Sookie shook her head and shifted, then buried her nose deeper in her pillow.
Tap, tap, tap.
And Sookie rolled over. There, in the window, where there shouldn’t be a face, there was, and it brought Sookie upright. “Eric?”
“Come out and fly with me!” he called through the window. The moon was bright and its light caught the vampire’s bright hair.
Sookie got out of bed. She tried to tiptoe, but stubbed her toe and swore under her breath. In spite of the glass between them, Eric heard and he chuckled. “Shut up!” Sookie hissed, staring at the wall that separated her from her Uncle and Aunt’s room. “What time is it?”
“Night time!” her mate crowed.
Sookie pushed up the window, “Really, Eric! If you wake everyone there’s going to be some explaining to do!”
“I’ll just glamour them,” Eric shrugged. “It’s beautiful tonight. Come on!” and he held out his arms.
“What? You expect me to just climb out the window?” It was a pretty big window, but Sookie still wasn’t sure how she’d shimmy her way out without losing any dignity. “Besides, you’re not supposed to be seeing me right now. Seeing me before the wedding is supposed to be bad luck.”
“It doesn’t count,” Eric told her. “We’re already married.”
“Pledged,” Sookie reminded him. “It’s different.”
“Not to me,” and Eric floated back a bit. “If you’re worried about showing your charms, meet me downstairs.”
“This is a stupid idea!” Sookie protested, but she grabbed the bathrobe her Aunt lent her and headed out the bedroom door anyway.
Eric was on the front porch, waiting for her. “Really, Eric. It’s two in the morning! What are you doing here?”
“Seeing you,” and he smiled. It was that warm smile, the one Sookie now knew she could believe. What she was feeling from him wasn’t diluted with anything else. It was what he truly felt, and she walked straight to him and kissed him. She could tell he was surprised, but his recovery was quick.
Eric’s arms snaked around her. He pulled her against him and he lifted her, just a little. His lips moved over hers, and then his head slanted, giving him better access. It felt glorious. They nipped and tasted, exploring until Sookie was heavy-eyed and breathless. When he pulled back, she could see the question forming, but she tugged on his shirt, “Well, what do you say, Sailor? Going to take this lady for a ride?”
He grinned, his joy reflecting her own. Sookie didn’t realize her feet had left the porch until she glanced down to see fields slipping beneath them. “Look,” he told her, and he turned so she was lying flat against him, staring up into the sky.
“It’s beautiful,” Sookie sighed.
“You are,” Eric answered.
“Älskade,” she whispered, and then lifted his hand to kiss his palm. He stilled beneath her and she could feel his disquiet. “Don’t worry,” she whispered. “Your secret is safe with me.”
After a moment, Eric said, “Perhaps we should make a habit of this marrying thing. There are many cultures, many religions. We could try them all out.”
“Why? Because you’re curious?” Sookie asked.
“No, my wife,” and he squeezed her against him, “Because it makes you so agreeable. You would look lovely in a red sari. I would come to you riding a white horse,” and Eric launched into a whole list of potential venues and traditions.
Sookie only listened with half an ear. It was as if she was floating on the ocean, gliding over the dark landscape, lying against him. She could see the dark shapes of trees, and sometimes the farmhouse that huddled beneath them. There was a breeze and the drying corn and heavy leaves rustled as they passed.
It seemed so right. Sookie slipped her masque, allowing her true face to see the stars. At first, Sookie thought Eric hadn’t noticed, but he slowed, and then brought them both upright, turning her. “You are so beautiful,” he whispered. He lowered his head, kissing her, and Sookie imagined them surrounded by fireflies. He lifted his head and she saw it was so, only they weren’t fireflies. Instead, they were surrounded by hundreds, thousands of blinking sparkles of soft light. “Why did you do that?” Eric asked.
“It’s how I feel when I’m with you,” Sookie told him honestly. “Like fireworks and wonderful things.”
Eric lowered them to the ground and he stepped back from her. “You make me feel things I shouldn’t,” and she felt his wariness.
“You don’t need to hide from me,” Sookie assured him, and then, to her embarrassment, she yawned. She tried to stifle it, but the effort only made it worse, transforming into a whole face yawn, and she knew she was blushing.
It had almost felt like a moment when confessions might happen, but now, Eric was laughing. “You are a creature of the day, my wife. Come, I’ll ferry you back.”
“You’re sure you don’t want to explore some more?” and Sookie laid her hand against his chest, fighting her exhaustion.
“I would have another wedding night,” and Eric laid his hand over hers. “I would have you claim me as you did for our pledging.”
