Eric and I were dressed and sitting at the kitchen table. I was drinking some Diet Coke, and he was having a TrueBlood. It was nice. I didn’t feel all awkward because we weren’t talking; we were both okay to just – be. I could feel through the bond that he was relaxed, and he was enjoying having me at his home.
He kind of looked around the kitchen and said, “No one brought groceries over today?”
I looked around. “Were they supposed to?”
He laughed. “He’ll be here any minute then.”
I still was in the dark. “Who?”
“Oh, just Barry. He’s afraid of meeting humans for the first time in my home when I’m not awake. I had him bring some groceries over when one of the lawyers for Fangtasia was staying in the guest room upstairs and it went badly. I wasn’t even living here yet.”
I scrunched my eyebrows to think. “Daytime Barry? Wait, there’s an upstairs? And, what do you mean it ‘went badly’?”
He smiled. “Yes, Barry is my daytime person. I think you’ve spoken to him on the phone, yes? He calls himself a D.D., I think it stands for Daytime Dude, but he never really explained it. Yes, there’s another safe room directly above mine, two more bedrooms and a large bathroom. I keep the door closed because I rarely go up there, so you must have missed it. The door to the stairs is in the front room. Let me guess, you didn’t make it past the video games this afternoon?” He grinned. “I thought that was just a guy thing.”
I shrugged and smiled. “Yeah. I got sidetracked a bit by the Wii golf. Okay, I still need to know what you meant by things going badly when Barry met the lawyer here, but while I’m asking questions, I need to know about the fake window and the dog toys.”
He sipped his blood with a blank face. “Do you always ask this many questions?”
I was starting to feel like I was crossing some sort of line with him. “Um, no. I mean, I guess I do, I just…”
He laughed. “I’m not upset, Lover. It was just a question. Barry scared the poor guy out of his wits. It was a few years ago, and the lawyer didn’t realize that I had a daytime person to help out,” he actually grinned and made a hmph noise, “So when Barry showed up, well, he thought Barry was a mutant vampire that could be out in the daylight.”
My eyes got a little wide and I laughed a little. When vampires first ‘came out of the coffin’ people really didn’t know what to expect.
He laughed again. “And what is it you say? He kicked Barry’s ass six ways to Sunday. So Barry doesn’t like to meet humans in my home without me around.”
“Do you have a lot of humans over?” I asked quietly. I’d thought I was the first, or at least one of only a few, but now I wasn’t so sure. Had he had a string of human lovers here? I couldn’t imagine he did with his secrecy and security, but…
“Sookie.” He pushed his chair back and pulled me to sit on his lap. He murmured into my hair, “Relax. I’ve had some business associates here, but very few. A lawyer. An accountant. They were tightly supervised and every security code was changed the minute they left. It wasn’t an ideal situation and I considered selling the house afterwords, but this is my favorite property.”
He turned me to face him. “You are the only woman besides Pam who has been in my home.”
His eyes searched mine and I nodded. He began to comb through my hair with his fingers, and I let myself relax into the feel of his touch.
“As for your other questions,” Eric spoke again. “The window was a practical joke Pam played on me when I was out of town on business. She had been watching a lot of HGTv and thought it would be hysterical. Since Barry was in on the joke, and he hired the contractors to do the work, he refuses to hire anyone to come in while I’m out of town and fix it. And well, for the past year or so, my trips out of town have been rather last minute, so it just hasn’t gotten taken care of.”
I was laughing. I could totally see Pam as a practical joker.
“As for the dog,” he started, but there was a knock at the door, “Ah, here’s your answer.” The door opened and a tall gangly human with floppy hair came in carrying several grocery bags. “Barry, glad you could make it,” Eric said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Hey, boss,” Barry said a little sheepishly. “Yeah, you know how I feel about meeting your human friends when you’re not around.”
Eric sighed. “I know. I just told Sookie the story.”
“Hey, Sookie, nice to meet you in person.”
“Hi, Barry. You too.”
Barry unloaded the groceries and started talking, well rambling, to us like it was not unusual to have a human woman sitting on Eric’s lap in his kitchen. “So, I got you some salady stuff and some more substantial meaty stuff, because I didn’t know what you wanted. All I was told was to get some food for Sookie for a few days. Vampires don’t realize that humans have a huge variety of choices for food, and that women, sorry Sookie, have major preferences in food. You know? I didn’t know if you ate carbs or even ate meat, well I figured,” he mumbled and blushed a little, “But I didn’t know, you know?”
