Hearing the construction continue, she headed downstairs in her robe with Thor padding after her to find Bobby standing in the entryway overseeing the work of two workmen who were making her a new door. She was annoyed they'd started without waking her, but glad it was getting done. She was also happy that today would be the last day the security team worked on her house and Eric was supposed to show her how to work it tomorrow night.
Mark and Allan were sitting in the living room watching TV and she waved at them before nodding towards the kitchen. As usual Bobby denied any request to join them for breakfast. Tara had spent the night at Eggs so it was just her and her Weres for breakfast. As her bottom still hurt she tried to act nonchalant as she stood by the counter to eat her breakfast burrito while she waited for her Ibuprofen to kick in. She knew that Tara spent so much time at Eggs because her friend was weary of bringing him back over after everything that had happened with Maryann. Tara didn't want to offend her or make her feel crowded, but that simply wasn't the case. This was Tara's home now as well and Sookie reminded herself to talk to Tara about it and tell her that Eggs was more than welcome to spend the night if her friend wanted him to.
After breakfast Sookie got dressed to begin her work day at Merlotte's and headed in a little early so she could finish the books. She was leery about her date with Eric tonight, and hated the fact that she had to take him at all. Of course he'd been right when he pointed out that he hadn't broken his end of their bargain, and therefore she had to uphold her end. But that didn't mean she had to be happy about it. She comforted herself with the fact that she would have been spending the night with him anyways since he'd made it clear the nights Fangtasia was closed they would be going out on dates. At least this way she could try to control their interactions. She was finishing up the books, shifting in her seat since it was hard for her to get comfortable because of her sore bottom, as Merlotte's opened when the office phone rang.
"Merlotte's…Sookie Stackhouse speaking."
"Sam! Oh my gosh! I haven't heard from you in almost two weeks! Are you ok?"
"I know … I'm sorry about that Sook … I've been really busy. I'm fine and I wanted to let you know that I'll be back in a couple of days."
Smiling Sookie sat back in her chair and replied, "That's great Sam! I've missed you so much! You're job is a lot harder than I ever imagined."
"Ah Sookie…I hated having to dump all that on you like I did, but I had some personal business that I had to take care of … I really appreciate you doing this for me. I promise to make it up to you."
"Oh Sam you don't need to do that. You're one of my best friends, and I was glad to help. So … uh … care to tell me why you took off like you did?"
Sam was silent for a moment before he replied, "We'll talk about it when I get back. I just wanted to call and let you know I'll be back in a few days. Wednesday by the latest."
"Ok Sam I'll let everyone know. I can't wait for you to get back."
"Me neither Sook. I'll see you soon."
After hanging up with him Sookie smiled at Thor and said, "You know who that was puppy?" When he tilted his head at her and yipped she laughed, "That was Sam and he's coming home; no more books for me!"
Laughing she stood and made her way to the front. Smiling at everybody in the front she announced, "I just got off the phone with Sam and he said he'll be back in a couple of days. Wednesday by the latest."
Since it was Sunday and they were only open until 10 all the staff were there and everybody exclaimed how happy they were Sam would be back. Sookie was just turning to motion for Lafayette to join her in the back office so she could speak to him when Arlene's voice stopped her.
"That's good to hear. Maybe some people won't be walking around with their noses in the air like they own the place."
It was only a little after opening so there were only four customers, but Tara, Eggs, Lafayette, Terry (who had split with Arlene soon after the fiasco with Maryann), Holly, and her Were guards Mark and Allan were there. Turning to face the red head who was quickly allowing her spite to overcome her common sense Sookie replied, "If you have something you want to say to me Arlene have the guts to say it. Because I'm getting tired of veiled insults from you. So just come right out and say whatever it is you have to say."
"Sook…." Putting her hand up to stop Tara's interference Sookie shook her head and said, "Come on Arlene … let me have it."
Arlene looked around and saw everyone looking at her before finally setting her hands on her hips and replying, "You want to hear what I have to say? Fine…Let's start with the fact you've swept in here and taken over Merlotte's like you own the place. You hired Eggs and the new girl without anyone's opinion. You allowed those girls from that vamp bar to work here so you could take off; without telling anyone you were leaving, by the way. You come and go around here like you have the right to just because Sam was in a tough spot and didn't have time to find anyone better to look after the place. You've been walking around like your shit don't stink ever since that blonde vamper has started sniffing after you!"
"Now wait just a damn minute! Where do you get off—"
"Tara, let her speak," Sookie said before waving her hand at Arlene and saying, "Continue."
On a roll now Arlene added, "Everyone knows you're not right Sookie. I've been kind enough to put up with what's wrong with you over the years because you knew not to stick out, but now that you've got that damn dead giant making the moves on you you've been walking around like you're better than everybody else. It's shameful the way you're carrying on with him while your boyfriend is out of town. You're let him buy you a fancy car, and diamonds and all kinds of stuff…you say they're gifts, but come on! No one believes that. No man, dead or not, gives a woman gifts like that without getting something in return. All these years you've acted like you're a good Christian woman and the moment a man with money throws a little your way you toss all your morals to the wind and hike your skirts for him. What would your Gran say!"
Sookie looked all around and asked, "Is that what you all think? Don't lie…as Arlene so bluntly pointed out I'm not right so you know I'll know."
Dipping inside their heads she found that only Lafayette, Tara, Eggs (though he was still skeptical and it was only Tara's assurances that had him siding with her), and Holly that didn't think poorly of her. And of course the Weres since they knew she wasn't sleeping with Eric by her scent. Nodding her head Sookie replied, "Well I know where I stand with each of you."
Facing Arlene Sookie continued, "Now to address you accusations … First, Sam didn't call me because he didn't have time to find anyone else. If that were the case he wouldn't have offered to stay a few more days to help me with a problem I was having if I wanted him to. So obviously he could have looked for someone else if I wasn't his real choice. He asked me to look after the bar because he trusted me to do so. Sam thinks enough of me to leave his livelihood for me to look after, and there's not a damn thing you can say or do about that. Second, I hired Eggs and Chris because I felt they were perfect for the job. I know Eggs, and again since I'm not right my opinion of him is not only enough to get him a job here, but keep it when Sam returns because Sam will know I was right about taking him on. I didn't ask your opinion about hiring Chris Arlene because frankly it was none of your business. I'm the acting boss of this establishment while Sam is gone so those choices are mine to make. I don't come and go as I please. I come in, take care of my responsibilities, and leave when I have to see to others. I always make sure the shifts are covered and even had those vamp waitresses cover yours for two days so you could take off and have some time to yourself. Paid days off by the way, and they even gave you their tips."
When Arlene started to say something she said, "Be quiet! You said your piece and now I'm going to say mine. Now as to me taking off for those days? Well I'm sorry I passed out from exhaustion and minor malnutrition since I've been getting here at 8 am and working almost all day and most nights, and the nights I'm not working here I'm taking care of my new job at Fangtasia. I'm sorry I fainted and cracked my head open on the bar and had to go to the hospital. There's nothing I can do about it. I don't like having to work so many night at Fangtasia only to get home around 2 or 3, getting 5 hours of sleep and waking up to start my day all over again. But I made a deal to do so in order to get a friend out of trouble, so yes, I'm shuffling things around in order to take care of my responsibilities here to Sam, and my new ones. If you really have a problem with that you can take it up with Sam when he gets back. We'll just have to see what he says."
Taking another step towards Arlene so they were only a few feet apart Sookie pressed on. "As for my lack of morals? Who the hell do you think you are to judge me? I don't lie Arlene and I've told you that I'm not sleeping with Eric. I'll admit he's pursuing me, but there's nothing I can do about that. As for the gifts? Again that was a deal I made. While it's none of your business I'll tell you what that was. Jessica, you know her she's Bill's child, needed some looking after while he's out of town. Eric agreed to do so but only if I let him give me gifts. I thought it was a small price to pay since she has no one else, and I'm obviously not equipped to look after a newborn vampire. When I made the deal I never imagined he'd be doing things like he is, but I'm not going to go back on our arrangement and have Jessica suffer. He agreed to stop giving me things as soon as Bill gets back, so I made the deal to help Jessica. Whether you believe me or not I really don't give a damn."
Another step closer. "Now I can say with absolute certainty and honesty that I have only ever slept with one man, and that was Bill Compton as everyone knows. Can you say you've only been with one man? I don't know where you get the gall to try and shame me for my sex life, but you will never do it again. Even if I do decide to get into a relationship with Eric it is none of your damn business! Now I've put up with your vicious and jealous thoughts lately, but don't you dare throw out accusations about my moral character ever again. You have the right to your thoughts, but you had better watch what comes out of your mouth! Now get back to work and don't speak to me again until you learn some damn manners!"
Arlene's mouth had dropped open in shock and she looked around wildly but no one would meet her gaze. Releasing a huff she spun around to check on her one table that had customers.
