“Damn,” Sookie breathed, attempting to run her shaky hands through her tangled, sweat-dampened hair. “Damn, damn, damn.” She side-eyed the lifeless giant next to her while gently shoving his long arm from her lap. That Eric could give her the best orgasm she’d had to date while motionless beside her was, for some reason, disturbing.
Sookie took in the bedroom, noting that once again, a light had been left on for her. Judging from the smartness she felt in her tired eyes and the slight beginning of a headache, she knew she was awake much too soon.
Groaning, she slipped from the large bed and stretched. Never in her life had she felt so physically well, despite her current fatigue, as she had since taking Eric’s blood. And judging from her fresh appearance in the mirror above the sink in his bathroom, something she hadn’t seen in a few days, she’d never looked better, either. It was no wonder to her, that humans were addicted to vampire blood.
Sookie’s mind flitted back to the vision of the somewhat haggard appearance of the man in the brown suit and compared it to her reflection. If she took more of Eric’s blood, not that he’d offered, would she end up like the Deacon? She filed the question, along with a few others, away for later and finished in the bathroom.
Eric’s home was eerily quiet. They’d spent so much of the last few days locked up or underground, Sookie realized with a start that it had been days since she’d seen the sun. She quickly grabbed her bag and headed for the stairs, not caring that once she left, she couldn’t return. She knew Eric’s house was safe, but Sookie desperately hoped he had curtains on his upstairs windows, as opposed to something else.
“Perfect,” she sighed, pushing back the gauzy material that draped the sliding glass doors of his office. She sat on the floor, content, the afternoon sun warming her as it slowly set behind the house. After a while, and several catches of her nodding head, Sookie rose and studied the room. Eric’s laptop remained open, tempting her, and she slid behind his desk. A few taps against the keys, and the screen came to life.
“Raban.” Sookie’s lips pursed as she shrugged her shoulders, finding the name no stranger than her own. There was barely two paragraphs’ worth of information about the vampire, though it was interesting to her, that he was nearly as old as Eric’s Maker. Perhaps they knew each other. She would have to ask Eric.
There was even less written of Raban’s Child, Elspeth. The female vampire was listed as having been ‘born’ in Scotland, and ‘died’ in Dallas. “Shit,” Sookie said, surprised. “Three months ago,” she murmured. The room had darkened considerably around her, and she shuddered as Eric woke up somewhere beneath her.
“Sookie?” he called up the stairs, and she quickly shut his laptop and scrambled to her feet.
Eric smirked from the bottom of the stairwell as Sookie practically stumbled into his arms as she descended the steps. “What has you so flustered?” he asked, steadying her on her feet.
“Nothing,” she said breathlessly. She attempted to smooth her hair while fighting the impulse to kiss him ‘hello.’ “I, uh…sat by the window. It was sunny.”
“It is almost dark,” he said, gently guiding her back to the bedroom and gesturing for her to sit on the bed. She was hiding something, and Eric wondered what she had been doing in his home.
“Well, sure…I meant earlier.” Sookie leaned back on the bed and closed her eyes. His bed was the most comfortable she’d ever felt, and she dreaded that they would have to leave it so soon. “I can’t wait to come back here,” she said sleepily.
Something flared sharply in Eric’s chest as he watched the woman in his bed, the first in a very long time, and certainly the only human one. “Sookie,” he said quietly, on her in an instant.
She screeched and stared wildly up at him, suddenly on top of her. “W-what’s wrong?” she stammered.
He was everywhere, caging her with his long arms, his leg firmly wedged between hers, cool against her warmth. “You will come back here, yes?” he asked softly as his nose grazed her hairline.
Sookie knew, with his blood in her, with what he had just asked, that things had changed. It was one of those times, like when she’d been small and realized she could hear things others could not. It was a stomach-dropping moment of understanding, things would never be the same. And if she felt it, she knew Eric could, too. “After Dallas?” she asked. He moved his lips to her neck, resting them there and nodding. “Come back here with you?”
Eric raised his head to face her. He needed to hear it, what he already felt in his blood. There was too much at stake, for both of them. “Yes,” he said simply.
“I already told you, you wouldn’t be alone, Eric,” she said kindly, placing her palm against his cheek. “I’ll go with you, and I’ll come back with you, too.”
It wasn’t enough. “As mine.”
His. It was an idea as huge as the vampire pinning her to his bed. “I don’t know exactly what that means,” Sookie replied slowly.
Eric smiled, though she was telling the truth. “You are very clever.”
“Eric,” she breathed out, not sure how to say what she felt. “I don’t think I could stay away from you if I tried.”
