Chapter 19 – Unwrapped Presents
December 20, 2003
“Ladies, I have some Dallas work to do, so I’ll leave you to cooking your dinner.”
“Good night Godric.”
“It’s pretty early Theresa, you’re saying goodnight already?”
“I know how lost you get in work. I’m pretty sure I’ll be in bed before you emerge from the office.”
“You know me too well sweetheart.” He kissed her forehead and left to use Eric’s office.
Sookie guided Theresa to her cottage for dinner. “I was hoping you would like to eat with me in my cottage. I haven’t entertained anyone yet since Eric and Pam don’t eat. Potts and I always eat in the main house.”
“I’m honored to be your first guest.”
“I’ll set the table. I prepped dinner already in the main house since I have only a kitchenette out here.”
“What can I do to help?”
“Just sit. I’m serious, I want to play hostess.”
She could feel Theresa was nervous about something so she dipped into her head. ‘I wonder if she knows the history between Eric and me. I don’t want to say something by mistake here.’
Sookie decided to be a bit forthcoming so she could put her at ease. “Theresa. I just wanted a moment alone and out of earshot so I could be sure you’re aware that Eric told me everything. We don’t need to talk about it, but I just wanted you to know.”
“Oh, I’m glad he told you. I don’t really want to talk about it if you don’t mind. I will tell you though, I have forgiven him. Made peace if you will.”
“That’s good to know. I struggled with it, but it’s also part of his past …. Well, as you said, let’s not talk about it.” She glanced around the room looking for a new topic and spied her Dad’s stereo. “Do you happen to like 1970’s rock music? I have my Dad’s old vinyl albums.”
“Oooh, let me see what you’ve got.” She rushed over to the stereo. “Derek and the Dominos? Van Morrison? I had two older brothers that listened to these – on vinyl. Can we play these?”
“Sure. I love sharing these memories. My dad loved his albums. We would dance to many of these around the farm house.”
The two played music, ate and talked until Theresa started yawning. “I’m sorry I don’t keep your hours.”
“No problem. I have some Christmas wrapping I should do anyway. I’ll walk you back to your room.”
“That’s not necessary, I can find my way.”
“Goodnight to you Sookie.”
Now alone with her thoughts, Sookie spent some time thinking about the past week. As she said to Pam, she would think about the discussion they had on the Stockholm Syndrome. Pam had left her laptop for Sookie so she got online to do some research. Everything she read about it backed up Pam’s comments. In all the time with Eric, she never felt that her life was in danger, there was no violence. Even though she lived with Eric, she wasn’t treated like a captive at all. What really surprised her about her research was the relief she felt. ‘Geez, I guess I really didn’t want it to be false attraction or well, if I admit it to myself, false affection.’
Having resolved those concerns, she also mulled over the Yvetta crap she had seen. ‘I guess the main difference between Yvetta and Theresa is: Yvetta ENJOYED all that. She wanted it and craved more.’ She shuddered at the thought. ‘Theresa didn’t …. but they made peace, it’s not my concern. I know I need to discuss the whole sex and expectation thing with Eric, but I’m just going to be Scarlett and think about it later. Talking about sex isn’t that comfortable. I’ll wait and see how things are after Christmas.’
Thinking of Christmas had her scratching her head over his gift. She had come up with several ideas and now here it was, December 19th and she hadn’t made a final decision. ‘Time for one of those lists, ideas or pros and cons I guess.‘ She was lost in thought over her list when there was a knock on her door from Godric. She greeted him warmly. “Come in. Did you get your work done?”
“I did. Did you have a nice visit with Theresa?”
“Wonderful – she loves listening to old rock and roll and I was thrilled to share my father’s collection with her.”
“That sounds like a nice evening. Theresa mentioned to me earlier that you enjoy history and that you wanted to pick my brain.” Sookie nodded shyly. “Come, let us sit and I will answer your questions.”
“I don’t want to pry on anything too personal, why don’t you tell me anything about your life, I’m certain I will enjoy it.”
“I will tell you about my human years in Gaul.”
“Are you sure you want to talk about that? Eric told me you lived in Gaul when Caesar launched the Gallic Wars.”
“You do not wish to hear about Caesar?”
“That’s not it, I don’t want to cause you pain.”
“My dear, I am long over the loss of my family from those days. As Eric told you, I was living in Gaul when Caesar invaded. He needed gold for his debts and bodies for both the military and slavery. A million of us were taken as slaves, a million perished.”
Sookie gasped. “I had no idea it involved that many people. That’s horrible. And for greed!”
“Yes, it was a horrible time for my people.”
“So did you go into the military?”
“No, I was too young to serve in the military. Instead, I was separated from my family and taken for slavery. After traveling back with Caesar’s men, I was assigned to a master and worked the fields. Some of my tattoos were from my master. They are designations of his house and my work.”
“Geez, and to think I thought they were beautiful.”
“Some tattoos were my choice, so do not worry. I know many humans are fascinated by them.”
“You’re being so open about your human life. I guess centuries can be mellowing.”
“Yes, I suppose.”
They continued to talk almost until dawn when Sookie could no longer stay awake. She enjoyed the history but also some of the stories he told about Eric and their travels. As she readied for bed she realized she was thankful for the time apart from Eric. It gave her time to think about him and their relationship. She realized she was no longer worried about moving forward. Did they have details to deal with? Yes, but that was no different than any other couple. She found herself really missing him as well and hoped he was safe as they had their party that night.
Deciding it was finally time to broach the subject of fangbangers and Yvetta, Pam turned to Eric on the plane to New Orleans and braced herself for the discussion. “Eric.”
“You finally figured out that you love her, didn’t you?”
He sighed. He did love her, but did he want to talk about it? Given that she felt it all through their maker/child bond, it was pointless to deny it. “You feel it so why ask?”
“I did feel it, when you were just in the foyer before we left, the feeling hit me like a huge wave. I’m just being nosey. Does she know you haven’t been with anyone else for weeks?”
“It hasn’t been weeks…..”
“Think Eric, when was the last time you took a fangbanger to the office at Fangtasia?”
He admitted that had been weeks, but he’d also been to Yvetta’s. “Nameless fangbangers has been weeks, but I’ve been to Yvetta’s apar…..”
“You’ve been to her apartment a few times. I know. But when was the last time?”
He took a moment to think about it. “You’re right, it’s been a few weeks and I haven’t even thought about it.”