I was smiling as I followed along with Barry’s commentary and Eric rubbed my back. I could feel Eric tensing a little. I think Barry was a little too out there for him. I stifled a laugh, how did Eric get involved with us crazy humans?
Eric sighed, “Barry, do you have a point?”
“Yeah,” he looked at Eric like he was crazy. “I hope she likes what I got. Jeez, boss. Relax. It’s your night off and your hangin’ with your girl.”
“No Barry, I’d like to be with my lover, but you’re still here.”
“Whatever. Let me get these put away. Then I have some things to report, and I’ll get out of your hair.”
I couldn’t help it anymore; I had to laugh. They both looked at me like I was insane. I looked at both of them and tried to stop. I could hardly speak, “It’s just, you’re afraid of humans, but you clearly are not afraid of a 1,000 year old vampire.”
Eric smiled and Barry got the joke and laughed too. “Yeah, I guess it’s just what you’re used to, huh?”
Just then the outside light came on by the sliding glass door, and I gasped when I saw the nose of the largest German shepherd in the world, I swear to you, pressed up against the glass.
Eric laughed. “There’s the mystery dog.”
“Oh, it’s Barry’s dog?”
Simultaneously I heard Eric say, “Yes,” and Barry say, “No.”
Eric got up and let the dog in the house, and it immediately sat right at his side.
Barry explained, “See, Eric found the dog outside of Fangtasia and gave it to me, thinking it would be great protection for this measly human. The problem however, is that Thor freaking loves Eric. He only tolerates me because he knows I associate with him, I swear.”
“Ok. I kind of understand. His name is Thor?”
Again I hear the “Yes,” and “No,” bit. Eric spoke up, “In my lifetime, you did not name the animals that came to your hearth. And you certainly would never have called them by the name of a God.”
Barry sighed. “But in my lifetime, you don’t run around calling the animal you take care of “Dog” for years. So I call him Thor.”
I just laughed. “May I pet him?”
Eric put a hand up. “Give him a second to smell you.” He squatted down and rubbed the dog behind his ears and whispered something to him. “Hold your hand out, palm down and make a fist. Then take a slow step towards us. Ok?”
I did as I was told and Thor, in my lifetime you named pets, I was right with Barry on that one, came forward and sniffed my hand. Eric remained down on his haunches and he gently turned Thor’s head toward him.
He seemed to be looking into the dogs’ eyes and said, “Sookie is mine.”
Oh good lord, he was telling the dog I was his? Thor kept looking right at him, and Eric made a circular motion with two of his fingers. The dog immediately walked a circle around me sniffing and then sat down beside my feet.
Eric said to me, “Snap your fingers and point at the floor.”
So I did. The dog lay down instantly.
Eric looked at him and said again, “She is mine.”
I swear the dog nodded at him and then rolled over and showed me his belly for petting.
“Whoa. What was all of that?” I asked as I rubbed Thor’s belly.
“I just made sure he knows to obey you and that you are mine. He will protect you at all costs.”
He snapped his fingers and patted his leg and Thor went back to him for some serious ear rubbing.
It was all a little weird. I mean, I would have thought that animals wouldn’t really like the undead, but this dog was clearly Eric’s, no matter how many times he was going to tell me he was Barry’s. I was more and more amazed by this vampire.
“So Barry,” Eric said. “What do you have to report, so that I may begin enjoying my evening with Sookie?”
Barry continued putting some TrueBlood in the fridge. “You might want to come sit down for this.”
I felt Eric tense through the bond. He pointed to the dog bed and Thor went to play with his toys. We went back to the table as Barry started talking, rambling, actually. I swear he wasn’t like this on the phone.
“So, Dani called me today, you know, one of Felipe’s D.D.’s from Vegas? I thought she was calling to wish me happy New Year or something, because you know, we hung out when she was here in town? Anyway, she started asking me about the attacks last night right away. All I really know is from voice mails you and Pam left me because I was at a human party last night, so I couldn’t tell her much. Then she started asking me if I knew where Victor was last night and I was like, ‘Duh in New Orleans.’ And she’s like, yeah. No.”
