Like A Rock
Ask & Embla
Klaasje labeled herself as Teague’s ‘roommate’ when she apologized for not being able to identify the Vampire who’d been glamouring the driver… She hadn’t been part of the errands he’d carried out over the course of their time together. She’d worked as a doula, taught birthing classes or volunteered at animal shelters and clinics.
It didn’t really matter that she didn’t know who the spy was because Teague should… Which is why Edward and Richard gave their phones to the boys to ‘play’ with until a decent photo was taken of the ‘younger than Pam’ Vampire with sloppy glamouring technique.
What mattered was that it seemed like Teague had put forth a staggering effort to push Klaasje to be more independent… There hadn’t been any transition for her. Other than leaving behind her abusive Maker (assuming and hoping Teague hadn’t been too severe with her as well) Klaasje only really seemed to have relocated. She hadn’t learned anything new, unless I wanted to consider English something new.
She’d continued to tend to pregnant women and animals as she had in Kiel. She hadn’t been taught anything tactical, anything administrative, anything defensive.
The first thing I would do once we had some time alone would be to ask her if she wanted to work with Dr. Ludwig or if she thought she didn’t have a choice. Eight centuries was a long time to have the same hobby.
Connelly was almost too amusing to ignore… As he told Adele the tale of his encounter with Stonewall Jackson (as a very newborn one-armed Vampire, using the name Neal Beckwith), he took the occasional moment to move the phone and scream at the Yankees for their lack of effort.
Of course, after one of the Marlins hit a homerun, he began cursing me and the Yankees…
I was explaining to Klaasje that Connelly and I had a wager on the game when my phone began ringing.
Since it was Pam’s number, I didn’t hesitate to answer, but the voice on the other end wasn’t Pam’s…
“Why?” was all Bronya said after I answered.
Sookie left my legs without being asked so I could avoid Klaasje being insulted.
I walked to the main concourse of the stadium and finally asked, “Why not?”
Bronya scoffed, “There’s no point, Eric. She’s a lost cause… at her age…”
Since I was already so close to a concession stand, I stepped into the queue for a beer for Sookie.
“At her age she should be completely independent and as formidable as you, Bronya. I’m aware of the milestones she’s missed… Why not call your Maker and ask him?”
“You’ve talked to him about her?”
“He’s already with donors for the night. The only way for me to get his attention is to call him. I don’t want to alarm him…” She sighed, “Eric…”
“I can’t imagine what I’d be like if Gawain hadn’t offered his guidance. I’m surprised she isn’t quite mad.”
“She allowed him to treat her like a dog, Eric. She’s weak.”
“She’s strong enough to have survived what her Maker did to her. That’s a start…”
“She was weak as a Human… She didn’t have potential.”
I snorted, “Perhaps it’s because you were raised by Vampires, darling, but you seem to have forgotten what women were for. She didn’t have choices and, from what I gather, keeping her sheltered made sure she assumed that hadn’t changed with her new state. You can’t fault her for having a horrible Maker. It happens to the best of us. As esteemed as your Maker is, you were still fostered properly. Do you honestly begrudge her an opportunity to become self-sufficient?”
Bronya sighed, “Old dogs- new tricks, and all that.” She was pouting.
“There isn’t a purpose to anything once you stop learning… I think it’s more difficult to rein in independence than it is to inspire it… Of course, if I’m wrong, you’ll enjoy gloating.”
After a long pause, she growled, “If you’re wrong, I’ll fall with you… If I’m welcome.”
That was a shocking development.
Suddenly, there was a ‘Team Klaasje’.
“You want to stay in Shreveport, join the effort?”
“Are you going to make me say it?”
“No, but you need to understand my responsibility is to her. She’ll have to be my priority over you…”
She interrupted, “I understand…” She took a deep breath and sighed, “Tell her I said… tell her I’m looking forward to seeing her.”
I’d missed a third run in the Marlin’s favor, but by the time I returned to my seat, Connelly wasn’t trying to juggle his attention between Adele and the game anymore.
“What did I miss?”