“So, when are you going to tell her? Don’t you think she should know that you’re already exclusive? That you’re ready to be more with her?”
“Don’t you think it will scare her a bit? That maybe I’m being pushy?”
“Ok, so don’t tell her the anything more part, just tell her what you’ve stopped doing.”
“You’re sure it won’t upset her, pressure her?”
“She’s coming to terms with her feelings. It’s the right time. You can take away my credit cards if I’m wrong, and I’ll talk her back from the ledge if she freaks. Do it when we’re back home. Now, we have to focus on enjoying this party.”
“Fine.” He grimaced out.
“You don’t seem fine about it.”
“Not the discussion, just this whole party, having to wait to see Sookie, worrying about her. That we have to fly in and lose all of tonight so we can be at the start of the party at sunset tomorrow just pisses me off. We can’t even stay at my house. It’s just not feeling right to me.”
“Godric is more than capable to handle anything, and we’ll leave the party early since we have to be there at first dark tomorrow night.”
“Oh we’re definitely leaving early.”
“Eric, Pam, Merry Christmas.” He quirked an eyebrow at her.
“Yes, I know this is unusual, but Andre insisted. He claimed it would be good for us to do something human.”
“Andre wanted to do something human?” He chuckled with the Queen but inside he knew this was some kind of ploy. “Where are your other children, Sigebert and Wybert? I haven’t seen them yet.”
“Well, this will be announced later tonight, but I am in negotiations with Arkansas for marriage. Andre informed me something came up with their envoy and we needed to send my boys out on an errand. Honestly, I think they were relieved to not attend the party.”
“I can imagine so. I believe I will go visit with the other sheriffs for a bit. Enjoy your party my Queen.”
“You as well, Eric, Pam.”
He was on his phone texting Godric as soon as he could find an inconspicuous corner. It was times like these that it would be nice to need a human moment to tuck into a restroom, but that wasn’t possible.
E: I just discovered that the Berts are not here.
G: Understood. At my age, I could take them out.
E: They would have to attack first; they are the Queen’s children.
G: Do not worry about us. If they show up on the property, that will be justification enough. I will keep Sookie inside the main house and alert Cara as well.
E: Thank you. Did anything happen at home today?
G: Sookie’s brother called, seems her neighbor died, and when I questioned Cara, she said Sookie wasn’t upset when she got the call, it was more like gossip. Apparently this guy was a hermit and had little to do with anyone in town.
E: So you don’t think I need to arrange for her to attend any service?
G: I asked Sookie after I got the update from Cara, and she said she would just send flowers from her and Gran since Gran’s away on some strange battlefield tour right now and cannot attend either. There was no church service planned, only the burial.
E: Sookie can explain the battlefield tour.
G: Eric she did, but I still don’t get it.
Eric chuckled at his maker’s response and offered his own
E: Neither do I, but none of the locals in their group have ever fought in a war, so they don’t have our perspective
G: I will remain confused then. Now go back to the party and appear as if nothing is wrong. I can feel your panic, you must control it.
Although on edge for the entire night, Eric stayed at the party giving the appearance of nothing being wrong. Godric texted him with confirmations that there were no problems each time a patrol finished a walk around his property. Even with those updates, he knew he wouldn’t relax until he was home with Sookie. Leaving the party early, he and Pam boarded their plane and arrived home shortly before 5AM. Through the bond, he knew Sookie was asleep, but was surprised to find her in the den with Godric reading in the chair next to her.
“She didn’t go to bed yet?”
“No and my instructions were for you to wake her when you arrived home.” Godric’s comments made Eric grin, a wide almost childish grin. “I can see and feel how happy that makes you.” He reached out for Pam. “Come Pam, we’ll retire and give them some alone time.”
“But I missed her too.”
“PAMELA, come with me now.” Godric insisted his voice was firm, but not loud since he didn’t want to wake Sookie.
The toes were calling him, even if they were hidden in another pair of ridiculously large men’s socks. ‘Why does she like to wear these?’ He wondered, but that didn’t stop him from starting his foot rub. Seconds later her eyes opened and she gave him a sleepy smile. “Hi.”
“Hi yourself.” He leaned over to kiss her. “I’m glad you wanted me to wake you.”
“I missed you and when Godric told me you were on the plane, I knew I wanted to see you before you rested for the day. I’m really glad I am seeing you, I love the way you look in a tux.”
“I missed you too. And you are so glamorous in your nightshirt and these socks.”
“I love my sleep socks.”
“Fair enough, I’ll stop teasing you – well about that.”
“So you came over to tease me?”
He nodded. “I also need to talk to you about something.”
“Ok.” She sat up and stretched. “What do you want to talk about?”
“I don’t understand. Why would I want to talk about fangbangers?”
“Well, it’s something that’s important for us.” She nodded for him to continue. “Sookie, you know I’m all done with all the fangbangers. Actually, I have been done with all of them for a while.”
“What?! I’m not sure how I feel about that. No, I know how I feel about it – I feel pressured.”
‘Goddamn Pam talking me into this, I knew she would feel pressured. Time to do damage control.‘ He moved to pull her on his lap. “Sookie, can you at least acknowledge we are dating, a couple?”
She thought for a moment. “I can.”
“Then I give you my faithfulness. No more women for sexual relief.”
“Eric, I said we can be a couple, I’m not ready for sex.”
“I know. I’m prepared to wait. I didn’t tell you think to you to make you feel pressured. I just know we can’t build anything if I keep having sex with other women.”
“What about blood?”
“I would love to have only your blood at this point, but there are some circumstances where I will need to share in donors for vampire ceremony or pretense, or for my survival. But in either of those situations, it will only be blood, no sex.”
She smiled. “I get that.” She picked up one of his hands to play with his fingers. “When did you decide all this anyway?”
“It wasn’t a conscious decision – more that my behavior changed slowly in the past few weeks. Pam’s the one who pointed it out to me on the plane ride down. I stopped having interest in the fangbangers and instead started taking more and more bagged blood to feed. Skipping fangbangers for days turned into weeks and now here we are. I guess my body didn’t want anyone else even if my head was a bit slower to catch up.”
One of Sookie’s Christmas gift ideas for Eric came to mind and after having this little talk and she knew it was the right one. “I’m glad we talked. I accept your faithfulness and we’ll just continue dating – even though we live together – and see where this goes.”
