“A Whole New World” would have been an appropriate song choice for our exhilarating flight through the cool night. My mood called for something a little more adventurous. I scrolled through the iPod hoping to find “Loosen Up My Buttons” by the Pussycat dolls. “If You Seek Amy” was the winner and I cranked it up.
Eric should have been able to tell what page I was on when he felt my hot tongue flicker in his ear before we even crossed the parish boundaries. What really got his attention was my sleep pants whizzing past his ear and landing on a roof top near Hot Shot. The look of shock and surprise on his face was priceless. My ambidextrousness was the true shocker. I had to channel my inner contortionist to get out of pj bottoms in mid-air but I got ‘er done in matter of seconds.
I was positively giddy and in a devilish mood. “How about an induction into the Mile High Club, Big Poppa?” I begged in my most sultry and seductive voice. “You love it when I call you Big Poppa.” My legs were wrapped around his waist and I reared my head far back as he held on to my hips. That request stunned him. He lost hold of me and caught me just before I collided with a steeple. He was unable to save the duvet, however. I waved goodbye as I saw it float down and settle in a muddy cornfield near Monroe. Amelia is going to kill me, I thought. She had just purchased that.
What should have been a peaceful flight was turned into a comical excursion of dips, turns and spirals in the air. “Don’t make me pull this uh, vampire over, Sookie,” he teased when I climbed on his shoulders. I was actually trying to position myself a little differently and lost my bearings on the way up. It was going to be a really, really, really gooooood position.
Eric never tired of caring for his new “Problem Child.” When it came to me, Eric was always ready to go with the flow. Maybe he realized that I had OD’d on vamp blood and needed to burn it off before it drove me insane. Too late for that! I thought, with a giggle.
“Look at me! I’m on top o’ the world!” I screamed out in the cold night air with my arms outstretched. Eric just laughed and held on tight to my legs. At one point, he turned his head to kiss me on the vein at the top of my thigh. That brought back memories that warmed me all over. We paused near a body of water in Ruston to cover my exposed flesh.
“One moon in the sky is enough,” Eric said, covering me with his long sleeve cotton button-up that bore an embroidered Fangtasia impresa on the breast. It looked like a dress on me. I leaned in and wrapped my arms around him tightly for a while. My next words took him by surprise and his body stiffened all over.
“That’s why I love you, honey bunny.”
“That’s why I love you, honey bunny.”
His arms, which embraced me, fell to his sides. He looked as if he desperately had to know the answer to his next question “Sookie say what?”
I must have seemed drunk with exhaustion and looked up at him while fighting my wind blown hair. “You never judge me. Only true love would let me run amuck,” I said, straining upward, on my toes and popping the k near his ear.
Eric regretted letting me out of his grasp was an understatement. Lady Gaga swept me away with “Just Dance” on the iPod playlist. Even with his vampire speed it was like catching a psycho chicken. I had been locked up in the house for far too long and was finally free!
In a blinding motion he plucked me out of the middle of an elegant swan dive as I launched myself off a pier. One hand got a chance to graze the cold water before he flung me over his shoulder and gave a possessive pat on the rump. We took to the air again, Eric shaking his head in disbelief.
Crazy as it seems, Eric was enjoying this Suped-up version of cat and mouse. He eventually joined in the craziness and danced with me in the middle of a busy street in downtown Shreveport. Traffic backed up for about three blocks as we dodged through and leaped on top of cars. I never laughed so hard in my whole life. The best part was, I got to glimpse the rare, carefree, unguarded Eric, who I hadn’t seen since . . . since he got his memory back.
By the time we made it to our destination, my stomach ached from laughing. Eric had a wide smile on his face like a fanged Cheshire Cat. Then my reckless rampage came to a sobering halt. He was nibbling on my neck and whispering sweet nothings in my ear as we touched down on an impeccably manicured, verdant green lawn just outside of Shreveport. We stood atop a hill surrounded by acres and acres of land filled with timeless monuments. A single story, windowless structure towered over the land in the center of the grounds. It was larger than my farmhouse. It was made of granite or marble and had fancy Romanesque pillars all around. For a mausoleum, it was highfalutin’. Yes, our exotic locale was home to the life styles of the rich and famous DEAD!
“C’est La Vie!” I said when I identified our surroundings that were littered with tomb stones and grave markers. Such is my life anyway. In lieu of love, I had a bloodbond. My Prince Charming was a charming King! A dead, charismatic and high-handed Vi-King, that is. My wedding was in the backroom of a vamp bar involving a ceremonial knife. Refereeing a fight and being knocked unconscious while trying to mediate a brawl between my two ex-boyfriends (a vampire and a weretiger) led to the consummation of our marriage. We’ll just call that my wedding reception. The honeymoon? Here we go!
