**A/N: Just so’s ya know, I’m totally trademarking the phrase, “the grump in that glower” because reasons. Also, Eric is mouthy. Just sayin’… Here’s over 8,000 words of Eric-centric…something. Enjoy!**
Eric watched closely from behind as Sookie gracefully relaxed back in that old kitchen chair. His hands now by his sides, he took a necessary moment to still himself and, he thought wryly, to become reacquainted with reality.
The chair’s height, he noted as he tried to ignore the incident in his pants, was perfect – the back of her head rested softly just above his stomach and, at that angle, he had a perfect view of her chin…and her chest…
Her heaving, hard-nippled chest.
His bright blue gaze focused on them far more intently than modern convention allowed.
So the sensual effects of my blood react more strongly within her than I’d thought…hoped…thought…nipples…breasts…so soft yet so firm… By Odin…her nipples! So hard…!
His hands itched to fondle those large breasts, so soft yet so firm, and his fingers…his fingers could already feel those hard nipples as he tweaked and rolled…
Just as his hands began to lift of their own accord – along with the stray notion that he should look into products that would let his higher brain keep those hands under control – he sensed a bright, fresh tinge washing over his thoughts,
He stilled to savor the burgeoning sensation that he knew was the one-sided bond forming with his little telepath.
Repletion…strength…curiosity…awe…power…stronger than emotions but not quite thoughts…interesting…
He mentally catalogued the bursts of information as he received them, each new bit as interesting as the last.
It’s as though I’m watching a flower bud, he thought rather more poetically than usual.
Her expression changed minutely.
Ah, yes, now comes the hyper-awareness…the increased senses… She’ll have to get used to…may take a while… Some humans never quite adjust… No fear for her, though…telepathy and open attitude…both of monumental benefit…
Seeing her test her newly advanced senses warmed that growing chamber in Eric’s chest, and he smiled softly as he watched her delicately sniff the air in the kitchen. Knowing that she was even then detecting odors she would never have noticed before somehow made him feel…closer? more intimate? with the woman who now cocked her head a bit to the side as she evidently realized she could now hear better, too.
Her eyelids had fluttered closed as she savored and explored the new power as it quickly entered her veins, but now they popped wide open.
“That damn clock is going to drive me nuts! And Jason must not have shut the bathroom faucet all the way off because it’s dripping.”
And then she laughed.
“Eric! This is insane!” She beamed up at him from a face radiant with newly enhanced health.
He chuckled along with her – he knew exactly what she meant.
But…then she tried to stand.
To Eric’s amusement, in her enthusiasm she stood a little too quickly and automatically overcorrected which, to his added entertainment, would have led to further difficulties and a rapid introduction to the old kitchen floor had he not grabbed her shoulder and ‘encouraged’ her to retake her seat.
“Easy, there,” he cautioned, adroitly flicking his hair to partially cover the humor he knew was in his eyes. Although he remained more behind her than to her side and the chances of her seeing his expression clearly enough to divine his humor were slight, he had learned long ago to keep his true expressions hidden.
Some habits were difficult to break.
“Give yourself a little time to become familiar with your new strength and reflexes. You will have somewhat greater speed in your movements, now, too, so be aware of that.”
“No kidding,” she exclaimed happily as she glanced around in wonder. “I had just barely thought about getting up and making a cup of coffee and whoa – alluvasudden I was standing!”
The old coffee maker on the counter gurgled as though someone had called its name.
She giggled at the coincidence then, under his kind eye, began flexing her feet and ankles, slowly working her way up her body as if reacquainting herself with her more mobile parts.
Despite the current balance issues, he was deeply satisfied with the success of this first bond. While keeping a light grasp on her shoulder to gently prevent her from trying to rise again before she was ready, he worked to acclimate himself to the strangeness of feeling her in that part of his mind only ever shared with his Maker and, eons later, his child.
Growing crowded in here…thank fuck she’s happy when blood-drunk…Pam was bitchy and confused for nights but that was a true Turning… She’ll grow accustomed to the improvements in time…surprising how strong I can feel her, though… Nowhere even faintly as strong as Godric when he fully opens the bond…tsunami compared to a ripple in a pond…don’t like how he can shut it down so that I can only tell that he lives…will have to discuss that with the old man… This connection with Sookie…more like with Pam, perhaps… but much milder…hmm…wonder if…will have to try…Maker’s call…maybe a small command…should try that, too…would come in handy in certain situations…wonder what she’s like when she’s drunk?
It hadn’t much occurred to him to consider how she might handle the sensory enhancements that would come with taking his blood but he calmly acknowledged his relief when she seemed to have no negative issues. The lively wonder and exuberant curiosity flooding his mind – really, very surprising how strong considering this is nothing more than a one-sided first bond – oddly in fact boosted his own mood.
…or is that Sookie, too…
Apparently satisfied that she knew her body parts – he had monitored her progress as she finally worked her way up to her fingers – she patted his hand on her shoulder.
