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.
Eric could hear Freyda’s tinkling laugh from the other side of the house. It was Thursday, their usual night. Freyda came to his primary residence as regular as clockwork and they’d spend the evening together. Sometimes they invited others. Sometimes, like tonight, it was just the two of them. They talked politics and business. It was a night to kick back, away from the palace and the demands of their retinues. The dress code was casual and most of the time all they did was watch movies.
Eric introduced Freyda to television and then to Netflix. He found they shared a love for campy horror and anything involving vampires. They could spend hours in front of the screen, sipping Royalty and occasionally bringing in a donor (‘take out’). Sometimes Freyda spent the night in his bed, but they rarely had sex. It just wasn’t that kind of relationship. Eric told himself that what existed between himself and Freyda was more than friends, more than lovers. He cared for her, and what’s more, he trusted her. He knew Freyda had his back, and he had proven to her that he could be counted on to do the same. Were they living in his human days, Freyda would have been a shield maiden and Eric would have been proud to have her fighting at his side. Yes, he cared for Freyda, but Eric didn’t love her. In truth, he didn’t believe he would ever love again, and that was for the best. As his Maker told him many times, there was no place for love in a vampire’s life.
If only Eric had held to that code. The hangover he continued to feel for the woman he had loved lingered on. He had never told Freyda how he developed his affection for television. He didn’t tell Freyda why he refused to watch “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.” There were other secrets, too, things he hid deep, unwilling to have anyone get too close.
Many years ago, Eric had a pair of bullets set into cufflinks. He meant for them to remind him of the dangers of emotional attachments. It had been a mistake. Instead of strengthening his resolve, each time he rubbed them they had the opposite effect. They reminded him of the feel of her lips and the way she smelled when she cried. They reminded him of her fiery temper and how she felt in his arms. He considered destroying the jewelry, but each time he had them poised over the trash, he made a different excuse. For the past year they sat in the drawer next to his bed, a testament to his weakness.
Freyda came bounding into the living room, a DVD in her hand, “Oh, you are going to love this!” she chuckled, and tossed him the box.
“Why don’t we just stream it?” Eric asked.
“This one is too old,” Freyda flopped down on the couch. “It’s a supposed classic. Frank Langella is Dracula. Black cape, hypnotic eyes. I can hardly wait!”
“I hope there’s an accent,” Eric smirked. He was more amused by his Queen’s high spirits than watching another comical attempt by a human to render his hero.
“What do you think about a Hallowe’en party?” Freyda suggested as Eric loaded the DVD. “We could all dress as our favorite era. I’ll bet you have some old clothes in storage somewhere.”
Eric frowned, “I’ve never been much of a packrat. Not like you! I traveled light…”
“One step ahead of the witch hunters?” Freyda chortled.
“Go ahead and laugh,” he admonished her. “You are spoiled. Those of you turned in these more modern times have no appreciation for the real dangers being a vampire presented.”
“Oh!” and Freyda crossed her arms and sat up, “And now you’re going to lecture me about how you had to sleep in cold graveyards, covering yourself in rotting corpses!”
“There were real dangers!” Eric rose to Freyda’s bait. “It was considered an act of heroism to kill us.” Eric couldn’t be angry with her. Freyda was so much younger than him. She was brilliant and politically savvy, but she couldn’t identify with his depth of caution. She simply didn’t have the same experience, and in these days of mainstreaming, probably never would. In many ways, Eric envied her.
The opening credits rolled, and the stereotypical musical overture swelled through the speakers. Freyda cuddled closer and Eric drew her to him. She laid her head against his shoulder, and for the millionth time, Eric wondered why he couldn’t feel more for Freyda than he did.
Freyda folded her hand, so she could hold onto Eric’s shirt. She loved the way he made her feel when he wrapped his arm around her. She felt safe and, if she tried, for a moment she could feel cherished as well.
Eric was rumbling on about the dangers of the old days, so she allowed herself a small sigh. He would interpret it as her impatience with his reminiscing, but that wasn’t the real reason. It was true that Freyda was much younger than the Viking, but she was not naïve. Freyda knew that it would be easy to fall in love with this vampire, but that was a luxury she would not permit herself.