Any preconceptions I had of me being carried across the threshold of a quaint little home, in a picturesque community, in the center of the block with, of course, a white picket fence was shot to smithereens. (Not that I had put much thought into it.)
“Sorry that I have been MIA for a while. Hopefully, you with think that it was worth the sacrifice.” He said. I couldn’t imagine what would be worth what I went through since I had last seen Eric but I was willing to give it a chance. Heavy wooden doors opened upon our approach.
To my surprise, Pam and Maxwell Lee walked out. Maxwell was burdened with a large nap sack. Pam gave Eric a nod and me a sly smile just before Maxwell grabbed her from behind and took flight. Flying was not Pam’s preferred mode of transit, I could tell by the grimace.
Eric continued to take long, anxious strides, up the concrete steps, cradling me as if I weighed nothing. He paused at the entrance and kissed me gently on the lips.
“Welcome home, lover,” he said. He looked into my face with anticipation as we entered the single room.
My first thought, “The hell it is!” I was already going mad and could do without him prying my hands from the cliff of sanity. The look of pride he shown made me hold that comment. I looked up at him with my nervous smile. He was fine and all but he wasn’t that dang fine! Okay, he was but I didn’t want to live there as a ghost and definitely not while I was still yet alive.
“Somebody pimped your crypt!” I said astonished as we cleared the entrance and the interior came into full view. The room was illuminated by the amber glow of flickering flames and was simply breath taking.
The first thing I noticed was the domed ceiling that was painted in an elaborate motif of vampires as warriors, riding chariots in the throes of battle. “Maxwell is quite the artist.” Eric commented in a low voice that still managed to echo in the space. He pressed a series of buttons on a panel on the wall and retrieved a wine glass filled with blood and drank. I hoped that it wasn’t fresh from a human source.
“May I offer you a drink?” He opened another panel of bottled beverages. I don’t recall answering that question. Something told me that I’d better remain lucid. I didn’t want to blame anything on the al-al-al-co-alcohol. I padded across the large space in socked feet, distracted by everything in my discovery zone.
Each wall had a different rich earth tone and was covered with framed art of various sizes. My hand traced the edge of a shadow box that incased a large shield. He was a collector of Viking armor? I guessed. Another case had a violin. I opened the box and touched the lacquered wood.
“Do you play?” I asked.
“You should hear my maker play. Appius can make it sing.” He sounded a little melancholy and looked at the box as if it was Appius himself. “My hands would never obey me to make a good sound.” He pulled the boxed closed.
Marble floors reflected the light like mirrors. A very large and beautiful bed sat on a platform. Opposite the bed were steps that led to a small pool. It was surrounded by candles, bowls of smell goods and green foliage.
There were also tall apothecary jars filled with bath salts, colored soap bars and bubble bath. At the head of the pool was a fireplace, at the foot, a gentle water fall. The water appeared to flow right out of the wall and steamed down into a sea of bubbles. Its scent infused the air with a vanilla aroma.
The fireplace was large enough to walk through and crackled with fire that was welcomed temperature change for my bare legs. Rich, fabric flowed from mock windows that created a semi-circle around the center of the tub and pooled in a heap at the base. Tiny, lit tea candles added to the ambiance. This was all Pam’s touch, I knew.
“Y-you live here?” I stuttered in amazement. I was trying to wrap my head around the magnitude of this moment.
“Uh, no.” He smiled slightly. “I actually have a home a short distance from here. This is my sanctuary and where I rest most days.”
Eric had entrusted me with a cherished secret, his sleeping chamber. What Eric was also trying to convey, in his multi-layered way of communicating, was, no matter how I tried to romanticize who he was or how pretty he made it appear, in reality it was a crypt and he was dead. Take it or leave it. Showing me a regular house would have been an easy sell. This is reality.
I looked to Eric expecting to see pride on his face but I didn’t. He just continued to stare at me. I followed his lead to the water. He took his time undressing me, gently rubbing his fingers over my battered and bruised body. My bandages were lost in the flight but I had no open wounds that I could see. He kissed each injury, worshipfully looming over my entire body with so much love that it felt as if each graze of his lips possessed some sort of healing power. Then he knelt in front of me, wrapped his arms around my waist and stayed there for a long time. I pulled my fingers through his golden hair in a gesture meant to comfort him.
