The first thing to reach me was her scent. Flowers, cocoa butter and sunlight.
Her body heat…
Her heart beat…
She was completely at peace… and sleeping next to me as she had been when I died for the day.
And she said that she loves me?
…there was no time for contemplating the matter. The queen would be expecting us soon… It’s best to focus on the meeting and the monumental amount of political bullshit that waits for us.
So what do I do? I pull Sookie closer and bury my nose in her scent.
She stirred immediately, sliding her thigh along mine and tightening her arm around my ribs. “We need to talk.” Uh, oh.
“What do we need to talk about?”
“Quick before Hadley rises, I need some pointers so that I don’t screw everything up. I need to know what we’re keeping quiet and what we’re advertising.”
I rolled over, putting myself between her thighs. “I don’t intend to lie. One lesson I’ve learned is that lies are much more difficult to keep track of than truths… The only omission I intend on is our little fluke… There might be some things she asks of a more personal nature. She might try to embarrass you for fun.”
She rolled her eyes. “Oh, goody… Will there be a horde of ‘fast food’ there tonight?”
“Most likely. Are you almost out of questions?”
Her eyebrow pitched. “I think so. Can we start talking about personal things now?” She was definitely not going to make it easy for me to get to what I wanted…
I slid down her body, zeroing in on her perfect breasts and running my fangs out. “By all means… You talk, I’ll play.”
She hummed as I took her first nipple, giggling slightly. “You’re betting that you can distract me before I have the chance to ask you anything important.”
I waited until I was ready to move to her other nipple to answer. “Maybe.”
“I’ll get right to it then… what’s a ‘bond’?” Fuck.
“It is a connection between a vampire and a pet attained by frequent blood sharing. How did you hear about a bond?”
“Hadley asked me if we had a bond. Gran didn’t give me the chance to answer. She didn’t know anymore than I did and said we’re inseparable. Hadley looked like she’d seen a ghost… Then Paulette was curious about it today.”
“I’ll need to correct Hadley before she has the chance to misinform the queen.”
“Why?” Mood ruined. I left the bed and went to the closet.
“Because it would be false.” And premature.
“Is a bond something you wouldn’t want with me?” She actually seemed hurt.
“It’s not that I don’t want a bond, it’s that telling the queen we are bonded when we aren’t isn’t in our best interest. Our reason for not being bonded yet is perfectly reasonable. You’ve had a substantial amount of blood from 2 other vampire very recently and it wouldn’t be safe to attempt a bond.”
“Are you mad that I asked or at Hadley for saying something?” Her eyes were wide like a scolded child.
“Then what’s wrong?”
“Nothing is ‘wrong’. I simply hadn’t wanted to discuss a theoretical, potential bonding quite yet.”
She nodded and seemed slightly stunned as I entered my bathroom.
At least I could appreciate that Hadley had introduced the topic of a bond for me. While Sookie had been furious about Compton’s lack of disclosure over the details of his ‘heroism’, she wasn’t terribly resistant to the idea of having my blood. I imagine that since she already knew the minutia of the act and all of its side effects, it was easier to see why it was rational in our situation… Sookie seemed appropriately angry with Compton about it in that she wasn’t pissed about the bigger picture, just that he’d glossed over the particulars.
Even if she didn’t fully understand that a bond was permanent, Sookie’s momentary disappointment that I might not consider her to be bonded to was… tempting.
She was already showing signs of being quite attached to me… A bond would only make that behavior more prevalent.
It would be only fair… since there was no tangible fucking reason for my attachment to her. None.
I was already growing bored with my shower when she snuck up on me.
I’d been lost in my thoughts and was snatched back to my reality when I felt her tiny arms go around my ribs, her face resting against my back.
“I guess I ruined the mood.” And I was being an asshole about it… Wait. Where the fuck did that come from?
“But you seemed to have thought of a way to revive it.”
She giggled against me, letting her hands wander. They warmed me more than the water. “I do have one more question though.”
At least she seemed aware of the need to stay on my preferred ‘topic of conversation’ for the time. “What’s that?”
“Do you think that I’d have the same reaction… you know… practically jumping you, every time I have your blood?”
“I suppose we can keep our fingers crossed.” Underplayed to say the least… I’d kill to have the experience happen again… and again…
She didn’t show a reaction, but she certainly felt hopeful as her hand followed my stomach to start stroking my cock…
As much as I wanted to squander the night ruining her… crossing items off ‘the list’… more importantly, not hurrying through anything…
The queen’s demands on our attendance were the elephant in the room…
“Sookie, we don’t have much time.”
