Entitlement Chapter 007

Part 7 ‘Til Death Do Us Part

 

 

Eric lowered Sookie gently into the warm water and quietly slipped in behind her. He pulled her back so her back was against his chest, she situated between his long legs.

“Close your eyes, lover, and relax into me,” he whispered in her ear. Sookie felt like she’d pour right down the drain if he let the water out right now. She just hoped she didn’t fall asleep, he was being so quiet and gentle with her. He slipped his fingers into her hair and gently massaged her scalp for a good long while, then he pulled her to him, his hands over her breasts, kissing her neck and shoulder softly over and over, then kissing down her back a bit as she leaned forward.

When he worked his way back up to her shoulder, she leaned back into him again and he began to massage her breasts in earnest, paying particular attention to her nipples. These sensations were new to Sookie, having only rarely touched them herself and she was amazed at how a pang of wanting shot through her body straight down to her center when he pulled on them firmly. She closed her eyes, feeling a bit shy all of a sudden, especially because she couldn’t be quiet. She felt a compulsion to pull his hands away but that was the last thing she wanted to do so she wrapped her hands around his thighs as they embraced her.

Eric reveled in the jumble of emotions she was projecting to him – love, confusion, lust, bashfulness, even smidgens of fear and shame as she found she couldn’t stop the flexing of her lower cheeks. Eric was fascinated in the way she bit her lower lip and rolled her head back and forth on his chest, so rather than moving on to other things as he might normally, he continued to tug them firmly, and gradually to pinch them roughly as he did. Sookie began to whimper but she didn’t want him to stop. She could think of nothing but the unfamiliar and fascinating interaction between her nipples and her clit.

At this point, Eric wanted to see how far he could push her, so he continued, both surprised that as the pinches and pulls began to provoke cries of ecstasy and pain, Sookie began to come, thrusting her pelvis upward, digging her fingers into Eric’s thighs. Suddenly Eric slipped his hands under her bottom and impaled her on his cock before she even knew he had moved. He immediately returned to tormenting one of her nipples, his arm stretched across her, forcing her back, pinching the right one with his left hand as his right hand found her clit and rubbed it mercilessly. Sookie was frantic, holding the sides of the tub as best she could, grinding down on Eric and making sounds somewhere between a howl and a sob.

“Don’t stop – please, Eric, don’t stop!”

Eric was glad Sookie couldn’t see the evil smile on his face. This was a delicious development. Sookie had a delightful and unexpected masochistic streak. Sookie began crying out rhythmically, and as he felt her reach a crescendo, he bit her shoulder, causing her to shriek and sob. On an impulse, Eric tore his wrist savagely and pressed it to her lips, and Sookie drew as hard as she could on it. When the wound had closed, Sookie shuddered and collapsed into him, and he let her breathe for the first time since this bout had begun.

Sookie was limp as Eric sprayed her hair with the hand held shower, and made only an occasional moan as he washed her hair. He guided her to lean against the side of the tub so he could wash his own hair, then he took the soap and gently washed her all over.

“Sookie, are you alright?” He pulled her back to him and looked to the side to see her expression.

“Yeah. What was that?”

“That was pleasure, my lover,” he whispered as he nuzzled her ear.

“I never… I didn’t…”

“Sookie are you upset?”

“No, I’m… I don’t know what I am. Confused, I guess?”

“Did I do something wrong?”

“NO, not at all, that was so wild and intense. I don’t even know a word for it.”

Eric let the water out of the tub, and rinsed them both off with the handheld. He was very pleased with himself, but he tried not to betray his feelings to Sookie.

“Smug,” Sookie said softly as Eric rubbed a nice lotion Margaret had left for them into her skin.

He got out and got a huge towel, wrapping it around her and lifting her out of the empty tub.

“Eric?” She was still stunned as he dried her off and combed out her hair.

“Yes, lover?” He picked her up and carried her to the bed.

“You are feeling smug – I can feel it! You got exactly what you wanted.”

“Yes, I did.” He kissed her deeply, then went to put out the candles in the bathroom. He came back quickly and slipped into the bed on his side.

“It’s true, then – we’re bonded, and I can feel what you feel.” She moved into his arms,

“Yes, we are, and you can.” He spoke quietly as he smoothed her hair back.

“Hold me tight,” she clung to him and he wrapped his arms more tightly around her. After a long while, she said, “we’re forever now.”

“Yes, we are.”

