When I woke up my body was totally confused, what with jet lag and keeping vampire hours recently. I checked my cell phone and saw it was 11 a.m. already. Eric was sleeping like the dead, but I was starving. I figured with the time change and sunset here in Vegas, he would be up around 4 or 4:30 p.m. I noticed I had a voice mail and got up to grab a piece of fruit from our welcome basket while I listened. As I munched my apple, I heard Alcide on the other end of the phone. Ugh. I wasn’t awake enough for dealing with him yet, but I listened anyway.

“Ah. Hey, Sookie. I know we haven’t talked lately. I’m not sure if we’re friends, or whatever, but since we’re the only ones that will be up and around during the day I wanted to give you a call. Um. I’m sure Eric doesn’t want you wandering around unprotected and, ah, if you want to get out of the room or something, just give me a call. I’ll escort you where ever you want to go. I’ll behave. I promise. I mean, I know Eric will kill me if I don’t. So, yeah. Call me, if you want.”

Well crap. What was I supposed to think about that? Eric hadn’t said anything about not going out alone, but Alcide was probably right. Damn, I hated that. And he was right. I didn’t want to sit around in the hotel suite for like five hours. I called him back and asked him to meet me in the lobby in thirty minutes and teasingly made him promise again to behave. I grabbed a quick shower, pulled my hair back and threw on jeans and one of Eric’s sweaters.

When I made it to the lobby, Alcide was not hard to find. He looked good, and there were several women standing around looking at him. They were not happy to see me wave from the elevator and come over to greet him.

He gave me a quick hug and smiled shyly. “Are we okay, Sookie?”

I smiled back, “I’m not really sure what we are, but I think okay covers it.”

“Good. Okay. So what do you want to do?”

“You’ll think it’s silly.”

“Whatever you want, I’m game.”

I grinned a little with embarrassment, “I want to eat at a big buffet, and I want to ride on the roller coaster.”

He laughed, “The roller coaster at New York, New York?”

I nodded.

“Okay, that’s close by. Might I suggest we do the roller coaster first and then eat?”

“Oh, yeah. Good idea.”

He smiled and cocked his head toward the door. “Then let’s go.”

We walked down the strip, and I couldn’t believe how busy it was, even before noon. People were walking around with drinks already and the little guys were handing out flyers of naked women. We were enjoying ourselves and taking pictures with my phone. I even posed with a guy that had on a t-shirt saying “GIRLS direct to your room!” We made it to New York, New York and wandered around a bit inside. I loved the way it looked like a true city inside. Alcide had been to New York City, so he was telling me about different landmarks in the hotel that he recognized. We headed for the roller coaster entrance, and I started to get nervous. I mean, I like roller coasters, but it was always a little scary to go on a new one for the first time. Alcide shook his head at me and laughed, and then he helped me into the tiny car for the ride.

As the coaster came back inside the building to finish the ride, I was laughing and smiling, and I said the first thing that came to my mind, “I am so bringing Eric back here tonight!”

Alcide winced a little but didn’t say anything. I started to say something – I’m not even sure what I was going to say, ‘I’m sorry you don’t like my boyfriend?’ But he stopped me.

“No, Sookie. I’m behaving. You should be sure to bring him here tonight. I think he would like it.”

“Thanks,” I said, and we were both thoughtful. After a few seconds I said, “So you’ve been to Vegas before, right? Where should we eat?”

He thought for a minute. “Well, my favorite buffet is all the way down at the Bellagio. I think we should head down there, and I’ll show you the Venetian too. I think you’ll want to go there with Eric at night as well for a gondola ride.”

“A what?” I said laughing.

“A gondola, you know, a little Italian boat.”

“They have those there? Man, I need to get out of Louisiana more!”

He just laughed and put his arm out for me to take his elbow. I put my hand in the crook of his arm, and we headed down the strip. It was a long walk, but I enjoyed all of the sites and seeing all of the people. As we walked by the Bellagio, the fountain show was in progress, and it was amazing. I had seen it on the Travel Channel, but it was so cool to be right there in front of it. After a while, we made our way into the hotel and found the buffet. I had to laugh a little; they weren’t going to make any money off Alcide at the buffet. Weres could eat.