After a squeeze that made my fangs run out, not to mention my eyes roll back, she all but purred, “I guess it’s a good thing that you know what you’re doing.” Fuck the queen…
I followed her arm with my hand down to hers, guiding her as I turned around, not wanting her to stop yet… but needing to taste her…
Her nervous smile was waiting for me…
First for a kiss, holding her hand, teaching her…
Letting go… letting her take over…
I would have let her go on… and on…
She nibbled my chest… pulling, squeezing, sliding the head of my cock across her slick stomach as she kneaded…
Fighting against my greed… I pushed her against the wall… feeling her craving…
Kissing again… sliding a hand between her legs to lift her thigh… then the other….
Her confusion just before I lifted her to my shoulders… saddling her to my mouth…
Surprised, she gasped, clutching my face to her heat…
My fingers buried, milking her sweetness… lapping it up… taking her in…
Until she begged… bite me… fuck me… I need you…
She whimpered when I took my mouth from her… but when I warned her… nipping her thigh…
A shudder… then biting… her thighs tightened around my neck… she started moving, riding my hand harder… and came from my bite…
Almost too much…
She wilted against the wall, running her hands through my hair, letting me get my fill while she caught her breath…
I held her up behind her knees, pushing into her slowly… teasing her… waiting for her to ask…
She trembled, breaths hitching between whines before she started begging again… harder… faster… more…
She clawed at my neck, pulling my mouth to hers… breathing my name into me before she could kiss…
Running out of air only to bury her face into my neck…
Her breath… her bite… she raked her teeth, pushing my resolve… until I broke… and asked her to bite me…
Never before. Period.
She only hesitated for a second, but the moment her teeth grazed me… knowing she would… a chain reaction started that undid us both…
Release… sudden… urgent… rocking through me… I let go of her legs to hold her closer and they belted around me…
Strapped… connected… waiting for the pulse of her heat to loosen its violent grip on me…
Perfectly still except for her breathing, slowly starting to rebound and not wanting to move…
She finally pulled her head back enough to put her lips to my ear. Barely a whisper, “You can feel Pam?”
Curious, I nodded.
She led my hand from her back to a certain place on the wall. “Hit there.”
I smiled and swung my arm around, landing a solid and sudden smack and was instantly rewarded with an echo of her shock. Sookie started laughing before I did… and we both heard Pam call us assholes through the wall. “Fucking eavesdropping brat.”
Sookie was giggling as I set her down. “She jumped. I could, I don’t know, sense a bounce.” Even better.
“She’s been a pain in the ass. She deserved it.”
Her look became more sympathetic. “You should do something nice for her… She’s just being a brat because she doesn’t understand what’s going on with you. If you started being grumpy with me all of a sudden, no explanation, I’d be shitty too.” Not her place.
“I know, I know… It’s none of my bees wax and I’m not trying to tell you your business, but you’re just as irritated with her sudden attitude change.” She held her hands up as though she was done speaking her peace and then handed the bottle of shampoo to me.
“How the fuck did I manage to collect such brats?”
She shrugged. “Maybe you think easy is boring. I can’t read your mind.” She’d fought a smirk through her sass…
But there was too much truth hiding in her cheeky little remark to deny it.
She stood at the open closet next to me, loss as to how to dress while I was trying to figure out how I felt about seeing my clothes hanging next to someone else’s in my own closet.
I reached in and pulled out a dress for her. It was a simple silk wrap dress with cap sleeves. The pattern was swirls of purple in shades from lavender to aubergine… There was a pair of perfectly matched pumps hiding in the assortment of boxes in the bottom of the closet and I told Sookie that there would most likely be matching underthings in my dresser.
She let a sigh, relieved that I hadn’t forced her to guess and kissed my shoulder on her way across the room.
While I dressed in the requisite dress shirt and pants (light blue over dark grey since black wasn’t ‘permitted’ during the summer unless it was for a formal event) I watched Sookie find and don a set of shimmering, sheer lavender underthings… I found myself inexplicitly wanting her again.
She smirked at me as she adjusted the g-string of her panties. “We won’t be there all night. We’ll get to that later.”
Still closely studying her as she dressed, I had a moment of concern. “Did you just hear my thoughts?”
She giggled. “No, Eric. You don’t have to be a telepath to figure out everything. Your fangs are down.”
I found myself slightly embarrassed, but only that I’d ignored their presence.
“What should I do about makeup? Do you think Pam would help me? She was really sweet the other night at Fangtasia.”
