Like A Rock
As of the rain delay during the seventh inning, I was only more annoyed with baseball.
I’d gone from apathy to loathing.
Fuck the Yankees and their one fucking run.
And they didn’t earn that until the fourth inning. Until then, the game had been a complete wash… By the time they scored, I could have enjoyed Round Robin, a few chapters of Eragon, and Sookie and I could be enjoying ‘quiet time’ in the book room.
The most interesting thing to happen before the Yankees finally scored was when the Marlins pitcher (Beckett) hit a Yankee batter (the marvelous Matsui) with a pitch, and the only thing to make that event interesting was Sookie tossing herself onto Richard’s lap to keep him from murdering the pitcher on live television. She held his face and tried to soothingly explain that Matsui was ‘crowding the plate’ because he wanted to be ‘walked’ to load the bases… When that didn’t work, she told him ‘if for no better reason, you can’t kill him because you’d shit your pants if the Yankees got Beckett in a trade’…
Maybe it was because I called the Yankees ‘lazy assholes’, but Connelly was sure I had placed a sizable bet on the game with someone other than him. While he pouted, Sookie giggled because she knew why I was finally invested in a baseball game.
Minutes. It all came down to minutes.
Derek Jeter officially became my favorite baseball player when he scored another two minutes for me in the eighth inning.
Four minutes still wasn’t much, but I could find a way to enjoy it.
‘Boone’ gave me two more minutes with a home run in the ninth inning… Edward and Richard realized there was something at stake when I was on my feet, cheering with them as Boone rounded the bases…
When Jeter was hit by a wild pitch, Cort tossed himself onto my lap and jokingly told me I wasn’t allowed to kill the new pitcher for sucking. ‘Looper’ tended to give up several runs per game and had a recent history of ‘crapping the bed’.
He didn’t have the chance to finish explaining why Looper had been demoted to a ‘closer’ before a loud crack interrupted him and we were on our feet shouting as three players (including Jeter) crossed home plate.
That made twelve minutes… and half of them were thanks to Derek Jeter.
Or Looper was to blame since he gave up three runs.
Either way, I was smiling as we left the stadium so I didn’t care.
As soon as we were all in the limo, Connelly asked, “So how much did you win?”
Twelve minutes… on the beach? on the hotel roof? in a completely dark room? with a gag? Hmmmmm. Endless possibilities.
Sookie cackled too loud for me to answer right away. Even once she covered her mouth, I only told him, “Plenty.”
He growled, “A million on tomorrow night’s game.”
Such a child.
I shrugged. “A million dollars, American. I’ll take Miami to win.”
That way, I’d have something to show for the game no matter who won. Perhaps I’d get exceptionally lucky and the Yankees would barely lose. I’d have the bonus of the defeated look on Connelly’s face to go with the time I’d win with Sookie.
Or… I could explore the stadium and find the Marlins’ locker room… If I glamoured the right players to allow as many runs as possible, the loss to Connelly would be completely worth the time I’d win.
He tilted his head and confirmed, “It’s a bet then.”
Sookie shook her head and removed her phone from her purse to check her voicemails… it was still obvious she was blushing. Even Cort and Hunter looked back and forth between us a few times.
Her first message was from Jason and it began with ‘you bitch!’ Amusing as his jealousy was, my friends weren’t pleased until they heard him begin rambling about how she’d better bring him a souvenir… and there were sixteen more calls that started the same way… Brandon, Trey and Alcide were the first envious callers and the rest were friends who’d seen her on television because we were sitting just to the side of the dugout.
Connelly didn’t bother checking his phone… and Edward and Richard had more than a hundred messages between them, but only one mattered. Francesca called during the National Anthem (we could hear the televised performance in the background), and told them to behave or they’d never be allowed to travel for another post-season game as long as she lived.
They returned her call immediately and even gave credit to Sookie for defending Beckett’s life.
When I checked my voicemail, and only because I had plenty of time to kill since we were stuck in gridlock… I had a message from Ludwig because I’d forgotten about leaving her on hold… A message from Pam to ask me how I enjoyed breaking my ‘baseball cherry’… A message from Klaasje to be sure I had her phone number in my phone’s memory… And a message from Mr. Kinsey explaining he’d emailed photos of the Grand Cayman property to me.
As soon as we walked into the lobby of our hotel, the concierge motioned to have our party join him at his station. He disappeared into an office for a moment before returning with a gift basket large enough to obscure the view of the top half of his body.
The basket offered, “Miss DuRone, this just arrived for you.”
She raised an eyebrow and removed the envelope… once she read the enclosed note, she giggled in Edward and Richard’s direction, “How bad are y’all?” and handed the note to Edward.
While they read, she inspected the contents of her gift… Cracker Jacks, roasted peanuts, beer, packages of baseball cards, movies (one of them caught my eye because it shared its title with the book I’d just read) and candies…
Sookie popped a bonbon into her mouth and let Edward explain. He rolled his eyes and scoffed, “Mother is thanking Sookie for babysitting us.”
She shrugged. “Funny, but how the hell did she get this put together so fast? You told her, what, half an hour ago?”
Closer to an hour, thanks to traffic, but even that was impressive.
Richard explained, “Mother’s territory is a port of entry. She knows most of the Vampires who entered the country on the east coast and the majority of them owe her favors.”
