Hell To Pay
Other than taking a phone call from Brandon to explain several things he’d caught from the girls’ minds, Sookie and I spent the drive back to Bon Temps ‘not talking about fucking’.
The topic Sookie chose as our distraction had been the files Isabel had given us. She offered to confirm the facts as her busy work since she had no plans for the next day. Her step-cousins were taking the girls until the early evening… and Sookie couldn’t wait to get them back, even if it was only for a few hours since Ricky was taking them for an outing the next day…
I wasn’t the only one who noticed how quiet the house was when I turned off the Navigator’s engine.
There wasn’t a hint of any activity in the house…
Sookie removed her pumps in the foyer and carried them with her to the kitchen… She found an empty sink, a drying rack of clean dishes and a note from Ema saying that Hope had been fed an hour ago.
When I pointed out that we could have stayed at the hotel since Ema had gone to sleep, I was ordered to change into something comfortable while she checked on Hope…
She was still trying to behave.
After happily relieving myself of my suit, I found Sookie lounging on the sofa in a tank top and shorts… Her tiny little sleep-sets were too tempting.
I leaned over the back of the sofa, enjoying the bird’s-eye view… She girlishly had her knees drawn up and her feet curled together while she texted.
“Do you ever ignore your phone?”
She shook her head. “I’m texting Daddy to let him know Ema crashed here. He’ll worry when he gets home and she isn’t there… She’s sprawled out on my bed cuddling a pillow.”
“Fair enough. Spread your knees…” When she raised her eyebrow, I explained, “I’m concerned your sheath could have caused permanent damage.”
She giggled and straightened one leg and pulled the other up to her chin. “I was worried too, but it served me well.”
“You’re aware there are plenty of ways…”
“Yeah. Shut up. Calling Dinh.”
“Did you think of something for Hope?”
While the phone rang, she grumbled, “No. We brainstormed last night and neither of us thought to have him prepare a room for Ema. I feel horrible and if you say anything, you’re going down with me.”
Regrettable… but ‘going down’ seemed like enough of a distraction.
I slid over the back of the sofa and wedged myself between her legs while she complained in whispers, “I said to go get into something comfortable, not strip down to something comfortable. Go put something on.”
“You didn’t mind earlier.”
“We were in your room earlier. We had privacy.”
I managed to say, “I’m not shy,” just before Dinh answered his phone.
Sookie watched me as I rubbed my way down her body, excited and resistant as I settled with my head between her thighs…
Narrowing her eyes when I let my fangs down…
Trying to focus on the reason she called Dinh…
Covering the receiver to order me to find pants…
Breathing, “Oh God help me,” when I started nibbling her thigh.
Once Dinh had his new list of chores and boasted about his success in finding the hammock Sookie asked for the night before, she tossed her phone to the floor.
“You’re the one trying to behave. You didn’t tell me to stop, you told me to find pants and they wouldn’t have prevented me from what I was doing.”
“You’re an ass.”
“You’re wet and I’ve barely touched you.”
“No shit. It’s a good thing I’m stubborn or I’d have broken by now… We’re working on our issues, remember?”
“Those issues are what?”
“You have intimacy issues.”
“This is intimate.”
“This is sensual. Not the same.”
“Bringing us to your control issues.”
“I do what I can to resist being a Gestapo about everything… When was the last time you just sat in a room with someone and talked?”
Liz. It was Liz. It was just a few nights before she was taken from Paris…
And Sookie knew it.
She sighed, “That wasn’t a dig, sweetie, but I was serious when I said I don’t want to take things for granted. Let’s just spend the next few nights chilling out, enjoying the company we have to offer.”
I growled, “I suppose I’d lose a fair amount of ground if I argued.”
She snickered, “Not really. There’s a certain amount of leeway I’m required to give you because I’m trying to have a serious conversation with a guy suffering from a raging hard-on.”
“That’s good to know… What do you propose as far as intimacy goes?”
Her eyes rolled up to the ceiling and she nibbled her lip while she contemplated. She finally sighed, “If I come up with something, doesn’t that kind of put me in control?”
“I’m the one with supposed intimacy issues and you want me to think of something?”
She frowned and huffed, “We’re so screwed.”
“Your negativity isn’t helping.”
“I’ll think better once your pants are on.”
“Are you that distracted?”
She nodded. “Yeah… and don’t smirk at me like that. If I took my clothes off, you’d be distracted too.”
