Entitlement Chapter 006

Part 6 A New Dawn

 

 

AHH!

AHH!

AHH!

AHH!

AHHHHHHHHHHHHeeeeeeeeeeeeuh!

Sookie collapsed across the bed face down, laughing and gasping for breath.

Eric leaned down and bit her bottom cheek, making her squeal, before he flopped down beside her.

“Is that what they call “doggie-style?”” she asked him when she could speak.

“Yes, it is – though I picture myself more as a lion,” Eric laughed.

“I can see that – I love your lion’s mane. How come women complain about doing it that way? That’s my favorite so far!”

“I think some women think that if you are not looking at their face, you are objectifying them.”

“I don’t get that. It’s so deep that way and I can control it and really focus on what I’m feeling. Plus, you can reach me with your hand, or I can, and that makes it even better! I don’t get people sometimes…”

Eric was just laughing with delight. “What don’t you get?”

“Why they would make sex political that way, or why they would turn it into something ugly. It’s so awesome!”

“Most people are not as good at it as we are,” Eric laughed.

“For real, or are you kidding?”

“For real. I’ve had a millennium of practice and you are a sexual savant.”

“OK, I’m just going to ask… what the hell does that mean?”

“Well, a savant is someone who is very skilled. Sometimes there are people called savants who are mentally disabled, but they are very skilled in one particular thing…”

“Oh, I saw a movie about kids like that once – this one boy couldn’t speak, but he could draw these amazing birds, and some kids were only able to communicate by doing calculations of a certain kind.”

“Exactly. They have an unusual gift in one specific area, even if their other faculties are lacking.”

“I’m not lacking, though, right?”

“No, you are perfect, but you are still a savant when it comes to sex. It takes most women time to learn to come – some never really do. You took to it right away and you have spectacular orgasms. Either that, or you’re really good at faking it…” he teased her.

“Faking it? Why would someone do that? I mean, I’ve heard people joke about having a headache, and then about it being enough already and just wanting to get some sleep…”

“Where did you hear that?” Eric asked in amazement and amusement.

“I’m not sure – that show Seinfeld, maybe?”

Eric cracked up. “Well, I do know that you aren’t faking because I can feel what you feel. It’s quite impressive.”

“I guess you’ve been with a lot of women who have had your blood so you knew what they were feeling?”

“Yes, and believe me when I say you have a gift. I’m not just flattering you, Sookie. I mean the things I say to you, more than I care to admit. You are proficient in things you couldn’t possibly know.”

“Show me something new!” she giggled as she pushed up on her hands and knees.

“Alright, you’ll like this. Let me move to the middle of the bed.”

She moved up to the head of the bed and let him get right in the middle of the bed, still sideways. He held his hand out to her and guided her to straddle him.

“Oh, I see this in movies all the time!”

“You’ll like it – it will give you a lot of control. It will be like you’re fucking me instead of me fucking you.”

“Awesome!’

Eric laughed as he helped her lower herself onto his cock and she made the sexiest face as she did – like she was feeling the most wonderful thing in the world. He held his hands up and they meshed their fingers so she was able to brace against them to help her move. It didn’t take long before Sookie was riding him like a mechanical bull and he was in heaven. It flashed through his mind that she was completely at ease with him – she wasn’t showing any shyness or self-consciousness and he thought that was remarkable considering her lack of experience and how short a time they had known each other. Of course, if he was right about “whom” Sookie really was, it made perfect sense. It was all strangely… no, preternaturally, perfect.

After a few minutes, Eric put his arms around Sookie and sat up, and she automatically leaned back and brought her legs around straight, then wrapped them tightly around him. They locked in a deep, slow kiss as Sookie’s movements became slow and deliberate, in a move that Eric would normally associate with tantric yoga. She was showing skills that a trained yogini would spend months, if not years, learning. They pressed their foreheads together and concentrated on the connection between them, and Eric felt a rush of energy he had only ever felt once before. Their movements were in perfect synchrony, and at one point, it was as if time slowed down, or they were moving in slow motion, or in some thick, fluid energy. Suddenly, from down deep, there was a surge of energy that shot from their genitals up through their spines and met where their foreheads were pressed together. For a minute, there was nothing – no sound, no feeling, just nothing.

“She’s home!”

That was the first thing Eric was aware of when it – whatever “it” was – was over. He heard Her voice and knew exactly what She meant. He opened his eyes, and they were lying side by side in bed, the covers pulled up over them. What the hell just happened?

Eric rolled on his side and looked at Sookie’s face, and in a minute, she opened her eyes, smiling.

“That was amazing!” She said sweetly.

“Yes, it was.” He didn’t want to scare her and tell her he had no idea what happened or that he’d been unconscious, and he was trying desperately to figure out how to tell if she had been, too.

“Is it always like this?” She asked him as she moved as close to him as possible.

“No, Sookie, it is never like this. This is new, even to me.”

“How is that possible?”

“You’ll learn eventually that everything is possible, my lover. The world is so complex that even I can still be surprised.” He kissed her hair and held her tight, and tried not to cry in front of her. His mind was spinning – why her? Why here? Why now?

He found himself wondering again if a vampire could be glamoured. He had so many questions and no one to ask them of – he needed a Witch or a wizard, someone who knew about Supes and magick. Ironically, the person best qualified to recommend someone was Sophie Ann.

Eric looked at the clock. 5:16. He had just enough time to make a phone call before he went to rest. Sookie was dozing off, so he let her drift away, then kissed her, wrote her a note and went to his cache for the day. He pulled out his cell as soon as he was settled.

“Sheriff Northman?”

“Yes, Andre – is she available? I need a referral from her.”

“Just a moment.”

“Eric, darling, how are you?”

Good. She doesn’t know yet.

“I’m fine, my Queen, but I need a referral. You wouldn’t happen to know any Witches, would you?”

“Ooh, I’m intrigued. Anything I can help with?”

“It’s not related to my office. It’s a personal matter. I just need a little information and I knew you were the most well connected person of my acquaintance.”

“Hang on…” She spoke to someone in the background and he heard a young woman giggle. “Eric – I think I have someone for you if you don’t mind that she’s in New Orleans.”

“That would be fine, actually, if she’s good.”

“My dear Hadley assures me that she’s quite skilled. Her name is Amelia Broadway.”

“Does she know her well?”

“She’s her landlady, but they’re much friendlier than you might expect.”

Eric wrote down the phone number and email address and thanked Sophie Ann profusely as she promised him an invitation to her party next month at the mansion. He pulled his laptop off the recessed shelf and sent an email to the Witch requesting a consultation by phone or in person, as she preferred:

Hello, Ms. Broadway,

I am Sheriff of Vampire Regent Area 5 in Louisiana, located in Shreveport. I was referred to you by your tenant Hadley and her friend Sophie Ann. I find myself in need of a practioner who has some expertise in dealing with Divine Feminine energies, most specifically, the Goddess Freyja.