“She might have been in a high dudgeon about playing dress up, but I’d have never known… She was even complimentary.”
“Are you sure that it was Pam?”
Sookie snorted at me. “She told me that it was criminal to cover up my complexion with so much gunk.”
Perhaps I had been too severe with Pam. “Really?”
She giggled again. “Then she had a guy moment on me though… told me that she wasn’t having any complaints about the difference in our cup sizes since I was overflowing.”
That was Pam.
Sookie was applying a light amount of makeup at the dresser’s mirror since I wasn’t prepared to give Pam the chore so soon after giving her the ultimatum I had, when there was a very light knock on the door.
Without pausing her task, Sookie muttered ‘Hadley’.
“How can you tell the difference between her and Pam?”
“I followed Pam after she got busted. She’s sitting with Gran in the kitchen talking about Tina. Hadley just woke up and left her room to come straight here.”
I smiled at her, fully impressed. “Remarkable. Is there no difference?”
“Her ‘bubble’ is smaller. Not as noticeable of a presence. Pam’s is bigger… You are like the Grand Canyon though. I meant to ask… Andre… are y’all about the same age or strength?”
More impressed still. “Both. They tend to go hand in hand. Am I to assume that our brains are fairly even?”
“Yeah, his is darker though. Like Long Shadow’s. I’m not sure what that means yet though.”
I could probably take a wild guess. I suppose that it was something to discuss later since I’d left the queen’s child in the hallway…
I imagine that her age was to blame for Hadley’s ridiculously timid posture as she stepped in. She gave a nod in my direction. “Sheriff.”
“Good evening, Hadley. Did you need to discuss something?”
“I just wanted… I didn’t get to talk to Sookie without Gran around last night.”
I watched Sookie’s reflection smile as she started putting her makeup components into a small bag. “What’s up?”
“I’m… I’m sorry… I’m… Before I was turned and the whole time after I knew that I’d never see y’all again. Even with vampires being in the open Sophie-Ann told me that families can’t handle this kind of stuff… And… well… I’ve been really homesick this past year or so. I’ve talked about y’all to anybody that’d listen… I told Sophie-Ann that I even missed the way you used to creep me out with that mind reading thing… Andre is a lying shit. When he acted surprised to hear you’re a telepath last night… I’m worried that Sophie-Ann didn’t really send that Compton knob to find my family for me… I think he was sent to find you.” How very astute.
Sookie smiled in spite of the news that they’d all been used. “I kinda figured… Don’t worry though. It doesn’t matter. We’ve been so busy… Gran told you about us being in witness protection for the most part and then there was the embezzlement at Fangtasia to deal with. The shit really hit the fan up there and Bill’s shenanigans weren’t doing anything but making it all worse. Eric was planning on testing me with Weres and Shifters this week and then bring me down to introduce the queen to his new pet once things settled down a bit… That would’ve been some crazy shit though.” The perfect answer… truthful enough…
Hadley shook her head, confused. “What would’ve been so crazy about it?”
Sookie chuckled at her. “Ohhh nothing, except both of us would’ve shit our pants if we saw each other again… all a sudden… like that? Who’d of thought we’d both end up with vampires!? Right?”
Hadley started laughing. “You mighta shit, not ME though… You’re really not mad?”
Sookie started to cross the room and perched on the corner of the bed. “Not at you. Can’t even blame the queen for wanting a telepath in her arsenal. It wasn’t until I met Eric that I knew this crap was going to do anybody any good.”
“The knob though… y’all said that Compton was going to turn you.”
“Yeah. And if my Master wasn’t taking such good care of me, Bill would’ve too.” My cock wasn’t the only part of me to react to what Sookie had said, just the most noticeable. Her Master.
“Gran said she wasn’t anxious to go home. Where’ve y’all been?”
“Staying with Eric while we wait for Rene to get picked up… Uh… Hadley, Gran didn’t understand last night when you asked if we have a bond. We don’t yet. I just didn’t think she needed to know about all of that.”
“But you are going to?”
Sookie nodded bluntly. “Yeah… Are you ready? Gran’s chomping at the bit and the car is here.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because Gran has no idea who Gianni Versace is or why Pam thinks he would have been a better vampire than Bubba…” I threw my head back and laughed. Pam had actually looked into time travel so that she could undo that ‘erroneous atrocity’. Sookie smiled, waiting for me to calm myself. “…And there’s a vampire, a human and a Shifter just past the garden gate. I guess my tests are already starting.” Lovely.
“You can tell this far away? I didn’t know you were that good.”
