I’m not sure why it happened so quickly, why all it had taken was the one statement…
The fact that Sookie was suddenly ashamed enough to be fixated on the floor like a scolded dog would have been reason enough without considering what she was ashamed of… or what she was getting from Jason’s feeble mind.
It made the way Jason’s throat fit into my hand feel that much better…
Pam had wisely given me a wide birth, but Sookie followed close behind me as I carried her dangling brother down the stairs… Her hands patting my shoulders or pulling at my shirt while she begged me to not hurt him…
Even if I could’ve ignored how pummeling the prick would make the wrong one of them afraid of me, I couldn’t afford the luxury of pissing off the queen.
I spared no kindness when I dropped Jason Stackhouse in the courtyard. Even so, instead of rushing to his side, Sookie stood behind me with her hand on my arm.
“When we spoke last night, I believe I mentioned that you’d need some guidance, some etiquette lessons so that you wouldn’t fuck up and get yourself drained. Do you remember that part of our conversation?”
He was still gasping for air and rubbing his neck. “Yeah, just like I don’t remember you saying anything about being a vampire.”
“Terribly sorry, but if I remember correctly, you didn’t point out that you’re a human either. Get over it.”
“Get over it!? You just carried me like I’m full o’ air…”
“Don’t confuse yourself. I carried you out of respect for Sookie. If she didn’t love you, I’d be mopping you up instead. It seems like you’re already in need of a lesson.”
“What the fuck is choking me supposed to teach!?”
“That vampires are just as individual as humans… While some vampires will stand by and watch you strike your sister without acting in her defense, others might not tolerate seeing you hurt her in any way. Consider me part of the latter group and consider this the only warning you’ll get.”
“”What? I’m supposed to be happy that my sister’s tied up with another vampire. There ain’t much of the family left for her to get killed!”
Sookie’s sudden pang of guilt shortened his shelf life exponentially. “I couldn’t possibly care less if you’re happy about whom your sister associates herself with, especially considering that your grandmother’s death and Sookie’s injuries occurred because of who you fucked.”
“How the fuck do you figure that!? Rene wouldn’t have gone after her if she wasn’t with that other one!”
“And why was she with ‘that other one’, genius? Because of your habit of taking the sloppy seconds of vampires to bed and running your mouth about it… If your grandmother hadn’t been desperate to keep your useless ass out of jail, your family would have simply been considered unfortunate enough to be Compton’s neighbor. Nothing more. You made them the target of a serial killer, not Sookie.”
“BULLSHIT! You already said that Bill was to blame for that shit!”
“No. I told you that he had been punished for his actions. He found out about your sister’s ability and took advantage of the situation so that he could manipulate and monopolize her…”
“That mind reading thing she does got Gran killed!”
“No. That would be Compton.”
“How do you figure?”
“Rene Lanier strangled his victims. Adele Stackhouse was stabbed, wasn’t she?”
“You’re saying that Bill is the one who…”
“He didn’t do it himself. He wouldn’t have risked being caught. He would have glamoured Lanier to do it… so that he could be somewhere else…”
“He knew… Bill knew it was Rene and had him go after Gran and Sookie? How did he know if Sookie didn’t?”
“Tina? What does…”
“It’s my understanding that the cat was killed first. Yes? Most likely as a warning message. Bill helped dispose of the remains… Rene would have left his scent behind. It’s all Bill would’ve needed.”
“Y’all can smell that good?”
“You were at Sookie’s house and Merlotte’s at some point today and you’ve eaten some sort of vanilla ice cream.”
His mouth fell open and it took him a moment to get it closed again. “I… I went to get a photo album and stopped for lunch on the way out of town… vanilla shake.” Goody, do I get a prize for being right?
I rolled my eyes at him. “You are still welcome to stay so that you can visit with your cousin, but only on the condition that you show your sister the respect she deserves. But know that you won’t step foot inside of my house until you apologize to her for earlier.”
I could only hope that the gratitude and irritation that Sookie was feeling was in my favor as I went back into the house, motioning to Pam so that she’d follow rather than eavesdrop…
She acted like it physically hurt her to walk away from the conversation that started with Jason’s apology.
She waited until we were in my room before she started with a groan. “You know I didn’t realize he’d act like that, right? He was all smiles when he introduced himself.”
“He might not realize that you’re a vampire yet… considering the length of your skirt.”
She pointed her leg to admire it jokingly (half jokingly). “Have I thanked you for turning me before I took on my mother’s figure?”
“Every spring since ankles lost their taboo… What do you know?”