I require absolute discretion in this matter. I can come to New Orleans if necessary or would be happy to pay your way here if you’d like to consult personally. I hope you will reply at your earliest convenience, as there is some sense of urgency in this situation.

Warmest regards,

Eric Northman

He went to rest hoping that this Witch was competent and discrete, and immediately available, because he needed some independent confirmation of what he thought was going on.

“Good morning, Miss Stackhouse!”

Sookie’s eyes flew open. Where the hell was she? Oh, yeah – Eric’s house. Margaret was standing beside the bed with a tray and a huge smile, and Sookie realized to her complete mortification that she was naked under the covers.

“Good morning, Margaret – did I oversleep?”

“Well, it is 1 o’clock and I knew you might want to sleep in, so I brought you a lunch tray. You can eat your sandwich and chips and go right back to sleep. This turkey will knock you right out.”

Sookie held the covers tightly to her chest as she sat up in the bed and Margaret got her settled.

“This sandwich is gorgeous!” It was in a long, fresh Italian roll like they use for a sub and there had to be 2 pounds of meat in it, with lots of fixin’s on the side these cute little dishes.

“Oh, I hope you enjoy it. I had to guess at what you might like. I figured most girls like turkey because it’s low in fat and then I figured you might like a few baked potato chips with it. I put a little Ho-Ho there for dessert, too. Now, if you want anything else to eat, just say the word.”

“This looks fantastic. You even got one of my favorite kinds of soda pop. I love Diet Rite cola.”

“Oh, good. I was guessing at that, too, but I figured the no caffeine and no sodium and no calories was a safe bet.” Margaret was very cheerful, almost beaming at Sookie. “Is there anything else I can get for you?”

“Oh, no, this is fantastic!”

“Would you like the TV on, Miss?”

“Uh, yeah, I don’t know where it is…”

“The controls are always right here on Mr. Northman’s nightstand. You press this button,” she held it down to show her, “and there’s the TV.”

A big flat screen TV rose up out of a cabinet at the end of the bed, almost like magick.

“Wow!”

“Alright, you press this button to bring up the guide, this one to change channels. You’ve got all the premium channels to choose from.”

“Wow!” Sookie couldn’t think of anything else to say.

“Alright then, if there’s nothing else, I’ll go and I’ll check back with you in a bit.”

“Thank you so much!” Sookie was amazed. She never knew a turkey sandwich and some television could evoke so many feelings. She was embarrassed at being seen naked in Eric’s bed, and at this late hour; she was blown away by the idea that a maid brought her breakfast in bed; she felt like Alice in Wonderland when she saw the TV rise up seemingly out of nowhere; she was crazy in love and she was WAY beyond her “raisin’s” here in this fancy mansion full of servants. She hoped they didn’t all think she was a bumpkin, or even worse, a whore.

To be fair, though, she got nothing at all like that from Margaret’s thoughts. Mostly, she was happy Eric found someone to love, which aroused Sookie’s curiosity. Why would a servant be so invested in her boss’s love life? She’d have to ask Eric how long Margaret had worked for him. Maybe there was a back story there that she ought to know? Everywhere she looked in this place, there were things that provoked question after question. Tonight, before she and Eric went to bed, she was going to make sure she got a few answers so she’d understand more about the dynamics in the house. Everything here was so different than anything she had expected, that she was brimming with curiosity.

She had lots of time to think while she ate that huge sandwich and she decided it might be a good idea to ask Eric to watch a movie after dinner so they could talk a bit. If they came straight upstairs, she knew not much talking was going to happen. That big new couch in the den looked really comfy and she could definitely see snuggling up and talking down there for a while before they had more sex.

There was no light of any kind coming in around the windows, and Sookie wondered if there was any chance of lying in the sun after she ate. She could always doze as she did, so she’d get sleep and a tan at the same time. She wondered if she should shower before tanning, but then she’d be sweaty. She could shower after tanning before dinner, but that might eliminate the possibility of soaking in the big tub, and she was hoping they could do that before bed. While she was trying to work that out, she realized that she really ought to call Gran and put her mind at ease.

She looked around and saw the phone on Eric’s nightstand, so she reached for the silver-gray handset and dialed her house number. The phone only rang once.

“Hello?” Gran’s obviously anxious voice cracked a little.

“Hi, Gran. I just wanted to call and see how you’re doing today. I just woke up and I’m eating lunch.”

“Did Mr. Northman have food in the house?”

“Yeah, actually, his maid made me a gorgeous turkey sub. She’s really nice.”

“He has a maid?”

“Several, actually, and gardeners and I don’t know what all. He’s having some work done in his house, but when it’s done, I want you to come and see how nice it is. It’s so normal looking. It’s a Victorian, 4 stories high, and there’s an attached garage. I haven’t seen out back yet, but the house itself is just beautiful.”

“That sounds very nice. So you’re not alone there?”

“No, there are lots of people around here in the day time. They seem to go home right after dinner, or they did last night, so Eric and I were alone. He’s even having things done to the house just to make it more convenient for me.”

“Oh, my!”

“Yeah, and you should see – the maid has the bathroom and my nightstand stocked with about any kind of toiletry or cosmetic I’d ever want or need.”

“Does he have women there often?”

“No, I’m the first one ever. I know I shouldn’t, but I listened in to the maid a little earlier and she’s really happy he found someone. She really likes him and likes working for him.”

“Well, that’s very nice to know that he’s a good employer.”

“Wait until you see how pretty it is, Gran. If you told me that the guy who owns Fangtasia lived in a house like this, I’d never have believed it. He’s so much more than meets the eye – though what meets the eye is pretty wonderful!”

“Well, I’m glad you’re having a good time. And you’re sure you feel safe there?”

“Honestly, Gran, I never felt safer in my life. I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be.”

“That’s lovely, Sweetheart! You’ll be home tomorrow, then?”

“Yes, I’ll drive home as soon as I wake up. I have the late shift at Merlotte’s so that will give me plenty of time to have dinner and get ready. Did you happen to do laundry today?”

“Yes, so you’ve got clean uniforms waiting for you on your dresser.”

“Oh, cool – thank you! Do you need me to stop at the store or anything on my way home tomorrow?”

“I hadn’t thought about it, but that might save me a trip into town. I’ll have to see what we need…”

“OK, well, make a list and I’ll call you tomorrow before I leave here.”

“Alright, honey, I’ll do that.”