The joy of being in the company of a vampire, for me, is the silence. Their heads were a blank to me and I loved that aspect. I couldn’t hear his thoughts but his tension was nearly palpable. He held on to me as a wave of emotion swept through him; fear . . . anxiety . . . pity. . . regret . . . rage . . . desire . . . euphoria . . . hope . . . pride . . . love.
I was taken aback and inundated with the rush of feelings. I had to step away and break the physical contact. It was at that moment that I realized just how vulnerable my vampire was. He took my hands in his again and my whole being warmed at the touch. He rubbed my hand on his face and kissed it reverently.
“Baby?” I said sinking down to look at him. “What is it?” His behavior was a little concerning and uncharacteristic of my “large and in charge” vamp.
After a long while, he lifted his head to respond. He kissed me on the lips and then asked, “Do you trust me?” I would have answered him right away but he dove in for another kiss. This time it was more urgent. “Trust me,” he continued “to know what you need and to know what is right for us?”
If he really wanted an answer he had to turn it down a notch. “What was the question again?” That threshold must have had a trigger for his libido. I lost my concentration while he scored kisses over every inch of my neck and I couldn’t think.
“Trust me Sookie,” he said following his words up with a kiss . . . kiss . . . kiss “To care for you,” kiss “to protect you,” kiss . . . kiss “to love you for all eternity,” kiss . . . kiss . . . errrr? Kiss . . . kiss. He knew I was startled and tried to slip me a little tongue to distract me from the eternity thing. I was just about to deliver a wordy response but my words caught in my throat. He had kiss . . . kiss . . . kissed a trail back down to my hand. Something bright and gleaming held his adoring gaze. My eyes followed to see a ROCK! on my finger.
“Yield to me, Sookie,” he said, silkily.
“Holy crap!” I said under my breath. Not the words a guy wanted to hear at a time like this but “holy crap!” was all my rattled brain could muster.
Something in my own heart told me that this was not about sex, despite my lack of dress and the romantic setting. I was afraid to ask him to clarify his statement and learn what the beautiful ring on my finger signified. He looked innocent enough and his fangs were retracted but the word Eternity blared in my head.
“Time to reciprocate, Sookie.” I said aloud, pushing him back on the steps and refusing to respond to his heartfelt plea. After all he had been through an ordeal as well and had done so much to help me relax. Maybe he thought that there was no other way to keep me safe. I gave him my “I’m not freaked out in the least” smile and divested him of his clothing. His eyes met mine and he actually shuddered when I undid his buckle and removed his pants with shaking hands.
The vision of his perfection, his imperfect statement in this perfect place was arresting and I instinctively drew back in an unexpected virgin shyness. I was just trying to have a little fun and he had to get all deep with the “eternal yielding” stuff. Now here I am, in the middle of nowhere, inside of a crypt with a dead guy who wants to eat me! While that may be enjoyable, my death, however, would not. What I wouldn’t give for the gift of teleportation right about now.
My timid response called to the animal in him who stalked around me looking famished. I gulped hard and braced myself for a pouncing. He reached for my hand, kissed my fingers lightly, just above the ring and guided me to the waiting water. Eric, who always maintained control, now stood in a cascade of water, dripping, muscles rippling, hands clenched, body coiled, manhood burgeoning, with that beautiful vampire glow and ready to jump my bones.
Thinking quickly, I remembered how his foot massage relaxed me. I needed him to sit down in a less intimidating position, which turned out to be a real challenge. “F*ck, fight or flight,” his eyes said to me. He was not going down easy. I circled him, caressing his tense spots with magic fingers hoping to somehow find a pause button. He eventually, finally relaxed. When I made it to his feet he purred like a kitten. I think he realized just how frightening of a situation this could be for me. He tried to behave himself and showed great restraint, only kissing a few forbidden places on my person, patiently, carefully, gently. “Sook you are the woMan!” giving myself a mental high-five. It took a while but the run-away train had been derailed. I let out a quiet sigh of relief as he relaxed next to me.
“Baby!” I said to him. Now that he was calm we needed to talk. Eric reached down, rather quickly, grabbed me under my arms and plucked me out of the water like a feather. He pulled my face to his for a reassuring kiss that let me know that I had nothing to fear. He placed me on my feet and wrapped me in a towel that he pulled from a warming bin. “Whoo!” I said at the unexpected warmth that ignited a flame deep within. I had to definitely get one of those for my house.
He flicked a light switch that showcased the largest bed that I had ever seen. Four dark mahogany posts the size of tree trunks, stretched toward to ceiling, crowned by an ornately wood carved canopy. Billowing fabric cascaded from the rafters.