Eric didn’t speak of it, this thing he carried in his heart, but Freyda saw it. When he put the cufflinks he’d taken from the human woman away, Freyda hoped that signaled an end to it. It didn’t. She could see it, the haunted look he wore from time to time when he thought she wasn’t looking.
Still, if there was one thing they had, it was time. These years together had flown by, ever different, yet ever the same, as is the fate of any vampire. All the particulars around you; the houses, the plants, the humans, all change, wiped away by time. What doesn’t change is you; the vampire. You endure and after awhile, you stop seeing those things that will only be there for a breath in your long, evergreen existence. At least, that was Freyda’s theory, and to date it had never been proven wrong.
The factor that convinced Freyda that her theory was right was the pain Eric Northman was experiencing even now. He had allowed himself to become tethered to that human woman, and now he suffered. Sookie Stackhouse was the exception that was proving the rule, and Freyda knew that soon, in the next fifty years or so, the woman would be dead and dust, and Eric would mourn her. Then, after another twenty years, or maybe thirty, he would come to grips with his grief, and Freyda would still be here. She would be at his side for another hundred years beyond that and, perhaps then, the affection they felt for each other, the respect, could grow into something more binding.
For now, Freyda was content to build on the comfort and happiness that existed between them. Eric invited her into his home. They had interests they enjoyed sharing. They trusted each other. It was enough for now.
Freyda glanced up when Eric stopped talking. “Are you ready for the Summit?” Freyda asked, changing the subject.
“I wish you could come with me,” Eric answered, rubbed his fingers through her hair, massaging her skull.
“I wish I could, too,” Freyda smiled and stretched, “but we agreed it would be a mistake. Felipe would hector me, reminding me of the favor he did in supporting our pledging.”
“Felipe did what benefitted Felipe,” Eric growled.
“You know that and I know that, but Felipe is vain. He can’t see how transparent he is. He’ll think because I’m a female and young that it wouldn’t occur to me how exiling you from Louisiana benefitted him. Frankly, if I did anyone a favor,” and Freyda pushed against Eric’s shoulder a little, “it was you! If you’d stayed in Louisiana much longer causing trouble, Felipe would have had to try and kill you himself.”
“I was a model vassal!” Eric protested.
“Model pain the ass is more like it!” Freyda teased. “Everyone knows you killed Victor Madden, but no one would admit it. That ensured you a place on De Castro’s death list. What King could allow such blatant rebellion to remain unpunished in his territory? He had to be wondering where you would aim next.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Eric purred. “I am sure I had no part in Victor’s disappearance. It’s just another unsolved mystery.”
“Go ahead, Viking! Play your game, but you can’t tell me I’m not the reason you still exist among the undead. You got out from under Zorro’s thumb and I think you’ve done very well for yourself in spite of it.”
“Are you asking me to reward you for saving me?” Eric tugged Freyda’s hair to tilt her face up to him. He gave her his sex look, and, for a moment, he almost meant it.
“You’re sweet to offer,” Freyda smiled slightly, understanding what he was offering. It was tempting to accept. Sex with Eric was delicious, but giving in too easily would not build the kind of desire Freyda wanted, so she diverted back to the original discussion. “No, better I stay in Oklahoma. I won’t find myself drawn into some conversation I don’t want to have. Can you imagine? Stan would be up our asses, fussing and fuming over any hint we were talking with Felipe. If you go on your own, you can use your cover as a former, disgruntled subject to keep Felipe de Castro at bay.”
“You are clever, my wife,” Eric said, and then quieted. His choice of words caused him an uncomfortable feeling. What’s more, it seemed that once he’d triggered the line of thought that led to Sookie Stackhouse, it was like a sore tooth. He kept poking at it. “Remind me again why I should tell my former King I’m holding a grudge?” Eric murmured, keeping his eyes on the screen.
“Because he forced you to divorce,” Freyda said carefully.
Eric stilled. Freyda knew they were dangerously close to the subject they never discussed, and she waited, hoping this time he would open up to her. She prayed his question signaled a new phase between them where he was ready to explore this shadow that loomed so large and start to put it behind them. Freyda settled against Eric, giving him time. Had she the need to breathe, she would have held her breath, but for all her waiting, he said nothing.