“I would not. Take them off so I can prove it.”
She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Why Eric Northman?”
“Because if I’m lucky, I can arrange for a strategic…”
She hissed like a frightened cat to interrupt me. “Not that! Why do you use the name Eric Northman? I know you didn’t use surnames like we know them when you were Human. I know you were known for a long time as ‘Eric From The North’ or ‘Eric, The North Man’. You moved from St. Petersburg to Amsterdam to Paris. The other Erics switched back and forth between Northman and Nordmann. It makes more sense to me that you’d use Nordmann because of your location. Why Northman?”
“You have issues with changing the subject too.”
“We were soooooo about to spiral again… I am curious though. Legit curiosity.”
“Liz. She actually made the change and told me after the fact… She enjoyed every new persona she created for herself, ruminating over possible names for ages before adopting them. She gave ridiculous names to all of her pets. She didn’t approve of my not having a last name and gave one to me… Erik Nordmann is probably a variation born of Liz’s name for me. She was furious that it took decades for Northman to catch on. Even now, you can judge how long a Vampire has known me by what they call me.”
Sookie giggled, “Gawain and the boys call you Eric, but Compton used your last name… That makes a lot of sense. Thanks for explaining it… Speaking of Liz and names though… It’s kind of a running joke in the journal that the first time Pam hears about me, she usually asks ‘What’s a Sookie?’ And they were all annoyed by Sookies who rejected baby naming advice.”
I nodded. “That sounds exactly like her. What do you think she’d say about Lindy’s name?”
“There’s a Pam who’s affectionately known as ‘Cuddles’…”
I laughed, “Who calls her that!?”
“Everyone. The whole family. Even You, but only when you’re trying to piss her off. Jason started it when they first met… It stuck. I bring it up because Aunt Linda, the one Lindy’s named after, makes candles for her that smell like Chanel No. 5 and writes ‘Cuddles’ on the inside of the jars before she pours the wax. Pam calls Linda ‘Alpo’ because her husband is a Wolf. Pam filled Aunt Linda’s house with dog food. Aunt Linda filled Pam’s house with dryer sheets. Pam hid all of Aunt Linda’s shirts and replaced them with uniform T-shirts from Pet Co. Aunt Linda made a teddy bear costume and dressed Pam while she was dead. Pam made a Christmas tree for Aunt Linda covered in tennis ball ornaments and dog food garland and Aunt Linda returned the favor the next Easter by putting a bunch of wild rabbits in Pam’s closet. It’s a running joke that’s gone on for years.”
Fucking perfect. I’d give anything just to be a spectator.
“I miss that. We fucked with one another for three centuries.”
She nodded. “I know… Should I not have said anything?”
I shook my head. “No. The only thing that bothers me is that I’m missing it… I’m curious about the journal.”
“That isn’t in the journal… The first Eric I met told us… On the road to Cannes, the girls wanted to hear about his boys, Hunter and Cort. He opened a can of worms by telling them Pam spoils the boys and makes fun of their names at the same time. Everything she gets them fits into quart-sized cartons, for Cort, and Hunter gets everything in bullet boxes. Usually clues to scavenger hunts…”
“She always hated those.”
Sookie giggled, “Only because you made them impossible for anyone but a librarian to finish… They’re more like treasure maps because of the boys’ ages. One clue, then the payday… Anyway, Eric ended up telling the girls about a bunch of pranks and silliness during the ride… I know of one scavenger hunt she liked.”
“How did that happen?”
Sookie opened her mouth to answer, but Hadley groaned from her room and began shuffling towards the front of the house.
As she stumbled through the room, rubbing her eyes, she mumbled, “No wonder I started dreaming in sexi-color. Musta heard y’all foolin’ around… Nice ass.”
Sookie giggled and pushed my shoulders so I finally reached behind the sofa to grab my jeans.
Sookie scowled at me and asked Hadley, “Do you need anything?”
Hadley yawned and opened the refrigerator. “Just grabbing a drink to wash my pill down. Don’t let me be a cock block…” She yawned again and stumbled back through the room. “Goin’ right back to bed.”
And she did.
She went directly back to her room, without checking on or asking about the baby, washed her pill down with a sip of juice and went back to sleep.
Sookie sighed, “The maternal instinct is strong with that one. She didn’t think about the baby once… Where were we?”
“We were affecting her dreams…” From no less than ten meters away.
“No, we were talking.”
