On any other night, I’d rise to nothing. With my maker being so far away and Pam being unable to rise as early, it was the only peace that I ever got.
I was clearly going to have an adjustment to make.
Sookie wasn’t something that could be ignored in any sense, so it seemed.
Closer to Shreveport by the second, her angst and excitement were practically overwhelming… amusing, but intense enough to choke the metaphorical horse.
I found myself having to convince myself to complete my nightly routine…
Showering… I’d be able to enjoy her scent again soon enough, even if I was trying to overlook that I’d purposely not washed her away that morning.
Feeding… Hoping that there’d be a finer flavor than bagged A+ in my near future and doing my best to ignore that two drops from Sookie’s finger had satisfied me more than the three sub-par pints that normally would’ve been one acceptable bag.
Dressing… Business attire wasn’t something that annoyed me on Sookie’s behalf, but it was still unfavorable in general… then again, with my arms covered, I’d be far less likely to enjoy Sookie’s skin against mine. Either by accidental contact or during her attempts to ‘use me’ my sleeves would be an irksome barrier.
Last minute instructions for Bobby and Paulette were handled in a matter of a couple of short texts and that only left Fangtasia… Chow wouldn’t have been available yet and talking to Ginger made me wonder why I hadn’t just closed the bar while we were going to be gone. Chow was competent, but too new to have a normal routine and Ginger was… well, she was Ginger.
…All the while, Sookie’s tension was growing and getting much closer…
I used her arrival as my excuse to hang up on Ginger in favor of more interesting (and less maddening) conversation.
“Sookie, should I have had Bobby attain some sort of calming medication for you?”
She practically whimpered, “Probably.”
“Have you already forgotten about how well your talk with Andre went?”
“Not as much as I’m realizing how much I’ve screwed up everything else. I’m going to need a bottle of liquor with a straw in it.”
“I’m not sure that being drunk will help your case, but I’ll make sure that there is something you can celebrate with waiting when your job is done.”
“Celebrate, huh? Thank God one of us is confident things’ll go ok.”
“You’ll do fine. I’ve never given a ‘pep talk’, but I could make you cum until you forget what you’re so nervous about. Why don’t you come inside so that I can…”
She snorted out a laugh. “Oh, I don’t think so…I don’t need to be that kind of drunk either… pervert.”
“Do you mean cum drunk?”
She gasped, “Eric!”
“Sookie, are you starting without me? Trust me when I say that moaning my name will feel more natural.”
She groaned and I could hear a quick pounding that I imagined could only have been her feet kicking in exasperation. “Is that all you think about?”
“No, but you’re distracted… What are you wearing?” She was amused, but she was too stubborn to voice it.
“The outfit you had Bobby bring me.”
“Do you like it?”
“It’s pretty. Thanks. I’m a little surprised that it isn’t backless or see-through though.”
“It’s not? I’ll have to fire him.”
She giggled and called me a ‘butthead’.
“Save his job. Tell me that he was helpful today.”
“He really was… It was sweet of you to have him help move all those boxes.”
“Sweet? Me? That’s absurd…”
“Ohhhh, hang on. Lemme guess… The stacks of boxes were in the way, right? They didn’t fit into the plans you have for my bedroom? Am I warm?” Perfectly and addictively warm.
“And you accuse me of having a ‘one track mind’… I was simply thinking that with your new income, you’d benefit from a few charitable write-offs… pervert.”
She cackled so fully that I could feel her smile. “Nice how you turned that around on me. I’ll let you go so that you can get ready.”
“I packed before dawn. I’m waiting for the sun to set. We’ll stop for Pam on our way to the airfield. You’ll have me to yourself in the back of a limo for a few minutes.”
“Uh oh. What do you have planned?”
“I don’t have anything planned.”
“You intend to improvise?”
She huffed, “No…”
“You intend to submit?”
Slightly more exasperated, “No…”
“Pam only lives a few minutes from here. You won’t have much time to tease me.”
“I have no intentions of… I can’t win, can I?”
“That depends on what you consider to be a victory. Screaming, howling, crying, losing consciousness?”
“Oh, Sookie… You’ve been doing it wrong.”
“That’s not what I meant…”
“I meant… something as simple as a few well placed hums can push you to the edge of sanity…” With the sun fully set, I grabbed my bags and emerged from the house… She noticed instantly. She’d been watching, waiting.