He nodded and accepted what was probably the best response to be expected, given the circumstances. He had contemplated giving her more of his blood before travelling to Dallas, but the existing scent of him in and around Sookie’s body would be evidence enough to another vampire of his and Sookie’s connection.
“I like being around you,” she said, interrupting his thoughts. “I wasn’t planning on leaving.”
Eric had never foreseen asking her to stay. “Good.” He abruptly stood and offered his hand. “We must leave.”
Within minutes, Eric had pared down the mess of clothing Sookie had haphazardly packed in her home days before, and combined it in a bag with his, insisting it would be easier to manage. It hadn’t gone unnoticed by her that he only chose dresses and skimpy underwear, dismissively waving his hand when she mentioned needing at least one bra.
“We’re driving?” she asked when he opened the door for her that led to the garage.
“It will afford us time to discuss our strategy,” he explained. “In private.” Eric’s fingers flew over the screen of his phone as he simultaneously maneuvered the SUV onto the highway, and Sookie considered covering her eyes for the next two hours so as not to watch the road, either.
“So what’s the plan?” she asked finally, cracking her window and sighing.
“You said we would discuss strategy,” Sookie explained, gesturing to the scenery whizzing by her window. “At this rate, we’ll be there in less than an hour, so I guess we should get talking.” She glanced at the handsome vampire’s neutral expression, which didn’t match the emotional turmoil she could feel inside him.
“Stan does not know of your telepathy,” he said.
When Eric didn’t continue, she shrugged. “Okay. Is that how you’d like to keep it? I mean, it’s not like I can read vampires.” Sookie was unsure that it would even come up.
Again she waited for more, but Eric said nothing. “Are you sure about this, Eric? I don’t have to go along. You said you had a house in Dallas. I could just wait there,” she offered. Sookie was confused, as they so far had done little strategizing, and it felt more to her like pulling teeth. The thought made her smile, which Eric caught.
“What?” he asked, wondering what had filled her with mirth.
“Nothing,” she said, still smiling. “There’s a saying, when it’s hard to get someone to tell you something, or like, elaborate…” Sookie looked at Eric and chuckled. “You say, it’s like pulling teeth…you know,” she explained. “Made me think of your fangs.” Eric blinked at her, and she sighed again. “Never mind.”
“Getting information from me is like…pulling teeth?” he asked.
“Yeah. Like pulling big ol’ vampire fangs,” she replied. “Hey! What happens if you lose yours?” Sookie asked suddenly.
“They grow back.”
“Wow,” she said, drawing out the word. “Does that happen with all your body parts?”
While Sookie found it fascinating, Eric did not seem interested in discussing it. She wondered how many more car trips she’d have to suffer and poked through the bag at her feet, finding her tablet. “So listen, I saw something on your computer I wanted to ask you about.”
It was, Eric realized, what she’d been doing that evening when he rose. “Oh?”
“Do you actually know Raban?” she asked, poking at the screen in her lap.
“We have not met,” Eric replied.
Sookie side-eyed him and cleared her throat. “Uh huh. Okay, what about his Child, Elspeth?”
She rolled her eyes and went on. “Did you know she died a few months ago?”
“Not until yesterday, no. What is your point?”
Sookie scanned the few notes she’d made in her tablet. “Oh! What’s a renouncer?”
Eric looked at her sharply, and the SUV veered ever so slightly. “Where did you hear that?”
“That data-base said Elspeth was possibly a renouncer. Did you not read that?”
He had not. “What else did you read?” he demanded.
Sookie stiffened at his tone and frowned. “Nothing. I thought it was interesting that she died recently, and that her Maker seems to be behind a plot to end another vampire’s Child. But you say you don’t know her.”
“Nor did I kill her,” Eric replied. “A renouncer is one who has given up on his vampirism, and therefore his existence. He turns his back on our kind and chooses to die, rather than remain immortal.”
“Suicide?” Sookie gasped.
Eric simply raised his eyebrows. “I do not know.”
“I bet Stan Davis does,” she said grimly.
Sookie ignored Eric’s question. “Godric must know, too. Maybe he knew Elspeth.” Maybe he was somehow responsible for her death, which seemed most likely to Sookie. She had to assume, that had Godric been the one to kill her, her Maker would have avenged the death by killing Godric. Since Raban was choosing to take out everyone else around the other ancient vampire, she reasoned Elspeth’s death was unintentional. At least, on Godric’s part. It was like a vampire soap opera, she thought.
