Hope you enjoy this week’s chapter.
You know how I love pictures to give chapter clues? Well, I’m trading in my lemon for Scrabble (for this story). Now, there isn’t any use for that image this time – but I’m letting you know – in future chapters, when you see this:
The chapter contains lemons. You might see that in chapter 18. Might.
Chapter 17 – Blood
Sookie cringed. Jason had denigrated and raised his hand to her in front of Eric. The boy had no sense. After saying a silent prayer that her brother would live through the night, she opened her eyes and looked at Eric. Yep, his face said it all and with his raised eyebrow, Sookie knew he was giving her the opportunity to say something.
She sighed; with other supes present, she couldn’t undermine him. Really, he shouldn’t have given her the chance to talk. “I’ll stay with Eliane while you ah, take care of things.”
Eric was impressed and shocked. Her reaction boded well for their future life together. Anytime they were in the company of other supes, she needed to defer to him. This was something he felt for sure they would struggle with. In his very angry state, he would need to focus so he didn’t kill the fool. He turned to see Sookie grabbing Eliane and Lafayette, heading away. He slowly spun and captured his prey with his sight. In a low and dangerous tone he commanded, “Alcide, step away from Jason.” Eric would thank the Were later for taking hold of Jason when the idiot started swinging a fist at his own sister.
The idiot had the nerve to confront Eric. “Who the fuck are you?” He opened his arms and waved them around. “This shit yer doin’?”
In a blur, Eric had Jason by the throat and pinned to the side of the building. “You will be quiet so we can have this discussion only once, boy. I’m am your better in every possible way; I am your savior, and while you are a guest on my island, I am your authority. You currently live by my grace because Sookie is your sister. Rather than embracing her and trying to make up for your prior shameful actions, you verbally accosted and raised your fist to her. This behavior will not be tolerated. Sookie deserves to be held in your highest regard, fool and you will do well to remember that.”
The grip on Jason’s neck had grown stronger by the minute and he chose to struggle against Eric’s hold the whole time. As a result, he didn’t really hear much of anything. What he did hear at the end he didn’t understand. “Let go a’ me.”
“Tell me you understand.”
“I can’t.” He squeaked out while trying to shake his head no. Eric released his neck so he could breathe but still held him.
With his face inches from Jason he repeated, “Tell me you understand.”
“I can’t cause I don’t understand. How high do I have ta hold Sookie? Do I need ta carry her or sumptin?”
That comment was the end of Eric’s patience and he dropped Jason in a heap. He needed to walk away so he turned to Sam for help. The shifter had remained quiet knowing that Jason needed to be handled and Eric was both surprised and pleased by that. Honestly, since Sam had witnessed Jason hitting Sookie after Gran died he was happy to see Eric put Jason in his place. “Sam, I’m putting him in the plane with you. Help him see sense. If this behavior continues, I’ll need to kill him.” He walked away after Sam confirmed he would work with Jason. Barry fell in next to Eric; they walked in silence as they headed to the car.
While Eric had been handling Jason, Sookie tried to focus on a conversation with Eliane and Lala. After only a few moments, she failed and instead heard her brother being his usual self. He had no clue what he’d done wrong and the danger he’d put himself in by pissing off Eric. Though Eric had flown Jason to protect him, Sookie wasn’t sure it was actually safer for Jason to be here. Seeing her distress, Lala took her hand and offered, “Hes needs to get his head outs his ass. It’s gonna take time hooker. The V has’em.”
“I know Lala; I know. Jason can’t talk like that to me. Eric knows about what Jason did after Gran died and wants to kill him as it is.”
Eliane hugged her with one arm around her shoulder and promised they would help with Jason to the point that they would work to keep Jason away from everyone as much as possible. To try to help Sookie while they could somewhat hear Eric speaking to Jason, she asked about plans for their vacation. Sookie brightened somewhat talking about how beautiful the island was and that they had several beaches to choose from. “I haven’t had a chance to go out yet, but there are boats as well. I’d like to do that soon.”
Eliane smiled in relief at turning Sookie’s thoughts from her brother. “That sounds good.”
“And Eliane, you are so sweet. I love all my painting stuff. I’ve finished two paintings so far.”
“My pleasure. The work hanging at your Gran’s was really good. Did you teach yourself?”
Their conversation was interrupted by Eric’s arrival. He moved to stand behind Sookie and leaned down to her ear. “Sookie, I need to run to the club for a bit. Would you and your friends like to join me?”
