**A/N: So here’s another chapter in all it’s dubious glory – I say “dubious” because I haven’t gone over it with my usual fine-toothed comb since I wanted to get it on out to y’all (it’s been a while since this story magically appeared before your eyes…sorry).**
Eric returned home sooner than he’d have liked, but was still rather pleased with the night’s events. His visit with Sookie had gone well…somewhat awkward at times, but certainly well enough. Progress, however stilted, had definitely been made.
She had invited him into her suite, which had surprised him, and had accepted his reply to his Maker with appropriate gravity. He had decided to give Sookie the envelope at the beginning of their meeting rather than risk trying to do so later if the evening tanked which, considering his history with her, was entirely possible.
Thankfully that part had gone quite well, but the visit seemed to actually begin once he was, to his shock, invited to have a seat. To his greater shock, Sookie had conjured a glass of iced tea for herself, and a repulsive True Blood for him…one which he’d felt socially obligated to accept.
The two sips to which Eric had subjected himself reminded him that, as the great playwright once said, ‘the course of true love never did run smooth’. At least it was something to hold in his hands to give his hands something to do, a tactic apparently mirrored by the lovely lady sitting near him on the sofa.
Her nervous reliance upon classic manners had amused him in a soft, gentle way, and had seemed to calm his own butterflies.
Some. Not that he’d ever admit to having any.
After falling back on the old common customs and somewhat awkwardly clarifying that they were both fine, he had suddenly decided to eschew further social inanities and tackle the hard part of the evening.
Sooner done, sooner over…which is by far easier said than done.
“I took possession of your house under mostly false pretenses. While it is true that I had wanted to see to its maintenance and upkeep while you were gone, I mostly thought I could use it to get closer to you,” he had freely admitted, surprising them both with his honesty. “It was not and is not mine to have.”
The carefully nonchalant facade she had assumed over the formal return of the deed to her Bon Temps house had not hidden her stunned disbelief as he handed her the deed packet.
However, her expression became shuttered once the papers were in her palm, and her carefully controlled features didn’t reveal much when she had replied, “True, but it’s irrelevant now. I’ll be moving into my new house sometime in the next couple of days when Mr. C gives me the all-clear, but thank you, Eric.”
Stunned disbelief was good…studied nonchalance was not.
That her ‘thank you’ had been prompted more by manners than by any sort of gratitude wasn’t lost on him, but he hadn’t minded. The deed had been returned, the mistake rectified, the path cleared of that particular roadblock.
The emotions behind her acceptance of the transaction had rang far too detached and had not sat well with the Viking. It bothered him how Sookie was so blithely discounting that part of her history considering how annoyingly and somewhat dangerously attached to the moldering place she had once been.
This night, however, had been for becoming reacquainted and bridging the awkward gap he feared would continue to part them for a while longer, especially if he attempted to broach any sensitive topics.
He had allowed the change of subject.
“Is this new place here in Shreveport?”
He let the subject die when she didn’t elaborate. It wasn’t as though he couldn’t glamour someone at the office of deeds to search for various names, including but not limited to Cataliades’ moniker.
Besides, she was the liaison to Godric…speaking of which, “What is Godric like now? In his letter he sounds happy, but how does he seem to you?”
The amount of jealousy he felt when her eyes lit up and her smile split her face surprised him.
Eric decided that if he had to lose her to anyone, his Maker was the only one he could live with.
Or let live.
“He truly is happy, Eric. Truly. He walks barefoot in the grass, he sleeps, he drinks, and he eats little green peas!”
Sookie, no longer one of the dimmer bulbs in the box, had noticed the startling flash of jealousy on Eric’s face, and decided to give him some slack.
“And then there’s Claudia,” she said, a teasing light brightening her eyes.
She nodded. “She’s one of my cousins, somehow. She’s dreadfully afraid of Godric because of the vampire bit. That kind of fear is highly encouraged in the Fae-born, and she’s even more skittish than most, unfortunately, but she thinks I don’t notice how she looks at him before she pops away. Here lately she’s takin’ longer to pop away, which is wonderful. Anyway, your dear Maker gets a certain gleam in his eye when he sees her, and a note to his voice when the conversation somehow magically turns to her.” She waggled her eyebrows and laughed before reaching for her tea.
Relieved more than he’d admit, Eric had laughed with her.
“Good. The old man deserves some fun in his declining years.”
Sookie had to choke down her tea to avoid spewing it all over the sofa and the handsome vampire whose eyes were twinkling impishly. “Eric! Don’t be crackin’ jokes when my mouth is full!”
The look he gave her in reply sent a shiver of desire down her spine and she hastily cleared her throat.
“Will you be expecting a reply to your letter any time soon?”