He could feel that her emotions were churned up, but the overarching feelings were positive, so he let her have time to process the events of the evening as he held her and stroked her back and shoulders. He reached up occasionally and fluffed up her hair, stroking her cheek and kissing her, then letting her bury her face in his neck again.

“It’s so weird – I can feel your concern for me, your happiness, your fear that I’ll regret it or be afraid of you. I can feel your love and amusement and something I don’t even know the name for. Your feelings are so huge and wide and deep! And they’re in me – they’re a part of me. Do you feel my feelings this intensely?”

“Yes, my lover, they are often overwhelming. I am used to dealing with such intensity, but it may take you some time to adjust to the rush of feelings. That’s not unusual.”

“You’re pouring all kinds of love and comfort and calm into the bond, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am.”

She laid her hand against his cheek. “Don’t be afraid, Eric – I’m not going to suddenly regret our bond. I just need some time to know how to process it all. It’s so much more than I ever imagined,” she said with wonder.

“Is it unpleasant?”

“No, just the opposite. I never felt so… whole. I feel like I want tell the whole world!” She started to laugh, but Eric was still watching her closely because he was afraid she was on the verge of hysteria. It was not uncommon for newly bonded humans to have a temporary breakdown of sorts.

Suddenly Sookie was kissing him hard, over and over and she moved toward the center of the bed. He moved as he needed to let her go where she wanted, and once she was in the middle of the bed on her back, she threw her arms around his neck and pulled him downward as she wrapped her legs around his waist. “Fuck me, really hard, and make it last for hours. Don’t stop until you have to go to rest.”

She didn’t have to ask twice. Sookie made the most of the fact that they were alone in the house. She screamed, she snarled, she bit, she scratched, she swore, she begged, she moaned, she cried, she laughed hysterically. She proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was not entirely human because Eric had never seen a woman who could take what he was dishing out. A Goddess, yes, a vampiress or maybe a fairy, but not a human girl, and he was certain that he wasn’t injuring her.

About twenty after five, he could tell she was fading.

“No, don’t slow down!” She took his face in both hands and looked right in his eyes.

“Sookie, my lover, you are exhausted. We will have sex again tonight and tomorrow and every night thereafter. Besides, there is something I want to give you before I go to rest.”

“But you’ve given me everything!”

He smiled at her sweetly. “No, Sookie, we’ve only begun. This is just the very beginning of our time together. Now, relax, catch your breath, and close your eyes.”

Her breath was ragged, but she did lie back and close her eyes. Eric reached for his nightstand and opened the bottom drawer. He took out a blue velvet box and opened it, holding it so Sookie could see it.

“Open your eyes, Sweetheart.”

“Eric, what did you do?”

“It’s just a little something to mark the occasion of our bonding. I knew you and your grandmother would think it is too soon for a diamond ring, but I thought a necklace and matching earrings would be acceptable.”

“Wow – they’re beautiful. Are they rubies?”

“Yes, very good quality real ones with diamond accents and I got the teardrop shape to represent our blood bond. I’d like you to wear at least the necklace until we can get something more permanent.”

“Of course I’ll wear them! You don’t need to get me anything else, though.”

“But I will. I’ll want you to wear a ring of engagement, but as I said, I know you and your grandmother would consider it too soon. I’d like to take you to a party at the Queen’s estate in New Orleans a week from Friday and we need some visible sign of our bond.”

“So it has to be a piece of jewelry?”

“Ideally, there would be jewelry and a visible bite.”

“Well, the bite is no problem, right?”

“Right.”

“So the necklace will be enough?”

“It’s better than nothing. A ring would be much preferable if you’d wear one.”

“OK, you know I don’t really want you to spend money on me, but hypothetically, if you got me a ring before the party, would it be alright if I wore it there, but didn’t wear it at home or work for a while?”

“Of course – as long as you wear the necklace when you aren’t wearing the ring.”

“That’s no big deal. I’d definitely be able to do that.”

“So, are you giving me permission to buy you a ring?”

“Well, you said it’s inevitable, right? We’re forever, and you expect us to get married, so…”

“Exactly. It’s going to happen sooner or later, but sooner solves an immediate problem.”

“Alright.”

“What shape do you want?”

“What kind of ring is it going to be?”

“You don’t get to ask that – it’s my choice. I just need to know your favorite shape for gems.”

“You know what an emerald cut is?”

“Of course.”

“OK, that’s my favorite. I always dreamed I’d have a really nice emerald cut ring of some kind some day.”