“Like a choir boy.”
“Ok, but… you’re more my type than clergy.”
She giggled and hung up as I was putting my things into the trunk.
Her smell… I was fucked before I was ever in the limo. I had to wonder if she’d been told… If she’d done it purposefully… It was so much stronger than before…
It was as though…
It was as though she was producing the smell of sunlight…
I was practically frantic to get the window down… Not that I could take my eyes from her…
Of all the times for Bobby to get something right… That asshole had managed to find exactly what I’d told him to. ‘Something to display her cleavage and legs’. He’d done so well that Sookie might as well have been served on a plate.
Even though I’d opted for sitting next to the open window, her scent was still too strong as the car moved through traffic…
My willpower hadn’t ever been so tested. Controlling the urge, list of urges, might have been easier if I’d been closer to a true Faerie.
“Cat got your tongue?”
My hopes of being able to ignore her for her own good were suddenly dashed when I noticed the expectant look on her face… There was no graceful way of covering that I’d missed everything she’d been saying. I watched the traffic light, practically willing it to turn green and shorten our drive as much as possible. “How did you spend your day?”
Judging by her confusion, she’d already told me or tried to. “Uhhh, I woke up when Bobby got there. He spent a little while waiting for me to calm down about the security system guys. Do you really think I need an alarm system?”
“Considering how fragile you are, it’s a trivial safeguard I’d like for you to humor.”
She rolled her eyes. “If you say so… Anyway, while they measured for the new windows and whatnots, I repacked my things into the new luggage Bobby brought out. When they left, Bobby and I sorted through the last of the stuff and loaded up all the boxes to run them out to the church for their next rummage sale. I ended up having to deal with Sam anyway… He was at the house waiting to ‘talk some sense’ into me when I got back from the church.”
“He’s not very persuasive, it seems.”
The joke had proven to be a bad idea since her giggle went straight through me. “Yeah and he’s more pissy now than he was when I hung up on him last night. He thinks that I’m too naïve to take care of myself.”
“Truthfully. Don’t be petulant or defensive about it. You are too naïve. Sadly, it seems that no one else has bothered to accept that as you experience the world, you’ll remedy the problem by learning. Even vampires need guidance to survive.”
She scoffed, “Jerk.”
“What have I done?”
“You basically just said that I’ve been living under a rock and I can’t even be mad at you about it… Anyway, with everyone out of my hair, I did some cleaning and took a shower. Since I had a couple of hours I laid out… The poor driver had to wait until I threw my dress on. I fell asleep since my schedule is off and didn’t wake up until he came up the driveway.” The nap in the sun that ended only a few minutes before she slid into the car would definitely explain why sunlight seemed to be a third passenger… No less irresistible, but it was a slight relief to know that I wouldn’t be undergoing the constant test of that intensity.
“Did you think vampires would begrudge you for not donning your usual bronze?”
“No. I just… It’s my little vanity.”
“Are you not worried about skin cancer?”
“Don’t be a party pooper. Skin cancer isn’t sneaky like the other kinds. It shows up in plenty of time to do something about it. Besides, Jason’s more likely to get it than me since he’s in the sun everyday.” The casual mention of her brother, insignificant as it was, caused a pang of remorse for her… A blessed distraction.
“Does he know that you are traveling? The news of Hadley?”
“You called your Shifter, but your own brother is uninformed? How pleased do you think he’ll be when he hears about your mysterious trip to New Orleans just after your grandmother’s death? He’s likely to imagine that you’re callously enjoying a vacation.”
“I don’t know what to say… How to tell him… He’s still really angry with me.”
I took her phone and she watched carefully as I scrolled through her listings to retrieve his number… And then dialed it on mine.
“What are you doing?”
“Since he’s angry, he’s more likely to answer an ‘unknown’ number. Will you be able to hear or would you like for me to use the speaker?”
She huffed, clearly unhappy to be forced to deal with him and slid closer to me. “Speaker phone makes him paranoid. I’ll do my best.”
“Jason Stackhouse, please.”
“You got him. Who’s this?”
“This is Eric Northman. I’m a friend of Sookie’s. We’re on our way to New Orleans for business and she thought you should know where she’ll be so that you don’t worry.”
“Why didn’t she call me then?”
“She mentioned that the two of you weren’t speaking at the moment, but she didn’t want for you to be uninformed.”