“Ok, lemme up, I’m goin’ to attempt to make a cup now. I don’t feel so much stronger as just…I don’t know…faster, maybe? Definitely better. We’ll see how this goes.”
Eric moved his hand but remained ready to catch her in an instant should she tip over again. As she rose comically slowly, he heard her mutter, “This should be interesting.”
Once safely on her feet, markedly faster than she would have before, she carefully edged her way to the appropriate counter.
He struggled with then gave into the need to grin at how cautiously she moved when preparing her beverage, but the surge of pure bliss slamming through the bond after her first sip wiped the smile from his face. His lids slammed shut as his eyes tried to roll back in his head, and he was so caught up savoring the experience that he almost missed her next words.
He’d certainly missed her crossing the room to stand beside the table…
Her eyes gleaming vibrantly and with a wide, oddly smug grin on her face, Sookie exclaimed, “This must drive you crazy! How long did it take you to get used to hearing and seeing and smelling so much? Everything is so much brighter and clearer… Oh fudge…if my sense of taste has improved as much as it seems like it has, I’m going to eat my weight in…in everything!”
A wave of giddiness almost replaced that bliss still lingering in his mind as her eyes brightened deviously. Moments thereafter, she very quickly had in her happy grasp a fork and the rest of a pecan pie she’d taken from the refrigerator.
The surge of bliss – yet another one – following her first bite assured him that the gooey-looking pie was, indeed, edible.
Oh…my…Odin… How long will it take before…accustomed to all this…joy?
Hell… If I’m not careful…can see it now…during meetings… serious dialogue…contract disputes…my face suddenly flooding with unaccountable ecstasy when she rediscovers that brown food bar they all seem to like… chocolate! Or cake. I can see the cake…used to like the old version of it myself… Or that cold milk product that too closely resembles cum when it melts… Or the scent of fresh laundry… A bed with warm, soft sheets…
Oh, fuck… Odin fucking forbid…that she masturbate…
He felt his balls clench at the mere thought.
Would cum even in my daysleep…
Which reminded him…
“I need to check Tina’s space in the ‘vette while you finish your pie,” he began, only to be waved away by a fork-holding hand and a vague nod as all her attention remained focused on sweet gooey nuts.
Inexplicably relieved, Eric grabbed her luggage and blurred to his car.
Maybe she hadn’t noticed…enormous wet spot – how could she miss that? Thank fuck vampire cum doesn’t carry a scent mortals would notice… Maybe I didn’t make noise? Was sure I had… She took my blood! Compton’s hold is broken…still must die…sorry gutless bastard…
My blood now lives in her veins…will have to convince her to either strengthen or at least reform this bond when the effects eventually begin to wane…
In short order – and after ensuring the wolves weren’t in the vicinity although such things as nudity or evidence of sexual release mattered little to supes – he had located and changed into the spare jeans kept in a bag for usually much gorier purposes.
This keeps up and Sookie will have me milked dry without even the first real touch…women…
Once fully dressed again, he blurred around the perimeter of the house to test for new scents and any other signs of suspicious activity. The Weres were in their own quadrants and apparently doing their jobs effectively, but safety check never hurt.
Just because Compton is bleeding in my cell doesn’t mean the problem is solved…probably called his mommy-pire to come save him…wouldn’t put it past him…sniveling coward…be surprised if she showed up, though…last I knew she was siphoning off some minor self-styled “lord” up North somewhere…wouldn’t risk alienating her sugar-daddy to save her boy-toy…crass bitch… Should have hooked her and Sophie-Anne up… No new scents or signs of activity…good…
Afterward he loaded his trunk with what luggage would fit then arranged a few things in the back seat mainly to ensure that Tina and her claws would have enough room after loading her and the suspiciously angled trash bag. He could still hear her intermittent growls as the feisty little beast had yet to truly quieten. He doubted the pill so dangerously administered would have much actual effect but he couldn’t help but thank the cat for providing the impetus for the night’s surprising turn.
“Good kitty…growly kitty…hissy ball of hate,” he hummed silently to himself as he blurred back to the kitchen…and bit back a laugh when he saw the monumental sandwich the telepath was now in the process of preparing. Apparently his blood increased other appetites, too.
“Does this black plastic bag go as well?”
Eric involuntarily laugh out loud – his voice had evidentially startled the little telepath because she jumped and, when she jerked around, a dull knife covered in a suspicious white substance flew from her hand to land noisily in the middle of the kitchen floor.
Tina quite rightly hissed her disapproval; the noise was rather jarring.
A comical load of shock and mild outrage bombarded him.
“Gaaah, Eric! Geez I need to put a bell on you!”
The glare she sent him had him grinning devilishly as he silently blurred over to back her up against the counter.
She wants to put a bell on me? A bell? And where do I suppose this bell would go…around my neck? Ooooh, maybe she means to put it on my dick…that might work…ding, dong, little chickie…ding……dong……
His voice was a bit lower than normal as he considered all the possibilities but he wisely concluded that it also had much to do with her once-again heaving breasts as they rose and fell so delightfully against his chest.