His expression turned more serious. “I hope to, of course.” He looked out over the room with unfocused eyes, and the silence held an expectancy to it that Sookie kept quiet as she waited for him to speak again.
“I miss him.”
The words were spoken so quietly that she almost missed it.
“Of course you do,” she said softly. “He’s not just your Maker, he’s your best friend and your brother, too. He told me about the “father, brother, son” thing, and while I don’t understand the son part, I do understand about the other two.”
She reached over and removed one of his hands away from the bottle he still clasped, and held his hand with her own.
“I honestly don’t know if he’ll be able to come back to this realm or not. Something about this sun drains him or something, I don’t really understand that, either, but he’s doing great in the fairy realm. He can be out under the Fairy sun in the middle of the day and…and he’s joyful, Eric. He’s truly at peace now. Sometimes he’s more contemplative, sometimes he’s a rascal, and sometimes he’s a sweet, lethal little boy. And you know I’ll always play postman between the two of you, right? You don’t have to worry about that.”
Eric stared down at her hand, so much smaller and more fragile than his own, and welcomed the hope, strength, and comfort she so willingly gave.
When he glanced back up and met her gaze imploring him to believe her, and he did.
“Thank you,” he said at last, his voice strong and honest.
He wondered how many times he would bare his soul to her before she tired of it and sent him on his way for being such a weakling, then mentally scoffed at his meanderings. Somehow he didn’t think she would.
“So…there’s a Claudia in his future?”
He kept hold of her hand. The drama might be over, but he liked the feel of her hand in his. Even a month ago holding hands might have felt teenagerish with anyone else, but with Sookie, it just felt…right.
In her relief that he was feeling better, and at the thought of Godric and Claudia ever finally getting together, she couldn’t help but giggle, then castigated herself for sounding like a schoolgirl.
Then she giggled again as she nodded.
To hell with it, she thought. This feels an awful lot like a first date, and dammit, I’ve had precious few of them so I’m going to enjoy it, and if I end up feeling and acting like a schoolgirl, then that’s ok, too.
Broad smile still brightening her face, she said, “I’ve tried to set things up so they would accidentally run into each other once in a while, not so often that they might suspect anything, but, yeah, the magic’s happenin’ slowly, but I think it’s there. I’m also hoping that my being gone right now will give them room to maneuver without feelin’ like they’re being watched or…guided.”
Eric adored the slightly mischievous look in her eyes. He could well imagine Fairy Sookie turning Machiavellian on her cousin and his Maker. And, knowing Godric as he did, if the ancient vampire had felt any objections, he would have put a stop to it immediately, and since he hadn’t, he must not have minded Sookie’s mechanizations.
How he’d love to see her in action…
“Good,” he said firmly. Then his eyes took on their own playful sparkle. “If he decides to pick her flowers, make sure they’re not weeds. Although I’m told it’s the thought that counts, honestly, he couldn’t tell the difference between ragweed and a rose.”
Sookie wanted to be outraged on Godric’s behalf, she really did, but couldn’t bring herself to even bother, and laughed freely instead.
Eric realized that he was becoming mesmerized not just by her beauty, but by her laugh, too, and decided that no matter how much he wanted to stay, it was time to leave before he found some new way of putting his foot in his mouth.
Keeping her hand in his, he placed the mostly full bottle of True Blood on the table near the sofa, and rose to stand before her.
He lifted her hand to his lips, and kissed the back of her hand.
“Thank you, Sookie. Thank you for helping me stay in touch with my Maker; thank you for inviting me into your home, and thank you for a lovely evening.”
He kissed her hand again, and helped her to rise when she made to do so. After she placed her tea glass near his bottle, she turned and met his gaze for a long moment. Finally she must have decided that she liked what she saw as she searched his eyes.
“Hang on a minute, ok?” Without waiting for a reply, she walked over to a pile of papers on another table, and wrote something down on a loose leaf, then folded it several times.
When she returned, she stuffed the folded paper into his shirt pocket with a sweetly nervous smile.
“It’s kind of late now so I’ll be going to Bon Temps tomorrow if you don’t mind?”
Eric inclined his head and murmured reassuringly, “Of course, that would be fine.”
“Um, well, I’m glad you came by. So, ah, I’ll call you when I get back from Fairy,” she said with a slight blush over the halting delivery of her goodbye.
With a steady hand Eric tilted her chin up and gazed into her eyes for a moment before lowering his head and placing a chaste but heartfelt kiss to her forehead.
“Thank you, my Sookie. I will await your call.”
Once in the hallway outside her door, Eric withdrew the note from his pocket. She had given him her new address.
**A/N: Side note: Word wants to change “Cataliades” to “Delicates”. I’d like to think he’d get a laugh out of that. So…what did you think of this chapter? I hope their progress was worth the wait? (Fingers crossed!)**