Sookie watched her go before saying, "And Arlene?" When the red head turned around to glare at her she added, "I'm glad to know you've only pretended to be my friend all these years, and in fact never really liked me. I'm glad to know that you pretended to be my friend so that when you asked me to babysit your kids I'd do it for free since I knew how strapped for cash you are. I'm glad to know you pretended to be my friend so I'd cover your shifts at the last minute so you could go out on a date with some new guy. I'm glad to know you pretended to be my friend so that I'd dip inside the heads of guys you were dating to find out if they were cheating on you. I'm glad to know all these years you've only pretended to be my friend in order to get things out of me. It's nice to know how shallow, petty, and underhanded you really are, and I'm glad to know exactly where we stand with each other. I won't forget the truths you've shown me today."
When Arlene gasped in outrage Sookie turned to look at Lafayette and said, "I need to talk to you in Sam's office." She didn't look back as she headed down the hall.
Lafayette, who had been getting drink from the bar when Sookie first came out, smiled after her. He took a sip of his drink and nodded at Tara and Eggs who looked as equally shocked as everybody in the bar and said, "Ohh eee! Sookie Sookie now! Back up y'all! Sookie's on fire! 'Bout time that girl said to hell with this town's small mindedness and embraced her inner freak!" Smirking at Arlene he adjusted his plaid skirt and headed back to the office.
When Sookie and Lafayette were gone Mark and Allan shared a smirk before clanking their mugs of Coke together and toasting, "Here, Here!"
Tara smiled at her friend's bodyguards before facing Arlene, who was still standing there in total shock, and asking, "You got anything else to say Arlene? No? Then I suggest you get back to work … and if you ever say shit like that to Sookie again, or I hear you talkin' bad about her to others, I'll kick the shit out of you."
Lafayette headed back to Sam's office and as he opened the door he said, "Damn Sook! That's the best shit I've seen in … oomph!" Suddenly his arms were full of a crying Sookie as she sobbed quietly into his chest. Kicking the door shut behind him he whispered, "Oh Sookie, don't go cryin' for that self righteous bitch. She had no right to say any of that to you and she's just jealous."
"H—how could she? Why … How could I not know she wasn't really my friend? How could I be so blind?"
Sookie's heart hurt inside her chest, and she couldn't believe that the woman she had helped so much over the years believing she was her friend, had in truth thought so little of her all along.
Stroking a hand down Sookie's back Lafayette said, "Sookie you didn't know because you've always done your best to stay out of people's heads. You knew Arlene didn't like it so you respected and cared enough for her not to do it. Just like with Rene she only showed you what she wanted to. Arlene's always been selfish and narrow minded. You know this Sook. You just overlooked it because you're so forgiving. Arlene takes advantage of people. She might play nice with me here in the bar, but you think she talks to me outside of work? Nah … she doesn't want people thinking she's really good friends with a fag."
"Don't call yourself that!"
Taking Sookie's cheeks in his hands Lafayette said, "Sook you got to listen to me girl…people aren't like you. They hate anything that isn't just like them. If you don't fit in their perfect cookie cutter mold then in their minds there's something wrong with you. You and I are different and people are going to hate us for it. You've got to stop caring so much about people liking you. You say it doesn't bother you, and you try to put on a good show, but deep down you're still that little girl left alone on the playground wanting desperately for others to accept you. Hold tight to those that don't judge you Sookie … and fuck everyone else."
Tears still slipping down her cheeks Sookie whispered, "You sound like Eric."
Grimacing at that Lafayette said, "Normally I'd rather cut my own balls off than agree with that ass, but in this instance he's right…you're a true person Sook. A good person … and there aren't many out there like you … hold your head high girl and don't let any of those fools get you down."
Smiling up at him Sookie replied, "I'll work on that … now I want to talk to you about your deal with Eric."
"He's not letting me out is he?" Lafayette asked in a soft voice.
"No! No! I was going to tell you you're done. Pam won't be coming to see you anymore and you're done from this point forward."
Eyes widening Lafayette gasped, "For real?"
"Yep. That guy last night was perfect and Eric released you … we're never to talk about it again."
Understanding what she was saying Lafayette was quiet a moment before he asked, "So what was up with Eric last night? He looked really mad? What happened after he took you out of there?"
Face flaming in embarrassment as she remembered how Eric had spanked her Sookie said, "We're not talking about that! Time to get back to work!"
Lafayette arched a brow as Sookie jerked the door open and rushed past him and he thought, 'I guess a whole lot happened when they left. From that blush I guess it was a little naughty as well.'
"Stop thinking about it Lafayette! It was nothing like that!"
Smiling at Sookie's words Lafayette shook his head and headed back into the bar. "Ah Sookie! Now I definitely want to know!" He followed after her determined to tease her over this. She was obviously embarrassed over whatever had happened after Eric dragged her off last night.
The rest of the day passed quickly and Sookie only took a short break to email Eric to dress casually. She'd spent the three days after making her deal with Eric to take him on a date arranging their night out. Of course, after last night she was sorely tempted to take him to Chucky Cheese and torture him, but she'd given her word and she couldn't go back on it. Not to mention she'd already made all the arrangements for tonight and paid for everything out of her own savings. She'd made sure to draw the cash out of her account and pay in cash so that Eric wouldn't know what she had planned.
At a little after 6 she left for home with her guards. Eric had told her they would follow her to Fangtasia before going home and her night guards would be in the woods when he escorted her home. He'd ride with her and then fly back to Fangtasia to get his car.
With that in mind she took a quick shower, blow dried her hair, pulled it up in a pony tail, brushed her teeth, slipped on a pair of pants, a t-shirt with her high school's team logo on it, and put on her tennis shoes, and after putting on a little lip gloss she was ready to go. She knew the sun set a little after 8, and since she'd gotten ready so fast and eaten dinner at Merlotte's before coming home if she left now she'd make it to Fangtasia right as the sun set. She set u Thor with her work shirt and plenty of water and toys, grabbed the gift she'd gotten to give Eric since he always gave her something on their dates, and she was out the door.
An hour and a half later she pulled into Fangtasia and saw Eric leaning against his Corvette waiting for her. Mark and Allan honked at her before driving off to go home. Getting out of the car she said, "Sorry I'm late. There was an accident on the highway and I got held up."
Eric nodded his head and walked towards her. He was in tennis shoes, loose low rider jeans, and a black AC/DC vintage t-shirt. "I figured you were held up. I heard on the radio about the accident. Are you ready?"
"Yeah … let's go." When they were back inside her car, Sookie using all of her restraint to keep from grimacing as she sat down, she reached behind the passenger seat to pull out her gift and handed to Eric with an inelegant, "Here. This is for you."
'I just took two more Ibuprofen…when the heck are they going to kick in?'
Taking the gift Eric couldn't help but laugh as Sookie pulled out of the parking lot. Turning the cactus around in his hands he replied, "Thank you….you're too kind." He was thoroughly amused with Sookie's petulance, not to mention the tenderness he felt form her through the bond. He could see the bottle of Ibuprofen in her purse, and he knew it wasn't doing much to relieve the soreness in her bottom.
'How delicious. I bet she's wishing she'd had some of my blood last night. I bet she wished for it every time she had to sit down today. It must kill her to act like her bottom isn't hurting her.'
"So how was your day today Sookie?"
Eric reached back to place the cactus on the floor behind his seat as he regarded her. He'd known she would be unbelievably upset about his actions last night, and that it would take some time for him to get back in her good graces. Frankly, as soon as he'd left her last night he'd cursed himself for his rash actions. He'd been making such headway with Sookie. He was trying to keep her off balance and play with her emotions so that she was more susceptible to him; knowing that as long as she didn't have time to really think, and if he kept her off balance eventually her logic would give way to her feelings and she'd succumb to her lust for him. However he had never intended to push her as far as he had. But what's done is done, and there was no going back. He was playing a tricky game of riling her then soothing her, but last night he'd really angered her and he knew damage control wouldn't be easy.
With this in mind he said, "Sookie tonight will be horrible for us both if you insist on ignoring me and making things uncomfortable."
Sookie continued to ignore him.
'He's got some nerve trying to act like we can just pick back up like nothing's wrong. He put his hands on me. He touched me. He had no right to do that. Especially since I told him to stop! Who the hell does he think he is to just order me around like this? I'm so tired of him interfering in my life. If I didn't need him to get Bill back I'd tell him what he can do with his rules..and just where to shove them! As soon as Bill gets back I'm going to find a way to get Eric out of my life for good!'
"Sookie, do you really want to spend the night ignoring me in strained silence? Is it too much to ask for you to at least make the best of the situation?" He sent soothing waves of calm to her.
"I made a deal to take you out. I didn't promise to enjoy being with you. You crossed the line last night Eric, and I won't forgive you for it."
Amused by her anger Eric merely replied, "You will." More soothing waves. He had to keep his interference small because he couldn't afford for her to figure out he could affect her emotions. If he simply forced her to calm, and he could if he chose, she would know something was wrong and he had more power over her from his blood than he'd told her.