Her breasts should always be heaving…how can I ensure such a thing…must be a way…
Her breathless “uh-huh” of agreement combined with the slight dilation of her pupils as she took in his undoubtedly aroused expression made his lips curve in a self-satisfied smirk.
He braced a hand to each side of her body then lowered his head to ask, “But your telepathy would warn you of an approaching vampire’s void, would it not?”
Although he could tell by both the bond and her reactions that she was becoming aroused, he had to give her credit when she huffed instead of whimpering.
“Yeah, sure it can…unless I’m not payin’ attention to it because I’m busy doin’ something else like eatin’ some of the best pecan pie ever baked or makin’ one of my triple-decker sandwiches. And besides, you’re a guest here so I don’t have to worry about keepin’ track of you.”
She gave him a “so there” look so pointed that he almost heard the words.
“So there” indeed…
The novelty of being able to verbally spar with someone so politely, to…to play with someone without having to keep up the facade and without anything at all expected of him, was heady.
“And it’s not like you’re gonna be gettin’ lost like some of Jason’s friends used to when we were younger,” she added with an exasperated eye roll and a grin.
He shook his head in negation then froze when she lifted her hand to swipe his bangs off his forehead.
“And when are you going to get this mess cut?” She grinned evilly. “Hey, I know where there’s a pair of scissors…”
Eric could all-but hear Pam screeching in his mind at the mere idea of allowing Sookie loose on his hair and for a moment considered seeing what would happen. It wasn’t as though he couldn’t regrow it overnight if he willed it to be so…
Maybe she would give me a Mohawk style… Hi dad, I’m home…how do ya like my hair?
He had to grin at the probable reaction.
“I haven’t had time yet, but once we’re settled in Dallas, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Well, just don’t get it cut too short but I would like to be able to see your eyes when I look at you. I could go ahead and take a little off the top right now, ya know.”
That grin…brightened her entire face with a deliciously evil cast…
“Oh-ho no…no way, no how. Pam would raise hell for the next two decades and besides, with that look on your face? Not going to happen,” he declared with a laugh in his voice.
“So you’re sayin’ you don’t trust me with scissors near your hair?”
Her mock outrage was hilarious. He truly hoped the girl never tried to bluff at cards.
“Nope, not at all,” he firmly agreed.
Abruptly tired of waiting, he went straight for the kiss…one that earlier in the evening he hadn’t thought he would experience again anytime soon.
As his lips covered hers, his thoughts automatically revisited the topics they had discussed before he’d left his house…and then his thoughts wisely shut the hell up when she recovered from her surprise and began softly returning his kiss.
Eventually an odd clarity seemed to descend. Growling cats, ticking clocks, mythical bells, dripping faucets…even the spider he suspected was peeping out at them from his corner…they all faded into some nebulous background and there was only…
His arms now securing her more closely to his chest, he allowed one hand to rise and cup the back of her head, and for that moment in time his entire world shrank to revolve only around the warm, soft creature in his grasp.
Her taste…beyond the coffee and sugary nuts she tastes…just as incredible…as I remembered…and her scent…warmth of her mouth and…breasts…thighs…the softness of her stomach against my cock…
She tilted her head to the side to accept his deepening kiss, and he couldn’t contain the rumble of a purr that slipped out when her hand rising leisurely up his chest happened to graze his sensitive nipple.
Torturous…how could nirvana be so…torturous?
The noise seemed to startle her so he redoubled his efforts, and was gratified when she trailed her fingers along his neck before threading them through his hair.
Joy, wonder, and a sensation of pure pleasure that were not his own heated his already inflamed blood.
…a natural…such ripe yet untried passion…a spark simply waiting to ignite…
Far, far too soon for his equilibrium, he eventually heard the protestations of the brother’s truck as it revved and grumbled along the secondary road that led to the Stackhouse driveway with perhaps the worst timing in the history of forever.
Eric raised his head with a growl and his fangs – fangs he had struggled to keep contained so he wouldn’t accidentally nick her – descended with what he considered fully justified provocation as his head swiveled in the direction of the approaching sound.
Her annoyed murmur of disapproval at the interruption brought his gaze back to her face. His expression, which had hardened at the thought of the upcoming intrusion, softened when he spotted her upturned face complete with closed eyes and swollen lips.
When he didn’t immediately lower his head and continue, her eyes popped open and…she pouted.
Awww…the grump in that glower! …could out-pout even Pam’s best efforts…such grump!
That pout was so cute he kissed her nose before he could even think to stop himself.
The fuck did I…? Did I…did I just…her NOSE? HER NOSE? No…I most certainly did not. Eric Northman does not kiss…noses – and I will vehemently deny having done so until my true death.
Her moue, softened by the-thing-that-had-not-happened, now morphed into curiosity. As he wasn’t certain which “what” she was referring to, he decided to answer the only applicable question in his opinion.
“I heard your brother’s truck; in fact, he’s about to turn into your driveway now.”
A spike of irritation above and beyond his own seeped into his mind.