She giggled and hoisted the basket from the concierge’s desk. “Tell her I feel gratuitously appreciated, because it was just your turn to have me sit on your lap.”
Connelly chuckled, “When do I get a turn?”
Sookie turned for the elevators and snorted, “You forfeited your turn by separating me and Eric for three hours.”
Yes. He. Did.
I relieved Sookie of her colossal basket and led the way to the elevator… I was very much looking forward to the rest of my evening…
While Edward, Richard and Connelly planned to ‘test drive’ the bars in South Beach with Teague as a tour guide, I had my own entertainment lined up.
A walk on the beach. A movie. Twelve minutes.
As the four of us filed into our room, Sookie instructed the boys to change into their ‘beach gear’… and then hushed them by putting her finger to her lips.
Sookie mimed, stroking her chin to indicate a beard.
Connelly was listening?
That wasn’t just funny… it was curious… How could she distinguish it was him, rather than Edward or Richard?
While the boys went to their room to change, Sookie neatly placed her bags of souvenirs along the wall and was waiting for me to place her basket onto the table so she could pay closer attention to the contents. She popped another bonbon into her mouth and groaned while she chewed.
“Did you get bored enough to read any of those baseball books I sent with the boys?”
“I finished The Natural. I enjoyed it.”
“A couple of the movies in here are made from those books… They’re really good. Not just for ‘movies made from books’ either. Whoever put this together did a…” She stopped herself and shook her head as she turned for our room, giggling, “I’m sorry. I see a gift basket and my head goes to Christmas. We exchange gift baskets full of goodies with friends, like stockings meant for the whole family… In a couple of weeks, BITE ME will be exiled to the driveway because the garage will be full of baskets while we make the stuff to fill them.”
I stretched out on the bed and watched Sookie sort through her suitcase, and removed my phone to give me an excuse to watch her change.
While I dialed, I whispered, “Take it off… slowly.”
I expected her to jokingly throw something at me, but she smirked while she pulled her boots off… and then she turned around as she pealed her jeans from her legs.
I had time to memorize the little triangle of lace on the back of her G-string before I realized Bobby had answered.
By the time he had a small fraction of my attention he was blubbering, “I’m sorry, Eric. I only had one job to do today, but I tried. I really tried. I don’t know why Mrs. DuRone refused. I’m sorry. No matter what I said, she just kept shaking her head. I-”
I interrupted, “Bobby,” while Sookie pulled her Yankees T-shirt over her head and tossed it aside.
“Stop apologizing…” His sniveling was distracting me from my view. “I have more errands for you to fuck up…”
He argued, “No no no. I’ll make it up to you for today. Whatever you need.”
She was biting her lip as she leaned onto her hands at my feet and began crawling up the bed slowly. She whispered, “You forgot why you called him, didn’t you?” and nibbled my leg through my jeans.
She snickered, “Something I said maybe? I was going on about Christmas presents.”
That was it.
“Bobby, are you prepared to make a list?”
“I’m ready when you are, sir. I won’t disappoint you this time.”
Sookie nibbled and nipped her way along my body until she was straddling me, grinding herself against me.
If she continued, I was going to forget again.
“You have the address for Nestor Matthews. You’re to take a gift to his wife, Agnes. A large leather collar and leash…”
Sookie began pushing my shirt up and giggled against my side.
“When you say ‘large’, sir, how large?”
“Not small or medium. The largest the store has available for dogs. The card should read, ‘We wouldn’t want you to be fined for violating leash laws’.”
“Yes sir. We wouldn’t want you to be fined for violating leash laws… A large leather collar and leash, largest in the store. What else?”
I covered the receiver and growled at Sookie, “There was more, but you’re not helping my memory.”
She nipped my side before sitting up, staring at the ceiling while she reached back to unclasp her bra.
That wasn’t going to help.
She tossed the bra to her pile of clothing and offered, “Klaasje’s house. He needs to air it out, restore utilities, replace air filters, test the appliances and HVAC, and inspect the fence for weaknesses.”
I took her nipple and tugged until she leaned over…
“Am I being punished for something?”
She smirked and kissed my chin. “Should I get back in my cage?”
“You aren’t worried the boys will walk in and see you dry-humping me?”
She tilted her hips and breathed, “Not when I told them you’re making a business call and reminded them of how good Vampires’ hearing is… Klaasje’s place, remember?”
She sat up again, taking my hand away from her nipple and as soon as I opened my mouth to give Bobby his other errand, she put my hand to her mouth.
“Bobby…” She nibbled the tip of my finger, making me sure she was trying to push me just because I was on the phone. “My house on Mayflower… a friend of mine is relocating to the Area. She’ll be using the house…”
I almost forgot what I was saying again when Sookie pulled my finger into her mouth… wrapping her tongue around it, locking her eyes on mine… and moving her hips against me.
She knew we’d be forced to wait for hours before we’d have any relief.
I had no intention of suffering alone.
I left my phone on the pillow to free my hand and reached for her, pushing her panties to the side…
When she whimpered, I warned, “You started this…”
The way she smirked, with my finger buried in her mouth… she was more than willing to play.