Sookie understood immediately; he needed to feed. “Sure Eric.”
Having impressed Eric already with his all-business stance during the ‘chat’ he had with Jason, Barry only added to Eric’s opinion. “I’ll stay to ensure the doctor’s equipment is loaded properly.”
“I appreciate the offer but Cory and Doug can handle that. Come and enjoy my club. We’ll only be there a short while.”
“Very well Mr. Northman.”
“Eric.” He looked at all of them. “Please call me Eric. We’re on vacation for the most part after all.” He took Sookie’s hand and led them to his club, again bypassing the line, and seated them directly in his booth. “Order whatever you want. I’ll be right back.”
A waitress appeared immediately after he left the table and Lala exclaimed. “I’s thinks Imma be liking a vacation with Eric.” He nudged Sookie. “How yous wind up with a fine piece of meat like that?”
“Lucky I guess.” Sookie was keeping her shields up and was relieved when Lala didn’t ask her about Bill. What she didn’t know is that Eliane had taken the Bon Temps folks aside (minus Jason) and told them not to ask about or discuss Bill. Her friend didn’t need to relive the situation. As far as Eliane was concerned, Sookie only needed to talk about Bill if she wanted.
Sookie had talked them all into ordering Yellow Birds so they were enjoying their drinks when Eric returned. Sookie leaned against him and whispered, “Sorry.” She hated that he needed to drink from fangbangers.
Eric understood her comment immediately. “This is nothing for you to be sorry about and really, it’s no matter Lover. With Ludwig here, it won’t be long now.”
“Eliane told me she wants to start my dialysis tomorrow.”
Eric’s eyebrows rose and he looked towards Eliane. “During the day?”
“Yes; she thought you would prefer that.”
“I don’t. I’ve read up on dialysis and I had planned to sit with Sookie while she was being treated. It seems pretty boring and I wanted to keep her company.” Sookie was going through this treatment to clean her blood so he could drink it. Though it seemed it wouldn’t hurt, he didn’t want her to think he didn’t support and appreciate her action.
“And I’m sure she will accommodate that if you want. Keep in mind though, Dr. Ludwig’s thought was that Sookie could wake a bit early, eat, and then nap during dialysis. She’s willing to move the machine to an outer deck and Sookie can get some sun.”
“Lover, this is your decision.”
“I love that you want to sit with me but I think Dr. Ludwig is onto something. If I can sleep through it, then we have awake time for something more fun.”
He leaned in and whispered. “Like whipping cream and pulling pork?”
She laughed out loud causing a few other patrons to stare. When her laughter calmed, she leaned in to remind him. “Don’t forget my pie.”
He barked out a laugh. “Lover, you do entertain me.”
She smirked at him while Lala started pulling on her arm. “Come ons hookah! Wes loves this song. Dance with me.” She eyed Eric for a moment and he nodded.
“Sure Lafayette. We need to stay within eyesight of this booth though.” Sookie knew Eric had sent a message with his punishment of the vampire that tried to glamour her last time at Sava’s but she didn’t want to be far from him.
Enthusiastically, her large friend pulled her from the booth to the floor and they both drew quite a crowd after only a moment. Eric was enthralled with Sookie’s dancing and watched for two dances before he got up to cut in. Lala wasn’t deterred; he pulled Eliane and Barry out to the floor to continue. Eric used the opportunity to place his hands all over Sookie since her bad mood had lifted. Visiting with her friends had cheered her up after Jason’s arrival; he could see she was letting go and enjoying herself. When the song changed to a slow one, Sookie figured Eric would lead them back to the booth. Tucking her in for the dance surprised her and she whispered as much to Eric. “I enjoy holding you close. We’ll talk more about life in public later.”
“K.” She smiled and chatted with him while they finished the dance then offered. “I’m thinking we should get home. Our guests have been traveling for a while.”
“Certainly.” Eric didn’t say anything but he beamed internally: Sookie had referred to the guests as ‘ours’ and the island house as ‘home’. To him, her words meant she was starting to see them as one.
Outside the club, they got in the cars and arrived quickly at the floatplane. The first one had already taken off with Jason, Sam, Alcide, Bubba, Hoyt, and Dr. Ludwig. Cory remained to fly the next group back and explained that Dr. Ludwig wanted to start working on Jason’s withdrawal issues right away, so they headed directly to the island. The flight back wasn’t too bad for Sookie since she had the extra distraction with her friends. The excitement grew as they approached the island – Lala exclaiming loudly about its size. “Holy Shit! ‘S’all yours?” His eyebrows were raised and his hand pointed towards Eric who nodded.
