"Miss Stackhouse," he replied as he stepped inside with several large packages. Setting them against the hallway, Bobby continued, "Mr. Northman instructed me to deliver these to you. I'm also to see to the placing of them after you decide where you want them."
Kneeling down on the floor, with Thor pushing at her hands for attention, Sookie began tearing off the paper of her packages. When she saw what was inside she couldn't help but smile. There were four 24" by 30" blown-ups of the images she and Eric had captured last night while stargazing as well as her first photo of her star. They were all put in beautiful white frames with small golden plaques on the bottom with the title of each object. The plaque indicating her star was larger and had intricate swirl patterns around her name. They were beautiful, and Sookie knew right away she wanted her star hung in her room. The picture over her wall safe could be taken down and this one would replace it. The other pictures she would arrange together in the parlor.
Standing, she looked at Bobby and said, "Don't worry about putting them up. I'll take care of it later. You can go ahead and go." As usual, Bobby didn't say goodbye. He just turned around and left. She was actually getting used to his rudeness. Making her way back into the kitchen she found her Were guards finishing up the breakfast she'd made them and retook her seat to finish her pancakes.
"So what did he send you this time babe?" Quinn asked, after swallowing a mouthful of bacon.
"Some blown up photos we captured on my telescope last night. Eric showed me some Messier Objects and we saved the images. I guess he emailed them to Bobby to get framed. Three of them are going to go by my piano and my star I'm going to hang up in my bedroom."
"Your star?" Alan asked curiously.
Nodding her head Sookie replied, "Eric bought me a star."
Shaking his head Quinn replied, "That stuff is just a gimmick Sookie. You can't really buy a star. Stars are only actually named through some official international agency that catalogues them all, and they don't personalize them. Other than the major constellations that were given names a long time ago all the new stars are given scientific titles so that everyone around the world can identify them and not get confused about them. Those commercials on TV that advertise the selling of stars are fake."
Sookie looked at Quinn for a moment before going into the living room to retrieve the document Eric had given her when he gave her the star. She came back into the kitchen as she read over and asked, "Is the agency called the International Astronomical Union?"
Shrugging Quinn replied, "Something like that. Why?"
Showing Quinn the document of ownership of her star she said, "Because they're the ones that renamed the star for me."
Reading over the document, Quinn shook his head and asked, "How the hell did Northman do this? There has never been a star named after someone before. This agency doesn't do this." Looking up at Sookie he continued, " I know because Frannie wanted a star for her thirteenth birthday a few years ago and I looked into it. I found out the commercials on TV and the Nature stores that advertise stars for sale were fake. I actually called their headquarters in France, and asked about buying a star and they told me they have never done it before and won't do it. How did Northman get this?"
Shrugging Sookie replied, "I don't know how Eric does half of what he does. He probably just gave them money or something."
"Sookie the IAU is a fully funded organization. A donation of a few million wouldn't get them to name a star personally after you. A donation of 50 million wouldn't get it done. They work with all the major space agencies around the world from practically every country, and they do not show favoritism. Eric would have to do something major to get this done. Monarchs, world leaders, and some of the world's richest people alive haven't been able to get stars named after them. This is impossible to do," Quinn explained.
Taking the document back from him Sookie looked it over and asked, "It's really that big of a deal?"
Nodding his head Quinn replied, "Yeah. It is. Because like numbers stars are universal. Everyone around the world has the same title for them. That's why this agency doesn't personalize them because they want to keep everything scientific."
Sookie scanned the paperwork for another moment before she shrugged and said, "I'll ask Eric after he wakes up on how he got it done. For now I'm going to finish breakfast and then I'm going to hang these pictures up before we go to the store. Jason, Tara, Eggs, and Lafayette are going to be here around noon for the day." Retaking her seat to finish her breakfast Sookie asked Quinn, "What time is Frannie going to be here?"
"Around the same time. She said she would bring something, but she hadn't decided what to make when I left," Quinn answered.
"I can't wait to meet her," Sookie said with a smile.
After that Sookie and her guards finished eating very quickly. While she did the dishes Quinn, Mark, and Allan moved to hang her pictures up in the parlor near her new piano. After that she took the picture of her star and carried it upstairs to hang up in her room when after she changed clothes. Quinn offered to do it for her but she told him Eric would get upset if his scent was in her bedroom when he rose and the weretiger simply nodded at that. Beside Eric had told her not to let anyone know about the safe in her room anyway.
Three hours later Sookie was finishing up the last of the fried chicken as she waited for everyone to arrive. She was wearing a dark blue off the shoulder sundress that came to mid thigh with a black beaded floral pattern around the hem on the right. It was one of the new outfits Eric had paid for her to get, and it was one of her favorites.