Sighing, Freyda turned, rubbed her cheek against the Viking’s shirt, and laughed at the way the actor in the movie hissed, allowing the subject to close and move them back to less dangerous ground.
Eric forced his attention back to the woman leaning into him, her eyes focused on the television screen. It was something else he respected about her; he was certain Freyda knew his secret, but she never called him out on it. She allowed him his dignity.
“I am most fortunate in having you as my Queen,” Eric said instead.
“Yes, you are!” Freyda glanced up, her eyes sparkling and she gave him her agreeable, attractive laugh, “And I’m happy you are smart enough to know it!”
“You are kind to say so,” Eric replied, and they relaxed as they both backed away from the abyss that was his baggage. “I wish I didn’t have to go to the Summit either. Stan was overbearing before he became Clan Chief. Now, he is insufferable.”
“I always feel as if I need a rearview mirror with him,” Freyda agreed. “You never know what he’s doing once your back is turned!”
“The money we spent on spies was money well spent,” Eric agreed. “He is a shit stirrer, and knowing when he is fabricating problems has proven helpful.”
“You would be such a better Clan Chief!” Freyda purred, and then stretched before cuddling back against the Viking.
“It would be difficult to find support,” Eric frowned. This was a conversation they’d had before. “Clan Chiefs are traditionally Kings.”
“And since when are you traditional?” Freyda challenged. “I can’t put your name forward. It appears too self-serving, but there are others who would if you just mentioned your interest!”
Eric sighed, “That is your opinion. You are an optimistic vampire, which is rare, but that doesn’t change things. Most are not like you.”
“You know I can’t name you King,” Freyda sat up so they could talk face to face. “There are too many traditionalists. If you are named King, they will walk right past me. Most of our kind prefer to deal with males. I would lose my place and my standing.”
“It’s not fair,” Eric acknowledged.
“No, it’s not, but we both know it’s true.” Freyda shook her head, “I would be a fool to do it. It’s not because I feel any ill will or…”
“I understand,” Eric stood and walked away. He did understand. Vampires would deal with Queens, but, at heart, theirs was a patriarchal society. If Eric were named King, most of those from outside the kingdom, and many from within as well, would take their issues to Eric, bypassing Freyda. Even if it were made known that Freyda was the dominant in their partnership, still, vampires would approach Eric first. It wasn’t right or best, but it was the way of things.
“I’ve ruined our mood,” Freyda stood, too, and laid her hands against Eric’s chest. “I do wish things were different,” she told him. “You know I think of you as more than my Consort. In my mind, you are my King.”
“I know it,” Eric smiled back. Freyda was a good woman. She insisted that Eric be given all the honors due a King. She gave him his independence and she never over-stepped. It wasn’t through Freyda’s actions that Eric felt slighted. It was through the actions of all who interacted with them, all who heard Eric’s title as less, and treated him that way.
“This is the first major Summit you’ve attended on your own,” Freyda shrugged. “I’m sure you’ll be able to find some fun while you’re in Denver.”
“Never too much,” Eric chucked Freyda under the chin and she rewarded him with a hint of fang. Eric knew Freyda’s current favorite was a breathtaking redhead and Freyda suggested they share her. It was arranged and they settled back to finish watching the movie. As they headed for the bed chamber, Eric reflected that they simply didn’t feel possessive about each other’s bodies as some monarchs did. What was inviolate was their blood. It belonged strictly to each other by consent and contract and it was a promise they kept. Neither found it difficult; Freyda because she restricted herself to humans whom she viewed as beneath her, and Eric because he never found anyone who engaged his interest for long.
Sookie held onto Felipe’s arm a little tighter as they walked up the stairs into the Spanish hacienda-style mansion. ‘I hope I don’t have to walk much further,’ she thought. The ache in her arches had transformed into a stabbing pain in the ball of her left foot and Sookie wasn’t sure how much farther she’d make it.