Good. They say misery loves company…
With a huff she blew a few stray bangs from her forehead, a move she evidentially had practiced often given the success of the venture, before moving away from him to retrieve her case knife from the floor.
A moment later she handed him a paper towel that he accepted with curiosity. People didn’t often hand him…paper towels.
Panties, sure…what I’m supposed to do with them I’ll never understand… The occasional bra…sure, and same…countless panties, actually…even a few odd…but never a paper towel… What exactly am I do to with it?
“There, you can clean the mayo off the floor while I finish makin’ my sandwich.”
Oh. Wait…she wants me to…what??
He raised a mostly playfully indignant brow at her audacity.
“What? It’s your fault you startled me, you know,” she explained before winking at him with beguiling sass. “You really autta be wearing a bell.”
When she grabbed a clean knife that was obviously, in his opinion, far too dull to do much more than spread white and scarily yellow goop and then promptly returned to her sandwich, he shook his head in mild bemusement as he beheld the small paper towel in his large hand.
Still unsure as to how he had been roped into the task, he quickly cleaned the disgusting white splotches from the old kitchen floor.
Eric Northman…doing menial labor…never thought I would live to see the night. After all this time…well, I have done much worse but for…well, maybe not better reasons…but don’t tell Godric. Don’t tell Godric. Don’t tell Godric. Hell, I bet she’s going to tell Godric…or worse…Pam…maybe I do need to hang a bell from my dick.
As he tossed the offensive bit of paper into the garbage can, he firmly if mentally declared that this was…yet another… situation that had never happened.
He was thankful that apparently only the stronger emotions seemed to seep through their bond because he fully suspected that she was smirking as she worked on her food. He didn’t check…
Jason’s truck rumbled to a stop near his vehicle and he listened very closely to hear if the boy’s tires flung any offending gravel but thankfully heard no metallic dings. He would have hated having to glamour the Stackhouse male into…what had Pam called it…twerking? before a packed audience at the Shifter’s bar.
No, I wouldn’t…would actually pay to see that…too bad he didn’t mar the paintjob…print up fliers…sell tickets… Wonder if he’s even still welcome at the shifter’s pit…better for the boy if he’s not, really…but not my problem…
Really should have this horrendous driveway paved…bane to humanity…
Sookie took her sandwich plate over to the table while he listened to Jason helping his grandmother from his truck with more patience than he’d thought the boy capable.
“Jason’s flippin’ over your car – apparently it’s a ‘vette? A “hot dang, would you look-a that” shiny red ‘vette? Anyway, be warned,” Sookie laughingly whispered to him just before she bit into a sandwich half.
Adele’s similarly whispered, “Oh, do come on, Jason. Yes, it’s a pretty car but I’m certain Mr. Northman is impatient for us to get inside so they can go”, easily reached his ears moments later.
He had to snicker. If the older woman only knew…
Arms folded across his chest per habit, Eric leaned back against the refrigerator door to watch the proceedings.
“Woah, dude, is that your ‘vette? Nice ride, man,” Jason excitedly proclaimed as he opened the kitchen doors for the matron. Certain that the extreme enthusiasm in his voice was fully warranted but not wanting to encourage the guy, Eric simply nodded.
The brother proceeded to plop two plastic grocery bags down on the table beside Sookie’s plate then promptly snagged the unbitten half of her neatly sliced sandwich.
Eric cocked his brow at the selfish, rude behavior but Sookie subtly shook her head. The burst of resigned humor he felt from her stayed his hand more than the physical negation had.
“Jason, what have I told you about stealing food from your sister’s plate?”
The elderly woman sat down tiredly as she admonished the brother but her words appeared to have little effect as the sandwich was already half eaten.
Two bites…impressive. Two more and the entire thing will magically disappear down that vast maw of his…does he even chew?
“It don’t matter, Gran,” Jason replied, his mouth mostly cleared. “It’s not like she eats both halves. An’ besides ‘at, she makes better sandwiches than I do.”
“You never give her a chance to actually eat both sides when you’re around,” Adele grumbled as she turned to hang her purse from the chair back. “Well don’t you look radiant,” she then commented to Sookie who had just taken the last bite from her own sandwich half.
The shock Eric felt coming from Sookie surprised him but he could think of no logical explanation for such an emotion.
Surely her grandmother chiding her brother wouldn’t be cause for surprise…? Or was it the compliment? Both? Gas? Pam would claim it’s gas…apparently it makes them smile sometimes? Who knows…she doesn’t smell gassy, though…
Sookie sipped her coffee before replying politely, “Thank you, Gran. I’m glad you got back before we had to leave.”
“And I’m glad to see you eating a bite before you go.” She nodded at the two plastic bags. “I picked up some snacks for you to eat on the road, anyway. I know Dallas isn’t that far away but you might want something during the ride and, well, after you get there, too.” Adele glanced over at Eric still leaning against the fridge now mainly to annoy the brother. “I should have asked earlier but this Maker of yours, he does know that Sookie’s not a vampire, right? That she’ll need regular human food and so on? I feel like I’m insulting both you and your mystery Maker by asking outright, but I don’t know him and she is my granddaughter.”
