As we all climbed into my SUV, I asked my tour guides where we were going.
Sookie smiled at me, but didn’t answer right away. “The fairgrounds.”
I returned the smile and leaned over to kiss her. Then I pulled my wallet out of my pocket, handed it to Sookie and climbed right back out of the fucking truck. “You ladies have fun.”
I had no intentions of letting them go alone, but I was certainly not going without putting up a fight. I imagine Sookie hoped I wouldn’t already know what kind of insanity was being held the fair grounds.
She was laughing when she caught up to me, bouncing onto my back. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“As far away from the Renaissance Fair as I can get.”
“Don’t be like that. It’ll be fun.”
“What about it will be fun?”
She slid down my back and took my hand. I gave her an annoyed look as I let her slowly lead me back to the garage. “Gran and I go to this kind of thing whenever we can, but we’ve always wondered how authentic they are. This’ll be fun because Gran and I can grab pasties for dinner while you set us straight. Then we can stop at Wal-Mart so that Gran can get her groceries for cookies to take to the meeting.”
“At least you have a plan.”
“And an ulterior motive.”
She nodded. “Right now we’re both wound tighter than a spring. We need to go relax and do something un-romantic. That nice dinner and dancing you had planned would have added gasoline to the ole fire.”
She actually looked hurt. Her chin even quivered. “What?”
“That you managed to make perfect sense of attending one of the most ludicrous attractions known to mankind.”
Sookie and Adele were discussing cookie recipes for most of the drive and I reflected on our activity quietly, trying to remember something other than the stench of rot that covered most of Europe at the time.
Sookie reached over and patted my knee. “Eric, did you not want Bill to know you’ll be there tomorrow or was it that you wanted him to feel free to run his mouth?”
“But since he doesn’t know about you coming to the meeting… You’re not going to behave, are you?”
“That depends on what you mean by ‘behave’.”
“Do you plan on doing that whole ‘mine’ thing? I hate that.”
I smiled at her, deciding not to discuss the inevitability of her being ‘mine’ and what it meant. “I won’t have to. You’ll smell like me.”
“So you’re just going to be all ‘neener, neener’ about things.”
Adele and I both laughed about how she’d put it. “I am a bastard, after all.”
“You’re going to gloat.”
I reached over and took her hand. “No. I won’t have to. I will be a very well mannered escort and it will annoy him to no end.”
“I can’t promise that he will let things lie. He’s been antagonistic for two nights now. He may very well put me in a position where I have to remind him of some essential truths, so I can’t promise not to. My position doesn’t allow me to excuse a challenge. I am his superior and his elder.”
She was eyeing me with frustration, but still holding my hand when Adele proved again how precious she is. “Sookie, it’s no different from how I expect you to respect your elders. What would happen if Eric let Bill get away with being squirrelly? Especially in public. How fast would it get around?”
She took a deep breath. “I guess you’re right, Gran.” When I looked over, she stuck her tongue out at me.
“Sookie, I do promise that my priority tomorrow night is to keep you and Adele safe. Really, if I wanted to embarrass Bill Compton, I could summon him to Fangtasia to do it.”
She gave a little grin as she nodded, squeezing my hand slightly.
The ‘Ren Fair’…
It was just as I suspected.
Adele and Sookie searched out the food vendors right away since it was nearly 9 o’clock by the time we arrived. They both happily ate their meat pies and shortbreads, washing them down with lemonades as they led the way from tent to tent.
The evening would have been an entertaining walk had it not been ruined by the erroneous glorification of a period better known (and more suitably described) as the Dark Ages.
It wasn’t a miserable experience, just mistaken and I was dreading the moment when Adele finally asked me about the Fair’s accuracy.
The moment finally came once she seemed to get tired. Without a free picnic table in sight, I found a vender with woven blankets (made in Indonesia and smelling of goats) and the three of us found a place on the lawn near the stage. The music, surprisingly, wasn’t ghastly.
As soon as we were settled, she smiled at me with an expectant look. “You’ve been very tight lipped. Hit me with it.”
