Author’s Note: Not everyone has a traditional wedding. In the case of Sookie, I’m sure she had something in mind that is not exactly how events will play out. But then again, when has her life ever been boring? I hope you enjoy the countdown to Sookie’s country wedding.
My thanks to Breathesgirl and Ms Buffy, my beta readers extraordinaire!
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Sookie felt the bed lift when Tara left . Sookie heard the sounds of children being herded to the door, and then the house became quiet. She and Eric had sat out front until past two last night. “This is a foolish notion, not resting with you,” Eric had whispered against her forehead. Sookie agreed. Days were the same as always, things to do and people to see, but she found she missed her routine of climbing back in bed every afternoon so that she could be the first thing he saw when he rose. She missed the way his smile lifted in that lazy, sleepy way, and then the way he stretched, wrapping himself around her. She missed falling asleep in his arms, his body spooned against her, his nose buried in her neck where her scent was strongest.
A shaft of light came through the window. The sun must have just cleared the tree outside, and sure enough, within a few minutes, the sun was full in her face, defeating her intention of going back to sleep. Sookie walked to the window and looked out at the day. The dogwoods were almost done blooming and the redbud trees were past blooming as well. Sookie had missed the azaleas altogether this year, the first time she could remember.
“Spring got away from me,” she thought as she looked at the rose bushes full of buds. Her cell phone buzzed and she saw Michele’s name.
“I’m going to be there in fifteen minutes,” her sister-in-law announced. “There are delivery trucks headed for your house with furniture. Jason got a call asking someone to meet them out there to open the door. Figure that might as well be us, so get dressed!”
“How do you know I’m not dressed?” Sookie sassed.
“Oh please!” and Michele disconnected.
Sookie took a quick shower and pulled clothes out of her suitcase. She straightened up the kitchen, moving dishes from the sink to the dishwasher, and wiping down counters until Michele appeared at the door. Owen walked out from the back of the house, and the three of them in two cars took the drive across town to Hummingbird Lane.
When they pulled up, the vans were already there. They were those large trucks with roll-up gates and ramps that led down. Owen got out of his vehicle, making a sign that Sookie and Michele should wait in their car. He walked over and spoke with the one who appeared to be in charge. He checked the clipboard the man showed him and called someone. He must have been satisfied because after a minute or two, he hung up and nodded toward Michele and Sookie.
“Guess you get used to that,” Michele said softly as she got out of the car. ‘I don’t,’ Sookie thought, following her.
Owen stayed outside. He was texting, and Sookie suspected he was letting Charles know where he was and what was going on. There were five men, and four of them were Weres. As two of them walked past her carrying a large couch, Sookie found herself staring. “Do I know you?” she asked.
“Ma’am,” one acknowledged, “I’m Curt. This,” and he jerked his chin toward the other familiar Were, ‘is Ralph. We work for the Prince.” They walked up the stairs and into the house.
It took several hours to get everything settled. Thankfully they had a copy of the invoice and things were listed in the order in which Tara had read them. Using that as a guide, Michele and Sookie remembered which pieces went in what room. When the rugs were carried in, Sookie and Michele directed two of the workers in unrolling and then positioning furniture. They were debating whether to move a couch when there was a loud sound from the front hall accompanied by a grunt. Sookie walked out to see a massive box spring coming through the door. “Where does this go?” the front man asked, eyeing the stairs.
“All the way to the top,” Sookie answered. She could hear the mental groans they were making. One was thinking they might be better off using ropes to raise it to the top floor. Another was thinking about the mattress that would follow, and how that would be even heavier and bulkier to maneuver up the stairs. Sookie turned to Michele, “Did we order a mattress?”
“No,” Michele was shaking her head, “You were waiting for Eric to choose a bed.”
“That’s what I thought, too,” and Sookie watched the straining men maneuver one turning of the stairs before deciding she just couldn’t watch. She returned to the two grinning furniture workers, and she and Michele had them move the couch another two times before deciding to move it back into its original position.
They had just finished when the head man appeared at the doorway and said, “We’re done for now,” and held out the clipboard for a signature.
When they drove away, Owen stepped in from outside. “Want the tour?” Sookie asked. Slowly, they walked through the rooms on the first floor. Michele drafted Owen to help her rearrange the large family room, and then they showed the Were the internal staircase.
“This is smart,” he said, “but dumb at the same time. There are too many turns and you wouldn’t know if someone was waiting below.”
“I would,” Sookie reminded him. “I’d know right away,” and she pointed to her head. “Jason told me there’s a panic room hidden here somewhere, too. Dermot is supposed to show me after Nebraska.”
“That is smart,” Owen nodded. They walked up to the second floor and Owen’s eyebrows rose as he looked at the empty bedrooms. “Run out of steam, or did you decide you’d let your guards sleep on the floor?”
Sookie blushed, and it occurred to her that she hadn’t considered that she having guards living with her in Bon Temps. The thought that being guarded was permanent was not pleasant. “Ran out of steam,” she heard herself say.
Together, they walked up the stairs to the master suite. The mattress and box spring were set on the floor in the area that had been designed for a bed. The rest of the space was still empty. Owen whistled, “If my wife saw this I don’t think she’d ever leave!” He turned to Sookie, “It’s a beautiful space. Fitting for you and the King.”
