Epilogue, Part 2
As Eric approached Bon Temps in the comfort of his limo, he couldn’t help but think back to how things had been only a short time ago…short to a vampire, at least.
Approximately a year and a half ago he had been so miserable, his heart and mind hardened as he readied himself and his circumstances for a small but monumental war of sorts. Later, even as all the pieces moved together and he was finally able to spill the blood of those who would control him onto his beloved sword, it had all still seemed so bleak.
After enduring the soulless times of his marital incarceration and then reveling in ending both his beloathed wife’s life and his Maker-induced indenture, the months afterward had by necessity been spent concentrating solely on two objectives: building his kingdom, and then repairing his relationship with Sookie.
Sadly, precious time first had to be spent on the one before he could even begin with the other. His kingdom had to be fortified – built strong, incontestable, and fast – not just for his protection, but for hers as well.
What was the point of any of it if he couldn’t protect that which was most precious to him?
Sookie…his miracle made real.
Thank Freya…Odin…whoever was listening that both objectives had now finally been met, and that tonight, if all went according to extensive plans, would be the manifestation of the desires tormenting and soothing his waking hours since the moment he had first met his fairy.
A faint smile graced his firm lips as he pondered all that had come to pass, and all that was yet to come. While he refused to rest on his laurels, he did take a moment to savor the pride he felt over the victories he’d thus far gained.
She was in his unlife, she was in his kingdom, and she was in his bed.
He allowed himself a bit of a smirk for a long, long moment.
As they made good time heading toward Bon Temps, he adjusted his posture as the nature of this thoughts seemed to make his pants shrink, and decided to think of other things.
After they had finally gotten together, at first it had been very difficult for him to share her, to share the sun-limited time he had with her, with the other interests and projects she had deemed worthy of her efforts. However, he had kept his ‘pouting’, as she called it, to a minimum, and she had rewarded his patience exponentially.
His acceptance had initially been rather begrudging – he had wanted all her time and attention focused entirely on him, naturally. Nevertheless, as time passed, he had to give her other activities his (somewhat) wholehearted approval. Everything she did for his – their – monarchy was well planned and extremely beneficial in many ways. She was becoming the oil that made things run smoothly, and now he could not imagine it otherwise.
Even if he did still wish she would carve out more time for him.
Pam…Pam had surprised him. He hadn’t thought it possible, but she truly had gotten over herself enough to not only get along with Sookie, but she seemed to actually accept the fairy-hybrid’s role in her Maker’s life, too. Any previous jealousy or fears she may have had seemed to have evaporated, and she had become quite supportive of Sookie’s works.
She had certainly thrown herself into making his plans for this night a reality. The knowledge that he had his Child’s unconditional support made him feel rather…proud.
He considered buying her a designer shoe company of her own.
As the driver took the turn-off leading to Bon Temps, he rested his head against the back of the leather seat and contemplated his plans for the evening.
While he thought all the feverish ado over “Valentine’s Day” was unnecessary and, frankly, ridiculous, he did see the romance of the occasion for what it was and decided to use that in his favor. To that end, his campaign for the evening would be carried out in stages, each hinging on how well the previous phase went.
His more pleasant thoughts were interrupted by the familiar bump as the limo turned onto the driveway leading to Sookie’s house. He surveyed the old property with a kind eye, noticing how well the improvements were holding up, and silently smirked once again over how his own additions had managed to delay completion of the renovation project until he had his Sookie firmly ensconced in his Palace.
Like there had been any other option.
A tinge of doubt tingled down his spine, and he shivered. Since rising late that afternoon he had been working to block his side of their Bond, but he was certain that at least some of the anticipation, impatience, and vague sense of trepidation running riot in his old blood had seeped through. He really hoped the strange case of nerves he was losing the battle against had remained hidden, though.
Eric consoled himself with the thought that even if things went terribly wrong this night, he and his fairy still had a firm foundation strengthened by that “communication” thing which seemed all the rage these days. But, if everything went right…
He blinked back a sudden prickling sensation behind his eyelids and sat upright.
Things had to go right.
The driver parked near Sookie’s front porch as directed, and Eric, sharply dressed in his favorite evening tuxedo, exited the vehicle. The black material perfectly displayed his broad shoulders and trim waist, and the hand-tailored cut made his long legs seem to stretch for miles.
On silent feet in highly polished black shoes, he slowly ascended the rebuilt stairs to the freshly painted porch, his eyes automatically resting on the place where Sookie had forgiven him, where she had given back his purpose in living.
He wondered if she would allow him to put up a plaque…
After taking a brief minute to compose himself, he straightened his shoulders and let his most arrogant grin take over his face.
