Author’s Note: And so, The Far Reach is at conclusion. I thank Breathesgirl and Ms Buffy for their countless hours and amazing advice. I thank American Android for her inspirational art.
I also want to thank all of you who read my stories and find that you share my enthusiasm for the characters and the stories. It is with your interest that I am a story-teller. Thank you for that honor.
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.
“You are worrying for nothing, Rusty! He is a snake, I’ll grant you, but he didn’t say anything overt. He was grandstanding, like he always does.”
Russell Edgington, King of Mississippi, was sitting on the studded leather chair in their dressing room. Bartlett was busy putting away some new purchases. They had servants to do these things, but there was something about putting things in the right place the first time that appealed to the Indiana king. He liked the texture of the fabrics and the way the colors played against each other. In all, it was a sensual experience.
“Don’t underestimate him, Bart. Bumblers don’t remain Kings of major cities for long. He may look like an idiot, but I think he purposely plays that angle. You are a Clan Chief. Any hint of a threat was inexcusable.”
Bartlett turned the soft ties in his hand. He had made a side trip to Atlanta on the way home to take advantage of the shopping. He walked back to Russell and held the ties close to his mate’s face. “I was right, they are perfect for you!”
Russell caught his hand and pulled him close for a kiss. “What am I to do with you?” he asked no one in particular.
Bartlett placed his hand against Russell’s cheek, “You will have to keep me, I suppose. After all, that’s what the contract says.”
Russell turned his face, captured his mate’s hand in his own, and kissed the palm that had just cradled his face. He rubbed his thumb across Bart’s knuckles before looking up at him, “You are very dear to me, but even more so because you are going to tell me again how dumbstruck the Viking looked,” and the King’s eyes tilted with humor.
“Could have knocked him over with a feather!” Bartlett grinned. He sat down on the arm of the chair and kissed Russell’s forehead before brushing his hair to the side. “Pam will forward me the picture. I think she’s just waiting for him to cool down a little, but you know she loves to share a good joke.”
“She better not send it around like the last one!” Russell chuckled.
“What? Like Eric in the apron? Oh! That was a classic!” and Bartlett laughed as well.
“So,” Russell asked, “What do you think the future King and Queen of the combined kingdoms are doing right now?”
“Well,” Bartlett said archly, “I don’t think it’s polishing their medals.” He took Russell’s hand in his, “I know that you think this all ended well, and I know that you were hoping it would, but Rusty? Let’s not fight about this anymore. I don’t like being angry with you.”
“I love you, Bart,” Russell smiled into his mate’s eyes.
Bartlett kissed him, “I love you too, Rusty.” He rose and tugged the Mississippi King toward the bedroom. Russell playfully pinched Bart’s butt and they started to chase toward the bed, but even as they slowed to start the delightful job of undressing Russell made a mental note to have a word with the guards.
Eric Northman felt out of breath. He was vampire and didn’t need to breathe, not technically, but Sookie Stackhouse had put him through his paces and at the moment he felt broken. “That good?” his vixen teased. She trailed her hair starting at his chest, allowing the slippery, cool curls to caress his skin until she curled them around his cock.
“It’s a good thing I am undead or you would kill me doing that.”
“You’re welcome!” he could see her smirk in his mind’s eye and she kissed him, causing him to pulse again. “Think of it as aggressive negotiating.”
Eric reached down and cupped her golden head in his hand, pulling her back to him so he could kiss her lips. “You are so very clever, Miss Stackhouse. I always said it and you have proven me right yet again.”
‘Clever,” she agreed, “and beautiful and one hell of a negotiator. Say it! Say that I’m worth every year!” she dropped her head to nip at his nipple.
“Yes,” Eric hissed, “Worth every one of the two hundred years you forced from me!”
“You’re the one insisting on extra security,” Sookie shrugged. “You want to play, you have to pay!”
“You get your concession on turning humans over to human authorities.” Eric shrugged.
“Not news. You’ve given it to me before,” and Sookie followed up by nipping a line from his chest to his hip. “Of course, I get a monthly appearance at the palace tour and a picture for some lucky guest.”
“Enthralling the vermin in my own palace,” Eric growled.