“What?” and Sookie screwed her face up. “Surrounded by whips and chains?”
“Well,” Eric chuckled, “Maybe not the chains,” and he gathered her up, lifting them both into the air.
“Tonight won’t be nearly so exotic,” Sookie grinned. “We get a double bed in an old farmhouse, and you get to steal away before dawn. I know the springs squeak.”
“I hope they do,” Eric assured her. “It will keep what I’m doing to you clear in your mind. There’s a headboard this time. That has possibilities.”
“For a couple that’s about to launch into serial weddings, we kind of suck at picking venues,” Sookie laughed
Eric suddenly shifted to serious, “I think I owe you a honeymoon.”
“Why do you think that?” Sookie couldn’t help laughing, he looked so solemn.
“Pam told me,” Eric informed her. “Pam knows about these things. She told me every woman expects a honeymoon. Perhaps you would like to visit my home in Barbados.”
Sookie’s eyebrows lifted, “Barbados? You have a home there?”
“And Sweden,” he nodded, looking away from her, lost in thought.
“Eric?” and Sookie tugged at his shirt until he looked down at her. “Why would a vampire who can’t stand in the sun have a home on a Caribbean island?”
“I like the ocean,” Eric shrugged. “The sands are so white, they shine under the moon and the water’s filled with colors.” He threw his shoulders back, a move Sookie associated with his getting ready to say something provocative. “You would also shine under the moon.” Sookie almost said something, but Eric cut her off to say, “You would shine anywhere.” He wasn’t looking at her, but the way he said it made Sookie’s heart feel two times bigger.
Eric landed her on her Aunt and Uncle’s front porch. Somewhere, an owl hooted. “Until tomorrow,” and he bowed a little, lifting her hand to his lips and then, he launched himself into the night sky.
Sookie turned and caught her reflection in the front door glass. With a start, she pulled her human face back into place. “Living the fairy tale,” she told the Sookie she knew best.
Linda had tucked a rust-colored mum into Eric’s buttonhole, saying, “There! Now you look the proper groom.” Sookie didn’t know a lot about Swedish-American weddings, but they didn’t seem so different.
Jason was behaving, although he hadn’t earlier when he learned he wouldn’t be escorting Sookie down an aisle. “I figured that would be my job.” He seemed poised to blame Eric, but Lars came to the rescue.
“We don’t believe in women being property, so the idea of giving one away is wrong,” Lars explained. “We do believe in giving toasts and drinking, though, and as Sookie’s brother, you are expected to set the example.” Sookie was told there would be games and dancing as well, but, for now, all she could see was Eric.
Of course, this ceremony was different from their pledging. Instead of standing before a throne in a room crowded with vampires, they gathered in Linda’s front parlor. Sookie was wearing the antique wedding dress and Linda had placed a crown of mums and asters on her head. Eric was standing across from her, so handsome in his black suit. Instead of an assembly of people, there was only family around them; Linda, Lars, and Jason, as well as Carl Lundquist, the neighbor who was performing the ceremony.
All the relatives and guests were waiting outside, filling the barnyard, waiting for them to be announced. “The ceremony is a private thing,” Linda explained. “Afterwards, we celebrate.”
When Linda asked Sookie whether she would have a different, or maybe an additional wedding band for this ceremony, Sookie realized that although she might not say it, particularly when she was angry, she did consider herself married to Eric. The ring he gave her for her pledging was the only ring she could consider, so when Aunt Linda asked, Sookie just held up her hand.
When the time came, Eric removed it. “That is my place,” he insisted, preventing her from pulling off the ring herself. “I will be the only one to take this from you, Sookie, and I will be the only one to place it where it belongs.” He eased it past her knuckle, his large hands surprisingly gentle. Sookie watched as he held it in the palm of his hand, and then he picked it up, lifting it to his lips and he kissed it, as he had the knife that pledged them. Her pink gold band was now resting on Carl Lundquist’s open notebook, waiting to return to where it belonged.
Aunt Linda asked Sookie earlier in the day whether there would be a ring for Eric, “That could be the new ring for this wedding,” she’d said in her practical way.
Sookie shook her head, “No, I don’t think so.” There was something about Eric’s physicality that didn’t suggest a ring. Sookie wasn’t sure, but she didn’t feel it suited him.
“Too dangerous for a working man,” Lars agreed, holding up his own bare hand. “It can get caught on too many things.” Now, Sookie wondered if she should have asked Eric instead of making the decision, not that there would have been any time to get a ring if he’d said yes.