Sookie thanked me for her beer with a kiss and explained, “Gran made a phone date with the guys for dinner tomorrow night so Connelly could concentrate on his game-rage. He gave her enough of an excuse to call Gus though… Jeff sent pictures… and then Conine scored off of Lee’s hit. Marlins over Yankees, three-nil and we’re waiting for the second inning to start. Anything good happen on the concourse?”
“One Marlins fan was trying to convince another that what happens on tour, stays on tour. He didn’t want to tell his wife about the waitress that ‘nothing happened’ with last night.”
Sookie snorted, “It’s a shame we can’t track him to see how that blows up in his face.”
“He could get away with it. He used a fake name and a condom.”
“But there’s a witness… He’s better off telling his wife and claiming the date was a tranny and just saying he was curious, but too horrified to go through with anything. He’s got a better chance of surviving a trans-gender curiosity cruise than being ‘that guy’ who can’t keep it in his pants while he goes out of town for a few nights with the guys.”
I chuckled, “Do you have a little notebook full of lies and alibies lying around?”
She shook her head and giggled, “No, but Brandon’s been joking about writing a ‘Guy Guide’ for a while now. His friends at work always get caught.”
“Why hasn’t he?”
“Gran threatened to whoop his ass… She said stupid men and gullible women need each other in the natural order of things. They stay in the shallow end of the pool together… If you take the stupid men out of the pool, the strong swimmers can’t have any fun in the deep end because they’re too busy being lifeguards.”
I chuckled, “Perhaps Adele should write a book. Chicken Soup for Darwin? That reminds me… I spoke to Pam…”
Sookie shook her head and laughed, “Why does that remind you of Pam?”
“Because there’s a copy of Chicken Soup for the Vampire Soul at my house, waiting to be used as kindling. She bought it for me because she thought it was hilarious…” I turned my attention to Klaasje and offered, “I mentioned that you’re joining us in Shreveport and asked her to check on the progress at your house. Bronya called me for details…”
Her eyes widened as she breathed, “Bronya?”
I nodded. “We’re old friends. She’s in Shreveport at the moment visiting Pam… She asked to stay in my Area for a while. She said she’s looking forward to seeing you.”
Sookie quickly bent in half, reaching for her purse and handing tissues to Klaasje as soon as her first tear fell.
If the idea of being in the same Area as Bronya upset her, or if she was happy about the idea of seeing her… I couldn’t tell. My only gauge was the way Sookie seemed to be giving Klaasje a moment to settle down instead of suggesting an alternative to them being in the same Area.
Why the fuck did women have so many reasons to cry?
While we waited, Sookie showed the photos Jeff had sent… various flowers in an array of bright colors and an assortment of planters and pots… Sookie eventually texted her friend with instructions, and Klaasje was still visibly shaken.
The only fortunate part of the situation was that the excitement of the game seemed to have everyone else’s attention.
I finally explained, “If you’re uncomfortable with Bronya being in my Area, I’ll send her back to New York with the boys.”
She shook her head. “It’s not that… I just wasn’t expecting such a reception. I’m looking forward to seeing her as well. Our paths only crossed briefly when we were newborns.”
That was the most carefully constructed statement she could have made without exposing their relationship.
“If you’re sure. I’ve already explained that our friendship will take a back seat to your fostering.”
“Have you known Bronya for a while?”
I nodded. “Since she was a newborn. I’ve been friends with Wouter since I was still in my second century. We’ve worked together several times.”
“It’s always sounded very exciting to me, knighthood. The traveling and newness.”
“It has its pros and cons… We travel more than most, but boredom is more of a burden… Pam’s always been annoyed when we relocated, but I’ve always been eager for the change.”
“How long have you been together?”
“Since 1658… She’s never really left my side. A year or two from time to time, but we miss one another if we’re separated for too long. I released her, but she’s chosen to stay with me except for when I didn’t allow it. I accepted an occasional errand that made me question her safety. In fact, Pam was in London with friends instead of in the fray of Wouter and Nicholas’s rebellion.”
