but every time I did, I saw something different.
There’d been so many concepts and styles to choose from…
I knew for sure that it would be gorgeous… but more than that, I knew that it would humble me.
He drove a car worth more than my house for God sakes. He’d had a thousand years to earn and invest and save… Eric was ‘the guy’ who knew exactly what he wanted and didn’t waste any time settling for less. Even if he did have questionable taste in barmaids.
The problem was that Eric did everything beautifully… he made souvenir Fangtasia Ts look just as sexy as tailored suits…
If he had a log cabin that he’d built with his own hands (by pushing trees over himself and everything) or he had a chic modern loft… it would be amazing no matter what.
I’d gone to sleep the night before telling myself just that… rationalizing it so that I wouldn’t be shitty and make fun of him by calling him a show off. I didn’t want to do that to him. Not when it was the first time I was going to see it. I was sure that there would be something that rang a bling alarm, maybe two, but I could tell he was excited (maybe even nervous) for me to see it.
Eric was pragmatic, so it would be simple… but on a large scale. I wasn’t going to let myself get hung up on the fact that the house was most likely going to have square footage that would startle any Maid Brigade.
Eric was private, so I doubted more than a handful of individuals had ever seen it. Seclusion was going to be a given… I just didn’t know if that meant he had a fallout hatch in a field or if he lived in a fortified apartment.
I’d known from when he answered my question during our talk that living together was part of his wedding plans. His answer was, “I will rest wherever you tell me to.” Reading between the lines, even though he offered to live in my dumpy country hand-me-down home, I knew he’d rather I moved in with him. I couldn’t really fault him for that. Comfort aside, I’d cringe at the idea of downgrading from my house to a single wide. Right? Right.
Eric wasn’t just a guy. He had standing. He was a Vampire with status. His peers lived in mansions. I’d seen them. I needed to look at Eric’s house as my future home. Right? Right.
That’s how I went into it…
Whatever was waiting at the end of his driveway, was where I’d be living with him. He’d asked me to let him make my house more comfortable for him, so I knew he’d be okay with some reciprocity. Simple Human creature comforts.
The only thought that I couldn’t keep at bay was the idea of having my own bedroom. I didn’t know why, but I was anxious as all hell over the idea that he’d slip away to a secret chamber for the day and leave me to wander around and wonder where he’d gone. Maybe it was because I never really knew where ‘certain exes’ rested during the day, that I wasn’t ‘trusted’ with that information… but that damn inkling was in my head and it was irking me.
Eric’s driveway… I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, maybe both.
Honest to God, I thought for a while that he lived in a gated community… among the Shreveport elite. When I realized that we’d put nearly a mile between us and the gate, the blacktop was all I could think about.
The car, MY car… same thing. He might’ve had too much fun letting me think that Pam’s BM freakin’ W was the one he bought for me (and letting me freak out about it), but he’d put enough thought into what to get me to have gotten me something I wouldn’t be terrified of.
MY Charger was stunning. Sexy, but not too sexy to insure.
Beautiful wasn’t a good enough word.
Brilliant? That was definitely closer to the mark.
Room by room there wasn’t anything (other than the obvious kitchen needs, of course) that I could think of that would make the house more ‘livable’ by my humble standards. I was sure that every bit of furniture was bought or ordered especially for the room it was in. I was sure that it was made of the finest of every available material… but there wasn’t a damn bit of it that was showy or overwhelming… none of it gave me the ‘holy shit’ feeling that I was a cobweb in a museum.
The sad part was that it didn’t seem like I could win. The less I said, because I didn’t want to put my damn foot in my mouth, the more anxious and curious Eric got. I guess it was just going to be a growing pain… getting used to being around one another again.
Everything sort of came to a head when my tour went upstairs. It wasn’t like we argued or anything…
In Eric’s defense, he started at the front of the house, but when the first room he showed me was blue paisleys and damasks, I figured that he’d had Pam decorate a room for me. A sweet gesture by itself, but there was that distance thing I was worried about.