“Thanks,” Sookie smiled, but the thought that she would live here, maybe try to raise a family here, and still be in the kind of constant danger that required guarding dampened any joy she was feeling.
Before she could get too unhappy, Michele looked at her watch, “Come on! You need to get showered and dressed for your bridal party!”
The delay caused by the Clown Car prank had caused the bride’s party and shower to be combined into a single night.
They were heading into Shreveport for the party at Byronz. Twy planned it so that human and Were guests arrived in late afternoon. Everyone would eat first, and then the vampire guests would join them for favor-making and the ribbon cake. At the conclusion of the bride’s party, most would drive to Bon Temps to continue the evening at Jason and Michele’s. The men would join them after an evening doing some men’s activity, and there would be some music and light food, before everyone headed home to get ready for Hens and Stags tomorrow.
Michele noticed Sookie watching Owen in the rear-view mirror, “You okay?” she asked.
“I guess,” Sookie made sure she was smiling as she looked at her sister-in-law, and then felt ashamed that she was hiding her feelings from her family. “Maybe not,” she shrugged. “I guess I figured that when I was here in Bon Temps, my life would go back to what it was, where I didn’t have to look over my shoulder all the time. It could just be me. Fact is, I was thinking we could live here, like folks, without guards.”
Michele gave her a look that said, ‘Are you crazy?’ but what she said was, “I don’t ever remember you having a quiet life, except maybe when you were married to Sam, and even then you weren’t safe. Hell, girl, from the time I met you, you were running from someone, or chasing someone, or getting into a fight. From where I’m sitting, your life looks pretty tame compared to what it was.”
“You’re right,” Sookie nodded. “My life is quieter. Eric and I are together. He’s King. I’m his Queen, I guess.” Sookie took a deep breath, “We have pretty much everything we wanted. We’re married in a way that everyone accepts. People wave when we go by. Our pictures are in the paper and folks talk about us being the future. So, why do I have to live with armed guards following me?” Sookie glanced in the mirror again, “Don’t get me wrong. I like these guys. They’re good men, friends, but friends with a difference.”
Michele shook her head, “I guess I don’t get it. You’re famous now. You have fans and if people want to talk with you, they have to talk to your people first. Figured protection just went with that.”
“It’s not a prize,” Sookie explained, “It’s a kind of prison.” When Michele rolled her eyes, Sookie leaned forward. It was hard to explain what living this way was like, but she had to try. “Imagine if you couldn’t just walk out your front door without taking someone with you every time. Like, you have to wait to go until someone else is ready.”
“I don’t have to imagine,” Michele huffed, “I have children. It’s like that 24/7 in my house!”
“Okay, how about if every time you and Jason had sex, you knew someone else could hear you. You knew that even in your most private moments, there was someone listening just on the other side of the door.”
Michele bit her lip and Sookie thought her sister-in-law did understand, but then Michele giggled and said, “Kids! Guess what? That’s kids, too!” Michele could see it wasn’t the answer Sookie wanted to hear, but she just shrugged and laughed, “You might as well get used to it. Once you have children, you will never have privacy again!”
They pulled up to Tara’s house and Sookie got out. Michele leaned over, “Sweetie! You really have the most wonderful life right now. Damn, most folks around here would give a pretty penny to live the way you are. Servants, guards, money? You really have it all. Sure, it’s not the way you grew up, the way most folks live. That’s something you should be thankful for, really!”
Sookie looked at Michele’s older car. She glanced at the DuRone house and noticed how it could use paint. She thought about the new house she had just been in, and all the new furniture, furniture her brother and sister-in-law couldn’t afford. Her life was filled with beautiful things now, things that she could never have afforded any other way. “You’re right!” she said graciously to Michele, “I was being silly.” She could ‘hear’ that she’d given the right answer, the one Michele wanted to hear. Her sister-in-law wanted to be happy for her, she wanted to believe that Sookie lived a charmed life, a magical life. It made her happy. As she watched the car pull away, Sookie thought of a conversation she’d had with Eric once. He’d told her he had no interest in being King. He told her that what came with the title cost too much. Owen stepped out of his car. He nodded as he waited for her to enter the house first, and Sookie did what was expected.
It was raining outside, so the bridal party moved inside, a long table running the length of one of the rooms. Sookie couldn’t believe how many familiar faces were here. Tara sat on one side of her and Michele sat on the other. There was an empty chair beside Michele, reserved for Pam. Sookie wasn’t surprised to see Holly Fortenberry. Holly was telling anyone and everyone about her plans to reopen Merlotte’s which they were renaming Maxine’s in honor of Hoyt’s mother.
Maxine Fortenberry herself was sitting next to her daughter-in-law, and regaling Halleigh Bellefleur with stories about Adele Stackhouse and their field trips with the Descendants of the Glorious Dead. Portia Vick was also at the table. Sookie was surprised to see her, but since her husband Glen’s accounting practice had a number of vampire clients, it seemed she’d become more accepting of supernaturals. Sookie recognized Tanya Norris, Calvin’s wife, almost right away. She hadn’t recognized Dawn Norris, Crystal’s younger sister. Jimmie Bellefleur, Terry’s wife, was talking about the latest litter of hounds, and Dawn was asking when the pups would be ready, and if there was a runt Jimmie might part with for less. Dawn had four children and she was thinking a pup might be nice for them.