Again a wave of shock barreled through his mind but he now recalled how the elder Stackhouse woman had treated Sookie that first night, and he understood. This was how the woman should have been acting all along, and perhaps maybe she had when Sookie was younger. The sudden reemergence of grandmotherly behavior would have come as a shock to the girl.
From what he could observe, Adele’s concern seemed genuine…just as it should be, so he nodded gravely and replied with due respect while mentally snickering at the idea of Godric bothering to become insulted by her questions.
“Mrs. Stackhouse,” he began…only to be interrupted by Sookie’s oaf of a brother. Thanks to his tender auspices, a stray bottle of soda on the counter was now empty. Still on the counter, of course, but empty…
“Aw, Gran, you ain’t gotta worry none. From what I heared, them Makers are the ones what teach their baby vamps how to be vampires, ya know? An’ from what I’ve seen, Eric here’s turned out fine enough, so he had to get that from his vampire daddy cause who else would’a taught him how? So I figure his Maker’s a lot like him so it ain’t like he’s gonna be bitin’ on Sook or nothin’ like that. An’ besides, she’s smart; she wouldn’t be goin’ off with him if he wasn’t somebody she could trust. An’ anyway,” the boy he could no longer call an oaf continued, the boy he might possibly should consider a genuine ally given his unexpected…if somewhat bumbling… yet strangely logical defense, “Dallas ain’t that far away an’ she knows she can always get a’hold of me an’ I’d come get her if she needed it. But, um, yeah… Hey Sook, can I talk to ya for a minute?”
Eric wondered at the boy’s complexion – it was turning an oddly ruddy shade, and he watched curiously as the sister obligingly followed him out into the nearby hallway. His unanticipated defense via explanation – an explanation holding more truth than perhaps he even realized – had been rather…nice.
Young Stackhouse would be backpedaling at the speed of light if he’d known Godric back when he was still Death…wasn’t that he hated humans…more like had no care for any species over another…all bled…all useful or not. Old man did evolve through time, though…blames me for most of it…laughable…but true, I suppose. Much prefer humans to Weres…and never did view humans solely in terms of their potential use…maybe a little…ok, more than a little… But I never caused harm solely for harm’s sake… Could have been nicer through time but nice doesn’t keep a vampire undead…
Visibly nonchalant about the events taking place, Adele rose to fix herself a cup of the coffee while the Viking easily eavesdropped on the siblings.
“Ah, yeah, so, I got to thinkin’ so I got this out for ya,” he heard the boy haltingly begin at the same time as he heard what sounded like a hand sliding along fabric…then…paper?
He’s handling paper? Perhaps… money, as in paper bills? Ah, that would make sense…so he’s giving his sister money? Good brother…
“Jason? I can’t take this,” Sookie whispered furiously. He felt her shock and knew this was an unusual situation. “I’ve got some tips saved up if I need them, plus I’ve got my bank card. I’ll be fine so don’t worry. Now put that back up.”
Eric could imagine Sookie holding a twenty-dollar bill back out to her brother who was magnanimously refusing to take it. Still, the thought of the brother trying to care for his sister was…nice.
Nice. There’s that word again. Nice is such an ugly, insipid word. Can we try for brilliant next time? Fantastic? Maybe…if we had to…kind or thoughtful…even agreeable would do… Ugh. Nice.
“I know, but you just can’t be too careful these days. I kinda wish you was drivin’ your own car down there, I mean, I know it’d be a long way for you to drive since you ain’t drove there before and it wouldn’t be easy but at least that way you’d be able to drive yourself home if things got weird. This way you could at least take the bus back if things start, you know, not feelin’ quite right.”
“No, Sook, listen to me. I don’t like thinking about you maybe being stuck in a bad situation like…you know, an’ I ain’t gonna be there if you need me this time, neither. So just take this, ok?”
Suddenly Eric tensed and straightened to his full height. Something wasn’t…right. In amongst the feelings of sibling love and a tidal wave of awed adoration, he detected hidden feelings that…that didn’t belong in this scenario.
Fear? Shame? Disgust? WTF? Why would she feel…and now shock??
“Jason, there’s $500 here!”
“Yeah, well, maybe you can get a good seat on that bus and, I dunno, maybe dinner or somethin’, whatever. See…I know this trip ain’t supposed to be for long but I got this feelin’ that, well, that I might not be seein’ you again for a while. I can’t explain it but I really just wanted to know that you got that in case you need it.”
Eric felt a shiver of ghost fingers running down his back.
Maybe the brother is somehow gifted too? Possible…runs in families…why wouldn’t he? And he is right.
“I had some of it on me but when I’s out with Gran a little while ago I stopped by that new ATM over on Main,” he added proudly.
The Viking shrugged. Intelligence and gifts could come in many forms…no matter how bumbling.
A long silence followed.