“And so you shall.” He kissed her very sweetly. Sookie didn’t see the harm in wearing a little ring to show what they meant to each other. As much as it was a sign to Eric’s associates that she belonged to him, it would be a sign to her family and coworkers that he really was committed to her. She’d just keep it quiet for a while and spring it on them when the time was right.

“I’m going to miss you so much today!” Sookie hated the thought of leaving him.

“That will make it even sweeter when we see each other tonight.”

“I won’t get home until almost 2:30 in the morning.”

“I’ll fly to your house after we close Fangtasia and that will give us a few hours before dawn.”

“Part of me wants to tell you not to go to so much trouble but a bigger part of me knows I’ll really want to see you,” she laughed.

“Seeing my bonded is no trouble. It’s best if we spend at least a little time together every day while our bond is so new. I’ll come see you every night unless you have a night off – then you will come to me at Fangtasia, yes?”

“Yes! Wild horses couldn’t keep me away – ay ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy-OH! Wow, big yawn,” she laughed.

“You need to sleep now, lover.”

“But…”

“Shhh – no “but’s” – I will lie here with you until you sleep, then I’ll go underground when the sun comes up.”

She started to protest, but he shook his head and opened his arms so she rolled into them and snuggled up. She was in a deep sleep in no time, but he stayed until just before dawn, then wrote her a note before he went downstairs.

Sookie woke up at 11:53 according to Eric’s clock. She stopped and concentrated for a minute and she realized she could feel him elsewhere in the house. She was pretty sure that if she tried she could find his hiding place, but she wouldn’t do that. She’d wait until he showed her himself. She ran through everything she needed to do today and the absolute first thing she was going to do is write in her journal. She got up to get it out of her bag and noticed that there was another note from Eric on the dresser, so she grabbed it and brought them both back to bed with her.

She opened the note from Eric first:

My Dearest Sookie –

Words hardly seem adequate to express my joy at the beginning of our long life together. I have never loved anyone or anything as much as I love you now, and forever.

Your bonded,

Eric

Damn – that made Sookie weak in the knees. She kissed his signature on the paper, then folded it carefully and put it back in the envelope. She put it with the first one that was in her journal and decided she needed a special box to keep these in, since she had a feeling she’d be getting a lot of these. She was determined to keep them all forever. She started writing in her journal, trying to cram every detail of the last two days into a couple of pages, and was lost in her thoughts when Margaret tapped on the door.

“Oh, hey, Margaret!”

“Good morning, Miss. Would you like some breakfast or lunch?”

“Uh, would it be too much trouble to get some lunch?”

“Not at all. Would you prefer a roast beef sandwich or tuna salad?”

“Roast beef, please?”

“Coming right up. I’ll be back with it shortly.”

“Actually, I’ll come eat in the kitchen when I’m done, if that’s OK?”

“Very good, Miss. Take your time and come down whenever you’re ready. Remember when you pack up your things that if there’s anything you’d like to take home, feel free. I can always replace it for you before next week.”

“Oh, cool, thanks!” Sookie wrote another couple of pages, then pulled all her stuff together. She decided she could shower after she got home, and she looked in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. She really did like that Chanel compact and the darker of the two pink lipsticks, and she needed a new mascara anyway, so she put them in her makeup bag to take with her. She had no idea that those three items cost more than she had spent on makeup in her entire life.

She managed to get all her stuff down the stairs and as she passed Eric’s downstairs office, she had an idea so she set her stuff in the hallway and went in. She looked at his wall of books and once she realized they were mostly in alphabetical order by author’s name, she found 6 small, leather bound editions of Jane Austen stories. She remembered Eric saying Pride and Prejudice was a great love story, so she put it in her bag and reminded herself to tell Eric that she borrowed it.

Margaret had another spectacular sandwich waiting for her when she made it into the kitchen.

“Margaret, do you think Eric would mind if I borrowed this book?” She asked as she set her bags in the chair at the end of the table.

“Not at all, Miss. I’m sure he’d be thrilled that you were exploring his library.”

“OK, good. I wanted to check out this writer he told me about and I don’t know when I’ll have a chance to get to the library this week.”

“What author was that, Miss?”

“Jane Austen.”

“Oh, you’ll like those very much. You might say she was the original “chick lit” writer. She was years ahead of her time.”

“Cool. I really liked the movie we watched last night, so I thought I’d try a different story and maybe we can watch that movie next weekend.”

“That sounds like a very good plan. Have you had a good time here, Miss?”

“It’s been like a dream! Everything at home is going to seem so … I don’t know, it just won’t be the same being away from Eric.”