Eric was watching the Justice of the Peace and Sookie remembered how he’d reacted when she walked down the stairs. He stared at her and she thought she would be overwhelmed with his emotions. It made her breath catch. “The flowers,” he said quietly as he took her hand.
Sookie knew there was something else going on with him, and it was making it hard to focus on the familiar words Carl Lundquist was saying. Sookie could feel Eric’s unsettled state and with the way his emotions were bombarding her, she was starting to worry.
“Do you?” Carl asked again, and Sookie realized it was her cue.
“I do,” she answered. She lifted her chin and focused on sending Eric her certainty. She wanted him to feel how full her heart was and she watched his eyes widen, and then calm. It seemed improbable. She couldn’t imagine Eric feeling nervous about anything, particularly some human ceremony, but the way he returned to calm made her wonder.
“As a sworn Justice of the Peace for the great State of Minnesota, I pronounce you husband and wife,” Carl announced and slapped his notebook closed.
“Well,” Linda laughed, “Aren’t you going to kiss her?” Eric held out his hand, but Sookie was having none of it. She stepped forward, grabbed his lapels, and pulled him to her, kissing him as she had in the park that night in Ireland. When his arms didn’t immediately come around her, Sookie slanted her head, deepening her kiss, demanding his response and he did, until Jason cleared his throat and Lars laughed out loud.
“I guess you’re married, then!” Linda announced.
“Let’s get the paperwork finished,” and Carl gestured toward the table in the dining room. Everyone signed, and then Linda insisted that Sookie and Eric also sign their names in the family Bible, taking their places in the genealogy. Sookie noticed Jason had already added his name, the blank next to him ready for a wife’s name someday.
Lars poured them all small glasses of some clear liquid. “Skol!” he announced and they all drank. Sookie worried about Eric, but he appeared to have drained his glass as well.
“Let me get him!” Linda said and scurried toward the front door. Sookie assumed they would just walk through the back of the house and out into the yard where their guests were waiting, but now she saw there was another plan.
Everyone was shaking hands as Linda walked back into the dining room followed by one of Remy’s friends. He was holding a fiddle, “Ready?” he asked.
“Let’s go!” Lars answered, and the fiddler started to play.
“Brudmarch,” Eric said beside her.
“What?” Sookie asked.
“Bride’s March,” Eric repeated. He wasn’t looking at her and his rat’s nest of emotions were back.
“What’s wrong?” Sookie asked. Her Aunt shot them a worried look and Sookie pasted her best smile in place, “Can you give Eric and me a minute?”
“It’s nothing, Älskade,” Eric assured her and the bond snapped to placid. “I was being foolish.” He lifted her hand to his lips, “You are very beautiful. You remind me of another time and I am wondering that I should find such happiness twice in my life.” When Sookie still looked skeptical, he added, “I think now that my destiny meant me to find you.” Eric’s eyes were shining and Sookie’s heart melted.
“All right, then,” as she allowed him to turn her. At Eric’s signal, the fiddler walked forward, leading them out the front door, around the trees, and ending in the farmyard where they were greeted with cheers.
Tonight, there was a formal table where everyone had a chair. It was set in a great U shape on the floor of the barn. Lars signaled to Jason, who picked up a plastic cup filled with wine. “To my sister, Sookie and her new husband, Eric! May they have many years of happiness together!” He turned toward Sookie and Eric and raising his glass, said, “To Mr. and Mrs. Northman!”
“Kiss her! Kiss her!” The cheer was taken up and Sookie didn’t hesitate. She turned, grabbed, and kissed, much to everyone’s delight. There were hands to shake and conversation to be made. Eric seemed perfectly comfortable, laughing and switching from English to Swedish to other languages.
“Get your plates!” Linda called. Women Sookie had met over the past few days were manning the long buffet table set against one wall laden with food. There were trays of chicken and dishes made with ground beef. It wasn’t fancy, but everything had been made by someone here and it was all good.
Sookie found herself glancing at Eric as they sat. There was a plate of food in front of him. He did a credible job of appearing to eat, cutting items, and then laying down his fork and knife to answer another question or tell a funny story. More shots of the clear liquid they’d had inside showed up and Sookie found a line of them were placed in front of her plate. “Aquavit,” Eric said,
“What?” Sookie asked.
“Aquavit,” he repeated. “It’s tradition. There will be many toasts. They will expect us to drink, but it is very strong. You don’t need to take more than a sip, or just touch it to your lips. If you aren’t careful, you will be very drunk, and then very sick.”