Sookie realized there was no one here from the Long Tooth Pack, but when she thought about it, she wasn’t surprised. Her conversation with Mustapha was enough to let her know she would need to work on that relationship if she wanted to maintain her Friend of the Pack status. Sookie realized most of the female members she had known either turned out to be enemies, or had passed away. The only female Were who was part of the Pack that she would recognize was Kandace Herveaux, Alcide’s wife, and she hadn’t been invited.
There were plenty of open chairs, and Sookie knew they were being held for the vampires who would join them once the sun set.
The restaurant trotted out their best. Cocktails were served early, and as drinks moved to wine, the conversation became more animated and louder. Brock was serving as Master of Ceremonies. When the main courses had been cleared, he brought out the favor-making supplies. Tara stood up and walked everyone through what they were making. All in all, they would need over one hundred and fifty sets of the little ivory fans and matching sachets.
Fueled by Singapore Slings, Maxine Fortenberry was doing some version of a fan dance when Brock invited the local newspaper to come in and take some photographs. Sookie could ‘hear’ Tanya and Dawn were uncomfortable about it, but the rest of her guests seemed to think it was just wonderful.
As the photographer had them get up and crowd around, Pam, Indira, and the rest of the vampires arrived. Dr. Amy Ludwig was with them, and right away the Norris women made room for her. Twy was also with them and she immediately stepped back into her publicist persona. She sidled up to the reporter, directed the camera and lighting, criticized Brock, and manhandled the guests, all in the space of ten minutes. “It’s like watching a hurricane,” Tara shook with laughter, “There’s just no stopping the path of destruction she lays down every time she opens her mouth!”
The newspaper people left, introductions were made, and her guests settled back down to making favors. There was a fair amount of joking, and then Pam divided them into teams and promised a spa visit to the team that finished their half first. Sookie watched in horror as hands started flying, threatening to spill drinks. There was a snarl down the table and she realized Thalia was refusing to help. She was on the same team with Amy Ludwig, as the Brownie wasn’t taking Thalia’s laissez faire attitude well.
Sookie couldn’t imagine who thought bringing Thalia was a good idea, but she suspected Pam had a hand in it. Her vampire sister was watching the interplay between Thalia and the doctor with barely-disguised glee. At one point she turned to Sookie, her hands never pausing in their work, “This is everything I ever imagined it would be!”
“I’m real happy you’re having a good time,” Sookie replied before saying, “Tell you what, Amy. Why don’t I join your team? That way you’re not a person short.” Amy cut a sharp look at Thalia who glared back at her.
“It’s like Jerry Springer, isn’t it?” Pam gushed beside her.
“I don’t need any fist fights at my bride’s party,” Sookie whispered, knowing full well that most of the guests heard her just fine.
Pam sighed, “Well, if you’re happy with just plain vanilla…”
“Vanilla suits me!” Sookie focused on the sachets in her hand, fumbling as she scooped in herbs and then ran the needle with thread around the opening until she had enough thread to pull it tight and tie it into a bow. The piles of favors grew. There was sweat beading on Portia’s brow, and then Tara threw a napkin at Michele to distract her. Heidi, the tracker saw it and immediately picked up a spool of ribbon, pitching it perfectly to land in the middle of the sachet Indira was holding, spraying scented herbs across the table.
“Uh oh,” Halleigh’s voice carried, and Holly giggled as a fan flew through the air, hitting Pam square in the forehead. It was all the opening Amy Ludwig needed. She picked up a bag of herbs and threw it at Thalia, then moved her hand so that the bag exploded, covering the small vampire in smoking lemongrass. Thalia lurched forward, and Indira inserted herself between them just in time.
“What are you doing?” Twy screeched. “You are all supposed to be friends supporting Sookie.”
‘Shameful!” Brock sniffed, and then shrank back as Thalia bared her fangs at him.
Beside her, Pam’s face was alight with excitement, “Oh, this is turning out better and better!” Portia’s mouth was an ‘o’ of surprise, and Sookie could tell the excitement was causing Tanya to start transforming. Holly and Halleigh were edging away from the table and Maxine Fortenberry, who probably shouldn’t have had that last Singapore Sling, was laughing hysterically, a fan balanced on her head.
That was when Michele stood up, took her shoe in her hand, and banged it loudly on the table. The crack of the heel against the wood sounded like a shot, and all faces turned to her. Her lip was pulled in and she was wearing her ‘momma’ face. “Now, y’all just stop right now!” she ordered, her voice snapping like a whip. “This is supposed to be fun, God damn it, and if you keep on the way you’re going there won’t be any favors or friendships left. Now Sookie here needs all your help and if you don’t want to do your part,” and she fixed Thalia with a withering glare, “then maybe you just need to excuse yourself. You were invited because you’re Sookie’s friend. Now, let’s do what friends do!” and she turned to Brock. “Get this mess cleaned up and make sure everyone has supplies!”
She turned back toward the table, “Any questions?” Her tone was so challenging that even Thalia picked up a sachet and needle, awkwardly trying to sew cloth together.