“He’s going to miss you terribly, I’m sure. It’s good that you’ve already made plans to come back.”

“Yeah, I’m going to be counting the minutes until I get back here,” Sookie laughed, “that’s so unlike me!”

“Is it?”

“Yeah, I never really had a boyfriend before, and I never really understood how people would complain about being away from each other for a few hours and stuff, but now, I definitely get it! I miss him already!”

“Oh, I’m sure he’ll miss you, too.”

“I never thought I’d meet anybody that thought enough of me to do half of what he’s already done for me. I don’t know if I deserve it, but I’m sure glad he thinks I do.”

“Well, you know, for the short amount of time I’ve seen him since you’ve been here, he smiled more than in the three years I’ve known him before. I’ve never seen him so happy.”

Sookie blushed at that. “Thanks. I want to make him happy.”

“You already have, dear.”

“Oh, I almost forgot – I’m supposed to call Gran and see if she needs me to stop at the grocery store!”

“I’ll bring you the phone and a piece of paper and you can do that now,” Margaret went bustling back into what Sookie thought was the pantry and came back with a cordless phone and a pad of paper and pen.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Gran, I’m getting ready to leave Eric’s house. Did you figure out what you need from the store?”

“Yes, I did – we need hamburger, Miracle Whip, buns, a loaf of bread, a carton of milk and a can of baking powder.”

“OK, is that all?”

“Yes, unless there’s something special you want for supper.”

“Actually, I’m bringing home some awesome shrimp Étouffée that Margaret made for us.”

“Margaret?”

“Yes, Eric’s maid. She’s an amazing cook and she made extra so I can bring some home for both of us.”

“That’s so thoughtful. You be sure and tell her thank you, darlin’, and you be careful driving home.”

“I will, Gran. I’ll see you soon.”

“Would you mind if I look at your shopping list while you finish your sandwich, Miss?”

“Oh, no, I guess not…” Sookie handed the list to her and she disappeared back into the pantry. Sookie finished her sandwich and started getting her stuff ready when Margaret came back with two bags of groceries and set them on the table. She went to the refrigerator then and pulled out the huge container of rice and Étouffée and added it to the bags.

“There now, Miss, no need to stop. You’ve got everything on your list here plus a couple of other things I thought you might need.”

“Oh, but – I can’t take groceries! I don’t mind stopping at the store.”

“Nonsense, dear. Mr. Northman would want you to take from here rather than spending your own money. You just take it home and enjoy that extra time with your Grandma, OK?”

“But…”

“Ready for me, Miss Margaret?” a young African-American man in work clothes came to the back door. “yes, Lonnie, these things right here go in Miss Stackhouse’s trunk.”

“Right away, ma’am,” the young man nodded to Sookie and smiled, taking the keys she had laying on the table next to her. He carried her bags out to her car before Sookie could protest any further.

“Margaret, I don’t want to take advantage of Eric’s generosity…”

“It gives him pleasure to do little things like this for you, Miss. Let him have his fun – it’s the first time I’ve seen him laugh.”

Sookie completely believed that so she didn’t press any further. “OK, well, I guess I should hit the road. Thank you so much for everything, Margaret!”

“My pleasure, Miss. We’ll be looking forward to seeing you next Sunday.”

Lonnie came back in with her keys and said, “you’re all set, Miss!”

“Thank you so much!” Sookie took her keys and headed for the door before Margaret could come up with something else for her to take home. As she was pulling out of the garage, Margaret stepped outside and waved to her, and for some reason it made Sookie want to cry. It dawned on her that she was going to miss Eric’s whole world as well as Eric himself.

There was almost no traffic on the way back to Bon Temps because she’d missed the lunch rush and the evening rush was still a couple of hours away. Gran was sitting on the front porch rocking and breaking up white half-runner beans when Sookie got home, and Sookie went bouncing up the steps to give her a kiss on the cheek before she messed with anything in the car.

“I hope you weren’t breaking the speed limit, honey! I thought it would take you much longer at the grocery store.”

“Well, I didn’t exactly go to the store…”

“Well, that’s alright if you didn’t want to.”

“I’ve got everything on your list and maybe a few other things, but I got them from Eric’s maid. She insisted.”

“Sookie, you didn’t!”

“I didn’t want to, Gran, but she’s hard to say “no” to. She had one of the other workers put it in my car before I could talk her out of it.”

“Well, I suppose you’re here now. We’ll find some way to pay Mr. Northman back, so for now, just bring it all in and get it put away. Do you want me to fix you something to eat before you get ready for work?”