They spent the rest of the ride in silence as Eric continued to trickle calm and acceptance into the bond to counter her negative emotions. Sookie was trying not to let embarrassment take her, and strangely having to work harder and harder to hold onto her anger. While it was killing her to have to sit next to Eric, knowing last night he had literally hauled her over his knee kicking and screaming and spanked her like a little girl, she found she was actually battling the need to let go and strike up a conversation with him. She didn't understand how she could be so angry and furious with him during the day, but the minute she was with him all she felt was calm and relaxed. Not to mention lust. She really hated the fact that despite how unbelievably pissed she was at him for what he'd done to her she was still attracted to him. Every time she was around him her body heated up, and she hated it!
'He spanked me, for cripes sake! He manhandled me in ways no one ever has and told me he'd do it again if he thought it was necessary! How is it my anger is actually abating right now? The sight of him should be pissing me off and reminding me of what he did to me last night!'
What was worse was she knew that he could do it at any time. Not only could she not physically stop Eric from doing what he did, but now she couldn't even rescind his invitation. 'Which is another thing … how the hell did he do that? Why couldn't I force him out? I know he was just as surprised as me, but with the way he accepted how it happened tells me he's got some suspicions. Damn! Why is everything with him so confusing! I feel like I'm always walking a tightrope with him.'
For his part Eric could feel all of Sookie's emotions through their bond. He could tell that Sookie was embarrassed and angry, and he could tell that despite this she was still every bit as attracted to him as she was before he'd spanked her. It was all he could do to hold his smirk in. He enjoyed the feel of her anger, and knew it wouldn't be a permanent thing. Throughout the night he would slowly send waves of calm and acceptance to her through the bond like he was now in order to bring her back from her fury. By the time the night was done she would still be upset with him in her head, but she would have enjoyed their evening together as he was determined to do. He might not be able to affect her thoughts, but with his hold on her through the bond he could affect her emotions. Sookie had already proven to be controlled by her heart. It's what got her into trouble with him in the first place.
Fifteen minutes later Sookie pulled up to their first stop; it was a store in a strip mall. Eric looked at the name on the building and asked, "What is Color me Mine?"
Smirking Sookie grabbed her purse and said, "You'll see … let's go Viking."
Once inside Eric looked around at all the parents and children and a few couples. There were about ten tables scattered around the floor and spread out so people could work on them. The walls were all shelves with bare ceramic pieces of every kind, paints, glazes and stencils. Eric watched as a woman wearing an apron with the store's logo on it come over to him. The girl eyed him hungrily and he stepped closer to Sookie to show he wasn't interested. He wanted to get back on Sookie's good side a woman paying him special attention would only incite Sookie's jealousy. He enjoyed that emotion from her, but he needed to undo the damage he'd done last night before he could bask in her jealousy of other women interested in him.
"Hello…welcome to Color me Mine … how can I help you?"
Sookie smiled and forced herself not to be upset at the woman's attention to Eric and said, "I'm Sookie Stackhouse … I called earlier in the week?"
"Oh yes…we have a table reserved for you and Mister?"
Setting a hand on Sookie's shoulder Eric replied, "Northman … Eric Northman." He was pleased by the girl's reaction.
Eyes widening the girl gasped, "Oh! Y—you're him! You're the guy from Fangtasia! I saw you last year when my friends and I went there for a bachelorette party."
Before the girl could go any farther Sookie cleared her throat and said, "I believe we have a table reserved?"
The girl gave Sookie a jealous glare before nodding and turning to lead them to their table. "This table is yours … just pick out whatever pieces you want. Tell me what colors you'd like them to be and I'll get your paint and glaze, and if you don't want to design them free hand then we have a selection of stencils. When you're done leave your pieces on the table and call me over and I'll take them to be fired. It takes about 45 minutes." With that she gave Eric one last lingering glare before leaving to check on other customers.
Sookie rolled her eyes at the girl's actions and faced Eric who stood behind her with his hands clasped behind his back. "Ok…so what do you want?" When he eyed her hungrily she sighed, "Eric … not that … you're supposed to pick one of the ceramic pieces off the wall and decorate it."
Looking around Eric replied, "What are you going to pick?"
Sookie let her eyes scan the walls before pointing to a piece and saying, "I'm going to paint that vase … so what are you going to pick."
Still perusing the walls Eric finally nodded to an object behind her. "I'll paint that plate."
Looking over her shoulder Sookie saw a large square plate that could probably be used as a center piece for a coffee table instead of an actual plate due to its size. "Ok … go pick it up off the wall and bring it to the table. I'll get my vase. Think about how you want to design it so we can tell the girl what kinds of paints and glazes over."
Eric moved to do as Sookie said and thought, 'This is her idea of a fun date? She is such a strange thing.' A few minutes later after he told Sookie the colors he would need she waved the girl over, and he watched in amusement as the girl stared at him the whole time and Sookie finally snapped her fingers in the girl's face and in a clipped tone requested the colors they wanted.
After their paints and glazes were delivered and set up by the girl before she left them to their work when he made a point of not looking at her he and Sookie sat down to begin their work. Eric drew the rough design of his Mjolnir in the center of the plate and then all along the raised edges he drew Odin's horn over and over to cover the rim of the plate. When he was finished the horns would be in black along with the Mjonir, and the plate itself would be in a deep crimson. "You enjoy things like this?"
Nodding her head Sookie began drawing stars, star bursts, and shooting stars all along the surface of her vase. Her star design would be in sparkling silver and the vase would be in a midnight blue. "Yeah … it's not a grand ball or anything…but it's nice. You get to make something and take it home."
Eric smirked at her and said, "Tell me of your best date."
"We have a deal Sookie."
"Well as long as I don't ask you then I don't have to tell you. You've made it quite clear that you see me as nothing more than an object, and I no longer have any interest in attempting to be friends with you. I'm going to do what I have to do to get Bill back and then I'm going to wash my hands of you."
He didn't like hearing that. He knew her leaving him was impossible of course, but he still didn't like Sookie telling him she wanted to leave him. Sending more calm through the bond Eric was silent a moment to see if Sookie would relent. However her will power overrode his power of the bond. He resisted the urge to send more calm as he was pushing it already and offered, "If you stop being so difficult and simply speak with me, if you continue with our bargain, I'll tell of Godric's tattoos."
Sookie stopped working on her vase and turned to look at him as she thought about his offer. She had absolutely no intention of taking him up on it as she would never be so low as to use Godric against him.
'But perhaps I can use this to my advantage. He is always making deals with me to get me into the position he wants. Maybe I should try to do the same thing.'
With that idea in mind she said softly, "I'm not going to use him against you Eric, your memories of him are not a reward for anyone. I would never force you to speak of him, and I'd never let you barter your memories of him like this. No matter how angry I am. I want to hear them, and I definitely want to hear about what he was like, but not like this … I'll offer you another deal instead."
Once again he was awed by her. Her sense of honor was greater than any he'd ever known. He wished his Maker had been able to know her longer. Nodding his head he said, "Tell me your offer."
"Well I'm going to be working five nights a week at Fangtasia, and the other two nights you're insisting on being date nights right?"
"Then you promise I only have to give you blood and take yours three times a week, and I'll speak freely tonight and not use the silent treatment against you."
Smirking at her cleverness Eric replied, "Agreed … now tell me of your best date."
Hating to admit it, but refusing to lie Sookie said, "You were there."
Still drawing his Mjolnir Eric asked, "What about other dates? Have you not have good ones?"
"Not really. Because of my hand…uh gift…it wasn't easy to date. Being able to hear the thoughts of the guys who took me out showed me how gross and crude they really were. And Bill and I actually went on very few dates … and it seemed like every time we did go out something went wrong. So what about you? What have your dates been like?"
"You should know … you were there."
Looking at him in surprise she said, "You really expect me to believe that I'm the only girl you've ever been on a date with? In all your long years you've never been out with women?"
"That's not what I said … I said I've only been on dates with you. I've taken women out before, but it was never about getting to know them. Which is what dating is I was led to believe. I took them out simply to enjoy them because I would never bring my entertainment to my resting place. They were objects to me. I took them wherever I was going so they would be handy, and if they bored me I tossed them aside."
"How can you not date? What do you do then?"
Arching a brow at her surprise Eric replied, "I do what you've probably done since you didn't date. I simply go out and do what I wish to do and take a worthy companion if I do not wish to go alone."
They were both finished drawing by now and were starting to paint as Sookie asked, "So when you go out who do you go with? What do you do?"
"I go with Pam. We do whatever we wish. We go to movies. She takes me to art shows. I take her to music shows ... I'm particularly fond of Jazz. We do what most humans do together."
Clearly amazed Sookie pressed, "So…you guys are friends?"
"That is too tame a word. Pam is my child. I am her Maker. Friend does not even begin to describe what is between us."
Sookie was silent a moment and said, "You and her are different than other Makers and children aren't you? Just like you and Godric were different."