I was on my second plate and Alcide on his third when the conversation kind of dried up. I felt like he had something to say, so I put down my utensils and just waited.

Finally he sighed. “I’m really trying to behave, Sookie.” He looked at me for a minute and then continued, “I know the vamps think I’m jealous and I want you back, but that isn’t it. I’m no good for any woman right now. I’m still trying to get over losing Maria Star. I’m just worried for you. Eric isn’t the most predictable of vampires, and he has never really had a human mate before from what I’ve heard. I just don’t want you to get hurt.”

“I appreciate your concern, Alcide, but what can I do about it? I mean, I’m worried for me too, but I can’t risk giving up what I have with him because it might not work out. He’s risking a lot to be with me. His Area, his business, and the loyalty of the vampires in his area, not to mention the other sheriffs…I think I can risk being with him.”

He shook his head at me. “You’re amazing. Sookie, he has rebuilt his life countless times over the course of 1,000 years. You talk like the biggest risk to you is getting your heart broken again. I’m not worried about your heart as much as I am your mortal life. Can’t you see that?”

I was a little shocked. I mean, it kind of put things in perspective. But I just looked at him and said what I was thinking, “I’m not sure I have a life without him any more.” He started to say something and I stopped him. “Alcide, I know how hard it’s been for you since Maria Star. You just told me you’re not ready to move on. That’s how I feel about Eric. I think it’s just taken us both a while to come to terms with our bond and our feelings for each other.”

I could not believe I was having this conversation with Alcide when Eric and I hadn’t really talked about it yet. This was actually the first time I was able to put to words some of the things that needed to be said.

He reached out and put his hand over mine on the table. “Sookie, if you love him as much I love Maria,” he paused, and I thought about how he still used the present tense. “Then you should commit and be with him always. Don’t miss a single moment with him. Do you understand? I won’t get in your way, and I’ll do anything I can for you to make it work.” His eyes were a little teary and I thought I might cry as well.

“Thank you, Alcide,” I sniffed.

He gave me a little smile and raised his eyebrows. “I don’t know about you, I need some dessert.”

I laughed and nodded. We headed up and found some devilishly good treats. By the time we had finished eating, I was ready to walk back to the hotel, grab a shower, and nap with Eric. Tonight was going to be a big night for several reasons. I had figured out how I felt about Eric, but I wasn’t sure what that would mean for our future. I mean, I still didn’t want to be turned, but could we live together if I wasn’t? Where would we live? What was going to happen tonight with Felipe, Lars, and Victor? It was too much to think about.

I showered to get Alcide’s scent off of me and sent my clothes to the cleaners. I wasn’t hiding it from Eric, I would tell him right away, but there was no need to have the smell around to make him angry. I stretched out in bed next to him, but my mind was racing, and I couldn’t sleep. So I made coffee and did my hair and make up, then sat in the living room in my robe, drinking coffee and looking out the window.

I heard a rustling noise, and Eric was standing in the doorway, rubbing his face. When he finished stretching, I could feel him searching the bond to see how I was feeling. He came over and crouched in front of me.

“Lover, is everything alright?”

“Yeah, I’m okay. I just did a lot of thinking today.”

“And what prompted that, Lover?”

“Something Alcide said today at lunch,” I said without thinking.

Eric tensed, and I felt frustration and anger in the bond.

“We had a nice day, Eric. He went with me because he didn’t think you would want me to go out alone.” That made him feel a little, but not altogether, better. “He told me he was worried about my safety being with you.” Before he could get angry I looked into his eyes and continued, “I realized I don’t want to live without you.” Okay, now he was shocked. I smiled and put my hands on his cheeks. “It just struck me that I’m not really afraid of what could happen, because the worst thing I can imagine is losing you.” I felt joy and warmth flooding through the bond.

He kissed me gently and took me into his arms. Then after a minute he pulled back and looked into my eyes for a few seconds before walking to the window and looking out. I’m sure it was only seconds, but if felt like hours that he stood there gazing out at the hotel grounds. Then he turned and leaned on the glass and his eyes found mine.