“Actually, I thought we’d just heat up the shrimp and rice, unless you don’t want that?”

“Well, I’ve never been one to turn down good low country cookin’ so we’ll give it a try.”

Sookie carried the groceries into the kitchen first so Gran could see what was there, then she made a second trip to get her stuff and take it up to her room. She needed to leave for work in 2 ½ hours, so that was just time to eat, unpack and shower.

Gran had mixed feelings when she discovered that in addition to the items on her list, there were two rib eye steaks, a large baking chicken and some bags of frozen vegetables in the bags. She was sure this was intended as a kind gesture, but she didn’t want Eric treating them like a charity case. She decided this once to let it go because he probably just saw it as a small way he could take care of Sookie, and she did believe he was sincere in his offer to do so.

“Wow, Gran, was all of this in there?”

“Yes, it was. You didn’t ask for this?”

“No, I just wrote what you said on a list and went to finish my sandwich, then Margaret asked if she could see the list. Then she went back in the pantry and said I wouldn’t need to stop at the store. I tried to refuse, but she wouldn’t hear of it – the guy came in and asked if she was ready for him and she told him to put the stuff in my trunk.”

“Did the maid think you’re very poor?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so, but compared to Eric, we might seem not so well off. She was really nice to me and she goes out of her way for me without me asking. Eric said she was excited that I was coming there because she always thought he paid her too much for too little.”

“He must be a very nice boss to have a maid so eager to take care of his girlfriend.”

“Yeah, she kind of mothers me and him. I noticed him telling her that he could always count on her to think of everything and he told me that she’s one of the most competent and loyal employees he ever had.”

“Well, maybe she considered this a part of her job?”

“It’s possible. He said they’re there for my convenience and the more they know about me, the easier it is for them to do a good job.”

“Well, we’ll just consider it a gift this time, and we’ll find a way to repay him somehow.”

“He won’t let us, Gran, I’m sure of that. It’s everything I can do to keep him from giving me an allowance.”

“An allowance? I never heard of such a thing.”

“It might be a vampire thing. He said in his world, people would expect him to improve my station in life, whatever that means.”

“Huh. That’s a very old fashioned idea, even to someone my age, unless he’s thinking of you as a mistress…”

“I asked him about that, but it’s more like he’s thinking of me as a future wife.”

“Oh, my! Did he say that?”

“Yes, he said that he expects us to marry eventually.” Sookie was hoping it wasn’t too soon to tell Gran about that, but she wouldn’t feel right keeping it from her.

“I hope you won’t rush into anything, Sookie!”

“No, he knows we’d think it was too soon. He’s willing to wait, he just wanted me to know that he wasn’t treating me like a kept woman. We talked about it a lot, because he didn’t understand what I meant about being a kept woman and how it was different from a wife, and he said straight out that he expects us to marry eventually.”

“What did you say?”

“Nothing, really. I kind of expect it, too.”

“Well, I’d tell you to take it slowly, but you’re probably past that point, so just think carefully and wait a while before you get engaged. You need to know him better before you make that kind of commitment.”

“Yeah, you’re right. It’s weird though – I feel like I’ve known him for years.”

“Take it slow anyway, honey, just in case, alright?”

“OK. Let’s heat up this Étouffée!”

Gran opened the plastic container and was shocked. “Oh, my! Look at the size of those shrimp!”

“I know, right? They’re huge! I don’t know where Margaret shops but she has the best of everything. She fed me a steak the other night that was so tender I could cut it with a fork!”

“What did she give you for lunch today?” Gran spooned the concoction into two bowls and put them in the microwave as Sookie took her usual seat at the table.

“A big roast beef sub. It was awesome. I’ll bet it had a pound or more of meat in it.”

“I hope they’re just being a bit extravagant because it was your first time there.”

“Maybe, but I doubt it. Eric seems to do everything up big. Like he had a cabinet full of a couple of hundred DVDs but they’d never been opened. He said he told whoever bought them to buy things a young woman might like. They’re all still in the wrapper.”

“He bought movies he didn’t watch?”

“Yeah – I mean, he plans to. We watched one last night.”

“What kind of movie was it?”

“It was called Sense and Sensibility. It’s a Jane Austen story. I borrowed one of her books from his library. He said a lot of young women like her stuff.”

“I think I’ve read a couple of her books a long time ago – did she write Pride and Prejudice?”

“Yeah – that’s the book I borrowed!”

“That’s a very sweet love story. At least he’s not giving you anything racy!”

