In the months before the holidays, while Eric had been off dealing with Felipe, I had been thrown back in to my old life of constantly hearing what everyone thought. There were no ‘dead’ spots in my brain, only a few odd hums of local shifters. I really had to work on shielding myself from listening to all of it, so I didn’t fall back in to a sort of pre-Bill depression. I walked in to the Merlotte’s on January second re-energized from spending a couple of days with the vamps and wham, it was all back.
“Blah, blah, blah, sex, sex, sex, Sookie’s crazy, has she been with the vampires?”
I had to step back outside for a second and refocus. I’d been so happy I forgot what I was walking into. Sam saw me and gave me a questioning look, but I just smiled and made the best of things. It was quite a week, working in Bon Temps and then going back to Shreveport daily. There was still too much going on with the New Year’s attack for Eric to come stay with me, so I was commuting.
I knew I should have been afraid of what our future held and I kept coming back to the question about whether or not our feelings were real or were induced by the bond. But as we lived with the bond it was clear that Eric really didn’t know much more about it than I did, and, when it all came down to it, I was much happier and safer when I was with him. He wasn’t begging me to marry him and rush into any decisions. Well, he did want me to move in with him, but that was because he wanted to protect me. He’d laughed when I said I wasn’t willing to move in but would concede to commute for a while. I think he thought they were the same thing, but in my head they weren’t and that was what mattered to me. The rest of it, I was just playing by ear.
Eric and I had been truly enjoying each other’s company. I made him watch some of my favorite movies and had Barry get us a copy of Rock Band for the Wii. We laughed and joked and seemed like a fairly normal couple, except we were only together at night, and Eric was a nymphomaniac vampire, otherwise it was normal, ha. Eric was kind and generous and the hardest working man I knew. He had a shrewd business mind and was always looking for ways to make the bar better or to make more money.
As a joke, Barry had stuck a plastic caution sign near the front gate; it had a picture of a German shepherd on it, meaning ‘beware this house is protected by a big dog.’ Eric was outraged that someone might think that he, a 1,000 year old vampire, would need a dog to guard him.
I laughed hysterically and said he should make some caution signs with a picture of his face on them and sell them at the bar. He thought I was crazy until I told him that I guaranteed some of the fangbangers would want them, if only just to look at his picture.
Eventually he said, “If you humans are dumb enough to spend money on something like that, I might have to sell them.”
I was at Merlotte’s for my last shift before two days off. Eric had reworked the schedule at the bar so he would be off as well. I had a feeling that the much anticipated talk wouldn’t be put off any longer, although by now I wasn’t nearly as worried as I had been before. I was refilling the condiments after the lunch rush when Barry came in. He stood just inside the door looking around until he found me, then smiled and came towards me at the waitress station. When he got to me, he was looking extremely nervous.
I had no idea why he came to see me, so I asked, “What’s up, Barry?”
He looked around, and seemed even more nervous. “Why is everyone staring at us?”
I noticed Arlene, Gemini, the new cook, and the few patrons we had at the time, were indeed all looking at us. I laughed. “Because you’re human.”
He was totally confused. “So are they. Aren’t they?”
“Yeah, mostly, but they are used to seeing me with vamps and supes, and they know I’ve been seeing Eric. So they can’t figure out who you are.” I paused and listened for a second. “Some think it’s a good thing, and some are actually afraid Eric might come here and kill you,” I said with a smile.
“Okay. At least they are concerned for my safety,” he said as he raised his eyebrows. He spent too much time with Eric. Just then Sam came out of his office and glanced at me to be sure a customer wasn’t harassing me. Barry noticed him too. “Hey, Sam. What’s up?”
“Hey. Nothing much, Barry. What brings you to Bon Temps?”
It was my turn to be confused. “You two know each other?”
They laughed, and Sam answered, “Yeah, how do you think Eric set up your coverage when you were out of town? Barry got in touch with me to have the temp waitresses here and for Eric to pay the extra wages when he offered.” It said something that Sam was okay with Barry being here, because Eric was not his favorite person. It wasn’t entirely jealousy; he wanted me to be safe and happy, but he wished I could be both of those things with anyone but Eric, or any vampire really.
I nodded and looked back at Barry. “He hasn’t gotten a chance to tell me why he’s here yet.”