I know he felt me wigging out a little, before he told me that it was Pam’s room… I tried to cover up, maybe even convince myself to settle down by telling him that the pretty blue room didn’t seem like his taste and he ended up asking me. I took a stab in the dark… kinda forecasting what I’d bet his room was like…
Something about my answer actually made him more inquisitive… so seeing the rest of the second floor, one damned guestroom at a time, was like watching the last minute on an egg timer.
Six fucking guestrooms… all of them had pretty furniture, some light-tight and some with windows, but they were more like identical blank slates… I dialed my edginess back enough to ask why he had so many guestrooms, but his answer was too simple…
“Need I remind you what kind of entourage Sophie-Ann traveled with? As one of her Sheriffs, I’d have been caught with my pants down if she wanted to pay a visit to Area 5. I put everyone else in my hotel.”
The next room had a large window with built-ins and a window seat… everything down to the king sized pedestal bed and entertainment center was stained so dark that I could barely see the wood grain… the walls were dark green and the bedding was khaki. It had a very lodgey feel to it. Very masculine, but it couldn’t have been further from what I’d guessed and the window kinda gave it away that Eric didn’t spend a lot of time in there. It turned out that all of the furniture had been a dry run for the other guestrooms, but he didn’t like the way it turned out… and since he’d been up to his ass in drama for more than a year, guest rooms that pretty much became useless to him once Sophie-Ann was murdered were deprioritized.
I turned around, about to come out and ask if he planned to have separate bedrooms when he gave me one of his sexy smirks and held his hand out for mine.
“The last one is ours. Are you ready to grade your intuition?” Screw the grade. He said ‘ours’. Ours. Not mine. Not his. OURS.
Nevermind that we weren’t living together yet and he was already rolling out a welcome mat… I couldn’t even bring myself to try reading anything into if he was presuming I’d be the one moving, because I’d already decided to…
Ours. God only knows, but I might’ve been holding my damn breath since I’d seen Pam’s room.
He led me through the special light-lock entry that all the other Vampire-safe rooms had and turned on the light on the dresser…
He was smiling at me by the time my eyes adjusted to the light and tilted his head toward the bed…
Eric wasn’t leering at the bed or anything… he was impressed with how right my ‘guess’ had been. The headboard was pale beech colored woven raffia and dressed with an orange smocked coverlet set and ivory sheets… the bench at the foot of the bed was upholstered with orange shantung… the dresser and high boy were very light wood… the wall behind the headboard was painted the same orange as the coverlet with some kind of gold finish…
There was a familiar painting hanging on the wall over the dresser. I’d seen it before… circles within circles being blown from the branches of whimsical trees, one leaning slightly over the other in the wind under an orange sky. I caught myself staring at it and he put his hands on my shoulders and started telling me about it. “I saw that a couple of months ago at a gallery in New Orleans. The artist’s name is Natasha Wescoat.”
I nodded. “I know.”
“How do you know that?” I could’ve been offended that he’d assume I didn’t know anything about art, but I told myself that Wescoat wasn’t just a contemporary artist, but she was really young to boot. My age.
“Amelia bought a print of it for me for Christmas. It’s getting framed. When we went to New Orleans, we ran a couple errands and I saw it through the gallery window. I couldn’t take my eyes off it.”
He put his mouth right next to my ear and whispered, “What did it make you think of?”
I shook my head slightly. “You’ll laugh.”
“I promise not to.”
I took a deep breath and braced myself for him to at least poke fun of my answer. “It made me think of us. The larger tree is reaching for the smaller one. The smaller tree can’t seem to decide what it wants… If that isn’t symbolic of us, I don’t know what is.”
He was 100% still… at least he didn’t laugh. It didn’t mean that he had to be mute though. That would’ve made me nuts.
“Go ahead. Make fun of me.”
He moved just enough to stand next to me with his arms around my waist. “Why would I make fun of you? That’s exactly why I bought it…” Thank God! “I suppose you get an A for your intuition.”
I giggled. “Maybe a B+… I wouldn’t have bet that you’d have something so contemporary in here. I would have figured you for a Klimt, but then again, Wescoat’s trees are really similar.”