There had been a time Sookie had twirled and danced in shoes only a little lower than the ones she wore now, but those days were long gone. It had been literally years since she’d worn a shoe with any elevation. In Chester, high heels, like nail polish, were female affectations meant for school parents and summer people up from the city. Town people, particularly female town people, decried these fashion statements as stylized foot binding and playing with deadly chemicals. ‘Would you coat your body in benzene?’ one of the women would snort when a manicured outsider stalked by. It was a different kind of snobbish and Sookie was wishing at the moment that more people felt that way.
As if he could read her mind, Felipe leaned over and whispered, “We are almost there, my dear Miss Stackhouse.” Felipe still had his lispy accent, and he tended to pronounce her name ‘Steckhouse,’ instead of ‘Stackhouse.’ Another time she’d find it funny, but right now the promise of arriving at their destination so she could get off her feet made her too grateful.
There was a turn and a short walk before Felipe made good on his promise and they turned into a small sitting room. Felipe handed Sookie over to a couch and held her hand as she lowered herself onto the cushion. He smiled down at her for a minute. Sookie found an odd prickling along her spine, but then he turned and walked to the facing couch, seating himself as well. “So, you are coming to work for me,” Felipe said.
“That’s what we’ll figure out,” Sookie smiled back. She sat back, trying to make herself look both a little bigger and relaxed. It was a ploy and they both knew it, but Felipe seemed to appreciate the gesture.
“Before we discuss our business,” Felipe waved his hand, “it is a custom in my house that all guests should be comfortable. Is there anything you would like? Perhaps some more water? Or… a gin and tonic? I seem to remember that was the drink you preferred.”
“Water would be fine,” Sookie tried to keep her body loose, but it was hard. She crossed her legs and then re-crossed them. The circulation was returning in her feet and the sensation was not pleasant. Sookie wondered how she’d manage to make it to where she was sleeping without taking off her shoes along the way.
Felipe had risen and walked to a house phone located behind his couch. Sookie watched him as he stood, his back to her, talking in that hissing way vampires had. “My servants will be here shortly,” he said as he turned back toward her and resumed his seat.
When he leaned back, almost a mirror image of Sookie’s posture, he said, “I know you left my territories many years ago. I assume you have taken the opportunity to travel. May I ask what places you have seen?”
It was elegantly done, and Sookie’s thoughts tumbled and turned as she struggled for an answer, “I don’t have the kind of money that makes too much travel convenient,” she said through a tight smile.
“Ahh,” and Felipe smiled like a cat who drank cream. “So, you have settled into a new home base. I remember how important having a home was to you. You used the word often.”
“I suppose it’s important to you, too,” Sookie replied smoothly. “Your home here is beautiful.” It was a lesson Fran had drilled into her over the years, the art of being polite without answering personal questions. There were times Sookie found it infuriating. Sookie preferred to be direct, but she soon realized the never-ending parade of parents rich and famous enough to afford the private schools didn’t appreciate giving anything up, least of all anything personal.
Felipe glanced around, “I am comfortable here,” he conceded. He was leaning forward a little when the door to the room opened and several servants in uniform walked in. A tray with drinks was set on a table. Water was poured and offered to Sookie before being set before her. At the same time, a set of servants walked over to the couches. They appeared to be twins and the first kneeled down in front of Felipe and started unlacing his shoes. “I prefer not to walk around my home in shoes, so I’ve had slippers brought for us. I hope you don’t mind.”
Sookie worked hard not to react too much. She thought she was doing well, but it now seemed the King had read her all too easily. “That’s kind of you,” she smiled, and the woman in front of her knelt as well, removing first one shoe and then the other.
By now, the servant in front of Felipe was actually rubbing his feet. He was grinning, and then asked, “Oh! Would you like a massage as well? They are quite talented, I assure you.”
“Well… I suppose,” and Sookie couldn’t help blushing.
“Mi casa es su casa,” Felipe purred the traditional greeting, and the woman in front of Sookie started. Blushing gave way to a low moan that made Sookie blush even brighter. The woman was a genius and Sookie felt the pains and gnarls melting away.
“Don’t be embarrassed,” Felipe grinned. “I will confess I love the line of a woman in heels like those,” and he nodded at the tall heels set neatly by the couch, “but I have never understood how anyone could actually wear them.”