“Does this mean we’re going steady?”
“Oh hell, I don’t know. Did we get that dating rule book yet?” She yawned as she spoke.
“I thought we were doing it all wrong and had just accepted that we were.”
“Hmm, I’ll think about it tomorrow but now, I’m really tired.”
“Well then, let’s get you tucked in Miss Stackhouse.” He rose with her and carried her to bed, tucking her in with a last kiss before he headed to his day chamber.
Pam and Godric broke into wide smiles that matched Eric’s as he entered the chamber. He just turned to them and said. “Quiet.”
“Sigebert, Wybert, were you successful?”
“Partially Andre. We killed Compton’s relative as you requested. We looked for the Stackhouse girl in that town, but found she moved to Shreveport. Her Grandmother wasn’t home either of the two nights we were there. We found out later she was on some trip with a few of the locals. The timing was off to glamour her for anything about the Stackhouse girl.”
“What else did you find out about the Stackhouse girl?”
“Nobody knew anything about her being a landscaper. In fact, most were confused when we asked since according to them, she was a waitress in a bar owned by a shifter until she was held captive.”
“Anybody say anything about Northman, his presence in her life?”
“That’s the good news, she must just be a donor for him; nobody had any information about a relationship.”
“That is good news. The idiot hasn’t claimed her so she’s up for grabs.” He smiled widely. “Yes, very good news.”
“I packed the car already.” She pointed to the SUV, full of wrapped presents. “We’re still exchanging our gifts at home tomorrow night, right?”
“Yes.” He loved that she openly referred to his house as home. “Are you sure you got everything?”
She rolled her eyes, and dragged him to the car. She pointed out the stack of gifts for each person, her clothing bag, Tina in her carrier, and the bag in his hands with his own clothes for the evening. “Am I missing anything?”
“No, I just wanted to be sure.”
“You’re a pain in the ass.”
“You have a pain in your ass, should I check it out?” He said, as his hands reached for her butt.
She rolled her eyes at him. “Just get in the car and drive. Or wait, are the Were guards driving separately or with us?”
“Separately. Let’s go.”
The Were guards fell in place behind Eric’s car as they pulled out of the drive. Sookie noticed them from the rear view mirror. “So, even though nothing happened here or in New Orleans, you still want the extra guards?”
“I do. I won’t let anything happen to you.” He didn’t tell her that the Berts hadn’t been at the party and he suspected something amiss about it – he just didn’t want her to worry needlessly. However, not telling her didn’t mean he ignored it and as a result he’d added more guards: He would not leave her exposed. “Sookie, just relax. They will be patrolling your property, not sitting at the dinner table.”
Sookie’s knee bounced in excitement as they drove to Gran’s for Christmas Eve dinner. Eric found a radio station playing Christmas carols, and braced himself for the singing. As she always did, Sookie belted out the songs in her own off key version and he smiled to himself, enjoying her very carefree and happy mood. When some ads played, he asked her about the change to their traditions. “So you and your Gran are really OK with opening presents and doing most of the Christmas celebration tonight?”
“Sure, I mean, it’s not like we have little ones who are waiting for Santa. We’ll still have a big meal in the mid afternoon tomorrow; then when you rise, we’ll go home for our gift exchange. It’s all good, great in fact.”
They pulled into Gran’s drive a few moments later and Gran ran onto the porch with her arms wide open. Sookie ran into her arms for a hug. The hug lasted a while as it included the usual rocking back and forth and a few sniffles from Sookie. Once she released Sookie, Gran reached for Eric. Though they had cleared the air at Thanksgiving, such welcoming from Adele had not yet occurred and he was surprised to be enveloped in a Gran hug – the same thing he had teased Pam about for weeks. She snickered from the porch and he ignored her. Pam had spent her day in the new underground safe room at Gran’s, wanting to scout the area and meet up with the Were guards that started patrolling just before her daydeath in the early morning.
Adele broke their hug and Eric went to the back of the SUV to carry the gifts into the house. Pam came to help. He laughed and her apparent helpfulness: she really wasn’t helpful; she was SNOOPING. “Give it up, Brat. You have to wait until after dinner for your present.”
Pam gasped at feign indignation. “Eric, I’m just trying to help you and Sookie get settled.”
Jason and Dawn arrived shortly after and everyone sat down for dinner. Once again, Jason practically ate his weight in the prime rib dinner Gran had prepared. At least this time, Eric noted, there was no mention of Uncle Bartlett. He had a full report on the man, and found nothing in the information that indicated the issue. He would ask at some point in the near future, but the possible truths ate at him. Adele interrupted his thoughts by asking about the symphony he and Sookie attended the night before. Sookie rolled her eyes. “Photographers, just like the ballet Gran. You mean Mrs. Fortenberry wasn’t over here to gossip with you about the pictures of me in the paper?”
“Hoyt drove her to her sister’s in Florida for Christmas; she won’t be back until after the new year.”
“Is there less hot air in Bon Temps while she is gone?”
“Sookie, you hush and finish your dinner so we can get to the presents.” Gran scolded her.
After dinner, everyone settled in the living room for the gifts. Adele had several surprises. First, she handed Eric an awkwardly wrapped gift and when he opened it, he was shocked. Inside was a log cut to fireplace size with sprigs of fir and holly. Jason was confused and asked why his Gran had given Eric a piece of firewood. “It’s a Yule log, Jason. The celebration of Yule predates our Christmas traditions.” Adele explained. “Will you start the fire with it? I apologize that there are no runes, but I was hoping I found a tradition from your Solstice Celebration that fit?”
“You did Adele. We will need to save two pieces from this, one for your home and one for ours.” He looked to Sookie as he spoke and she smiled. Gran had, of course, filled her in. He turned to Pam, Jason and Dawn. “The saved pieces are kept in the home during the coming year as protection; then they are used to start the fire next year.” He took the log to the fireplace and started to light the fire.
Pam beamed. Her maker’s joy was spilling through the bond. Godric HAD turned him into a pansy as he repeatedly said, but she couldn’t be happier. As long as he still kicked ass as a Sheriff, and he did, they would all be fine. She was taken out of her thoughts by Adele nudging her with something. When she turned, several shirt size boxes were wrapped together and being handed to her. “Pam, did you hear me?”
She laughed, “No, I was lost in thought.”
“These are for you.”