“OK, I probably better not run Eric’s phone bill up. Is there anything else you need before I go?”

“No, everything here is just fine. I’ll talk to you tomorrow. You be careful, Sookie.”

“I will, Gran. Don’t worry about me.”

“Bye-bye, now!” Gran hung up the phone, still a little worried, but sure about two things – first, she was sure that by now Sookie had had sex with Mr, Northman, and second, she was head over heels in love with him. She just hoped he was an honorable man who wouldn’t suddenly break Sookie’s heart, but there was a part of her that felt an odd sense of calm around the whole situation. When Sookie told her she was right where she was supposed to be, some part of Gran agreed with that.

Sookie finished her sandwich with great relish, and laughed at herself because of it. Either Margaret knew some secret to making turkey taste better than it ever did, or Sookie was just loving everything associated with Eric. She was considering tearing into the Ho-Ho when Margaret came back to check on her.

“Hello, Miss. How did you enjoy your sandwich?”

“I loved it. I don’t know what you did to it, but it was the best turkey sandwich I ever had, and I’m not exaggerating at all!”

“Oh, good, I’m so glad you enjoyed it.”

“Hey, what’s the weather like outside today?”

“It’s very nice out, Miss. It’s warm and sunny, and there are just a few clouds in a perfect blue sky.”

“Cool – is there a back yard? Would I be in the way if I went out to lie in the sun?”

“You wouldn’t be in the way at all, Miss. The gardeners usually mow on Fridays and Tuesdays, so you won’t be disturbed. There are some nice lounge chairs out there. Do you need anything else?”

“I brought my suit and my beach towel, but I forgot to bring a radio. You wouldn’t happen to have one around, would you?”

“Yes, I believe there’s a battery operated radio in the pantry that we keep in case of storms. You’re welcome to use that. I’ll go make sure it’s got fresh batteries for you. You just come down whenever you want and I’ll help you get settled.”

“Thank you so much! I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

“Alright, Miss,” Margaret smiled at her as she took the tray back down to the kitchen with her. “Oh – I think this is for you.” She handed Sookie an envelope that had her name written on it in very pretty script.

Sookie looked at the nice parchment paper and the beautiful handwriting, wondering what it could be, and she opened it very carefully in case it was something she wanted to keep.

My Sookie,

I have no words to tell you how much I enjoyed our time together last night, or what it meant to me. I’m planning to keep you up late again tonight, so rest if you can today. Feel free to look around the house and use or help yourself to anything you like. I want you to be comfortable here. If you need or want anything, just tell Margaret and she’ll see to it. If you have the time, please make those lists of toiletries and foods that you like and leave them with her.

Enjoy your day. I can’t wait to see you.

Love,

Eric

Sookie was overwhelmed. No one had ever written her a note like that and she tried very hard not to cry, but her eyes did well up and spill over a bit. She said a little prayer that if this was a dream, she never wake up. It was all too perfect and now that she’d been here, she couldn’t go back to being alone. She realized she was being maudlin so she tried to shake it off and get on with her day. She carefully folded the note and put it back into the envelope, then stuck it between the pages of her diary.

Sookie decided a quick shower, just in case, was her best bet and she’d leave her hair wet and put it up. In just a few minutes she was in her bright pink suit with her towel wrapped around her waist and bouncing down the stairs. She stopped off on the second floor, just to look around, though it was obviously under construction. The area to the right was being turned into the kitchenette she had been told about, and there was already a fridge in place, but not in use yet, cupboards that were so new the tags were still on them, and an island that was apparently not quite where it would finally sit. She went down the hall and found that there were three bedrooms that were all newly painted and each had a big brass bed in it but no mattresses or linens yet. There was a nice bathroom halfway down the hall on the left, between two of the rooms, and there was a big closet that had some linens and towels in it.

She went on down to the first floor, which was gorgeous in the daylight. The front windows were open so the fountain was visible, and the doors to what she was pretty sure was the dining room were open and people working in there. She heard a woman’s voice in there giving directions. Sookie started into the kitchen but she was called back.

“Excuse me, Miss?”

“Yes?” Sookie was shocked at being addressed by the tall, elegant woman standing in the dining room doorway.

“Are you Sookie, by any chance?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Wonderful! I’m Giselle Antoine-de Broux, the decorator. I was hoping I could show you a few things and get your input on them?”

“My input?”

“Yes, Mr. Northman said to make sure that everything was to your liking.”

“Oh…”

“Can you step into the dining room for just a second and look at a couple of things?”

The woman showed Sookie half a dozen swatches and a couple of sketches, asking her preferences on things like furniture and window treatments. It only took 10 or 15 minutes, but her head was spinning by the time she went out to the back yard. There was a lounge chair on the opposite side of a big blue tarp that had a towel spread on it and a table next to it that held a pitcher of sweet tea, a glass and a radio. Thoughts of the decorator were quickly replaced with a burning desire to know what was under the blue tarp. Once she found a station she liked on the radio and settled back in the chair, she promptly fell asleep.

Sookie had no idea that is was about three o’clock when Margaret said softly, “You might want to turn over now, dear and get your back tanned.”

Sookie sleepily turned over and Margaret helped her undo the back of he bikini so she had no lines on her back. Sookie was right back to sleep before Margaret made it into the back door.

The next thing Sookie knew, she felt a little chill. She looked around and realized that the sun had gone down behind the trees at the back of the property and it was a little bit cold now. She fiddled with the back of her suit and once she managed to get it in place, she got her stuff together and went into the kitchen.

“Wow, it smells great in here!” Sookie said as she came in the door.

“You said you liked Shrimp Étouffée, yes?”

“Yeah, I did. Is that what I smell?”

“Yes, it is, Miss. Are you ready to eat?”

“Um – should I get dressed first?”

“Not to sit in the kitchen. Just have a seat and I’ll bring you a big bowl.”

“OK, thank you!”

In no time at all, Margaret set a bowl of Étouffée and rice in front of her that was unreal – it was big, it was just spicy enough and it was delicious. “Wow – these shrimp are huge! I hope you didn’t go to a lot of expense on my account…”

“Not at all, Miss. I’m glad you like it. I made a lot of it, so eat all you want. I’ll put the extra in a Tupperware container and you can take it home with you. Mr. Northman said you live with your grandmother, so you can share it with her and she won’t have to cook for one night.”

“Oh, that’s so thoughtful! Thank you so much!”

Sookie ate the first bowl with great relish, then started another as she filled out the lists Margaret had requested so she could shop for her. She even asked for Sookie’s clothing sizes, though Sookie couldn’t imagine why she’d need them.

Sookie was nearly done with her second big bowl when she heard, “Hello, Ladies!”

“Eric!” She jumped up and hugged him and he laughed with delight.

