**A/N: Blame for the lateness of this chapter rests entirely upon the fact that nothing felt…right. Finally it dawned on me what the problem between them really was…Eric is tired of being a lapdog.**
Momentarily lost in Sookie’s radiant gaze, slowly Eric shook his head to clear away the glee of knowing that she’d dreamt of him during their unfortunate separation. But…
Suddenly, it all came crashing down. Carefully schooling his face into neutrality, he stared back at her as he thought.
She wasn’t here for him.
She wasn’t here because she had chosen him, or because she had missed him.
She was only in his sphere because, yet again, she had been treated poorly by some male she had, once again, chosen over him. Except for when he had traveled for business, he had been in Shreveport this entire time. At any point she could have come to him, called him…hell, at any point during these last long, interminable years, she could have… But during all that time, he had heard nothing from her.
He could feel his heart, that raw, inflamed non-beating organ in his chest, hardening at the realization. As much as he loved her, as much as he needed her to be alive and well and in his arms, he couldn’t allow her any closer.
His heart’s sanity couldn’t take yet another rejection…couldn’t take being passed over for someone, anyone, yet again.
And with her track record, it was all but inevitable.
He had never been enough for her. No matter his history, his power, his wealth, his abilities…no matter that he had been willing to risk his own existence for her time and time again…he had never been enough for her before, so why would he be now?
Slowly the joy dimmed from Sookie’s bright and shining gaze as she realized that Eric wasn’t quite as thrilled to see her as she had been to see him.
As much as it hurt seeing that light fade from her eyes, he knew it had to be done. He simply could not risk being her lapdog yet again. He would help her, he would support her and her impending child, and he would delve into the problems caused by yet another man she had chosen over him – of course he would. He loved her and always would.
She just didn’t need to know that.
Not wanting to be cruel or too cold to the pregnant telepath now ungainly trying to sit up on the side of the bed, he kept his voice cool even though he was livid over the bruising still painfully evident on her face.
“Are you well? I can have Dr. Ludwig here in a matter of minutes if you need her assistance.” He kept his hands firmly clasp across his stomach as he resisted the almost overwhelming urge to reach for her…to help her…to draw her into his lap and heal her injuries and never let her go.
Eyes now suspiciously wet – a sight that immediately drove him from his chair to stare out the window since he never could stand the sight of her tears – Sookie replied quietly, her voice shaking slightly, “I’m ok. Sore, but I’m ok.”
An awkward silence followed during which Eric found his own hands shaking as he crammed them into his pockets. Finally he heard a grunt and a huff and, via the window’s reflection, he saw her rising slowly from the bedside.
“I’ll be…back,” she murmured, her head lowered and her shoulders slumped as she ambled toward the bathroom.
His face frozen while he was cursing, fuming, and screaming inside, Eric grit his teeth as he forced his gaze up from the floor where it had fallen upon seeing the defeated posture of the woman he loved. He railed at himself for being the one to cause such dejection, but knew he had to stand tall and hold his ground.
She was an addiction…an addiction who had not chosen him…an addiction he had to steel himself against or risk losing everything this time around.
A little while later after apparently having gathered herself together, Sookie emerged from the bathroom looking a little better, although the redness around her eyes tore at him. Instead of returning to the bed, she headed toward the bedroom door.
“I’m going to get something to drink, and I need to eat, too,” was all she said before leaving the room.
Eric nodded his head, then withdrew his phone. After turning the ringer back on, he checked his messages, and found one from the lead investigator.
After listening to the message and returning the call, he went to the kitchen and found Sookie sitting at the formerly unused kitchen table while Willa cooked something on the stove.
The sight of his youngest Child cooking caused him to blurt out, “You can cook?”
Willa, all too aware of the tension between her Maker and her friend with the reddened eyes, decided to try to relieve some of the awkwardness.
“Yep, and I can dance and sing, too,” she quipped as she turned the eggs in one pan and the bacon in the other.
Appreciating her attempt to lighten the stifling atmosphere, Eric and Sookie both gave a short obligatory laugh…which was followed by a weighted silence.
Soon enough Willa slid the plate of bacon, eggs, and toast over to Sookie, who began to eat more out of habit than any actual hunger. Eric’s cool attitude had been a big surprise, but then, she realized that she really shouldn’t have been surprised. It’d been how long since she’d last seen him?
She hoped that he didn’t think he had to take care of her, that he felt obligated to do anything. This was her mess and, with Willa’s help, she was determined to deal with it herself. She needed to see about finding a lawyer, but at least she didn’t have to worry about finding a divorce attorney.
Suddenly queasy, she shoved the plate away and reached for her juice. At Willa’s raised brows – the vampire knew how much she generally ate at a sitting – she just shook her head and rubbed the side of her stomach which was moving as the baby kicked.
Noting every minute movement in their byplay, Eric correctly determined that Sookie normally ate more than she just had, and correctly assumed that recent events had affected her appetite. Perhaps he should contact the doctor anyway…the damages to her face were irritating the everloving fuck out of him.
Willa saw Eric trying not to stare at Sookie, the longing in his eyes very badly hidden; she saw the way Sookie was trying not to stare at Eric, her own longing also very badly hidden, and snorted to herself at the way their gaze would flee from the other’s when they would accidentally meet.
This would never do – and she wasn’t a Southern Belle who knew quite a bit about vampires for nothin’. Hiding a crafty look behind concerned innocence as she peered into the blonde’s abused face, she spoke sweetly.
“Sookie, that lip still looks painful and your eye is far too swollen to be comfortable. You know vampire blood heals, right? Would you take some of mine so you can…”
“No!” Eric’s voice thundered throughout the apartment and he stood so quickly that his chair dented the kitchen wall where it hit. He could stop neither the growl nor the dropping of his fangs as he instinctively leaned toward Willa.
Regardless of self-preservation, emotional sanity, or any form of pride, the blood of no other vampire would sing in his Sookie’s veins.
Sookie was his.
**A/N: Can y’all see where he’s coming from, why he’s not wanting to become more emotionally involved with Sookie…even if he’s not going to let another vampire – even his Child – give her their blood? 😀 Thoughts?**