Nodding his head Eric replied, "Yes. We are." Pleased that she was asking about his Maker/Child relationship with Pam as he would one day be her Maker as well, and since all the other people were far enough away they wouldn't be overheard, Eric continued, "Much like Lorena is with Bill most Makers see their children as property. Godric taught me a different way and I've held true to that in my teaching of Pam. Fear and resentment do not stand the test of time. Respect and loyalty do. As immortals it is important to have connections in the world so our minds are not lost to time. It is why Vampires make children. If a Maker treats their child poorly then the connection is ill made, and ultimately more a danger than a comfort. Pam is not a simple possession to me. She is mine, but she is my child. There is meaning in that."
"If she's not a possession why does she have to call you Master? Why does she have to do what you say? Why do you demand obedience?"
"My being her Master is not a bad thing, nor is her being obedient to me. You are trying to put human ideals and expectations on us and our relationship and it won't work."
Shaking her head as she finished painting her vase blue and began to highlight her stars Sookie said, "I don't understand."
Also finished with his base coat and ready to paint his symbols Eric replied, "Pam calls me Master because I am. I am her Maker. I am her Father, her Brother, and her Son. Just as Godric was to me. I protect her. I care for her when she cannot care for herself. Just as she cares for me when she can in ways I would not care for myself."
"Pam often buys me clothes or things she thinks I will like just as I do her. I have made it known that any who would harm her, no matter if she is at my side and serving me or not, will face my wrath. I inspected her home, made, and paid for all the security measures it has. She is my Child and I will protect her until I am no more. Likewise I am her Maker and she will serve me until I send her from my side or she is no more. She does not serve me because she has to, but because she wishes to … just as I protect her because it is my wish she remain safe."
Sookie thought that over before saying, "I still think it sucks that she has to obey you."
"Sookie I am not like other Makers. While Pam is bound to obey me as my Child, I do not use her as a tool. I respect her and never treat her as a slave. The demands I make of her I make only because they are necessary. She obeys without question because she knows I would never give her a frivolous command simply to exert my control over her. And the few times she does balk at an order it is out of sheer laziness and not a genuine desire not to obey."
Laughing she replied, "Yeah, Pam told me that."
Arching a brow Eric asked, "You spoke to Pam of me and our relationship?"
"Yep. I asked her if it wasn't annoying to have to do everything you say and she told me practically the same thing. But she still has to obey right? If you gave her an order and she didn't want to follow it that wouldn't matter."
Shaking his head Eric replied, "No…children can disobey, as you saw Bill do, but as their Maker's blood flows through them their Maker is capable of forcing their compliance. It is painful for a Maker to truly exert control this way. I have never done it to Pam and never would. If she ever truly disobeyed me I would know she had a good reason to do so, and if she did not I would simply meet out an appropriate punishment. Even if I did not agree with her reasons I would respect her decision."
"I don't get it."
'You will.' Shrugging his shoulders Eric replied, "I told you that the relationship between Makers and their Children is complex and unbelievably strong in Dallas. It is even more so for Vampires like myself, Godric and Pam. Pam is not bound to me simply by my blood in her. She is bound to me from over two centuries of my care of her. I made her. I held her in the ground as she became Vampire. I dug her from the earth with my own two hands as she rose when most Vampires simply wait for their children to come to them. I instruct her on all I know about survival so that she will never fall in battle. I protect her. I teach her to stand strong on her own. I do all for her that Godric did for me. One day she will leave my side yes. But even if we do not see each other for centuries afterwards she would come at a moment's notice to give me aid if the need arose. Just as I did for Godric. When the relationship between Maker and Child is built on respect and loyalty there is no breaking it."
Finishing up painting her vase Sookie said, "But there is no choice. Pam has to defer to you. You give her orders and do not ask her opinion. Just like in Dallas Godric gave you an order you didn't like but you had to obey it. Relationships are supposed to be give and take. You and Pam have no equality, and you never will."
"You're right. Pam will never be my equal…but she would not wish to be. Just as I never sought to be Godric's equal. I followed Godric's orders because not only was my loyalty to him absolute, but my trust in him as well. I knew he would never tell me to do wrong. I trusted his guidance. I give orders to Pam because it is my responsibility to do so. As her Maker it is my responsibility to guide her. As my child she must obey me, but she chooses to obey without complaint because she knows I would never lead her astray or abuse our bond. Thus she calls me Master in honor. It is a privilege to her, and one she relishes."
Seeing Eric finish with his plate Sookie shook her head and said, "I still don't get it. The idea of being completely beneath someone boggles my mind. The idea of calling someone Master, recognizing them as being my Master, and being happy about it is beyond me. I just can't imagine it."
Setting his plate in front of him beside Sookie's as they were both done Eric replied, "That is because you relate the title Master with your American ideas of slavery. Having a good Master and Maker is not a bad thing. Tell me Sookie … would you not like to have someone in your life that you could turn to at any time? Would you not like to have someone in life that would drop everything and come to you if you were in trouble and defend you against all odds? Would you not like to have someone who was stronger and wiser than you who you knew would be able to guide you through difficult situations? Someone you could lean on until you were strong enough to stand on your own?"
When Sookie remained quiet and he felt her inner turmoil Eric continued, "Pam does not call me Master in servitude. Nor did I call Godric Master with such meaning. Pam calls me Master with affection, respect and loyalty. I am the foundation for everything she is and will ever be or do. She stands on my shoulders to take on the world…just as I stood on Godric's. My responsibilities to her are far greater than hers to me. Pam is only required to follow my commands when I give them. I am charged with teaching her, guiding her, and ensuring she is ready to one day go out into the world on her own. I am responsible for everything she ever does in life because she is my Child. I am her Master. There is no shame or negativity in either of our roles."
"Wow … I uh … I never thought of it that way. I hear Master and I …."
"Think of slavery. It is understandable. And many Makers truly are slave Masters. I am not. Godric did not teach me to be that kind of Vampire, and I have carried on his teachings in Pam. I am a true Master, and that is why Pam calls me such with nothing but loyalty and affection. Try to look beyond your human upbringing to what is truly there Sookie. You will see far more of the world's secrets this way."
Smiling softy at Eric she nodded her head and said, "I'm going to go get the girl so she can fire these. The next place I'm taking you to is at the end of the strip mall and by the time we're done there our pieces will be ready and we can go to the next place I picked."
Eric waited as Sookie went to get the girl that had been helping them and thought, 'At least I have her thinking about what it means to be my child. I want her to know as her Master I would not be cruel. Of course I intend to have her as a pet for a few years to train her to be my perfect companion and then I will turn her. By then I will have no need to be cruel.'
He was pleased with how things were going. He'd not only got to address the topic of his ability and status of a Maker, but he'd been able to dim Sookie's anger considerably. Not only had his power to influence her through their bond helped, but he'd used her own curiosity against her as well. Sookie was very interested in him and his history. She'd never actually admit to that and claimed her curiosity was about the things he'd seen, but he knew that was a lie. Sookie was interested in him. Using that curiosity in conjunction with his influence over her through the bond and it was easy to manipulate her into the position he wanted her. Of course once she'd yielded to him he could simply open the bond fully and force her emotions to be what he wished instead of using the slow, subtle approach he was using now.
Sookie returned after paying for their pieces and telling the girl they were going to step out, but would be back in about an hour to collect their items. The girl glared at her for being with Eric, but Sookie ignored her. When she was done she collected Eric and led him out of the building. As he had told her their date had to last from sunset to 2am, she had been forced to come up with several things to do.
Most places besides bars weren't open that late, and she'd had to get creative. So instead of doing one thing like he'd planned with the carnival and ball, she had picked several smaller outings to fill their night. Leading Eric to the last shop on the strip she said, "You said you liked this show and when I found out they were located right by Color me Mine I figured it would be great to browse in here while we wait."
Looking at the Discovery Store, which was the official store chain for the Discovery Channel, Eric replied, "You remembered I like the Discovery Channel?"
"Well … yeah. Want to go inside?"
"Indeed." Eric smiled as he followed Sookie into the store. Looking around he saw art kits, science items, natural wonder items, books, techno toys, and all sorts of things he'd seen on the television when he watched the Discovery Channel. Over the next 30 minutes he and Sookie browsed around the store and he found himself intrigued by the display of a laser star projector set up in a darkened corner of the store where a laser star projector was located. The small machine allowed you to pick any part of the sky and display it on a darkened wall. Or you could set it to display on the entire room. 'I could turn it on and sleep under the stars during the day.' He didn't care about the price and picked up the box. As he made his way to the check out he found the box pulled out from under his arm and turned to face Sookie.
"I'll pay for it."
Shaking his head Eric replied, "It will be over 400 dollars."
Shrugging Sookie insisted, "You're paying me enough. This is my date. I pay. Now finish looking around. We have another 20 minutes to kill … and stop pouting."