“Well, I need a couple of favors,” Barry started.
“Shit, does that mean I need another waitress for a while?” Sam muttered.
Barry smiled at him. “Just for tonight I think, man. One of our human waitresses, Candy, she’s been here before, kind of a hot red head with…” He was making an hourglass figure with his hands. “Oh sorry, Sookie. Yeah, she’s headed over. You have the next two days off, right? I think you’ll be back before you have to work again.”
Sam was nodding and I was standing there feeling like something being bought and sold.
“Wait just a second, boys. What’s going on?”
“Oh, yeah. Sam, can you excuse us and I’ll explain?”
“Sure. Just keep her safe.” He walked away looking at me like an overprotective brother and I loved him for it.
“Okay, so you know how Eric’s been trying to straighten out this whole Lars, Victor business, right? Well, Felipe doesn’t want to wait until the High Court Tribunal. He wants everyone to come to Vegas for a meeting. He’s bringing in some big guns from the American Vampire League and a couple of vamp Court officers to deal with things, like ASAP. Dani said Felipe specifically asked for you to come. So, I’m here to ask you to go pack.”
“I appreciate you coming all of this way, but I’m not going without Eric’s blessing, and I’m certainly not going without him.”
“Oh, did I forget that part? Oh yeah, you’re all going. You, Eric, Pam, Bill, Packmaster Herveaux, and the Sheriffs from Baton Rouge and over in Lafayette. I think Quinn might be there, but he’s living out there, so I don’t really know. I’m staying here to do my thing, but I’ve got Felipe’s plane ready to go, so after dark you can all get to the airport and hit the road.”
He was rambling again. I think I made him nervous. “I could try to get you all out earlier, but I’m so not rolling Eric into a coffin ever again if I don’t have to, and I’m pretty sure the other D.D.’s are with me on that. I’ve got emergency messages to the D.D.’s and the vamps so they get to the airport as soon as they wake and Alcide is all set. You just need to get to your place and get packed and then meet me at Fangtasia.”
“Is Eric at the bar?” I had gotten a little lost in Barry’s rambling and had no idea why I was meeting him at the bar.
“No. That’s where Julie is.”
I was looking at him blankly again.
“Oh, did I forget that part too? Damn. Sorry. I’m just trying to get all of this stuff done in a hurry. Julie is the other favor I need.”
I felt like Eric as I made the ‘come on’ motion with my hand at him.
“Yeah, so Julie is this human waitress we have and she’s like, I don’t know, a few months pregnant and, well, Eric is getting worried about having her working at the bar.”
I was about to be livid that Eric would fire a pregnant woman when Barry started talking again.
“Eric thought it would be good if you came with me to talk to her, because you know, you’re a woman and all. And he doesn’t want her to feel like what he’s doing is a punishment. But he wants her to work the set-up shift everyday, so she’s only there for the early tourists and not the hardcore fangbangers later. Plus, pregnant humans kind of freak out vampires that used to have families. And like, he just really doesn’t want anything bad to happen to her.”
I was relaxing a bit after his explanation. After thinking for a minute, I asked, “Will this cut her hours at all?”
“Umm, no. I think it’s the same. I never thought about it.”
Men. Of course they didn’t think about it. I sighed. “Barry, I’ll come have this talk with her, but there’s one condition.”
He made the ‘come on’ motion back at me and I just smiled.
“I’ll help you if you assure me that Julie will work enough to be put on the bar’s insurance.” Eric had started talking about putting me on the insurance, so I knew they had a policy for employees.
Barry looked a little stunned. “Umm, I’ll have to crunch some numbers back at the office and ultimately it will need Eric’s approval, but I think it can be done.”
I was feeling kind of powerful, or maybe wicked. “You crunch the numbers all you want, but unless you’ve left something out of this story Eric will approve it, for me.”
Barry squirmed a little. “Ah, okay. Umm, so you go pack and meet me at Fangtasia, then you’ll have enough time to head to Eric’s before you have to catch the flight.”
I nodded and was untying my apron as he left and a girl with great curves and a Fangtasia t-shirt came in. He thanked her for coming, gave me a look over his shoulder and was on his way.
I greeted the new girl, “You must be Candy?”
