A/N: Can you say – hot mess, hot off the press? I’m sorry I missed last week (but I LOVED NEW YORK) and I didn’t want to make you wait another week – so this is unbeta’d and not everything I was looking for here – but it helps move us forward. I also struggled with the title – and considered: hot mess (as mentioned above); untitled; or moving along . . . Instead, I present to you – Leaving (NO)LA.
NOTE: Some of my more bloodthirsty readers will feel slighted – since I gloss over good times with the prisoners. I may or may not do an outtake with more detail – undecided for now.
Chapter 29 – Leaving (NO)LA
The next two nights were spent helping Pam sort out the financial and other problems she inherited with her crown. Once Roman had evidence of how poorly the kingdom had been run under Sophie-Anne, he called in extra help from Council. Pam would have additional Council staff to assist with the financial reconciliation, administrative reporting (long overdue), and investigations of each Sheriff. Based on email and other correspondence, issues were discovered where Sheriff’s blatantly neglected their duties. Evidence pointing to human detention camps (blood camps) in three areas, and run by the Sheriffs, had been found. More shocking was that Sophie-Anne and Andre knew about the camps and even visited for the ‘hunt’ events held once a month. To assist with the inquiry, a Council representative would be deployed in each region to meet directly with the Sheriffs.
Since Sookie’s telepathy had come out to the palace staff already, Barry took the lead on reading the non-Vampire staff and donors. The information he gathered gave them even more clues, leads, and hard evidence on the blood camps. The Council had all three camps closed and the surviving humans in some form of rehabilitation immediately.
Eric did spend time with Pam while Sookie helped Barry, but they spent time on a side project together as well. Being the gracious hostess that she was, Pam provided the cells downstairs for Eric to hold and play with his captives. Sookie joined him for some time each night. She needed real targets for her light practice and Andre, Bill, Charles and Deb all made ‘willing’ volunteers.
At the end of the second night, Eric and Sookie entered the throne room to speak to Pam. The look on Eric’s face and the feelings in the bond intrigued Pam: her maker was practically giddy. Pam was finishing up with a Council rep and she couldn’t wait to hear why he was so happy. After a few minutes, Pam’s meeting ended and she beckoned Eric and Sookie forward.
“Sookie, what have you done to my Master?”
Sookie laughed out her answer. “I’ve done nothing.” The mischievous look in her eyes proclaimed the opposite though.
“Eric, you’ve got to tell me what has you in such a state!”
“Pam, it was beautiful.” He laughed out loud and needed to pause to continue. “Sookie’s been practicing her light talent on our prisoner.”
“Yes, I’ve checked in on our friends earlier. I saw your work on targeting your light to one finger.” Sookie nodded and held up her pointer finger with a spark light on top of it. “It’s too bad you’ll be killing them because having Debbie wearing the word ‘Cunt’ forever burned into her skin would’ve be a nice touch.” Pam shook her head. “I still can’t believe you’re our sweet, innocent, Sookie.”
“I’m your kidnapped and attempted rape victim Sookie, Pam. I hadn’t planned to be there for the killings, but well now we know how my light can take out a vampire. Anyway, I did need to practice and I don’t have any remorse over the four volunteers.”
Pam acknowledged Sookie’s statement with a nod then asked about Eric again. “Back to my maker’s mood. What happened?”
“I asked Sookie to practice not just burning, but burning off body parts; specifically Bill’s dick. At the time, she was shooting balls of light at Andre and he was naked, so I suggested she practice with him.” He paused to laugh again. “Sookie . . . Sookie turned to me and said, ‘fine, but Andre will need to hold his pinky out since that’s the size I’ll be aiming for on Bill.” He couldn’t get himself under control after that since Pam joined him with the hysterics. The mood bouncing back and forth in the bond only served to escalate both their reactions. Since laughing like a loon wouldn’t be the best way to keep her ‘tough as nails’ reputation with her staff, Pam was thankful court had been emptied out except for her personal guards.
Once the three settled down, Eric invited Pam over for a short farewell get-together the next night. With her monarchy obligations, she had to decline, but they confirmed their plans to meet up on New Year’s Eve.
“What’s happening on New Year’s?” Sookie asked while they headed out.
“We won’t see Pam for Christmas due to her new duties, but she’s sure she can join us for New Year’s.”
“Oh, Eric. We can stay in New Orleans for Christ . . .”