She huffed, “I know that the resting room I was in held 9 of us… There were 57 that were in the building when the bomb detonated… 38 were left when we were rounded up afterwards. How did you find out so quickly? Did you stop flirting with Sookie to watch the news?”
“Sookie had Paulette carry her over the wards so that she could go find you…”
“They were eating lunch when they heard the sirens and found out about the bombing on the news. She snuck into the rubble and started sifting through puddles and ashes looking for you… When she returned she was hysterical because she could only feel what might have been you, but she’d found pearls. Hadley’s wellbeing seemed like an afterthought when I asked.”
“Oh. My. God.” That just about covered it… Pam was just as floored by Sookie’s concern for her as I was and I decided to not mention that I caught a tremble in Pam’s chin.
“She refused to bathe until you called. Mr. Cataliades said that she attacked a policeman who was going to open the door to the room you were in…”
“The adjoining room is destroyed… There’s no wall left.” The ‘heartless bitch’ let her lip quiver… Ignoring that was harder than I thought it would be.
“Sookie told me as much.”
She snorted, “That would explain why Andre called me ‘Lady Luck’… Where does the daemon factor in?”
“He was trapped in an office. She freed him and they worked together… The two of them found a use for Paulette as well… She’s been sent ahead to the Abbey to establish some sort of perimeter.”
“Shit, Sookie could be proving herself to be too useful.”
“Since she’s also to thank for how we know which group is responsible… I’d have to agree…”
“That was Sookie? They didn’t mention… How did she get that?”
“In the crowd of gawkers… A pair of Arkansas pets were admiring their work… She didn’t waste any time either. Apparently, Sookie stole their wallets and gave them to Cataliades.”
She snickered, “She pick pocketed? It’s a damn good thing she’s on our side.”
The epic understatement was only further pointed out with a light knock on the door. When I opened the door for Sookie I wasn’t sure if I should expect some backlash because of how I’d treated her brother, but she grinned bashfully on her way past me to Pam. The look on Pam’s face when Sookie hugged her and kissed her cheek without hesitation was priceless… Because of Jason’s offensive salutation, Sookie hadn’t had the chance to be happy to see Pam.
But it only got better…
Without a word, Sookie turned around and left again, leaving Pam with the most shocked expression on her face that I’d ever had the pleasure of seeing… And the way her throat and jaw were clenched completely explained why Pam used showering as her excuse to take leave…
When I was finally showered, dressed and had gotten my call to Flood out of the way, I found Sookie in the kitchen filling two plates with some sort of Cajun slop.
“You obviously need some sort of diagram for proper counter usage as well.”
She blushed in spite of her amusement. “Thank you.”
“My pleasure. Do you want it now or after you master the bed and shower?”
She smiled without looking in my direction. “I meant for earlier. Jason really did feel bad. He wasn’t just apologizing because he was scared not to… He meant it.” He was the last thing I wanted to discuss with her.
“I’m still going to draw the diagram.”
She giggled, “I’m sure.”
“Do you have a preference? Heads or tails?” I certainly couldn’t decide.
She paused briefly to raise an eyebrow and went back to her task. “You mean you can’t fill a book?”
“Counters are so versatile… We should start slow.”
She cleared her throat playfully. “Do you mean ‘slow’ like a prolonged preface, or ‘slow’ like one chapter at a time?” Ooh, someone’s feeling puckish…
I moved quickly, earning a quiet yelp when she found herself pinned between me and the refrigerator. “Slow… Like ‘See Spot Run’… I’d hate for you to miss out on the basics.” The chill that put a prickle over every bit of her exposed skin wasn’t caused by any feeling that would help me keep my composure… It was getting more and more difficult to control myself around her.
“How very considerate… How long do you think it’ll take before I can handle an epic?”
I actually growled. “If you keep this up, you may very well find out sooner than you’d think.”
“Hmmm, I hate a drawn out ending.”
I managed to chuckle. “Too much exposition can be just as irritating.”
The corners of her mouth turned up slightly as she rested her hands on my chest. “Without the exposition, you wouldn’t care about the climax… Besides, you don’t seem irritated.”
“Are you almost out of literary euphemisms for how long I have to wait to see you naked?”
She dropped her face and laughed into my chest. “Yeah. That’s all I’ve got… Time’s up anyway…” She pointed to the ceiling, bringing my attention to the noise coming from Pam and Jason moving about. Fucking interruptions… “What do you want to do about Jason?”
“I can glamour him to go watch the wisteria grow up the trellis.”
She snickered, “About the ‘no human’ command performance we all have to go to.”