She smiled. “Yeah, you must be Sookie. I’ve subbed for you here a couple of times. Honestly, if you ever need someone to cover for you, let me know. I love coming out here. It’s a great change of pace. The guys flirt all of the time, but they’re all harmless. You, ah, never know in Shreveport, you know?”
I laughed. At Fangtasia the flirting took on a whole different vibe and I understood.
I told Sam that she was finishing my prep work and headed out. I was still driving the Range Rover and I was seriously considering not giving it back. For all of my complaining about not wanting Eric to replace my car, I was becoming addicted to the smooth ride and the functioning heat and air conditioning in this vehicle. I stopped at home and grabbed some of my clothes, including a business suit Eric had bought for one of my last trips for the vamps. I made sure to grab an evening dress and some skimpy lingerie for Eric and headed to Shreveport.
Barry was waiting for me with the cutest, and most terrified, little pregnant waitress. She was thinking about how she was going to explain to her parents that she’d gotten fired and that she should have never slept with the deadbeat that knocked her up anyway. I felt so bad for her; I had to tell her right away she wasn’t fired.
She didn’t quite believe me at first, but Barry and I explained everything to her and she relaxed a little. She was overwhelmed when Barry said she would have health insurance. She kept looking at us like we couldn’t be real.
When she was ready to leave she hugged me and quietly said, “You did all of this, didn’t you? Thank you.”
I smiled and looked into her eyes. “I’m just the messenger. Eric did this. And you’re welcome.”
Well, he would have done the insurance part if he thought of it. I was learning about Eric that he was extremely loyal, and he treated his employees like a family he was responsible for. Now mind you, if you crossed him he would not hesitate to kill you, bar family or not, but if you proved yourself loyal to him, he returned the sentiment.
When I got to Eric’s house, it was around 4:30 p.m. He would be waking any minute and I still had some things to pack that were at his place, plus, he had better luggage. Mine had been seriously damaged at Rhodes. So I went into his closet and pulled out a couple of suitcases and got busy. He was lying on the bed, naked of course, and I could see his cheek starting to twitch. It made me smile a little, it was one of the first signs he was waking. I wanted to sit down and cuddle him, but I still needed to pack my toiletries. A girl had to look good in Vegas, and getting in bed with him would lead to so much more, so I just kept packing.
I came out of the bathroom and he was sitting up, looking at the suitcases and rubbing his face.
“Lover, are you leaving me?”
I went to the bed and kissed him. “Silly vampire. There are two suitcases. You’re coming with me.” He deepened the kiss and was wordlessly asking for that so much more I knew we really didn’t have time for. I pulled back. “Barry came to see me today. Felipe needs us in Vegas to deal with the New Year’s stuff. We have to get to the airport.”
His eyes cleared and he looked at me. “What did he tell you?”
“Apparently, he’s bringing in some American Vampire League folks and a couple of vamp court officers. He wants us all there tonight, even Alcide and the other sheriffs. I told Barry I wouldn’t go without you or your consent.”
He smiled and kissed me gently. “Barry knows that, Lover, but it touches me to know you told him that.” He was kissing my neck and inhaling my scent, and I knew I had to get off the bed, and then he moved his hands to my breasts. He ripped my Merlotte’s shirt off but kindly removed my bra without damaging it. I had explained to him they were more expensive and harder to replace. I gave him a dirty look about the shirt. “You weren’t wearing that on the plane anyway. I was just helping you change.”
“We don’t have time,” I mumbled into his lips.
He was circling my nipples with his thumbs and lightly kissing my lips. He kept one hand on my breast and used the other to move my hand to his middle and wrapped my fingers around his cock. He was hard and ready, and I felt myself getting wet.
“Okay, maybe we have a little time,” I sighed.
He laughed and moved my hand along his length. He helped me stroke him a couple of times and then moved his hand to my core. His other hand was beginning to pinch my nipple and his tongue was doing amazing things to my neck and ear.
I was using both hands on his long shaft and moaning at the feel of his touch. He moved to begin kissing my breasts and I felt his fangs scrape a little. It made a butterfly sensation in my stomach and he must have sensed my reaction because he repeated it on the other side.