Connelly added, “Don’t mistake her for a leech though. She’s with him because she loves him more than anyth-”
Before he could finish, he was on his feet like the rest of our group, screaming, “GO! GO! GO! GO! GO!” while Williams crossed home plate. Sookie had managed to shoot from my lap without spilling a drop of her beer.
Two more minutes, thank you Williams.
As Sookie sat on my legs again, Connelly scowled at her. “Why are you still cheering for the Yankees?”
Sookie giggled, “Eric’s bet with you doesn’t negate wagers I made.”
I chuckled, “No, it doesn’t.”
Connelly scowled. “You hedged your fucking bets! Twat! What do you have on the Yankees?”
“It doesn’t really matter…”
“It does! If you basically want me to win the bet because Sookie’s stakes are-” He interrupted himself, pinching his face together before groaning. “Sookie’s stakes aren’t higher. They’re more fun.”
I snorted. “Do I need to remind you that you were haranguing me?”
“Shut the fuck up.”
“The best part…”
“Is that my wager with Sookie doesn’t have anything to do with the finality of the game.”
Sookie was laughing so hard, I almost didn’t realize Klaasje was too.
Connelly didn’t need a million dollars any more than I did, but the close score of the game (and the extra innings), brought out the ‘best’ in him… I was cursed and insulted (as was my mother) in every language he knew.
A cash payment hadn’t ever been my reason to place a bet with Connelly. Seeing his sportsmanship, in all of its glory, was worth the wager. Win or lose, it didn’t matter. He was easily riled, hilariously so… and in turn, he was the epitome of coolness when he was working.
Between laughing jags inspired by Connelly’s outbursts, Sookie and Klaasje went on like old friends. The lulls in game-play gave them time to share photos; Sookie’s family and Klaasje’s dogs. They complimented each other on their clothing, leading to a conversation about what they prefer to lounge around in. After Sookie cried during Roger Clemons’s final standing ovation (because he was retiring), they discussed sports, and Klaasje confessed that she’d developed a heated appreciation for American Football…
Meanwhile my friends argued over which of them could have Sookie when she was bored with me. Apparently, recognizing Roger Clemons as a legend made her that much more of a commodity since she was a Braves fan.
They spent the better part of the eighth inning planning Sookie’s ‘Eric deprogramming’… and she spent it making fun of them for not realizing there were plenty of pretty Yankees fans… Their argument was that I couldn’t appreciate her because I could find a pretty blonde pet anywhere. I wasn’t a baseball fan, therefore I was wasting Sookie.
What ended the argument was when Cort told Richard and Edward that his Mommy has to beg me to stop appreciating her…
Sookie spent most of the ninth inning hiding her face against my chest instead of watching the game because she was mortified that the children had heard us last night.
All said and done, after twelve fucking innings the score was 3 (Yankees) to 4 (Marlins)… I was six minutes richer, and the owner of the million-dollar stick in Connelly’s ass.
Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Sookie had been on my lap for the better part of four hours, but… I could easily see myself becoming a baseball fan.
After parting company with Klaasje, Edward lifted Sookie onto his shoulders like Cort and Hunter were riding Richard’s and mine.
Cort and Hunter promised to take it easy on Connelly while he babysat, explaining they were too tired to be ‘tee-total-turds’, and they’d probably just watch a movie until they fell asleep.
Sookie and I spent a majority of the ride back to the hotel with our phones to our ears.
My messages consisted of updates from Bobby and a bizarre message from Wyannie… She wanted to know if anyone in my happy little family had any dietary restrictions. I couldn’t even begin to decide why she’d ask, but I had a feeling she was up to something and knew better than to ignore anything she did.
Most of Sookie’s messages were from her envious friends and family who’d spotted her on television while she lounged on my lap. Her one message of interest was from Brandon…
“Hey Sook. Good thing you warned me about Eric’s nosy friend. He stopped by a few minutes ago. Poor guy wasn’t happy when I refused to open the door so he could glamour his way in. Okay. That’s a lie. Jules was up, so I had her scream ‘stranger danger!’ and run for the phone. He left like a bullet.”