“He’ll go too.”
“That’ll be awkward, don’t you think?”
“There’s only one vampire there that has an opinion that matters and if she has a problem with his presence, we’ll crack a window and have him wait in the car.”
“You just talked him down from a hissy…”
“We’ll make due. He’ll need a short crash course so that he doesn’t try to shake hands with everyone.”
Pam’s short pink skirt and fuck me pumps were to thank for how well Jason Stackhouse’s education went. Any time he seemed to be getting riled by a simple fact of life (or death, as it were) all Pam needed to do was slowly uncross and recross her legs… Crisis averted.
The conversation came and went relatively painlessly. Enough so that Pam and Jason were debating whether Space Jam or Back In Action was a better semi-animated movie while Sookie and I rolled our eyes at our own personal Looney Toons when we were surprised by a chauffeur…
I’d planned to drive, not thinking that there would be any reason to do otherwise…
But as the Berts explained, the queen didn’t want to leave any room for error in Sookie’s security.
While Jason’s simple ass seemed impressed that his sister rated a limo, Sookie had the sense to feel concerned if not scared.
Thankfully, both Berts rode in front offering us a modicum of privacy.
By the time the car was moving, Sookie’s heart was racing.
She leaned to put her mouth to my ear, barely whispering, “I’m too valuable now, aren’t I?”
“I’m afraid that appears to be the case.”
Her whisper broke, “Is there anything we can do?”
The word stumped was the only way to describe my position. There wasn’t a single option for keeping her with me instead of letting her become a royal pet that I didn’t think she’d reject.
Pam sprang from her seat to bookend Sookie and whisper in her ear, “Bond. That’s all you’ve got, kid.” At least I hadn’t been forced to be the one to say it.
Pam nodded. “You don’t smell like each other… You need more of his blood. Exchange now so that you at least smell like him more than Bill and Long Shadow; so that he smells like you too. It’ll make them reevaluate their position… It’ll give you another night or two to complete a bond… If you play nice and seem loyal, agree to pretty much any contract, bonding should hold off the temptation.”
“But… Everything went fine for the others. I don’t… This isn’t fair. I was playing nice.”
“The others hadn’t been attacked though. Scared doesn’t look good on vampires any more than humans.”
All things considered, Sookie was holding herself together better than she should have… Her anger and fear were grating enough that Pam was feeling it through me, but it would’ve been difficult to know by looking at her…
Sookie gave me a long, pensive look followed by a heavy sigh… “You were warned about exchanges though… How the hell are we supposed to manage that? Jason… The Abbey’s only a few miles away…”
Pam patted her thigh and offered, “I’ll take care of pretty boy with a glamour. You two just take turns… The other Sookie told me that things get less out of hand that way.”
Sookie squeezed her eyes shut and slammed her head back into the seat while she stomped her feet… Any other time I’d have been tempted to make fun of her tantrum… She groaned, “Your call, Eric… I’d really rather not end up being some super donor.”
Livid as I was that I was just the lesser of available evils for Sookie, I gave Pam a nod to start her chore… There didn’t seem any other way except for turning Sookie and I wasn’t about to win her with an act of treason… Not yet anyway.
Once Jason’s control had easily been taken over, Sookie swept her hair away from her neck and swayed in my direction.
“Sookie, are you sure?”
She nodded abruptly, wanting to get it over with. “Yeah. I’m pissed as hell about it, but I’m sure.”
“Not with me though? I don’t want you…”
She swatted my knee and pushed closer. “No. Not with you.”
“We could be wrong. All this will do is make us seem closer. Less indifferent. There will be time to change your mind about bonding later once we have the chance to talk about it.”
She nodded, biting her lip. She whimpered, “Just do it. We’re running out of highway.”
Over the years, I’d fed from some of the most pathetic and used creatures in the whole of existence. Desperation or availability, eager or glamoured, whatever the case had been… I’d never looked forward to a taste of one human more than I had anticipated finally being invited to feed from Sookie Stackhouse and the completely fucked circumstances robbed me of the enjoyment I should have been able to revel in.
Even as I licked the delicate skin over her carotid artery to numb her, she ruefully breathed that there was ‘no point’…
Everything was fucked…
Instead of enjoying her complicated flavor or the way her nails dug into my wrist or the way her blood seemed to fill me and warm me from the first drop, I was preoccupied with the ideas of losing her… Whether it was because of or in spite of that exchange…
If she could get away, if she could get out from under the nightmare that had become her life, why the fuck wouldn’t she?