“Bobby, you need to… open the house, replace the air filters, and restore utilities. Be sure the heat and air conditioning are in working order. Replace all of the appliances: washer, dryer, oven, refrigerator, water heater, and purchase a large bin freezer. Have a company inspect the fence and make sure they know it will need to contain Great Danes…”
Sookie pulled my finger from her mouth and offered, “Navarro & Sons,” and began gnawing on the heel of my hand, working her way towards my wrist.
“Call Navarro & Sons to have the work done. Once the refrigerator…” Sookie was winning our struggle, and she knew it. I was losing my train of thought mid-sentence.
She giggled against my wrist, “Once it’s cold, fill it with meat?”
Fuck her and her concentration.
“Once the refrigerator is cold, go to a butcher and…”
Sookie whimpered, “Vidal Farm Meats,” and squirmed against my hand.
“Vidal Farm Meats. Explain you’re stocking up for Great Danes being fed a raw diet.”
Bobby stuttered, “Y’yes s’sir… What should I do about furniture?”
I was going to kill him slowly… just because he was still talking.
Sookie snickered, “What’s wrong?”
I growled, “Furniture.”
“Do you not want to deal with it or…?”
“She’s my guest. Asshole that her Maker is, she’s still the child of a King…”
She nodded as she scooted away, backing down my legs, out of my reach…
She nuzzled her face against my cock and offered, “I have a friend, an interior designer… Keira Pascal. I can have her meet him at the house…”
“Bobby, you’ll be contacted by Keira Pascal. She’ll need access to the house if it’s going to be completely prepared by Thursday evening. Provide a key.”
“Yes sir. Is that everything?”
Once the call ended, I took hold of Sookie’s hair and led her back to me.
“You’re a wicked little bitch when you want to be.”
She nipped my lip and giggled, “You wanted a strip-tease… I stripped, then I teased.”
“You’re blaming me?”
She nodded. “You’re a convenient scapegoat.”
“We still have to wait until the boys are sleeping.”
“That’s fine…” She suddenly rolled off of me and snatched a pair of pedal pushers from the bed, stabbing her legs though them, and just as hurriedly yanking a tank top over her body before rolling back towards me, draping her leg over mine…
To the casual observer, she was just snuggled against my side, rather than covering my hard on with her calf.
And it was just in time for the knock on the bedroom door.
She raised her voice to offer, “He’s off the phone. C’mon in.”
As soon as the door opened, Cort rolled his eyes. “Are ya too tired ta go fer a walk, old lady?”
Sookie blew a raspberry. “No. I napped on the plane. I just wanted to cuddle.”
He snorted, “Yeah right. If yer juss cuddlin’, then ya wouldn’t a’… shut tha door. An’ Eric woulda changed already… Y’all were makin’ out. C’mon.”
He was too smart for his own good.
Cort hadn’t been a bucket of ice water…
My curiosity, and knowing our walk on the beach would provide a remedy, was how I managed to leave the bed without a chip on my shoulder.
As we made our way through the hotel, Sookie made three calls… Steve Navarro (Little Steve) and Frank Vidal (Frankie) happily greeted her and promised to prioritize Bobby’s errands… and Keira Pascal was excitedly planning a ‘light and feminine blank slate interior’…
Everything was taken care of by the time we were kicking off our shoes at the edge of the hotel patio.
Since I was waiting for a cue for when they were comfortable discussing their ability, I joked, “Did Domina pass the torch to you? Have I missed a memo?”
She giggled, “Between Alcide’s friends, the guys in the shop, and the girls my brothers have dated, I probably know half the pack. I mention I need to put a privacy fence around my yard because I’m getting a pool, Chester tells me ‘I have a friend who does that’. Jack brings over the best porterhouses I’ve ever sunk my teeth into, we start going to his butcher…”
Hunter giggled, “Uncle Jason gets called ta do cabinets, an’ he ends up wiffa dirl’frin.”
I chuckled, “Jason dated Keira?”
Sookie nodded. “For a few months. She got frustrated with being deprioritized for his friends and family.”
“He wasn’t smitten?”
“Jason’s the type of guy who wants everyone to play nice. He doesn’t like feeling like he’s got to choose between friends and his girlfriend. Keira’s just the needy type who called him while he was out with friends… They just weren’t wired for compatibility.”
It sounded more like his empathic nature didn’t enjoy the conflict.
“Since we’re on the topic of Long Tooth, is it safe to ask how Ashley’s complicated?”
She looked at the boys and laughed, “She’s complicated?”
Cort shrugged. “I wasn’t gonna try ta explain all that… I needed ta take a dump an’ I wanted ta hear ‘bout Nestor.”
Sookie snorted out a laugh and shook her head. “You’re such a little turd…”
“I’d been eatin’ all night ta stay awake!”
“Fair enough… Ashley, because she’s the former Packmaster’s daughter, is under a lot of pressure to add to the pack. She started dating Brandon as soon as they met last year and they’ve been secretly engaged for a few months.”
“If you’re telling me, it isn’t much of a secret. Who doesn’t know about the engagement?”
“Aggie and Nestor. They’re disappointed she’s dating a Human. They don’t mind Brandon, but they aren’t fans of what he could mean… He’s a Human so they don’t have any preconceived notions he’d understand Were customs. To be fair, they just aren’t thinking outside the box. They’re assuming Brandon wouldn’t care to raise a kid who wasn’t his… and we’re all pretty sure that’s because Nestor’s in-laws still have a ‘proper stud’ in mind for Aggie, even at her age.”