With order restored, things moved along and soon the supplies were exhausted. Brock and Tara moved along the table, picking up completed favors and putting them in boxes. Tara stood up and handed out envelopes with a gift certificate for a facial at a local spa to everyone, “as a gift for helping,” she said.
No sooner had the table been cleared, then another smaller table was wheeled in, holding the ribbon cake. The cake had two tiers and flowing out of the center were red ribbons. There were pre-printed cards on the table that explained the meaning of the charms baked into the cake.
Twy gestured toward Sookie, and Brock was behind her in an instant, pulling her chair out. Sookie walked up to the cake and everyone crowded around her. “Choose your future!” Pam’s eyes kept darting from the cake to Sookie and back. When Sookie reached for a ribbon, Pam leaned forward and said, “No, pick that one!” and pointed to the other side.
“Don’t influence her!” Maxine Fortenberry scolded, “You’ll ruin the magic!” Many sets of supernatural eyes fastened on the older woman, and some human eyes too, but Maxine beamed up at Sookie, “You choose the one your heart tells you. Pick it and pull.”
Sookie glanced at all the smiling faces. She could read the happiness around her. Even the vampires, looked happy. Sookie took a quick breath and allowed her fingers to close over a ribbon, sight unseen. She pulled and tugged to get the cake to give up its secret. When the ribbon pulled free, Twy said, “Okay, now hide it until everyone else gets theirs!”
Tara, Michele, and Pam, as members of the bridal party, went next. The rest of the guests lined up and finally, there were only a few ribbons left. Pam turned to Twy, “Go ahead, Sweetie. You should pull one, too!”
Brock was taking photographs, but Sookie could ‘hear’ his wishing to be included. “Go ahead,” she told him. “Might as well have a pull with the rest of the girls.” Brock almost squealed, he was so pleased, and he reached across and pulled the charm with a quick snap of the ribbon and a small shower of cake.
Portia had a coin which meant riches would be hers. Holly Fortenberry got a sun, meaning her future was bright. Tanya Norris got the angel and Maxine Fortenberry got the red bean. Amy Ludwig had a button hanging on the end of her ribbon. “It means I’ll never marry. Well,” and she smiled broadly, “I could have told you that!”
Pam had an airplane, (A life of adventure) and Tara had the horseshoe (good luck is coming). “I sure hope this is true!” Brock waved his anchor, “I could use a true and steady love!”
“Well, Sookie, what did our bride get?” Twy asked loudly, and all eyes turned to her. Sookie sighed. At the end of her ribbon dangled a baby bottle.
“What else?” the telepath shrugged.
As soon as the pulling was done, Brock and Michele headed out to their car to race the crowd. It didn’t take long before the rest of the guests made their way out to the parking lot. “Follow me,” Tara called, promising she would drive slowly, showing the way to the Stackhouse’s, and Sookie and Thalia climbed in.
Sookie glanced in the rearview mirror and from what she could see, it looked like pretty much everyone was coming. Sookie glanced in the backseat and saw the sliver of the ribbon in Thalia’s hand. “Which one did you get?” she asked.
Thalia held up a star. Sookie looked at the card she took with her. “It means you will always find your way,” Sookie told her.
“It’s a foolish game,” Thalia started to look away.
“Want to trade?” and Sookie held up her own.
“No!” Thalia said it so quickly that Tara started laughing, and Sookie was pretty sure she saw a ghost of a smile cross Thalia’s face too.
Sookie turned more fully in her seat, “I was kind of surprised you came. I mean, it just doesn’t seem like your kind of party.”
“Pam insisted it would be broadening for me,” Thalia said, completely serious.
“Oh!” Sookie wasn’t sure how to respond, so she stuttered, “Well, was it?”
Thalia was giving her what could only be described as stink-eye. Tara glanced in the rear-view and said, “Well, if you liked the bride’s party, you’re going to love the shower!”
Tara pulled into the long driveway and almost immediately turned the wheel to pull straight up onto the grass. As she threw the car in park she glanced in the rear-view mirror at Thalia, “Redneck parking lot!” she explained and then opened her car door. The others were doing the same, except Pam, who pulled her van all the way up to the house.
Michele was on the porch and Sookie wondered how they would fit everyone in the small house, but that was answered when they walked straight through to the backyard where large tents were set up.
There were several round tables set up under the largest of the tents and there was a woman who was setting up displays. Michele and Tara steered everyone to another tent where there were hi-tops, and two bars. There was a regular bar with bottles behind it and a separate bar where a vampire was standing. “Oh, you got it!” Sookie had never seen Pam excited. She hugged Twy and ran over to the vampire bar. She was given a drink Sookie assumed was blood in a darkened martini glass. As she took her first sip, her face transformed. “Bubbles!” she sounded as if she had won a jackpot.
“I sure wish your Gran was here to see this!” Maxine Fortenberry looped her arm around Sookie’s waist and gave her a little squeeze. Sookie hadn’t spent much time with this woman after she married Sam. Even before, the telepath seemed to have too much going on to visit with her Gran’s oldest friend. In the days after her Gran’s death, Maxine had done her best to be kind to Sookie. Until she married Sam, it was Mrs. Fortenberry who had made sure she received invitations to the two big shindigs for the Descendants of the Glorious Dead, the Christmas Ball and the Fourth of July picnic, every year. Of course, after she married Sam, she didn’t see Maxine anymore, just like she didn’t see any of her friends. It didn’t occur to her until she was finally free of him how lonely Sam Merlotte made her life.