It was starting to seem that no matter what efforts we made, this Sookie was doomed to relative misery… And I’d go with her.
She watched quietly as I unbuttoned and rolled the cuff of my shirt and asked that I be the one to break the skin because she was afraid to ‘make a mess’…
‘Less out of hand’…
Less out of hand my ass…
Stingy would be an accurate description of my long standing attitude towards sharing my blood… But if it had ever felt like that before, I’d have droves of pets and children…
It was all Sookie…
And even with the warning and the undesirable situation I was close to losing control.
From the moment her lips wrapped around the wound in my wrist, before Sookie’s first pull, I was shaking… Struggling to keep myself off of her, out of her…
Any questions I had as to why I’d have wanted to bond with her were gone in that instant…
Why I cared about her feelings on being mine, being bonded, being turned…
How I would commit to protecting her family…
What made her more than entertainment…
The longer she drew me in, the more the mere idea of stopping her hurt.
And the clearer it became that I’d do anything for her…
All of that… And I couldn’t be distracted from the fact that her eyes never left mine.
The only thing that stopped us was that Pam had the presence of mind to pull us apart and sit between us until we pulled up to the Abbey…
Sookie was still trembling and struggling to catch her breath and I wasn’t doing much better.
Jason was none the wiser about the events of the drive other than the ‘all over pulled muscle feeling’ he’d gotten as the car carried us over the boundary of Paulette’s spell… Still ogling Pam and everything her dress had to offer, he asked about the ‘vampires & churches thing’ as we were led to the large commons area within the old monastery… Pam’s arm was linked to his and Sookie was clinging to me more closely than ever before. The residual effects of sharing blood had managed to turn me into a walking hard on… I was so sensitized that her pulse quaked through me; the slightest shift of her hand, even through my shirt, was a tease.
The Berts had barely left us with our orders to wait when we were singled out.
Cleo Babcock was the youngest of the Louisiana sheriffs, but her age was no excuse for her impertinence. She stormed over to the four of us with her fangs drawn as soon as she arrived with a handful of her minions. “Northman! What do you mean bringing humans? Here? Tonight?”
Her entourage was laughingly surrounding us and given how on edge I was after my exchange with Sookie, her timing couldn’t have been worse. “Cleo, you need to settle down before you get hurt. Sookie is more necessary to tonight’s proceedings than you are.”
“You can feed later. You brought two humans after they ended a dozen of us!”
“The attack… It ended 19 vampires.”
Her face only became angrier as she took a step closer. “Explain how that makes your fangbangers any more welcome here?”
Calling Sookie ‘mine’ had been overshadowed by referring to her as a fangbanger. I simply grabbed a handful of her hair, but the only way for her to keep her scalp was to go to her knees when I yanked her down to enjoy the surprised look on her face. My other arm never left Sookie’s clutch. Before I could further remind her of her place, the party was crashed by the arrival of Diantha and Gladiola… Swords drawn.
“Evening, Sheriff Northman.”
The cavalry… “Ladies.”
It was almost worth a chuckle. “Not at all. Cleo was just saying hello.”
Gladiola snickered, “Gotcha. When yer done, Uncle’s looking for you and Sookie… Oop, I mean Miss Stackhouse.”
Nothing looks more hilarious than the sight of a vampire eating figurative crow. I released Cleo with a shove that put her on her ass and waited for the sound of the daemons’ swords sliding back into their sheaths…
While there are more delicate and graceful ways to be smug, Pam made an art form of ignoring them all… especially when there was an audience. Risking a glance in her direction made me wonder where I’d ‘gone wrong’ as her maker. She was sticking her tongue out at Cleo and holding up her perfectly manicured middle finger.
‘Uncle’ was waiting in a quiet lounge with a hearty smile saddled on his face… He welcomed Jason’s presence without question and waited for us to be seated before he opened his briefcase to hand over a pair of documents to Sookie and me and start his spiel.
The purpose of our meeting was Sookie’s contract. Upon his return to explain the day’s events to the queen, he was given unconditional orders to complete his work on it.
Line item by line item, Sookie sat with a slacked jaw… Easing her reaction was impossible. When her brother overheard the value placed on Sookie’s ability, it seemed as though his thoughts made her more anxious…
Thankfully, Pam thought to take him in search of refreshments in spite of her curiosity before we reached the portions of the contract involving possible injuries…
Since Sookie was still in shock, feeling nothing on a disconcerting level, Mr. Cataliades excused himself to give us a moment for discussion, reiterating that there was plenty of room for negotiation.