He knocked on the door and, as was her duty, Serena opened it and briefly scanned the surrounding area before stepping to the side. Knowing that as of that moment she was off duty, she nodded to her King then wordlessly slipped by him to head toward the woods for what he assumed was a nighttime run.
What others might have viewed as a slight to his position he saw as efficiency, something he appreciated and valued far beyond courtly words and inane courtesies.
Eric leaned casually against the doorframe as he waited, then inhaled sharply when he beheld the loveliness that was his Sookie as she slowly descended the stairs. A vision in the cranberry red silk dress he had sent her so many months ago, her hair and skin fairly gleaming even in the muted lighting, he stood up straight and crossed the room to meet her.
With a surprisingly solid thunk she sat her matching purse down on the hall table nearby, then slid her hands up his chest as he took her into his arms and leaned down for their first kiss of the evening.
Long moments later the cool air coming in from the front door left standing wide open brought Sookie back to her senses, and with a grin she broke their kiss. She glanced up into his eyes and her smile faltered under the intensity of his heated gaze.
“Incredible,” he whispered as he leaned back down to speak against her lips. “You look incredible.”
After another round of slow, soft kisses, he added, his voice tender and husky, “I love this color on you.” He then leisurely drifted his lips across her jaw then down her neck.
Needing to rein himself back lest he toss months of planning and preparation – not to mention weeks of building – out the window, he gently attacked with his teeth and tongue the spot he knew she found ticklish. Sure enough, moments later his blonde-haired part-fairy was giggling in his arms.
Laughing happily, he clasped her hand in his and raised their arms to twirl her around so he could admire the lovely view as her own delighted laughter joined his.
Blue eyes sparkling with shared humor, Eric then rested his forehead against hers and savored the joy and anticipation speaking to him via their blood connection.
“Are you ready?” He could feel her excitement building even now through their Bond, and indeed had risen slightly earlier than usual that afternoon because of such surges.
“For what, exactly?” She had tried to tamp down her curiosity and eagerness all day, but it hadn’t worked.
Since the only clue he’d given her was a request to wear the red silk dress, she had no idea what he had planned…which made it worse.
Eric’s surprises were notoriously extravagant, inventive, and these nights, rather meaningful. And as this was Valentine’s Day, well, night, she had her own surprise for him, one that was going to drive her crazy until she could present it to him.
She hoped he would see her own meaning behind it.
“If I told you, it would no longer be a surprise, now would it?” He grinned, his blue eyes shining; he thought his logic was impeccable.
“Sure it would – I’d just be surprised now instead of later,” she quipped with matching logic and grin.
“Patience, dear heart. All will be revealed in due time,” he replied in a suitably mysterious voice, his gaze twinkling with pleasure from her resulting peals of laughter. How he loved to hear her laugh!
“Ok, ok. Here,” she reluctantly unhanded him, grabbed the matching wrap hanging from the coat tree and tossed it to him. She sighed a little at the loss of his hands about her waist then helped him slide the wrap around her shoulders.
Within minutes they were en route to Shreveport. Eric had pressed the button to black out the partition between the driver and the occupants then easily lifted Sookie onto his lap. He prided himself for having had the forethought to hire a Were who knew nothing of his evening’s plans.
As he settled her into his lap, he was very pleased to note that her figure, beautiful as always, had filled out a bit more during the past year. It seemed that before he had returned to her life, regular, nutritious meals were almost a rarity for her, which he thought was odd. With her impressive powers a full meal could be had with just the flick of her hand. Why she hadn’t partaken of them more often was a mystery to him.
Regardless, he had made sure that her personal chef knew to provide her with tasty, premium quality meals at every possible opportunity. As there had been no further incidences of any sort of allergic reaction, the man yet lived and seemed to perform his duty adequately.
Eric made a mental note to ensure that the man’s glamour was holding as well as it should.
Ordering his body to not react in its usual way to the luxurious feeling of her luscious ass in his lap, Eric situated his beloved burden a bit more comfortably against his chest and sighed in satisfaction.
He was glad that they were getting such an early start. Having the bulk of his actions confined to only the hours given him by the moon had always been a source of incredible frustration, but when his actions would hold such monumental importance as with this night, that lack of time was triply maddening.
Sookie’s soft calling of his name broke him from his musings.
“Hmm?” He buried his nose in her hair as he hummed a reply, the warm weight of her body comforting in his arms.
“Why are you in your tux?”
He was glad that she couldn’t see him because he couldn’t stop the huge grin that flooded his face at her ‘innocent’ question.
As if he couldn’t feel her mischief through the Bond…
“Wouldn’t you like to know,” he quipped with a slight laugh. He could feel her curiosity growing in intensity, but since he could detect no negative emotions, only sensing happiness, mischief, and anticipation, he took full advantage of the opportunity to lightly tease her.