At the end of the table, a man stood and started to sing. It was a song most of them knew and people around the table joined in. At the end, Lars saluted the man by yelling, “Skol!” People cheered and they all lifted their little glasses. Sookie and Eric did the same, and as soon as everyone sipped, a woman stood up and started singing.
“Holy crap!” Sookie whispered to Eric, “What proof is this?”
“It fueled the Vikings!” he laughed and, putting his arm around her, pulled her close, leaning back in his chair.
It was noticed and the cheer, “Kiss her! Kiss her!” was taken up again.
By the time dinner was finished, Sookie did feel more than a little light-headed. She stood up to help carry food back in the house, but Linda shooed her away. “Not on your wedding night!” she scolded. Sookie looked around to see Eric walking outside with Jason and as soon as she turned, she found herself looking at Uncle Lars.
“Ah ha!” he said. “Your bridegroom has abandoned you so soon?” and he leaned over and kissed her cheek. He stepped back and there was a line of male guests, each of whom stepped forward, teasing and then leaning over to kiss a cheek.
Everyone was laughing, and Sookie looked at her Aunt who called out, “It’s not too late to change your mind!” Sookie figured out this was one of the games she’d been warned about and Eric must have been familiar with it because he rushed back into the barn, inserted himself between Sookie and line of men, and play-defended her, ‘chasing’ them off. “Mine!” he announced, and then gathered her into his arms and kissed her fully on the lips. “You are happy?” he asked.
“You can feel it, can’t you?” she answered.
Sookie found that the game worked both ways. She went into the house to use the bathroom, only to find one of her ancient cousins manning the bathroom door, demanding money to use it. “For your dowry,” the woman explained, showing Sookie the jar full of cash. When Sookie got back to the barn she found Eric backed against the wall, a line of women before him, each taking turns kissing his cheek. Sookie grabbed one of the serving spoons and raced over, brandishing the utensil like a sword.
“Thank you!” and Eric clowned it up. “My Valkyrie has saved me!”
“You better believe it!” she told him and Sookie felt her heart reach out for this man. He was strong and strange, but Eric had a sense of humor and he made her laugh. “Mine!” she said, tapping him with her spoon.
Eric closed his hand around the spoon, using it to pull her close. His smile dropped and as his face got close, he echoed, “Mine!” There was nothing Sookie wanted so much as to go home right then, but the band started, and Sookie realized there were hours to go before they would be alone together.
Remy’s band played many of the same dances Sookie heard last night and they all danced. They danced as couples and as groups. The night was warm and their feet stirred up clouds of dust as they stamped and shuffled around the barnyard under the Christmas lights.
Finally, Linda approached them and said, “If you want to escape, this is probably a good time to do it.” Lars had Eric’s car keys and Sookie couldn’t help noticing the looks her Uncle was exchanging with Jason. It seemed inevitable that they would find the car covered in toilet paper, clattering as they drove down the road, the hubcaps filled with stones.
“Don’t think your Queen is going to like this,” Sookie laughed, gesturing at the frosting writing on the windows.
“She is not my Queen,” Eric shrugged. “Our Queen is in Ireland and it’s probably the least inconvenience. This is much easier to clean up than…” and Eric hesitated.
“Than?” and Sookie’s eyes went wide. “Oh!”
After a minute, Eric said, “This will probably be a first, though. I have never heard of a Sheriff marrying in this way.”
He’d meant it to be light, but Sookie wasn’t fooled. “Does this put a target on your back?” she asked, taking the flower crown from her head and holding it up so he knew what she meant.
“I never have a target on my back,” Eric scoffed. “Where did you hear something like that?”
“Pam,” Sookie answered, looking right at him. “I wanted to back out of all of this. I told Pam I’d changed my mind, but she told me that if I did, it would get out and other vampires would think you were weak enough to attack. I got the impression that doing human things makes you look like a target.” His smile didn’t waver, but she could feel his irritation. He opened his mouth, but Sookie shook her head, “Don’t lie to me! I can tell you’re going to say something to make it sound okay, but unless you can tell me that I’m wrong, just don’t say it!”
He almost did say something and Sookie’s heart started to sink, sure he was going to try to be glib, but then he didn’t. “Pam shouldn’t have been so blunt,” he said instead. He turned to watch the road. “There are truths about vampires, things it took me many years to learn. You will learn those things, too, but right now, there’s only one thing that’s important,” and he held out his hand. He waited until Sookie placed hers in his before saying, “I choose this. I want this. I am…” and Sookie thought he would say it, but instead he said, “I am happy with you.”