With everyone pitching in, they had the bags and Ludwig’s equipment unloaded quickly and met in the kitchen for dessert. Lala had three pieces of the French Silk pie and thanked Sookie enthusiastically for his favorite dessert. They got through dessert before they heard from Jason: he was yelling loudly, cursing at the doctor, it went on for a moment then stopped. Eric explained. “Dr. Ludwig is using sedation while he goes through withdrawal from the V. He probably came out of it momentarily.”
Hearing Jason put a damper on the evening, so Sookie made her excuses to return home. Eric complied immediately believing she wouldn’t be comfortable near Jason for a bit. While his plans for the company had them staying at the guesthouse and Sookie visiting them, he realized that wouldn’t work. Facing her friends, he offered, “Sookie can call here tomorrow and you can join her at our house if you’d like.” Sookie looked up at him; her small smile and grateful expression told him what she didn’t say with words. “Come Lover; let’s get you home.”
“Goodnight everyone. I’ll call sometime after my dialysis.”
Eric led her to one of the jeeps and handed her the keys. “You drive.” She groaned. “Come on Lover, you’ve been doing well. Practice makes perfect.”
“Practice gives me a pain in the neck.”
“I’ll give you a neck rub when we get home. The drive is short.”
“Yes, but I still have to get in first gear without stalling.”
The keys still dangled in front of her and she knew it was pointless; he was going to make her drive no matter what. Angrily, she grabbed the keys and huffed to the driver’s side. With a smirk, he reminded her how beautiful she was when angry. Then when she opened her mouth to say something back, he kissed her. “Great Eric, now I don’t remember anything. You kissed me stupid.”
He barked out his laughter and reminded her. “Clutch, shift, release.”
From inside the guesthouse den, Barry and Thalia had witnessed the interaction between Eric and Sookie. They watched as Sookie needed three tries to pull out in first – all while yelling at Eric. Once Thalia knew they were out of earshot she turned to Barry. “They are so perfect for each other.”
“From the little I know of both of them, I would agree.” He shifted to face Thalia and turned serious. “Can you explain some things to me?”
“I’ll explain if I can.”
“Did you hear about Jason’s arrival?” She tightened her lips and nodded. “Eric is the Sheriff, is that why he was the one to ah . . . react to Jason’s comments?”
“No, it wasn’t his Sheriff role that gave him that right. This gets more into humans and vampires in general.”
“Sookie is his? That’s the phrase?”
“Yes. His to protect in this situation. For them though, it’s more.”
“So I’ve seen. Is that common? Vampires and humans so obviously in love?”
“Not at all. The love part is rare. Human ownership is not. When a human is owned by a vampire, they are called pets. Basically a designated fuck and feed.” Barry was clearly confused by Thalia’s definition of a pet. “You look puzzled.”
“I’m puzzled because Sookie has silver poisoning so she isn’t his source of blood and ah . . . I mean, we talk constantly in our heads while around each other and” He paused, unsure of continuing. “Well certain things happened tonight and I read clearly that they haven’t. . .”
Thalia understood immediately. Barry was trying to politely say that Eric and Sookie hadn’t fucked. “No they haven’t. I know because vampires can smell that on others. I’m sure he also needed a donor.”
“Yes, from his club.”
“Back to your original question, it was the violence or rather restraint with Jason battling against his need to punish. I’m certain Eric wants to kill the boy for striking Sookie and now attempting to hit her again while speaking so poorly to her.”
“You didn’t hear about that I guess. Jason blamed Sookie for their Gran’s death then he hit her.”
“Yet Eric flew him here for protection because Sookie still loves him.”
“Eric flew everyone here so Sookie didn’t need to worry about them. She’s truly not a pet.”
He moved closer to her. “So do you have a pet then?” His eyes scanned around like he’d missed someone.
“No, I don’t like the concept.” Her face became grim and he thought he’d perhaps offended her somehow. He’d misread her face though. Having a pet was something she never wanted. Having a companion though? While she’d never considered it before, she was suddenly looking at Barry and wondering if she was ready. Since healing him in Dallas, they’d taken to texting and emailing on a regular basis. Seeing Barry again confirmed she was drawn to him, but she was unsure how to move forward.