Watching Sookie’s lip falter as she tried to form a sentence while rescrutinizing her would-be contract was too tempting. I reached over, and ran my thumb over the softness not once, but twice before she seemed to notice. Awareness came to her eyes like wind filling a limp sail as she took my hand to lace her fingers into mine.
“What does this mean? Why would… We thought they were gonna steal me, right? Why would they offer to pay me anything if…?”
“Sometimes it’s good to be wrong… But there’s more to this.”
“You mean we aren’t in the clear?”
I pulled her chair closer to mine so that I could speak directly into her ear. “Sookie, the holidays… I think that the queen might have had a visitor of her own.”
She gasped, “How? Why do you think that?”
“My tutorial, I told you that he gave me every exception and clause in your contract… You were originally offered double pay for ‘bank holidays’, but you negotiated away three minor holidays so that you’d only be called under dire circumstances over Christmas…”
She stopped breathing for a moment. “This one says that I’d get quadruple pay and I’d only get called if it was an ‘urgent matter of concern for the security or livelihood of the state’. It’s already fixed… I thought it was because I’m part faerie…”
“We know that you are because Hadley is too… I think that your increase in value to them is reflected in your rate. You’re being offered twice what the other Sookie was…”
“So… I’m worth more because of today… But not worth stealing?”
“Perhaps your behavior today, your attachment to Pam, anchored you to me… Maybe it’s as simple as realizing that they’d lose more than just a telepath by trying to go around me… Either way, if they had the same bizarre visit that we had, then they would know definitively where you stand on who your master is.”
“I need you to say it, Eric. I need you to say that you think everything is going to be ok.”
I’d been worried that she’d feel angry about our misguided beliefs considering what they’d led us to do. “Sookie, I don’t have any reason to think that Louisiana is going to force another master on you.”
“Someone else could be a problem?”
“I think, at first, the temptation will be there until word spreads that you’re available for hire… Challenging me and by extension Sophie-Ann for an asset they could simply employ…”
I stopped talking, when she ejected my hand from hers and shot out of her chair… And out of the room…
The smell of her tears was already obvious before she’d reached the door. When I tried to go after her, Pam was already following, leaving Jason standing at the mouth of the corridor sipping a beer with Diantha and Gladiola… His brilliant contribution to the cluster fuck of a situation was that his sister was ‘a crier’.
At least the night before, I’d known what had happened, where I’d fucked up…
By 20 minutes after 11 the building had filled with edgy, irate vampires who wanted nothing more than to execute the party responsible for the bombing, but I couldn’t have cared less about Arkansas or what would happen to them…
Sookie was feeling too much. She was overwhelmed as a minimum, but the most rampant of her emotions was hostility close to the point of rage… She was at her boiling point and the confusing part of it was that while she seemed to be confiding in Pam behind the locked door of the restroom, Pam was feeling understanding? Sympathetic?
Not only was it unlike Pam to be supportive, but it seemed like whatever I’d said or done had pissed her off too…
A wonderful way to top off an already fucked night.
Eventually, a page was sent, stopping to stand attentively mute by Mr. Cataliades who’d long since joined me in waiting for Sookie.
He mumbled that we were still in negotiations…
As the messenger left us, I finally became aware of the time… Punctuality was a bone of contention as far as the queen was concerned, so I asked about the delay only half caring about the answer.
The lawyer shifted, sandwiching his hands between his back and the wall and somehow smiled reassuringly. “The queen has instructed me that Miss Stackhouse’s contributions today make her contract more important than the information. No one will be notified until Sookie is pleased with the terms. We’ll wait.”
Jason scoffed, “Sookie’s crying fit is a rain delay? There’s like a hundred folks waiting to get this shit moving!”
The lawyer nodded. “Yes, Mr. Stackhouse. The queen is unwilling to make Sookie’s talent public without a formal agreement of protection in place since one vampire already attempted to annex her services before she performed on such a scale as she did today.”
Jason shook his head and mumbled ‘fuck that noise’ as he charged across the room. The Cataliades family and I watched his shoulder hit the bathroom door when he tried to enter, not realizing it was locked. His request to be let in was polite, but faked for the sake of the acute vampire hearing he’d been warned about earlier…
When he was ignored, he dug into his pocket to retrieve a monstrous keyring… He bent to toy with the knob. Normally I’d have laughed at his fuckery since he resembled a monkey with a jigsaw puzzle, but after only a minute or two, I heard him chuckle to himself and push the door open. He barked that Pam and Sookie were getting a ‘two minute warning’ because their ‘aquanet & mascara girlfest’ was ‘holding shit up’.