“He said he likes stories with happy endings and not a lot of violence or fighting. Like he wants his home to be restful. He says the home is for the woman. A man can live in next to nothing, but you don’t take a woman into that. You give her a home where she can be the woman you know she can be.”

“That’s a lovely sentiment.” Gran put a couple of spoons and napkins on the table.

“He says when you’re as old as he is, you think about everything a lot, so he knows what is really important and what he wants. He says life can change in a heartbeat, so when you see something you want, you go for it and make the most of it while you can.”

“That makes a lot of sense on his part, but remember, Sookie, you are much, much younger. It might take you more time to know what you want.”

“I know what I want, Gran! I want Eric! Oh, and guess what?”

“What?” Gran was trying to remember that this was all new to Sookie so it was natural for her to be excited.

“He has a swimming pool in his back yard! He never used it before, but he’s going to get it opened this week so I can use it.”

“He had a pool he didn’t use?”

“Yeah – weird, huh? But he said the idea of a moonlight swim with me sounded very pleasant.”

“That does sound very nice. I’m sure you’ll enjoy that!” Gran put the bowls on the table and sat down, and the rest of their conversation centered on how good the food was and how long it had been since they’d had Étouffée.

When Sookie finished up she went up to shower and get ready for work as Gran puttered around the kitchen, lost in her thoughts. Gran had a feeling Sookie wasn’t going to be living in Bon Temps much longer. At this rate, unless something drastic happened, she expected Sookie to want to spend more and more time at Eric’s house. That was a perfectly normal progression for a girl Sookie’s age to want to live with a man she loved, so Adele decided she’d better start thinking in terms of living on her own. She wouldn’t say that to Sookie, of course, but she knew it was just a matter of time. That was a little scary, but she’d never dream of holding Sookie back or standing in the way of her happiness. Sookie had had a lot of sadness and loneliness in her life, and more than anything, Gran wanted her to be happy.

Sookie flew down the steps in her uniform and kissed Gran on the cheek about ten minutes later than she should have to get to Merlotte’s on time. She was driving way too fast when she heard a clunk under her hood. The car continued to run, though, and got her to work just as the clock struck 6:30.

“Hey, Sam!” Sookie bounced into his office to put her purse away and Sam smiled at her, knowing she had been hauling ass to get there on time. He didn’t give Sookie a bad time about getting there late if he didn’t have to, but with one new girl being trained and Arlene on the warpath since René disappeared, he’d have had to make an issue of it tonight.

Sam was dying to ask Sookie what she did on her days off, but he didn’t want to seem nosy. He figured his best bet would be to put a bug in Arlene’s ear and let her do the dirty work. Normally, he’d protect her from that kind of intrusion, but he wanted to know if she had been spending time with Eric Northman. Sookie being hooked up with a killer like that was Sam’s worst nightmare. Vampire Bill had been scary enough, but Sam only had suspicions about him. Eric Northman was known for being swift with his many swords and cruel when it counted. The thought of Sookie being at his mercy sent chills through Sam, especially considering the stories about what went on in the basement at Fangtasia. He hoped that Sookie would be well away from him before she ever saw that part of Eric’s world. He prayed that by the time she wanted to get away from him she still could.

As it turned out, it was a slow night and Arlene was in high dudgeon, so Sam didn’t even need to plant that little bug. Arlene was all over Sookie because she didn’t know enough about Kim to have ammunition for picking on her.

“So, Sookie, did you go to that vamp bar in Shreveport again?”

“They were closed just like we were, Arlene.”

“Oh, really? Did you get to see anymore of your big, blonde vampire boyfriend?”

“Not that it’s any of your business, Arlene, but yes, I went to Eric’s house while I was off.”

“You went to that big vampire’s house? By yourself?”

“Yep, and I had a great time.”

“Did you spend the night?”

“Two, actually.”

“What’d you do in the day time?”

‘OK, fine’ Sookie thought, ‘if you want all the details I’m going to serve ’em up so you choke on them!’ “Actually, Arlene, between eating the delicious food his maid fixed for me, talking to the decorator and hanging out by his pool, the day was pretty busy. It was almost a relief when all the servants went home and left Eric and me alone. Not that I’m complaining – it was cool to have people that do all the shopping and cooking and cleaning and gardening, but I liked it best when it was just me and Eric watching that huge TV in his den.”

“Servants?”

“Yeah, he has several – there’s a maid that’s in charge of the others, then she has two helpers, plus there’s an upstairs maid, and I don’t know how many gardeners.”