Because Agnes was a Shifter and Nestor was ‘just a Wolf’? Seriously?
“Do they plan to elope?”
“They’re just being quiet about things until they set a date. Then they’re going to sit Aggie and Nestor down to explain they want a few years to themselves and that they’ll start considering potential anonymous donors. They don’t want the extra stress of breeding drama while they’re newlyweds.”
Cort rolled his eyes and snorted, “See. I’da made a mess if I tried ta say all that when I was prairie-doggin’.”
I chuckled, “Thank you for thinking ahead.”
He drawled, “No problem…” After a moment, he asked, “Ya really okay with us bein’ Faeries?”
“I’m very curious about it… I’ve never walked away from an encounter with a full-blooded Faerie wanting to spend more time with them. Some exits have been narrow escapes… Apparently hybridizing with Humans makes a remarkable difference.”
Sookie smiled and winked at me. “So… what are you curious about?”
Where the fuck to begin…
There had been so many curious things about them, but most of those fleeting inquisitive moments had been justified when Sookie told me they were telepathic.
“How did you know Connelly was trying to eavesdrop?”
Her eyes lit up. “Goody. We’re starting with an easy one… Okay…” She held her hands out in front of herself with her fingers bent as though she was clutching an invisible ball. “A Vampire’s mind is completely quiet to us. Your mind has a mass to us though… Vapor, steam, smoke, fog, you get the gist. It’s a spherical cloud, right? When y’all concentrate your attention elsewhere, your fog creeps away from you a bit. Connelly’s presence stayed with us once we parted ways.”
“That’s impressive… How could you distinguish between Connelly and Edward or Richard?”
Sookie let Cort answer, “Cuz Connelly’s like you… older, but a little darker. His mind’s bigger than theirs.”
Hunter added, “Our secret’s makin’im twitch.”
“I’m sure. You’d struggle to find a Vampire who isn’t cryptophobic. I’m not a fan of secrets myself…”
Sookie giggled, “If you think Vampires are bad, you should see how telepaths react. It’s like a shock to the system. We… just… can’t… handle… it.”
I chuckled, “Because you’re not accustomed to being out of loops, yes?”
Cort nodded. “Cuz we can juss get what we want outta people’s heads.”
“Is there anything you… can’t… handle?”
Hunter blurted, “I got one! Tha King, tha ‘Lymipcs host guy… he’s tha same one tha’ crapped on Klaasje, isn’ee?”
“As a matter of fact, he is. What helped you make that connection?”
“Tha way yer head felt when y’all talked ‘bout tha jerk… None’a y’all like ‘em.”
Cort grumbled, “How’s a guy like’at stay king for so long when ev’rybody hates him?”
“I think a fitting comparison would be pyrotechnical. I’ll use Clovis as an example because he’s the King of France, the one who offered sanctuary if we were to end Halfdan… Clovis is a campfire. He’s in control. He does his job. He throws the occasional spark to remind you what he’s capable of. He’s completely capable of destroying everything for miles if something pushes him, but that isn’t what he wants to do… Campfires can be dangerous if you fuck with them, but they provide a very valuable service by protecting you from the elements… With me so far?”
Hunter nodded. “Respect it’s power an’ it’ll keep ya from freezin’ yer junk off. Mess with it, and ya need dental recerds.”
“Precisely… Halfdan is a house fire. The point of origin is meaningless because it moves erratically and doesn’t mind in the least if your bed is in its path. The only safe place is the lawn, because once it spreads, there’s no way to extinguish it from inside… If you’re lucky enough to not be burned before you get out, all you can do is watch and hope it doesn’t destroy the entire neighborhood.”
Hunter translated, “So, respect Clovis… an’ stay away from Halfdan ‘cuz he’s crazy… right?”
“Yes. The fact that he’s been mistreating, if not abusing, his own child is just more evidence to the fact that he can’t be trusted.”
Cort asked, “How old is that Halfdan dude?”
“Sixteen to seventeen hundred years old.”
“Then… what Teague said, ‘bout Klaasje bein’ a Stepford Wife… why is that a big deal? Isn’t that normal for back then? Like, shut up an’ make me a turkey sammich.”
I chuckled, but I was impressed he’d thought of it.
“To each his own, but weak women don’t raise strong children. That might be a trend when it comes to wife selection, but that mentality shouldn’t have survived her first decade as a Vampire…”
Sookie stopped to sit on the sand, just where the waves were lapping the shore, stretching her legs out to get her feet wet… and the boys joined her.
She leaned back against me while I settled behind her and continued, “In my time, which shouldn’t be very different from Halfdan’s because we were raised in the same climate, there was a division of labor between Humans. Women ran the home and men ran the farm or family trade. It was the obvious arrangement given that no pregnant woman should risk her health with hard work, nor should they leave slaves to tend to the children. Health and strength aren’t factors for Vampires. Sex has nothing to do with a newborn Vampire’s potential…”
Sookie clarified, “So, in essence, you’re saying y’all are unisex.”
