**A/N: This short chapter is mostly “informative fluff”. Please see other A/N at bottom of this chapter.**
“That whole territorial thing? No, it just gets more obvious as time goes on,” Sookie replied with humorous resignation. “Don’t worry, though. You’ll get used to him automatically putting himself between you and any approaching male, especially if he’s another vampire, but even if he’s a human, were, or shifter, be prepared.”
Emma snorted, having already seen that instinct in action. “Um, does Eric still rub all over you like a cat? How long does that instinct take to settle down?”
The blonde laughed gaily. She was truly enjoying having a nice, easy conversation with another human female of intelligence, wit, and charm. She still couldn’t get over the fact that Andre…THE Andre…had taken a mate.
While she had been with Eric for much longer than the brunette had been with Andre, they still had a lot in common with each other. Sookie was very happy to have finally found someone who might be a true confidante, someone who could better understand the joys and trials of being mated to a powerful vampire.
Even the were Tracy was very easy to get along with, although her experiences as a were were, by nature, somewhat different. Too bad they all lived in Shreveport, and probably would be moving to Arkansas in the near future. Good, close friends were a rare treasure.
Emma, Sookie, and Tracy were chatting as they tried not to worry while Andre, Eric, Wybert, Evan, Hollander, and two other guards had left to rescue Rasul. They were also going to take out as many of BeauChamps’ people as they could, and attempt to take out the filthy old vampire himself in the process.
Both Emma and Sookie had shared a mutual eye roll over the vampires’ refusal to discuss their exact plans with them with the excuse that they didn’t want their ladies to “fret”, but both had a sneaking suspicion that “the guys” were more pumped up about the upcoming mission than they wanted to let on. “Boys will be boys” was their first comment, made in stereo, just after the male vampires had left them in Andre’s quarters.
“Eric is even more feline now than he used to be, so get used to it, hon. They have a weird vampire instinct to scent mark their mates, and they sure do love to do it,” Sookie answered as she remembered a very recent demonstration of that exact tendency.
After her shopping expedition earlier that afternoon (complete with the mandatory guards), she’d returned to their place in the city in time to shower and join Eric before he rose for the evening. Naturally when Eric rose, the gracious plenty rose, too, and demanded his own explicit attentions. After sufficiently tending to the “problem” to both their extreme satisfactions, Eric had pouted when Sookie had later showered. After she’d dried off but before she’d had a chance to dress, he’d spent a couple of minutes re-scenting her while she had laughed and giggled as she enjoyed his teasing antics.
“So I’m always going to be a kitty rubbing post?” Emma couldn’t decide if she was exasperated or pleased at the prospect. If only Andre weren’t so damn serious all the time that kind of thing could actually be a lot of fun.
“Don’t feel bad. Weres do it, too,” Tracy added with a smirk. “You just get used to it after a while. And, forgive the pun, but it’s also a mark of affection. You just have to realize and be ok with the fact that being involved with a supe is a completely different experience than being involved with a human. Humans have, for the most part, lost touch with their more basic instincts, while those same instincts are much more pronounced in supes.”
“Well, so far being with a vampire really isn’t all that different from being with a human guy, just, it’s a bitey guy who drinks blood, has fangs and a deathly allergy to sunlight, wants me to drink his blood when he drinks mine, rubs all over me, and growls at odd times,” Emma listed dryly.
The three ladies laughed, then refreshed their drinks before settling in for more of what Emma was beginning to think of as Supe 101.
When Eric and Sookie, escorted by Sigebert who immediately left to resume guarding their Queen, had arrived that night, Emma had scrambled to dry off, dress, and join them in the living area. The moment she’d entered the room, Andre had almost instantly appeared by her side and had, seemingly without conscious thought, greeted her by rubbing his cheeks back and forth over hers. He then continued by breathing into her hair as he held her close, and had finished the quick production with a brief kiss to his mark on her neck. And even though their previous “quickie against the wall” had been distinctly satisfying, his hands hadn’t been still during the whole scenting process, either.
By the time he was finished, certain she’d never been so publically mauled in her life, Emma was blushing beet red and trying to ignore the fact that the entire process was carried out in front of their guests. After clearing her throat, she greeted a smirking Eric and a grinning Sookie, then happily collapsed down on a sofa as she offered them a seat.
At that moment someone knocked on the door, and she automatically started to rise to answer it, but screwed her nose at the look Andre sent her before she sat back down. Thankfully it was the rest of the rescue group along with Tracy, who had a cart of food and refreshments for humans and vampires both.
Soon after draining the warmed bags of donated blood while they plotted in voices too low to decipher, the vampires had left.
Sookie picked back up on Tracy’s line of thought. “All supes have a relationship with what we call their ‘inner beasts’, but when parents have a child, or when a male finds his female, those tendencies surge into overdrive. They can turn into possessive jerks at the drop of a hat, too. Emma, how long have you been with Andre?”