I was still trying to work my hand on him but having a hard time concentrating when he pushed me back on the bed. I was lying sideways across the bed, with my feet dangling down towards the floor when he got between my knees and opened my folds for his mouth. He reached up and moved my hand so that I was massaging my own breast and made eye contact with me just as he lowered his mouth to me.
Giving me a long lick, he paused, and then blew his cool breath across my skin. He slid two fingers in and after a couple of polite strokes began pumping his hand into me and took my most sensitive spot into mouth. I was moving my hips and crying out, but since my feet didn’t reach the floor I was trying to get leverage on the side off the mattress with my feet. Eric put a hand on my stomach to keep me from coming off the bed and he drove three fingers in to me.
When I came, I was trying to tell him I wanted him inside of me, but I think it just came out as “Ohgod, ohgod, ohmygod.”
He pulled his fingers out as I finished and began drinking the wetness spilling from my body. When I was on the brink of coming again, he stood and pushed in to me to the hilt. He was thrusting hard and fast, and I was trying to sit up to kiss him or touch him, but he flattened me with one hand on my breast and the other moving quickly over my clit. He was still pumping into me when I started to come, and he moved to stick his thumb in my mouth. I sucked it like I would his cock and swirling my tongue around the top of it. Just as my orgasm was finishing, his fangs pierced my neck, pulling another orgasm from me as he drank, his own release close behind.
We were laying there, me panting, both covered in sex and my sweat, and he smiled at me. “Guess you need a shower now, hm?”
“Crap Eric, we don’t have time for that.” I was starting to worry about the time and tried to sit up to go finish my packing.
“Lover, the other sheriffs are coming from across the state. Go start the shower.”
I gave him a look like he had to be kidding.
“You’re right; we don’t have time for that. You shower and I’ll do my packing. Then I’ll shower, and you can pack, or just watch me.” He had a devilish look on his face and he gave me a quick kiss on the lips before he pulled me up and pushed me towards the bathroom.
When we made it to the private airstrip, Eric was right as usual. The out of town vamps weren’t there yet. Bill and Pam were waiting with Alcide, who didn’t look happy to see me with Eric. Barry pulled up and Eric went to speak with him. Pam and I were talking about what we had packed and what we wanted to buy while we were there. Bill was rolling his eyes. Her shopping ideas were much grander than mine. I just wanted to be sure to get a cute t-shirt this time because I forgot to get one last time. Pam wanted to go back to a couple of exclusive Vegas shops and get some high end couture. I’d probably go with her and drool at the expensive things a little, but also laugh at the fact people paid such ridiculous prices for clothing.
Two cars were pulling in as Eric came back to my side, and Barry got back in his car to leave. Eric put his arms around me and kissed my temple.
“Lover, you didn’t tell me you talked to Julie today.” He smiled. “I was going to give her the insurance after she’d been on days for a couple of weeks, to make her think it was because of doing a good job. But you’re right, she needs it now. Thank you for looking out for her.”
I turned into his arms. “She thought I was responsible for it, for all of it, and I told her it was you.” He harrumphed a little like it was no big deal. I kissed him gently on the lips. “You’re doing right by her, Viking.”
Pam had gone to greet the new-comers and now they headed for Eric and me. Alcide joined us and Eric made introductions. Brandon, Itzel and Jerome were a little surprised to be going to Vegas at such short notice, and I wondered what it would be like to not get called out of town at the last minute.
Over the last couple years that had become the norm for me, and I was getting really good at packing, unless I was sidetracked. We headed to the plane and got ready for the flight. I was looking around inside and it was a beautiful aircraft. There were several sets of seats facing each other, room for about eight people, a sitting area with two couches, and a kitchenette.
We were buckling our seatbelts when a man stepped out of the cockpit. He nodded at us and said, “I’m Captain Drake, your vampire pilot tonight. Your human pilot is Captain Stone, and you’ll have a steward named Skovil to assist you during flight. We’re just doing the final checks, and Skovil is filing some paperwork and then we’ll be on the way. Enjoy your flight.”
Captain Drake went back into the cockpit and another man came in the door to the plane. He pulled the door shut, introduced himself as Skovil and asked if we needed anything. When Eric said we were all set, the steward went to sit near the galley for take-off. I hated take-offs and landings, and had told Eric, so as soon as we felt the plane start to move, he pulled me in to his arms for a long, slow kiss.