The two of them seemed to be having so much fun, the idea of deflating them bothered me. “There are some things that they simply couldn’t be accurate about. Other than that…”
“Don’t sugar coat. Don’t be afraid of ‘ruining it’ for me. I asked because I want to know.”
Her look was determined in spite of her friendly smile. “The obvious errors are that everyone is here. A public assembly like this would only be in the case of an execution or court marriage. Even then only in the courtyards of an estate. This meeting would have been considered unlawful. The organizers would have been put in stocks. On the rare occasion that plebes had a marriage ceremony, they’d do so in secret for various reasons.”
She gasped. “Really? What else?”
Sookie smiled as she wrapped herself around my arm, listening quietly. “The unattractive and unhealthy would have been barred entry.” I pointed out a grouping of very overconfident women, earning laughs from both ladies. “Meat wasn’t served because it had the tendency to turn since salt was the only preservative at the time. On the rare occasion that food was served, it was breads or fruits.”
“What about the battles and whatnot?”
“That was something that plebes couldn’t afford. Only royalty could afford horses strong enough or to have proper swords or javelins made. On occasion a classman would challenge a lower to prove a point or for personal reasons. Without any formal training, the lower man was sure to die. It wasn’t rare at all for both sportsmen to die. Medicine wasn’t what it is now. Something that would require stitches now, would get infected and cause a slow death.”
“So they played knowing that they could die?”
Her lack of disappointment was actually lifting my mood somehow. “It’s not like they had cable… At the time death wasn’t… If they made it out of childhood, they could only expect to live until they were in their 40s. War, famine, plague. Longevity was another thing that only the upper classes enjoyed. Women died in childbirth and men died fighting for land they’d never own.”
“How did you do it? How did you make it?”
“On more than one occasion, I glamoured my way into extended visits with upper classes in the country when I was passing through. Since the supernatural races have always known of one another, we’ve been known to be hospitable in trade. Especially in the past, since it was just as hard for them to stay hidden. I’d stay for a month or so to gage the temperament of the area. I’d either move on or set up house. It wasn’t until the 1700s that I could live anywhere for longer than a decade though, even in the country.”
“Because people would realize that you weren’t aging.”
I nodded, surprised that she didn’t seem to be picturing pitch forks and torches as our reason for moving. “Occasionally, Pam was my ‘wife’ other times, my ‘sister’. In the 1700’s good health became a trend. Pale skin became high fashion because it was noticed that wrinkling was connected with tanning. People began looking for a fountain of youth. It bought us some time. We could stay in one area for 20 years at a time.”
“And now you can stay in one place as long as you like as long as you don’t mind having fangbangers throw themselves at you.”
“That’s been true for a while now. Moving from one neighborhood to the next and staying in the same city has been possible. I know of one vampire who’s lived in the same building in New York City for the last 200 years. Once the fable of vampires became popular, humans have been posing. It offered a certain amount of camouflage. Enough about that. Did you have any other questions?”
She smiled and leaned over to kiss my cheek. “No sir. Thank you. That was more fun than I expected. You’re a prince for talking about it all.”
Another visit to Wal-Mart. Another circuit around the Mecca to the unwashed, over-bred masses for cookie ingredients before returning home.
Sookie and Adele made quick work of putting everything away before Adele apologized for being exhausted and excused herself to get some rest.
As soon as Sookie heard Adele’s bedroom door close, she playfully hopped up on the island. “You were so sweet.”
My eyebrows went up. ‘Sweet’ wasn’t an accusation I was used to. “Sweet?”
She nodded. “Thank you. You could have just mentioned how miserable the period was for you though. I’d have understood.”
“It’s not that it was miserable. By comparison, it was easier than earlier times. I have to admit though; the days of indoor plumbing are my preference.”
She giggled. “No wonder!”
“I enjoyed myself.”
“As soon as we arrived, there were quite a few inaccuracies screaming at me. I was worried about how disenchanted I’d be leaving you both. I was relieved when she said she wanted the whole truth.”
She waved me over to her with a grin. “You still didn’t give it to her though. I could tell you were holding some things back.”
“I didn’t think she’d be too excited to hear details about the frequent executions and plagues.”
She winced and sucked air past her teeth. “Eww. Good call.”