“How are you, dear one? Did you have a good day?”

“Yeah, I did, it was great.”

“You look tan – you have been in the sun?” Eric motioned for her to sit back down and eat.

“Yeah, I was out in the back yard – you don’t mind, do you?”

“Not at all. Is that something you enjoy?”

“Oh, yeah, I love it. I always joke and say tanning is my only vice.”

“You are wearing a bathing suit. Do you like to swim?”

“Yeah, I love it, but I don’t get to go much.”

“Why not?”

“People at the county pool are afraid of me because… well, you know, so I don’t go much anymore. I have a sprinkler in my yard I run through to cool off.”

“If you had a pool, you would swim?”

“Yeah, of course.”

“Did you notice the blue tarp in the back?”

“Yeah, it’s kind of hard to miss. What’s under it?”

“A swimming pool.”

Her eyes got huge. “You have a swimming pool in your back yard! That’s so cool!”

“I’ve never opened it since I’ve lived here. Would you like me to engage the pool services and get it opened for you?”

“Oh – well, I don’t want you to go to any expense…”

“Actually, now that I think about it, a moonlight swim with my Sookie sounds very pleasant.” He stroked her cheek and gave her a smoldering look.

“Yeah, I guess it would be, especially on a hot, Louisiana night.”

“Alright, I’ll have my day man arrange for the work and we’ll see if we can’t have it ready for you the next time you visit.”

“Really?” Sookie was trying to hold back how excited she was, but it was hard because she always wanted a private swimming pool. “That’d be really nice…”

Eric laughed because he could see how excited she was at the prospect and knew she didn’t want to admit how much she would like it. He could feel what she was feeling, though, and it made him very happy, indeed.

“So, what shall we do tonight, my Sookie?”

“Did you have anything planned?”

“No, it’s entirely up to you – any ideas?”

“Well, I thought it might be nice to snuggle on that big couch in the den and watch a movie, then soak in that big bathtub of yours…”

“Mmmm – that sounds very nice. What movie shall we watch?”

“I don’t know what you have – do you have a favorite?”

“I’m not sure what’s in there, either. I’ve only looked at them briefly.”

“You bought movies you never watched?”

“I haven’t had them very long. I had my day man buy a bunch of movies a young lady might like. If there’s anything particular that you want that isn’t there, let Margaret know.”

“What kind of movies do you like?”

“Happy ones. I’ve seen so much killing and war, that I don’t care much for war movies or those with a lot of shooting or suffering. I enjoy nice scenery and good manners in movies and books – things that are soothing rather than stimulating. Have you ever read Jane Austen?”

“The name sounds familiar. Is that a book?”

“She’s a writer of half a dozen novels or so. A lot of young women enjoy her work. I thought you might have read some in school.”

“No, I don’t think so. Did they make movies about her books?”

“Yes, they’ve made several. I thought I saw one of two in the cabinet the other day. They take place in the Regency period in England so Pam loves them. When I found her, she had some of the books in her room.”

“The Regency period? Is that when you met her?”

“No, just after – more the Edwardian to Victorian Era.”

“That’s English history, right? I don’t know much about it.”

“Yes, I’ve taken a few of history classes over the last fifty years or so, and read a great deal. Plus, I dated a librarian in the 80’s who schooled me in English literature.”

Sookie cracked up. “You dated a librarian?”

“Yes, I did. I met her at an S&M club – still waters run deep, you know…” he wiggled his eyebrows and Sookie laughed though she wasn’t really sure what he meant. She wasn’t sure what an S&M club was but she was pretty sure it had to do with kinky sex. That created the most delicious mixture of fear and arousal in her that Eric could scarcely conceal his awareness of it.

“OK, I guess I’m done eating. That was really great, Margaret.”

“Did you want dessert?’ Eric asked, “Margaret, did you make anything else for Sookie?”

“Strawberry shortcake, sir.”

“Ooh! I love strawberries!” Sookie reacted before she remembered her manners. “I mean…”

“Coming right up, Miss. Did you tell Mr. Northman that you spoke to the decorator today?”

“Oh, no, not yet.”

“You met Giselle?”

“Yeah, she asked for my preferences on some things – carpeting, art work, things like that. Was that OK?”

“Yes, of course – how did you like her suggestions?”

“Everything she showed me was wonderful. I feel like she knows what a place needs to be beautiful and elegant and that’s what a wonderful house like this deserves. She showed me watercolors she did of what it will all look like. She’s a good artist and she has really clear vision. She was very nice to me, too, which I didn’t expect.”

“Why wouldn’t you expect her to be nice to you, Sookie?”

“I don’t know – I thought she might think I was a bimbo. Thanks Margaret!” Sookie smiled up at her as she sat a huge pile of strawberries with two little cakes and lots of whipped cream in front of her.

“I’d never tolerate anyone treating you that way, Sookie. I told her you were a very sweet girl, and you’d be a little shy about speaking your mind, but that the house should ultimately reflect your tastes.”

“She said that, and she offered to change anything I didn’t like, but I like it all. It’s going to look like something from a wonderful magazine or those big books they have at the library that show pictures of fancy houses.”

“Good. I want you to love it here.”

“I already do. Are you sure it’s not too soon for this? I hate for you to spend all this money when you’ve just met me.”

“Do you trust me, Sookie?”

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t,” she replied very firmly.

“Then trust me to know what I want. I’ve had a thousand years to learn my own mind about things. When I see what I want, I don’t hesitate because life can change in a heartbeat. I don’t do anything I don’t want to do.”

“Did you really get all this done that fast?”

“Yes – you’d be surprised what you can do if you have enough money.”

Sookie laughed a little and said, “that’s not something I’ve ever had. We’ve always had to scrape by.”

“You don’t have to anymore, Sookie.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean…”

“I know you didn’t, but I’m going to take every opportunity to make you understand that you have choices and opportunities with me that you didn’t have before you met me. Your only limit is your imagination.”

Sookie laughed out loud at that.

“You don’t believe me?”

“I just never heard anybody say anything like that. I don’t think you’d lie to me, of course, but it’s such a weird idea.”

“When we’re apart this week, think about it. Really think about what your perfect life would be if you could start from scratch and live anywhere or do anything you wanted.”

“Honestly, I don’t want much. I want to be loved by somebody I can trust. I’m more concerned with taking care of Gran than anything material.”

“She means a lot to you…”

“She made a lot of sacrifices to raise my brother and me. It’s the least I can do to do what I can to make her life easier. That’s why I work so many shifts at Merlotte’s to help her out.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, on what I earn, I could afford to live on my own, but Gran wouldn’t be able to keep up with the taxes and the utilities on the house, so I stay there and pay them so she has a little bit of money left for herself.”