Eric started to chuckle, but didn’t confirm anything.
“What did I say?”
Another deep breath. “It makes sense to me because you’re fashionable. You keep yourself current… from this year’s car to modern furniture… you loaded my iPod with everything from classical to techno. The last attention worthy art movement was symbolism. Klimt and Munch were leading the pack, but you wouldn’t enjoy something as dark as Munch hanging in your resting place. That’s why you have ‘Vampire’ hanging in your office instead. You don’t cling to the old for the sake of it being old. You appreciate newness.”
“I read a book about the psychology of color once. Orange is controversial because people either love it or hate it. It’s fun and flamboyant. In different cultures it symbolizes love, happiness and gluttony. It’s the color of the Sacral chakra too, Mr. Sex God. You might as well have been born orange… Oh yeah, and in Reservoir Dogs, Mr. Orange was the good guy pretending to be a bad ass! Anything else?”
He chuckled. We both knew he wasn’t pretending to be a bad ass. He just saved it for special occasions. “How do you know about so many things?” I was starting to feel interrogated, but I knew that this was all new to him. Not only had I been a big enough pain that we’d only had a handful of civil conversations since he’d stayed with me, but I had a couple of months to get used to all of my new gifts slowly. Poor Eric had been slapped in the face with, pretty much, a new Sookie… annoyed as I was at my reason for having new powers, the powers weren’t anymore to blame than Eric was.
“The power is new. I haven’t always had such a good memory. I pretty much have a photographic memory now and I can remember old stuff too… like my mind was storing info all along and I’m only now getting to access it again. Things can slip my mind, like chores, but I can kick ass at Trivial Pursuit.”
He chuckled again, pulling me closer. “I didn’t realize that you knew anything about or enjoyed art at all. Is that new too?”
I shook my head. “No. I know about art because as a kid I went on a field trip to an art museum. That’s when I realized how quiet they are. People didn’t think in words as much as feelings, so I’d have Gran drop me off whenever she had something to do in town. Some stuff is random. I’ve always done a lot of reading because telepathy made me awkward. I don’t always read fiction. I’d get embarrassed from time to time because I didn’t know something and I’d go to the library for a book about it… I can name all 206 bones in the human body because I didn’t know what a boxer’s fracture was when Jason got one… I know all about labor and delivery because I have so many friends with kids… I can recite the tenets of every faith and name most of the Gods and Goddesses because I’ve waited tables on enough Sunday afternoons to get curious… I can tell you what kind of plants to landscape with that won’t attract bugs or animals based on the soil you have here… I can take care of maintenance on my own car because Chilton is a single girl’s best friend… I love sports because arenas are full of screaming fans and you can’t tell what voices are internal or spoken so it made me feel normal… Over the last few months I have re-read the Art of War, Markings, The Philosophy of Civilization and The Measure of a Man all because I have been up to my ass in politics… The funny thing is, in spite of reading nearly every book in the library, I still come across as clumsy because the only thing you can’t learn by reading is how to act around people.”
Eric’s grin was sympathetic and if I didn’t know better, I’d say he was sorry he’d asked. “Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for.”
I couldn’t help but smile because I knew the quote. “I always liked Dag Hammarskjold, even though he was a politician. He also said, ‘Do not seek death. Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment’. That’s kind of ironic since I found a dead man that makes me so happy.”
He raised his eyebrow. “Maybe it’s ironic because ‘death’ has been so diligently trying to track you down.”
I shrugged and giggled, “That too.”
“So… you have an appreciation for Scandinavian politicians?” A joke… finally. I was starting to think we’d never loosen up.
“Guess so, but I prefer ones that can dance.”
He gave me his cocky grin. “One more question?”
I shrugged. In for a penny, in for a pound.
“I didn’t want to allude to anything in front of Pam earlier, but I don’t know if I’m impressed or worried about how you lied to Madden earlier. We’ve exchanged blood in the last 24 hours and when I searched our bond, I didn’t detect any sort of deception.”