“Business, huh? What kind of business could Sookie have in New Orleans? Waitressing seminar?”
“In addition to her mind reading ability making her a very valuable business asset, she’s been in contact with your cousin. She’ll be seeing Hadley while we’re there.”
“She found Hadley and she didn’t say anything?”
“I’ve been told that you aren’t fond of vampires. Sookie’s only reason for not telling you is that she thought you’d reject the idea of reuniting because Hadley was turned 3 years ago.”
“God-FUCKING-Dammit!” Loud as it was, his reaction was too ambiguous to give me any hint other than Sookie’s embarassment.
“Would you care to take down the address of where your sister will be staying so that you can contact her?”
“No! If I know where she’s staying I might drive down there to kick her selfish ass! Hadley’s my cousin too, dammit! I hate Bill Compton. That’s no lie, but I’d hate the prick if he was still human.”
“You’re welcome to join us so that you can see her too.” Sookie gasped and swatted my thigh.
“Yes, really. You’ll need to be informed about behaving appropriately among vampires, but I’m sure Sookie will be relieved to hear that you’re interested in joining her.” Sookie started shaking her head.
“Does Hadley know that Gran’s gone?”
“Yes. She’s been informed.”
“If I do go down there, am I gonna run into Bill Compton?”
“No. Bill Compton is dead.”
“Tell me about it. That bloodsucker is why Rene was after Sook in the first place.”
“Mr. Stackhouse, Bill Compton is now quite completely dead because of what a nuisance he proved to be to your family.”
“I’ll be happy to explain the details fully when we meet in person, but rest assured when I tell you that you won’t be suffering his company again. Can I tell my maid to be expecting you?”
He huffed, “You sure Sook won’t mind… I been a real dick to her.”
“You’ll have to mend your fences eventually, yes?”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right… I can drive down for the weekend, I guess. I’ll leave tomorrow after work.”
“Good. Expect a call from a woman named Paulette. She’ll want to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible.”
“Alright… And mister… You’d better warn Sookie that you called me. If I just show up, she’ll kick your ass and then mine.”
“She’s welcome to try.”
Sookie stared at me for a moment while her eyes filled before she moved to quickly turn around on her seat to wrap her arms around my neck. The contact, the closeness, the way my arms reflexively went around her… It was all too much…
She groaned against my shoulder, “Highhanded butthead.”
“He’s still gonna be an ass, but I had no idea of how to even start that conversation. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome… Sookie…”
“Get off of me.”
She giggled sitting back only enough to have her face inches from mine. Not far enough. “You didn’t mind when I hugged you the other night.”
I was losing. “I wouldn’t mind now, but… Tonight… You’ve accidentally made yourself too tempting.” Her focus had shifted from my eyes to my fangs.
“The way you smell is… Sookie, you aren’t safe.”
Not only did she stay where she was, but she thought I was teasing her. “What about the way I smell?”
“It’s obscene. I know that it’s only because you fell asleep while tanning, but… You…”
Even though it seemed to be dawning on her that she was practically vampire-nip, I was slowly leaning over her… Putting her back onto the seat… Laying on top of her…
And she was letting me.
My nose was following the neckline of her dress and her hands rested on the back of my head while I took in all that I could before she thought of a way to stop me. “That’s why I opened the window, Sookie. I was doing my best to behave.”
“Is this the Faerie thing?”
I followed the dress back up to her other shoulder, only to get lost in what was waiting in her hair. “Maybe, but you don’t smell like Fae… I’ve never been around someone who held onto the smell of sunlight like you do.”
“Oh, God… Tell me you fed recently.”
“I don’t want to drain you.”
“The smell of my tan is a turn on?”
“No. You are, but this is making it more of a chore to resist you.”
“You need to chill. You said that I wasn’t safe… Now you’ve got me pinned. Snap out of it.”
“Easier said than done.”
She hadn’t been resisting, but she seemed to give up by going completely still… her body was limp as I let myself get drunk on her scent… until finally, “Rape.”
That did it… She didn’t yell or even seem panicked, but just the mention…
I forced myself away from her. The last thing I wanted was for her to be afraid of me… never mind why I cared, but losing her trust wasn’t something I was willing to do if I could help it…
I hadn’t been aware that the car had stopped at Pam’s curb until Sookie opened the car door and stepped out. She shut the door behind herself quickly and turned to frown sympathetically through the window. “Sorry, but I’m glad it worked. You should change your shirt while I’m inside.”