“Well, okay then,” Sookie answered, surprised at the sudden tears in her eyes. “Wow!” she exclaimed, and opened the window before leaning against Eric’s shoulder. “I think I’m a little drunk!”
“You should be!” Eric chuckled. “I counted your glasses, even if you didn’t.”
“Drunk sex can be fun sex,” Sookie offered and Eric laughed out loud.
He leered, “Yes, drunk sex is fun. Fewer inhibitions,” and he waggled his eyebrows.
“I’m not thinking inhibited is one of our issues,” Sookie snorted.
“Take off your dress,” Eric challenged.
“We’re driving at night on a deserted road,” Sookie shrugged, ‘so no big deal, but I have a row of buttons up the back it took my Aunt Linda a good ten minutes to fasten. I’m going to need help.” She waited until Eric looked away before asking, “What was going on back there? You know, when we were inside doing the ceremony?”
“What?” Eric asked, and then “Nothing,” but Sookie felt a quick stab of discomfort before he managed to turn it off.
“Your nothings are big things,” she quoted his words back to him. “Come on, I could tell something was bothering you. You might as well spill it because we aren’t having any kind of sex until you do!”
Eric snorted, “We both know that is an idle threat. You need sex as much as I do. I feel it.”
“’Need’ is a strong word,” Sookie huffed, “but, yeah, you’re right. But I’m clever. You’ve said it yourself, and you know I can come up with something inventive,” and then she laid her hand on Eric’s arm. “Seriously. I want to know.”
His mouth twitched and he accelerated just a bit before saying, “I told you I was married in my human life. Aude. But Aude died. It was before I returned from raiding. Childbirth. The children, Aude’s children, were with my Mother. I needed to remarry before the next season, but it was different this time. I was a man with means. I had a home and a farm to offer.”
“So, you went wife-shopping?” Sookie asked.
“No,” and Eric didn’t look at her. “I knew.” Now he did glance her way, his smile crooked. “She lived with her family in the town over the mountains. I had seen her at gatherings, markets. Golden hair, blue eyes. She had a cutting tongue and when she laughed, her face lit up, like a light from within.”
“What happened?” Sookie asked. “Did you marry her?”
“It was arranged. I traveled there and she agreed. We exchanged torques,” and he held up his arm, “Bracers, or bracelets, you would call them. The date was set and I was on fire for her.” Sookie swallowed. Eric’s words had taken on an accent and his eyes were far away. “Her family hosted the feast. The next day she would stand before me, flowers over her long hair, and she would return to my bed, my wife.” He grinned again, but he wasn’t feeling happy. “So, I walked home alone that night. I didn’t want to walk with my family. I was drunk and I wanted to dream of her under the stars.” He laughed, “Foolish!”
Sookie waited. They pulled into the driveway of the house and Eric turned the car off. “Well?” Sookie asked.
“It was the night I met Appius Livius Ocella,” Eric shrugged.
“I don’t understand.” Sookie could feel Eric shutting the window to his emotions again. “What does that mean?”
“It was the night I started my journey to becoming vampire.” He got out of the car, vamping around to open her door and hand her out. “It was the night I met my destiny.” He looked Sookie over, his eyes sweeping from top to toe. She held the flower crown in her hands and Eric took it and placed it back on her head. “Tonight, I have had my wedding,” he grinned. “There were moments in the past that I wondered, even regretted, but now, that memory is complete.”
“It sounds terrible,” Sookie told him.
“No,” and he shook his head. “I was made for this life. It was hard in the beginning, but I have seen things few people have. I have walked the ages, and I will walk still when all around me are dust.” He said it with pride, but the loneliness was back.
“You aren’t alone now,” Sookie told him and she took his hand, lifting it to cup her breast. “Just one favor, though.”
“You are my bride, I will give you whatever you ask,” he said, but his eyes were glued to where his hand was squeezing.
“Careful with the dress. It’s an antique and I don’t think Aunt Linda would be too pleased if it ends up in rags!” and Sookie took a quick step backward, turning around to present him with the row of impossibly small, covered buttons.
“Skit!” Eric growled.
“What?” Sookie asked.
“Shit!” he translated, but his fingers were already at work.
“Want to go inside?” she giggled.
“No,” Eric growled some more. “This much work deserves a reward, and I intend to take you spread over the hood of the car.”