I turned enough to get my arms around him and put my chin on his chest. “Do your recall thing. I didn’t lie, plus, I was uncooperative about the lodgings so that I wouldn’t seem too obliging. Otherwise he would’ve seemed suspicious.”
He stared off into space for a moment while he remembered the conversation and gradually started to smile. “You were very wily… You told him that you had an apartment.”
I giggled. “Yeah, that was a dig. When he took over he had designs to co-op the Abbey. Mr. C had fun telling him that Sophie-Anne commissioned the repairs and already signed it over to me as a ‘thank you’ for helping her that night.”
Eric thought that was hilarious. He could be so evil sometimes. “Poor Victor. There isn’t ever a dull moment when you’re around… you’re endlessly entertaining.”
“Oh really? How entertaining could I be? We’ve been in here for a while and we still haven’t made it onto the bed.” I wiggled my eyebrows at him.
Since he’d gotten some of the answers he’d been fishing for and I cured my fears about sleeping arrangements… I felt like we’d spent more than enough time being serious and I was so ready to move on.
When I started unbuttoning his shirt, Eric didn’t seem to mind where I was trying to steer things.
We undressed one another, every once in a while, Eric would take a step to inch me towards the bed and it wasn’t like I was going to resist… We’d made our marks on my house, more than a few times. Call me silly, but I was looking forward to finally christening his place.
He was chewing on my neck and it was putting chills all over my body when I decided to experiment. As experienced as Eric was, I had my fingers crossed that I could distinguish myself.
“Want to hear a story?”
He grunted as we took another step to the bed. “Is it a long story?”
“Maybe, but you’ll find it interesting.”
He picked me up and took me to the bed, wasting no time. He figured he could amuse himself while I ran my mouth. He groaned, “Then by all means…”
“You remember when I was in Jackson, when that Were marked me?”
He rubbed against me. “I do.”
“Russell cleaned the scratches on my shoulder for me… Well… while I was sparring with his guards the last time we visited, I scraped my elbow… He joked that he might be slipping because he could’ve sworn that I was O Positive.”
“At the time, I was A Negative.”
“Your blood type… it changed?”
I bit my lip so that I wouldn’t laugh at the look on Eric’s face. “Doug, the guy I was wrestling with, he’s A Negative.”
“But you’re O Positive again.”
“I think this came with my new cloaking ability… Run out your fangs…” He grinned and ran them out. I pricked my finger and touched it to his tongue… surprise took over his face. “What do I taste like?”
I wiggled my eyebrows and pricked my finger again… “What about now?”
The way he hummed, “AB negative,” made me giggle. As rare as AB Neg was, I could’ve stopped there and he’d have been perfectly happy… but I wanted to show off. I was too excited. If nothing else, my new abilities could keep Eric from getting bored with me.
He almost looked disappointed when I put my finger to his fang for a third taste test. He wasn’t disappointed for long though. “What do I taste like now, Eric?”
Every bit of his body vibrated against me when he growled, “Faerie.”
Even though I knew the answer, I cooed, “Do you like the way it tastes?”
He nodded and… I had no idea how empowering it would feel to leave him speechless… I was the only person I knew of who could taste like any flavor he was in the mood for.
“What do you want to do about that?”
The way he stared back at me, he looked almost miserable, but I knew better.
“Did you know that I can smell however I want too? I messed with Pam once and smelled like you…” I pushed the scent of Faerie and watched his eyes glaze over. “I had her going. She still doesn’t know it was me.”
“You stink of… Sookie, you stink of Faerie.”
I nodded, almost breathless over what I was doing to him, let alone the idea of what he was going to do to me. “Is it authentic?”
He nodded again… his pupils were dilated and mouth was open. He was so convinced that I felt his need echo in my teeth.
“So… you’re in bed with someone who smells and tastes like Faerie… Any ideas on what to do about that?”
He was rattled enough that he tried shaking his head. He growled, “I want to fuck you and drain you.”
I lifted up just enough to drag my teeth over his neck and whisper, “Then what are you waiting for?”
That was it. Whether he’d been waiting for permission or if it had just been his breaking point.