Emma blushed and screwed up her face in thought. “I’m chronologically challenged, but I guess it’s been about a week now, more or less…give or take?” She shrugged her shoulders eloquently. “I was thinking earlier that it seems like I’ve just met him, but at the same time it’s like I’ve known him forever. It just…is, ya know? We just…are.”
Both ladies nodded. While Tracy hadn’t settled down with anyone permanently yet, she’d learned about matings and mating behaviors from her mother, aunts, and mated friends. From what she’d seen and heard, vampires were about the same when it came to such things.
“Yeah, I know what you mean. I won’t go into the whole sordid story,” Sookie grimaced in remembrance, “but long story short, I fought the intensity of what I felt for Eric for far too long. Once I finally stopped fighting it, and him, and just relaxed and let myself get swept away by it all, everything just sort of fell into place, like it was something that was supposed to happen. It felt right, like it was meant to be.”
At Emma’s confused look, she continued. “I’m not saying that every night is perfect or that we don’t fight, because it’s not and we do, often, but what changed was realizing that he could no more hurt me than he could hurt himself. As your bonded mate, his first priority is your health, safety, and well-being. And, unfortunately, there is every likelihood that he may be a bit overbearing and high-handed at times because of it, too.”
Tracy snorted. “Don’t worry, Sookie. Andre may have the worst reputation possible and still be one of the good guys, but she’s got him wrapped around her little finger.”
At Sookie’s unintentionally doubtful look, Tracy nodded. She understood her skepticism, but had seen for herself just how well the Master Torturer treated his Emma.
Emma laughed, knowing well what worried Sookie. Although she felt very comfortable talking with the blonde telepath, she didn’t feel that she knew her well enough to reveal much more private relationship information to her just yet, but she didn’t want her new friend to worry, either. “Don’t worry. I know about Andre’s reputation, but he’s not like that with me. I can’t say he’s a sweet little puppy dog, but he’s not Cerberus, either.”
Sookie had been very surprised by how the “Master Torturer Extraordinaire” had greeted Emma earlier that evening. He had been so sweet and gentle with her, and she’d nudged Eric with her elbow when he’d been amused by said Master Torturer’s affectionately territorial displays.
Sensing Emma’s desire to change the subject away from her personal relationship with Andre, Sookie asked her how she’d become so involved with vampires in the first place. She certainly didn’t resemble a fang banger in any way, form, or fashion, and her brain was no more readable than before.
The conversation between the three ladies then flowed fast and furious and covered such varying Emma-instigated topics as “how to deal with having your period in a palace full of vampires” (tampons and shower often, and be prepared to enjoy your mate’s fixated and hungrily amorous attentions) and “how do deal with the bond” (realize that you and your mate cannot hide any feelings from each other, and that you’ll eventually become so accustomed to the security it provides that you’ll depend on it to help maintain the closeness it brings to your relationship, but that the vampire, and sometimes the human – at which point Sookie looked sideways at Emma – has the ability mute the bond, as Eric was currently doing for Sookie, to keep from overwhelming the other mate.).
Sookie herself introduced and answered such topics as “how to deal with vampires who absolutely believe that sex solves everything” (enjoy the ride then continue the fight-slash-discussion during post coital bliss), and “what to do when he acts all high-handed and know-it-all” (take a moment to realize that he just might know more than you do given his age and experiences, but if you still feel that your course of action is the right one, or it’s just something that you have to do, discuss it with him until he gets the damn point).
These situations and ideas were actively discussed until approximately forty-five minutes later when Emma’s phone rang. After a very quick conversation, Emma ended the call.
“That was Sophie Anne. She and Sigebert are coming up, and since she knows how Andre is, she wanted to let me know that it was ok to actually answer the door…like Sigebert wouldn’t be able to get in here anyway,” she laughed.
“What is it, hon,” she asked when she noticed Sookie’s shocked expression.
“You call the Queen by her name?” Sookie realized that she was more surprised by this than maybe she should be considering Emma was bonded to the Queen’s most esteemed progeny, but…she was shocked! While things were better between the Queen and herself now than they had been, still, Sookie definitely held an understandably distrustful opinion of the monarch.
“Sure,” Emma replied, not really understanding Sookie’s reaction. “She’s always been extremely nice to me. Don’t get me wrong, I know that to her vampires will always come first, but still, she’s funny, and she really is kind to me.”
By the time Emma described how she and the Queen first met, the lady herself was knocking on the door.
**A/N: I got the feeling that, except for a couple of loyal and awesome reviewers, y’all didn’t really like the lemon in the last chapter. (It was relevant to an action Andre took with Emma during Chapter 3, fwiw). I send a very hearty THANK YOU (and a virtual slice of Mississippi Mud Pie drenched in melty vanilla ice cream) to those of you who reviewed and PM’d, but I do have to wonder if I should reconsider writing many more of them. It’s your reviews that let me know these things, so…let me know what you want.**