“Your brother should be the one to do that for both of you.”

“Ha! Jason left the minute he turned 18. He lives in our parents’ old house and he never gave her a penny that I know of. She’s lucky if he gives her a birthday card. I told him you said something like that and he just shrugged it off.”

“Very dishonorable.” He was shaking his head as Margaret offered Sookie more strawberry shortcake.

“Oh, no, thank you. That was wonderful!”

“I’m glad you liked it, dear.”

“OK, Eric, I’m ready to watch a movie.”

“Alright, let’s go see what we can find.” He took her hand and led her into the den and over to the video cabinet by the bathroom door.

“Wow,” Sookie said with surprise, “that’s a lot of movies! Are there any of those you were talking about?”

“Let’s see – here’s one called Emma, about a young woman who thinks she’s a matchmaker but isn’t really very good at it; here’s Sense and Sensibility, about two sisters and their different temperaments in matters of the heart; this one is very famous – Pride and Prejudice, one of the most famous love stories ever written. Then there’s a lesser known work called Persuasion, about a spinster who encounters a man she wasn’t allowed to marry when she was younger.”

“They all sound sad.”

“No, they have sad parts, but the endings are very satisfying.”

“OK, pick one.”

Sense and Sensibility is a relatively new one, and the actress who plays the eldest sister won an Academy award for the screen play, so let’s start with it.”

“She looks familiar…”Sookie pointed to a very pretty actress on the DVD cover.

“Yes, she was in a very famous movie called Titanic.”

“Oh, yeah – I saw that. It was good but it was way too sad.”

“Yes, I agree.”

“OK, let’s watch that one.”

Eric unwrapped the movie and put it in the DVD player as Sookie sat on the big, soft velvety couch.

“This is the biggest couch I ever saw. I love it.”

“Yes, I thought, given my size, I needed something that big to hold two people.”

“I think this would hold both of us and a friend or two…” Sookie said before she realized how it sounded.

Eric laughed as he closed the door on the DVD player and brought the remote to the couch with him.

“Excuse me, Mr. Northman?”

“Yes, Margaret?”

“The dishes are running now and I popped Miss Sookie a bowl of popcorn…”

“Oh, cool!” Sookie thought she smelled popcorn.

“… and I brought this quilt down from the upstairs closet. I thought you might want to snuggle up as you watch your show.”

“Oh, good idea!” Sookie loved the idea of snuggling under a nice quilt with Eric.

“Thank you, Margaret,” Eric said with a smile, “I can always count on you to think of everything.”

“Oh, and here’s a can of that soda you like, Dear,” she said to Sookie. “There’s plenty more in the fridge and if you leave before I’m up tomorrow, your Étouffée is in a white plastic bowl with a red lid.”

“Thank you so much! That’s so thoughtful of you.”

“My pleasure. The rest of the staff has gone home. If you don’t need me anymore…”

“Have a pleasant evening, Margaret,” Eric said fondly.

“Good night, you two. Have fun.”

Eric sat next to Sookie, hit the play button on the remote and pulled her close. “I hope I don’t smell bad from being out in the sun…” she said apologetically.

He whispered in her ear. “You smell of spring air and sunshine, and your fragrance is even sweeter today. I don’t think you could ever smell bad, Sookie, not with that scent.” He pulled the clip out of her hair, which was still a bit damp, and he inhaled deeply, enjoying the perfume of the shampoo she had used as it mingled with her natural scent. Eric smiled to himself that if she only knew how much better she smelled than anyone he had ever known, she wouldn’t be so apologetic.

“Are we allowed to talk during the movie?” Sookie asked hopefully as Eric pulled the beach towel from around her waist.

“Of course, Sookie. I’ll tell you about it and you will have questions, plus you can tell me about your day.”

“There isn’t much to tell. Margaret made me an amazing lunch and I lay in the sun. She even came out to tell me when to turn over so I got sun on both sides.”

“She is one of the best employees I have ever had. She’s very competent and very loyal. She was with me for two years before I moved here.”

“She cares a lot about you. She likes that we’re together.”

“Yes, I know. I can tell that she likes you, because she does extra things that I’d never demand or even think to ask her for you. She smiles at you when you aren’t looking.”

“I didn’t know that, but I know she’s really nice. She’s a great cook, too.”

“Oh, yes, she can always be counted on to impress my guests with her cooking. Of course, that’s mostly cakes or pies and usually just an accountant or a lawyer.”

“I hope I’m not creating extra work for her…”

“She’s happy to have more to do. She always thought I paid her too much for too little, but I wanted her to be available when I needed her. When I told her you would be coming here she was beside herself. She said she’d do anything you needed her to do and she meant it.”

“You have a knack for hiring good people, don’t you?”

“I’m a pretty good judge of character, and I pay well enough that people make an extra effort to stay in my employ. They know they can make more money with me than with anyone else doing comparable work.”

“Wow – most bosses pay as little as possible.”

“Yes, and most employees do as little as possible because of it. You might want to think about that, you know.”

“What?”

“I’ve told you that you have no need to work, but if you insist on doing so, you might want to consider working at Fangtasia.”

“Huh?”

“You’d make more in one night at Fangtasia than you make in a week at Merlotte’s.”

“You want me to work at Fangtasia?”

“I don’t want you to work at all, but if you insist on it, I’d like to see you get a fair wage for your efforts.”

“Wow – I’d have to really think about that.”

“There’s no hurry, it’s just something to keep in mind. I wanted you to know it was an option.”

“I never would have thought of that. I wouldn’t really fit in there, you know…”

“In order to draw in tourists, I need to keep the vampires coming in. Some of them are under contract to do so, but you being there would be an added incentive.”

“Wouldn’t I have to wear black and stuff?”

“No, not at all. I’d want you to dress just as you normally do – pretty little dresses, like you’re going on a picnic,” he teased her.

“Like vampire bait?”

“What?” he laughed, surprised.

“Bill said that night he took me to Fangtasia that I looked like vampire bait.”

“Well, yes, then, exactly. You’d lure them in,” he laughed as he wiggled his eyebrows at her.

“Wouldn’t that make them likely to attack me?”

“Not if they know you’re mine – they wouldn’t dare. They’d still want to be around you, though.”

“Why?”

“You smell good. You’re easy on the eyes. It’s a fantasy – just like they fantasize about the dancers or bar tenders or me.”

“Yeah, but sometimes they do get to hook up, right?”

“Not with me, not anymore, especially not if we are bonded.”

“What does being bonded have to do with it?”

“If we are bonded, I belong to you and you belong to me, literally. No one can touch me without your permission.”

“Like, not even a hug or a kiss on the cheek?”