Even if I couldn’t feel how well that boded with both of them, the rolls of toilet paper that hit him as he left would have made it clear.
Sookie’s return only slightly improved my disposition. The numbness she’d wrapped herself in made it seem as though I was in the presence of her ghost. Understanding that she’d done it defensively didn’t make it any easier to accept since I was still unsure as to what had happened.
She autonomously signed her contract and gave no reaction to being registered as my pet officially. When the call was made that the meeting was (finally) about to start at 11:45, the common area began to feel less like a den of pit vipers.
As the meeting room was flooded with the mingling inhabitants of the other rooms, Sookie was still redefining the term ‘silent treatment’… My only peace came from the normalcy Pam was feeling. Her usual air of superiority was strangely welcome for once.
My worry about Sookie’s state was only waylaid by panic…
Jason’s introduction to public behavior around vampires had seemed to leave some room for error.
At first I was unsure of what he was doing, but by the time any of us had an idea it was too late to stop him gracefully. It was, for all intents and purposes, like watching a train wreck…
It seemed harmless when he wandered away from our group slightly, like he was simply visiting the bar to get another drink, but as it turned out, he was sneaking up on Hadley.
He’d spotted her from across the room while she was speaking to the less annoying Were from our flight and his choice of greeting left something to be desired…
“Stuck up bitch… Can’t even say hi?”
Every eye in the room was on Jason before she turned to slap him…
He chuckled, licking the blood from the corner of his mouth and waited for her to recognize him.
When she did, she grabbed his face with both hands and squealed, “Jason?”
“Even as a vampire and you still hit like a girl… Five years earns me a fucking hug, dammit.”
She flung her arms around his neck and he picked her up. “I didn’t know you’d be here! I was looking for Sook and kept getting sidetracked!”
He laughed at her. “Well, surprise. I didn’t know until last night either… Hey, you’re cold.”
“Vampires tend to be. It freak ya out?”
“You kiddin? Remember when you worked at Dairy Queen? Free ice cream and a cool hug after ball practice… You look great. You put some weight on before you died.” Unfuckingbelievable. That dolt acted as though becoming a vampire was akin to dying her fucking hair.
She was still laughing when he set her down.
Even if I wanted to try to understand how he could’ve changed his perspective on vampires in the last 3 hours, I’d have been distracted by Sookie’s lack of reaction…
While Hadley was the center of attention due to her public and impossibly rare reunion with living family, Sookie watched blankly. Seeing Hadley after more than 5 years wasn’t even stirring the conflicted emotions she’d had when she learned about Hadley’s child.
When Jason summoned Sookie over to join the reunion with a shrill whistle that 4H would be proud of, Pam leaned to whisper, “She’ll be fine. Stop worrying.”
“She’s a nothing.”
“She’s just trying to get through the meeting.”
“She was worried that… It occurred to her that since Compton was an obstacle… That he’d tried to keep her for himself…”
“That I’d be as expendable?”
Pam nodded. “She wasn’t expecting to return to the house tonight… Finding out that she’s safe and doesn’t have to choose…”
“Choose what? New Orleans or Shreveport?”
“New Orleans to make sure you’re left alone.”
“No.” That’s all I could manage… The idea that she’d have walked away from her life and into unimaginable scenarios of servitude for my safety was utterly inconceivable.
“Yes… And everything else would be considered girl talk and you’ll have to torture me to get any of it.”
“Liar. Maybe now you’ll stop questioning why the other you said that she was what you’d been waiting for.” Snooping bitch.
“What he’d been waiting for.”
“I told you not to do that in public.”
“What public? Everyone in the room is watching the first vampire family reunion in history. We might as well set ourselves on fire.”
“Why don’t you try it? I’ll take notes on who notices.”
“Fine. I’ll shut up, but you know I’m right.”
“I thought we weren’t talking about it.”
“Did she say anything about what happened in the car?”
“Fuck. You’re worse than a girl.”
“You should know better than to think I’m in the mood for this shit, Pam.”
“Yes. She’s furious.”
“Just because of how… She had an audience, she couldn’t enjoy it, she doesn’t know if you did it just to keep her safe or if you’d want to bond with her anyway…”
That settled my own concerns, since it turned out that we were bothered by the same things…
“…She has a lot of Bill baggage too.”
“Nope. Girl talk.”
“I can have your house skunked again.”
“I’m thinking about moving anyway.”
She shrugged. “I owe her. She’ll talk about it when she’s ready.”