She shrugged dismissively. “I’m not as accurate in crowds. 7 brains aren’t hard. C’mon, let’s get a move on.”
Wybert, another of the queen’s children, was assigned as our chauffer tonight. Not much more intelligent than Bubba, but far stronger, he wasn’t nearly as put upon about his task as Andre had been the night before.
He held the door as we slowly piled into the car.
Our company turned out to be none other than the ‘mighty’ Quinn (Pam hissed at him) as well as a random donor from the looks of things. She was a walking connect the dots of feeding scars. Donor/pin cushion.
His lip curled, disgusted to be riding with vampire, and he opened his mouth to speak.
I quickly interrupted him. “I’m quite sure that you aren’t supposed to dialogue. We’ll be much more comfortable with it anyway.”
His nose twitched in disgust and I felt a sudden discomfort coming from Sookie as she shifted in her seat to be closer to me. When she did, her foot ‘slipped’ and the heel of her shoe jabbed into Quinn’s shin. It was beautiful.
Through the short 15 minute ride, there was a range of emotions coursing through Sookie’s breadth. Curiosity, revulsion, pity, anger, annoyance, and a jovial feeling that actually felt like laughter. Shortly before we arrived, there was a sudden, calming wave of delight and perhaps pride as well.
Sookie left her seat next to me to lean over Hadley, barely whispering into her cousin’s ear. “Gran is excited to meet your girlfriend. She hopes she’s going to like her as much as she likes Eric.”
I’m sure that she’d spoken so softly that Quinn hadn’t even heard her, even if he had been listening instead of surveying her ass.
When Sookie retook her station next to me, Hadley was wearing a relaxed smile and had reached over to take Adele’s hand.
Sookie’s foot ‘slipped’ again, causing Quinn to wince. “I’m so sorry. I’ve never had what you’d call ‘catlike’ reflexes and these are new shoes.”
He simply nodded and no doubt began trying to figure out if she ‘knows’ or if it was just a coincidental turn of phrase.
For the rest of the ride, Sookie’s moods seemed lighter, less encumbered somehow.
Sookie was seemingly unimpressed with the exterior of Sophie-Ann’s ‘palace’. Its façade was nothing more than any other mundane office building. It was a blasé structure of concrete and mirrored glass. It was far less impressive to her than my house in the Garden District…
…Until the inner doors were opened for us in true Sophie-Ann fashion by two of her house boys wearing ludicrous ‘Blue Boy’ uniforms complete with short pants and ruffles. Pomp. Typical.
Adele’s mouth hung open as she grasped my arm a little tighter. She took in the overtly ostentatious gold leafed moldings and heavy brocades draped in every way imaginable with wide-eyed wonder.
Sookie, however, was preoccupied with the intricate inlaid marble flooring. She was mesmerized, following it with her eyes as we walked along the long, grandiose corridor.
We were led by Wybert, flanked by two humans. I didn’t recognize the male, but the female was Sophie-Ann’s chamber maid. Sookie’s test continued.
Our destination (Quinn and the donor in tow) was a simple staging area… A small room with no seating and a flamboyant chandelier as camouflage for the cameras and microphones housed in it… Pam called it the ‘confessional’ since its sole purpose was to catch any last minute subterfuge. The two of us had been seen by the queen enough to know that we’d be in the room for exactly 12 minutes.
Pam snarled, sucking her teeth and sweeping her hands over the lap of her dress. “Eric, can we get Paulette to find some of those lint rollers for the house. Tina is shedding.”
“I could just arrange to have the cat shaved.” Adele jokingly told me ‘don’t you dare’, but Sookie didn’t react to the joke. She was wearing a far-off look, staring at the door in front of us.
She wrinkled her nose, finding me unamusing. “Or you could buy a new fur for me so that no one would notice.”
I rolled my eyes while Adele and Hadley laughed. “Pamela, it’s August. I’m sure someone is more likely to notice a pelt clad vampire in the full heat of summer than a few shed hairs from a housecat.” And she already had enough that PETA could justify a raid on her wardrobe.
“It would be a fine excuse though.” Brat.
“It was a nice try though. I’ll add the lint rollers to Paulette’s list.”
“A respectable faux?”
I snorted, shaking my head. “This is my fault. I’ve spoiled you.”
She laughed, joined by two thirds of the Stackhouse family. “Thank you for realizing that.”
Sookie’s hand tightened around mine just before the doors were opened for us.
We were led across the large throne room to the waiting queen sitting in her usually stiff position on her favorite of antique gilded and purple velvet couches with both Berts and Andre standing just behind her until the last moment.