“Do you think he could have been mated to her?” Sookie pondered aloud. “It could explain why he’s been ‘off’ lately, like you and Pam described.”
Eric mentally agreed, that such a connection between his Maker and Raban’s dead Child could explain Godric’s bizarre behavior of late, as well as Raban’s apparent death wish for all those related to Godric. “It is a highly plausible scenario,” he conceded.
“He must be heartbroken,” Sookie said sadly. Both Godric and Raban, she figured. “How does he feel to you?”
Eric moved his head, as if trying to shake the notion out of it. “It does not…it is not my place. Nor would I discuss it with you.” He felt sharply the hurt his comment caused her and scowled. “I cannot, do not ask me to,” he said, somewhat more gently than his previous comment.
A thousand year-old connection could not, Eric felt, be simply explained by answering Sookie’s innocent inquiry. While tied distantly, it was a tether that could never be broken, and had undergone so many experience-changing alterations that it was pointless to define it. Eric didn’t feel the need to, and it would never occur to him to question his Maker’s opinion.
“I believe the saying is, ‘it is what it is,'” he joked, trying to lighten the tension inside the vehicle.
“Let sleeping dogs lie?” she asked, and he smiled.
“That, too.” Eric admired Sookie greatly in that moment, for her insight and her kindness. Though he’d never admit to the latter, he enjoyed when it was directed at him. He wasn’t sure he needed it, but he liked it. “I am glad you are here,” he admitted, before he could stop himself from saying it.
“I know,” she said, resting her warm hand on his thigh as he drove. “Why am I here, anyway?”
“What do you mean?” Where else did she expect to be, other than at his side, he wondered.
“What’s the cover story?” Sookie asked. “Isn’t Stan Davis going to wonder why you brought a human?” Images of the fang-bangers at Fangtasia flashed through her mind, and she frowned. “Oh, God, am I supposed to be your pet, or whatever it’s called?”
“Absolutely not,” Eric huffed. He had thought it over many times himself, doubting that Stan would actually take the time to consider Sookie’s presence, or her relationship to Eric. “I do not expect anyone to address you, nor would any explanation be required.”
“Really? What am I gonna do, just stand there?”
“Or sit on my lap.”
Sookie laughed. “Kneel at your feet?” she suggested.
“Do not tease,” he warned, palming his cock with his hand. “His nest will be aware of our…connection. Given my status and relationship with Stan, you will not be disturbed.” When she shuddered and withdrew her hand, Eric snatched it back. “You will not leave my side,” he promised, and she nodded.
“How do I act?” she asked seriously.
He contemplated her question for a few moments. “You will be a human inside the nest of another Sheriff. I would suggest remaining quiet and polite.”
Sookie interpreted that as being seen but not heard. “I can do that.”
Eric knew that she could. Pam would be more likely to offend another vampire than Sookie. “You can,” he said sincerely. “Stan Davis is a reasonable Sheriff, he will respect your presence as my human.”
Sookie stilled in her seat. “Your what?”
“My human,” he replied, slowing down to exit the highway. “You have not had coffee, correct? I will stop here.”
“Eric,” Sookie said carefully. “What does that mean, ‘your human’? You hired me as your personal assistant.”
“You have had my blood,” he said dismissively, pulling up to a convenience store. “I do not see a drive-thru,” he remarked.
“Eric!” Sookie explained. “Answer me. Please,” she added. He’d had her blood, did that make him her vampire? She immediately blushed at how the thought made her feel, and Eric smirked at her knowingly. “Oh, shush,” she complained, shifting in her seat. “For all I know, you might have fifty other ‘your humans’ stashed away.”
Eric threw back his head and laughed, the thought of fifty Sookies delighting him. “Were there more of you,” he mused. “No, there is only one, and she is seated next to me.”
“Shall we?” he asked, pointing to the store. “Human, mine?”
“Does that make you my vampire?”
Eric grinned and didn’t bother to stop his fangs from dropping. “Do you wish to be?”
Sookie’s blush deepened further as she scrambled for an answer. “I didn’t…I mean, I don’t know how…I’m not trying to assume-“
“Sookie,” Eric said calmly, holding his hand to her face. While he was amused with her words, he wanted there to be no further confusion. “It means you are mine, as I am yours.” She nodded quickly and swallowed. “We can discuss later,” he went on, leaning toward her and gently brushing his lips against hers, “how far we wish to take it. Together.”
She gasped when his cool tongue slipped into her mouth, and she eagerly returned the kiss. Eric pulled away and stared intently into her eyes, silently willing her to answer.
Sookie smiled shakily and licked her lips. “Together.”