“Uh, Sook? You ain’t said you’d be back soon, ya know. I’ve been kind’a waitin’…”
Fuck. Heartbreak…sadness…grief…so young… Fuck…her first real time away from home and it has to be under these deplorable conditions… Fucking Compton. Fucking Hadley… Fucking queen… Fuck….
“Aww, man, don’t look at me like ‘at, now. Just tell me when you’re coming back.”
And then Eric heard the sniff.
More grief…the poor girl…if I could…but one-sided…maybe, though… It’s so strong…could try to send her some…some what, comfort? Strength? Maybe…maybe some of all…
Although he hadn’t attempted to send comfort to anyone in…decades, he concentrated on accessing the newly-budded, damnably one-sided bond, and sent what he hoped was a small, easy wave of strength, comfort, and courage.
An almost imperceptible gasp of surprise reached his ears, and he knew he had been successful when he felt her sudden burst of curiosity and…appreciation.
She could tell? How? Perhaps I sent it more strongly than I realized? No…no, I didn’t. How could she tell?
She cleared her throat.
“Jason, you know what all Bill did, right, and that he’s why I have to leave here at least for a while. That damn queen has other people that she could send after me if she wanted to, and vampires can live forever. I can’t stay here and risk them coming after me or you an’ Gran. So if I go to Dallas and meet Eric’s Maker who’s a powerful vampire on his own, that’d be good for me, and if I like how things go with Godric’s King, then things will go even better for me. I’d be protected from vampires by vampires, not to mention that nobody in their right might would try to mess with Eric. Annnnd,” she added, dragging the word out while feeling a playful sense of anticipation, “if things go really right, it’s not out of the cards that maybe you an’ Gran could join me in Dallas once I get settled in, ya know.”
Yes, the temperamental queenling would…and yes, she does, she would, and vampires can live forever… They absolutely would come after you and your family here if you don’t… You have no idea just how powerful Godric is…precious few alive do… Damn straight… Wait, what? First I’ve heard of this plan…but sound reasoning…all three would be better off…exponentially better off… Smart Sookie…I like it… Another sniff…but from the brother, thankfully.
“Yeah? Ya think that might be how it goes?” The hope in the boy’s voice drew a bit of reluctant compassion from Eric’s old heart.
At least he’s no longer sounding so damn…doleful…wonder what the old lady knows or suspects…doesn’t seem to have any gifts of her own except perhaps hypocrisy and baking skills…could easily glamour her to relocate if Sookie decides to move her family…may do it again anyway…can antique humans twerk? Throw on some Chuck Berry and see what happens…traumatize the spider…
He glanced around the kitchen and missed Gran’s scrutiny since she’d looked away in time.
Hell, she’s going to want to bring them all in at some point…even the damn spider…
“Maybe. We’ll see. I have to meet all these people first and see how things go, but yeah, why not?”
“Yeah, why not,” Jason replied as though all was suddenly right in his world. “Heh, maybe we could bring Hoyt along, too. He needs to get away from his Mama somethin’ fierce.”
Sookie laughed, the sound still somewhat choked up but happy nonetheless.
“Definitely bring Hoyt if he wants to come. But now I don’t have a timeline for any of this yet, and we need to keep it all quiet – every bit of it. I don’t need word gettin’ back to that Queen no time soon, ya hear?”
“Yeah..yeah, ok, that makes sense. An’ it won’t be much of a problem either since you up and quit on Merlotte. Good for you, by the way. That was funny!”
Sookie chuckled, the sound vaguely malevolent in Eric’s opinion and rightly so.
“Anyway, are you sure about this? I mean, it’s $500, can you afford it?”
The sound of fabric sliding against fabric told Eric that someone had shrugged.
“Yeah, keep it, an’ use it if you need to,” he insisted in such an offhanded manner that Eric knew this was a monumental occasion for the boy.
Sookie’s emotional reaction only solidified his suspicions.
For some reason Eric mentally recalled the peeling exterior of the house and the barely serviceable driveway and compared it with how tidy the place otherwise was. The house’s inhabitants obviously cared about their environment, but…
It suddenly dawned on him that there was nothing new in the home – even the furnishings in the faded but tidy living room and the appliances in the shabby but tidy kitchen had obviously been in use for quite some time. The refrigerator he still leaned against could be classified as an antique and made interesting noises to support that notion.
He glanced around with new eyes.
The elderly Stackhouse is obviously in her retirement and is likely not receiving very much via…whatever it is when the government returns to her what she’d paid into her…what was it…social insecurity? something…and Sookie had been a fucking waitress barely making dollars in that filthy shifter bar…and the brother hadn’t been living with them to help out financially…and judging by the sound of his truck and the looks of his clothing choices he probably makes very little himself… I’ve yet to see Sookie wearing something that hasn’t been washed many…many times… Money is truly scarce in this family…fucking shame…
After what sounded like a back-thumping hug, the siblings reentered the kitchen.
“And now it’s my turn to have a private word with Mr. Northman.” She turned a gimlet glare toward the Viking in question. “Shall we go to the living room?”