…Sookie’s grasp growing tighter still…
Sophie-Ann put on a respectable display, seemingly for Hadley’s benefit, and rose from her perch. She kissed Hadley and waited for introductions while ignoring the pet and Quinn who’d been ushered to sit in chairs against the far wall.
Adele was first and took the queen’s hand when she offered, giving it a gentle squeeze rather than a shake. “It’s wonderful to finally meet you. Thank you for taking such good care of my grandbaby. I’ve spent the past few years thinking I’d lost her forever.”
The queen gave an impressed nod in my direction before answering. “I’m sure the sheriff has mentioned that you’re acceptance is quite atypical. Reconnecting with living family is unheard of. I’ve actually asked quite a few young vampires. Hadley’s disposition has improved immeasurably since the last time I have seen her. So thank you.”
Hadley smiled, adding to the conversation happily. The last time I’d seen her was a few short months ago and she’d simply been taking up space in a chair. Her improvement was no exaggeration. “She made an apple cinnamon bread for me.”
Sophie-Ann’s head cocked to the side and it was the first time I’d ever seen her taken by surprise. “Mrs. Stackhouse, you understand we don’t eat, yes?”
Adele laughed. “I didn’t think she’d eat it, but you’d said she was homesick. Hadley always loved it. I thought she might just like to have the smell.”
Hadley added. “I’m going to have Amelia do a stasus on it so that it doesn’t spoil before I go for a visit.”
Hadley nodded. “Gran invited me home to visit as soon as she gets the guest room light proofed.”
“Are you sure that’s wise?”
“I don’t see why not. Sookie said most of the town showed up to see the knob talk about the civil war.”
“The knob? Honestly Hadley.”
“He was going to kill Sookie. I get to call him what I want and that’s the nicest thing I can think of.”
“Don’t be petulant. You’ll call him Compton…” Sophie-Ann turned her focus to Sookie, sizing her up as she gracefully stepped over to us with hand out. “… And the intended victim… Sookie Stackhouse. A pleasure.”
Sookie’s grasp was unyielding as she used her free hand to take the queen’s. “Nice to meet you.”
“Tell me, what do you think of my home?”
Sookie looked up at me questioningly so I gave her a nod.
She took a deep breath to prepare herself. “John Quinn is a Were Tiger who is here to plan an event for you. A wedding. He hates working for vampires because you all hide your insanity with mountains of money. He has a very high opinion of himself, my boobs, Hadley’s butt and Pam’s mouth and has very strong ideas of what each of us could do for him…” I chuckled; that would explain the kicking.
“…Laurie Bose has very few thoughts other than having Cheeseburger In Paradise by Jimmy Buffet stuck on a loop in her head. She even thinks off key. She did spend most of the ride and wait imagining herself with Eric, Pam and John Quinn (separately and together). She’s from somewhere with a lot of snow and hates the heat here. She also has plans to go out with friends to a Roadhouse for a steak and margaritas tomorrow…”
“…Your maid, Frieda, was preoccupied with her cable bill because one of her children is ordering pay-per-view without permission. She planned on getting your cream suit ready for you in case you thought our dresses are too similar. Then went back to being aggravated that Tomb Raider was ordered 3 separate times. Her grocery list includes Tampons, mouthwash, oatmeal, bread and sugar. She reminded herself to call and ask her husband to put the garbage on the curb and can’t remember if her niece’s wedding is the weekend before Labor Day or after, because she needs to shop for the gift in time to have it shipped…”
“…The man walking with us is a Donor. Geoff is recovering from a sinus infection and hopes the medication he was on doesn’t irritate the vampire who picks him. When he gets home he needs to call his sister in Vancouver to say hi, drop off his rent check and find something to wear to his job interview in the morning…”
Sophie-Ann opened her mouth to say something, pleased smile in place, but Sookie continued.
“…Just past the wall to my right you’ve placed 3 vampire, a human, a Were and 2 more individuals that I’ve never come across to identify but they are bored to tears. I can get their feelings but not their thoughts…”
“…There is a huge meeting going on in the room to my left. There’s about 20 vampire, several humans and 1 that matches the 2 in the other room. He’s appalled about something and I’d feel more comfortable talking about the meeting in private…”
Her hand suddenly tightened enough that it actually hurt.
“…The waiting room we just left has a human servant. Allen. He’s here to tell you that Bill Compton has arrived to check in and he has a human with him…”
Sookie turned to look up at me.
“…Eric, that son of a bitch kidnapped Jason.”