“Sorry, that’s not my business. I guess I should get back on track.” He physically moved back away from her. “The thing is Hoyt and Sam in addition to me . . . we all wanted to beat Jason. I wanted to ask about the protocol. I work for Eric now I’m sure I have a great deal to learn.”
She liked when he had gotten closer so she moved forward to close the gap he created when he pulled back. “You do. Right now though, he deserves his vacation so why don’t I give you background on protocol and vampires in general. Save the information specific to him and your duties for when Eric has time.”
“I’d like that.” The two talked for a long while, so long that they were surprised when they realized everyone had gone to bed.
“Barry, I’m quite accustomed to being up when humans are asleep. Please don’t feel the need to stay up to keep me entertained.”
“I wasn’t.” He stopped. “That didn’t come out right. I mean, I’m aware you are up all night but I appreciate the information and am enjoying our talk. I was going to ask if you’d like to take a swim. Unless you’ve got something you need to do and I’m keeping you.”
“I’d love a swim.”
“Great. I’ll need to find the suit I packed.”
She stood and started walking out but turned over her shoulder and offered, “Don’t bother. The beach at Pam’s house is private. We won’t need suits.”
“Shh Lover.” Sookie had been telling Eric a story but she stopped abruptly and waited for him to speak. It was only a moment or two before he smirked and reported what he was hearing. “Barry and Thalia have really hit it off.”
“What makes you say that?”
“They’re currently using Pam’s beach for skinny dipping. Well it started as skinny dipping but it is full blown fucking now.”
“ERIC! Stop talking like that and for all that is holy stop listening! I don’t want to think how you can hear so far away since that means Thalia can hear us as well. We may never consummate our relationship if I have that running through my head.”
“If that’s true I’m buying the next island over and shipping her there.”
“Oh stop that Viking. We’ll figure something out.” She reached for his hands and pulled them back to her neck. “Keep massaging; you promised.”
“Ooh bossy Sookie. Yes Ma’am.” He continued his attentions for a few more minutes, and moved from her neck down her back and was making his way to her ass when he began speaking again. Before he started getting both of them worked up, he moved to her side to talk. For her massage, Sookie was only in her panties; the temptation was too much for him. “What will you do with your friends tomorrow?”
“We’ll make a shopping list for Thanksgiving and probably swim. Nothing specific.”
“How are you feeling about your dialysis in the morning?”
“Fine. I’m planning to sleep through it.”
She rolled completely on her side but kept her hands in front of her chest – she also knew things could get out of control quickly. “For what?”
“Going through the treatment.”
“I’m doing it for us. I know that sometimes you might still need a donor but I want you to have my blood as your main source.”
“That brings up something I’ve wanted to discuss with you and now that you’ve opened the door . . .”
“You want me to have your blood.” He nodded. “I was pretty sure this was coming and I’m not opposed but can we wait a bit? I’m enjoying myself right now. It’s not that I would have doubts, I . . . ah I can’t even describe it. I love you, I know this. I need a more time for the rest?”
“I can understand that. If something happens though and you need healing?”
“By all means, heal away. Like I said, I’m not opposed to having your blood. For now though, I want to be only me in my skin for a little longer.” He nodded to confirm his understanding. “What else are we doing tonight?”
“Even with the adventures with Jason it’s been a very good night.” She agreed. “I have something that Eliane brought for you. Are you feeling up to a memory?”
“I think so. How about you?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it’s more like a question about something Godric related but I don’t want to ask if you aren’t ready.”
“We can do that I need to be less distracted though.” He eyed her chest hungrily and she got the message. .
“I’ll grab a shirt and meet you right here in five.”
“You do love this porch swing.”
“More like a swinging bed, and yes I do love it.”
He beat her back of course, and she wasn’t fully on the deck before she started giggling and asking, “Why do you have this shirt?”
“Pam thought it was funny.”
“Well I’m not bothering to return it. This one is mine now.”
“As you wish.” He was quiet for a moment then told her, “I’m ready for that question you had.”
“Oh, I think you need me in your lap to be really ready.” He put his arms out and she climbed in his lap. They were both quiet for several minutes, their closeness being communication enough. “I never would have guessed you for such a snuggler.” She looked up at him. “No wait, you’re not snuggling, you’re stealing my body heat.”
“That’s right. Eric Northman does not snuggle.”