“Oh!” and Sookie couldn’t deny how the thought made her breath catch. “Sunny side up or…”
“Both!” Eric declared before lifting the dress and gently pulling it from her. He placed it in the backseat of the car and then circled back, staring at his wife as she stood in her underwear and heels. “I would see you in something a little different,” he drawled as he pulled her close, running fingers over the front of her sensible panties. “Lace. Black, or blue. Perhaps crotchless. And for these,” and he brought his hands up to pull her breasts from their bra cups, “a setting worthy of them.”
“You and your demands!” Sookie scoffed.
“You and your stubborn ways,” Eric countered.
Their tongues fenced in the most appealing way and things were progressing well until Eric spun Sookie and she laid her arms across the hood. “Ouch!” and she jumped back.
“What is it?” Eric laid his hand on the hood.
“You don’t feel that?’ Sookie gasped. “It’s burning!”
Eric shrugged. “I can tell it’s hot. I don’t know your sensitivity to temperature yet.” He glanced back at the car “Now, I do. I won’t forget.” He pulled her toward him and examined the soft skin of her arms. “Does it still hurt?”
“No,” Sookie shook her head. “I pulled away in time.”
“Perhaps something a little more inhibited?” he chuckled, and he pulled her toward the door of the house. They were mounting the steps when Eric reared back. “Get behind me!” he ordered. He went on full alert, sniffing and crouching low. Stepping forward, he pushed the front door open, and then straightened up.
“What is it?” Sookie asked. She walked up behind him to see a trail of flower petals on the floor. They led to the stairs. There was a note taped to the bannister.
‘I know this isn’t your first wedding night, but this one should be special, too. No one will disturb you tomorrow, so take your time. There’s food in the fridge. ~ Aunt Linda’
The flowers led them up the stairs and into the main bedroom. The bed was made up and there were flowers and candles waiting to be lit. “That was really nice of her,” Sookie sighed.
“These humans are kind,” Eric nodded.
“These humans?” Sookie asked. “They are family and now they’re your family, too, Eric.”
“But they aren’t…” Eric started to say.
“What? Not vampire? Neither am I! What are you saying?” and Sookie’s chin jutted and her hands fisted on her hips.
“Nothing!” Eric laughed, and then he became more thoughtful. “I didn’t think it through, but I suppose you’re right. As the family of my bonded, they are now my family and fall under my protection.”
“Don’t go all gooey on me!” Sookie teased, and started pulling at Eric’s jacket. “So, what do you say, Mr. Northman? Ready to demand those marital rights?”
“I’m thinking you are the one who wants to do the demanding tonight,” he replied and stepped back. “Perhaps you would like to tell me how I may please you?” His eyes were hooded and Sookie couldn’t help grinning.
“Well,” and she rocked back on her heels, “You could start by unwrapping.”
“Like this?” and Eric smoldered. His head was back, his mouth arrogant as he unbuttoned his shirt. He folded back one sleeve, and then the other. He pulled his shirt tails free, allowing them to hang while he unbuckled his belt. His lips curved up as Sookie’s eyes followed his fingers working at snaps and zipper. His erection pressed against the fabric, and when the zipper parted, Sookie saw hair. He’d gone commando and Sookie unconsciously wet her lips.
“Are you tired?” Eric asked, his voice low and seductive.
“No,” Sookie stammered, “Why would you think that?”
“You’re panting,” and Sookie realized her breathing had sped up.
“It doesn’t matter how often I get to see it,” she told him, “I still can’t believe that I get to have you.”
“I’m yours,” he told her, and let his pants slip past his hips. He’d toed from his shoes and he stepped from his clothes, one hand stroking himself. “Perhaps you would like to watch,” and he picked up a chair that sat in the corner. “Here,” and he positioned the chair at the foot of the bed, “Where you can see things best.”
Sookie walked to the chair, wondering what new game they were playing. “Take your underwear off,” Eric instructed. He was leaning over the bed and as she sat down, he moved toward the center, and that’s when it happened. The bed squeaked. Eric stilled and Sookie couldn’t help it. She giggled.
Eric looked at her, his form so graceful. When he was sure she was watching again, her hand starting to move toward her own center, he started to lay down, and the bed protested again. It sounded like a combination of cats and chalkboard and Sookie couldn’t help it. She laughed!
“I’m so sorry!” she told the visibly irritated Eric. “It’s just so silly! I mean, you’re looking all sexy, and I’m feeling hot, and then, there’s this bed. I keep waiting for the Monty Python people to come barging in.”
“This is impossible!” he grumbled. He stood up and faster than Sookie could follow with her eyes, he was out of the room. There was a loud sound from the other room and then downstairs and Sookie realized Eric had left the house.