I nodded. “That’s exactly what I’m saying. Klaasje’s demeanor is comparable to a newborn Vampire who’s only learning about respecting her elders… Connelly and I worked for Halfdan, but I didn’t know her well enough to remember her name. She should have been part of meetings regarding security or strategies, but she was excluded…”
Sookie added, “Meanwhile, you kept Pam in the loop.”
“Yes… And right now, Pam is enjoying the company of two female Vampires, contemporary to Klaasje. Simza and Bronya are highly regarded Knights and strategists. And if something were to happen to me, Pam wouldn’t be left destitute because I’ve taught her how to invest and diversify…”
Sookie sighed, “And I can’t picture Pam going along with being passed around in any capacity.”
“She’d stake me before I could try. The whole situation is bizarre. Granted, I learned much more from a mentor of sorts than I did from my Maker, but I was much younger. It seems as though Klaasje’s been left to flounder intentionally.”
Sookie snickered, “Since I’m sure you and Pam will do everything you can to help Klaasje out of her oubliette, I move for a change of subject… What about this mentor of yours?”
A very welcome change of subject.
“Gawain. I met him while I was living in China. I’d seen him in passing several times, but because of my station, I didn’t speak to him. I was just the child of an older Vampire, still in my first century. The Queen referred to him as ‘Master’. Even in jest, she did it publically… One night, he was sent on an errand, and he asked to be accompanied… My Maker volunteered, but Gawain asked for me to travel with him instead. He actually told my Maker he’d rather have me along because he didn’t already hate me. When we returned from our errand, several months later, I’d learned to speak Welsh and Russian, I’d been introduced to much more respectable Vampires than the dregs my Maker associated with, and the Queen was told I had potential to become a Knight… I didn’t understand what it meant, but I wasn’t going to argue against regular holidays from my Maker.”
Sookie snickered, “And you’ve been friends with that clown ever since…”
Cort asked, “Why’s he a clown?”
“Because when Pam called me this morning, he kept asking ‘what’s a Sookie, what’s a Sookie’ and he actually took the phone from her to ask what I look like and congratulate me for sending y’all with Eric as babysitters… and he invited me over to Pam’s place since you guys were gone.”
“I’m quite sure he’s already been to your house to interview Adele…”
Sookie giggled, “Poor Gawain… Gran’s staying at Trey’s house because the girls are more comfortable at home and she can tend to chores while she’s there. The best Gawain’s going to get is sniffing around in the yard unless he’s like Connelly.”
I laughed… poor Gawain, indeed.
I’d be surprised if he wasn’t pouting.
No cell phones. No work. No fanged melodramas.
For another hour, we staked our claim to the small section of beach… the boys eventually began looking for shells, but continued to explain the multiple facets of their ability when they weren’t dropping subtle hints about their hopes for a Lord of the Flies vacation.
I was sold…
And the only thing keeping me from mentioning the property in Grand Cayman was confirming the ‘estate’ wasn’t actually a glorified bait shack.
As we filed into our suite, Sookie sent the boys to their room to shower and dress for bed, and followed me to our room.
While she dug through her suitcase, I stretched out on the bed again, but I had my laptop…
The photos from Kinsey would only delay my shower for a couple of minutes… but Sookie made my brief distraction difficult by straddling me again.
I had to think about what my email address was so I could sign in and the hotel’s internet speeds were laughable.
I watched my inbox load one element at a time and answered, “You’re the telepath. You tell me.”
I refused to look up at her. I only needed a few minutes of clarity.
She giggled, “You’re curious, maybe even a little excited, but it’s weird because it’s like you’re trying to push back the excitement.”
As well as she could read my moods with her ability, we might as well have been bonded… If the internet wasn’t moving at a snail’s pace, I probably wouldn’t have had the idle time to realize I was jealous.
I really didn’t need that inkling.
“I had a voicemail waiting after the game. One of my employees sent photos of a property.”
“These pictures must be amazing.”
I nodded. “Hopefully.”
The property is in excellent repair. Four bedrooms, four baths, vaulted ceilings, a game room and a suite of three light-proof rooms on the basement level with additional bathrooms. Since I’m not sure what your plans are for the property, I took notes as to rental and sales trends in the area for that type of structure. In my opinion, the house could be listed immediately. The only flaws are superficial (dated furnishings and scattered debris on the beach) and easily remedied. The beach itself is private with no other houses or public access for quite a ways.
I’ll be waiting to hear from you, but take your time responding. This might be my favorite errand I’ve ever run.
Sookie giggled, “Eric likey.”
I nodded and turned the laptop around so she could see the photos. “The boys mentioned their shipwrecked fantasies last night. A private beach, with shelter from any unfortunate weather…”
She gasped, “Tell me you didn’t rent a house!”
“I didn’t rent it. I own it.”
I interrupted, “No. I already owned it. It came to be mine in the same way as the cars Trey’s repairing. Since I’ve never been there, I sent someone to inspect it. Is this something you’d consider? The boys can camp on the beach, but there’s no risk of being pummeled by harsh weather.”
“You want to take us- where is that?”
She frowned. “Passports?”
Her eyes widened. “Oh that’s a little much, Eric…”
“That’s how I fly whenever possible. Charters can be hired to leave when you want them to. Case in point, Edward and Richard observed the same practice to travel to Miami.”