Fully expecting an inquisition from the elder Stackhouse and easily prepared to glamour her into compliance, he nodded and indicated that she should proceed him. He glanced over to Sookie and inwardly chuckled when she winked at him then rolled her eyes.
It seemed Mrs. Stackhouse intended to act like a grandmother…
This, he could deal with.
Once she had taken her seat on her erstwhile throne and he had taken his seat in a nearby chair, she stated rather primly, “Eavesdropping isn’t polite, but I agree that it’s sometimes necessary.”
Inwardly smiling, he simply nodded in acknowledgement of her statement and waited for her to get to the point. Time-wise they were doing fine but the sooner they were on the road, the better. The need to leave not just the Area but the entire fucking state ate at him.
“Sookie is old enough to make her own mind up about whatever she chooses, and unfortunately she does have a clearer view…in some ways… of the world than a girl her age should have. She has given me the impression that this trip to Dallas is a temporary thing but the things I’ve noticed and the information I’ve been given simply don’t add up to my definition of temporary.”
She paused and Eric simply waited for her to continue. He knew that he was supposed to jump in and volunteer extraneous details, but wasn’t falling for the conversational trick.
Let the old woman work for her information… She is right to be concerned, but…yeah. She can work for it.
Her brows narrowing slightly in a miff since her tactic hadn’t worked, she began speaking again. “When do you think she’s going to come home? Is she even going to be coming home? I understand why she quit working for Mr. Merlotte and I have to say that I agree completely with her decision, but jobs are scarce in this area especially for someone like Sookie, so she can’t be gallivanting around for long if returning here is her plan.”
She sniffed a bit self-righteously but appeared genuinely concerned.
“And, how is going there, to Dallas of all places, going to help her with this situation with Mr. Compton? I still don’t understand what’s going on there, either. I know you and she came to some sort of agreement with that nice Mr. Cadalez,” she added, the mispronunciation of the Dae attorney’s name causing him to hide a grin, “but how can we be sure things in Dallas will work out in whatever way you two have planned? I understand that you do have her better interests at heart, at least I hope you do, but nothing about this is making sense to me. And I have seen how you look at my granddaughter, Mr. Northman, so don’t deny your interest in her.”
Eric silently considered his options.
As Sookie’s grandmother, the woman does deserve to know more about the situation…well, now that she’s actually acting like a caring grandmother…but how much to tell her? Regardless of what I say…will still need to glamour the fuck out of her to keep her from running her mouth…any detail, no matter how small, leaked to anyone, no matter how insignificant…disaster. Silence on all fronts necessary… As head of her family, though, she has the right to know…well, to know a few things…
Suddenly, he knew what to say. He caught and held Adele’s gaze to reinforce the gravity of his words.
“The situation with Compton is more far-reaching than you can imagine,” he began, then paused to let that sink in before continuing. “That is one of the many reasons I’m taking Sookie to meet my Maker. At well over 2,000 years of age, Godric is the wisest, most experienced person I know. Not only that, but he knows how to see beyond the obvious in ways that amaze me to this night. So, if anyone can think of workable solutions to her considerable problems, it would be my Maker.”
He paused to make sure she had grasped his points, and the subtle relaxing of her features encouraged him to continue. The approval he glimpsed in her eyes told him that she admired his closeness to his Maker, something she as the elderly head of the Stackhouse line would value.
“Godric is one of the two strongest vampires in the North American continent. He also has an easy working relationship with the powerful vampire King of Texas who is also an incredibly smart, strong vampire in his own right. If Sookie chooses to enter into a contract with King Texas, not only will her safety be assured, she will also become far wealthier than you can imagine. If she chooses not to avail herself of King Texas’ contractual protection, as a resident of his jurisdiction, she will still be under both his and Godric’s not inconsiderable auspices.”
His mind easily capable of following multiple lines of thought simultaneously, he had been listening to the playful bickering between Sookie and her brother in the kitchen, and had to hide a smile when she threatened to burn Jason’s “little black book” because of some ado about something called taffy.
Taffy? The only Taffy I know of used to dance at Fangtasia…mediocre moves…nice smile…left when she graduated some local college…
“So,” he concluded after giving Adele time to digest his information, “I cannot tell you when, or yes, even if, Sookie will return to this house because we don’t yet know the extent of her options or which option she will, in the end, choose. And yes, before you ask, for the most part I am leaving her final decision in her hands. I will guide her toward the most suitable opportunities, explain to her the pros and cons as they apply in both the human and vampire worlds, but after that, she is free to choose as best she sees fit.”
He stood up; it was time to go.
“Now, my child Pam will remain in the Area for several more nights and I will leave you her information. Call her if you notice anything at all suspicious, and do not leave your home after sundown.”
In an instant he had retrieved his wallet and extracted one of Pam’s annoyingly gaudy cards which he immediately handed to Adele.
Once he caught her gaze, he glamoured her into remembering their entire conversation but rendered her unable to reveal anything to anyone in any way.
And to remain inside after sundown.