Eric watched Sookie spin around and walk away from him and glared after her. 'Stubborn girl,' he thought in annoyance. Since she wasn't looking he took out his phone and sent Bobby a text to have $400 wired to Sookie's bank account tomorrow. He did pay her enough to be able to afford to pay for the projector, but he didn't like her spending her money when he had so much more of it. He continued to scan the store but didn't really see anything else that interested him enough to want it, and was ready to go when he saw Sookie looking at one of the motion 3D pictures on the wall. It was of spring running through a Japanese countryside with cherry blossom trees shining as the landscape. The picture was beautiful, and he saw Sookie eye it but as soon as she saw the price tag of $300 she walked off to look at something else. Heading to the front desk he quickly made arrangements to buy it and have it delivered to her house the next day before going to her side and asking, "Ready?"
Nodding her head Sookie put down the crystal she'd been looking at and said, "Yep. I just have to pay for this and then we can go."
After Sookie paid for his projector they left the store and headed back to Color me Mine. Eric again ignored the girl that was now outright leering at him while Sookie collected their wrapped items and they headed back to her car. When they had secured the packages in the back of Sookie's Mercedes and were seated again Eric asked, "Where to next?"
"You never tell me anything so I'm not going to tell you anything either. You'll find out when we get there."
"You are too cruel Sookie." He sent amusement to her to try and lighten her mood. It worked.
Smirking at him Sookie replied, "I'm pretty sure you've got that market cornered. I'm just trying to keep up. Now hush … I'm trying to remember the directions to get to this place."
"Why not use your navigator? After you program it all you have to do is type in the address and it will tell you how to get there."
Shrugging Sookie said, "I haven't had time to read any of the manuals to this thing. I know how to work the radio and that's about it."
"Sookie … you are such a waste of technology. How are you supposed to enjoy my gifts if you don't take the time to learn to use them?"
"Well you are more than welcome to just stop buying them for me."
Shaking his head Eric pulled out the manual and began programming Sookie's navigator and typing in all the necessary information. He was done by the time she pulled up to their next location and told her from now on all she had to do was type in the location she wanted to go to and her starting point and her car would direct her. Looking forward he smirked as he saw where she'd brought him next.
Opening her door Sookie asked, "You do know how don't you?"
Nodding his head Eric replied, "Of course. Thought it's been about ten years."
Ten minutes later Eric stepped out onto the ice rink with Sookie. She'd kept a jacket in her car for this reason, but of course as a vampire the cold didn't bother him. Besides his homeland could have put the chill in this facility to shame. He ignored the others around them as they all outright stared at him and Sookie and took her hand to lead her out into the middle of ice so they could skate. He was surprised at how graceful she was. Though apparently Sookie didn't stumble around like most humans. Grace seemed to come naturally to her and he wondered if it was an effect of her Fae blood?
Letting Eric take her hand as they began circling the rink with the other patrons, she'd lucked out and the rink was open until midnight once a month, she asked, "When did you learn to ice skate?"
"We actually had a form of it when I was human."
Clearly shocked Sookie exclaimed, "Really?"
"Yes. My people had skates made from bone and we often played on the ice in the winter. The bone didn't really grip the ice very well so we used poles to propel us across the ice. I didn't really get back into until Pam and I came here to the United States. I tended to skate often as we toured the US, but once I moved here and became sheriff I never seemed to find the time to seek out a rink. How about you? When did you learn to skate?"
Sookie thought about it for a minute before saying, "I remember always knowing how so I guess I was really young. My mother loved to skate and she used to bring my brother and me here at least once a month to skate. We had roller blades for home, but she loved ice skating and brought us out here anytime she could. It's one of the few things I remember my mother doing with me."
Eric could feel her sadness through the bond and asked, "You were not close with your mother?" He sent her reassurance and comfort as well to keep her talking. She was still upset with him and such a personal subject could have her pulling back.
Sookie's face fell as she shook her head and whispered, "No. I wasn't really close with either of my parents. I … I frightened them. They didn't understand what was wrong with me, and I made them afraid. They didn't abandon me though. Many people told them they should send me to some kind of institution so professionals could handle me, but they refused. They thought about it every once and awhile of course, but they never did it. Mostly they kept their distance and tried to make sure I had the things I needed."
Feeling anger build in his chest Eric asked in as controlled a voice as he could, "What do you mean they kept their distance?"
"Well like I said when I was little I couldn't control keeping people's emotions out. When my parents touched me and I felt their fear, their confusion, their anger at the entire situation, the hopelessness they felt, and even the wish that I had been born to someone else. They never said that to me, but I knew. When I was smaller I'd actually flinch away from them and cry at their touch…at everyone's. It was worse when they were really upset from something else, but the fact remains they knew touching me hurt me. Add that with how I was always blurting out things I'd heard and they learned to keep their distance. My mom spent time with me skating, and my dad would take me and my brother fishing once a week. Other than that they kept their distance. I eventually learned to control my reactions to touch and push other's emotions away before they could overwhelm me, and I learned to keep my mouth shut as much as possible, but by then the damage was done."
"But your grandmother was there for you?"
Nodding her head Sookie smiled, "Oh yes. Gran accepted my hand … uh, gift easily. She'd leave the room sometimes if she started thinking about something she didn't want me to know. Or sometimes she'd put up walls around certain thoughts, I never understood how she could do that though. Gran was always offering to babysit me for my parents. She knew it was hard for them. She spent lots of time with me, and other than Tara and Lafayette she was my only friend."
'Fools. Fool humans that could not see her greatness. They should have sheltered her, honored her, exalted her for her gifts…and what did they do? Shunned her and hid her like a dirty secret. If her parents were still alive I'd probably ensure some accident rectified that.' Squeezing Sookie's hand as they continued to skate around the rink Eric said, "I was not very close with my Father as a human. I respected him and he me, but we were not exactly friends."
"Back then men left to go a-Viking often. When they were home they were training or working in their trade … Father's were not as active in child rearing as they are now."
"What did your father do?"
Smirking Eric replied, "He was a wood worker, as I was when not fighting. The time I did spend with my father it was to train or to learn our family's trade."
Peering at him curiously Sookie asked, "I thought Viking's were warriors?"
"We were, but we still had to work. Warring would not grow our crops, hunt our food, build our homes and boats, make our clothes, craft our weapons and tools, or care for our livestock. We had to work to survive just like all other people's back then. My family were wood workers."
"Wow…so if you weren't close with your father were you with your mother?"
"Mothers did tend to be very close with their children back then, but mine died when I was four birthing my Father's first daughter who was still born. I was raised by my Father's second wife and she was not fond of me."
A frown marring her face Sookie asked, "Why not?"
"I was my Father's first son and it was already obvious I would be large and a great warrior. I took to the sword like a fish to water and was already fighting with the older boys by then. My Father was proud of my ability but his second wife didn't like this. She hoped to birth him a son to replace him as chieftain when he died. I was in the way of that dream."
"She … she didn't try to hurt you did she?"
Nodding his head Eric said, "Many times. She beat me as a child when my Father was gone a-Viking, and left me in the woods once when I was seven hoping I would be picked off by wolves or die from exposure. My Father and his men had left the day before to go on a hunting trip and I found their trail and followed it. When I caught up with them I'd been alone in the woods for three days and had survived by my own prowess. My father was proud of me and the men held me my own banquet when we returned to my Father's hall. Ingrid, my father's second wife, claimed I had wandered off and she hadn't found me when she looked for me. My Father believed her and I did not correct him as I knew he was fond of her, but I made sure to never be alone with her after that. Of course by the time I was ten I was nearly as tall as her and she had far more to fear from me than I from her."
Tears building in her eyes Sookie whispered, "That's horrible."
"That's the way life was. You think the best of people Sookie … they are not half so good as you believe them to be."
"Did she ever have a son?"
Laughing softly he shook his head and replied, "No. Ingrid bore my father six daughters. She gave him no sons. He died and I became Chieftain. I was honor bound to care for her but I had her moved to a small house away from my Father's great hall. I could not stand the sight of her."
Smiling as well as she wiped the tears from her eyes Sookie laughed, "I like that … so did you enjoy being Chieftain?"
"It was all I knew. I was raised to be a warrior and a leader. The idea of being anything else never entered my mind. I led my people, worked with wood to build ships and household items when not fighting, led my men on voyages and in battles, and left the running of my house to my wife."
Mouth falling open Sookie asked, "You were married?"
"Indeed. I was married by 15 … though most of my people were married at 13. I would have been too but the marriage agreement we had with a neighboring village fell through and my Father had to look for another suitable wife."
"You didn't pick your own wife?"
"Of course not. Unarranged marriages are a new phenomena Sookie. In fact in many places in the world they are still the norm. It has only been over the last 150 years that people have begun to marry for affection instead of social advancement. When I was human my people's custom was for the Father to choose the wives for his sons, and the husbands for his daughters. I married the girl my father selected for me. She was a good woman that kept my house well."