“So, if you were going to go to the Caymans on your own, you’d charter a plane anyway?”
“Yes. You can do the math, but it’s actually less expensive than a handful of seats in first class, and there’s added flexibility of last minute changes. For instance, we aren’t scrambling to arrange another seat and transport for Klaasje and her dogs.”
“And you want to take us to the Caymans?”
I nodded, “If you’re willing to agree to a dress code, yes.”
She raised an eyebrow and smirked. “Dress code?”
“You’ll wear nothing more than bikinis on the property.”
She shook her head and giggled, “If you didn’t just bet a million dollars on a baseball game, I’d tell you ‘hell no’.”
“When can we leave? I can charter a flight and leave from here Thursday night.”
She shook her head. “You’ve got too much going on this week to bail out… Pam’s birthday, settling Klaasje in, the conference…” She listed them in order of priority and everything. “Cort really can’t miss that much school either…”
“The following weekend? We can leave at sunset next Friday and-”
She looked down at my laptop and made a few adjustments. “That Friday is Halloween…” When I growled, she giggled, “Hold on… I wasn’t saying that would keep us from going. The boys would laugh if I suggested postponing for the sake of costumes and candy… I volunteered to help at Cort’s school for the ‘Fall Festival’ that day. I was already planning to take the day off. No one buys cars on Halloween. I can make that happen.”
“I might be able to wait that long.”
“We were planning to rent a place in Hilton Head in the summer, somewhere on the beach. You don’t have to do this.”
“Who is ‘we’? The boys are under the impression you still need to be convinced.”
“The family. Brandon, Jason and Gran.”
“Adele, Brandon and Julie are welcome to come along, but Murphy’s Law will have to settle for postcards.”
She giggled, “Can’t do that. He’s installing Pam’s tiles on Friday.”
“He wasn’t just fucking with Hunter’s castling.”
She pouted her lip and teased, “Awwww, was he fucking with your Alekhine’s Gun?”
I nodded. “Noticed that, did you?”
“One of my favorites. I didn’t even know there was a name for it until I’d been running the formation for years… We weren’t thinking we’d play chess though. Brandon and I have been working on some other games…”
“Like simulated survival stuff… Like taking a tent, but if the kids want said tent, they have to complete a task. Maybe buying a model boat and anchoring it offshore… make them swim out to it like they’re salvaging a sail…”
“Perfect… Firewood would be another reward. They’d have to dig a fire pit and collect kindling. ”
“And we were thinking, because we were planning to get a house with a kitchen and all, we could make the kids fish… If they catch something, they eat vacation fare like the rest of the family, but if they don’t, salads and oatmeal. Chef salads, so they don’t get sick from eating just lettuce, but if they were really castaways, they’d be stuck eating leaves.”
“Brilliant… Tokens could be hidden around the property… marked with certain amenities. Shower or bathroom privileges, eating utensils… creature comforts they could live without.”
“Oh, that’s a good one!”
“We were thinking about treasure maps too… messages in bottles with little scavenger hunts… We’d need to adjust because we were planning on Hilton Head, but there’s a wildlife thing, so we were thinking we could take them out to ‘explore’ that because a castaway would kind of need to know what they were up against.”
“I’ll have Kinsey look into it…”
She shrugged. “Okay, but I’ll still do my own research… I’m going to kick your ass, ya know. I’m so freaking excited right now… Are you a complete sucker? How much conning did the boys do?”
“Vacationing came up in conversation. They mentioned their learning holidays, panning for gold and touring battlefields. As soon as they mentioned their preference for the next trip, I began wondering about the property on Grand Cayman… It sounded like fun…”
It sounded like even more fun once Sookie mentioned her survival twist.
She closed the computer and leaned over to kiss me. “It was really sweet of you to think of using that house.”
“I’m not sweet. I have an agenda. Bikinis.”
“You can have bikinis without leaving your Area, nightly… with a little friendly competition on the side…”
From the doorway, Cort blurted, “Oh. Come. On! Yer not even in tha shower yet!?”
Hunter ordered, “Get off’um so we can wash a movie!”
Sookie rolled her eyes and winked at me as she shoved herself to sit on the bed next to me.
They hadn’t showered either.
She sighed, “You want to tell them?”
Cort grumbled, “You don’t gotta go home ta do Vampire business, do ya?”
“My property manager called and sent photos of a house… The timing could be better, but-”
I was just trying to string them along, but they both shouted, “NO!” and Hunter argued, “It’s juss’a house! Why can’t Pam deal with it‽”
They looked like they were going to cry.
Sookie cooed, “Guys, let him explain,” as though she was trying to reel them in for more.
Those pitiful looks were just miserable.
I opened my laptop and placed it on the bed so they could see the screen… and took my phone from the nightstand…
The boys approached my computer like it was a rattlesnake while my phone rang.
Hunter seemed distracted by the photos, but Cort watched me so I pressed the speaker button and hoped Wyannie behaved.…
She answered, “Antilles.”
“Good evening, Majesty.”
She snorted, “Eric? The last time we spoke… It was the most memorable negotiation of my lifetime.”
No. She wasn’t going to behave.
“You’ve adopted the Trini accent since the last time we spoke… It has been a while, hasn’t it.”
“Too long. Tell me you’re calling because you want to renegotiate.”