Sookie wrapped her arm around Maxine’s waist in return, “Me, too,” she nodded. Sookie looked around at all the different people who surrounded her, some drinking blood, some drinking other things. “What do you think Gran would have made of this?” she asked.
Maxine chuckled, “Oh, Adele would have been in her glory! First, she would have been so happy to see you finally find your happiness. She worried about you. She wanted to know you would be okay.”
“So, you think she would have been happy with my version of happily ever after?” and they both turned to see Dr. Ludwig teetering by on her heels holding an impossibly large margarita glass frosted with sugar.
“Well,” Maxine was shaking her head, “Your Gran was one in a million. She always said we should embrace what was different. She believed that God’s grace was in those differences.”
The telepath’s laughter flowed, “You reminded me of how she used to say ‘thank goodness folks are different. If they were all the same, think how bored you’d be!’” Sookie promised herself she would visit her Gran before they left Bon Temps this time.
“She was a rare one for making everyone feel at home,” Maxine agreed. “Now, I’m going to go see what that young man has behind that bar. I hope he has ginger ale because I think I’ve had enough alcohol for the whole year. Of course, if he was to splash a little of that fruity rum in it…” and Maxine gave Sookie a mischievous grin. Sookie could see Holly try to intercept her mother-in-law who waved her off.
“It seems like a million years ago you were at my wedding,” Halleigh Bellefleur said beside her. Portia was standing there too, and Sookie remembered how jealous she was of their family when Bill spent his money on them while she struggled. It made Sookie feel a little guilty.
“I loved that dress,” Sookie nodded. “It was the prettiest bridesmaid dress! We all looked good.” Sookie didn’t add it was the only bridesmaid dress she’d ever worn. “Tara, Michele, and Pam are standing with me. Pam told me they’ll all be in black. Said it was the only color for a night wedding, and who am I to argue with her?” They all glanced at the petite blond who was sipping her fancy blood, a look of pure joy on her face.
“I am very happy for you,” Halleigh brushed her arm. “I know Bill held out hope, but I can see how happy you are, and that’s what counts.”
“Bill?” Sookie couldn’t imagine what Halleigh was talking about.
“Oh, he’d come by pretty regularly before he left,” Portia nodded. “Made a point of getting to know our kids and he liked to tell us stories about how things were when he was… you know…”
“Alive,” Sookie shook her head. She knew there was a part of Bill that had never accepted his vampire life, a part that resented what he had lost. One would have thought that finding this connection to his descendants would have changed that. He could see that everyone turned out fine, but Sookie could see that wasn’t the case. “It was a kindness, you naming your daughter after his wife.” Halleigh and Andy Bellefleur had chosen Caroline as the name for their first.
“He was tickled. She’s in first grade now, over at Betty Ford Elementary School. You moving back here?” Sookie could see by the way Portia’s eyes narrowed that this was the real reason she was standing with her sister-in-law. Sookie assumed Portia was hoping that wasn’t the case. The telepath and Andy’s sister had never been close, but when she dipped into the woman’s head she found it was the opposite. Portia wasn’t hoping for any kind of friendship exactly, but she was hoping that Sookie and Eric would consider hiring both herself and her husband. Portia was thinking about an article she read showcasing Northman Enterprises’ investment in energy and reclamation. It was an area of law she was developing as her specialization, and Glen hoped they would be interested in using an accountant whose practice already included vampires.
The revelation made Sookie blink. It was so different, now. It was everything she had dreamed about. She was standing in her brother’s backyard surrounded by people she had known most of her life, and they were happy she was getting married to a vampire. Specifically, they were happy she was getting married to Eric Northman.
Sookie glanced at her ring. She knew that people here heard she’d been pledged. It made the papers, but Sookie also knew they didn’t count it. For the humans here, it was like saying she was going steady, not even engaged. They didn’t understand and for Sookie, they didn’t have to. In just a couple of days she’d be standing down near the pond and the Reverend Collins would say the words and both sides of her life, her human side and her supernatural side would be on the same page.
Sookie looked out across the pond. The trees were still coming into full foliage and splashes of color from irises bloomed around the edges. A million years ago many of these same people had sat in the Baptist Church, watching her marry Sam Merlotte. They came to Merlotte’s and smiled and congratulated her. Sookie didn’t have to take a mental poll to feel the difference. It was in the degrees. People then had been happy for her. People today were more than happy, they were satisfied. It was as if Sookie and Eric’s coming together gave those around her trust that all things would turn out in the end, that there was always hope. It was a thought that made Sookie’s heart soar in her chest.
“You are positively beaming, just like brides should!” Pam snaked her arm around Sookie’s waist. “Your heart is beating faster and your cheeks are flushing. It is most attractive!” but how Pam said it was a touch too clinical.
“You sure are having a good time with this,” and Sookie looked around to let Pam know she meant the whole wedding party thing.
“Well, it’s not like I’ll ever have a chance to have one of my own,” Pam shrugged. “You really are my only chance.”