“What the hell!” she exclaimed. There was a sound from outside and the next thing she knew, Eric was back and she was over his shoulder, heading down the stairs. “What’s going on?” she asked his perfect ass.
He was saying things, but in another language. She did catch ‘humans’ a couple times and what sounded like swearing, and then she was in the cellar with him. He’d pulled the bunkbeds out and left them in the yard, and leaving two twin mattresses on the floor.
“Really?” Sookie asked.
“I am not interested in being interrupted again,” he told her. “I intend to fall to my day death inside you, Sookie. I want you screaming my name to be the last thing I remember,” and his kiss told her he meant what he said.
Fun Eric was gone and a greedy, demanding Eric who Sookie hadn’t met before was in charge. This Eric was moving fast and when he pinched her nipple hard enough to cause pain, she pulled back and slugged him, “What the hell!”
He reared back and she could feel his regret and then she felt something else. “Oh, you’re hungry!”
“I apologize,” he stammered as he moved away from her. “It has been a stressful few days.”
“You didn’t get more than a mouthful yesterday and nothing so far today,” and Sookie opened her arms. “Come on, I insisted on being the only one to give you blood. You’ll feel a whole lot better after you get something to eat.”
“I am capable of existing for many days without feeding,” and Eric’s eyes narrowed. “I am over a thousand years old…”
“But why should you if you don’t have to?” Sookie interrupted. “I can feel you, Eric. Your fangs are itching.”
Eric was not happy. “It’s possible it’s the bond. I am hungrier than I should be. I…” and looking away he confessed, “I want to claim you, Sookie. I want to pin you to the bed with my fangs and take you.”
Sookie swallowed. She didn’t worry about being with Eric often, but the way he was looking at her reminded her of what Claudine called vampires, the sharks of the Fae. Sookie felt every bit of Eric’s internal struggle. Her voice was whispering that she should run, but Sookie’s rational side knew running would only trigger Eric’s instincts more, and it might not end well.
“I don’t want you to be frightened of me.” He’d read her and Sookie cursed the bond.
“I’m not frightened,” she lied. “You’re my husband, Eric, and I know you wouldn’t hurt me.” She lifted her chin and moved next to him, laying one hand against his cheek and the other against his chest. When he didn’t move, she leaned in, laying her cheek against him. “There! Like you said, we feel better when we’re touching.” Eric remained stiff and Sookie was having a tough time pushing her nervousness back in its box, but she kissed his skin anyway, saying, “Come on, Sweetie. Take your dinner and you’ll feel more like yourself.”
“You trust me?” Sookie knew that Eric was really asking whether he trusted himself, but she didn’t hesitate.
“Of course!” She exhaled, pasting a bright smile on her face and stretching her neck to the side. “See? It’s okay. I know you’ll take care of me.”
He was troubled. His fingers stroked her neck. As his head lowered, she couldn’t help it. She stiffened. “I promise,” he whispered, and Sookie knew.
“I don’t doubt you,” and she ran her fingers through his hair, pulling him closer, “I trust you.”
He made it wonderful. Sookie wasn’t sure how he did it, but Eric had the ability to make feeding sensual. Her breasts ached for his touch and she felt herself moistening, and then she realized he was using the bond. “Yes!” she sighed and she was on her back, his fingers parting her, replaced by his blunt head. She was cumming almost before he was seated, “Cheater!” she chuckled.
Eric detached. He laughed and she could see her blood on his mouth. It shouldn’t have looked sexy, but it did. “Are you complaining?” and he pushed into her again, stretching her in the most wonderful way.
It was late the next afternoon before Sookie woke. She was so thirsty, her throat felt like sandpaper and her bladder was screaming. There was a thin sheet lying over the bare mattress and she pulled it from under Eric, worrying the whole time that it would rip. She hesitated on the ladder before pulling the latch and again before pushing open the metal door, but Eric was positioned far away from the ladder. The light from outside wasn’t too bright and Sookie moved as quickly as she could, closing the hatch door behind her. “Thank goodness it didn’t rain!” she said, walking briskly past the bunkbed frame. It looked bizarre, sitting in the middle of the yard, and Sookie hoped her Aunt hadn’t lied about having their privacy today. If anyone did stop, she wasn’t sure how she’d explain it.
Sookie showered and dressed. She sat in the kitchen, eating the food her Aunt left, looking over the fields and trying to imagine her mother and father growing up near here. Tonight, she and Eric would fly to Boston. “What would bring me back here?” Sookie asked herself. For most, it would be the desire to share children with family, but that wasn’t her future. ‘Funerals,’ her voice told her. “Jason’s wedding, I suppose,” she said out loud, blotting out the sadder thought.