Sookie was quiet a moment before asking softly, "Did you have children." Immediately she felt Eric stiffen before he forced his body to relax. "You don't have to answer that if you don't want to."
Eric took a moment to think it over before he finally nodded and said, "I had three children. Two boys and a girl. The eldest was 12 and preparing to go on his first raid when I was made Vampire. I saw them one final time after Godric made me. I traveled to my village with him and saw my wife and children partaking of the mourning ceremony since neither I nor any of my men returned from the battle. My wife stood strong and I knew she and my children would be fine. I left with Godric and I never saw them again."
"Wasn't that hard?"
"In a way. It's hard to leave one life behind to embrace another Sookie. But you must remember the relationship between parents and children, and the relationships between spouses were different back then. Outside of the bedroom I had little to do with my wife, nor she with me. I saw my children, but when they were young their care went to her, and the little time I did spend directly with them was spent training them. We did not bond as you humans do today. Life was about work and survival … the only fun to be had was amongst your peers, and it was not often since it truly was hard work to make a living back then. I had gone to the village with Godric to see them because I wanted to make sure they could survive without me. My eldest was ready to take his place as a man and warrior, and I knew my wife's family would make sure she and my remaining children were well cared for. I no longer had a place with them."
Sensing that this topic was hard for him Sookie was quiet for a moment before saying, "Ok … no more sad memories. Tell me your most embarrassing moment, and I'll tell you mine."
"You go first…if I must demean myself before you then it is only right you go first."
Laughing Sookie replied, "Ok…the day I started my period for the first time."
"Do tell." This was certainly a story he wished to hear.
"Well I was out in the woods with Tara, Jason, Lafayette and Hoyt. Hoyt was a little leery of me back then but he was the only one of my brother's friends that was willing to spend time with me. Tara and I were 13 and Jason, Lafayette and Hoyt were 15. We were playing paint ball … Tara, Lafayette and I were totally winning by the way."
"Of course you were."
"We were! Anyway … I'd been having cramps all day, but had ignored it. Gran hadn't really had the talk with me yet so I was clueless about the warning signs. So Tara, Lafayette and I were sneaking up on Jason and Hoyt, who thought they were laying in wait to ambush us, when I suddenly felt…well you know … wet. I looked down and my jeans were staining red with blood. Needless to say I dropped my gun and freaked out. I started screaming about how I was dying and scared the living daylights out of them all. Tara was just as clueless as me, but of course Jason, Lafayette and Hoyt knew what was going on. They turned beat red and started stuttering. Tara was hugging me and telling me she'd get me to a hospital and I'd be ok. Finally Jason shouted at me that I wasn't dying, that it was normal, and to get back to the house and tell Gran. She'd explain everything. Then he, Lafayette and Hoyt ran like hell to get away from me before I could look inside their heads. Tara and I went back to the house like he said, and Gran explained what was happening. I was shocked to say the least, and pretty upset I had to suffer like that. I couldn't look my brother, Lafayette or Hoyt in the eye for months I was so embarrassed."
He had to stop. He actually had to stop skating as he was overcome by laughter. "You … in the … in front of … oh that's good!"
Crossing her arms over her chest and glaring at him Sookie said, "I'll have you know it was a very traumatic experience!"
Shaking his head Eric laughed, "I can understand why! What a horrible day for you!"
Shrugging Sookie replied, "It got better. It was my birthday, which is why we were all playing in the woods, and not only did I get gifts from my family and Hoyt, who was the only other kid willing to come to my party except Tara and Lafayette, but I got a gift from another relative I'd never met. All of their gifts were nice and all, but his gift blew them all away."
"What gift? From who?"
"Those diamond earrings I wore on our first date. I'm not really sure who it is though. My Gran wouldn't talk about him. I got the earrings with a note that said, "Sookie, you are a light in the dark and will shine brightly always, NB". I never heard from him again. I tried asking Gran about it but she would get upset so I let it go."
Eric stiffened as he thought, 'It can't be! NB? She says it was a distant relative so perhaps it is her Fae family, and the only Faery I know with those initials is Niall Brigant. But if he is her ancestor, and he knows she exists why has he not claimed her? Why has he left her here amongst these pitiful humans? The Grandmother's reaction makes me think she is aware of Sookie's lineage. Especially with how easily she accepted Sookie's gift. If the Fae blood in Sookie is from her father's side, as I suspect it is, than that must mean her Grandmother is where the introduction made. She had to have mated with a Faery.' Looking at Sookie he was awed. 'If she is of the Brigant line than she is a Faery princess!'
Seeing Eric looking at her so strangely Sookie asked, "Eric? Are you ok?"
Knowing now was not the time to contemplate Sookie's lineage, and glad that the witch (Octavia) he'd contacted the other week about reading into Sookie had phoned and said she'd come within a week, Eric nodded and said, "I'm just wondering why a relative you've never met and have had no contact with since would send you such a gift?"
"I wondered that as well, but Gran would get so upset if I ever asked her so I let it go out of respect for her … so it's your turn now. Most embarrassing moment…cough it up."
Glaring at her but determined to tell the truth Eric replied, "It was as a human … my first time with a woman."
Face alighting in a broad smile Sookie pressed, "Oh this is going to be good! Keep going!"
"You have no respect for my delicate male ego."
"Delicate? Hah!…now spill!"
Taking her hand so that they could begin skating again Eric said, "You are never to tell anyone of this."
"Cross my heart … now keep going."
As they began circling the rink, there were few skaters besides them now and all were far enough away so that he wouldn't be overheard, Eric continued, "I was 13 like you. I had just returned home from my first raid, victorious of course, and my Father wished to give me a gift. He sent his favorite concubine to me and told me to enjoy her all I like."
"I thought you guys didn't force women to your beds?"
"We didn't. This woman was captured some years before and willingly became my Father's concubine to keep from having to do any work. He was so pleased with her skill in bed it was her only duty. She also did not mind coming to my bed because life was dangerous back then. My Father could have been struck down at any time and in that case she would no longer be favored. She would have to return to working unless I chose otherwise. So my Father sent her to me and I was allowed to have her all night."
Smiling Sookie said, "Something tells me the night wasn't as good as most of yours probably are."
Shooting her a glare Eric asked, "Do you want to hear the story or not?"
"Ok … I'll be quiet."
"Good. Now as I was saying my Father sent his favorite concubine. I knew what sex was of course and knew what I was supposed to do, but once she'd undressed and undressed me … well I was excited to say the least ... and …."
Eyes widening in understanding Sookie exclaimed, "You didn't!"
"Yes…it was over before it started and I couldn't look at her anymore. We slept the rest of the night due to my embarrassment, and I ordered her to never tell anyone of what had happened. If she did she would spend the rest of her days in the fields and caring for the livestock once my Father passed. She took my word to heart and told everyone my skills as a lover were matched only by my Father's."
She doubled over laughing. Her body shook so hard from her mirth that she actually fell at his feet as she bellowed in laughter. "Oh my God! You! You! The Viking Sex God!"
Looking around and seeing those around the rink looking at them Eric then glared down at Sookie and said, "You're making a scene … and I assure you the problem never happened again. My wife never had any complaints, nor have any of my thousands of conquests since. I have more than made up for that one tiny, insignificant, never to be repeated occurrence."
Holding her hand up so Eric could pull her to her feet Sookie wiped the tears from her eyes as she continued to laugh and finally replied, "Your secret is safe with me. I'll take it to the grave."
"You'd better. I've never told anyone that so if word gets out I'll know who it was with a big mouth."
When the intercom came on and announced it was 10 minutes to midnight and skaters should be heading in to turn in their Skates Sookie laughed, "Let's go Casanova. One last stop. You're really going to get a kick out of this."
Twenty minutes later they were back in the car and Sookie headed them to their next location. Arching a brow Eric said, "WalMart? You're really taking me to WalMart on our date?"
Nodding her head Sookie pulled a folded piece of paper out of her purse and said, "There's a running prank to do at WalMart. Tara and I used to do this all the time. I've brought a list. There are ten things on it. You pick five and I'll pick five. We're going to do them." Handing the list to him she said, "You pick your five."
Taking the list Eric read:
THINGS TO DO AT WALMART:
- Act like you're about to cry and ask people, "Have you seen my Mommy?"
- Fill your cart with boxes of condoms, and watch everyone's jaw drop when you push it around or try to buy them.
- When two or three people are walking in front of you, run between them yelling, "Red Rover!"
- Make a trail of orange juice leading to the bathrooms.
- Guy Only: Walk up to someone and say, "Do you know where I can get some balls?"
- Try on bras over the top of your clothes, and let at least 3 people see you.
- Dart around suspiciously while humming the theme song for Mission Impossible.
- Hide in the clothing racks and when someone walks by call out something offensive.
- Hit on the oldest or ugliest person in the store.