Grocery shopping had been such a chore as Quinn and her other guards crowded around her so closely it was hard for her to see anything on the shelves. She was really getting tired of all the protections; especially since nothing had happened as far as she could tell.
When they'd gotten home Sookie had peeled the potatoes and put them on to boil while she ran upstairs to take a quick shower and change. She left her hair down to air dry so she could begin making her Gran's pecan pie, the green beans, and the chicken. She was now finishing up frying the last few pieces when she heard the door bell ring and called out, "Can one of you get that!"
A minute later Tara and Eggs came into the kitchen with Tara carrying a tray of deviled eggs. "Hey Sook!" Tara greeted as she set the food on the kitchen table. "Smells good in here."
Smiling at her best friend over her shoulder Sookie replied, "Thanks! Oh you brought deviled eggs! I love those!"
"I know … so you need help with anything?" Tara asked.
"Yeah … could you make the ice tea and the lemonade? I have the tea ready here on the stove I just haven't added the water or sugar to it. I also squeezed out the lemon juice already so again you just need to add water and sugar," Sookie replied.
"Sure thing," Tara agreed before turning to face her boyfriend behind her and adding, "Eggs you can go watch whatever sport the guys are watching in the living room if you want while I help Sookie."
Eggs was only too eager to vacate the kitchen. Sookie's house still gave him the creeps because of the whole Maryann thing, and being around Sookie herself made him uncomfortable. He really appreciated all she did for him and Tara, but it was really hard for him to be in her presence. Ever since his whole fiasco with Maryann he wanted nothing to do with vampires or any of that weird stuff ever again, and there was no disputing the fact that Sookie was surrounded by nothing but weird shit. It also freaked him the fuck out that Sookie could read his thoughts. That was just wrong in Egg's mind.
He was nice to her, though, and he'd back Tara in her friendship with Sookie, but he liked to keep his distance. He figured Sookie knew that too because sometimes when he was getting really uncomfortable around her she would give him a soft smile and find a way to excuse him from her presence without Tara catching on that he wanted to leave. He was grateful for that. Making his way into the living room, he nodded at the three guards Sookie had and took a seat in the floral print chair as he asked, "Who's winning?"
"Cowboys. Romo's actually got some aim this game. Ever since he broke up with that girlfriend of his he's been throwing better. She was bad luck," Mark said as he took a drink of his beer while the other two Weres nodded. After that the guys settled in to finish watching the game. Making a few various comments about the players and such.
Back in the kitchen Sookie took the lid off the pan to check the chicken and asked, "So how are you enjoying the house?"
At the counter where she was adding the hot tea to the pitcher with the sugar Tara smiled brightly and replied, "Oh gosh Sook … I love it! It's so beautiful! We got all the new furniture in that same day! Broyhill made a late night delivery since they're apparently afraid of Eric. Eggs and I spent all night setting things up and we had the best time! We love it! It's so beautiful! I was going to invite you over to dinner next week to show you everything. Lafayette came over last night and he thinks it's beautiful too."
Smiling at that Sookie said, "I'm glad to hear that. I can't wait to see it either but I'm not sure I can come next week."
"Why? Are you working with Eric every night?"
"Kind of. We're leaving tomorrow at 10am to go to New York and I'm not sure how long we're going to be there."
Stirring the water into the tea Tara pressed, "New York? Wow ... what are you going to be doing there?"
"Same stuff I do for Eric here I'm just going to be doing it for the King of New York. Hey! You're not going to believe this but his name is Ahmose and he's 3,500 plus years old. He's a former Pharaoh of Egypt!"
"Nope. I Googled him the other day and read up on him. I'm hoping he'll answer some of my questions. Eric said Ahmose is really interested in meeting me and that he likes humans. Eric said I'd like him so I'm hopeful."
"Wow … that's … wow Sookie. That sounds like it could be really interesting."
Sookie smiled in agreement, "Yeah it sounds like it will be and Eric promised me that I'll like Ahmose. Anyways I was hoping you could come by and take care of Freya and Balder for me? I'll leave you instructions on their feeding and everything. You just have to put them out in the mornings and stall them at night."
"Sure, Sook. I might have to rotate a bit with Lafayette and Eggs but we'll take real good care of them."
"Thanks. That really means a lot to me."
"No problem. So are you going to see the Statue of Liberty while you're in New York?"
Nodding, she began pulling out the last few pieces of chicken after she turned the stove off. "Yeah. That was the first thing I asked Eric if we could do. He promised to take me. He said he'd take me to see the sister statue in France as well if I wanted, but I think I'll hold off on that for awhile."