Pam opened the first box to find beautiful silk shirts, but no labels? When she noticed Pam’s confused face she explained. “I’ve noticed that you have your custom made suits and they fit you perfectly. I’ve also noticed when you are just hanging around the house or running simple errands your off the rack shirts are all a bit baggy in the middle. So I made you some to fit your exact size. I guess you wore too many corsets that shrank your waist when you were human. Your poor ribs are probably curved inward.”
Pam stared at the woman until Eric finally snapped her out of it. “Pam, you’re supposed to say thank you.”
“I’ve never had such a thoughtful and personal gift. Thank you Gran.”
“Open the other boxes.”
Pam found the next boxes were silk tee shirts and simple cotton blouses, again, custom fit to her size. Pam actually walked to Gran and hugged her in thanks. Sookie decided to strike while Pam was already happy and handed her gift to her after she released Gran from the hug. Pam laughed when she saw the contents. “Sookie, you remembered our first outing? And oh, you got me white, cotton briefs, my favorite.” She was distracted by the car in the driveway. “Who else is coming?”
Eric ordered, “Stay in your seat.” Pam immediately knew it was her gift being delivered but she waited for her maker to return. When Eric came back, he gave away nothing, and told her to return to Sookie’s gift. “It’s underwear Eric.”
“No, you need the gift from Sookie for your gift from me.”
Pam started shredding the bags of underwear in search of Sookie’s gift. She found it in the third pack. Sookie had given her a platinum custom engraved keychain. It said: ‘BFF’ on one side and ‘Love, Crumbcake’ on the other. The BFF side was accented with a pink sapphire. Pam started misting up – in red tears. Eric wasn’t sure if it was the keychain or the fact that there was a BMW key hanging from it that caused the tears. He guessed the keychain since Pam never cried over the cars he bought her. The more he thought about it, he realized the tears were because Pam had never had a best friend. He saved her from crying in front of everyone and took her to see her car. “It’s a BMW 745i, noted as being one of the best at keeping out road noise.”
Pam wrapped her arms around him. “Thank you Eric.”
Jason followed them out to check out the wheels. “What’s the big deal about road noise?” Jason asked.
Eric explained. “Vampires hear much more than humans, and for Pam, she’s always had even more sensitive hearing. Road noise in a car has always been a problem for her.”
“Hmm, never thought about that. Considering I drive a diesel truck though, guess I never will. Say, whatcha doing with Pam’s Audi?”
“It’s for your Gran now. Her car is getting a bit worse for the wear.”
“Well you’re a’right. Thanks.”
The rest of the group exchanged presents and shortly after, Jason and Dawn left, promising to be back for brunch the next day. Sookie left Pam and Eric to setup Gran’s new TV and DVD player (from Eric) while she cleaned the kitchen with Gran. Even though the task seemed mundane, she enjoyed the time with her Gran, but it was over too soon and Gran was saying good night. Pam also left, claiming to have a date. When Sookie raised her brow, Pam explained she had met a nice Jewish girl who was looking for something to do on Christmas.
“Alone at last.” Eric said as he pulled her to the couch.
“My Gran is just down the hall.” She whispered.
“Maybe you should show me your childhood bedroom then.”
“That’s directly across the hall from Gran’s room.”
“Then you’ll need to be quiet and we’ll stay out here.” He moved her onto his lap and started pulling her pony tail holder out so he could play with her hair.
“Just what do you think is going to happen, Mr. Northman?”
“Kissing, lots and lots of kissing.” He cut off her comment with his mouth. Sookie had eaten some of the chocolate Yule Log for dessert and he enjoyed the remaining chocolate taste in her mouth. Sookie had a surprise planned for Eric’s Christmas gift the next night, so she didn’t want to go that far now. She used her Gran as an excuse. “Eric, we need to stop. Gran is down the hall.”
He noticed she didn’t say she didn’t want to go further or that she wasn’t ready, but he tried not to get too excited about what that meant. Instead, he just nodded his head and moved her to his side. He had loaded a movie and hit play. Sookie laughed when she saw Finding Nemo start on the TV. “I expected you to put in one of the classic movies that Pam bought Gran for Christmas. You told me a while ago that you didn’t want to see this.”
“I’m happy to watch anything as long as you are attached to my side.”
“Shh, don’t tell anyone.”
The next evening, they drove home at first dark so they could exchange their gifts to each other. Sookie, Eric thought, seemed even more excited than when she was driving to her Gran’s. Her mood amplified his own excitement and they were both grinning by the time they were walking through the door. Eric enjoyed Sookie’ feelings, and at home, he felt no need to hide his emotions. “Give me a short while to get all these new clothes hung up.” She shook her head, looking at all the boxes of clothes. “I don’t know what Pam was thinking when she bought me all these outfits as Christmas presents.”
“I’ll carry them to your room.”
Once he placed all the clothes from Pam on her bed he said, “I have some prepping to do.”
“Ok, I’ll join you in the den in about 20?” He nodded and went off to take care of his tasks. When he entered his office from his secret door to his daychamber, he left it open for Sookie. He was sure of his decision now, and couldn’t wait to give Sookie her gift.
They both arrived at the Christmas tree and laughed, neither had a wrapped gift in their hands. Sookie suggested he go first. When he rose and reached for her hand, she was a little surprised but she complied and he walked her to his study. She was shocked to see a doorway that when closed, was a section of bookcase. She knew immediately that this was the entrance to his private daychamber, and she looked at him confused. “I just need to add your thumbprint and then you can access my daychamber. Later, I’ll show you the hidden access panel in your cottage, your access will work on any of the doors.”
“Eric, this is too much. I shouldn’t have this access.”
“Yes you should, I trust you without question.” He gestured for her to join him at the security panel. “Trust me there is something down there that you will really want to see.”
The security panel set-up took a few minutes; then he guided her to the stairs. He informed her that he had lights installed for her, but he wanted to carry her down in the dark so he could surprise her with her gift. When she nodded, he reached down to pick her up and carry her bridal style down the stairs. He told her to close her eyes and he carried her to the library. Once he placed her in the center of the room and checked that her eyes were closed, he turned on the light and told her to open her eyes. Her beautiful blue eyes sparkled as she took in the room. The walls were floor to ceiling book cases, filled with the classics she and Eric discussed frequently. She noticed a ladder on wheels with a bow tied to it. “Eric?”