Such lighthearted moments between them were no longer as rare as they had been…before, but he still took every chance he could find to share such precious times with her.
“Ugh, Eric!” Sookie couldn’t help but giggle a bit knowing, both through their bond and simply because she knew him, that he was having fun teasing her. How she loved to hear him laugh!
“Why? Don’t you like it,” he had to ask, his faux-hurt voice egging her on. He knew he wore it well. His tailor’s assistant, Frederique, had actually fainted back when Eric had modeled the suit after the final adjustments had been completed. Yes, he knew he wore it well…didn’t he?
“What? Your tux?” Sookie asked in surprise, then shivered as she thought of the fine figure he presented in that black tuxedo.
Tall, blond, broad of shoulder and narrow of waist, of course he looked like the physical embodiment of class in his tux!
Casting pretense aside and taking this opportunity to honestly compliment the one person in the world who was her world, Sookie replied softly, “You look…perfect, Eric, absolutely perfect. Your picture should be under the word “debonair” in the dictionary.” She leaned her head back far enough to place a chaste kiss under his jaw, then continued speaking with her lips moving against his skin.
“I know I don’t say it enough, but you are very handsome, and yeah, you look sexy as hell in your jeans and you look kick-ass hot in your leather pants, but in your tux? You’re the most elegant, sophisticated man or vampire I have ever seen.”
A small, rarely-acknowledged doubt well hidden by his ego relaxed at her statement. He wasn’t accustomed to receiving compliments because his over-confident, cocky façade tended to discourage all but the worst ass-kissers from saying such sweet things, so Sookie’s obviously sincere words warmed his heart more than he’d care to show.
“Well,” he said, then cleared his throat hoping to regain a more playful tone, “that’s good because it will fit with our destination.”
Playing along and ignoring his small, unnecessary cough, she obligingly asked, “Ok, then, so where are we going?”
“Now that I can answer. We’re going home.”
Not being able to think of a single thing there that would require a tux, she harrumphed in only slightly pretended vexation then raised her head to ask something…something that was quickly forgotten as his smiling lips descended to fully capture her own. No further words were spoken as they continued en route to Shreveport.
When they arrived at the Palace, instead of stopping at their usual private entrance, to Sookie’s visible curiosity the chauffeur drove on around to the back of the large, multi-story structure with several annexes. He finally pulled up to a small alcove she had never before noticed, not that she was very familiar with this side of the grounds. As enormous as the Royal Estate was, there was much left for her to explore even after all this time.
Despite her confusion, she allowed Eric to help her from the vehicle, his every movement elegantly assured. When he handed her the purse she’d just turned to retrieve herself, she smirked at the surprise on his face over its unexpected weight.
Eric noted the delightful smirk playing on his lover’s face and stored that information for later consideration. While her purses had never been exactly light as a feather, they’d certainly never been that heavy, either.
After closing and tapping the door, the limo driver exited the semi-hidden area, and Eric laughed softly at Sookie as she looked around in bewilderment at pretty much…nothing. The limo’s headlights had provided the only illumination, and when the vehicle left the area, only the glow from the moon and stars remained. Normally the security lights would have chased the darkness completely away, but for the night the King had ordered them disabled.
Thankfully this time of year was much too cool for Sookie to even consider spending time in her rooftop sunbathing area, and he had deftly kept her from spending any time in this particular are of the estate. Had she looked up, or over, she would have noticed evidence of his handiwork being constructed on the roof of the multi-story annex connected to the rest of the Palace via many walkways covered, elevated, and underground. He had also chosen to hire in a separate construction crew, imported from Nevada and loyal to his Child Karin, to keep news of the secret project from its intended telepathic recipient.
“May I?” He turned more fully towards her and slid his arms comfortingly around her soft body.
His smooth voice lingered in the cool darkness of the Louisiana night, and Sookie stifled a shiver. His voice always had a strong effect on her libido, but when heard in the dark with added mystery…combined with the scent of his cologne mingling with his own naturally masculine scent… She shook her head to clear it.
Having no idea what he intended but fully trusting him anyway, she looked up into his eyes, only faintly visible because of his vampire glow, and nodded.
Eric both felt and scented her rising desires and sternly steadied himself. As much as he wanted her, as much as he always wanted her, tonight’s purpose took precedence.
The tall blond vampire hugged her tightly to his broad chest and rose straight up. Sookie gasped in surprise and was extraordinarily glad she’d wrapped her own arms around his back. Even though she knew she could pop to safety should the need arise, and even though she knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that her Eric would never drop her, she was still startled by the surprise lift-off. Going “up” was the last thing she expected.
Thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to float slowly upwards with his Sookie in his arms, Eric savored the short trip.
The weather was cool and still, and the breeze of his smooth rising was soft; his arms were filled with his warm, breathing future; and they were headed toward what he hoped would be well-executed plans loved by his beloved.
Thus far, everything was good in his world that night.
He kissed the top of her head when he reached his desired altitude. His excitement was increasing exponentially and he could tell that hers was, too. As he hovered, he spoke too softly for Sookie to hear, then slowly turned them so that she would be facing the right direction.
Suddenly the entire rooftop of that annex of the Palace came to life with the illumination of thousands of tiny fairy lights, and Eric was forever thankful that he had been looking down into Sookie’s face when she first saw it.
Her face awash with awe and reflected light, he watched with amusement and adoration as she took in the sights around her as he gently lowered them to the decking.
Sookie glanced around the rooftop in amazement – before her stood a huge sparkling clear glass dome easily covering the vast majority of the space available. As her gaze travelled along the rounded contours of the structure, she marveled at the sturdiness of what appeared to be a fragile glass half-sphere. The thousands of tiny lights seemingly hanging in the air gave the entire area an otherworldly feel.
“Eric,” she whispered his name, her breath still caught in her throat as she surveyed the wonderland before her.
“Come, let’s get you inside out of the cool night air.”
He led them to a door she hadn’t noticed and in moments they were inside a large and very comfortable room also lit with tiny brightly gleaming lights. Looking around, she saw a plush sofa and chair in one area with a handy table and a large rug on the floor.
Across the room, she saw a small table and two chairs set up, the table covered with crisp white linens, and a vase of white lilacs and gardenias was placed between two full place settings of gleaming gold. Inhaling, she detected the light, sweet scent of the flowers, and smiled even broader.
Everywhere she looked, she saw sparkling lights reflecting off shiny glass and wood surfaces.
“What…what is this place? It’s beautiful!”
Eric smiled at her enthusiasm and wonder as she twirled around looking at everything from the clear glass overhead to the heated hardwood flooring.
Without her even noticing, he divested her of her wrap and placed it and her purse on the glass table positioned near the door for such purposes.
“It’s one of your Valentine’s Day gifts,” he replied, committing her breathtaking joy to memory. “It’s what you would call a solarium, and it’s heated in the winter so that you may continue to enjoy your sun despite the cold, but at night we can call it an observatory…a very comfortable observatory.”
Seeing that she was listening but still too dazed to reply, he continued. “It is constructed of tempered ballistic glass that has been reinforced and treated to resist fogging. I could go into the specs but,” he paused, grinning at Sookie as she hung on his every word while at the same time still enjoying the thousands of tiny lights, “that can wait until later.” Somehow he doubted she’d care very much to hear about polymers or polycarbonate thermoplastics just then, or about the fact that the glass was over eight inches thick to help survive the kinds of storms they sometimes had.
Laughing in agreement, Sookie slid her arms around his waist and smiled up into his admiring gaze.
Letting his own hands fall to her hips, Eric continued. “I’m not sure if you noticed, but the glass is also mirrored in such a way that no one can see in from the outside. Also,” he turned a little to point to a stair landing behind the sofa, “over there are the stairs leading down into the room below for if you don’t wish to pop in or out. Should it become necessary to secure this location, below the surface flooring is a pocket door of sorts that can be slid across the stairwell opening and locked into place.”
He tilted her chin up to face him once again. “I know that you are now well able to protect yourself and that you have a competent guard, but since I designed this place for your use during the day, for my own peace of mind I have had several panic buttons installed.” He then showed her where the buttons were located.
“But…how? Eric, this place is amazing – it’s beautiful, but…how? Why?” Sookie finally asked as she waived her hand to indicate the room at large.
“Let’s just say that I have friends in the field,” he replied, then squeezed her hand as he nodded toward the table and chairs. “Shall we?”
After he saw her into her seat, he spoke as he took his own. “I thought this might be the perfect place to celebrate our own Valentine’s Night.”
**A/N: Lol, yeah, I ended this chapter with the phrase, “Valentine’s Night”, too…sensing a theme here?? 😀 I hope you liked the chapter, and I hope it was worth the wait…and yes, there is one more chapter to come. (I think that part might be a recurring theme, too…) I had to choose between posting this now as is, or waiting even longer and posting the whole ending…since I didn’t want you to have to wait any longer, ya got this. Hope you enjoyed it, and remember: reviews feed the muse!!**
**Due to popular confusion, this has been edited to add: This is not the end – there is still one chapter left…unless you stop reading here, in which case I’ll cry and be all sad and stuff…but I can stop writing if you want… (draws circles in dirt with toe while looking all sad and pitiful and stuff)**