“No, not even that, not without your permission.”

“Would I be able to hug or kiss my Gran?”

“Yes, of course, I’d want you to do that. You could kiss or hug your brother…”

“That’s not likely to be a problem…”

“…but you couldn’t hug your boss, for example, or one of your brother’s friends. That would not be permitted.”

“Oh, OK. You’d be able to touch Pam, though, right?”

“With your permission, but since she is my Childe, I would think you would allow it.”

“Yeah, of course I would. Oh, look – they’re sword fighting!”

“With wooden swords, yes. I’ll teach you to fight with a real sword if you’ll let me.”

“Is that something I should know?”

“It’s a good idea if you are going to be around Supes of any kind. Should war break out, you would be better prepared to defend yourself.”

“Is that likely? That I’d need to fight?”

“No, it’s not, but it’s always best to be prepared. More likely I’d be defending you, but things happen unexpectedly.”

“It might be kind of a cool thing to know. Is it good exercise,” she asked jokingly.

“Yes, actually, it’s very good for firming the thighs,” he teased back with a gentle squeeze of her upper leg.

“For real?”

“Yes, part of training is to do lunges.”

“OK, so teach me sometime.”

Eric smiled. That was much easier than he expected. He knew that she had no concept yet of how awful a Supe war could be, and that was fine. He’d feel better knowing she had a little experience with a sword, just in case, and she was still far enough removed from it to think of it as fun rather than survival. Hopefully, they would be bonded before the reality of it sunk in.

So far, their development was ideal for Eric’s purposes. Please, Freyja, let her agree to bond before she realizes she has no choice. He wasn’t letting her go now, not knowing whom she was. He hoped that this all meant that she wouldn’t want to get away from him. If she was intended for him, hopefully that meant she’d have no desire to go, but these things were never certain. Speaking of which, he wondered if the Witch had gotten back to him.

He pulled his phone out of his pocket, and said, “email,” when she gave him a questioning look. She smiled and snuggled back up to him, watching the Dashwood girls walk up to Barton Cottage. There was a message from wkkdwtch at nola dot US – perfect!

“Sookie, would you be offended if I went into my office for a minute? I need to return a call.”

“Sure, Sweetie. You want to stop the movie?”

“No, you keep watching and we’ll talk more about it when I get back.” He kissed her on the forehead and went into this office, calling the number Amelia Broadway had given him.

“Hello?”

“Ms. Broadway? This is Eric Northman.”

“Oh, hi – I checked you out with Hadley and she says you’re who you say you are, so what can I do for you?”

“I assume this is confidential – this cannot get back to Hadley or her friend…”

“No problem – it’s between you, me and the Goddess.”

“Very well. I have a rather unique situation I am in and I need some guidance. Have you ever encountered a direct incarnation of a Goddess?”

“Well, in some sense we all are, but in the sense that you mean, no, I don’t think I have in person.”

“Alright, this person – a young woman, of course – is someone I met recently and I recognized Her almost instantly as a former lover.”

“Lover… as in you were literally Freyja’s lover?”

“Yes, quite literally, hundreds of years ago, of course.”

“Of course.”

“I’m quite serious.”

“Yes, I know that you are. So you recognized her…?”

“Yes, and we have become very close very quickly. What I want to know is, how much free will is involved in this situation? I believe she is intended for me, that she was specifically sent to me as the result of a promise Freyja made to me long ago. If she really is the fulfillment of the promise, can she still reject me?”

“Free will tends to override any kind of magick, but she’d have to be quite repulsed to turn her back on you if she’s whom you think she is. I’d expect that kind of attachment to transcend almost any kind of trauma.”

“Is there a way for you to confirm my suspicion?”

“Well, I’ve thrown a Tarot spread on it and the indication here is that you are correct – it is She, and I do see a promise being kept. Before I give you a definite ‘yes’ I’d prefer to meet the two of you and see you together. Would that be possible?”

“It could be arranged, I suppose. I wouldn’t want her to know just yet…”

“No, of course not. It would be best in a social situation. Are you going to attend Sophie Ann’s party on the dark moon a week from Friday?”

“I have been invited, and I could bring her as a guest, I suppose, though it’s much sooner than I had hoped to take her into that world.”

“I imagine you’d like to know right away.”

“I would, indeed. Now that I think of it, a party might be best. We could pretend to be business acquaintances and you could chat with her. You need to be aware, though, that she is a telepath.”

“Really?”

“Yes, she can read human minds very easily.”

“I’m intrigued. Let’s do that then. Rest assured, neither Sophie Ann nor Hadley will know what we are doing, or who she is to you.”

“Except, of course, that she is mine.”

“Oh, really? How long have you known her?”

“Less than a week. We became very attached almost instantly.”

“That’s a good sign. Has she ever formed an attachment so quickly before?”

“Never – I am her first… relationship.” Eric was trying to be delicate out of respect for Sookie, but he needed to get the point across.

“Really? How old is she?”

“26.”

“You’re kidding?”

“No, I’m quite serious.”

“But you are sure that she’s Freyja? She’s a very sexual aspect…”

“Quite. I can’t explain it – it’s as if it has lain dormant within her and was only released when we came together.”

“And since then…”

“There is no doubt in my mind, but I require independent verification. I’m not in the habit of leaving things unexamined.”

“That’s why you’ve lived as long as you have.”

“Exactly. I don’t treat these things lightly. I understand the Force at work here and respect it. I just need to know the parameters of what I am dealing with and perhaps when and where it will be appropriate to let her know.”

“She has no training in magick, I assume?”

“None as far as I know. I’d be shocked if she did.”

“What kind of person is she?”

“Very bright, if a bit unschooled. She likes to read, she works in a bar and takes care of her grandmother. She uncommonly pretty and she has unusual qualities.”

“Such as?”

“Her scent and her taste.”

“They’re unusual?”

“Yes, she tastes and smells much sweeter than a human should. She’s quite intoxicating.”

“OK, that’s another indication that there’s Divine intervention. If you have any specific intuitions or dreams, be sure to let me know.”

“I did hear something, last night.”

“Did she hear it, too?”

“I don’t think so.”

“What was it.”

“A very happy woman’s voice saying “she’s home.””

“This was during…”

“Just… after.”

“Alright. I’m going to do some more research in this before we meet at the party. I’ll approach you – I hear you stand out.”

“I’m rather tall.”

“Huge is what I hear, and gorgeous with long blonde hair and blue eyes.”

Eric smiled smugly to himself – that had to come directly from Sophie Ann. Good to know. “I’m sure some would find that description accurate.”

“Alright. If you have any other questions, feel free to call or email. If I don’t hear from you before then, I’ll see you at Sophie Ann’s soiree.”