Countless white, large, fluffy pillows covered the surface of the larger than king size platform that he lowered me on to. Once again he just stared at me. “Per-fect! . . . I have longed to see you in my bed.” He confessed with a strained voice.
Eric grew more beautiful by the second and I told him so. I watched his movements and studied his face as he positioned me to make me comfortable. He held on to one of the posts, propping one of his knees on the bed. “Can I show you something?” He questioned looking a little bashful.
“I think you’ve shown me more than enough, Lover.” I mocked, looking over his entire, gulp inducing frame. I paused for a moment of silence to pay a heated visual homage to the Gracious Plenty. He draped a white fur throw in front of him. It reminded me of the infamous photo from the Fangtasia calendar.
He paused for a moment so that I knew this was serious business and I acquiesced. “I have never shared this with anyone else.” My eyes searched wonderingly as he continued. “Relax, lover.” He reached up and pulled a long tassel that extended from the ceiling. The bed began to descend and he climbed in and covered my body with his. We kissed for what seemed like an eternity and the bed finally stopped its motion below ground.
“Welcome to my lair.” He clapped his hands and candle light filled the space. It was as beautiful as the upper chamber and my eyes misted.
He walked me over to a throne-like chair and sat me down. The huge chair swallowed me. I heard an “Okay” from the Viking who was kneeling before me. Sexy voice was gone and I was seeing him without pretence. He looked so innocent now. I saw no trace of the killer I knew or Mr. Romance. It was like I was seeing him for the first time. His mannerism was so human-like. Fearing defeat and trying to look confident he held my hand in his, kissing my fingers.
“Anything, but that baby,” I whined, fearing his question. My cousin Hadley had become a vampire and it didn’t save her. I appreciated all that he had shown me and done for me but I was in over my head. Besides, I had told him before, this was non-negotiable. There were too many secrets hidden in my mind that I wasn’t ready to divulge. “There are so many things I need to tell . . .”
“You were, simply a conquest,” he said interrupting me. “I enjoyed making Bill jealous. I was only going to toy with you but then your gift intrigued me, not to mention your alluring fairy blood.” I wanted to interject. He seriously didn’t know how to get on my good side. He placed one cool finger over my lips and silenced me. “In my thousand-plus years of existence, no one has cared for a soulless creature like me. You took me in when I didn’t even know who I was and kept me safe. From that moment on, I was completely 'sprung.' I believe is the phrase they use today. I started looking for reasons to be near you but unable to admit that I was enthralled with a human. Your rejection incensed me. I became so obsessed that draining you was the only way to end my torment and shame. Once I tasted your blood, I knew that I could not destroy such a creature. Now I am your Renfield, helpless to refuse your will.” His declaration had me from the beginning. If he put those words to music I’d be the first to throw my panties on the stage.
“Sookie, you are my first true love,” he said. No matter how ridiculous this sounded to me, considering all the women he had, I could not laugh. “In my human life, I married out of tradition and for convenience.” He paused and I could feel his mind going back in time. “As a vampire, I mated for companionship, but not for love.” He attempted to create the strong proud facial expression that exuded confidence but failed miserably. He just looked nervous.
He stood and walked over to a door and pulled out two silky robes. I stuck my arm out for the sleeve and noticed something I had never seen on him before. I sat back in amazement while my hands reached forward to touch the tiny imperfections of his torso and then on his thighs. Sickle-like scars were all over him. They were faint fairy bites. “Where did . . .” I started to ask. They looked so familiar. I snatched my robe open and looked down. His scars were identical to mine, same placement and size. Vampires don’t get scars. “You felt it when they tortured me?” I asked almost zombie-like.
“The bond is harder on the vampire.” He winced and if he could still feel the pain of the wounds. “I knew the moment they nicked your flesh.” He rested in the matching chair beside me. He looked so lost that I quickly moved to join him and sat on his lap. Strong arms pulled me in automatically. “I would have suffered more had Bill not intervened by feeding you his blood to heal you.” He spat the words. The muscle worked in his jaw line. He was upset with Bill for saving him? I didn’t get it, at first. “One moment, I was writhing in pain. I could hear your screams and feel the pain of every bite, every cut. The only thing that saved my sanity is that I still knew that you were alive and I could track you through our bond. The next moment there was only darkness.” The words broke apart and trailed off.
I didn’t know what to say or think. “Does this mean that our bond is gone?” I asked in disbelief. At one time I loathed the control the bond had over my emotions. In time, I learned to depend on it to steady me. I knew that it was weak, but broken?