“It’s been killing me to have this down here and not share it with you. I realized about 2 weeks ago that I was ready, but thought I would save it for your Christmas present. I added the ladder so you could get to the top shelves easily. Do you like it?”
“Eric, your trusting me to your resting place was present enough. This, this is over the top. I don’t know where to start.”
“You can access this library any time. I have a separate door on my bedroom, and even if I was out walking around, the light doesn’t make it down the stairs to any rooms down here. You know, I rise early and don’t die right at sunrise, I just can’t go upstairs. This way, we can even spend more time together.”
She smiled and asked him to show her around. His daychamber was actually the same size footprint as the entire house, so it was very large. Sookie thought her bathroom in the guestroom was nice, but OH MY GOD, Eric’s down here was huge and extravagant. She turned to him and told him “I’m coming down here for my baths.”
“I’d like that.”
“Don’t get excited, I can take a bath at noon, you’ll never know.” She gasped and put her hands over her mouth. “I’m sorry – I would never go sneaking around your resting place.”
“Sookie, it’s fine. I’m telling you, you can. If you want to get in bed with me and snuggle, that’s fine too. I trust you.” He wanted to add, I love you, but he refrained.
They ended the tour in his daychamber den. “Would you like your present now?”
“Yes.” He understood the phrase on pins and needles for the first time now. Sookie had no gift in her hand, nor was there one upstairs, so he was sure it was something that was HER. “Where should we go?”
“The couch is fine.” She moved him to sit on the couch and she straddled his legs. He could feel she was nervous and he wished they were bonded so he could send her his reassurance. He settled for rubbing her legs to calm her. After a few moments, she leaned into the side of his neck and whispered. “Are you hungry? Because I’m ready to start feeding you now.”
Shocked. He was truly shocked. He thought she was maybe going to take her top off, or give him a hand job, but this, this was much more than either of those. He should have just bit, she was offering her neck, but in true pansy fashion he asked her. “Are you sure?”
“Yes, so bite me.”
“Oh no. Both times I fed before haven’t been the best situations. I want to enjoy this gift. Is this just for Christmas? I’m not trying to sound greedy, but…”
“Eric, stop. I mean for this to be on a regular basis, but please heal the bites.”
“I will always heal your bites. Can we enjoy ourselves for a bit; then I’ll bite?”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “No sex Northman.”
He replied, “Of course Lover.” And before she could protest to her new name, he attacked her mouth. He pulled her closer so he could enjoy the feel of her breasts on his chest. He was being painfully patient with Sookie and had yet to feel them directly, but he knew they were magnificent. The smell of her arousal was evident and he wondered how long she was going to be able to hold out – but again, this was all at her pace. His own erection was near painful at this point, but he persisted. He always waited for Sookie to stop him; he never stopped on his own. Sookie was wearing a cashmere sweater that Pam gave her for Christmas and he ran his hands up the back over her sweater; then decided to see if she’d welcome some skin contact. Score! She made no comment as his hands slipped up under the back of the sweater and tonight, she even let his hands roam around to the front. Feeling especially bold, he used one hand to unhook her bra and moved the other to capture a breast in his hand. Sookie moaned at the contact, but she didn’t stop him. “Sookie, please.” He begged.
“What do you want Eric?” She asked in a husky voice.
He stared straight into her eyes. “To put my mouth on your breasts.” He licked his lips; then added. “Please?” She breathed in at the request, but then nodded her head and reached for the hem of her sweater. Her bra slipped off quickly once the sweater was gone.
“Gods! You are more beautiful than I imagined.” He said as his face moved in between her breasts and he inhaled.
He was just started to stroke the sides of each breast when Sookie said, “Not so fast.” He looked up, a pained expression at being taken from his new toys. Sookie smirked, “you’re still wearing your shirt.” Now Eric smirked as he shifted a bit and removed his shirt; then went right back to his new favorite place in the world: between Sookie’s breasts. He licked from one to the other; then took a nipple in his mouth. Sookie groaned. He continued to suckle her, switching sides every few moments; then licked a path to her neck. Wanting Sookie to enjoy the bite, he started rubbing her lower lips through her pants. They were thin enough that she was reacting, so he added pressure. When her breathing changed he bit and rubbed her as hard as he could through the material. It worked: While he enjoyed her unique flavor, she came crying his name. That was exactly what he wanted. Well, he wanted to bite her while he was inside of her, but soon, he hoped. Wanting to see her flushed with her orgasm, he leaned back and took in her appearance while he held her. Her face was flushed, her lips swollen in the shape of a blissful smile, and her breathing was still a bit erratic. In short, she was gorgeous and he smiled at her. “You are beautiful when you cum.” Her flush grew even redder at his words, and she reached for her sweater. He wanted to protest but he knew she would need time to grow more comfortable with being naked.
“I can’t believe that happened with my pants on.” She reached out to grab his hands and lace their fingers. “Is it like that every time you feed? Well, I mean when you feed while trying to enjoy yourself?”
He considered his answer for a moment. “I have achieved sexual satisfaction while feeding, as have my donors.” She looked down, but he would have none of that, so he used his hand to guide her head back up to meet his gaze. “Sookie, I wasn’t finished. I have never felt so connected to anyone. That was one of the most erotic experiences of my life.”
She was shocked. “But you didn’t finish.”
“Lover, erotic is arousing sexual desire,” he pushed his hips up so she could feel his erection, “and as you can feel, it certainly did.”
“I feel so selfish. Why do you call me Lover? We aren’t lovers.”
“Yet, Lover, yet. I want you to be selfish as we learn from each other. My time will come or cum I guess.”
“I’m not sure about that nickname. I’ll have to think about it and let you know.”
He noticed she was shivering. “Would you like to get into the hot tub and warm up?
“I’ll go get my suit on.” She stood to go upstairs.
“Save time, just strip and we can go au naturale.” He wiggled his eyebrows.
“YOU better come out in a bathing suit.”
The warm water in the hot tub was heavenly and they sat together sharing stories of their lives. Eric fascinated Sookie with his travels around the globe. She was most curious about her best friend so he shared his perspective on their meeting. “Pam should tell you about her human life herself someday.”
“Of course, she’s shared bits of her human life with me, I was just curious about what drew you to her.”
“You knew of the arranged marriage before you turned her?”