Checking her watch, Sookie headed upstairs. She straightened the suitcases, then went outside, retrieving the wedding dress from the backseat of the car. She filled her minutes sweeping up flower petals and straightening rooms. She moved the chair back from the foot of the bed in the master bedroom, laughing as she remembered the sound the bed made, and then blushed, thinking about the things she and Eric had done to each other in the aftermath.
As the shadows stretched, she was sure she could feel him stirring. It wasn’t a true calling. It was more ethereal, as if a memory had brushed against her and Sookie knew she was hearing him from wherever he drifted, awaiting night. “I’m here,” she answered, heading out to the root cellar, and then she said, “I’ll always be here for you,” as she stretched out beside him.
“Not always,” he answered, opening his eyes.
“I love you.” The words tumbled out of her and when he stared, she shrugged, “I really do.”
His thumb traced her lower lip, and then her cheek. “You are precious to me, Sookie. Being with you… I am content.”
It wasn’t what Sookie wanted to hear, but she knew Eric loved her. It was as Uncle Lars said; it was in the names he gave her and his actions. It was in the way his eyes glowed as he looked at her, the bond between them letting her feel the deeper meaning behind his words.
“We should get going,” she said out loud. “Linda and Lars will be holding dinner. It’s probably the last time I’ll see Jason for a while. He’s shipping out.”
“You will miss your family?” Eric asked.
“Yes,” Sookie nodded, “but you are my family now. You, and Pam, and Ireland. Jason is really the only person left in this world that’s known me all my life, and he’s leaving too. Truth is, I don’t think we were ever particularly close. Jason and me, we’re just different people.”
It made her feel a little lost, but Eric smiled, “So, it’s a good thing we found each other.”
“Yes,” Sookie sighed. “Yes, it is,”
Eric became very still. Sookie hadn’t seen him do it often, but it made an impression. “You could be with me forever,” he said quietly.
Sookie know what he was asking, “No, Eric. I’m not ready to talk about that. Not yet,” and she sat up. “I’m going to the house,” and she walked up the stairs, leaving the doors open to the dim light.
There was a new face at Linda and Lars’ table. It was Lars’ mother, Inger. She didn’t say much, but her dark eyes were sharp. When dinner was over, they walked out onto the porch, enjoying the last of Fall’s warm nights. Linda took Jason inside to show him a family heirloom, and Sookie turned to see Inger staring at her. “You remind me of your Grandmother,” Inger said.
“Mama!” Lars cautioned, but Inger showed no signs of hearing him.
“She was a witch, too, but nothing so special as you. She was a hedge witch. You know what that is.” Sookie felt pinned by the old woman’s words.
“No,” she said after a minute.
Eric moved behind her. Inger’s eyes never left Sookie’s, but she jerked her chin. “Your draugur would frighten me, but I am old. I don’t fear death.”
“Mama!” Lars exclaimed again, “There is no need for this. They have accepted the hospitality of this house and they are welcome here.”
“Best that you are going,” Inger continued to speak directly to Sookie. “Your kind never means to bring trouble, but you always do. Like your Father. Like your Grandmother. Trouble and strange things.”
“I’d like you to have that…” Linda was saying as she and Jason walked back on the porch, making Sookie’s head turn. Sookie felt a cool chill run through her, and Eric’s hand rested on her shoulder. She looked back at Inger, but the old woman was staring out into the night.
When it was time to go, Lars said goodbye first. He explained he had to drive his mother back to her home. He hugged Sookie and shook Eric’s hand. Inger didn’t say anything and when her son scolded her about taking her leave, she appeared not to hear him. Still, she moved quickly enough down the stairs, leaving her son to follow her to the car.
“Maybe Lars and I will make it out to Ireland to visit,” Linda said, covering up for Inger’s behavior. “I can’t believe how fast this all went. I’m so happy you came!”
“I am, too,” Sookie assured her. It was harder saying goodbye to Jason. Sookie found herself clinging to him, “You have my email and phone number. Please stay in touch,” she whispered.
“Of course, I will!” he assured her, his wide, cock-eyed smile too bright, but when he stepped back, he made a point of wrapping his arm around Linda’s shoulders.
Sookie knew, looking at him, that her place in her brother’s affections was now behind their Aunt. It stung, but it also allowed Sookie’s eyes to remain dry as she and Eric drove away.