When they were finished, the servants slipped plush, terrycloth slippers onto Felipe and Sookie’s feet. Sookie noticed the slippers had a monogram, the same one that was on the uniforms of the servants. “There!” Felipe sighed and leaned back. He sipped what Sookie assumed was blood, and he looked at her under hooded eyes. “Has anyone told you lately what an attractive woman you are?” he asked.
“Well,” and Sookie smiled brightly, “I believe you did when you picked me up from the airport. That was very kind of you,” she continued. “I didn’t expect you to put yourself out for me that way.”
“I was curious,” the King replied. “It has been many years for someone like yourself.” Sookie figured he was referring to her being human. “Our mutual friend was quite loyal to you. I wanted to see how time had treated you,” and, with that, Sookie’s suspicion was confirmed.
“And?” she asked, sipping her own water.
“Time is your friend, Sookie,” Felipe purred. “It has rounded the hard edges and polished you. I am pleased that our mutual friend is not here with us. I don’t believe I would have any opportunity to charm you if he was.”
“You are very flattering,” Sookie smiled. Neither of them had to specify who the ‘mutual friend’ might be. Felipe was fishing and Sookie was not inclined to bite.
“I hope you believe that to be the case,” Felipe smiled some more. “I was prepared to push on some of the requirements of your contract, but now? I am inclined to allow you every demand in exchange for other concessions.”
“What might those be?” and Sookie looked boldly at the King.
“Dinner. Time together, to get you know you again. I can see now what the Viking saw,” and Sookie had an uncomfortable view of the bulge in the front of Felipe’s pants.
“I have come to appreciate the joys of a quiet life,” Sookie felt her Crazy Sookie smile coming on and she fought it. “I live the life of a nun. It allows my telepathy to flow more easily, and that, after all, is why you are interested in me.”
Felipe’s look turned less predatory, “Of course.” He stood and offered her his hand, “It was a long flight from Hartford. I am sure you must be tired from your travels. Allow me to accompany you to your room,” and the gentleman was back.
As they shuffled through the corridors, Felipe pointed out one treasure after another. He was a collector of sorts. He preferred dark woods and ornate carvings. Fixtures were gold-plated or painted in colors. Any one piece looked almost gaudy, but the overall effect was charming. Sookie couldn’t explain it, but she appreciated the artistry of the display.
There was a staircase, and then a long corridor before the King stopped before a set of doors. “I’ll need breadcrumbs to find my way back here,” Sookie smiled.
“I am a good guide,” Felipe smoldered a little and, lifting her hand, kissed her palm. It was a sensual kiss and well done, and Sookie blushed again at her body’s reaction.
“I think I’d better stick to the bread,” Sookie smiled, “You are a dangerous man.”
Of course it was the right thing to say, and Felipe’s eyes lit up. “You are just noticing? Ah, but you mustn’t think me dangerous to you, my dear Miss Stackhouse. I would be anything but dangerous!” and he stared into her eyes as he ran his thumb over her palm. His nostrils flared, “You do smell enchanting!” he said and Sookie had the impression it was almost involuntary.
“You already knew that,” she told him, then pulling her hand from his, said, “Good night, Felipe. I look forward to seeing you on your rising.”
“I will have someone come for you,” the King bowed. “Until tomorrow.”
Sookie walked into the suite of rooms. There was a room with a couch, chairs, and a television, and through the open double doors, Sookie spotted a truly large bed. As she suspected, her clothes were already hanging in the closet or neatly folded in drawers. It all looked so luxurious until you realized it was also a good way to spy. Sookie glanced at the chandelier over the couches and the lights near the bed. For some reason, she looked up and saw the mirror on the ceiling. While it was off-putting, Sookie knew there were practical reasons for it. Likely there was a camera behind the mirror and cameras in the other room as well.
“Is this also your playroom, Felipe?” she murmured, figuring her voice was being recorded and the King would get a kick out of listening to it later.
Surveillance of your enemies was a way of life with older vampires and Felipe, for all his charm, would not trust her, nor would Sookie expect him to. They hadn’t seen each other in a long time and their relationship back then was strained, if one put a kind word to it. Mostly, Sookie hated the Nevada King’s guts, and hated him even more for his part in Eric’s marriage contract.