After everyone had a moment to chuckle, I hushed them and dialed Gawain’s number…
I managed to turn the speaker on just as he answered, “What can I do for you, asshole?”
I snorted, “That takes balls. I’m supposed to be on holiday, but I missed most of the ballgame because I was on the phone with Bossier police. A Vampire tried to get into a Human’s home tonight…”
“You couldn’t possibly think I had anything to do with it.”
“The little girl, who was home alone, is so terrified she’s being treated for shock.”
Gawain waited for a moment before snorting, “You’re not funny.”
“I’m not laughing. I was actually enjoying baseball more than I thought was possible. As soon as Chief Easton mentioned the address, I knew it was you… Gawain, what did you think you’d learn about my pet when she’s in Miami with me?”
He repeated, “You’re not funny,” and it was much weaker than last time.
“You went to 1012 Daisy Circle because you found the address in Pam’s phone before she rose.”
“I’ll admit I’m curious to meet what you’d keep around for seconds, but…”
I interrupted, “Pam doctors numbers in her address book. Sookie DuRone is listed as 1012 Daisy Circle… D is the fourth letter of the alphabet… 1012 plus 4 is 1016. Congrats asshole. You scared the shit out of Sookie’s neighbor… and because spoiling the night of one child wasn’t enough, your impatience rippled to Miami. I have to cut our trip short so I can clean up the mess you made.”
Gawain breathed, “Fuck.”
Connelly was grinning from ear to ear… Knowing Gawain had been sacrificed for the sake of a laugh was the perfect lubrication to make his high-stakes fucking easier to take.
“Don’t worry. You’ll meet Sookie when you pick us up at the airport in four hours. By then, her sons might stop crying.”
“How the fuck was I supposed to know Pam encoded her cell phone’s address book?”
When I ended the call, Sookie, Cort and Hunter left their seats to bow at my feet and declare me the King of Fuckery.
After a brief stop at Taco Bell, because Cort and Hunter wanted to take the limo through a drive thru, we returned to the hotel…
And once again, we were flagged down by the concierge. This time Sookie had received roses.
Sookie snorted at the card and passed it to me. It read, “Miss you bunches. Hope you’re having fun. Love, Gran.”
No wonder she snorted. There wasn’t anything about the note that rang of Adele.
I passed the card to Connelly and shook my head while Sookie cooed, “That’s just the sweetest thing… It’s a shame they wouldn’t survive the trip home… Would your wife be suspicious if you took them home to her, Mark?”
The concierge nodded. “Absolutely, but I’m sure someone on staff can find a use for them, ma’am. Thank you.”
She took the vase from the counter and made a show of inhaling the scent for the concierge… and pushing the stems out of the way to show me what looked like a matchbox taped to the inside of the vase.
All of the cunning, yet completely sane.
You might want to take notes and consider Sookie a successful experiment. I’m willing to invest in further research.
My friends stared at Sookie on the elevator even though I was sure we were out of the range of the bug… and when I opened the door to our suite, no one budged. I didn’t have to mention I wanted to be sure no one had entered while we were gone.
Nothing new… nothing new… nothing new… my suitcase still smelled delicious, and as soon as the scent reached me, focusing on anything else was difficult… nothing new… nothing new…
I called, “Clear,” while I was still trying to pry my attention away from my luggage…
I had to remind myself that I had an excuse to change into another outfit to take Sookie dancing.
Cort and Hunter walked directly to the table with their ‘fourth meal’, and Sookie pulled her notepad from her purse to begin writing…
While she scribbled, she offered, “Francesca’s gift basket had the best baseball movies ever made. We watched the Sandlot last night.”
While the boys were still unwrapping their tacos, Sookie tore off the sheet of paper and handed it to me… She was writing again by the time I read, “The spy delivered the flowers right after we left for the game. He didn’t bother glamouring his face out of the concierge’s memory.”
That was one hell of a defensive ability, but I had to wonder…
When I couldn’t find another pen, I grabbed my laptop and opened a Word document.
“Why aren’t we talking?”
She took over the keyboard to type, “Just a precaution. You’re worried about exposing my ability to others.”