Kim, not knowing any better, chimed in, “wow, Sookie, that must be really nice! What kind of house does he have?”

“I think he has 4 houses, but this house is the main one. It’s a 4 story Victorian with an attached 2-car garage. There are some other buildings out back, but I don’t know what they all are yet.”

“Is he rich or something?” Kim unwittingly continued to help Sookie make Arlene turn green.

“Yeah, actually, he’s quite wealthy. He owns a lot of businesses – he says Fangtasia was more of a social outlet for him.”

“What kind of car does he drive?” Go, Kim! Arlene had steam coming out of her ears at this point.

“A red corvette convertible.”

Sam, who was washing glasses, turned pale, knowing that the part about the car was true – Northman was famous for it.

“Wow and you said you got to talk to a decorator? What about?”

“He’s having some improvements made to his house to make it more comfortable for me. He brought her up from New Orleans and told her to make sure everything was to my tastes. He even had me write out lists of foods I like and the kind of shampoo and stuff I want so his maid can shop for me.”

“A man like that,” Arlene spewed, “must have women at his house all the time.”

“No, actually, I’m the first woman that has been to his home in three years, at least – that’s how long the maid has been with him, and she always wished he’d find a nice girl.”

“I thought a man that looks like that who owns a bar would have lots of girlfriends,” Arlene spat, determined to make Sookie feel bad somehow.

“He used to, but that’s all over. He’s mine now.”

Sam felt faint. Please don’t let them be bonded!

“I don’t know, Sookie, I wouldn’t trust a good looking man like that to be in a bar every night when I couldn’t check up on him!”

“I trust Eric, but if it really bothered me, I could always work at Fangtasia – he told me so. He said I’d make more money and I’d be an attraction for the vampires.”

Sam didn’t like the sound of that at all. He didn’t even want to think what life would be like if he didn’t have Sookie to look forward 5 or 6 days a week. “You aren’t going to be leaving us, are you, Sookie?”

“I’m not planning on it. We’ll see how it goes. Right now I’m just getting used to how he operates. I’m not used to people spending money the way he does.”

“Has he bought you any fancy presents?” Arlene could use this against her later, she figured.

“I won’t let him. I only accepted the riding mower because we really needed it.”

“Riding mower?”

“Yeah, our mower died and I just mentioned it in passing and he had a really fancy John Deere delivered the other morning.”

“That’s not very romantic…” Arlene snapped.

“No, but the two dozen pink roses, the handmade dark chocolates, the pink teddy bear and the bottle of Chanel No. 5 were. I told him I don’t want him throwing money at me, but he likes to bring me little things, anyway.”

“Wow – I’d kill for a boyfriend like that!” Kim laughed. “Good for you, Sookie!”

“Thanks. I know I’m really lucky. He’s like a dream come true.”

“You know, Sookie, you still haven’t known him very long – there might be some things about him that are not so nice,” Sam said, because he couldn’t stop himself.

“Oh, I know. He’s preparing me for that part of his world. He wants me to know that I can trust him and lean on him before he takes me around other vamps. He swore he’d never let anybody hurt me. I kind of think he wants to show me off, if you can believe that,” Sookie laughed.

Sam could most definitely believe that. Sookie would be quite an acquisition for a powerful vampire – her looks and her special ability together would make Eric the envy of the vamp world. He wondered if Eric knew about Sookie’s telepathy, but he had a sinking feeling that he knew all about it. Northman may or may not care about Sookie, but he’d most definitely shower Sookie with presents to get control of her skill. Sam considered warning her, but he knew interfering with Eric could mean dying a slow and painful death the likes of which made Northman famous in the Supe world. He needed to really think about this.

“Hey, girls, I’ve got some paperwork to do. Holler if you need me,” he said as he went back to his office.

“‘K, Sam!” Sookie, Arlene and Kim all called in unison, which made them all crack up.

A couple with a three and a one year old came in then and sat in Arlene’s section, and a group of three truck drivers took up a four-top in the corner. The usual group of local patrons were wandering in and congregating around the pool table and the jukebox, and Sookie was pleasantly busy until Jason, Hoyt and Catfish came in.

SHIT! Sookie had been so intent on making Arlene jealous that she had forgotten that everything she said to her would go right back to Jason! Oh, no – now what would she do? They settled in her section so she went over to take their orders, her mind racing and wondering what she would do when Jason found out she had spent two nights in Eric’s house. As she turned their orders in and poured them a pitcher of beer, she could feel her face burning. Arlene was busy at the moment, but Sookie knew it was just a matter of time, so when she took their beer to the table, she pulled Jason over to the entrance where the bathrooms were.