“I did, I had been watching the family for a while. Her father was someone with whom I did business. Well, until I changed Pam and we left the area. He was a shrewd businessman, but I also saw him occasionally with his family and he was just cruel. Pam was busting with life – under the layers of clothes and oppression and I just knew she would thrive with me.”
“And she did.”
“She never looked back and I couldn’t be prouder to call her my child.” Sookie smiled at his words.
“She loves you too you know. You’re her hero.” HE smiled a lopsided grin. She leaned into his hold.
“I want to be your hero too.”
“Let’s just start with the boyfriend stuff.”
“OK, Lover you can open your eyes now.”
She slapped his arm. “ERIC! Someone could hear you call me that. I haven’t decided about that nickname yet.” Her eyes roamed the room. “Wow, it’s blue, and it seems smaller.” She pointed to the couch. “Is this new?”
“Yes, and the room is smaller because I had the walls removed and added 5 inch soundproof batting, then rebuilt the walls. You know, most people wouldn’t notice that change in size.”
“Well, 5 inches on every wall – that’s 10 inches from side to side, enough that the gap at the door, you know between the door frame and the wall here,” she pointed, “is definitely smaller.” She moved to sit on the couch and grab a pillow. “This couch is way more comfortable. Not that I’m complaining, but why’d you do all this work? I thought you hated Fangtasia and spending time here.”
“I do hate it, but that’s why I did all this. You complained that Fangtasia is too loud, so I soundproofed this room. I was hoping you’d come with me, at least some nights, and maybe do your homework here? I got the new couch because the old one was not as comfortable. You can even nap here if needed, and I can give you foot massages. Or, I can massage something else.” He ended that comment with his trademark leer and licked his lips. She giggled and shook her head. What he didn’t tell her was that the old couch was covered in fangbanger cum and he did NOT want her sitting or napping on that.
Sookie was speechless. He soundproofed his office thinking it was the music that was loud, not the voices in everyone’s head. She wondered how she was going to deal with that. He wanted her to come with him – that made her happy and scared at the same time. More time at Fangtasia meant more vampires, more chances for unwanted exposure or for her to screw something up. She looked at his expectant face and she knew she needed to try. “I can’t believe you did this for me. Thank you. I can certainly try to do homework and such while you’re working.”
“Are you ready to meet some more vampires?” They had talked about this visit. Fangtasia was holding a New Years Eve party and she wanted to attend. To do that, they decided to spend some time on club floor in the presence of other vampires. Eric would introduce her tonight as his companion to a small group of trusted vampires in his retinue. Having spent time the past two nights with Eric and Pam going over protocol she felt confident. As a companion, she had more latitude in her behavior, but still, she could not speak out to Eric or really any vampires. She was ready.
She tugged at her light pink dress, nervous that she would stand out in the sea of black.
Sensing her concern, Eric ran his hands up and down her arms. “Sookie, do you feel like you want to dress like the fangbangers?”
“Not at all. It’s just I feel like I will stand out.”
“You already stand out. You are sunshine in this dark, dreary place. I know I don’t want you to dress like the fangbangers.” He guided her to his desk chair where they discussed she would sit while the vampires were introduced.
She took a deep breath, closed her eyes for a moment as if to steady herself then proclaimed, “I’m ready.”
He called Pam, which was the signal, and Pam entered with several vampires behind her. Eric was standing tall behind Sookie, he was very excited for his closest vampires to meet Sookie, yet his face did not give this excitement away. He held his steeled expression as he introduced Sookie to Maxwell Lee, Indira, Longshadow, and Ivan Brognack. Thalia was also in position, but the women had met before. While he appeared expressionless, all the vampires noticed he was fingering a lock of Sookie’s hair as he spoke.
“This is Sookie Stackhouse. She is my companion.” Since he was scrutinizing their faces, he noticed Ivan’s eyes widened in surprise, and Indira’s face softened into a smile. “She will be spending time at Fangtasia, and she must be protected from other vampires.”
“It’s nice to meet all of you. Thalia, welcome back from your trip.” Sookie said with a cordial nod of her head.
Each of the vampires confirmed their protective role and left his office. He turned to Sookie to guide her out to the floor. “Remember, I have a different persona out there.”
He kissed her head. “Shall we?”
They walked to the floor and Sookie was bombarded with thoughts about Eric and sex. Many humans noticed he was walking with her and they spent time thinking about Sookie and how she didn’t deserve Eric and that they wanted to get rid of her. By the time she made it to Eric’s reserved booth, she was in desperate need of a drink. ‘Damn, I spend too much time alone and I have no practice with my shields. Maybe it will be good to come here regularly so I can build up my resistance.’ Eric noticed that Sookie’s mood had soured as soon as they hit the dance floor and she was actually starting to shake a bit. He tried telling her to relax and she just smiled her fake smile and sat in his booth. A waitress named Ginger came over and Sookie ordered a gin and tonic. Once she returned with the drink, Eric rose to go back to his office for an official meeting. Sookie was prepared for this and Eric told her he would be no longer than 30 minutes. She was planning to count the seconds since she was completely bored, but Pam saved her. A super fast song with a great beat was playing and Pam asked if she wanted to dance. Sookie was shocked and asked Pam if it was permitted.
“Sookie, you are my maker’s companion. I am probably the ONLY person you can dance with here, well besides him that is. Come on, I’ve seen you dancing around the house – I know you can move.” Sookie smiled brightly and moved from the booth. A crowd formed around them – they appeared to be dancing but Pam could see they were really observing Sookie closely. Pam was confused by the attention at first but then realized it was the curiosity of seeing Eric’s human. That Sookie’s sweet scent became even more pronounced as she was dancing likely also caused interest in many of the vampires who were growing closer. Suddenly Pam felt it was more than passing interest and she pulled Sookie from the dance floor to the back. She knew Eric was very angry at whatever was happening with his meeting, so she took Sookie to the employee room. “Sookie, the vampires were getting a little too interested in you; that’s why I moved you away quickly. Can you wait here while I speak with Eric?”
“Yes, but why are they interested in me?”
“Your sweat from dancing amplified your scent. Since Eric hasn’t notified the vampires in Area 5 of his claim on you, I couldn’t take the risk. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Sookie started thumbing through some of the magazines on the table as a distraction while she waited. Ginger came in while on a break and they chatted for a bit. As the moments passed, she became more nervous.