Eric yanked my knees apart and shoved into me so fast…
When he bit me, he whimpered…
He fought to control himself, but he was still wild…
He held me down…
Oh God… the pounding…
He only pulled once each time he bit…
Being so careful in spite of himself…
And the bond was killing me…
He was being rougher than he’d ever been before, but he was so far gone, so crazed that I was feeling it too…
Nothing he did was wrong…
Things that should’ve hurt only made me want more and more…
I had to think about breathing…
One right after another…
Not even when the light started to change in the room.
I didn’t know what it was…
It could’ve been anything, but thinking about it would’ve interfered…
I was so close…
Every part of my body felt it coming on…
It was the only thing that existed…
Eric wanted it as bad as I did…
And when we came, roaring so loud that it hurt, a sudden surge of light burst from me…
Eric stayed perfectly still for a moment. He stared back at me… confused and dazed… until he finally dropped to the bed…
I didn’t get the chance to think about it being the least graceful thing I’d ever seen him do…
It was trancelike…
Just like before.
…I was laying on the couch in the den I’d just gotten a tour of… three little girls, one blonde and two brunettes, all close in age, were playing a board game and talking in hushed tones… I could feel energy all around me, like the house was busy with company… there were two dogs on the floor next to the couch. Collies. I had to laugh about that. Eric would be evil enough to get Collies… The girls smiled and gave me a wave as I sat up and Eric was leaning over the back of the couch in an instant… Asking if I slept well and how the girls were, telling me that Alcide had brought dinner, and that Pam was giving him the silent treatment for bringing curry into the house…
It was all very warm. Very safe. Very happy.
Much better than the other time I’d had what Alcide called a ‘preview’ because I hit him for calling it a premonition. The last one had made me feel cold, scared, alone and desperate.
That. That was much fucking better… Alcide could call them whatever the hell he wanted to when they were like that…
Eric ran his thumb over the back of my hand while I tried to catch my breath… and of course, tried to figure it all out… I had no idea how far into the future it was, but it was obvious that I’d changed my mind about raising kids unless the little girls were friends’ kids that we hadn’t met yet, but I couldn’t figure out why I’d have been sleeping with company over. If they were ‘our’ kids then that posed the question of where and how we got them. There sure as hell wasn’t a store we could just walk into and have their barcodes scanned… Sperm bank? Supe-friendly adoption agency?
The part about Pam had been amusing enough to make me grin… I might’ve laughed if my breathing had been more even… She might never forgive me for burping vindaloo and Indian beer accidentally. That had been Alcide’s fault too.
The preview did give me some hope though… the idea of raising kids with how dangerous things were still scared the crap out of me, but everything seemed comfy… right down to the fact that Eric seemed fine with Alcide being over.
I could definitely deal with that.
Even if I wanted to spend a lot of time analyzing every facet of the preview, my imagination came to a full stop when I realized that Eric was vibrating, if not trembling. It reminded me of the withdrawals I’d seen Hadley go through.
I was worried that bleeding Fae had been a bad idea, that I’d made him sick somehow. “Eric?”
“Are you ok?” He didn’t answer and I couldn’t figure out what the hell he was feeling. “Sweetie, talk to me.” I waited for what seemed like forever for some kind of answer that he didn’t seem willing to give.
Instead of saying anything, he wrapped his arms around me and carried me from the bed to the bathroom…
I watched him every step of the way, but he seemed just as solid as ever as he reached to turn the faucet on in the huge tub…
“Eric, talk to me. What’s wrong?”
He barely shook his head as he set me down on the counter to open the linen closet and grab a couple of towels, and when he turned back around, he looked scared and I couldn’t stand the way it looked on him.
I slid off of the counter onto rubbery legs to kiss him. “Eric, what’s wrong?”
He stepped away from me. “Sookie, I’m so sorry… I didn’t mean to hurt you…”
“You didn’t. I’m fine. I feel great other than worrying about what’s going on with you.”
Without looking anywhere but at me, he pushed the door shut and set me in front of the full length mirror on the back of the door. “Sookie. Look.”
