Eric surveyed the repairs and improvements necessary to render Sookie’s old house secure, and was pleased with the results. The addition of security lighting in the yard surrounding the house was a definite improvement as was the freshly laid asphalt paving her drive. Gravel was hard on a vehicle and didn’t last nearly long enough.
He wasn’t pleased, however, with the lady in question requesting a week away from anything vampire…including himself.
No, he wasn’t pleased, but he understood and graciously gave her the week she requested. His lips and eyes had tightened at the corners with her request, but he had immediately granted it, his only condition being that she immediately notify him of any suspicious activity.
Too much had happened too quickly and he knew she needed some time to process everything. Just because he understood it didn’t mean he had to like it, though.
Much area business, not to mention his own business, likely awaited his attention, and he planned to occupy his time taking care of everything that had undoubtedly piled up in his absence. His nights would stay busy…just not the way he wanted.
“One week,” he both stated and asked as he sat her small collection of bags down on the living room floor. A whiff of the slightly stale air confirmed new wood and paint, the lingering odor of new asphalt, and the known Were scents still lingering in the home. Sookie’s sweet fragrance was older and softer, and beyond that lay scents he could only deduce were of her family from days gone by.
She tossed her purse down on the worn sofa and turned to face him. “A week,” she confirmed, her face tired, her voice softly resigned.
He both saw and felt her indecision and knew that he could overcome it with little effort, but he was determined to give her the time she needed. Two strides of his long legs brought them face to face, and his arms rose seemingly of their own accord to wrap around her warm body and draw her into his embrace.
His cold heart warmed a bit when she returned his hold and rested her forehead on his chest for a moment. Knowing he had miles to go before he slept, he leaned back enough to gaze solemnly down into her face. He raised a hand to thread his fingers through the hair at her nape, and holding her close once more, lowered his head.
Gently at first, his firm lips grazed over her mouth, softly, teasingly, cool silk gliding over warm satin, then suddenly his tongue parted and slid between her lips, invading her mouth. His kiss turned strong and demanding, claiming, stealing her breath and her resolve and igniting fires she would just as soon remain banked for the moment.
When he raised his head, he took in her flushed cheeks, swollen lips, and slightly lidded gaze with satisfaction. Damn if he’d let her go that easily.
He held her gaze trapped with his own for along moment as he trailed a finger down her cheek, then he kissed her forehead and promptly left.
Flying to the house that was no longer a home without her presence by his side had never felt so wrong.
As Sookie collapsed into her bed very shortly after Eric left, she contemplated giving herself a break by following the old tried-and-true method of dealing with anything personal by putting off thinking about all things Eric until later in the week, but in her gut she knew that wasn’t going to happen.
The next afternoon she woke up somewhat refreshed and dashed to the bathroom. Her bladder was pissed that she’d let herself sleep herself out and was letting her know it in no uncertain terms.
All throughout her ablutions, her coffee, and her breakfast, she kept feeling like something was missing and knew in her heart of hearts that the “something missing” was Eric.
Hell, she’d thought about him when she first woke up – having to scramble to locate a bathroom had become almost routine since meeting him, but she had tried to put thoughts of him, specifically, out of her mind as she kept busy. She was mostly unsuccessful.
Later when her laundry was finally washing in the machine, she allowed herself to sit down and go through the accumulated mail that someone, probably a worker, had conveniently left on her kitchen table. Thinking about the people who had fixed her house made her curious about the faint acrid tar odor still hanging in the air, and she went to look out her curtains. Sure enough, even her driveway had been fixed – the asphalt was still nice and dark…and faintly stunk.
She hadn’t been surprised that her door had been replaced – Eric had said he’d take care of it so she knew it would be done, but not only had the damages been repaired, but her house had also been professionally cleaned and painted. For some reason her yard had seemed a lot brighter the night before, too.
Then she had been so emotionally and physically exhausted that she’d barely registered all the improvements. She’d kissed Eric goodbye, left her bits of luggage in the living room where he’d set them down, and gone straight to bed.
Steadfastly refusing to let herself get lost remembering that kiss, much less all the other things such kisses had previously led to, she refocused her attention on paying bills and doing more laundry while she thought of other things…that had to do with Eric.
The violence and the fear, the danger, how fast everything had happened between them…she knew she needed a chance to catch her breath. She didn’t doubt that she’d decide to be with him, and had told him as much, but she realized that she needed some time to seriously think about not only her relationship with Eric, but the changes, whether good or bad, that would take place in her life because of her involvement in the vampire world.