Down the hall, Eric was surprised that Pam knocked to join his meeting. Two vampires had come to him to settle a dispute over a human woman. Both were shocked and became nervous when he asked to meet the woman. After questioning her and searching for glamour, he discovered that she wasn’t with either of them willingly. He was just about to hand down punishment when Pam entered. “Pam, just in time. Please explain to Matthew and Jeanne the penalty for keeping an unwilling human.”
“That’s easy Eric. They get time with me.” She turned to show her fangs and the wicked glint in her eyes. “Can I take them to the basement?”
“Same as usual, they live and keep their limbs. I want them out by the New Year’s party too.”
“Pity, that only gives me two nights.”
“You’ll just need to be extra creative.” He turned to face the two vampires. “You risk all vampires when you pull stunts like this. You will be on TrueBlood until February 1st; then only bagged blood until your fangs grow back.”
“FANGS! You can’t be serious.”
He was over the desk and had Jeanne by the neck and pushed into the wall. “Oh I am. You don’t fuck with the laws in my Area.” He released him and turned to Pam. “Take them; then return since I guess you needed to see me.”
“Yes, the employee room ….”
He found Sookie chatting with Ginger when he entered the employee room. He could feel she was a bit nervous, but nothing overwhelming. That changed when she saw him. She looked at him and he was hit by a wave of concern. He knew he needed to get to the office before anything else happened. He couldn’t afford to be overly affectionate at Fangtasia. She walked to him, obviously expecting some comfort, but he couldn’t put on that show in front of Ginger. His face remained impassive, his arms stayed at his sides and he shook his head very slightly. Sookie got the message and stopped short with her gaze glued to the floor. Resisting the urge to envelope her in his arms, he told her to follow him and walked quickly to the office. There, he turned and hugged her. For Sookie, it was too late. “Let me go Eric!”
“Sookie, why are you upset?”
“I WAS upset at the extra vampire attention I was apparently receiving on the dance floor. But now I’m pissed that you were like stone in the employee room. I thought I could handle Sheriff Eric, but I guess I can’t. Can I just wait for you in the employee room? Or can Pam take me home?”
He groaned. “Sookie, I tried to explain this before.” He realized that this exact thing could have been prevented if they were bonded and he could send comfort and calm to Sookie. He was just unsure how she would take something so permanent.
“I know. I was prepared for that on the floor. But just now, I was worried about the vampires and when you came in I realized I had actually been more than worried but you, you weren’t there for me.”
“I’m here for your now. It killed me to ignore your needs, Sookie, but this is how it has to be.”
“Your culture or politics – whatever you call it, suck.”
He refrained as long as he could, she had been serious, not trying to make a joke or pun. He finally felt her amusement at what she had said, and they both burst out laughing. The laughter created the break in tension they both needed. “Sit with me for a minute?” He asked as he moved to the couch. She nodded and moved to sit a little apart from him, mostly because she wanted to turn and look him in the face. “Sookie. I knew what you were feeling, and that’s why I moved as quickly as I could to the office, where I can provide comfort. If anyone knew how much I cared for you, it would be dangerous to both of us.”
“I know that, it just didn’t make it any easier back in the employee room.”
“Would it help to have a word or signal so that you can know I want to be more, but can’t at the moment?” It was the best he could think of putting in place before they bonded.
“We can try that.” She thought for a moment. “Yeah, that’ll help.”
“Ok, I’ll think about it while I am sitting on the throne. Will you be coming out?”
“Are they all going to want to bite me?”
“Yes, but you will sit next to me for a little while. I will call you mine.”
“Mine or rather yours?”
“It’s necessary given your scent and I’ll say it quietly enough that the vampires can hear, but not humans.” She nodded in understanding.
He reached for her hand and she looked puzzled. “I think we can get away with me holding your hand to guide you into your chair.”
They walked to the floor and they stood in front of the chairs on the dais. Thalia had followed them and took a protective position behind Sookie pleasing him greatly. He noticed he had the attention of the vampires in the building and quietly announced “Mine” while holding her hand. He again scanned the room and noted the vampires nodding, the humans were oblivious.
With the announcement over, they sat in the chairs; Sookie refraining from rolling her eyes at the absurdity of being on display. She knew how much Eric hated ceremony, but Pam insisted that the vermin came to see him. As soon as he was seated, he pulled his Blackberry out and texted Sookie. He had purchased her a Blackberry for just this purpose.
She was surprised to feel her Blackberry vibrate against her arm as he handed it to her. She hadn’t even seen him grab it from her purse in his office. The first message made her want to giggle, but she put on a bored face (years of reading all kinds of thoughts had taught her to steel her features) and texted with Eric.
E: I’m bored
S: You just sat down
E: Come sit on my lap
S: It’s bad enough I’m sitting up here with you. Your fans would kill me as soon as I walk to the restroom.
E: I’ll go with you. You need someone to hold your dress up while you take care of business
S: You’re offering to go the women’s room with me just so you can see my ass?
E: Sookie, are you saying if I go into the bathroom with you, you’ll show me your ass?
S: How old are you? 15?
E: Maturity is overrated Lover
S: I’m going to call you cuddle bear out loud here if you don’t stop calling me lover
A few minutes passed before the next text as Eric was watching some sort of scuffle at the door, but Pam handled it. He’d ask later.
E: I’ve been thinking about our signal and I found the ASL website
E: American Sign Language. They have videos of the signs, but it’s too hard to view on the Blackberry
S: Well what word are you thinking?
He wanted to write Love, but he was refraining as he reminded himself. He went to his comfort zone
E: Fuck, Horney, Nipples something like that
S: Stop it cuddle bear!
When he didn’t respond to cuddle bear, she looked up again to see Yvetta approaching Eric, obviously not pleased that Eric had been ignoring her while she was on her dance platform. Yes Sookie had watched him to see if he looked her way and when he didn’t even notice the dancer, she did an internal squeal of happiness. Now, he couldn’t help but see her since she moved directly in front of him. Sookie’s ire rose at the slut’s behavior. Eric had no interest in Yvetta but he was more than pleased to feel Sookie’s jealousy. He was even more pleased when she stared coldly at the Estonian dancer and placed her hand possessively on his arm. It was a subtle move since the arms of their chairs butted up to each other. Yvetta’s eyes grew angry and she started to scream at them. “This is the reason you have not been with me? This fat country hick?”