He cut her off. “No Lover. This is our first Christmas together and we’ve decorated and planned to celebrate in Homer. Pam and I will exchange our gifts on New Year’s.” He kissed her nose as they walked out. “It’s all decided; Pam and I are both fine with this plan.”
“Ok cuddles, since you’re sure, I’ll leave it go.” They got in the back of the limo with their guards and Sookie asked about their start date with Council.
“Technically we started when the contracts were signed; but our first assignment discussion is January 4th. The Council members are meeting and our task force is the majority of the agenda.”
“Did you find out where the Council meets yet?”
“Yes.” He kept his straight face though he knew Sookie was going to whoop him for keeping the information to himself.
She didn’t disappoint. He felt the swat to his shoulder and when he turned, she already had her hands on her hips. “Planning on telling me?”
“Of course I plan on telling you.” And he ended his sentence there, earning him another swat and scowl. He gave in. “Outside Baltimore, Maryland. The location makes sense since Roman is our liaison to the human government.”
“Have you looked into the area?”
He felt her frustration and decided to stop playing with her. “I found out shortly after sundown last night and we’ve been busy. Roman did tell me that our home and the Council headquarters are in a town called Severn and it’s only ten minutes from a private airfield that can handle our plane. We’ll be staying in a Council guest residence and will meet with a design and build team for our home while we’re there.”
“And are you holding back anything else?”
“Not any longer.”
“So you wanted to get me riled up?” He gave her a naughty smile that confirmed his guilt. “Why?”
“I like it when we’re able to be just ‘us’?
“Me getting huffy is ‘us’?
He turned to her, his mirth having turned to seriousness. “Lover, have you ever noticed you’re the only one that gets huffy with me?”
She shook her head. “Pam . . .”
“Pam whines and complains but she doesn’t put me in my place like you do. When we’re in the presence of so many others, you don’t do that – well you can’t do that.”
“I still don’t get it. You like it when I nag?”
“Sookie, when you get that glare on your face and your hands go to your hips, I get excited knowing you’re about to lay into me. Whether I’ve left my muddy shoes on in the house, or forgot to take the garbage to the street, I love that you feel comfortable enough to tell me about it. As we start working together, you will be my partner. The task force is ours, not mine. Our job will be to work with and prevent issues with humans; I can’t possibly do that without you.” The car had stopped in front of his house, but they remained seated in the back, the guards standing outside. He took her hands. “So yes, I like it when you get huffy and nag at me. I like it as much as when you show your unwavering trust in my by putting yourself in vampire situations. I like being hen pecked as much as I like being loved by you. Though, that thing you do with your tongue when you . . .”
He laughed at her reaction. “Suffice it to say, I do like that way more than nagging.” The blush had bloomed from her face down her chest. “Oh Lover, I didn’t intend to embarrass you, it was simply a slip of the tongue.”
She leaned in and after giving his neck a lick said, “I won’t give you a tongue lashing over it, I accept it as an exception to your statements about how much you love my naggin.” She ran her tongue over her lips. “In fact, we have plenty of time before you go to rest. We can loosen our tongues and talk about the exception in detail.”
“Maybe a tongue bath?” Eric waggled his eyebrows.
“You do have a silver tongue.” Eric’s jaw dropped at hearing Sookie make such a naughty reference to cunninglingus. “What’s wrong lover?” Sookie smirked. “Pussy got your tongue?”
“Let’s hope so.”
As planned, the next evening Sookie and Eric hosted a small gathering at their New Orleans’ home before they left for Homer, Alaska.
Russell had made the rounds chatting with everyone before coming to spend time with Sookie. “I hope you enjoy your Christmas, Sookie.”
“And you as well Russell. I’m sure happy to be headed back to Homer.”
“New Orleans has some bad memories for you I guess. You’ve earned your break this year and I for one can’t wait to see how the Viking plays Santa.” He leaned in and whispered, though all the vampires in the area could still hear it. “Are you sure he won’t turn gay for me.”
She slapped his chest, “Positive, stop trying.”
They chuckled together before Russell turned to a more serious topic. “I know you don’t like to talk about her, but I spoke to Talbot today and Hadley has settled into her new room at my palace. All the staff has been informed that she is off limits for blood and sex.”
“Thank you for taking her.”
“It’s not entirely unselfish. I do get something out of it.” He licked his lips, an action that Sookie chose to ignore.
“And I know Gran won’t kick my ass from heaven.”