All I could do was nod.
The night air offered little help in clearing the fog I’d put myself into, but changing my shirt at the trunk and focusing on the smell of exhaust eased my lingering mood…
In an effort to prevent further embarrassment, I leaned into the car just enough to open all of the windows and turn on the air conditioning…
When Sookie and Pam emerged from the house, they were both smiling and weighed down with Pam’s ridiculous quantity of baggage. Sookie’s hair was wet and she was wearing a new dress. It was no less revealing, but the sight of Sookie hadn’t been the issue… well, no more than usual.
After playing her usual game of ‘luggage Tetris’ in the trunk, Pam slid into the back of the car and groaned, “Lord, Sookie! You weren’t kidding. This is insane.”
Sookie rolled her eyes, stopping in front of me. “Better?”
She tilted her neck to the side, inviting me. She smelled like herself under the mask of Pam’s usual soaps. “Much. That, I can tolerate.”
Her relief showed in her smile. “Good. If I had known… I’m sorry I ‘cried rape’. It was the only thing I could think of.”
“Don’t be. That was smart. It might have worked if I could have felt your fear though. I’m not sure why I didn’t.”
“Because there wasn’t any. It’s kind of hard to be scared of a guy who’s just snuggling you.” I’d been well over the line between snuggling and molesting… unbelievable.
I caught her as she started to lower herself into the limo and whispered into her ear. “I’m still sorry.”
She grinned and kissed my cheek, patting my ribs on her way by.
If she had been afraid of me, I’d have understood… I’d have no choice but to accept it. I’d hate it, but it would have been a position I put myself into… Somehow, she’d thought to ‘play opossum’ until she could use her very well played exit strategy so that she could eliminate the problem by bathing. It was another example of how impressive she was at ‘thinking on her feet’, or back as it were.
Without the help of feeling her, I’d already learned how Sookie fears… I’d seen the alarm on her face when I ended Long Shadow. Everything about her showed how frightened she was of me, from her jerking movements to the sound of her heart nearly pounding out of her chest… She couldn’t get away from me quickly enough, even though her chaperone that night was much more likely to succumb to bloodlust…
Not that Bill Compton had ever been guilty of being likable, but I hated him all the more as I came to understand that the time I had lost with Sookie was because of his programming. I’d ended the vampire trying to kill her that night and even though I’d acted in her defense while Bill had done nothing, I was the one she ran from.
She had been loyal to Compton until she was told of his scheming… She trusted him until she was given a reason not to… Sookie even seemed to have accepted the pitfalls of being in the company of vampires… Case in point, she apologized for acidentally smelling too good even though she had every excuse to be traumatized by my behavior.
Those were the remarkable traits I’d been given hints about by my more fortunate visitor.
Being physically attracted to her and being curious about her ability had just been the tip of the iceberg.
I’m sure that I’d have come to the conclusion that she was far more than ‘pet material’ on my own, but she had already become somewhat of a prize to be won to me… There was no telling how much time I’d have wasted uselessly competing with Compton. There was no telling how many hurdles I’d have put in my own way…
Sookie began to panic as the car pulled around the hanger and the plane came into view.
“You’ll do fine.”
She gulped. “Are you just being nice?”
“No. It was part of my… tutorial.”
“Ah… Then I’m going to challenge that… If I’m so damn ‘fine’ with flying, then why would he think to menton it?” She raised her eyebrow and tilted her head as though she was daring me to dispute her reasoning.
“That would be a fair point if he hadn’t simply mentioned it as an example of how you’ve found our ‘bubbles’ useful.”
“Oh. How does it help with flying?”
“He described it as ‘hiding’. You concentrate on the quiet during landings so that you aren’t overwhelmed with how frightened you are.”
“So… Focusing, and hiding… Was there anything else?”
“He mentioned that it’s a useful tool to help you measure age.”
“Yeah… Figured that already… Now that I know how old you are and how old Bill was… Pam’s about 300, 350?”
Pam laughed at her. “Very well done. You should’ve found a carnival to guess age and weight.”
Sookie gave her sly grin. “I did… A couple of summers ago Gran talked me into doing it… The funny part: I was cheating folks out of money left and right to help the church buy a new roof.”
As much as I wanted to laugh at the irony… “Sookie?”
She paused on her way out of the limo. “Yeah?”