I chuckled, “That actually wasn’t a hijacking attempt. I was mentioning her ability.”
She stared back at me for a minute before nodding. “Yeah… I have an idea. Come here…”
She directed me to lie down, to use her as my pillow and seemed perfectly content to have my head on her chest so she could run her fingers through my hair.
Who the fuck was I to complain about that?
Once I was settled, she offered, “You said you’re curious about the journal and I think I was about to tell you about the scavenger hunt Pam enjoyed, right?”
“Yes… and then we were ‘not cock-blocked’ by the stumbling block in the theory of evolution.”
She snickered, “If I give you the long version of the story, you can get the best known explanation of Hadley’s ability wrapped up in a journal entry.”
“I’m not going to argue, but is this intimate?”
“Would you let anyone else pet you and tell you about your life?”
I chuckled, “You make a fabulous point. This was your idea though. Will I get a turn with your control issues?”
Even if I hadn’t been waiting for her emotional reaction, I would have felt the ‘NO!’ she wanted to tell me. The amount of anxiety she was feeling was absurd.
She took a deep breath and huffed, “Yes… yes, it’s only fair. Yeah, I’ll trust you to not push me too far. Okay.”
As tempted as I was to laugh at her hesitation, I asked, “Do you want to start the story instead of having an anxiety attack?”
“Gawd yes… Promise not to make fun of me if I cry though. My Aunt Linda’s still alive in that one.”
“I wouldn’t do that. Did doctors diagnose her cancer earlier?”
“You saved her.”
“Me? Vampires… I’ve seen what happens when a Vampire tries to cure cancer.”
It was sad and grotesque and responsible for several leprosy scares.
“You didn’t cure it. You kept her from ever getting cancer… She had endometrioses for years, but her insurance wouldn’t cover a hysterectomy… Hold on. Starting at the beginning… Erik, He was spelling it with a K and using Nordmann. He was mid-prank with Pam. She cleaned out His library and replaced everything with crappy paperbacks. Erik met Sookie renting a slew of storage units to hide Pam’s wardrobes…”
“In that version You work for a storage facility?”
“She did. She was straight out of high school. It was just a couple of weeks after graduation…”
“How long ago was it?”
“They’ve been together nearly seven years. In that version, My parents died in the flood that killed My grandmother. The weird part is that it happened a few years later… Sookie and Jason were raised by Gran. At first, She thought Erik was another telepath because Vampires weren’t out yet. She couldn’t hear Your thoughts so She thought You had great shields. Erik drove himself ape-shit trying to figure out what the fuck She was because She was dropping hints about Him being different too. Once He got His books back from Pam, He spent a couple of nights combing them for something He might have overlooked.”
That poor bastard. I could only imagine…
“You don’t smell like Fae. You smell sweet, but it isn’t the same… How long did it take for Me to figure it out?”
“Erik told Sookie He was a Vampire, hoping for a little reciprocity and planning to glamour Her once He had answers. She didn’t know why She was a telepath and She thought She was a freak because no one else knew about their gifts… For that matter, there are still versions that are clueless when they have their first skip. Daddy and Linda are gone in most of them and Brandon’s still in the wind. Empathy being sneaky and all, it’s a lottery. Anyway, apparently Gran and Aunt Linda were at the house at the time and overheard Sookie calling Erik a lunatic for claiming to be Vampire…”
I chuckled, “Did they run to call for a straight jacket or did they just try to stake Me with firewood?”
She snorted, “Aunt Linda wanted to pick Your brain about Shakespeare and pouted when Gran made her leave Us to talk.”
I tilted my head back to look at her, unsure of how to take how amused she was. She could have been joking, or she could have been amused by Linda’s reaction. “You’re serious? Faced with the sudden reality of Vampires, your aunt asked about Shakespeare?”
She nodded. “Something about you seeing The Tempest at Whitehall. You were in the same building at the same time as Shakespeare and she had a bit of a fangirl moment… Anyway, after Sookie settled down You mentioned how nuts You were over trying to figure out what She was. She dragged You inside once You heard Aunt Linda got rashes from citrus fruits, You shit Your pants because You dismissed the whole Faerie thing because of Our scent. Then You found out she’d been taking iron for the anemia her endometriosis was causing and called a local Supe doctor for her. Aunt Linda never got uterine cancer because Dr. Ludwig removed her uterus before it was an issue… You were Our hero just for lining up the appointment for the consultation, but then You saved Hadley too…”
“How the fuck did that happen?”