“Thank you for your help. Naturally, I’ll pay for your time.”

“I trust that you will. See you there.”

Eric went back out to the den and wrapped his arms around Sookie, who was really getting into the movie now.

“Hi, Sweetie!” She kissed him.

“Hi. Are you enjoying the movie?”

“Yeah, I feel so bad for Colonel Brandon! He’s obviously so in love with Marianne, and now she’s only got eyes for Willoughby!”

“Yes, she’s dazzled by his good looks.”

“I know how that feels. It’s still sad for Brandon.”

“Keep watching.”

“OK, why does that guy live with his mother-in-law when his wife is dead?”

“She’d probably have no income of her own, so it’s his responsibility to care for her. He’s a man of means, and he seems to enjoy her company.”

“Yeah, I guess it would be better than living in a big old house alone with just servants.” It flashed in Sookie’s mind that that’s how Eric had been living for some time, and it made her feel protective of him. He smiled to himself when he felt a wave of love and concern from her.

“I like the way they talk. Their accents are so pretty.”

“Not as pretty as yours.”

“You don’t have to say that, Eric.”

“I mean it. I love to listen to you speak. It’s the second thing I noticed about you.”

“What was the first?” She was being sassy now, to his sheer delight.

“Well, you were wearing that little dress…”

“And….”

“Well, while the overall package was nothing short of inspiring, I must admit that your breasts commanded my attention most.”

“They’re not too small?”

“They are perfect. You are perfect. There is nothing about you that I would change.”

“Except my job and my clothes…”

“I love your clothes, but you can afford even nicer things now.”

“You keep saying that.”

“It’s true, if you’ll let it be.”

“What would you do? Give me an allowance? I’d really feel like a kept woman then!”

“Alright, let’s be logical for a minute. Except for the ceremony and the license, what is the difference in a wife and a kept woman?”

Sookie looked stunned, started to speak, then stopped for a minute, so he continued, “both have access to their man’s money, both are supported by him, he gives them both sustenance as well as occasional presents…”

“Yeah, but a wife is someone who is loved and he’s made a commitment to be with her forever. A mistress isn’t necessarily loved – there’s no commitment, it’s just a financial arrangement.”

“I defy you to find a mistress anywhere who thinks she has only a financial arrangement. At that point, she is a prostitute, not a girlfriend. Most girlfriends expect to become wives, even if the man is already married to another.”

“OK, I can see that. I do know of women who get strung along with promises he’ll leave his wife but they almost never do. I still think a wife is different though.”

“How important is the difference?”

“Eric, are you kidding? It’s the MOST important thing!”

“Then marry me.”

“Eric!”

“Too soon?” He gave her a Cheshire cat grin.

“Uh, yeah – I already feel like we’re on a speeding train as it is,” she laughed.

“Alright, as long as it is understood that eventually, I expect us to marry.”

“Do you really mean that?”

“Of course I do. I’ve talked about bonding with you, Sookie – that is a far greater commitment than marriage.”

“In your world, maybe, but in the world of my family and friends, the marriage is the thing. Even if they knew what a blood bond was, they wouldn’t understand it. I barely understand it.”

“Does it not appeal to you?”

“Honestly, it sounds amazing! It sounds the way love is supposed to be – you become one with each other, you can feel what the other feels – that must be so gratifying.”

“Yes, it is. It is a closeness no words can describe.”

Sookie fell quiet for a few minutes and settled her head on his chest. He knew from the swirl of emotions within her that she was considering it. He was sure she would consent very soon, and it couldn’t be soon enough to suit him. He poured as much affection and comfort as he could muster into the slight connection they already had.

“You know, a week ago today, I had no idea you existed. Now I can’t imagine living without you,” she said softly.

“I told you, Sookie – life can change in a heartbeat. This time last week, I had no idea there would be a beautiful woman watching a movie with me in my den. When the Goddess gives you blessings, you grab them and make the most of them.”

“What were you doing this time last week?”

“Lying in my bed reading a book and listening to my iPod.”

“What’s an iPod?”

“It’s a new kind of music player. You load all your music onto it and you can carry it in your pocket.”

“What kind of music do you like?”

“Many kinds, but I often play traditional Swedish music to remind me of home.”

“No Tuvan throat singing?” Sookie asked wryly.

Eric knew he couldn’t let her know he knew what that was about. “Why on earth would I listen to those awful noises?”

“Yeah, that’s what I’d like to know. They’re horrible!”

“Where did you hear such a thing?”

“Bill Compton was playing it in his car the night he brought me to Fangtasia.”

“When I have a woman in my car, she picks the music.”

“You’re smart. Believe me, no girl wants to be trapped in the car with that, especially if it’s already a bad night.”

“I rather enjoyed that night.”

“Yeah, I did, too, once you got there. Between the raid and the ride home, though, I wasn’t a happy camper. All I could think about was wanting to go back and talk to you.”

“You nearly got your wish.”

“I got better than my wish. I never dreamed you’d hover outside my window and talk to me that way. I felt like I was dreaming.” Sookie said with wonder in her voice and Eric laughed softly. “No kidding, I still do!”

“I know. I feel that way, too. I keep hoping I won’t awake and lose it all.”

“Exactly. Wait – that’s Willoughby at that ball in London? Why did she yell out that way?”

“She’s overly demonstrative with her feelings, which is considered very improper. See how everyone is shocked by her behavior?”

“The creep won’t even shake her hand! And now he’s ignoring her and the new girl is making fun of her clothes! Nobody better EVER treat me that way!”

“No one ever will, my lover.”

“Wow – I guess it was good her big sister was there to drag her out. I’d have pulled that chick’s hair out, though.”

Eric laughed at the thought of Sookie fighting – over him, of course – and it was thrilling. He could tell she’d be quite the little hellcat if she were provoked. Another thing that reminded him of Freyja. “Oh, you would, would you?”

“Yeah – just wait. If I ever see one of those bimbos at Fangtasia with her paws on you, you’ll find out.”

“So I trust I’ll never have to see you hug your boss, or anything of the kind.”

“Nope – it works both ways. Until it doesn’t, of course.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means if you ever cheat on me, all bets are off.”

“That will never happen. If we were bonded, it would be impossible.”

“Literally impossible?”

“Yes.” OK, he was stretching the truth a bit, but he had an agenda here and it couldn’t come together quickly enough to suit him. He told himself it was for her own good and almost believed it. “I have an idea. Keep watching and I’ll be right back.” He was up like a shot and into the kitchen while Sookie became engrossed in Marianne and Elinor fighting because she wouldn’t explain the deal with Willoughby.

“What did I miss?” Eric said as he came back.