“You’re being too kind to someone who really could have ruined your life if not for your bonded.” Sookie looked at Eric and sent him love. He responded with a soft smile while he was still engaged in a conversation with Barry. Russell continued his point. “I don’t know that I would have let her live.”
“Letting her live is all I’m permitting. You promised me she won’t leave your palace.”
“She won’t. She won’t have any romantic relationships either. I don’t want to deal with any messy entanglements. She’ll be bored.”
“Not if you make her clean your palace. She always hated housework.”
He barked out a laugh that had the room turning their direction briefly. “My dear, you are truly a treasure. It is for this reason that I have requested permission from your bonded to give you a Christmas gift. He approved.”
“A gift is not necessary. I’ve enjoyed your company.”
“I have enjoyed your company as well. Think of this,” he handed her bracelet sized box and she snarled at him, “as a gift to remind you of me.”
After she lifted the lid, Russell smirked. “See, nothing to be afraid of. A simple diamond bracelet.”
“There’s nothing simple about this and you know it. It’s gorgeous. Thank you.” She leaned in to kiss him on the cheek. “I really shouldn’t acce. . .”
Russell cut her off before she could finish. “Every girl should have everyday pretties to add flare without pulling the big jewels out.” Reaching into the box, he grabbed the bracelet and asked for her wrist. Sookie thought he was full of shit about the bracelet being for everyday, but she put her wrist out as he asked. After fastening the clasp, Russell smiled and added. “I do however recognize that material gifts aren’t important to you.”
She looked at him sideways. “So why did you give . . .”
“Let me finish.” She nodded and he handed her a large envelope. “Open it.”
Feeling Sookie’s curiosity, Eric moved to stand with her while she pulled the papers from the envelope. “It’s a contract?” She looked at him, puzzled.
“It’s a promise, a commitment. When you’re ready to move your childrens’ shelters into Mississippi, I’ll fund them and provide long-term staff. I know you want to have your own team set-up each shelter, but after they pull out, I’ll handle the whole thing.”
She stood with her mouth open for a moment then practically attacked him with a hug. “Russell, this” she paused to calm down.” This is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. Thank you.”
Russell was just setting Sookie on her feet when they both heard a whine from the foyer. “Why does Russell get to touch Sookie and I can’t touch Eric?” Nora huffed as she entered the room with Roman. “Why isn’t Russell being punished by Eric?”
Eric grimaced. The Council Head hadn’t mentioned bringing his child but Eric realized since Nora had been traveling with Roman, and Roman was heading out after this get together, she of course would be with him. Eric replied in a firm tone without raising his voice. “Because Nora, Russell and Sookie are friends.”
Nora continued to whine as she spoke. “But you and I are friends.”
“Russell and Sookie are only friends. She was thanking him for a gift.”
Nora kept on talking. “But I want to give you a gift Eric. Don’t you want my gift?”
The idiot vampire actually started moving toward Eric as she spoke but Sookie stopped her. “Nobody considers your gaping cunt as a gift Nora. ‘Least not anyone here.” Tossing a single spark between her hands at Nora, Sookie added, “BACK. OFF.”
Eric tried to calm Sookie down so he could get Nora out, but Nora volleyed her response too quickly. “You whore! You have no right to speak to me like that.”
“Oh, there’s a whore in the room, but it isn’t me.”
Nora flung herself toward Sookie but before she made contact, her path was altered and she hit the wall. Stunned, she sat for a moment trying to understand what happened; then she saw Sookie’s outstretched hand. “You bitch. You attacked me!”
“Damn right I did. Come near me and I’ll do it again. Come close enough for me to get your heart and I’ll fry you.” They’d learned that information after Sookie sent Andre to his maker with a direct hit to his heart.
“I think it’s time we said our goodbyes.” Roman said as he moved to restrain his child.
“Certainly Roman.” Sookie smiled politely.
“Before you go Roman.” Eric started as they were approaching the door. “Given Nora’s strong dislike of my bonded, I feel the need to request a maker’s command.” Roman raised his eyebrow and tried to control his anger at having such a request made. “Regarding Sookie’s light talent.” Eric put his hands up conveying he knew he was making a difficult request. “I know it’s not my right to suggest a maker’s command. In this case though, we did agree to keep Sookie’s talent quiet. For as long as possible.”
“Eric, if she starts to spark up when she’s upset it’s going to come out.”