“She was just a party girl with no self esteem. A couple of encounters and stories made you wonder… You picked up on Her ability because it’s basically like being bonded with everyone. She got a grip on it really quickly. That’s one of the versions where she’s a great mom. Has her shit completely together. She has a little boy named Leif.”
Sookie giggled. “I told you, you’re Our hero in that version.”
“Does She think I’m the father?”
“No. The Daddy picked it because of how much you helped them out… From what I understand the name is fitting since you only ever used it when you were up to no good and Leif’s a little trouble-maker.”
“They named… Hadley named a baby after me? Me?”
She giggled, “They knew it was going to be a boy early on, but they messed with Pam and told her he was going to be twin girls and they were going to name them Winifred and Dolores. That joke’s been played a few times…”
For more than an hour I was completely enthralled by the story Sookie had to offer. She ran her fingers through my hair soothingly enough for me to call it hypnotic and explained as much as she knew of the version of our lives known as ‘Alpha’ because it was, as far as anyone knew, the earliest a Sookie and an Eric met.
Bizarre as it was to hear about a life I hadn’t been fortunate enough to have, the anecdotes about Pam more than made up for it. Hearing that it had been Hadley who not only had the inspiration, but helped align the first scavenger hunt Pam ever enjoyed, was impressive… Given Pam’s enjoyment for animation, specifically Disney movies, Hadley suggested tailoring the clues to movie quotes rather than the literary ones He usually used and at the end of the hunt, the birthday girl was rewarded with a Disney themed costume ball at the night club He owned. Hadley worked with Eric’s day-guy to have the costume shop at Disney World make a gown as Pam’s gift and Tiffany made her crown. She cried… and then burgled and glamoured the photographic evidence out of existence.
Sookie only paused to tend to Hope when she woke… Diapering, feeding, re-diapering…
Once I wasn’t being calmed any longer because Sookie’s hands were otherwise occupied, it occurred to me to be embittered by my more charmed existence.
Married to Sookie, living in a tightly warded antebellum mansion nearby, completely incorporated into a reinvented version of Sookie’s family, having everything be just like it always had been between Liz and I…
Not just having Pam, that would have been more than enough, but having a happy life…
Not keeping a job and businesses to keep from being bored, but being annoyed by obligations because they interfered with what He enjoyed…
I wouldn’t ever leave anything up to a coin toss again.
For that matter, the sound of pocket change was likely to annoy me.
By the time Sookie reached the explanation of Alpha’s first experience with the braid, she’d forfeited the competition for the baby’s attention and laid her on the sofa cushion next to me. Even though I hadn’t done anything blatant to catch Hope’s attention, she’d either been looking at or leaning towards me since Sookie first brought her from the bedroom.
When Sookie was finally finished updating me on the events of one version, Sookie waited, watching with a curious grin on her face until the baby’s eyes had been closed for moment…
Sookie whispered for me to watch the baby and then clapped her hands loudly…
Sookie giggled, “She’s gone, set adrift in Vampire bliss.”
“She could have poor hearing.”
Sookie shook her head. “I swear… she was waiting for me to shut up so she could focus on you long enough to disappear… You have a pocket-sized fan.”
“Gawain held her and she was indifferent…”
“Tell me there are photos.”
She laughed, “Why is Gawain holding a baby a photo opportunity?”
She had to be joking.
She raised an eyebrow and pressed, “Because he’s a guy or because he has fangs?”
“Because… I’m sure he looked awkward. Out of practice as a minimum.”
How many babies could he have held since he died? Really?
She snorted, “You’re full of shit. It’s a guy thing. Only women hold babies they aren’t related to, right?”
I opened my mouth to deny it, but she laughed and left the sofa, taking a handful of items with her… soiled diaper and gown, and an empty bottle.
She called back, “And you’re such a damn guy you were going to try to deny it.”
“The children of friends are an exception.”
It sounded even weaker once I said it aloud.
She snickered as she returned with a large glass of wine and (what I assumed was) a baked apple. She curled up at the other end of the sofa with her snack and offered, “I think it’s cute… that you’re macho about babies.”
“Yeah. I mean, even when you were alive, a woman’s first consideration was her breeding potential…”
“Excuse me, but our women knew how to hunt and fight.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Just in case… so they could feed the children and protect the homes if something happened while the men folk were gone… And here we are a thousand years later and you told me yourself about the difference between Lords and Ladies. Vampires transcend the roles of gender stereotyping to recognize an individual based on their character rather than anatomy, but you think the idea of Gawain holding a baby is amusing.”