She smiled and typed, “I was born a poor black child…”
I didn’t get why Connelly, Edward and Richard were laughing until they explained what I’d missed while I was taking the call from Bronya… A couple sitting close to us argued about who’d forgotten to bring their thermos of coffee. Cort interrupted the spat by singing ‘the Thermos Song’… the song and the ‘poor black child’ line were both part of a movie named The Jerk… and apparently, I needed to watch it.
The opening line of Sookie’s explanation had intentionally inspired the conversation she needed as cover.
“I was born with telepathy. It wasn’t until my aunt began dating a Were that I found out I’m part Fae. It was Jax’s best guess. Vampires are safe. We can’t hear y’all. We. The boys, one of my brothers, and my niece. The five of us are telepaths.”
When she walked away from the laptop, she kissed my cheek and excused herself so she could change for our date.
Richard immediately took over the laptop to highlight ‘I’m part Fae’ and re-format it to be a headline… and then he typed, “Bullshit!”
Connelly snorted and typed, “I tested her. Not a joke. Insane, but verified. She REALLY reads minds…” After a moment, he thought to add, “And she gets hints from Vampires. Enough to know I don’t remember my mother.”
I reached over and added, “But she had to mention his mother. She can detect various emotions and veracity.”
Edward took a different approach…
He took Sookie’s notepad and began writing as he walked towards Cort and Hunter.
A moment after Cort looked at the page, Sookie called from our room, “So Connelly, for the record, it’s too late for sodas. I’m not a fussbudget about what they watch as long as there isn’t really graphic sex or violence… You know what, our perspective on that arch is probably not the same. Let’s just say PG-13 is the limit. They really shouldn’t last long once they’re comfy though.”
Edward held the note up so his brother could see it. “Tell your mum Connelly needs babysitting instructions.”
Richard’s mouth fell open.
Edward turned the pad around again to write and then held it up for Hunter.
A moment later, Sookie answered, “By the way, I need a mailing address for Francesca. I want to thank her for that basket. I ate so many of those strawberry bonbons, I barely touched my breakfast. I even called the company and ordered more.”
Edward held the pad up for a moment on his way into my room to show, “What was her favorite part of the gift basket?”
Sookie gasped when he walked into our room and he offered, “I’ll text the addy to you,” and I could hear him writing again.
Almost as soon as he stopped writing, Cort and Hunter began singing, “Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leaving today. I want to be a part of it: New York, New York…”
Richard’s gob was so wide, it would have taken two cocks to fill it… He was still so stunned he didn’t realize Connelly was thinking along the same lines as me until two thick Irish fingers were bumping the back of his throat.
He slapped Connelly’s hand away and complained, “I hate it when you do that!”
Connelly chuckled, “Yeah, but it’s been a couple of centuries since I had that chance.”
After more scribbling in the bedroom, Cort left his seat, wiping his hands on his jeans on his way over to type, “We don’t get tired from hearing stuff like y’all don’t get tired. Too much gives us a headache, but we got shields to block stuff out.”
Maybe it was because I already knew about their ability, but I wasn’t so enthralled that I missed the little things… Cort only typed with his index fingers, and he was hung up for a moment on the spelling of headaik… headache.
Edward returned from my room to read Cort’s answer and growled as he typed, “FUCK! When can we play with it!?”
Sookie appeared in the doorway to our room and giggled, “I’m ready to head out. How about you?”
How far did she think she’d get in that little white sundress?
She’d successfully changed the subject just by shedding her layers of Yankees merchandising.
She walked towards my laptop and typed, “Are we done? I have a hot date.”
Edward shook his head as though she was trying to take a toy away from a child…
She giggled, “I’ll bet even your Maker’s a sucker for that face,” as she typed, “Then type any questions you think of and I’ll answer them LATER.”
Edward actually whimpered when I closed my laptop and took Sookie’s hand. As we walked towards the door, I warned, “If either of us are called, and it isn’t a matter of life and death, I’ll hunt you down.”
Once the elevator doors closed, I reached over to peek into her dress.