“Sookie, I need to tell you something. That night at your home, when Compton said he would die for you.” He shook his head a little. “I was offended for you that he would offer such a weak profession of love, but I knew it would not have been right to redress him. It was not the right place or time, but you need to understand. Compton might lay down his life, but would he raise a sword? He would die for you, Lover, but I, I would kill for you. I would protect and defend you, and if I died in the process, so be it.”

He held out his hand and I walked towards him, our eyes locked together. Before gathering me in his arms, he put his hands in my hair and kissed my forehead. “I have relocated and started over many times over the years, and yet, I don’t know if I could do it again without you.”

I wrapped my arms around him and kissed him. It was passionate, yet tender. He pulled back to look into my eyes again, and I knew I had to say it.

“Eric, I’m in love with you.”

He sighed, it was almost a shudder. “Lover, I am yours. I have never felt this way before, not in my human life and not in 1,000 years as a vampire. You make me feel things I have long thought were dead in me. When you are near, I feel your heart beat and it’s as if I am alive again. I never thought I would say this, but Sookie, I love you, too.” And then he clutched me so tight I thought he might break my ribs. Tears ran down my face, not from his grasp, but from the joy we were both feeling.

He stepped back and held my hands. “Lover, there is much more we must talk about, but it will have to wait. The others will be here soon, and we’ll need to talk about what is going to happen tonight. I need to shower and change, but first, I need you to drink from me.” I knew he could feel my resistance and he continued, “We must go into this tonight with you at your strongest. I do not think you are in danger, but we need to refresh our bond. It will ease my mind.” He stroked my hands and asked, “Will you do it?”

I nodded my head, and he raised his wrist to his mouth. I heard the awful crunching noise, and he held the wound in front of my mouth. Eric sighed as I began to suck at his arm. There really was nothing more erotic than drinking your lover’s lifeblood. I felt his erection against my hip, and I was getting aroused just remembering other times I had taken his blood like this. It always seemed to really turn us both on, and this time was no different.

Eric put his other arm around my waist and turned me in his arms so my back was against the window. Then I felt my robe slide down and my underwear were ripped off. With only that warning, he was pushing inside of me. I gasped, and he pulled his arm away from my mouth. Then he thrust all of the way in and began moving in and out of me slowly. I wrapped a leg around his waist and he kissed my neck and kneaded my breast with one hand. The other hand found its way to my center and worked its magic and I began to whimper. I had my hands on his hips and was pushing back against him in time with his slow strokes to take him in farther. I could feel myself getting close, and I knew Eric was too. Before I could even say, “Faster,” he increased his pace and began pounding into me.

I felt Eric’s desire to drink from me, so I moved my hair from my neck. He growled and bit down, and we came at the same time. I was so overwhelmed it took me a second to realize the voice in my head saying, I love you, wasn’t mine. I stiffened for a second and Eric tensed as he licked my wound closed.

“What is it, Lover?”

Oh hell, should I tell him? He would get it out of me eventually, so I said quietly, “I heard you.”

He chuckled. “I’m sure you did, Lover. I roared like a lion in your ear when I came.”

“No, Eric. I heard you thinking. Think something else.”

He cocked his head and looked into my eyes. I want you to cover me in that chocolate you love and lick me clean.

I felt myself blush a little, but I grinned at him. Really? Won’t that be messy?

Eric’s eyes got wide and then he laughed. “This could be fun, Lover.”

“You’re not upset? I mean, I can learn to shield it.”

“Sookie, I do not think it is part of your telepathy. If I can do it too, it is because of our bond. I do not think we can shield each other from this.”

“Oh. Shit.”

He laughed again. “It will be okay, Lover. We will just have to get used to it.”

“Do you think I can hear other vamps now?”

“I don’t know. I wouldn’t think so. But several of them will be here in,” he looked at the clock, “About fifteen minutes. So we’ll find out then.” I was feeling a little panicky and he could feel it, too. He took me in his arms and held me, rubbing circles on my back. “Lover, I will be with you always now. That can’t be so bad, right? In the long run, it will be to our advantage, I’m sure of it. Now, let’s get ready to meet our guests.” He kissed my forehead and took a step back, grinning at me. “You’d better find your underwear while I get in the shower.”



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