As she took her pajamas into the bathroom to change, Sookie admitted that her hatred didn’t burn so brightly any more. She supposed she had Rick to thank for that. It was hard to hate when you had a child in your life. He depended on her, and his life brought her joy. Most days, she felt that she was the winner in the end because she had been able to keep some part of Eric, and it was more than she ever hoped.
Not being able to call Rick that night was hard. She longed to hear his voice, but it would give Felipe too much information. Sookie would not call or text anyone at home. She would rely on Mr. Cataliades to handle that. Although she hadn’t seen the demon yet, she had no doubt he was aware of her arriving, and they’d be seeing each other soon. He would have a way of communicating, so her son would know she arrived and was well.
For three nights Sookie and Felipe met to talk. Most evenings, their conversations also involved several hours spent with Mr. Cataliades. Together they hammered out the terms of the arrangement; how would Felipe contact Sookie, the maximum number of nights Sookie would work, how Sookie would be paid. Maintaining her independence was the point they wrangled over the most. Sookie was asking for protection, but insisted she would maintain her true base as a secret from her employer. Felipe argued that, as that employer, he could best protect Sookie if she was living with the rest of his retinue in Las Vegas.
Sookie argued that her telepathy would suffer if she was forced to be exposed to the hustle and bustle of living in a palace, even one removed from the city. Felipe argued he could just as easily set up a house for her that would allow her solitude, and still be within the sphere of his influence.
Sookie used every trick she’d learned in her years of working with high maintenance people, flattering and teasing by turns. She told the King that mystery was the privilege of any woman, and it made Felipe laugh. “In the end, what does it matter if I’m available when you need me?” Sookie challenged.
“But what if I would like to pursue other possibilities?” Felipe teased back, and then moved a little closer to Sookie. When Sookie startled, the King took on a decidedly mischievous look, and inched closer still.
“What next?” Sookie asked. “Are you going to chase me around the dining room table?”
“Would you run if I tried?” Felipe laughed. “I am a vampire, after all. I love to chase!”
Sookie managed to laugh, and even made it sound light-hearted, but the King’s words reminded her of other chases and she found that keeping her smile in place becoming difficult. “While I am flattered,” Sookie said quietly, “I have to repeat, I do not intend to have a personal relationship with any employer, no matter how charming.”
“That you find me charming gives me cause for hope!” Felipe flirted again.
In truth, Felipe was intrigued. For years, the Viking had turned himself inside out for this woman. He tolerated her outrageous behavior and allowed her to embarrass him. He made excuses for her and almost lost his own life trying to protect her. Felipe had thought Northman touched or stupid, but there was something in Sookie Stackhouse’s manner, her attractive person, that was changing Felipe’s mind.
If he was really honest with himself, Felipe had to admit a large part of his attraction was his desire to sample the Viking’s pet for himself. Was spending time between her legs worth all the trouble the Viking brought on himself so many years ago? Granted, Sookie wasn’t quite so fresh looking as she had been, but her breasts still appeared firm, and her hips, if anything, were rounder. She had that truest of hourglass figures, and Felipe looked forward to seeing her encased in gowns built to highlight her assets. She would be stunning, and she could use the distraction to pick secrets from the minds of the males who would doubtless flock to her.
Finally, the contract was concluded. Sookie would commit to five assignments during the year. Each assignment would be no longer than four nights. If extra nights were needed, then they would be negotiated in advance. There was a bank account that would be set up and money would be placed there for Sookie. Sookie could withdraw the funds at will. In addition to the fee for her services, Felipe would also pay all her travel expenses, including a clothing allowance.
Sookie’s privacy would be respected, and the King pledged not to attempt to follow or otherwise discover her base without her express permission. The King would make it known that Sookie was under his protection and that any transgressors would have to deal with the King directly. If others wanted to contract for Sookie’s services, Sookie would negotiate the contract herself, but she would pay a percentage of what she earned to Felipe as a finder’s fee.
“How do I know you’ll be safe?” Felipe asked.
Mr. Cataliades laughed then, “Our Miss Stackhouse is under the protection of one of the most powerful witches in North America,” he told the Nevada King. “She is here because she wants to work for you, not because she needs to.”