- Walk up to the customer service and when they say, "Hello, how may I help you?" say "Yes, I'll have a Quarter Pounder with cheese, one strawberry shake, a large order of french fries and a diet coke." And when they start to talk, say, "Oh, to go". Then when they say that they can't give it to you say "Oh, This is because I'm gay isn't it? I'd expect this from Caldors, but not WalMart. People who are gay are just like everyone else your know. You disgust me" Then walk away mumbling to yourself. If you're a guy, try to act as valley-girl-like as you can.
Looking up at her Eric replied, "Absolutely not."
"Oh come on Eric! Live a little!"
"I live a lot thank you very much. This is not living … this is demeaning."
Shaking her head Sookie exclaimed, "Eric if you can't laugh at yourself you have a problem. Loosen up. Besides this is my date and you have to do it."
"I don't have to do anything. Especially things that will make me appear a fool in front of humans."
Arching her brow Sookie asked, "Are you breaking our deal? If you are I reserve the right to refuse to do things on any future dates you take me on."
Holding her stare and realizing she wouldn't back down Eric shoved his door open and headed for the entrance. He ignored Sookie laughing behind him as she locked the car and followed after him. When they were standing in front of the door he scanned the list and said, "I'll take numbers 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8. The rest are yours."
Taking the list to see what she had Sookie nodded and said, "Ok. Here's how it goes. One of us goes and then the other. We keep switching off until we're either done or we're thrown out." When Eric looked hopeful at that Sookie said, "Don't hold out for that. Tara and I only ever got tossed once. And we did this a lot!"
"Fine, you go first."
Squaring her shoulders Sookie stuffed the list in her back pocket and replied, "No problem, some of us aren't as insecure as you apparently."
When Eric flashed his fangs at her she just laughed and headed inside. She headed away from the registers and scanned the store for her targets. When she saw a young couple in the grocery section buying frozen pizzas she marched right up to them with Eric trailing her. Putting a heartbroken expression on her face and forcing her eyes to get misty she cried brokenly, "Have you seen my Mommy!"
The couple looked at her in surprise, glanced over her shoulder to see the angry Eric, before the guy replied, "Huh?"
Sookie didn't say anything she spun around and grinned at Eric triumphantly, and in a sing song voice teased, "Your turn!"
Rolling his eyes Eric led her away from the confused couple and headed for the orange juice. Grabbing a bottle he opened it and began pouring small drops along the floor until he ended at the restrooms in the back. Tossing the bottle in the trash he glared at Sookie and said, "Ridiculous … but your turn."
"Don't let me forget to pay for that before we leave." Turning around Sookie began walking around the store looking for another couple. She'd decided to take care of her numbers in order. When she spotted two college age girls walking down the shampoo isle she darted between them and shouted, "Red Rover!" She ran around the end of the isle to come up behind Eric on the other side and say, "Your turn again."
Shaking his head at Sookie but beginning to lighten up as her playful mood beat at him through the bond Eric took her hand and dragged her to the front to get a shopping cart. Once he had it he asked, "I have never needed such things so where would they be?"
Smiling at this Sookie said, "This way Romeo." When they were on the appropriate isle she watched Eric empty the shelf of every box of condoms they had. When he was done she laughed, "You should have saved that for last. Now you have to push it the rest of the time we're here."
Smirking at her Eric put an arm around Sookie's waist and pulled her to his chest and replied, "Well since you're with me people will naturally assume we're putting them to good use. I have no problem with that."
Stuttering Sookie shook her head and said, "After a few people see you we'll ditch the cart."
"Ah ah Sookie! You already set the rule!"
Glaring at him Sookie pulled away from him and headed for the bras section. She had to let three people see her in one over her clothes.
"Can I pick?"
"No!" Picking up an ordinary black lace bra Sookie put it on over her t-shirt and said, "Let's go."
Shaking his head and laughing outright at her appearance Eric teased, "After you, my lady."
"It's your turn again Eric, and this is coming off after three people see me in it."
"Pity. If I stare at you long enough will you take the rest of your clothes off?"
"Just asking … come pet … I believe I have someone to question about balls."
Giggling Sookie followed after him as he led her through the aisles as he pushed his cart of condoms. Two people had seen her in her bra by the time Eric stopped in front of a man looking at funnels in the automotive section. She stood beside Eric and waved at the man while Eric addressed him.
Mentally shaking his head at the foolishness he was engaging in, but pleased that it was making Sookie so happy, Eric asked, "Can you tell me where I can get some balls?"
Sookie watched the man's eyes widen and reached behind her to unhook her bra as she looked up at Eric and said, "He makes three for me."
Smiling at the clearly stunned man Sookie draped her bra over his arm and said, "We'll be on our way. Have a good night!" Tucking her arm in Eric's as he turned his cart around and headed away she asked, "You're not going to go all cave man on me now are you? I'm going to do number 9 now."
"I'll try and restrain myself from you hitting on the oldest or ugliest person in the store." Eric was surprised that he was actually beginning to enjoy himself. He still didn't like having to demean himself as he was, but it was amusing to see Sookie do such foolish things. Though he swore this was his last trip to WalMart … ever.
Laughing Sookie let Eric lead her around until she spotted a plump, bald man with hideous moles on his head and neck. Cringing she said, "Bingo."
Following her eye line Eric laughed, "I assure you I will feel no jealousy, flirt away my southern belle."
Walking over to the man while Eric hung back Sookie came to a stop in front of him and twirled a strand of hair around her finger as she said, "Hi there!"
The man looked up from the fabric softener he'd been persuing and replied, "Uh … hi … can I help you?"
Batting her eyes Sookie replied, "Sure can! I'm new 'round here and I was just wondering if you could tell me if there's a store that sells swimsuits and sun dresses … this WalMart just doesn't have that great a selection." Putting her hands in her back pockets so her chest thrust out she laughed girlishly and added, "I love to tan, but I don't want to be wearing the same old bikinis everyday! You know!"
The man's mouth dropped open a little as his gaze was drawn to her chest and he stuttered, "I … uh … well …."
Tossing her hair over her shoulder Sookie continued, "You don't know any? That's a shame! I was really hoping to get a new string bikini for this pool party my new neighbor is having! Shucks! Well thanks anyways mister! Bye now!" Waving at him she turned and headed back to Eric with a sway to her hips. Coming to stand in front of him, as he glaring at the man over her shoulder who she could hear from his thoughts that he liked her ass so apparently Eric didn't like him looking at her, and laughed, "Your turn!"
Shaking his head Eric said, "Let's go." Eric parked his cart at the end of an aisle and looked at Sookie as he insisted, "We never mention this to Pam."
"Mum's the word." Sookie then laughed as Eric began dodging and weaving around the walkways and aisles as he hummed the theme song to Mission Impossible. After about five minutes he came to stand in front of her and she teased, "You would have made a great spy!"
Shaking his head as he smiled at her Eric replied, "I believe it's your turn now."
"Grab your cart...we each only have one left…your torture is almost over."
Eric followed after Sookie and stood far enough back as not to be noticed as she walked up to the customer service desk. 'She is such an amusing creature. But if she ever tells anyone I did these ridiculous things I'll spank her ass raw.'
Coming to stand in front of the only employee manning the customer service desk Sookie waited for the woman to acknowledge her. When the woman asked if she could help her Sookie replied, "Yes. I'd like a quarter pounder with cheese, a strawberry shake, a large order of French fries, and a diet coke." When the woman opened her mouth she added, "To go."
The woman looked at her strangely before offering, "Uh … Ma'am our McDonalds is closed after 11 pm, and even then that counter is over by the exit. This is the customer service desk."
Putting her hands on her hips Sookie exclaimed, "This is because I'm a lesbian isn't it! I'd expect this from someplace like Caldors, but not Wal-Mart! People that are gay are just like everyone else you know! You disgust me!" Tossing her hair over her shoulder she stomped away back to Eric and laughed, "You're up Viking!"
"You have no shame."
"There's the pot calling the kettle black, and it's still your turn."
Shaking his head Eric traveled to the clothing area and crawled inside one of the racks. Sookie adjusted the clothes to hide him and moved to stand farther away, but not so far she couldn't hear him. Eric waited a moment and when a young man passed he called out, "Get some deodorant!" The man looked around for a moment before walking off. A few minutes later a pregnant woman passed and he taunted, "Who be my baby's Daddy?" The woman gasped and looked around before hurrying off. He decided two was enough and climbed out of the rack to glare at Sookie who was holding onto his cart of condoms as she laughed madly. "Are we finished?"
Moving forward to take his hand she abandoned his cart and said, "We can go … wasn't that fun?"
"I'll never forgive you for this … I am a thousand year old Viking sheriff. Respected the world over as one of the greatest enforcers my kind has ever seen and you had me asking some strange human if he could help me get some balls and all sorts of indignities."
"Payback's a bitch isn't it? I threw this last part in to make me feel better. My original plan was to take you to the observatory for a star party after skating, but I felt you needed a little taste of your own medicine."