They laughed together for a moment before she turned serious. “Eric, you had Godric’s shirt?” Since his first reaction was to stiffen, she was concerned she’d overstepped. “I can drop this.”
“No. We can talk about it. I took his shirt from that morning. Though it was tainted, there was enough of his scent clinging to it.”
“Would the clothes in his house have his scent? I mean, should we plan to visit there and go through the house?” She rubbed his arms where they were tightly wrapped around her stomach. “I was thinking you’d want more than that shirt.”
“I do. Michael, his dayman has called in a witch at my request and sealed his main house. It will preserve everything for a while.”
“Including his scent?” He nodded. “Then I have an idea.”
“What about burying that shirt? I was thinking to bury it here. Stop me if I’m overstepping and infusing a human tradition on you, but I know that Gran’s burial gave me comfort. Well, not the planning and arguing with Jason and working with the undertaker, but the actual service.”
“That’s your tradition.”
Her first reaction was defensive but she held her tongue and apologized, not understanding his meaning. “I’m sorry. Like I said I don’t want to push you on a human . . .”
“That’s not what I meant. A burial is your tradition so maybe I would be better served with my human tradition.”
“Oh, yes. I hadn’t thought of that. That’s burning right?”
“Oh, I thought your men were preparing to burn you?”
“They were but we were in battle and far from the coast.”
“So what did you do?”
“We placed our loved ones in boats so they could travel to the afterlife. Jewelry, domestic equipment, and even food for their trip were included. For a Chieftain, a thrall would volunteer to go with him.”
“You mean killed?” He nodded. “Wow!”
“Yes, there was quite a bit to their preparation too but I’ll tell you some other time.” With a quick adjustment, he had them more reclined on the bed but she was still in his arms. “The thing is that’s my funeral tradition. Shouldn’t I worry about Godric’s?”
“You know, you can if you want but in this case, this funeral is for you, not him; I don’t think he’d mind.”
“You are very wise. I think I’ll start working on a boat for him. I have a workshop in my Alaska home; we can set it in the water there.” He turned her in his arms for a kiss. “Thank you min Älskade. Are you ready for your surprise?” She bit her lower lip then nodded; he reached behind him and handed her a plain white box about the size of a cake.
She took the box from him and noted it weighed quite a bit. Like a kid on Christmas, she shook it; it was very loud. After a few seconds, her face crimpled and tears pooled in her eyes; she knew it was her tin of buttons. “Where did she find this?”
“Your Gran used one of the upstairs rooms for sewing; this was buried in the back of the closet. When was the last time you saw this?” Gently, he wiped the tears that had spilled.
“Before my teens I would guess. I haven’t wanted to make a button bracelet for a long time.” She opened the tin full of buttons and pushed her fingers through it. The feeling on her fingers and the noise the buttons made brought her back to her childhood. Eric watched her carefully and luckily, she didn’t seem upset. “I was a loner for the most part. Tara was over a lot, mostly to get away from her mother. Lala hid at Gran’s too when he was older.” She looked at Eric to emphasize the reason. “Being a black homosexual in a small southern town was a challenge. But even with their visits, I was still mostly alone. Anyway, I loved the quiet things and Gran needed to keep me occupied without breaking the bank. I didn’t have hundreds of Legos or Barbie dolls but I never cared. I read from her mind that she hated the lack of money but I also knew that if she hadn’t taken us in, we would’ve been part of the parish system and much worse off.” He let her ramble on for several more minutes while she played with her buttons. Since he was observing her face trying to detect any problems, he was surprised when she handed him a bracelet. She’d found some letter beads in the tin and it spelled “SOOKIES”.
He laughed. “Are you making one that also spells “ERICS” that you’ll wear?”
“No Viking. You’ll need to dig around for those letters yourself if you want me to wear it.”
“You want these large hands to string a bracelet together?”
As if pretending to think hard, she looked up with a finger on her chin then her eyes turned mischievous. “You make a fair point. I think I’ll make the “ERICS” bracelet on one condition.”
“We’ll play Scrabble when I’m done.”
He pretended to look put out and even sighed as he responded. “If you insist.”
A/N: Hi all, me again. Here’s a tidbit – I have both my mother’s and my grandmother’s button tins. I got them out a year ago when one of my girl’s needed eyes for a stuffed toy she was making. When I opened the lid and put my fingers in, the feel and sound transported me to my youth – and the many button necklaces and bracelets I made. I thought Sookie deserved a cool memory like that too. Thanks for reading.