“There’s a word for someone who works for the church, but it’s escaping me…”
She bit her lip, trying to hide how amused she was. “Eric, I do believe the word you’re looking for is clergy.”
I’d expected one of her usual playful rejections or cheeky replies… But as she slipped out of the car, she cut her eyes in my direction.
She was starting to flirt back. Things were beginning to get interesting.
Sookie was nearly half way up the steps to the plane when she stopped so suddenly that she caused a pileup… I had to catch both of them so Pam wouldn’t hurt Sookie by falling on top of her. All things considered it was probably best that Pam was wedged between us like some sort of bundling board.
By the time I was sure they were stable, Sookie had one hand wrapped around my wrist at her waist…
Since she was still facing the plane, I could only guess why.
“Someone is waiting?”
Sookie remained quiet for a moment before she answered. “Two really annoyed Weres. They were the two that didn’t get into the bar last night.”
“Annoyed enough to be feeling really anti-vampire right now.”
“I’m sure that the purpose was to test your ability with them. They already know how effective you are with humans.”
Sookie stomped her foot and whined that she ‘didn’t want to listen’… She wanted to ‘see how hiding works’.
Pam leaned into her ear. “Sookie, if you continue to bounce like that, I’m going to get a boner.” I could have slapped her…
But Sookie turned around to look at her and then burst with laughter. “Pam! You’re horrible!”
“This is news?…” She swatted Sookie’s thigh and pointed towards the door to the plane. “Quit bellyaching get a move on. You won’t need to listen for the whole flight.”
When Sookie turned to continue up the stairs (still giggling about Pam’s ‘boner’), Pam gave a surprised look over her shoulder. “Don’t look at me. I didn’t know making her laugh would work.”
Sookie unceremoniously tossed her purse onto the couch next to one of the waiting Weres… I didn’t recognize him, but his companion was Quinn… Probably the most conceited Were I’d ever come across… ‘God’s gift to Shifters’.
“I’m going to check out the bar. Anybody want a drink?”
Pam asked for a True Blood, but I’m not sure that it registered with Sookie before she turned around to glare at Quinn. “Not a chance in hell, Tiger. Watch yourself.”
“What!?” His mouth didn’t bother closing after his ‘who me’ defense.
She smirked at him. “Seriously? Someone offers you a ‘drink’ and you aren’t well behaved enough to not think of 4 different ways for me to ‘serve’ you. Grow up… Jake, anything for you? A lil ‘hair of the dog’ to help with your hangover?”
Pam was cackling at the look on Quinn’s face while ‘Jake’ nodded and asked her for a ‘rum and coke please, ma’am’ and choked back the stunned lump in his throat.
Quinn gasped, “What the fuck are you?”
She pointed in my direction. “His. That’s all you need to worry yourself with.” Mine. Fuck that she was ‘playing the game’… She’d said it… She’d said it and she hadn’t minded.
As soon as she turned her back to stoop down to the mini fridge, the ‘gape swapping’ commenced. The two Weres looked around the cabin, stopping on each of us and one another while Sookie wasn’t looking… She was just as amused as she was annoyed.
Sookie turned to hand over Pam’s bottle, then Jake’s glass… then came to sit on my knee with her drink…
She rolled her eyes. “I’m sure there are warmer places to sit, Quinn, but I’d rather sit on hot coals than on your… you’re disgusting.”
“A fangbanging psychic, huh?”
“Sure. Wanna know how you’re gonna die?” Pam actually snorted.
“Why didn’t your master get a True Blood?”
“Because if my master was hungry, he’d have had dinner already. What’s your problem? Someone else use your litter box?” Jake started laughing, earning him a dirty look from his companion.
“You got something against Weres?”
“Nope. Just you.”
“Really? How many Weres are you allowed to hang out with? You know, being a pet and all?”
“I’d rather be a pet than cleanup after one. What else you got? I can do this all night.”
“How do you know who I am? Who Jake is?”
“Oh, doesn’t everyone know who you are? The champion pit fighting Tiger who moonlights as a wedding planner.”
“How the fuck are you doing that!?”
“Sister… Francine. Mom… Gloria. Apartment… in Memphis but you’re almost never there because you live out of hotels. Your truck… needs an oil change. Social Security Number… 012-67-7…”
“What the fuck are you?”
“Other than… completely fuckable?… No, you couldn’t cure me of necrophilia… No, I’m not going to stop.”