As she made a grocery list she found herself mentally compiling a completely different sort of list – all the things she wanted to ask Eric. There was so much she didn’t know, so many aspects about the vampire world that she knew she had to consider if she wanted to have a successful relationship with Eric.
A bit later she gave up on her grocery list and decided to just go on to the cable office and the grocery store. As she gathered her purse and keys, she automatically searched for Eric for the briefest second, but dismissed it. Of course she would miss him; they had been living in each other’s pockets there for a while, and it had been deceptively easy to become accustomed to his continued presence.
When she reached town she realized that she felt somewhat let down by the appearance of all the familiar buildings and streets…and people. True, it was home, but it was…boring.
As she stood in line at the cable office to get her bill straightened out – it had gone past due during the time she was off with Eric – she couldn’t help but wonder how he was doing on his end, and how Godric was doing.
She hadn’t seen his Maker since they’d left Stan’s destroyed house in Dallas, and she was worried about him. He might have been a very old vampire, but that was still a lot for him to endure. She really hoped that he and Eric were at least talking now.
Back home she couldn’t help but think of Eric and Godric as she put her groceries away. She couldn’t blame him for hiring someone ‘disposable’ to help him find his Maker, even if that person had been her. What she didn’t like was all the secrecy and violence and death, but even that she could understand. But that didn’t mean she had to like it.
Vampires, she now knew, seemed to thrive on secrets and violence, and death was a normal part of their un-dead life. She didn’t know if she could become accustomed to all that, but prided herself on realizing that if she wanted to be with Eric, then she’d have to be willing to adjust at least some. Plus, Eric wasn’t the kind of person who enjoyed killing, at least, not innocent people, so it wasn’t like he was going to be inviting her to host Monday night kill-fests or anything.
Later, her brain tired and her belly full of homemade fried chicken, potato salad, and green beans, she showered and gratefully sank down into her old bed. As tired as she still was she expected to ease on off to sleep, but instead her mind kept drifting back over what she had felt through the bond since a bit before nightfall.
She loved being able to tell when Eric rose for the night. That “sparking to life” feeling from him was comforting in a way that she couldn’t explain. While she was cooking her dinner she’d felt a cool, calm stream from him, but what was keeping her awake was feeling that he missed her, too.
Her second night’s sleep at home was restful, but her dreams were vaguely restless.
The next day the mail carrier brought her a padded envelope that she had to sign to receive. When she opened it, she found a check from Eric. She’d expected to be paid for her work, of course, but the bonus he’d given her for going “far above and beyond expectations” was astronomical.
The short but powerful letter that had accompanied the check brought tears to her eyes. Eric had thanked her for her service “above and beyond” what was expected, which didn’t surprise her, but when he wrote how grateful he was for her assistance with Godric…
She would treasure that letter always.
Her second full day at home was then spent in thought as she went to the bank to deposit her check. She then puttered around her house cleaning and making a subconscious inventory of the things she most wanted in her house. By the time she felt Eric rise for the evening, she had come to several conclusions.
Vampires and humans were in some ways worlds apart, but in others they were exactly the same. Both were people in all the ways where it counted the most. While they were definitely different from humans, what with the death and the drinking blood and all those “killer” instincts, they really were people, too. They laughed (over scary things sometimes) and cried (albeit blood tears) and loved (strongly, passionately, intensely), too.
Their world, though, was so different. All the death, all the violence, all the secrets… Could she set aside her feelings about death and killing? She still had nightmares from Dallas.
What happened wasn’t Eric’s fault, she realized as she sat nursing a cup of coffee at the kitchen table. It wasn’t Eric’s fault, and it wasn’t Godric’s fault, either. All Godric did was love a woman, and all Eric did was love his Maker. And…it wasn’t Stan’s fault, either. No, the fault rested squarely on the shoulders of the FOTS humans, and Hugo – also a human.. .and somewhat on Isobel for being a cold, selfish fish, and on Raban… for being a semi-psycho Maker grieving for his Child. But without the FOTS, none of any of that would have happened.
So while vampires did drink human blood and could be violent, it seemed so far to her that they were only that way when they had to be, the same as most humans. Upon consideration, she realized that she didn’t think any less of Godric for ending the ones who had caused himself and his Elspeth so much pain and anguish. She worried for a few minutes about whether or not she should be ashamed of herself for seeing Godric’s point of view, then decided it was irrelevant.