“He called her adorable. Now that I know he held her, I’m picturing cooing.”
She finally dropped her indignant façade and snorted, “Poor bastard looked like I handed him a live bomb and practically threw her back to me once I settled Hadley in.”
“All of that… the grief you gave me…”
She giggled, “I couldn’t help it. You were being macho about him holding a baby. You were just lucky that your cover story was spot on.”
“You’re trying to bait me. You want me to hold Hope.”
“No… anything but that. I’ve heard you’re even sexier with a baby in your arms.”
“How is that possible?”
“Maybe because you’re so good at looking cold and menacing… seeing you be sweet and gentle…”
“I meant, how could I possibly look sexier?”
Sookie started laughing so hard she struggled to keep from dropping her plate and glass. She finally hissed, “You’re sooo humble! I can’t… I can’t stand it!”
I chuckled, enjoying how much her laugh lit up her face. “Gawain coming up reminds me… Earlier when you told Hadley you’d made enough food for her to take home with her, she thought something that annoyed you, but it amused Gawain. What was it?”
She shrugged and snorted, “That nasty bitch thought I was stupid for thinking about apples when I could have you for dessert and then her mind wandered to what she’d do instead of eating apples…”
“I understand how you were annoyed… but what the fuck was funny about that?”
“He wasn’t amused by her… It was that I pictured about a dozen ways to kill her where she sat. I had a ‘bitch, that’s my man’ moment.”
I laughed, “I cannot believe you just admitted that.”
“Why? You asked. We’re bonded. It’s not like I could have gotten away with lying and I’m blaming the bond anyway. That and how spun up I am… I was completely rational when she thought Gawain was hot. Just annoyed that her head was full of pornograffiti when she was giving her baby away. And she thinks the boys will be hot when they grow up too. Fuck. I called them the boys again… Anyway, when she started thinking about the guys, I was whatever about it… You? I fantasize about a catfight. Yes, I’m an ass. I own it.”
She nodded. “Hair-pulling and scratching… Irrationally possessive. Fresh bond, horny as hell, raised by Weres… She’s lucky she isn’t back in the hospital.”
I teased, “All for me?”
“You’re gonna get it. You don’t get to tease me when you pulled me under a blanket earlier to be a scrooge about my scent… and let your mind turn into a black hole while I was on the phone with Allecks… and growled at a Were for bowing up on me… and death-gripped my leg when you recognized Compton…”
The only thing she mentioned that I did intentionally was pulling her under the blanket… I hadn’t even realized I’d done the rest.
Knowing she’d made her point, she stretched her leg out to nudge my shoulder with her foot. “Yeah, that’s what I thought… I’d probably be a real turd about it if you weren’t showing some wear and tear too. God knows other Sookies do…”
She paused when a car turned onto the driveway. While she concentrated on the passengers of the car moving towards the house, I watched her curiosity become worry.
“Whatever reason they have for being back so early, they’re pissed.”
“You’re sure it’s Gawain and the boys?”
“Unless you know of another fifteen hundred year old half-Fae with two five hundred year old sidekicks, yeah.”
“Sixteen… but fair enough. I’m warning you now, if Gawain was given the four donors he requested and he left the hotel so soon, we’re going to need a way to shut him up.”
“You think the boys are going to be any better? PS, fuck you ‘cuz I called them ‘the boys’ again.”
“I’ll bet the boys rushed through their meals so they could return to the television. The red ‘recording’ light has been lit on the converter since we returned.”
She started to nod, but she stopped with a questioning look on her face. “That doesn’t jibe. Would they be furious about the prospect of getting more baseball? Would Gawain let them drag him away?”
I hadn’t thought of that.
She breathed, “Tenterhooks,” and placed her snack on the side table, feeling excited as she peeked over the spine of the sofa to watch the foyer.
When the front door opened, Sookie jumped and then giggled at herself.
Gawain announced, “Share the joke. I need a fucking laugh.”
“I was laughing at myself. I could tell y’all are pissed and was waiting for y’all to come in, but I still jumped when the door opened. If you want a good laugh, watch a horror movie with me. Everything gets me… What happened?”
He stomped into the living room, reached over the back of the sofa to move Hope onto my lap, slid over the back of the sofa to lie next to Sookie, and hugged her like a fucking security blanket. It was the most ridiculous thing I’d seen in ages.