Sookie thought about that, “Why? I mean, if you found a gal you liked enough, why couldn’t you have a wedding?”
“With a bride’s party and a fluffy white dress?” and Pam rolled her eyes and shook her head. “I’m vampire, Sookie! You think anyone is going to let me have a frou-frou human wedding with all the trimmings? I’ll be in a lovely designer cloak spilling blood. That’s how we do it.”
Something occurred to Sookie, “Is Eric getting criticized for marrying me in a human ceremony?”
“I don’t think anyone noticed,” Pam shrugged, “They’re too busy criticizing him for pledging to Fae royalty.”
“Oh…” Sookie breathed out, but before she could ask another question, Michele called for everyone to come over to the tent where the display tables were set up.
“Oh,goodie! A bridal shower!” Pam squealed, and she took Sookie’s hand and pulled her to a seat close to the front.
The woman who was standing was dressed conservatively. “Hello, everyone!” she greeted, “and especially, hello to you, Sookie! My name is Gloria and I understand you’re getting married in just a few days. Your friends told me they were scratching their heads about what to get the bride that has everything!”
“Literally, everything!” Tara laughed beside her.
“So, your friends have decided to get you a little fun for your honeymoon,” and with that, Gloria turned around and pulled the sheet from one of the display tables. It was covered with lingerie. “These are all already in your size and everything on this table is available.” She held up a sheer white teddy, “For example, your friends might think you should be demure,” and she set it down to pick up a G-string in black leather with a zipper in the front, “or they might think you need to be a little more demanding.” The women around her were giggling, and Sookie felt her face warming.
“And then, when you have his attention, you might be able to use some of these,” and Gloria whipped the sheet off the second table with a flourish. There was a rack holding soft leather whips. There were dildos and vibrators in various sizes and types standing in a row. “With Fifty Shades of Gray, we find our brides like to explore their wilder side,” and Gloria held up a pair of handcuffs and a blindfold. Maxine Fortenberry was shrieking, and Sookie turned to see that she and Dr. Ludwig were leaning into each other, laughing for all they were worth. Sookie couldn’t help herself. It was contagious and she was smiling too, until she lifted her eyes and caught Thalia’s cold stare. It was as if a bucket of water had been thrown her way and she sobered momentarily, but it was no good. She giggled and then she laughed. She snorted and begged as Gloria lifted first one device and then the next. Tears were running down her face and Tara had to get her Kleenex from the house.
Gloria had stories and jokes. They all played two truths and one lie. They played naughty or nice. Tanya Norris won the purse game and received a bottle of personal lubricant. “Wait until Calvin sees this,” she said with a playful growl.
Holly won the Bride Bingo game and received candles shaped like boobs, “Damn,” she giggled, “These are bigger than mine! I may have to burn them down a little!”
When Maxine asked out loud what the anal beads were for, Portia blurted out the answer. “Portia!” Halleigh was laughing so hard she was crying, “I knew there was something about you suit types!”
Although her face was bright red, Portia managed to choke out, “You didn’t think we wasted all that education on books, did you?”
Tara brought Sookie a cosmopolitan, “You having a good time?” she asked. The women were walking around the table. Some had started filling out order forms and were walking over to where Gloria had set up.
“The best!” Sookie smiled. She looked over as a fresh round of laughter started, and her cheeks blazed, watching Maxine lift up a truly huge phallus. “Course I’m never showing my face in this town again, not after you all send me off with all those contraptions.” They looked over to see Pam holding a pair of nipple clips connected with a chain against herself, apparently modeling. Sookie felt her face blazing, and took a quick sip of her drink, “Yeah, never returning!” she stuttered.
Tara nudged her, “Sure, like you don’t own half this stuff already! You are a walk on the wild side, Sookie Stackhouse!”
“Sookie Northman,” Sookie corrected automatically.
“You’re not denying it!” and Tara laughed again.
Things started to wind down, and Pam had a special suitcase where guests deposited their purchases. She spun it around so people could see ‘Sookie’s Sex Sack’ scrawled on the side. Michele stepped to the front and said, “Okay, ladies, I just got the ten-minute warning! The boys finished up and they’ll be here in just a couple. We got to get this all packed up. And remember, you can always purchase a thing or two for your own self!”
Everything was packed away and the suitcase was in Pam’s van before the men made it to the driveway. Gloria congratulated her and then embarrassed Sookie when she asked her for an autograph. She had a copy of the Bon Temps Bugle with a picture of Eric and Sookie dancing in the street. Sookie thanked her, but felt like a fraud, signing her name. She could ‘hear’ how the woman felt she’d just met a celebrity. It made Sookie wonder if this was how every new person would see her from now on.
Sookie didn’t need anyone to tell her when the men arrived. She was chatting with Holly about menu selections when she felt him. “Sookie?” Dawn asked beside her.
“Don’t mind her,” Tara laughed. “I’m thinking her someone arrived.” No sooner were the words said than he was there, his arms around her.
“I remember when it used to annoy me, being so happy just because you were near,” Sookie whispered into his chest. “I couldn’t understand if it was me.”