To say the very least, I was a bit shocked. Sure, I had a fair share of bite marks that Eric was already worriedly rubbing his own blood into, but the bigger issue seemed to be the large purple bruises. I looked like I lost a fight with a fast pitch softball machine.
“Wow,” is all I could think to say for a few minutes while I tried to figure out how it looked like I’d been mauled, but nothing hurt. Nothing he’d done had hurt enough to think ‘that’ll leave a mark’ and none of the marks were sore. I finally shrugged realizing that Eric was freaking out. “Humph… well done, I guess.”
I shrugged again. I really didn’t know what the hell to say about it. “Can I get in the tub now? I’m chilly.”
“Chilly? This is the worst I’ve ever seen you marred and you are chilly?”
“I’m not hurting. Do you want me to like, I dunno, would you feel better if I took your blood to make them go away?”
“Don’t lie to me. How can that be painless?”
It took me a second to think of something. He was flipping his shit about my safety again. I put my forearm up to my mouth and bit myself. Mature, I know, but it was the only thing I could think of. We didn’t have long before sunrise and I didn’t want him to die so upset when I wasn’t going to be with him when he rose again.
I held my arm up to him, showing the oblong dental map. “You felt that. I know you did.”
He scowled as he nodded.
The next part of ‘show and tell’ was pushing my fist into a hand shaped bruise on my hip hard enough to leave white dots where my knuckles had been. “You didn’t feel that because there’s nothing to feel. I’m fine.”
“You look like I’ve beaten you.”
I giggled, “I’ve seen you beat people, Eric. This is…”
“This isn’t funny!”
I gave up. It didn’t seem like he was going to let me talk him out of his panic attack. I walked over and stepped into the tub… I might’ve been able to enjoy that I could practically swim laps if it wasn’t for the guilty look Eric was giving me from where he was leaning against the counter.
I slid underwater to stretch out and smiled at the fact that my feet and my head weren’t touching the ends of the tub…
As soon as I came up for air, Eric started, “You look like you should be in a battered women’s shelter and it was at my hands.”
I nodded. “…And mouth and teeth and legs.”
“Stop making jokes, Sookie.”
Tonight had been enough of an emotional rollercoaster. I snapped at him, “Eric Northman! Will it make you feel better if I lied and told you I AM in pain? Do you want a guilt trip? Do you want me to flip out? Be pissed? What the fuck? I don’t know why I bruised like this, but I had fun. It was awesome and I’ll rock a few bruises like Harry Winston diamonds to cum like that again. They’re my marks. You know I can hold you off. You know I can push your fangs back. If you hurt me, I’d stop and/or tell you. Stop. Please.”
He took a step towards me and paused for a split second before he decided to join me in the tub. He slid in behind me, but kept me from leaning against him and the next thing I knew, he was holding his wrist to my mouth. It wasn’t like I was squeamish, and I had already mentioned the healing, but it irked me that he was still being such a putz about things.
While I drew from his wrist, his other hand drifted over my back slowly… he was watching, waiting for bruises to fade.
I didn’t let him take his arm away when his bite closed. I grabbed his wrists and pulled them around me.
He was nothing more than a statue for long enough that I started to wonder if Vampire blood prevented pruning. At that rate I was going to be water logged.
I took a cleansing breath since sighing hadn’t cued him to say anything. “You were about to tell me why you clammed up.”
“I’m sorry I yelled at you. I know it’s been a long night, but something happened and we should probably talk about it.”
Another pregnant stillness and I couldn’t take anymore.
I stood up as calmly as I could fake it and grabbed a towel. “Then take me back to Bon Temps.”
“Why not? What is the point of me being here if you are going to hide in your head instead of talking to me?”
He clenched his jaw. “I don’t want you to go. I need you here with me.”
I huffed, maybe just scared that we were destined to argue with each other forever. “Then could you unfuck yourself enough to talk to me? That’d be spectacular.”
He opened his mouth, to say something, but closed it again. It was better than before, even if it was a baby step. At least he looked like he was trying to string words together that time.