For the second night in a row, Sookie and I served as Andre’s mystery guests as he addressed an assembly.
The waiting crowd anxiously waited for Andre to make his point and get to the information they cared about since his shtick started by reminding everyone who I was…
Then explaining that Sookie is mine and nearly everyone in attendance gaped at him like he’d grown an extra head when he explained Sookie’s protection…
Continuing to why it mattered to any of them…
By the time he’d explained everything from the spy Sookie had supposedly found in Fangtasia to the list of all 19 vampires who’d been identified (15 were thanks to Sookie) she was finally starting to feel something…
106 vampires, weres, witches and daemons were staring at her. I’d counted out of boredom. They hung on every word Andre had to offer, but Sookie was the reluctant backdrop.
Once Andre was done making Sophie-Anne’s position on Threadgill’s future crystal clear, he turned the podium over to Cataliades to stand with us…
Without preamble, the lawyer read a long list of vampires. The roll call ended with both Berts, Andre and the queen herself, and his role in the gathering was to announce that everyone named owed Sookie a debt because they had all been in a room that would have been exposed to daylight if the human rescue workers hadn’t been stopped by her. Not that vampires tend to make much noise or redundant movement in general, but the stark stillness of the room was palpable. Even if any of them wanted to dispute owing a favor to a human, the queen had herself named…
Having her name added to Sookie’s list of banked favors was practically a dare for anyone else to refuse on Sophie-Ann’s part…
All of which was punctuated when the meeting was over. As Andre took his leave, he and I exchanged official nods, but he turned to Sookie and bowed.
I could tell that it pained him. Pam’s loftier than thou attitude paled in comparison to his… But it served to drive the point of how seriously Sookie was to be taken.
Considering the day’s events, apologies were made for the queen and we were once again put off for another night before Sookie would meet her.
Unfortunately, it would have been poor form to head straight for the door when we were finished. Pam tried to soften the blow by bringing a drink heavy in rum to Sookie… Then another…
Sookie was starting to relax, albeit slightly as the rum started doing its job.
Since the conclusion of the announcements, everyone in the room had been on their phones… Texting. Calling. Emailing. As they finished, most of them came over to introduce themselves to Sookie and ask me about her availability. The bombing served as the perfect stall tactic… I’d gotten more than 60 new email addresses so that I could contact them in bulk once Sookie and I could make decisions on how to handle the details.
At least that aspect of our lives would be less of a battle than our counterparts.
Relaxed enough after her third ‘Rum Runner’ that she nearly fell asleep in the car, but still too numb for my taste, Sookie quietly slipped up the stairs to her room.
While I stood at the kitchen counter drafting Paulette’s to-do list for the day, I could feel Sookie’s numbness fall away. Since I’d been followed so that Pam could add her own errands for Paulette, she noticed that my hands were shaking at nearly the same time that I did. I was sure that it didn’t have anything to do with alcohol… Sookie was finally feeling everything she’d managed to delay and the fact that her reaction to it all was enough to cause my hands to tremble made me worry about if she was stable enough to finish her shower.
Pam was just as attentive. While Jason obliviously wandered from room to room, continuing his reunion with Hadley on his cell phone, Pam and I stood in the foyer listening for signs that Sookie might need help. Once we heard Sookie turn off the water and leave the bathroom, Pam offered to babysit Jason so that I was free to go to upstairs. I waited, giving her the chance to make fun of me…
I had no fucking idea of how to react when she didn’t take the opportunity.
I hadn’t had the chance to knock yet before I heard my invitation.
I didn’t bother myself with wasting time. Rather than wonder if she’d mind, I laid on the bed behind her and I couldn’t help but smile when she felt comforted by my being there.
Her hand took mine from her waist and pulled it up to her chin and wrapped herself around my arm. “I’m sorry.”
“What are you sorry for?”
“Freaking out, making you feel like a security system instead of a friend, freaking out again… I’m sure that made you look great...”
“I was unhappy about the exchange for the same reasons you were, but I’d only regret it if you thought I had taken advantage of you… That’s what I was worried about at the Abbey. Not my image, that you might think I’d tricked you into taking more of my blood.”
“I know better than that by now.” Hearing that made me feel better even if I didn’t want to think about why.
“You were furious… It felt as though you were ready to kill someone.”
“I was, but Bill’s already dead.”
“Then how were you angry at him?”
“I thought about him.”
“That’s all it took for you to decide he should die a third time?” I almost laughed.
“I thought about him while I was looking at you and I fucking hate him for it.” If Pam knew that Sookie’s answer had made me wish I’d paid attention to her farcical advice column rhetoric, I’d hear about it forever.