“I think you might have been feeling me,” he leaned down to kiss her head. “This is how I would rest, with you.” Dawn made a sighing sound, so Sookie disengaged herself and made introductions. Most of those here had met Eric at one point or another. He wasn’t a stranger when he was Sheriff of this Area. They might not have understood his role, but they knew he was someone who commanded their attention.
Sookie glanced over Eric’s shoulder to see Rubio Hermosa. It had been months since she saw Eric’s Sheriff. She stepped forward to greet him, but he stopped her by bowing low. “Majesty,” he said respectfully. Sookie found herself automatically bowing, just her head, in return, and then felt embarrassed, knowing her friends had seen and heard it. Somehow, being a Queen and having folks bow just didn’t seem right here in this place where she grew up as poor or poorer than anyone she knew.
To cover her discomfort, she turned back to Eric, “Where were you?” She noticed for the first time that her Viking’s clothes were a little stiff and that he seemed to have some darker color in his hair.
“Your brother and his friends thought we should bond,” Eric spoke as his hands smoothed her hair. His eyes traveled over her as if checking to make sure she was still all there. “There was a place in the woods that was set up as an obstacle course.” Eric’s eyebrows lifted as he glanced around. Sookie noticed that a couple of the men were limping or moving stiffly. She caught sight of Mustapha Khan and he bowed briefly. “There was mud,” Eric continued as if he were discussing the weather. “We were set up in teams. Some were physical challenges. Others required we work well together.”
“Who won?” Sookie asked, tugging at his waistband.
“I always win,” he growled.
“Must have stopped somewhere for showers,” Sookie observed.
“They were provided,” Eric nodded. Sookie reached up to touch the dark color she could see in several places under his hair. The Viking nodded, “A trick. Pam knew where we would be. I was walking across a narrow board. She arranged to have someone shoot balloons filled with ink.” He turned his head, “I got most of it out, yes?”
Sookie glanced over at Pam who smirked before turning away, “This has to stop, Eric! What’s next?”
“You are worried I’ll be hurt?” and the vampire smirked and leaned down to nip her neck, “It makes me want to rub myself on you and lick you all over when you worry about me,” he purred.
Sookie flustered, but she knew that had been the point, “I’m not worrying about you getting hurt! You’ll heal in about two seconds. I’m worried about our wedding turning into an episode of America’s Funniest Video. I laugh my ass off when I watch someone else’s wedding disaster, but I am telling you, Mr. Northman, I will not be laughing if I end up on TV because this is how you let off steam!”
“Perhaps you can think of another way for me to relax?” and Eric gave her that interested look that always left her panties damp.
“Break it up, you two!” Jason pushed Eric’s shoulder a little, then opened his arms, “Come on, Sookie! Give your brother a little sugar!” Sookie stepped into his arms and was almost immediately overwhelmed with the odor of his sweat.
“Cheese and rice, Jason! Eric told me you showered!”
“More like a high-powered fire hose, sis,” and Jason grabbed her head and forced it into his armpit. “Besides, I figure a woman likes her man to smell all manly,” and he released her, “Come on, Eric. Could use some help carrying beers to the grill,” and swaggered away. Eric nodded, and Rubio moved to follow her brother.
“I wish you to return with me tonight,” Eric growled at her once the others had moved from earshot. “I find I do not rest easily. I am… troubled,” and he rubbed her cheek with his thumb, his forehead resting against hers. He was breathing deeply, pulling her scent into himself.
“Niall said I had bonding sickness,” Sookie whispered.
She could feel Eric’s jaw flex, “He knows too much about some things,” her Viking replied, “But you seem… fine,” and he grinned. Sookie could see he was aware he was using the word they so often threw at each other.
“He held me and did that breathing thing. You know, the Fae thing.” Eric nodded. “But I want you, too. It’s like I’m trying to crawl out of my skin and just climb on in, you know?” and she knew he did. “But Indira’s? Do you even have your own sleeping chamber?”
“No,” Eric told her, “But no one will touch you. It would give me comfort to have you in my arms.”
Sookie knew there would be more involved than holding with the way she was feeling, and then she remembered the mattress at the new house. “There was a lot of furniture that showed up at our house here,” she told him, “including a bed. Not a frame or anything. Just a box spring and mattress sitting on the floor.”
“And it is light-tight,” Eric murmured.
“Yup,” Sookie confirmed, “and there’s a fireplace.”
“We could arrange for blankets,” and Pam was standing next to them. They had a quick conversation in the language they shared and Pam smirked. “Give her your key, Lover,” and Sookie did. Pam turned quickly, signaling Twy and Brock, and they headed back toward Jason’s house.
When Sookie and Eric walked toward the men clustered around the grill, Sookie recognized Calvin Norris. He had aged well, and he greeted the telepath with real affection. Sookie didn’t need to read anyone to realize she was standing in boy town, so she headed back up to the house. Most of the women were either clustered near the bar or had moved inside. Sookie realized the children had also returned. The older children were huddled in the front room around the television. There was some first person shooter game on and Sookie rolled her eyes as she heard them urging each other to add to the body count. Smaller children were playing tag, using adults as obstacles. Babies were balanced on hips, and in the corner of the kitchen stood Thalia. Heidi was holding Holly Fortenberry’s infant daughter on her hip, and Sookie heard her say her own son’s name.