After two more false starts, he finally said something. “I saw… I saw us… when we came… I saw, I don’t know, it was like a flash, a piece of a dream… of us. Our life together and children, friends… did you?” That would explain it. The trembling might’ve been from the Faerie blood, but the rest sounded right since he hadn’t known it had happened to me before.
I nodded. “That’s what you were holding back?” When he nodded I growled quietly and tossed my towel onto the counter to get back into the tub with him. I didn’t know whether he needed to be punched or hugged.
This time, he put his arms around me on his own. “You aren’t surprised. That’s happened to you before?”
“Yeah. Once. It wasn’t as pretty though.”
“What did you see?”
“Assholes showing their true colors. It’s the reason for all the 007 games…”
“I meant this time.”
“I was in the kitchen with Pam and a Were… it was the boy from the pack cookout. The kegstand. He was at the table working at a laptop and mentioned that he’d found another Wescoat mural for us. Alcide came in through the garage. I smelled him before he was inside though…”
I giggled, “You’d better mean the curry.”
I felt him nod behind me. “You saw the same thing?”
“Pam was ‘happy’ enough to ask to be ended…”
“And then you went back to the den to wake me up from my nap and tell me dinner was there. Did anyone say anything about the little girls?”
“Pam mentioned that Tobin should stay long enough for the girls to help get rid of the food…” Ahhhh… that explained it. “Do you know about the boys?”
“The ones that came barreling into the house with Alcide. The tallest one kissed Pam’s cheek and apologized for going to Rajput. He asked where ‘Mama’ and the girls were. Pam said it was ‘naptime’.”
“How many boys?”
“Four… Two were older, maybe 10 years old… the other two, twins, were too little for me to guess, but very mobile… rambunctious and looked like Alcide.”
I sighed, “Well, I guess Alcide and Pam don’t live happily ever after. Don’t mention it to Alcide. He’ll freak out. He doesn’t want kids… The older boys, what were they?”
“He’ll be expected to add to the pack though… and I couldn’t tell what the older ones were… What about the girls?”
“The blonde was a Shifter, but the brunettes were human. Any guess on how far off it was? I was with strangers so I don’t have a gauge.”
“It could’ve happened today. Alcide didn’t look any older… The same could be said for the other Were too.”
“Did I look older?”
“The boy called you Mama.”
“You can’t be sure about that. He could’ve been anybody…”
“He was talking about you.”
I sighed and didn’t bother hiding that I was humoring him. “Did he look like me?”
“No. Sandy brown hair, light brown eyes… but he looked familiar.”
“Then he really could’ve been talking about anyone. Crystal is pregnant again so he could’ve been Jason’s… maybe he was Alcide’s… Shit. Did you catch his name? Alcide has a nephew. Tommy. His hair is dirty blond right now, but Janice and Dell have dark hair.”
“Why would Jason’s son be with Alcide or Alcide’s sister be napping at our house?”
“I don’t know. Just visiting, maybe. You said that none of us looked older though and I don’t have any kids. I might go a few years without aging much, but not a decade or more. And I don’t have any kids already running around out there. Jason? Maybe, but I think I’d know.”
“I’m sure he was talking about you.”
“Eric, the blonde girl in the den with me looked like your clone, but I’m not trying to convince you that she’s yours. Hell, Alcide was a bit of a slut. We could’ve lost a bet and ended up babysitting for him and all his fuck-trophies for all we know.”
I giggled, “Yeah, you know, the pitter-patter of little tax deductions. Now that he’s Packmaster and owns H&S, that preview could’ve been a visit from the Ghost of Paternity Suits Yet To Come.”
He actually chuckled. “We’ll see.”
“Yep. Assuming we all stop aging now, we only have to wait between 7 to 15 years to find out. Damn if I’m not going to watch Carla for a belly though.”
He was quiet for a while, but I had a feeling that I hadn’t heard the last of it…
He left me long enough to zip downstairs and grab my bag from the Suburban and show me that he was putting it in ‘my closet’…
We slid between the sheets…
That jerk waited until I could feel dawn pulling him to rest… so that he could have the last word.
“He was talking about you.”