He whined, “Sookie, Louisiana is a horrible place and I want to go home.”
“How bad could it be?”
More whining, “We had to wait for our donors. When mine finally arrived, half of what I ordered, they were all putrid, emaciated junkies… I only had the chance to cum once before some… some…”
Edward threw himself onto the loveseat and offered, “Shit breathing ass dragon.”
Sookie’s face contorted. If they continued, she was going to have an aneurism trying to take them seriously.
Gawain agreed, “Shit breathing ass dragon works… He knocked on the door to my room and announced, ‘The donahz he-ah at the Excelsiah ah not prostitutes. Theuz is ah respectable ahstablushmunt, naht a common brahthel.’ Who the fuck speaks like that?”
Bill fucking Compton.
Sookie sighed, “Antebellum, pompous jacktards.”
Richard joined his brother on the loveseat and shivered, “I feel like I was raped by Gone With The Wind.”
Sookie covered her face and asked, “And why did you listen to him?”
Gawain grumbled, “Because most of the donors left in favor of job security.”
Richard added, “We were lucky to finish with the ones we had… Who the fuck would want to be an American Vampire?”
Edward snarled, “That country-fried stain tried to argue with me… Donahz ahn’t prostitutes, my dead ass. Donahz DONATE. We paid for blood and they opted to go the extra mile.”
Gawain offered, “I don’t know who I want to kill more, ‘Mr. Compton, Excelsior Management’, or the prick who set him off. Apparently someone was feeding in the open in the bar… And he spoiled it for all of us…”
Sookie broke. She couldn’t hold in how amused she was anymore… She threw her head back and cackled, trying to quiet herself by covering her mouth, but it didn’t help as much as she wanted it to.
I asked, “What makes you think it was a he? It could have been a woman.”
He lifted his head to scowl at me and then turned back to Sookie. “YOU! You two! FUCK YOU!”
I knew he assumed I was feeding from Sookie. That was part of the fun.
Sookie managed to laugh out an ‘I’m sorry’ while trying to squirm out of his arms. “He didn’t really care Eric was feeding…”
I finished, “Sookie insulted him.”
“ME!? You basically called him a mama’s boy!”
“He is… You suggested we take him home and keep him chained in the yard…”
“In. A. Box!”
Gawain interrupted our laughable argument to ask, “WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T YOU JUST FEED HERE!?”
I shrugged. “Sookie’s an exhibitionist.”
She gasped and changed directions, trying to get closer to me, so I lifted Hope from my legs and batted my eyelashes.
“You wouldn’t hit a man holding a baby, would you?”
Sookie nodded… She most definitely would have hit me, but Hadley staggered out of her room again.
She sagged onto the armchair in the corner and asked, “Are y’all laughin’ and fightin’? How does that work?”
It’s called social interaction. Friends do it. Friends are people you aren’t related to and don’t fuck. I might have tried to explain if I wasn’t sure she’d be confused by the concept.
Gawain offered, “After our meeting, these two had too much fun in the bar. The hotel manager decided to do a room to room search and ruin as many parties as he could. Our dates were scared off thanks to these two…”
“Why not take your dates somewhere else? That’s what they did… they just came back here to finish.”
Perfect. Thank you, Hadley…
When I started laughing, Gawain kicked my leg and shouted, “You twat!”
There was no way for me to explain while I was laughing as hard as I was, but he should have known better because nothing about the scent of the house had changed.
Hadley suggested, “Just try again tomorrow night. I’m sure there’s worse things than blue balls.”
Gawain nodded. “Indeed, there are… It’s much worse when someone gives you blue balls and then devastates your chances of relief.”
Sookie finally calmed down enough to explain, putting her hand over Gawain’s mouth as she started, “The girl in the bar wasn’t a problem. The manager knows Eric and decided to be a nuisance at a bad time… We didn’t have any way of knowing he’d shit in everyone’s punchbowls when we left.”
Hadley blurted, “You’re swingin’, Sook!?”
She looked absolutely disgusted by the idea… and she had the wrong audience with whom to share her indignation.
Edward leaned forward and seethed, “Even if she were swinging, you have no right to object… You should worry more about who comes out of your cunt than who touches hers.”
That just about covered it.
Vulgar and inflammatory as it was, it was completely accurate.