A week ago, I would have.
“Sadly, no… I have actual business with you. Ursula Bjorn was ended in March and her beneficiary was her murderer. Ursula had property on Grand Cayman.”
She groaned, “How disappointing. You actually have business to discuss. Do you need a real estate agent to liquidate?”
“Actually, my property manager is there now, assessing it. I’m keeping it.”
“Rental property? Here? Really Eric, if you want to play Monopoly with real deeds, you should leave that cunt Sophie-Anne and take over the world from my suite.”
Sookie grabbed a pillow to cover her mouth to stifle a giggle.
I offered, “When I decide to imperialize North America, your bed will be my headquarters.”
Wyannie laughed, “Empty promises! I know better. Though, ‘The United States of Eric’ has a lovely ring to it. So why do you want to keep the property?”
“A vacation home… I’m actually calling to inform you I’ll be in your territory for a few nights. I’ll arrive October 31st. I’m taking my pet and her family…”
Cort and Hunter’s mouths fell open… silent screams… double fist pumps…
It was much better than teary eyes and grimaces.
“Your pet? You have a pet?”
Here we go…
“Yes, and you’re free to call our friends to ask them about her. We’re actually in Miami for the World Series at the moment with Connelly, Edward and Richard…”
There was the sound of bare feet stomping on a hard floor… a door crashing into a wall behind it… more stomping…
I whispered to the boys, “Wait for it. She’s funny.”
The boys stepped closer to my phone just in time for Wyannie to shout, “Which one of you motherfuckers forgot to tell me the four horsemen of the apocalypse rode through tow-”
That’s as far into her joke as she could go without breaking into a laugh.
I asked, “Are you finished yet?”
“Pets and vacations? This is front-page-news, Eric, and you know it…” She giggled, “She must be amazing. I can’t wait to meet the first thing to ever keep you interested for more than a night.”
“It’s actually a quiet retreat. I wasn’t planning to leave Grand Cayman if I could avoid it. There’s a bit of a theme to the vacation. My pet’s children have ideals of being shipwrecked.”
More silent screams and fist pumping, this time with a simulated high-five.
She laughed, “Then, since you saved my life, I’ll pay a personal visit to decide if the property is worth demanding tribute.”
“And in the meantime, I’m sure you’ll do everything you can to learn more about my pet.”
“Oh absolutely. I’ll see you soon.”
My phone was hardly charging again before the boys tackled me and began probing and interrogating me about the house in the Caymans, when we would leave, what they needed to pack, and who was going with us.
When they finally left the bed, Cort grabbed his cellphone to call Julie… Cort sat on the bathroom counter while his brother showered and they shouted every time they had another question… Sookie was still in the shower when Brandon called her. His daughter had awakened him by squealing loud enough to scare their cat into his bed… And then he complained that he wasn’t going to be able to sleep because he was too excited about the vacation.
He ordered Sookie to kiss me for him…
Not only did she kiss me, but she undressed me and pulled me into the shower with her…
Certain areas were cleaner than others when we were finished.
We spent nearly an hour waiting for the boys to calm down enough to decide on a movie… What finally corralled them was Sookie’s lead. What she called hints, were more like landmines. She ordered sandwiches and desserts from room service, removed the comforter from our bed, and claimed one of the sofas for us. Once the food was delivered, she carried her sandwich to the sofa and played the movie, intentionally interrupting the boys’ chatter about what the grownups would invent to make camping on the beach more like being castaways. They blew raspberries at her when she explained they were using verbal cues to dig for hints… Not hints from her because she was using her shields. Hints from me, because I couldn’t ‘lock down’ my reactions to their brainstorming.
She called them ‘sneaky little turds’… and given the sinister looks on their faces, I was sure the phrase would work its way into my vocabulary before long.
Sookie had originally situated at the opposite end of the sofa from me, resting her feet on my leg, but when she was finished eating her roast beef sandwich she left the sofa to brush her teeth, and returned with a bowl of chocolate and orange ice cream.
With their late dinner out of the way, the boys stretched out on the other sofa… and Sookie snuggled up with me. Spooning, hugging my arm over her ribs…
It was perfectly comfortable, and I even found The Sandlot amusing enough… but I realized how calm everyone was, just a little too late.
Sookie had fallen asleep along with the boys.
She didn’t budge when I tried to wake her either. I was sandwiched between Sookie and the sofa and I was intentionally clumsy when I left her because I was hoping she’d stir enough…
As it was, she only rolled to her stomach and offered a sleepy snort.
My fucking luck.
Sleeping children were supposed to mean an open fucking cage.
But… I was reaching for a book.
A fucking book.
The irony wasn’t lost on me that I would normally prefer reading than whatever options were available to me (the whores at my whore factory)… And I was settling into my bed to read, hoping Sookie would realize I was gone.
I was pouting.
Pouting for at least two chapters.
But then I heard shuffling and a snort… I had just enough time to get my hopes up before I heard footsteps and Hunter mumbling about Cort’s ‘switch-blade toe nails’.
Fuck. Not Sookie.
Hunter didn’t even do me the favor of slamming his bedroom door behind himself.
Why was I letting her sleep?
Working, traveling, babysitting Vampires, the anxiety caused by revealing her secret… That was just one day and she hadn’t been able to sleep soundly the night before because she answered several phone calls.