Sookie didn’t flinch when he stood suddenly. “Fuck this… I’m not spending another minute with that freak! Jake, lets go!”
Jake offered an apologetic look when he started for the door so Sookie waved with a smile. “Nice meeting you, Jake. I’ll tell Hadley you said ‘hi’.”
Once they were gone, she leaned back against my chest as the three of us laughed… loud enough to sound mad… all of us.
I was on the verge (barely) of calming down enough to ask questions when Sookie patted my knee, still gasping for air. “We need to call Andre before Quinn calms down enough to do it.”
Not only was I impressed that she’d think of it, but Pam was too.
I dialed my phone and handed it to Sookie. Pam seemed to question that I would let her handle things on her own so I tried to reassure her with a wink… and then tried to remember a time when I trusted anyone so quickly.
“Good evening, Northman.”
“Sorry. It’s Sookie. Would you rather talk to him?”
“That would depend on why you’re calling.”
“Ooh, right… well… I guess you could say that I’m calling to apologize… I just freaked out those Weres that you sent my way.”
“You freaked them out? How did you manage that?”
“Well, not really both of them. Just the Tiger. He doesn’t like having his mind read.”
“I didn’t get a good read on him. I got his name and that he’s friends with Hadley.”
“What did you get from Quinn?”
“That he’s a big ole dirtbag. I got sick of seeing ‘what I’d be good for’ so I decided to push him.”
“How did you push him?”
“I was insulting. See, I don’t get much from Weres… just kind of scattered thoughts here and there. I’ve known a Shifter for a few years now and it’s the same with him. Anyway, when Quinn was upset, he was a much easier read.”
“I see. That’s very interesting. Where are they now?”
“Going on Quinn’s thoughts when he stormed off the plane, they’re on their way to rent a car so they can drive back.” Because the little telepath scared the big bad tiger.
“And other than being a ‘big ole dirtbag’…”
“Quinn seems alright. He was annoyed at the ‘retarded errand’ because he had better things to do with the wedding to organize… When I caught that he was with the company planning the event, I figured that’s why you sent him. I didn’t hear anything that would give him away as being part of the other stuff… But that doesn’t always mean anything.”
“Well then, thank you for the progress report. We’ll see you shortly.”
She put my phone into my hand and looked back and forth between Pam and me.
“How’d I do?”
As I said ‘outstanding’, Pam told her ‘spectacular’… we weren’t understating. We were in awe…
And I was probably enjoying that she was still in my lap (and perfectly content to stay there) too much. “Were you picking those thoughts out of his head?”
“No… I was being a sneaky bitch… He was answering me… I said, ‘sister’ so he thought of her… he was so spun up that he didn’t realize he was feeding me his private life at every prompt.”
I laughed again and Pam actually gave Sookie a ‘high five’… that was amusing by itself.
She bent enough to reach her feet to slide her shoes off… the fidgeting she was doing was improving my already unbelievably light mood. “So… now we don’t have to wait to compare notes, right?”
Pam raised an eyebrow. “Compare notes?”
“Yeah. We all got different perspectives the other night… Eric thought we should darn the holes.”
“I’m not sure how helpful I can be unless you want to know that Hot Chocolate has a cute little negligee that didn’t survive its first night in service.”
Sookie started blushing. “I doubt that’s all she told you…”
“She told me plenty… but I doubt you want to hear about it if you’re blushing over a see-through nightie.”
That was my cue. “See through?”
Pam smirked while Sookie hid her face in her hands. “It was so popular that the evening gown I’d originally arranged for was replaced with one that looked like the nightie… I called ahead. They’re both waiting at the house.” Which is why I love Pam…
Sookie started laughing into her hands. “Thanks a buttload, Pam.”
“Glad to help… Would you care to hear about your adventures in sex toy shopping?”
While Sookie groaned ‘no’, I answered, “I can’t think of a better way to spend the flight.”
Sookie finally uncovered her face, but only to grab her shoes and purse and bolt for the door. It wasn’t any chore to catch up to her before her foot was on the first step. I scooped her up, laughing at her. “Where do you think you’re going?”
She giggled and slapped my arms. “Set me lose! I need to catch up to Quinn so I can get a ride!” Over my dead body.
“What if we promise to behave?”
She narrowed her eyes at me, but she was still smiling. “I’m not stupid. That was you behaving.”