“What’s goin’ on, Sook?”

“Listen, Jason, I need to tell you something. I don’t want to fight with you here about it so please don’t embarrass me. I’ve been to Eric’s house for a couple of days…”

“What?”

“Just listen, Jason! I bragged a little bit to make Arlene jealous and I’m just warning you so you can head off any of her crap about me bein’ a whore, OK?”

“How do I know it’s crap? It sounds to me…”

“JASON! If you want to fight with me about it, we’ll do it at home. Remember what Gran said. Family is supposed to stick together.”

“You’re not making this easy, Sookie.”

“Jason, don’t I deserve to be happy? Everybody else gets to be happy – you with your party girls, and other people get engaged and get married. I’ve found a guy who wants me for me. Can’t you understand that?”

“Yeah, I guess I can. OK, I’ve got your back, Sis.”

“Thank you!” Sookie actually gave him a little hug, then went to see if their orders were up. They weren’t so she went to wait on a table of four young guys in their late teens and twenties. Sookie took their order and as she turned away from the table, one of them grabbed her bottom cheek. Before she could react, he was being yanked up by his arm and was dangling with his feet off the floor, yelling.

“Eric!” Sookie never expected to see him here now.

“Hey, man, let me go!” The boy was scared to death.

“You will apologize to this lady.” Eric was in no mood to argue with the little weasel.

“I didn’t mean nothin’ by it!”

“Apologize. I won’t ask you again. Apologize or we go outside and you won’t be coming back.” Eric said in a deadly serious tone.

“I- I’m sorry, Miss, I was just foolin’ around.”

“It will never happen again, do you understand me?”

“Yes, sir!”

“Get out.” Eric released the man and he and his friends ran out the door.

“Eric, what are you doing here?” Sookie hugged and kissed him, then he took her by both shoulders and held her back, looking her over.

“Are you hurt? I felt panic from you and wanted to see if you were alright.”

“Oh, well, I guess that must have been when Jason came in. I kind of shot my mouth off to Arlene about being at your house and how nice it was, not thinking that she’d tell him everything I said and I was afraid he would go off on me, but I talked to him and it’s OK.”

“Your brother is here?”

“Yes.”

“I want to meet him.”

“OK, but listen, he’s not very bright, so don’t hurt him if he says something stupid, alright?” Before she had the words out of her mouth, Jason was standing behind her glaring at Eric.

“Is this your new man, Sookie?” Jason was giving him attitude. Sookie knew this was not good.

“Yes, Jason, this is Eric Northman. Be nice.”

“What exactly are your intentions with my sister?”

“I intend to marry her.”

“What?”

“I intend to marry your sister. In the mean time, she is mine, and I will not tolerate other men touching her. Were you going to sit there and allow trash like that to maul your sister?”

“They were just kidding around.”

“Well, if you will not see to her safety, then I’ll be happy to do so.”

“Hey, Sookie, your orders are up!” Arlene yelled from the kitchen window.

“I’ll be right back. Don’t fight.” Sookie ran to get the orders and took them to the table where Hoyt and Catfish were sitting with their jaws on the floor as Jason stood talking to this huge, angry vampire.

“Stackhouse, let me make myself clear. By my calculations, you have failed to provide proper support and protection for your sister and your grandmother. Because I love your sister, I will be taking over that role in their lives. I will tolerate you as long as you cause no harm to either of them. If you ever lay hands on Sookie, or treat her with disrespect, I’ll break you in half. Do we understand each other?”

“Who the fuck…”

“JASON! Just tell him you understand and go back to your friends,” Sookie only heard the last part of that, but she could tell Eric would like nothing more than for Jason to give him an excuse to kick his ass.

“Sookie, everything OK?” Sam called from behind the bar.

“Yeah, Sam, it’s OK now.”

“I’m done with you, Stackhouse. Go back to your friends.” Eric dismissed Jason and walked over to the bar. “You are Merlotte?”

“Yes, this is my bar.”

“I would speak to you privately, please.” Eric was being very formal now.

“Alright, come back to my office.”

“Eric…” Sookie started to interrupt.

Eric smiled softly and stroked her cheek. “Do not worry, Dear One. I merely wish to speak to your boss. There’s nothing to worry about. I’ll see you in a few minutes.” He turned to Sam, “after you, sir.”

The two men walked back to the office and Sookie just prayed she still had a job when they got done.

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