“As a younger vampire, Bill’s blood alone could not sever the tie. My debilitating immediate response of pain and an uncontrollable urge to re-unite was rather inconvenient. It happened right in front of my new boss and his entourage, who were convinced that I had gone mad.”
“Uh, yeah. About Felipe” I started to say but thought better of it. Clearly Eric and Pam had different opinions about the new King of Louisiana. If Eric knew about my dreams there would be blood tonight. Who’s blood was the question?
Then Eric spoke with a faint voice as if his words hurt him to his very core. “The final nail in the coffin was when Bill fed from you. It felt like a stake through the heart. Then it was time for you to react.”
Incredulity washed over me as I played back the events of that dreadful day. I faintly remember Bill feeding me when he rescued me. “I would have let him rot!” were Eric’s exact words when he finally got to my side a whole evening later. He was furious at Bill and now I know why. I remember Bill nipping my wrist in the back of the van and Eric’s stare burning into me. I will never forget my complete mental collapse, thereafter. I remember Eric’s scolding words when we left Bill before heading home and I remember Eric’s soothing words to me.
“You knew?” I asked him in a quiet voice.
“Yes,” he whispered.
“Is insatiable lust part of my reaction? Hallucinations and vivid dreams? Paranoia?”
“Yes. All of the above and then some,” he said with a light chuckle. “Some of your mental problems may be psycho-somatic. I am no psychologist but I think your dreams were triggered by your traumatic ordeal and Pam’s inappropriate warning.” He didn’t like what Pam had said to me about Felipe, I gathered. Pam had let the cat out the bag about my dreams, too.
“Don’t be upset with Pam,” he said as if reading my mind. “Pam is my creature. She would never keep secrets from her sire.”
“Will you be okay?”
“Can we re-bond?” I didn’t know what to call it.
“Yes,” he said, regretfully. “Renewing the bond is likely to put you on a permanent Eric lock-down, which I will enjoy very much.” He revealed a toothy smile. “You, not so much. It may even trigger something more.”
“Does the something more include Fangs?” I asked.
We sat there for a long quiet moment. I thought about what a broken bloodbond meant. “I can still feel you, a little.”
“Cause I got it like that,” he joked and then turned dead serious, speaking clearly and distinctly. “I do not need a bloodbond to know that you are mine.” Contractions down, accent up. “I do not need to search another thousand years to know that I will never find another who can make a dead heart feel love.” He flicked a quick, cool yet scorching tongue across my lips and I caught myself just before I unconsciously nipped his in response. I whimpered, laying my head on his hard chest. His mouth dipped to my neck and nuzzled longingly. “I do not need to taste your sweetness to know that another will never sate me.”
I tilted my head back when I felt his fangs on my flesh. At that moment, I wanted desperately to be with him for all eternity. My blood wanted the bond back and called to its master in a heated rush through my veins. I clung to him hoping to see the ruthless Eric who tricked me into sucking a bullet out of his arm to get his blood in me. Let me feel the mischievous Eric that slipped in my window to snuggle, slipped talented hands in so many other places and invaded my mind, body and my soul. Where o’ where was the cunning Eric who vamp-married me without my consent? That Eric needed to get here quick fast and in a hurry and strike before I had a chance to come to my senses.
He didn’t bite. He wouldn’t bite.
“Sookie yielded to me!” he whispered into my neck sounding breathless and surprised. “Unfortunately,” he said dryly, “Your death would so ruin the bouquet of your rich Fae blood.”
“Huh?” I said. My head was still reeling. He maneuvered my body to sit next to him in the chair and sandwiched my face in between his big hands.
“Sweet Sookie. This night I wanted to reveal my most private self to my lover. I needed to establish that what is left of my existence belongs to you, If you will have me.” He caressed my hand, smiling up at me with his eyes. “I liked it so I put a ring on it!” He turned my hand back and forth like in the music video.
Vampires can be so melodramatic. “Eric! ‘Will you marry me!’ would have sufficed.”
“Yes, I will,” he said too quickly and we had a laugh. “Seriously, Sookie Adele Stackhouse, will you do me the honor of joining me till death us do part?”
He slowly pulled back and the Viking and Sheriff, who just so happened to be a vampire, disappeared and bared the young man on his knees wishing with everything that his love would say . . .
“Yield to me, Lover,” I whispered close to his ear. He took that as a resounding hell yeah! and the candles around us blew out in a huff.
I won’t divulge the monotonous details of our “Coming Together.” Let’s just say that those oversized chairs inspired a new chapter of our story.