My twelve minutes was going to have to wait. I could consolidate them with my minutes from the next game.
I knew better than to hope when I heard another shuffle in the living room.
I assumed, since Hunter dragged a blanket behind him, Cort was waking enough to go to their room because he’d become cold.
That time… it was Sookie.
She stopped in the doorframe for a moment to rub her eyes and grumble, “You left me.”
She staggered to the bed and tumbled onto it. “I’m horny too…”
She yawned, “Can’t blame me for dozing off,” and curled herself around her pillow.
I dropped the book and rolled towards her. “I don’t blame you, but if you think I was happy about it, you’re mistaken.”
She reached back and blindly grabbed for my arm to pull it over herself, like it had been when she fell to sleep on the sofa.
“I don’t think heroic measures were taken to wake me up.”
“I beg to differ. I shook your hip.”
“What would you consider ‘heroic’ then?”
She didn’t answer me right away, and I assumed she was trying to think of an example… until she rolled over.
Her mouth latched onto my neck and she pinched my nipple… I winced and groaned at the same time and her knee was already sliding up my thigh when she breathed, “This is your fault. You teased me earlier.”
I pushed her back to the bed, pinning her down. “My fault? You strip-teased…”
“The leather dress was my fault too, I assume.”
“Of course it was.”
“And I’m to blame for the unfinished hand job in the shower.”
“Not my fault. I tried to go down on you. You kept distracting me.”
“You weren’t even asleep, were you?”
She bit her bottom lip and gave me an impish smile as my answer.
“You bitch…” I left the bed long enough to close the bedroom door quietly and when I turned around she threw her top at me.
She giggled, “You’re an excellent mark… You’re cute when you pout.”
When I tossed myself onto the bed, she immediately straddled my thighs.
“I wasn’t pouting. You owe me twelve minutes. I was trying to decide how to use them.”
She cooed, “You don’t want to use those now.”
Not considering the way she was stroking my cock… both hands… fingers laced together… thumbs adding pressure… beautiful technique…
I could have forgotten my name.
I groaned, “Why not?”
“If the Yankees only score one run tomorrow night, you’ll only have two minutes. What the hell can you do with two minutes? Fourteen minutes is worth toiling and planning for, not two… besides, wouldn’t you rather use your minutes at your house?”
She made excellent points, but if I had to, I’d use my twelve minutes to keep her from stopping.
“Are you afraid for me to use my minutes now?”
“If you want to use your twelve minutes now, go ahead.”
“No buts… could you move this along though? I mean, you wasted a lot of time pouting.”
I chuckled, “I can’t do that. The faster I go, the louder you are.”
She slapped her hands over her face and cackled.
Goodbye hand job.
I had a feeling I’d been fooled.
She leaned over to kiss me, but I wasn’t going to let myself enjoy it yet.
“I’m sorry… the only exaggerations I’ve told you are connected to my ability… I can control how loud I am… but being so close to the boys’ rooms at home…”
“They didn’t need X-rated dreams…”
I couldn’t have been annoyed by the farce if I tried… if anything, it was a brilliant way to hide their ability until they could share their secret.
“Yeah. At home I’ve got a squeaky bedframe, and Gran, and… I used being vocal as an excuse to eliminate variables. I was thinking the patio would be fine, but the acoustics in the book-room are the bomb.”
“You said police had been called.”
She giggled, “They were… The old man who lives next door to Gran’s house in Bon Temps thought someone was performing a SAY-tanic ritual in the cemetery between the houses… You mad?”
I couldn’t even try to be.
“If we’d met last year, I would have told you I was in business meetings during the day.”
“I would have known you were full of shit though. I’ve known about Vampires for a couple of years now.”
I slid my hands up her ribs, and the chill it caused brought her nipples out to play. “And you would have understood why I guarded my secret.”
She hummed, “Like to like and all that… I probably would have toyed with you about it a little.”
“And I would have gone mad trying to find out how you knew.”
As I sat up, she pushed her fingers through my hair, and as soon as my tongue touched her nipple, she tightened her fists…
“I probably would have let you think you were glamouring me every time your fangs made a showing.”
I looked up at her. “I can control them.”
She snorted, “Is that a dare?”
I didn’t even have to think about my answer. “Yes.”
She was smirking when she tilted my head back and I knew I was fucked as soon as her lips brushed against my ear. She breathed, “Are you going to time it?”
“Are you stall-?”
Before I finished, Sookie opened her mouth and dragged her teeth along the side of my neck… she started snickering as soon my fangs dropped, but she didn’t stop…
Chewing and biting, rising to the challenge repeatedly, until she’d backed down my legs and wrapped her lips around my cock…
I’d only just retracted them again when she looked up at me while she pushed my cock into her throat… and when she pulled away, she replaced her mouth with her hand… tighten, release, tighten, release…
She rested the tip against her chin, still massaging my cock. “Do you concede?”
“Will you finish regardless?”
She smiled and ran her tongue over the tip. “Yes.”
I nodded. “Then I concede… If you were pushing me intentionally, you would have been using my cock as my leash for a year now.”
She was smirking when she rolled her tongue over my balls and asked, “Mine?”
“Good luck getting rid of me.”