Eric was completely tense. I thought he was going to break off a piece of his kitchen table. “Barry, get to the point.”
“Yeah, okay. So last night Felipe called Victor to warn him of the attacks. He told him that we knew of the three planned attacks, but to be on guard there in the Big Easy. NBD. But Felipe is like totally paranoid, so he makes Dani ping all of the cell phone calls made and received to make sure people are where they say there are. And you’ll never guess where Victor was last night.”
My eyes were wide due to the story and Eric’s response. His fangs were showing and he was practically growling. “Do not even tell me that bastard was in Shreveport.”
“Okay, I won’t, but you’re right. He was two blocks from the bar when Felipe talked to him.”
Eric stood up and went to the sliding glass door to pace back and forth.
“So yeah,” Barry said while grabbing his keys and snapping his fingers at Thor. “Enjoy your night off, boss. I’m getting out of here.”
Eric turned to face us again. “Barry, I need you to call Pam and tell her exactly what you told me. She will know what to do. Sookie and I will enjoy this evening and I will begin to deal with this tomorrow.”
Barry nodded, and he and Thor left quickly. He knew Eric was livid and didn’t want to stick around. I, however, really had no choice in the matter. I had to work tomorrow, but, for now, I was kind of stuck here with Eric, even though I still didn’t know how I was getting to work.
Eric put both hands behind his head and stretched. I could tell he was trying to stop himself from thinking about what all of this meant. I tried to break the ice, “Never a dull moment, eh?”
He shook his head. “Sookie, this is…well, it makes a big difference if Victor was involved in this plot. If he was behind it, he’ll be run out of town and most likely killed. Our allegiance to Felipe will be tested yet again and it will be a long time before things really calm down. Fucking Sheriff of New Orleans and it’s not enough for him. Unbelievable.”
“I kind of wondered last night why he wasn’t considered one of the most powerful Sheriffs in Louisiana.”
“Thank you for keeping it to yourself. I’m sure we all thought it, but there wasn’t enough time to hash all of that out and get ready for the attack. I think I believed New Orleans had been through enough that, perhaps, Lars didn’t think of it as the stronghold it once was,” he sighed. “Enough of this, Lover. I’ll deal with it tomorrow. What shall we do tonight?” He smiled.
I smiled back. “I have a few ideas. But first I need some dinner, and I need to figure out how I’m getting to Bon Temps to work tomorrow.”
He went to the rack by the door and pulled down a set of keys with a Range Rover tag and handed them to me. “Take the Rover, or the Vette, whichever. I believe they both are filled with gasoline.”
I was a little stunned. A Range Rover? Man, I must have been out of it last night to have missed that in the garage. “Umm, okay. Are you working tomorrow night?” I asked as I started to make a salad. We hadn’t really talked, but I knew I wanted to be with him. “Do you want me to come here when I get done at Merlotte’s? I’m scheduled ’til eleven.”
“I’ll have to be at the bar tomorrow evening. There’s paperwork that needs to be done, and I’ll need to see what is going on with this Victor business. I would like it very much if you would come back here tomorrow night, Lover.”
“Eric,” I said hesitantly, hating that I was going to ask but finally giving in to my need to know. I leaned against the kitchen counter and faced him. “What exactly do you remember?”
“About my time with you?” He asked, giving me a fangy grin. “I told you. I remember everything.”
I felt his eyes sweep over my body and my blush followed his gaze on the way back up.
“Even when I didn’t remember what had happened between us I couldn’t even think about other women; it repulsed me. I knew then something important had happened, I just didn’t know what. But now I know, Sookie. I remember every moment we shared. I remember lying by the fireplace under that god awful afghan with you. I remember all of the times we made love and all of the things we talked about. More than that, I remember that I’ve never been happier than when I was with you, and I remember telling you I’d give up everything to stay with you.”
“And how do you feel now? You may remember, but do you feel the same? Does the Sheriff of Area 5 still love a human?”
He stepped forward and put his hands on my hips, his thumbs gently rubbing against my stomach. “He loves a part Fae telepath. Do not confuse her with an average human, Sookie.”