“I know that. We plan to continue her light training using Bill and the Weres as targets.” Though he was upset at the conversation, Roman couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped from Eric’s plan. “What I’d like to do is have it come out while she’s protecting herself in front of other vampires. Maybe at the summit?” Eric continued trying to plead his case. “This will make the most impact proving her safety. While it will certainly increase interest in her, it will also show she can’t be easily taken. To prepare though, I need time. I need to know others aren’t coming for her due to this talent.”
“I agree. Council will help coordinate the demonstration and I’ll command Nora in the interim.”
“Thank you Roman.”
“You’re lucky you made a logical argument.”
“I realize that I was taking a risk but I promised her protection.”
“As have I via her contract.” Roman gave a small nod at Eric and concluded their chat. “Enjoy your holiday Northman. I’m looking forward to see you and your team on the fourth.”
Roman’s departure started a flurry of good-byes and Sookie and Eric found themselves alone, packing for their trip back to Homer.
Sookie stopped folding shirts for a moment and embraced Eric. “It seems like it’s been forever since we’ve been alone.” Eric raised his eyebrow. “Yeah, I know the definition of alone has changed.”
“It has but you’ve been adapting well to the guards and having Barry and Thalia around all the time.”
“It is what it is. What will happen in Homer? Where will the guards be?”
“I’ve had a luxury RV delivered to the site for the Were guards. The Vampire guards will be in coffins in the house.”
“That’s where everyone will rest, what about when they’re on duty?”
“The Vampires will need to spend time during their shift in the house; it’s too cold to spend the entire time outside.” Eric wiggled his fingers in front of her and she understood that he meant they’d lose their fingers to the cold. “They will go outside upon request.”
Though she already knew that would be the answer, she still deflated. Having alone time with Eric in Homer was something she wanted again, but it was not to be. Maybe the island would be better. “Eric what about the island? Can we have a few days for Christmas in Homer then fly to the island for New Year’s?”
“The island might be a good idea this year. That will give me time to add to the Homer property so we can have the house to ourselves.” He pulled her to his lap. “The island will enable us to have more time alone, though the guards will patrol.”
She cringed; they had sex on the beach and in the water. Places where a patrol could see. He understood right away. “Lover, I know it’s hard now, but I promise you, the guards will be discreet and quiet. We’ll still make love on the beach. I’ll ensure they check the area before we come out, and they can be close to help if needed, but far enough away for us to enjoy each other.”
“If I ever find out they speak about us, I’ll fry them.”
He smiled at her fierceness. “They won’t but I’ll ensure they know.”
“Thank you.” She stood. “Let’s pack. I want to get out of here. I mean, it’s better in this state with Pam running things, but I’m ready for the last week of our holiday.”
“Oh lover, enjoying the last week starts the minute we get on the plane you know.”
He pulled some papers out and handed them over. “Take a look at the floor plan.”
Her eyes grew wide and then filled with lust at seeing the bedroom on the plane. “Definitely. Pack faster cuddles.”
They landed in Homer and Sookie was again shocked by the cold. Barry laughed at her while she waited for Eric to return with her fur coat before she would step out of the airport. “You’ve turned into such a spoiled brat you know. It’s Eric’s fault.”
“What’s my fault?” He’d returned with her coat in time to hear Barry. “You’ve spoiled her.”
“I try. I’m happy to hear that it’s working.”
Sookie gave Barry a glare (while Eric buttoned her coat and pulled up her hood for her). “I am not spoiled. Eric can take back all the jewels and gifts, and I’d be happy.”
Already chuckling and shaking his head, Barry countered. “You’re not spoiled by his gifts. You’re spoiled by his attention.”
She smiled. “That I won’t deny. I tell you though; I think your comments are simply jealousy. I mean, I didn’t see Thalia running out to get you something to keep you warm.”
Since both couples were comfortable with each other and public displays of affection, Thalia leaned in to her bonded. “It’s Barry’s job to keep me warm Sookie. He spoils me.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah . . .” She waved towards the door. “Let’s get home.”
They’d flown in on the 23rd, giving Sookie enough time to wrap her gifts for Christmas; luckily she had all the gifts at the house (thank you internet shopping for the ones she hadn’t purchased before the unplanned trip to New Orleans). They were barely settled in the house when she announced, I’m off to wrap. Don’t come to the bedroom Eric.”
“What do you mean, don’t come to the bedroom? It’s only 3:00 AM.” She had to stifle her laugh since what came out of his mouth was practically a whine.