On their last night together before the Denver Summit, Felipe asked Sookie to walk with him in his garden. It was an oasis of flowers and the heavy perfume filled the night air. There were fountains spraying water and the desert sky stretched above them. Felipe wrapped a wool stole around Sookie’s shoulders. The days here were warm, but the nights could turn bitter. Felipe, as a vampire, didn’t notice the temperature change, but Sookie did, and she appreciated his thoughtfulness.
As Felipe guided her from planting to planting, he made a point of brushing against her. It seemed innocent. A pressure on her shoulder as he pointed out a rare bloom, a proprietary hand against her back, turning her down a path, an accidental touch of a breast immediately followed by an apology. Each touch was brief. Each touch appeared casual, but, by the end of the tour, Sookie found she was not immune. Her nerves were on edge and her body poised for more stimulation.
They were at the end of a path and Felipe produced a scarf, “With your permission.”
“Whatever for?” Sookie started to back away.
“The jasmines here are so delicate. Each has a different scent and if you would allow me to bind your eyes, you will be able to experience them more fully.” Felipe stood in front of her, the scarf lying across his hands. Sookie could feel her nipples hard and erect, but she couldn’t bring herself to run away.
“I’m trusting you,” she told him. “No funny business!”
“You are delightful!” Felipe laughed and he indicated she should give him her back. He tied the scarf in place, and then ran his hands down her shoulders and then her arms, and then he was gone.
“First,” he whispered close to her, “There is this one.” Sookie sniffed and was rewarded by a scent that was almost a ghost on the wind. It was sweet and a little citrusy. As she smelled, her mouth opened a little. The next time Felipe spoke, he was a little closer. “This one has just a hint of spice,” he told her. Sookie sniffed obediently, and was rewarded with a perfume that she wished she could wear every day.
Four more times Felipe presented her with blossoms, each unique. Finally, he said, “You can remove your blindfold, Miss Stackhouse, and tell me which was your favorite.” As Sookie reached her hands behind her to untie the knot, the King captured her lips.
Felipe was an expert kisser and he worked hard to overcome the way Sookie froze. He didn’t touch her anywhere but where their lips joined, but his tongue traced the seam of hers and, in her confusion, Sookie gasped. It was all the invitation Felipe needed and he swept her into his arms, pressing her against him.
“Stop!” Sookie exclaimed, ripping the blindfold from her face and trying to twist away. “No!”
To give him credit, Felipe immediately dropped his arms and stepped back, “I apologize, Miss Stackhouse,” he said and he dropped into a low bow, “I was overtaken by the moment. I made a mistake.”
“You bet you did, Buster!” Sookie bristled. “I don’t remember asking you to court me, and I sure don’t remember asking you to feel me up!”
“I am embarrassed,” Felipe said a little too smoothly. “I hope this won’t destroy our working relationship. I promise, I will mind my manners…” and then he looked at Sookie in an interested way, “Unless you invite me.”
Sookie was pulling her dignity together, “I appreciate that,” she said, channeling every snooty dowager she’d ever met.
Felipe offered his arm, but, when Sookie just gave him a cold look, he gestured at the right path and allowed her to lead the way back into the palace.
Sookie would leave the next morning and Felipe went back to his security room to have them run videos captured from her suite. There were tantalizing glimpses of firm, rounded flesh, and even a shot of her trimmed mound.
Angie, his child, walked up behind him, “I expected you would be there,” she indicated the video feed of the room with a jerk of her chin.
“To tell you the truth, I did as well. She doesn’t wear a ring, although her desire to keep her home base a secret would suggest a lover. Perhaps she has that human proclivity to faithfulness.”
“Perhaps,” Angie sniffed. “Do you really find that attractive?”
“I do,” Felipe nodded. “Now that I’ve spoken with her, I must admit I find her more desirable than before. There is something about the combination of an attractive body and intelligence that makes me want to bury myself. I remember someone saying she tastes of Fae. I will sample all she has to offer in time, and then, when the time is right, I will rub it in the Viking’s nose.”
“What do you care about Eric Northman?” Angie laughed. “He’s a consort, a nothing!”
“I find I enjoy reminding him of his place,” Felipe shrugged, “and the delightful Miss Stackhouse will help me.”