The corner of my mouth lifted in a smile. I wanted to jump into his arms, but I was just too overwhelmed. “You do?”
“You know I do,” he said, moving even closer. “You can feel it.”
“I don’t know what’s you and what’s the bond.”
“Does it matter, Lover? It just is.”
“I don’t know,” I sighed, shaking my head.
“Will you be content to love me back until you figure it out?” he teased.
“I don’t know if I’ll be content…” I said trailing off,. Then he was kissing me and all I could feel was peace and happiness and I had no idea what was mine, what was his or what was from the bond.
Eventually, we stopped kissing because my stomach growled. We laughed and Eric gently kissed my forehead and stepped back, giving me room to move and make my dinner. As I chopped the lettuce and vegetables for my salad, I felt him watching over my shoulder. He kissed my neck a couple of times and just stood behind me, making me feel relaxed and warm. I moved to the fridge and found the precooked chicken breast strips I’d seen Barry put in there and brought them back to the counter.
I turned my head a little so I could see his face. “Eric, you don’t have to hang out with me while I eat. I mean, if it bothers you or something.”
He raised that eyebrow of his and smiled. “Lover, why would it bother me to see you eat? I want you to be strong and healthy. I am simply amazed at the way food has changed over the years. The choices you have are staggering. I imagine what you have to eat today tastes incredible compared to the scorched meat and gruel I lived on.”
I smiled. “Yeah, I guess we do have a lot of good choices. It’s just that, well, Bill hated to see me eat. He made me brush my teeth immediately afterward. It just grossed him out.”
Eric’s face got hard. “Do not compare me to that fool.” I tried to interrupt, but he calmed down and continued, “Sookie, the more you tell me about your relationship with that idiot, the more I want to send him into the sun.” He shook his head. “As I said, I want you to be healthy and strong. If you won’t take my blood daily, and I’m not asking you to now, then I want you to eat and be well. I don’t want to eat any of it, that’s a horrible thought, but I do not begrudge you your human needs. It is who you are, Lover.”
“Thank you, Eric,” I said, stretching up on my tip toes to kiss him gently. I put some balsamic vinegar on my salad and took it to the table. He sat across from me and I wondered out loud, “So, what would happen if you ate human food?”
He looked positively green, and raised one side of his lip in disgust. “Ugh. It is an awful experience. I think most young vampires make the mistake once, even if they are told to never try it.” He shook his head a little and still looked ill. “Our bodies force it back out, every single speck of it.”
I laughed. “So you vomit?”
“That is an understatement.”
I laughed even harder. Most vampires were repulsed by human ‘needs’ like using the toilet and eating, so to think of them throwing up was too much. I couldn’t resist, so I asked, “And what did you eat when you made the mistake?”
“Oh God, you’re torturing me!” he joked, and he then seemed thoughtful. “It was after I’d traveled to America. The voyage was horrible, there were sick humans everywhere. They stank like vomit and shit and death. When I was able to get off the ship I wandered about the wharf for a while in the evening. I found some mince pies cooling on a window sill, and the smell was just heavenly. It was so much better than the stench on the ship and I just thought, really, it couldn’t be so bad. I wasn’t really even hungry for the food, but the smell. I was enticed.” He shook his head. “And within minutes I thought I would die.”
“Yuck,” I said. “You never made that mistake again, did you?”
“Lover,” he chuckled. “I haven’t survived this long repeating my mistakes.”
I finished my dinner and washed the dishes quickly. Eric had stretched out on the couch and I went to join him. We both sighed as I stretched out on top of him. He grabbed a remote and turned on the fireplace and then rubbed small circles on my back. We lay there relaxing and resting. I was enjoying his touch and breathing in his masculine and woody smell that was just, well, Eric.
Quietly, he said, “I turned the ringers off on both of our phones, Lover. I promised you it would be just the two of us tonight.”
I sat up a little on his chest. “What will we do with ourselves?” I asked teasingly.
His eyes sparkled. “I’m sure we’ll think of something to keep busy all night.”
Then kissed me gently, and we were very busy until he felt the pull of the sun.
Do you love the dog, or hate him? I soooo see Eric with a dog. IDK. I feel like he’d want something ferocious (but not a smelly Were) around his house during the day to keep curious humans at bay. Anyway…Thanks so much for reading.