The spaghetti straps had almost guaranteed it, but… no bra.
She giggled and swatted my hands, complaining that she was surrounded by ancient children, while I backed her into the corner.
“Nonsense… Children don’t…” I slid my hands along the back of her thighs and stopped when I realized she wasn’t wearing panties either. “Dancing without panties? Exhibitionism?”
She shook her head and stepped towards me, herding me back as the elevator opened in the lobby.
“Did you notice I hadn’t suggested you change into something that wouldn’t get us interrupted by every Miami fan in South Beach?”
Now that she mentioned it…
“So the rooftop club…”
She took my hands and turned around to lead me to the doors for the hotel’s pool and beach access…
“The club is legit, but we’ve already had enough of loud group activities for one night.”
“I like the way you think.”
She giggled, “When I talked to the concierge earlier, he mentioned a sandbar about a mile off the beach… and I just so happen to know somebody who can fly.”
“Oh really? What’s on this sandbar?”
She breathed, “Absolutely nothing,” so slowly, my cock reacted before she was finished.
I growled, “I can think of worse ways to spend my time.”
She giggled, “Good, but don’t make fun of me. I’m not a fan of heights, so I’ll probably cling to you like a wet kitten until you find it.”
Even though I stayed low and wasn’t going at a fraction of the speed I could, Sookie’s grip on me, her arms around my neck and her legs around my waist, was as tight as possible for the first minute or two…
But she eventually relaxed enough to lift her head from my chest to watch the water pass under us… sighing about being completely alone.
There really wasn’t anything to the sandbar… hardly the length of her cul-de-sac, barely as wide as her driveway…
But we were alone.
No one to interrupt. No one to consider. No thoughts to distract her.
A deserted island for two.
And as soon as Sookie’s feet were under her, she kicked her shoes off and reached for my belt…
I couldn’t imagine how much more eager I would have been if she hadn’t fed me earlier. Perhaps there was just something liberating about being completely alone with her…
The only patience either of us had was for the clothing we knew we’d have to wear again…
It wasn’t playful.
It wasn’t aggressive.
It wasn’t competitive.
Fucking incredible… even if the mood was completely foreign to me.
She hadn’t had a drop of my blood yet, but there was still an unfathomable connection between us.
Nothing had ever come close…
Close to the way she looked at me…
Close to the way she touched me…
Close to the way she made me feel…
She was absolutely Mine, but there was so much more to it than terminology either one of us were familiar with.
Hours later, taking in the void of our surroundings while Sookie caught her breath…
Nothing but sand between us.
Nothing but the sound of the ocean.
Nothing but the stars as witness.
She giggled breathlessly, “Ask and Embla,” as though she could hear my thoughts.
“Not Adam and Eve?”
“Nope. I’m not a fan of the Christian re-write. Besides, Ask and Embla fits better… Nothing forbidden, no one trying to cause trouble… From where we are, we might as well be completely alone on the planet… Just us and sand.”
“I’m not sure I’ll ever remember this trip and not think of this sandbar first. This was the perfect ‘date’ as far as I’m concerned. You’ve successfully wooed me.”
She giggled, “Ohhh, something tells me I’ve got bragging rights.”
“More than you could possibly understand.”
“Wow… I need to confess something.”
“You hate that I’m a Vampire because we can’t stay here indefinitely?”
No. Wait. That was my confession.
She nodded and sighed, “Is it weird that I don’t think about it, that you’re a Vampire, unless it pertains to your needs? Like blood and sunset.”
Yes. Completely. It actually seemed like it was all some people thought about.
“I’d use the word ‘endearing’, but you might get a different answer from your mysterious kin.”
“I wasn’t asking them… I know we get certain bonuses… you get the smell of sunshine and I get a quiet mind… but… like now… we’re just… just us.”
At least I wasn’t the only one struggling to put ‘it’ into words.
“Just us is a surprising enhancement. It’s odd to feel so comfortable as part of an ‘us’, but it isn’t something that needs to be corrected, I don’t think.”
She sighed again and it became a long yawn. “Thank God. I thought it was just me.”