“Good Lord Eric! The hours we spent locked in our bedroom on the plane aren’t enough to hold you over?” Her tone was firm but she smiled as she was chastising him. “We have plenty of time for play time after I’m done.” She gave him a kiss and said, “I need to get this done since we’re exchanging with Barry and Thalia tomorrow night.”
“Exactly, you have plenty of time.”
“I have cookies to bake and a big turkey dinner to make too. Barry, the Were guards and I need to eat, remember.” She huffed at him. “You know, I could’ve wrapped two gifts already.”
“A compromise?” He really wasn’t giving in. She nodded for him to make his proposal. “Can I wrap with you?”
‘Awww, he just wants to be with me.’ Her heart melted since he used his little boy face on her. “I’ll wrap your stuff first then call you to help with the rest.”
“Thank you lover.”
Sookie had only a few items to wrap for Eric so it didn’t take long for her to call him, after she’d hidden his items in the back of her closet. One package was pretty obvious by the size and she didn’t want him to see it until Christmas morning.
Eric enjoyed wrapping the gifts for their friends and new guards with Sookie. He’d been purchasing gifts for Pam since he’d turned her, but they were always professionally wrapped. With Sookie, as with everything else, a regular task became fun. As she’d said in New Orleans, Sookie did purchase Thalia a 1950’s housewife outfit, complete with apron, yellow kitchen gloves and pearls. She did treat Thalia to lingerie from La Perla to go with it. The more she thought about it, the more she realized that perhaps the treat was really for Barry; especially since Sookie had picked a blue bra and garter set (the garters did go with the 1950’s theme and blue was Barry’s favorite color).
For Barry and the Weres, Eric knew Sookie had ordered some tee-shirts, since that was a constant theme around them anymore. The shirts had arrived while they were away, so they both enjoyed laughing at herr picks while they wrapped.
The shirt for Barry was Eric’s favorite, mostly because Thalia would scowl when she saw it. Eric and Sookie had made a bet whether he would wear it within the first week after opening it – when Thalia was around to see it. Sookie was sure he would and would win the bet; she believed Barry would wear it while Eric guessed Barry would be too frightened of his bonded. The loser had to wear a tee shirt selected by the winner – no arguing.
Once everything was wrapped, they moved to her favorite room in Homer with the large swing bed, turned on the Christmas carols and sat enjoying each other and the view.
After many long moments of silence Sookie sighed and spoke. “You know, I don’t think this view will ever get old. Seeing the lights on the spit, the moon high – especially tonight, and the mountains covered in snow. It’s heaven.”
Eric leaned over to look in her face. “I love that you appreciate the wonder of the world. I can’t wait to travel with you. It will be like seeing everything for the first time again.”
“Now we have to wait for our first vacation though. We start work in a few short days.”
“Are you excited?”
She nodded. “And nervous. The council is paying me quite a bit of money.”
“You’re worth every penny.” He saw a frown forming and he added to his comment. “Don’t think I mean that to be about your talent or how I feel about you. For the Council and for all supernatural, you’re compassion for all creatures, your desire to resolve conflicts peacefully, and your determination to prevent problems in the first place between species makes you invaluable. Your mind-reading is but a tool to assist you and Barry.”
“They wouldn’t have hired me without the telepathy.”
“I’m not going to argue that. They wouldn’t have hired you at all if you weren’t with me. They wouldn’t have hired me without my connection to Roman. All these factors come into play – not one thing. Who cares what got you noticed?”
“True enough.” She giggled and he raised an eyebrow to her in question. “Like I bet the first thing you noticed was my boobs. I mean, even after all this time you frequently can’t keep your eyes off them. I know, though, that you didn’t stay with me for my boobs.”
“Lover really, you can’t call them boobs; they are works of art. I personally refer to them as gorgeous globes of flesh made to fit my hands perfectly; each decorated with their own soft pink weather and lust detector.”
She rolled her eyes. “Seriously, weather and lust detectors?”
“Yes, I mean I guess I could call them start buttons too – since all I need to do is . . .” He slid his hands up her shirt and tweaked the anatomy being discussed. He felt and smelled her lustful reaction immediately. “See, you’re all started up. I think I will call them start buttons.”
Thalia’s outfit and link to the La Perla from Sookie
A/N: I think I should be on target for posting next weekend since I have the next chapter half written already. Thanks for waiting the extra week for this one.