Humans were just as capable of violence as vampires were, if not more so. So, she sighed, that was one problem out of the way.
All she had to do, she realized, was figure out if she could adjust enough to deal with the other unsavory aspects of being involved with a vampire. As Sheriff of Area 5 he was a sort of authority in the area which could be either a good thing or a bad thing. She needed to know more about it before she could decide, though, since there was apparently a vampire queen to be considered.
She shrugged. Eric had over a thousand years of experience dealing with all that vampire shit, so she could feel safe leaving it in his large, capable hands.
And then there was that whole “living forever” conundrum.
She would grow old and die, and he would stay young and handsome forever. What if he wanted to turn her? Did she want that? Would she want to watch everyone she knew, all her family, all her friends, grow old and die while she stayed eternally young?
What if he did want to turn her, and she let him, and then they broke up? Forever was a long time to try to stay together. With a sigh she decided that conversation could be had with the source of the conundrum at a later time.
That night she stayed up later than she’d intended only to have erotic dreams of Eric’s large, capable hands being very large, and very capable when she finally did drift off to sleep.
The next day Sookie was surprised to wake up only a couple of hours before sun-down. She laughed to herself as she debated whether to fix breakfast or supper for her first meal.
As she ate, she realized that she really had missed Eric every bit as much as she had thought she would. As she cleaned up after her meal, she resolved to call him the next evening.
A bit before the sun finally set she felt Eric awaken, but then, strangely, a little while after dark she felt something… else. The feeling was curiously warming, comforting, and oddly strengthening in a strange way.
As she folded more laundry and put it away, she concentrated on sending Eric love and affection through the bond. As she watched a boring movie on her restored cable, she gladly accepted the love and affection Eric returned to her tri-fold.
She was putting away the few dishes from her late-night snack when she heard a knock at the door. She mentally scanned and knew it was a vampire, and noticed that the warm, comforting feelings had magnified noticeably. When she opened the door, she was shocked but realized that she shouldn’t have been. Of course! Not only would he have been able to track her by her bond with his Child, but he had been the source of the sweet feelings she’d noticed.
“Godric!” She hurriedly opened the door the rest of the way. “Please, come in!”
A beatific smile brightening his youthful countenance, the ancient vampire thanked her with a gracious nod of his head, then entered.
Sookie noticed the curiosity in his clear gaze as he surveyed her living room. While he did look much better than he had the last time she had seen him, she realized that there was a touch of sadness that would never leave his eyes, and her heart ached for him.
“I’m so glad to see you, Godric,” she said softly as she approached him with open arms. A worry she hadn’t truly understood was eased the moment he stepped into her embraced and returned it gently.
Her arms still about his waist, Sookie leaned back enough to peer up into his face. “You look so much better, but how are you, really?”
Touched by the care and concern for him he saw so openly displayed on her face, he chose to answer her as he would not have done with most others.
“I am…here,” he said quietly, his eyes staring at nothing behind her. “I am…recovering,” he added with sudden contentment, his gaze darting back to meet her own, “and have decided to accept my Child’s invitation to visit with him for a while.” He delighted in the happiness in her eyes at his news.
Unaccustomed to such closeness with a mortal, he then stepped back a moment later but truly appreciated the affection shown to him by his Child’s woman.
“And why are you not with my Child?” The perceptive knowledge in his eyes belied the unexpected question, but she answered him anyway.
“I just…I needed some time to think, you know?” She shrugged helplessly, truly wanting to explain it to Godric but having trouble finding her words.
At his understanding nod, she continued, “So much has happened, and so fast… I don’t… I just needed some time to think,” she finally repeated.
Godric patted her shoulder in sympathy. “And now you have thought, yes?” His voice was kind but there was a sharp look in his eye.
As Eric’s Maker, Godric was able to sense much more from his Child than Sookie could, and knew well how very much he was missing this woman. He felt Eric’s frustration and longing, and had no problem stepping in if his help should be needed.
His worry eased with the assurance in Sookie’s radiant smile.
“Yes, I have. I’ve decided to call him tomorrow night. I’d asked for a week away to really think things through, but I don’t want to take that long, not really.” A very pretty blush flushed over her cheeks and Godric surprised himself by fleetingly wondering if the woman had a sister.
Not bothering to keep the satisfaction from his expression, he instead asked, “Why wait?”
His quirked eyebrow dared her to find fault with his reasoning.