Doubled-down on that one considering the irresponsible old bess was out riding around with Jason after dark this very night! Need to spare some glamour for the boy, too. Are these humans crazy? Ahhh…could be that The Remarkable ATM Expedition took longer than either had thought…after all, it would involve both numbers and buttons…
Once back in the kitchen he blurred over to Sookie now sitting at the table riffling through the plastic bags from her grandmother. He spied brightly colored packages of various candies, some bags of chips, something promising a blend of chocolate and peanut butter that sounded disgusting to him, and multiple plastic bottles of liquid…and strongly suspected there would be several “rest stops” in his immediate future.
“Again, does that black trash bag go, too?”
This time instead of squeaking or tossing kitchen utensils into the air, she laughed.
Thank fuck no mayonnaise was involved this time around…or paper towels…
His eyes flicked up to the tiny spider’s miniature den.
I know it saw everything…better keep its little mouth shut…
“Yeah, I put a bunch of Tina’s stuff in there to take with us. Are we about ready to go on to Fangtasia?”
“I don’t expect our business there to take very long, and we’ll discuss everything on the way, but afterwards we’ll head back to my house and then on to Dallas.”
Excitement tingled up his spine. True, he was looking forward to straightening out the problem at the bar, but in reality the total amount missing was almost negligible. What galled him most was the thievery.
The true reason for his excitement was that, immediately after leaving that damn bar for hopefully the last time and going to his house to switch and hook up vehicles, he was going home.
“Well, since she’s still not asleep and since it’s still going to be a while before she’s out of that cage, I’m going to slip Tina a water bowl in there. Knowin’ her, you might wanna get your tongue ready,” she ended with a sigh.
When Eric noticed Jason’s utter confused look, he mischievously wagged his brows up and down.
“Hush it, Jason,” Sookie called from the sink where she was filling a large, sturdy bowl about half-way with water.
“Sook, stop that! Now what did…” her brother’s voice trailed off when Adele entered the kitchen and the Viking smirked. The boy’s confusion was certainly entertaining.
Tina, enthusiastically realizing that she was finally the center of attention, ramped up her volume appropriately and added a series of Pamela-esque screeches and hisses just, Eric thought, to keep it interesting.
When Sookie was ready to open the cage door, a thought came to him.
“Just a moment,” he said to her. He then leaned down at the rear of the cage and began purring softly. It took Tina a moment to hear him through her dramatic angst, but when she finally did, she hushed to a quiet growl.
A moment later, she turned to glare at The Big Blond Purring Thing, and sure enough, curiosity overcame her “I’m dramatically angry, yo” routine and she casually moved to face the back of her carrier.
Within seconds Sookie had the door open, the water dish placed on the thick layers of toweling, and the door closed with Tina being none the wiser.
“Ha!” Eric looked up at Sookie’s happy cry of success and genuinely appreciated her exuberant grin.
“Well done,” he said approvingly before glancing back down at the cat now curious about the mysteriously appearing water bowl.
He shook his head as he grabbed the cage with both hands.
“Get the door, Stackhouse,” he ordered the brother who complied a bit faster than a normal mortal would have.
Tucking the information away for future reference, he exited the kitchen and rather thoughtfully allowed Jason to open the car door for him, too.
After placing the cage in the back without spilling a drop of water, he turned to Sookie’s brother.
He easily caught the boy’s eyes.
“You will be wherever you intend to stay the night before the sun sets, and you will remain indoors until the sun rises. You will make your plans while keeping the sunset and sunrise times in mind so that you are not caught outside after dark.”
He rolled his eyes. These people… His exasperation felt more like fondness than frustration or impatience, but he would wonder about that later.
“Should anyone – anyone at all – ask, you do not know where your sister has gone, perhaps she is on a vacation, you are not sure. You will tell no one anything about your sister except that, as far as you know, she is well. If you sense any suspicious activity around your homes, or around town in any way that you even suspect might involve Sookie, you will call the number on the card I have given your grandmother. You will not worry about your sister because I will care for her and see to her safety.”
As with the boy’s grandmother, he didn’t bother reinforcing the glamour this time; he would simply have to be more…detailed…with his instructions.
Once he released Jason from his glamour, he vamped back into the house for the large black plastic bag and loaded it while Sookie visited the human facilities one last time.
Afterward he stood around doing his best impression of invisibility as Sookie had a tearful, hug-filled, “do you have your bags/do you need a sweater/Jason, go get her white sweater/have you got your purse/can I have the rest of your take-out from Hudson’s/here, you need a sweater”-spiced, never-ending, long but charmingly drawn-out goodbye with her grandmother and her surprisingly wet-eyed brother.
He bet that within three weeks the lot of them would be descending on Dallas. He couldn’t wait for Godric to get a load of Jason…
And finally…finally…they were finally on their way to Fangtasia.
**And yes, as you may have guessed, they are finally on their blessed way to Fangtasia. I’m tellin’ ya, Eric can get MOUTHY! :D Not that I mind one little bit… *dreamy smile* So, what did you think about this Part? Read, review, recycle, y’all…!**