Growling Eric resisted the urge to take her over his knee again. He knew to do so would only rile her anger again and he'd worked hard to bring her back over the night. He'd steadily been sending her waves of calm and acceptance all night and he didn't want to undo it. 'Besides once she is mine fully she will never attempt to humiliate me in such a way again … and tonight has put her in a better mood.'
When they were back in the car Sookie asked, "Are you sure you don't want me to drop you off at Fangtasia? I'm going straight home after that so I doubt anything bad will happen to me."
"I will not be lax with your safety. I shall accompany you home and fly back for my car."
With that Sookie headed back to Bon Temps. On the way there she and Eric swapped stories, and surprisingly the ride passed quickly. Sookie still found it odd that she hadn't been able to hold onto her anger, but decided she'd think about that after Eric was gone. When she pulled up to her house she opened the back of her car so Eric could get his cactus, star projector, and plate. Luckily he could tuck his cactus and plate into the bag with his projector to make it easier to fly. She had her vase in her hands and asked, "Did you have fun tonight?"
Laughing softly Eric replied, "It was certainly an experience … however I think it's safe to say it will be awhile before I allow you to plan our outings again….and I doubt I'll ever go to Wal-Mart again."
Sookie shook her head and laughed, "I love the Wal-Mart pranks! I did them all the time as a kid. When you don't have a lot of money you have to find ways to entertain yourself."
"I shall endeavor to get you interested in more suitable hobbies … but tonight will certainly be one I'll never forget….I'm guessing you aren't going to allow me to feed however?"
"Nope. Still my night, and my plans end with you going up, up and away like Buzz Lightyear while I go inside … alone."
"You are cruel Sookie. Forcing me to suffer such indignities, and not even allowing me to comfort myself with your delicious blood in recompense."
Shrugging Sookie replied, "I'm just trying to keep up with you…and I'm sure you'll be just fine. Besides you only get my blood three times a week now. Make sure you pace yourself."
Glaring at her for reminding him of that little agreement they had made Eric insisted, "Cruel…but at least you are learning to play the game. I shall bid you good night…I will see you tomorrow night so I can take you on a date."
When Eric inclined his head and shot up into the sky Sookie shook her head and mumbled, "I can't believe he actually did it! I thought for sure he'd back out at Wal-Mart." Laughing to herself she headed into the house to check on Thor. She was pretty sure Eric would make up for her cruelty towards him tonight when he took her out tomorrow.
The next two days passed quickly. Eric did take Sookie out on Monday night, but he kept it simple. He took her to a Supe restaurant. Eric drank something called Royalty Blend, she decided not to ask what it was, and she had the salmon with sautéed mushrooms and green beans. The meal was excellent and afterwards he took her to see the movie Twilight: New Moon. She thought it was beautiful, but he was offended Vampires were portrayed as sparkly. She laughed at that and he took her home. He insisted on drinking from her and sharing blood with her, but she was able to hold onto her anger for him enough not to fall for his advances. He pouted at that of course, but she'd made it more than clear she was still mad at him for humiliating her as he had.
At work Arlene didn't speak to her, but her glares made it apparent their friendship was over. Tara and Lafayette both told her she should be thankful to be rid of a backstabbing friend and shouldn't care. She tried to take their advice. When at Fangtasia Sookie would scoot her seat away from Eric to try and make it clear to the Fangbangers she wasn't happy about having to be up on the stage with him, but it didn't stop their hatred for her. Eric continued to tease her mercilessly while she scanned the patrons, and she found it hard to hold onto her determination to ignore him. For some reason when she was near him she felt light hearted and desiring of his company despite her anger … and Eric took advantage of that fact and flirted with her nonstop.
Soon enough Wednesday morning rolled around and Sookie woke up at 7am to the sound of shouting on her front porch. Tara had spent the night with Eggs again despite her assurances to her friend they were both welcome in the house. Picking up a barking Thor she grabbed her robe and headed downstairs to see what all the commotion was.
"I don't care who you are guy! You're not going in there! Sookie's protection is our responsibility."
"Who the hell are you? I'm her friend and boss! Get the hell out of my way! She even gave me a spare key! If she didn't want me in there would she have done that!"
Stepping out onto the porch with a still barking Thor Sookie shouted, "What is going on!" Tom and Ian turned to face her with Sam between them. "Sam! You're back!" She set Thor down and ran over to him to give him a hug. "It's so good to see you!"
Tom and Ian shared a look before Ian asked in his roguish accent, "You know him Miss Sookie?"
Stepping away from Sam to face her guards Sookie said, "Of course. This is Sam Merlotte … he's my boss. You guys don't need to give him a hard time."
Tossing a triumphant look at the two Weres Sam turned to Sookie intent on asking her why she had Were guards when he caught her scent. Inhaling deeply he grabbed her arms and cried, "Sookie what have you done!"
Frightened by Sam's reaction Sookie asked, "What? What are you talking about? Let go Sam you're hurting me."
Looking at his hands on her arms Sam jerked back like he'd been burned and begged, "Tell me you didn't … oh Sookie why would you do such a thing!"
"Do what Sam!"
"You smell like Eric! Sookie you're sharing blood with Eric! You're bound to him!"
Realizing he was picking up on Eric's scent in her as she'd been warned would happen Sookie replied, "I'll explain everything. Come inside Sam." Facing her guards she said, "Can you guys stand far enough back to keep from hearing?" When they nodded and headed off the porch she led Sam inside with Thor padding after them. "Sit down and let me make some coffee and I'll tell you everything."
Sam forced himself to control his emotions. He swore he'd listen to what she had to say before he overreacted. After Sookie fixed them both a cup of coffee he said, "Start talking Sook … I hope to God some cataclysmic event happened to force you into this."
Sitting down at the kitchen table with him Sookie nodded and said, "There was … here's what happened …." With that Sookie launched into her tale. She told Sam about Bill being kidnapped, her deal with Eric to get him back, her signing of the Contract to work for him, her deal with Eric to get Jessica out of trouble (though she told him he couldn't tell anyone about that since Eric had covered it up), and her problems with the Fellowship which resulted in the Were guards. The only thing she left out was the ordeal with Lafayette. When she was done she sat back and said, "So that's it…that's what's going on."
Staring at her wide eyed Sam let out a deep breath before burying his head into his hands and whispering, "Oh Sookie … no, no, no! You don't get it Cher!"
"Eric lied to you! He's manipulating you and you don't even see it!"
Shaking her head Sookie replied, "I talked to Lorena and Bill myself Sam … Eric didn't take him, and he proved he's looking for them. He didn't lie."
"That's not what I'm talking about Sook! You! I'm talking about you!"
Feeling fear creep into her at the wild look in Sam's eyes Sookie asked softly, "W … what are you talking about?"
Reaching out to take Sookie's hands in his Sam explained, "Sookie you don't work for Eric. That contract doesn't protect you. It enslaves you. You don't have a decision to make when Bill gets back. Eric makes your decisions now, you belong to him. Your sharing blood with him gave him all rights to you."
"W—what are you talking about? It's just until Bill gets back … isn't it?"
"No Sookie it's not. You took Bill's blood a few times but the two of you never mutually exchanged. Mutual blood exchanges are different than feeding. When a vampire mutually exchanges blood with a human three times it binds that human to them for life. You will carry Eric's scent for the rest of your life; proclaiming you his bonded to any and all Supernaturals. You belong to Eric and only Eric for the rest of your life or until he lets you go. Which I doubt will ever happen. In the Supernatural world you are his bonded … that's a big thing Sookie. It means no one is allowed to touch you without his permission. It means you can't go anywhere or do anything without his permission. He can do anything he wants with you and no supernatural would stop him. When Bill gets back he won't even be allowed to touch you. If the Council really sent out an edict to recognize you as Eric's personal asset like you said then if Bill even lays a finger on you Eric has the right to kill him. Eric can forbid him to even speak to you if he wants. You are Eric's ... in every conceivable way."
Terror quickly overcoming her Sookie jumped up and rushed, "But Eric said—Pam—they said—I … I didn't—No! He can't do this! I'll quit! I'll run away if I have to! I'll run away and never come back!"
Shaking his head as tears filled his eyes Sam whispered, "You can't Sookie … you can't. You're bonded to Eric now. There's nowhere for you to run. The bond between you two allows him to feel your emotions, and he can affect them if he wants. He can make you feel whatever he wants to. He can feel you Sookie. No matter where you go he would find you. The moment you two exchanged blood for the third time you became a part of him and he you. It's like he has a built-in radar for you. He can track you anywhere in the world no matter how far or fast you run; he might even be able to control you physically through the bond. I'm not sure. You're not susceptible to glamour so he might not be able to, but it will be damned hard for you to deny his commands."
Sitting back down in her chair Sookie felt tears fill her eyes as she whispered, "W—what do I do Sam? How do I get out of this?"
His own tears spilling down his cheeks, Sam shook his head and whispered, "You can't Sookie, you can't. Eric owns you now ... for the rest of you life."