Wrong thing to say Yvetta. She was on her back with Eric’s hand around her throat immediately. “You were nothing but a willing whore who offered herself as relief. You have no position in my life, except for working at Fangtasia. Nobody insults my Sookie, Yvetta, nobody. Do you understand?”
Yvetta was turning blue and even though Sookie hated the woman, she didn’t want anyone hurt over an insult. Her thoughts and emotions were like a roller coaster: panic, fear, pride, concern, lust, over and over as she wondered if she should step in. She looked up and saw Pam staring at her, like she was waiting for Sookie to notice her. Seeing her friend was a relief, especially since Pam’s quick shake of her head grounded Sookie. She knew she needed to keep quiet. She nodded in acknowledgement, and they both waited for Yvetta to answer Eric. What Pam and Eric didn’t know was that Yvetta WAS scared, but that didn’t override the fact that she was also pissed at Sookie – more pissed than she was scared, and that fact worried Sookie. Would the dancer do something to her? Is this finally enough reason to tell Eric about her disability? ‘I’ll think about that tomorrow.’ She decided and just as quickly as it started, Eric’s lesson to Yvetta was over. Another dancer was brought over to help her to the employee room and Eric returned to his seat. He wanted to praise Sookie for her restraint. He had felt all her emotions and knew it was difficult to not step in. He also wanted to discuss why he felt lust, but he would wait until they were home.
Sookie’s phone buzzed.
E: I’m sorry she insulted you
S: That’s not your fault
E: I’m proud, you wanted to step in and you didn’t
S: Pam helped
S: I’ll tell you at home.
Instead of replying via text, he turned to Sookie, “You ready to go home?”
“That was fast.”
As they packed up in the office, he acknowledged her headache. “Perhaps some time in the hot tub will help your headache.”
“You can really feel that?”
“Yes and for me to feel it means that it must be pretty painful.”
“That’s an understatement tonight.”
Sookie felt herself being moved and groggily opened her eyes. Eric was bent over the foot of her bed removing her shoes. He noticed the movement up at the pillow and quickly pulled the blanket up, keeping her in her dress from their night out. “What are you doing?”
“Shh, go back to sleep.”
“But the hot tub.”
“Will still be there tomorrow night.”
“How did I get here?”
He chuckled softly at her. “You’re no good at ‘Shhh, go back to sleep’ are you?”
“I’m awake now, and a little hungry.”
“Do you want me to bring you a yogurt or something?”
“Nah, I’ll go to the kitchen. You probably have Norse work to do since you took off days for Christmas.” She sat up stretching herself more awake.
“I don’t, I closed the company for the week between Christmas and New Years.”
“Yes, too many people need or want the week off and those that work are unable to do their jobs because too many needed co-workers are out.”
“So they all go without pay or what? I’m just curious since I never had a job with vacation time or any benefits.”
“My employees get the week off with pay. They don’t need to cut into their vacation time. What do you mean you’ve never had vacation time or benefits?”
She got up and walked into the bathroom to remove her dress and put on a nightshirt as she continued the conversation. “Just what I said, I’ve never had a job with those things.”
“Sam doesn’t provide them?”
“No, you do – at Fangtasia I mean?”
“Of course. Everyone starts with 3 weeks vacation – at Norse, or Fangtasia.”
“3 weeks to start – isn’t that above the norm?”
“In the US, yes. Other countries have learned the value of a balanced work and personal life and the positive impact on productivity. American companies tend to think only of the short term, the dollar value of that extra vacation time or what they need to accomplish each quarter. I’d say I have a unique perspective on time since I’m a vampire, but as I said, other countries have learned to appreciate the balance.”
“And yet, we aren’t exactly excelling in all parts of the world economy.”
“No, someday corporate America may finally wake up.”
She came out of the bathroom and they headed downstairs stopping in the kitchen where Sookie quickly ate a yogurt and grabbed a drink. “Do you want to go back to bed?”
“No.” She thought for a minute. “How bout we grab a blanket and sit outside for a while? It’s not as fun as the hot tub, but we can enjoy the clear night.”
He smiled and grabbed a blanket from the den. “Sure.” He settled them onto the glider on the porch, Sookie curled into his side, his arm around her. “Are you feeling better?”
“Yes, I took some Excedrin while I was in the employee room at Fangtasia, now that we are out of the loud environment, the pills finally kicked in.”
“Loud and stressful perhaps tonight.” He looked at her carefully for a reaction. “I wanted to talk to you about Yvetta.”
“I don’t need to hear anything about Yvetta.”
“Sookie, at the very least I want to acknowledge that I know you wanted to stop my actions with Yvetta and you did not. Thank you. For you to have stopped me would have weakened me in front of so many vampires.”
“As I said, Pam helped. I was panicking – not wanting someone to be hurt just for insulting me. I looked around and found Pam’s gaze and she, well for lack of a better word, grounded me and I knew to hold still.”
Leaning into her ear, he whispered, “I also felt your lust Sookie.”
As expected, she blushed but did respond. “Well what do you expect; you were going all caveman on someone for insulting me. It was frightening – yes, but a little hot.” They both laughed at her comments.
When they were both quiet again, he offered more information about Yvetta. “Just to come clean, I never dated Yvetta, I only fucked her. She has no reason to think she has a claim.”
“Eric, I know that from the other stuff that’s been mentioned. I really don’t want to talk about Yvetta.” The glided silently for a moment. “You’ve mentioned homes around the world. Tell me about them, how did you managed to keep them all before the Great Reveal?”
Eric spoke to Sookie about his homes in Louisiana, New York, London and Sweden. He saved what he thought she would consider the best for last telling her about a home on a private island in the Caribbean. He knew her response before he finished describing it.
“That one I want to see first.”
He laughed. “I knew you would my little sunbird. It has minimal modern conveniences, so I’ll have to have work done before we go.”
“I don’t need much, but I bet it doesn’t have a toilet, and that would be a requirement for me.”
“That would be at the top of my list of things to add then. I’ll arrange for the work to be done quickly.”
“Why would you have a home in such a sunny location?”
“It’s really a safe house more than anything, though I do enjoy swimming in the moonlight.”
“Oooh, that’ll be fun!”
They continued rocking on the glider under the stars until Sookie fell asleep again. He carried her upstairs and tucked her in, giving her a kiss on the forehead. “Goodnight Min älskade.”