I smiled at her. “You don’t mind that I omitted those details?”
She smiled, taking my arms and wrapping them around her. “Naw. Gran wanted to know what life was like, not what death was like.”
“Good. I’m pleased that she wasn’t disappointed.”
“Was I right? Did you manage to calm down a little?”
“Yes, but sadly… now that we’re alone…” I wiggled my eyebrows at her.
“Yeah, but now… you’ve already taken us out for our yard time. Now she’s nearly asleep. And for once, we have more than an hour before dawn.”
She punctuated her statement with a level stare that immediately raised my expectations. “What would you like to do with our time alone?”
She giggled, blushing again. “You’re the one with the list.”
I pulled her closer. “It’s quite a list.”
“You can’t be greedy.”
I started pulling her shirt over her head. “Why not?”
“Because I want to live through it.”
I laughed, tasting her shoulder. “You needn’t worry about that. I quite enjoy having you around.”
Her fingers laced into my hair as I inched up her neck. “That’s good to hear. I enjoy being around.”
“You shouldn’t have told me that. I might have to keep you here; lock you away for my own personal uses.”
She whispered between giggles. “Who says you’d need a lock.”
I lifted her, wrapping her legs around me and going towards my room. Sookie’s face was buried against my neck even as I set her on her feet again.
Her eyes wide open and moving wildly, trying in vain to focus on something. “I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere this dark before.”
“I’ll get a lamp for you.”
She giggled. “You can see me just fine, huh? Nice perk.”
When I took the waist of her shorts to undo the button, she jumped. “You’re scared.”
She bit her bottom lip, working over the thought before she slowly shook her head. “Nervous, I guess. Not scared. Not of you.”
She was smiling into the darkness as she kicked away her sneakers and pushed her shorts down, leaving her in nothing but her underthings. I peeled my clothes away artlessly and she only knew once the chill of my body was pressed against hers, stealing her warmth as I kissed her.
I laid her back on the bed, inching my mouth down her body slowly and taking her bra and panties out of the way as I worked.
I’d managed to control myself with ease until I tasted her. She wriggled anxiously as my tongue worked over and around her hot little clit, letting slight moans and gasps.
When my finger began to explore her, she grabbed my wrist with a catch in her breath. “Eric, I…”
“It’s going to hurt.”
“Not this way.”
“Really?” She looked embarrassed when she realized she still had ahold of me. Sookie let my wrist go, apologizing as she lay back trying to relax again.
The time I spent was selfishly for my benefit as much as her own. Her taste was as intoxicating as her scent…
And when I sliced away her burden with my fang, the flash of her blood on my tongue took me away. I’d never had to control myself more than in that moment. Her blood carried an exotic flavor in spite of its purity. It was something extra without seeming foreign and it was gone too soon.
It was for the best, her moaning, her taste, her smell… pushing my self-control any further would have been dangerous.
As I crawled up her body, she shivered. While my body felt like a draft to her, hers was radiating heat and warming me. “What happened? I thought you were gonna… You know?”
I kissed her, amused that she was so bashful. “I did.”
She stared into the darkness with a confused look on her innocent face before she giggled, blushing. She covered her face with her hands again. “Ok. So what’s next?”
“You need to relax.”
“I’m sorry! I just… I’m sorry.”
It was hard to keep from laughing. “Sookie, would you prefer to wait?”
“No!” She grabbed my shoulders as though she was afraid I’d leave her.
She bit her lip, nodding. I reached back, pulling her knee up, then the other.
She whimpered as I slowly pushed into her, arching herself away.
It only seemed to take her a few moments before she managed to unwind enough to start enjoying herself, bringing her knees back and resting her heels on my back.
She began to nibble, then bite at my shoulder making it more and more difficult to behave myself. I tried at first to warn her gently, but found myself lifting away.
The view turned out to be far better.
Her eyes were closed, clamped shut as she gasped away heaving breaths until her body started to shake. Her eyes flew open, her jaw set forward and she began to moan as she arched towards me.
I slowed to a near stop letting her calm down, waiting for her to pull her finger nails out of my arms.
I could feel the extra heat of her blush as she started to giggle. “Oh my God.”