Sookie walked over to the dark vampire who was, after a fashion, her friend. She could tell Thalia was in downtime, but she flicked her eyes to Sookie as soon as the telepath came close. “So, what do you think of female bonding?” Sookie asked her.
“It is unpleasant,” Thalia said briefly, “and loud.”
“I’ll agree with the loud part,” Sookie glanced around. She figured Holly would need to get Maxine home soon. Her Gran’s friend was older now, and this had been a long day for her. Tanya and Indira seemed to be getting on fine and Dawn was talking a mile a minute. Just then, Bit skidded to a stop right in front of her. She knew what he was going to ask, it was his mantra. Sookie held up a finger, asking he not interrupt her. She turned to Thalia, “Want to see something funny?” she asked. Thalia didn’t respond, but Sookie could see her interest. “The King is down by the grill. Why don’t you head out there?” Thalia looked at the small, squirming face, and then nodded and was gone.
“Oh!” Bit cried, “She is so fast!” He made a whooshing noise and shot his hand out, illustrating to himself how the vampire had sped from the house. After a moment Bit turned back to her and asked the question the telepath knew he would. “Is Uncle Eric here?”
“Well, yes, Bit! Yes, he is!” Sookie said, and she squatted down so she was closer to his height, “And he is just out there standing with your father. Why don’t you go find him?” and was rewarded by a two-handed hug, and then a quick shove as the small boy turned and got his running start to go find the Viking. She could hear him calling at the top of his lungs. She could almost see him running hell bent for leather down the hill so he could barrel into Eric’s legs full speed. Sookie walked to the door just in time to see her tall husband pick up the small human and then turn him over an arm to hang upside down. Bit was screaming in pleasure, his shirt hanging toward his face, his belly exposed. Her brother reached over to tickle his son and then Eric moved to set the child down. Bit must have said something because instead of setting him on his feet, Eric put the boy on his shoulders.
Sookie didn’t need binoculars to see the smile that passed over Thalia’s face.
It was sweet, this connecting. Pam left the suitcase on the floor in the master suite, the scrawled caption facing up. She had also moved the mattress and box spring closer to the fireplace. There was wood stacked and a poker. Candles sat on window ledges and on the floor. There was a plate of fruit, and bottles of water and blood. Eric built the fire while Sookie thanked her Grandfather for having turned the water on. She left the bathroom to find her husband standing in the fire’s glow, wearing a smile and nothing else.
Sookie glanced at the suitcase, “Did you look in there?” and she swallowed.
“I am a curious vampire. You know this about me!” and Eric smirked at her. “If these are the kinds of gifts your friends give you, I must say I think they know you very well. There are few items we have not played with yet,” and he looked toward the suitcase hopefully.
“Sure you don’t want to save them for our honeymoon?” Sookie ran her hand up the divide that ran between the planes of his chest, ending in the sprinkling of hair. He smelled more strongly tonight, the sharp scent of sea and sand was in her nose and in her mouth. She licked him, savoring the tang that was on his skin. Eric’s large hand cradled the back of her head, his thumb massaging her scalp as she lay her hands against his abdomen, keeping enough distance that she could move smoothly up and down, licking, then nipping. Her mouth pulled at the skin just under his ribs and he hissed, his erection bobbing against her. Sookie looked up, her mouth open, and then rose enough to cradle his cock between her breasts. She stopped and reached down to unbutton her dress, careful not to touch him other than to slowly rise and fall, allowing him to drag along her body.
Eric was shivering, but Sookie knew it had nothing to do with being cold. When her dress was unbuttoned enough, she dragged it from her shoulders, then stepped back so it could fall around her, revealing her push-up bra and matching G-string. Rather than unfasten her bra, Sookie lifted her breasts free of the cups and then stepped back toward Eric. She lowered herself again, and using her hands, pressed her breasts together, capturing him. “I want to fuck your breasts, Sookie,” Eric purred. “Lay down.” He had a way of commanding, but at the same time, letting her know how much he needed what he was demanding.
Eric walked over to the suitcase and flipped it open. He pulled out a bottle of something and looked over at Sookie on the bed, “Take off your bra, Lover.”
When she did, Eric lifted her hands over her head, “Leave them there,” he told her, and then he straddled her. He squeezed a clear lotion into his hand and first rubbed some across her breasts. He leaned over and blew his cold breath across her, and her nipples peaked. The lotion warmed and she felt the contrast sharply, her breath catching. Eric sat back then, taking his erect cock and stroking himself. Sookie could see the drop of pre cum glistening as he moved forward, then, taking a breast in each of his large hands, he pressed her breasts together, flicking her nipples with his thumbs. Slowly, he pressed himself forward between them. He stroked a few more times, watching her. “Open your mouth, Lover. Let me see you ready for me,” he purred. He pinched her nipples, and in just a few strokes he was asking, “Where would you like me?”
Sookie opened her mouth a little wider. Eric sat back and pulled her with him until he was sitting back on the bed, and she was kneeling over in front of him. She barely licked his head and he was cumming in strong, cool streams into her mouth. He stroked her hair, pushing it out of the way. “I am unmanned by you,” he sighed.
“I think you’re just out of practice,” she grinned up at him.
“Well,” he replied, his eyes laughing, “There is only one way to fix that!” and Sookie quite agreed.