Hadley gasped and struggled to get to her feet, but Gawain rolled away from Sookie and caught Hadley’s attention before she could do more than call Edward a ‘little piss ant’.
Gawain asked, “While I have her, do you have anything else you’d like to get off your chest?”
Edward groaned, “Quite done. She’s not worth it…” and continued to quietly mock Hadley, “Ewwww, Sookie might’ve fucked two people at once. Why would she do that when she can pay her own bills? That’s just horrible. Fuck you in your bony ass. Fucking twat…”
Richard spoke over his fuming brother to ask, “Can you glamour her to suck on a tailpipe? I’ll start the engine, but I can’t promise not to throw the car into reverse and…”
Gawain rolled his eyes and reached to take Hadley’s hand, leading her back to her room as he apologized for waking her by discussing business and encouraged her to take another Percocet… Sookie opened her mouth to mention she’d taken one recently, but closed it again and shook her head. “Two won’t kill her.”
Edward growled, “Isn’t that a shame? Sookie, where were you going to take us before Isabel recommended the hotel?”
Just in time for Gawain to return, Sookie giggled, “Little place called Avalon.”
He scowled and pointed at her. “You’re making it easy for me to forget why I like you.”
She continued, “Great music and lots of clubbers shopping for one-night stands.”
Gawain raised his eyebrow and asked, “Is that where you and Hoyt were when you…?”
“I went with my brothers when we were here for Thanksgiving.”
“That didn’t answer the question.”
Sookie stood and took her plate and glass from the coffee table. “Well, you boys have fun. I’m going to turn in.”
Gawain chuckled, “Too late… Aerosmith, Sookie, really?”
She turned and walked towards the kitchen, grumbling that Faeries are a pain in the ass, refusing to acknowledge Gawain, even as she returned to take Hope from me and kiss my cheek. “Mind if I sleep with you tonight?”
I was shaking my head when Gawain answered, “Not at all… You’ll have to get rid of those pajamas though. They reek of Eric.”
As they should.
She narrowed her eyes and raised her middle finger as she went towards the back of the house.
I stood and stretched, faking a yawn. “It’s been a long night. I think I’ll retire too.”
Gawain snarled, “I couldn’t possibly hate you more than I do right now.”
I pouted, “But I’m sleepy…”
“I think I’ll turn in too.”
Uh oh. I’d overplayed that hand.
Sookie saved me by snorting, “Quit your crying, you big ninny. You already got some tonight. You aren’t allowed back on your soapbox until tomorrow night-” She paused long enough to suck air past her teeth. “Ohhhhhh. Is the bar not an option for you? Do you have to pay for it?”
The boys’ mouths fell open, but they tried to hide their faces.
As Sookie emerged from the hallway, carrying Hope and her hammock, she had her eyebrows raised, daring Gawain to debate with her.
I couldn’t help but remember that Ian had been stunned by how well Sookie ‘talked smack’.
As Sookie’s tiny feet padded up the stairs, she offered, “I could call Ricky. I’m sure he could track down some GHB or X to help you out.”
I stayed just long enough to watch Gawain fume, but not long enough to listen to his rebuttal.
There was more fun to be had with Sookie than listening to Gawain wax about being unsatisfied.
I was closing the bedroom door between us as he complained that Sookie isn’t funny.
Sookie stood up from placing Hope in the hammock and put her hands on her hips.
She sighed, “I guess we’ll find out when I take the hammock back downstairs… she’s still in your head.”
“If only there was a way to make Gawain stop crying and squirming.”
She giggled while Gawain growled that he’d heard me from the living room.
Sookie rolled her eyes. “Is he always like this?”
I shook my head as I walked towards her. “No. I think you bring out the best in him.”
Her eyes widened as she stepped back and held her finger up. She warned, “Don’t you do it.”
Richard asked, “Do what?” when I did.
Even though spring training highlights were airing, they were paying attention to what was happening in my room instead.
When I took another step, she stepped onto the bed to keep from being cornered. “That. It. That. Stop looking at me like that.”
No sooner than I turned, she hopped onto Gawain’s bed in her effort to stay away from me.
“You know I’ll catch you.”
She whimpered, “I wish you wouldn’t.”
“No you don’t.”
She closed her eyes and growled, and by the time she opened them, my nose was a hair away from hers… She whispered, “What about our issues?”
She rolled her eyes and breathed, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“I wasn’t implying we’re perfect, but you’re wrong about what our issues are.”