“How are you feeling?”
She covered her face again. “I guess it’s safe to say I was worried about not liking it for nothing.”
I leaned down to kiss her and rolled us over.
“Eric, I don’t know if I can… I mean… What if…”
She stopped talking as soon as I took her hips and started moving them. She bit her lip, whimpering and eventually starting to move on her own.
She surprised us both and by the time she had cum again, she was more sure of herself.
Sookie giggled again as she collapsed into my chest.
“You’re not tired, are you?”
She was breathless. “Getting there.”
I laughed, flipping us over again. “Then you may need some of my blood to help you keep up eventually.”
She smiled up at me. “Isn’t this something we can talk about later?”
I laughed again. “Are you telling me to get back to work, Sookie?”
She giggled. “I guess I am.”
I pushed her. I enjoyed every tremor and shiver she had. I reveled in her every response. I was as far inside her as I could get without hurting her, but still not close enough to her.
She started biting at my shoulder again, pushing me. It hurt to hold back.
I growled at her.
She clawed my back and purred against my neck.
“You need to stop.”
“Why? What am I doing?”
I’d almost forgotten how inexperienced she is. “You shouldn’t bite unless you want to be bitten.”
She looked startled for a moment, worrying me that stopping short of finishing was in my future.
I watched, waiting for her expression to change, to give me a hint.
She lifted her chin, reigning in her breathing to kiss me and then pulled my head to her. She whispered against my ear, “I’m not asking, just offering.”
She was still panting when she curled up next to my side, using my arm as her pillow.
“Do I want to know what you did so that it wouldn’t hurt?”
“There are numbing properties in vampire saliva… This doesn’t bother you? That I’m so cold.”
She hummed behind a contented smile. “Should it?”
“It’s… not uncommon.”
She gave my ribs a squeeze, pulling herself closer. “Even if you didn’t absorb my temperature, it wouldn’t bother me. I sleep with extra pillows so there’s always a cool side.”
That was probably the most profound statement I’d ever heard from someone I’d fucked and fed from. “You’re full of surprises.”
“And you’re full of shit. Say what you mean.”
I scowled at her, but didn’t say anything.
She snorted. “You’re talking around yourself. Turd.”
“Yeah. You’re still doing it too. Is this you being evasive because you’re a vampire or avoiding a feeling because you’re a guy?”
She giggled. “Waiting.”
I growled at her. “Even fangbangers find it off-putting. Yet, as it seems, you are a ‘fang-snuggler’. You aren’t frightened for the sake of being frightened. The only break you get from your ability is with vampire. Simply put, you seem to be wired to prefer vampire. Happy now?”
“Damn. Why was that so freaking hard to spit out?”
“Because it’s not something I’ve come across before.”
“There’s a major flaw in your theory.”
Ha. “What’s that?”
“Bill’s a tool.”
I started laughing. “An exception that proves the rule.”
She giggled again. “Maybe… Hey, do you think we could stop by our house for a few minutes tomorrow night? Jason said he’d take care of my cat, but she’s got to be getting lonely. I’m sure he’s just dumping her food out and leaving again.”
“I didn’t know you have a cat. Why didn’t you say something?”
She shrugged. “Cat’s are low maintenance. She’s fine in theory, but she isn’t used to being alone.”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
I was completely prepared to let voicemail answer when my phone started ringing.
Sookie moved her leg from where it was hooked around mine and lifted her head from my arm without complaint. I hated not having the excuse to stay where I was.
“What?” I returned to my place and Sookie resumed her position automatically.
“Uhhh… Mr… Northman… This… is…” An annoying little prick with horrible fucking timing.
“Bruce. What can I do for you?”
“Mr. Northman, I’ve been up all night… I thought at first that I’d made a mistake… but…”
“Bruce, I might not age, but you do. Do you think you could spit it out before you develop Alzheimer’s and forget why you called?”
“Sir, there is an excess of $60,000 missing from your Fangtasia accounts.”
“Interesting. Can you tell how?”
“Uh… I wish I could. I just… It’s the numbers, they aren’t adding up.”
Sookie lifted her head, patting my chest with a smile on her face so Bruce was put on hold.