“You don’t think he’d mind if I went back early?” Sookie felt her heart rate increase at the thought. She’d asked for a week…and Eric had agreed to that week…but she didn’t want to wait that long.
He was pleased to sense her excitement mounting at the thought.
“Child, I do not believe he will mind at all.”
Godric watched with a kind eye as Sookie quickly packed a small bag and prepared to leave the house.
“Shouldn’t we call him,” she asked as he subtly rushed her out the door to her vehicle.
“That will not be necessary,” he answered smugly then stole her keys from her hand with a laugh.
They were on their way to Shreveport within fifteen minutes of Godric’s unexpected arrival at her home.
Eric hated forcing himself to leave Sookie alone for that week, but it was time she needed, so it was time he gave her. He understood her need to come to terms with all the changes in her life and in her perspective. Too much had happened too rapidly and in too short an amount of time, and she simply needed to rest and recuperate while she let her mind work through all the finer details. He understood that.
So, he would honor her request for an adjustment period. Besides, he had a lot of work to catch up on himself, Area business to oversee, and even though he had left Pam in charge of the bar, he was certain he’d have work needing to be done there, too. He was also able to keep himself occupied by overseeing whatever needing doing to ease Godric’s transition from Dallas to Shreveport.
When Eric had finally returned to his own home, physically tired, mentally exhausted, and sorely missing his Sookie, he had checked his phone, and found an interesting message from Stan. He then quickly returned his call while he prowled around his too-quiet house.
Somehow mass media outlets had received an anonymous tip about the FOTS’s attack on Stan’s home which happened, eerily enough, on the same night that a number of mishandled bombs had apparently detonated in the basement of the “church”. It was understood that an astonishingly vast array of anti-vampire propaganda and weapons were to be discovered by investigating authorities during their scheduled examination of the scene. Everyone was to be properly outraged when evidence of the church’s substantial involvement in the V-trade would come to light.
Eric’s heart healed a bit with Stan’s last news bomb: He informed Eric of Godric’s intention to eventually settle in Shreveport.
That was a very welcome surprise. After urging Eric to take Sookie home, the ancient vampire had spoken briefly with Stan, and then disappeared, so Eric had no idea of Godric’s plans. He sincerely hoped his Maker would choose to stay with him, and possibly Sookie, there in his favorite home, but he was preparing several of his other residences just in case he wanted his own space and privacy.
He was now into the third night of Sookie’s requested “time off”, and he had yet to hear from his Maker. He could sense both him and Sookie in their respective bonds, of course, and both seemed safe. That was the only thing keeping him calm as he had yet to receive word from either of them. It seemed they shared the same dislike of modern communication devices.
The bonds proved invaluable as he paid strong attention to them during those nights as he forced himself to leave Sookie alone and waited to hear from his Maker. He hated not knowing what Godric was doing…and he hated being apart from his Sookie…but their bonds assured him of their respective good health even if their emotions ranged wildly. From Sookie he felt sadness, confusion, happiness, curiosity, and longing, and then suddenly he had been flooded with love, affection, and determination. From Godric he felt rolling waves of despair, melancholy, rare humor, satiation, and a subtle lightening of spirit.
He hated waiting.
During his second night back he very reluctantly put in an appearance at Fangtasia and was even more disgusted with ‘the vermin’ – after the time he had spent most pleasantly with Sookie and her delightful scent, their putrid stench was now stifling. He didn’t even want to think about how nasty their defiled blood would taste. He would gladly admit that he was now ruined for any other…if she would only come back him. She had said that she would, but he wouldn’t, couldn’t, truly believe it until he had her safely in his arms, and in his bed.
He hated waiting.
Eric leaned back in his desk chair in his home office and tossed a couple of darts at the picture on his dartboard. As the darts landed true to aim forming a straight line down a certain queenly forehead, nostril and chin, he smiled a little.
Just as he had known she would, Pam had done quite well during his absence, and he had gladly let her buy out the website of her choosing on his dime. Unfortunately there were still quite a few Sheriff and personal business items that only he could authorize or decide, but fortunately those issues could be handled at his home. He shuddered at the thought of spending one more minute at the bar and relegated this night to completing the rest of those tasks.
Reluctantly he eventually heated and drained two bags of donor blood and concentrated on savoring the memory of the addictively sweet and satisfying force of nature that was his Sookie. He then plodded back to his chair and once again turned his attention to the tasks at hand.
He hated waiting.