“Is this part of the ‘Bill baggage’ Pam mentioned?”
“If I hit you really hard, will she feel it?”
“Not enough to get your point across. She refused to tell me anything though… Is it?”
“Yeah… I trust you, but every now and then, like when you didn’t want to answer me last night, I get suspicious… I know right away that it’s because of him and as soon as that lying ass is in my head I can’t help it… I wish I could go back and just steer clear of him, let the Rattrays have him, kill him myself.”
“That will fade with time though.”
“Yeah, if I’m going to be randomly thinking about someone, I’d rather it was you.”
“I am much sexier than he was.”
Her giggle was interrupted by a long yawn. “You are, but I meant because I have fun with you… You’re one of my favorite people.” Sookie was definitely my favorite person, but since Ginger and Bobby were the only other humans I spoke to on a regular basis, I didn’t think hearing the fact would make any kind of impression on Sookie.
“Oh really? Who do I rate with?”
“She’d be the obvious front runner. Who else?”
She didn’t answer… I spent most of her silence trying to think of who she didn’t want to mention before I realized that I was being an idiot… She wasn’t avoiding the question… She didn’t have another answer.
“I’m in the top 2?”
“Oh shit… Here we go. Watch it. You’re almost too big for doorways as it is. Don’t let your ego get too out of control.” Too late.
“You said shit. Earlier you said fuck.”
She giggled. “So? I said that I don’t cuss a lot… Not never.”
“Then say ‘cum’.”
She blushed so thoroughly that the only visible part of her face, her ear, was glowing. “I say come all the time.”
I took advantage of where she put my hand to tighten my arm around her, pulling her back into me. “Not ‘come over for a visit’, Sookie… ‘I want to see the face you make when you cum’.”
She’d have been lying to deny that she was remembering how taking my blood had felt. “Sorry. I’m still waiting for diagrams. Not tonight.”
Somehow, I chuckled at her stall tactic. “Fair enough… It’s almost dawn. Can I get a kiss goodnight?”
“What if I don’t want you to go?”
She must’ve been operating under the belief that I wanted to leave her…
She was surprised when I lifted her from the bed, but didn’t say anything until I set her down on mine.
“What are you doing?”
“Accepting your terms.”
“I don’t remember terms… Definitely not any that put me in your bed.”
“This way you don’t have to say goodnight.”
I expected her to argue, even if it wouldn’t have been seriously, but she watched me partially undress and when I slid into the bed she stared at me for a moment before she moved the blanket out from under herself…
She paused, still propped up on her elbows and staring before she finally laid her head on the pillow…
She might as well have said that she was waiting for me to ‘misbehave’ since everything about her mood reminded me of the way she felt when we were bargaining for her panties. It was a struggle to not laugh at her.
She finally rolled to her side to face me. “What are you smirking at?”
“You’re waiting for something I don’t have time to enjoy. Calm down. I might have 5 minutes left.”
“You don’t need that much time to make me blush… That seems to be your new favorite sport.”
I let her know how right she was about how easy it was to make her blush by reaching under the covers and removing the pants I’d left on solely for the sake of her modesty. By the time they were on the floor, she was glowing again. “9 seconds might be my new record.”
She gasped, “ERIC!”
That’s when I finally laughed. “What? It’s not as though I’m exposed at all.”
“That’s not the point…”
“I have time to make you cum too.”
“I don’t think so…”
“That wasn’t a dare, was it?”
“It sounded like one.”
She laughed, flopping onto her back and calling me a butthead. She stared at the ceiling for long enough that sunrise was becoming an issue for me. “Eric?”
“Too late. The offer expired.”
“I was just checking to see if you were still with me.” With her…
She moved suddenly, putting herself on her knees against my side to hover for only a fraction of a second…
I was too surprised to react when her lips first met mine. Afraid I was in for just a peck, I reached up to hold on.
Her kiss became a nibble…
Her nibble led to a lick…
And by the time her tongue had made its way to mine, the idea of dawn disgusted me more than ever before…
I wanted more…
I needed more…
More of Sookie.
I could feel her heart racing in every part of my body.
The scent of what our kiss was doing to her filled my senses even if I couldn’t be sure whose depraved aching was whose…
And when she hummed into my mouth, my fangs’ sudden appearance did nothing to scare her away…
Her hand followed my arm up to untangle my fingers from her hair as though she could tell I didn’t have much time left… She laced her fingers into mine and the only break in our kiss was when she pulled away just enough to whisper ‘goodnight’.