“The older sister just asked Brandon to take them home because Marianne is all broken up over that snake in the grass, Willoughby.”

Sookie barely noticed that Eric was kicking off his boots and taking off his shirt behind her. He spread the blanket on the floor in front of the couch and sat with his back against it.

“What are you doing?” She asked while he arranged the quilt.

“Come sit here, between my legs.” He patted the floor in front of him.

Sookie’s eyes lit up and she gave him a flirty smile… she had a feeling this was going to be good. “OK,” she said, feigning suspicion as she settled in front of him.

He untied the back of her bathing suit as he told her, “you keep watching the movie, dear one, and I’m going to make you feel really, really good.”

“Mmm – I like the sound of that,” she said as the two of them got settled so that Eric could rub her back. He opened a bottle that she could only see in her peripheral vision. “What’s that?”

“Peanut oil.”

“Peanut oil?”

“Yes, it’s very good for the skin. I have better massage oils upstairs, but this was handy so we’ll use it this time.”

“This time? Is massage going to be a regular thing?” she asked hopefully.

“Of course – unless you don’t like it. I didn’t think to ask…”

“Are you kidding – I love it!”

“Good. It’s one of my many talents.”

“There seems to be no limit to your talents,” Sookie laughed. “Oh, no – Edward didn’t expect that obnoxious Lucy to be there with Elinor!”

“Yes, Lucy is quite the fly in the ointment.”

“He’s so awkward! And Marianne is going off on her again. She needs to calm down.”

“Elinor agrees with you,” Eric laughed as he spread a generous amount of oil on her back. He could tell Sookie was already enjoying this. It occurred to him that she had probably never had a professional massage. “Sookie, have you ever had a massage before?”

“Not really. Just short ones from other girls at a slumber party.”

“Mmm – that’s a pretty picture,” he teased. “Seriously, have you ever been to a spa or had professional body work?”

“No, of course not.”

“Why “of course not?””

“Regular people don’t do things like that, Eric. That’s for people with plenty of money and too much time on their hands.”

“So you wouldn’t want to go to a spa with me and have massage and exfoliating treatments and facials…”

“Sure, I would. I’m not against it, I just can’t afford it.”

“Hmm – I think I feel a short vacation coming up. There’s a vampire hotel in Phoenix that has a wonderful day spa for human guests. You’d spend the day being pampered, then we’d have a wonderful little villa all to ourselves at night.”

“That sounds nice, but expensive.”

“Wouldn’t cost you a penny, my dear, only your time and attendance.”

“Oh,” she stretched forward, lengthening her back as he stroked the length of it firmly, “you make everything so tempting,” she laughed.

“You just wait, Sookie Stackhouse, sooner or later, I’m going to spoil you rotten and you’ll not only let me, you’ll enjoy it,” he said with absolute certainty.

Sookie giggled. Even if he was full of crap, and she didn’t think he was, it was sheer joy to hear someone say these things to her. Just the words were so comforting and she could feel the sincerity in his words. He really did want to take care of her. He was pressing his thumbs in on both sides of her spine and running them upward to her neck and she pictured herself as a piece of dough being rolled out. It felt so good. There was tension melting away from her that she never noticed was there before.

“Oh, no, she’s not going to tell that mean lady about her and Edward, is she?” Sookie cracked up as Fannie grabbed Lucy by the nose and threw her out of her house.

Eric laughed just because Sookie’s laugh was so cute.

“Wow – I’m glad Elinor finally stood up to Marianne. Like she thinks no one else feels anything!”

Eric had rubbed all the knots out of Sookie’s back, so he pulled her back against his chest and held her close as he massaged her hand very deeply. She laid her head back on his shoulder, relaxing and watching the movie as she enjoyed the attention he was paying to her hand. She was amazed at how nimble his long fingers were, and how good it felt just to have her hand rubbed,

“OK, this scene is a bit much, with her standing there in the rain spouting poetry.”

“True, but that’s the whole point with Marianne. She’s over the top. Remember at the beginning she told her mother nothing could be more glorious than dying for love?”

“Yeah, she did say that, didn’t she? She’s not going to die, is she?”

“Wait and see,” he teased her as he kissed that hand, then began to massage the other one.

“Tease!” she giggled.

“You have the softest hands I’ve ever felt, Sookie.”

“Thanks,” she giggled shyly.

“This oil will make you feel even softer when it’s washed off.”

“Oh, yeah, we’ve still got a bath coming up, haven’t we?” she said more seductively than she meant to, and Eric noticed as she blushed. Eric began kissing her neck softly, moving down to her shoulder.

“Relax, Sookie, we’re in no hurry. We’re going to finish the movie, and we’ll eventually make it upstairs. Everything slow and gentle tonight, alright?”

“Uh-huh” she whispered as his hands gently explored her. The only effort she made was to shift a little to let him remove the bottom of her bathing suit. He gently stretched her out on her side, facing the television, and kissed his way down her back. Moving faster than she could see, he removed his jeans and snuggled up against her. While Elinor was crying and begging Marianne to try to live, Sookie was crying out softly for a different reason, as Eric took her gently from behind as he whispered in her ear and stroked her breasts. She had a deep, hard release as Brandon read poetry to Marianne and they were softly whispering to each other as Marianne learned the new song Brandon sent her with a small piano forte.

“Alright, dear one, watch the end here, then we go to the tub.”

Margaret Dashwood was jumping up and down saying that the rider approaching the cottage was Edward and the girls rushed to go inside so they could receive him properly. When Edward told Elinor he wasn’t married and she lost control of herself, Sookie nearly cheered. “AW! That’s so sweet!”

Eric smiled, thinking how sweet the girl in his arms was, and they chatted a little about the wedding scene.

“Eat your heart out, Willoughby!” she laughed as he watched the wedding from afar on his white horse. “Why is he throwing coins?”

“That’s what the English used to do at weddings.”

“What about rice?”

“That began in America after the World Wars. GI’s picked up the custom in Japan and brought it to this country.”

“I didn’t know that. If we got married, what would they throw?”

He knew better than to tell her that rice was a symbol of fertility because he didn’t want her to think about the fact that to be with him, she had to give up having children. “Flowers? Rose petals? Tens and twenties?” He laughed

“I’m just kidding. I don’t need that whole white wedding scene. As long as Gran and Jason were there, I’d be happy.”

“You will have the wedding of your dreams, dear one, whatever that dream may be.”

She rolled back and looked him right in the eye and he said, “I promise.” Without another word he turned off the TV and the lights and swept her up into his arms and up into the bedroom, sitting her on the bed as he ran a bath and lit the room with candles. Sookie watched him and smiled, knowing that the night had just begun.

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