“You always were a good businessman. You know it will be good for relations,” Sookie followed the nip with an open mouth kiss that was trailing south again. Eric pulled her back up, meeting her mouth with his own, wet and hungry. When they parted, Sookie laid her head against his chest and played with the blond hair that dusted his chest. Her fingers stilled, “Do you mind if I feel a little odd about having the Ancient Pythoness officiate at our pledging? I know she’s revered and all, but she honestly gives me the willies. Who knows what crazy thing she’ll decide we have to do!”
Eric chuckled under her, “What do you imagine? You know I appreciate your creative mind. Perhaps I can make a suggestion,” and Sookie swatted him.
“Cut it out! I mean it, Eric. I’m not stripping or having sex in front of a bunch of folks!”
The Viking laughed so hard he sat up, tumbling his telepath into his lap. “You really do have an interesting take on vampires, Lover!” When her eyes widened, his turned predatory, “Although I can see where the idea would have some merit,” and he ran his finger across her cheek. Sookie quickly snapped it with her teeth, playfully pulling and then releasing him. “Seriously, we are not so inventive. It is about exchanging blood and signing documents. Andre forced the issue because he sensed you were unwilling. He was looking for an angle to take you for his own. No one will think you are unwilling this time,” and Eric tumbled her to the cushions as he stood up. “Are you hungry?”
“Oh, yeah!” Sookie sighed, rolling onto her stomach and leaning up on her elbows. ‘It is criminal what an amazing ass you have,’ she sighed to herself.
Eric turned around, his eyebrow arched, “Real food, Lover! You are just now regaining the softness I crave. Soon there will be enough of you to fill my hands, and then I am afraid you will get little rest.” He walked back to her with a plate filled with French bread slices, fruit, and soft cheese. He prepared slices in different combinations, feeding it to her, teasing her by painting her lips, and using the slice of a peach to wet the end of her nose, which he then leaned forward to lick delicately.
Sookie sighed, and rolled over to sit cross legged. She took the plate from Eric’s hands and started to eat with more enthusiasm. Their retreat was comfy. It was agreed that no one entered except the two of them, and they also agreed never to wear shoes within the room. “I think the window should go right there,” Sookie pointed to a blank wall. “I think we’ll get a view of the Quarter and the river beyond. We could be doing this by starlight.”
One of the first things Sookie had insisted they do was get estimates for light-tight glass windows for most of the first floor rooms and several on the upper floors. The glass that was being ordered was being used in vampire-safe hotels and could withstand direct gunfire as well as being impenetrable by the white light end of the spectrum.
“You know I can deny you nothing,” Eric smiled, pushing the plate enough so he could lay his head in her lap.
Sookie licked the juice from her fingers. They had had a long talk with Jane earlier. The Sheriff had explained in great detail the procedure that would be needed if they wished to explore having children using the research Niall had funded. When Jane had told them Eric would need to donate several back molars, Sookie had been horrified. For his part, Eric had smirked, downplaying it, “It’s not like I need them,” he told her, “and they will grow back.” Sookie would need to undergo a regimen of hormone shots to increase her egg production and then the eggs would need to be harvested. Once Eric’s DNA was introduced into the eggs, they could be frozen indefinitely, awaiting the right time. From there, the process would be identical to any other couple undergoing fertility treatment. They would need to make decisions about implanting one or multiple eggs. Sookie would need to be carefully monitored until it was certain the egg or eggs had implanted. Jane was almost too enthusiastic.
In the end, they had decided they would wait for a year. Sookie had tried to tell him there was no need to make any decision, but Eric seemed to be able to read her most secret thoughts. He had taken her hands, looked into her eyes, and said, “You will make a wonderful mother, Älskade.” Sookie was still embarrassed by how hard she had cried.
Sookie set the plate on the floor next to her and looked down at her lover’s face. She saw his chiseled jaw and the bow of his upper lip. She saw the slight scar below his right eye and the broad, smooth expanse of his forehead. She touched the place where his hair sprang in a natural wave from his temple. Last, she looked in his eyes, identical in color to her own. “I was meant to be yours, Eric Northman,” she told him.
“See?” he smiled, “I knew you would figure it out.”
“What?” she smiled back.
“That I was always right,” he replied.
Sookie’s eyes narrowed and she thought of a crushing retort, but she just as quickly forgot it when his mouth found hers. ‘He’s right,’ she thought.
“I know,” he whispered in her ear.
I look forward to hearing from you. I do not anticipate a long wait for the three-part wedding out-take that is meant to be between this story and the next, which is called The Distant Horizon. All my best ~ Natsgirl