“What can I do for you?”
“Do you think it could be a vampire?”
“It wouldn’t be Pam. If she wanted 60 grand, she’d tell me… after she pulled it from my personal account.”
She giggled into my side. “Then you should arrange a staff meeting, boss.”
“Yup. I’m looking forward to my paycheck already.”
I rolled over, pinning her. “Are you asking for an advance?”
She grabbed my face, delivering a heated kiss. “Maybe… Eric… the phone.”
“Quit stammering. Be at Fangtasia at 2am tomorrow. Bring what you have.”
I was on top of Sookie again before my phone hit the floor.
She snuggled up to me again as soon as she got her breath back.
The insane amount of enjoyment I got from the simple act practically made me drunk.
Eventually she let a long yawn. “What time is it?”
“We have about an hour.”
She started getting up. “I guess I should get to bed… Help me find my clothes?”
“Well… yeah… I mean you need to call Pam and all…”
“You know why I’m calling Pam. You don’t have to leave.”
She smiled. “Are you inviting me to stay here? In your resting place?” Fuck. A famous first.
“I suppose I am.”
She was purring quietly by the time I forced myself to deal with Pam.
“You’re calling me now?”
“I wouldn’t be calling at all if we weren’t missing a substantial amount of money.”
She was quiet for a minute. “Fine. I’ll pay you back.”
“I beg your pardon.” Her having taken the money would make things much easier.
“I replaced the Givenchys with three pair of Louboutin. I was in a shit fucking mood.” No such luck.
“Nice. You kiss your maker with that mouth? Three thousand at Bloomingdale’s isn’t the problem. Bruce called. We’re 60K down by his numbers.”
She was quiet again. “What is that noise?”
“Asshole. Why do you always get the cherry gigs?”
“Because I say so, brat. I have Bruce coming to the bar at closing tomorrow night. Make sure the staff is accounted for.”
“You plan on glamouring them all?”
“No. Sookie will be interviewing them.”
“Sookie? Why would…?”
“She’s a telepath.”
“A mind reader.”
“Bullshit. You… How…”
“She’s agreed to help by reading the minds of the human employees.”
“What does she expect as payment?”
She cackled. “Can I give it to her?”
“No. That isn’t an option.”
“Eric! Are you…?”
“Pam. I’ll see you tomorrow at 2.”
“She’s yours? You haven’t had… It’s been years.”
I looked down at the way Sookie was wrapped around me, sleeping peacefully as though cuddling with a vampire was completely natural. There was no way that sharing was a consideration. “She’s mine.”
I snapped my phone shut with a rarely satisfied smile on my face and Sookie’s arm slid up to give me a halfhearted slap. She groaned only half awake, “I hate that ‘mine’ crap.”
Starting to feel the pull to rest, I typed my day guy’s list in just enough time for me to hit send.
Your list for the day.
- What the fuck is taking you so long to find War And Peace? I’m adding to your list of books to get: Canterbury Tales. Stop dragging your ass. ASAP doesn’t mean ‘whenever you get around to it’.
- Sookie and Adele will be needing attire for an event tonight. They’ll need something that they could wear to something like a Ladies Luncheon. Shoes and accessories as well. Don’t be a fucking idiot. They should look like southern ladies, not lace nightmares.
- Adele will be baking today and needs hardware and I have none. She’ll need everything. Do your best to find top of the line appliances in pink. White if pink is unavailable. The clothing and baking goods need to be delivered early: by 10am.
- Deliver a small lamp and requisite low wattage bulbs.
- Go to the Stackhouse residence and fetch their cat. Purchase its necessities and have it bathed then bring it to them. Be nice or I’ll feed it your hand. Pam has a recipe.
- When you are done with the above shopping and errands, contact Maxine Fortenberry in Bon Temps. Tell her that you are a friend of Adele Stackhouse’s and offer your assistance for the meeting’s preparations. Do and provide anything she might need. Don’t be a fucking idiot. Do it gracefully. I’ll hear about it if you come off as a prick.
Text me with updates in regards to the security system and person of interest.
Seriously. Don’t forget about the books. I’m not asking for my health, asshole.