As I lifted her to place her on my bed, she huffed, “Oh, this should be good. Do tell.”
I took the hem of her shirt and pulled it over her head. “Who should I start with?”
When I reached for the waist of her shorts, she put her hands on my shoulders to balance. It was too tempting to make fun of her ‘resistance’ as I removed them.
“Uhhh, you. If you’ve got a good argument, I’m more likely to be open-minded about your ideas on me.”
“I don’t have intimacy issues. I have trust issues. There isn’t anything that can be done because I was proven right in my belief that trusting anyone is foolish.”
“But you trust Gawain and the boys.” She winced when she realized she’d called them the boys again.
“More than anyone, but I’ll probably always have the inkling that they’ll betray me eventually… And I hate it. I would be perfectly content to be wrong about that forever.”
She nodded thoughtfully for a moment before sighing. “Fair enough. What about me then? I’m dying to hear the first argument ever that I’m not a control freak.”
She had no reaction when I began pushing my pants down… completely comfortable.
“You don’t have control issues. You’re proactive. You’re intelligent. You’re energetic. You’re efficient. Those aspects aren’t part of an issue you can work on. They’re part of you…”
“Part of me twitches when I see people wearing brown and black together.”
I snorted, “That’s bizarre, but I don’t think that’s a control issue. I think everyone has peeves.”
“You’re very sweet when you’re trying to get laid.”
“Funny. I assumed you’d be annoyed when I told you how poorly thought out your stall tactic is.”
She smirked and ran her fingers into my hair, fisting her hands at the nape of my neck. “That’s more like it… You’re forgetting that I still think we should take our time.”
I shrugged. “Suit yourself. I think that’s a poorly laid plan as well. You’ve already admitted to wanting to fuck me. I’m not sure what taking our time will accomplish other than pushing until we risk hurting one another… In fact, I think it’ll be fun to toy with you…”
She leaned back slightly to give me a level stare and warned, “Oh no you don’t.”
I pulled her legs until her body leaned against mine. “It’s only fair since you’ve been teasing me. Breaking you, making you beg… It could become my new hobby.”
Her eyes widened and she shook her head. “It wouldn’t be much of a hobby. I’m stubborn, but now that I’ve seen you hold a baby, I’m going to break on my own. It’s only a matter of time.”
“Oh really? How much time? Should I begin taking bets?”
She nibbled her lip and leaned over to put her mouth to my ear and breathe, “Please don’t. Not with an audience… with their hearing.”
I slid my hands up to her sides and threatened, “Would they know the difference between how you sound when you’re being tickled and how you sound when you cum?”
She lifted her leg to knee my ribs. “I’m gonna get you.”
“Looking forward to it… How loud?”
She whimpered, “Loud enough… and the walls in this house…”
I growled, “If Compton hadn’t interrupted…”
She dropped her head to rest on my shoulder and snickered, “You already want to kill him. I’m not answering that.”
“You could have been convinced to get a room of our own. Say it.”
“What are the odds of having someone available to watch Hope sleep tomorrow night?”
“We’ll have the girls back.”
“But the next night we’re going home.”
“But we’ll lose all of that night to time zones.”
“You could have been convinced to check into a room if Compton hadn’t interfered.”
She groaned, “Yes and no… I really wanted to get back because of the baby… I’m not sure I would have wanted to leave the hotel room if we checked in.”
I growled, “Are you sure you can’t be quiet?”
She giggled and leaned back to raise her eyebrow, feeling sure enough that I didn’t need (or want) to hear the answer…
And she knew.
She kissed my forehead and whimpered, “You have no idea how sorry I am.”
Yes, I did…
Knowing that she would have been willing if it weren’t for what she called ‘a splinter’ of modesty was one of two things keeping me sane. The other… was forcing myself to remember that taking her clothing had been a long shot.
For the rest of my night, we tried…
My hand, the blanket, a pillow… nothing helped past a certain point…
Bonded and edging… the expressway connecting the most popular rings of hell. A scenic thoroughfare, overlooking heaven… without exits.
And of course… my friends, the bastards I’d only just admitted to trusting, could be relied on to make sure we knew when Sookie made a noise loud enough for them to hear her.
Every. Fucking. Time.
Anything louder than a breath.
When we were lucky, they’d just say they could hear her…
But once in a while they’d have fun with the situation by giving an impression…
Between Compton’s intrusion on what could have been a spectacular evening and my ‘friends’…
There was going to be hell to pay.