Starting the lemonade now Tara asked, "There's one in France? I thought it was an American thing?"
"So did I. But apparently they put their own up three years after ours to signify their own independence. Eric told me the whole story."
Tara was quiet a moment before she asked, "So how are things with Eric?"
Sensing her friend's hesitation Sookie replied, "They're better. He's agreed to back off some. He's going to stop being so aggressive with me, and we agreed to try and be friends. He knows I'm still looking for a way out of this. He wished me luck but told me it's not going to happen."
Before Tara could reply the front door opened and Lafayette stepped in as he called out, "Let the party begin! Sexiest bitch in town is in the house!" Lafayette nodded to the guys in the living room before he walked into the kitchen carrying a tray of bread and butter pickles. "What's up, bitches?"
Tara and Sookie laughed as Lafayette set his food down along with Tara's and asked, "What you need me to do Sook?"
Having finished the chicken and starting to take everything she'd made out of their cooking dishes, she put them into the serving bowls and plates and turned to her friends. "You can get the rolls going. Those are the last things. They're in the fridge. You know where the pan is."
As the three of them began getting all the food ready to carry outside to take it to the picnic table in the back yard Jason arrived. He popped his head into the kitchen and dropped off the 12 pack of beer he'd brought, even though it wasn't necessary since Sookie had picked some up from the store when she went, before retreating to the living room to watch sports with the other guys. Jason of course began to bond immediately with Quinn and the other Were guards and thanked them for looking after his sister.
At 12:10 everybody was outside as Sookie, Tara, and Lafayette finished setting up the long picnic table while the guys set up the portable volleyball net that Jason had brought. The barn was situated further back from the yard and Sookie's horses were at the front of the pasture beside it whinnying for attention before chasing each other around. Thor was running around the grass barking and yipping at people and that was when a smaller girl poked her head around the side of the house and called out, "Hello?"
Looking up from the picnic table Quinn smiled at the sight of his sister making her way hesitantly forward with a plate of brownies in her hands and he went to meet her. Throwing his arm around her shoulders he turned to face Sookie and said, "Sook, this is my sister Frannie."
Sookie smiled at the sight of the teenage girl tucked under the muscular arm of her Werebody guard. She'd made sure to say aloud an invitation for the girl that morning so she would be able to get through the barrier. Frannie had shoulder length straight dark brown hair and a deep tan. Her eyes were a darker purple, nearly blue, and she looked delicate next to her brother. Walking forward Sookie held her hand out and greeted, "I'm glad to meet you Frannie. Your brother has told me so much about you. He never said you were so pretty though."
Frannie couldn't contain herself. She handed Quinn the brownies and left her brother's side to hug a very surprised Sookie and whispered, "Thank you, thank you so much for saving us."
Sookie had been shocked at the gesture but recovered quickly and hugged the girl in return as she replied, "I didn't do anything Frannie, but I'm glad that you two are out of trouble now. How do you like Monroe?"
Stepping back to her brother's side Frannie answered, "It's nice. The South is really different from Las Vegas, but I like it. I like our house too. I'm making friends and it's just nice to be free of all that crap back in Nevada."
Sookie smiled at that and turned to make the introductions. While she did Quinn kept his arm around his sister and looked his charge over. As much as he fought it he was grower more and more attached to Sookie by the day. There was just something about her that called to him. She was so sweet and polite, so kind and loving, and he was really starting to care for her deeply.
'She's too good to be stuck with some vamp. I know that bastard Northman intends to turn her, but she doesn't want it. She doesn't deserve that life either. If there's a way for me to get her out of the mess she's gotten herself in I will. She deserves a good life with a man that can stand beside her day or night. A man that can give her babies. Not some damn vamp.'
After everyone greeted Frannie, it was time to sit down and eat lunch. Sookie said the prayer and then everyone dived in. Quinn and Frannie were delighted with the food as they weren't used to good old fashioned Southern soul food. They loved the fried chicken and bread and butter pickles. The only fried chicken they'd ever had came from KFC so they really appreciated Sookie's Gran's special recipe, and they'd never had bread and butter pickles at all.
Everyone made light conversation with each other, but Frannie and the Weres obviously knew to keep Sookie's brother and friends in the dark about what it was they truly were and made sure to keep the talks human centered. Sookie let her brother and Lafayette know she was going to be going to New York and promised that she would bring them something back, but decided to keep her following trip to Sweden with Eric a secret. She didn't need the headache that would result from her brother and friends outrage if they new Eric was taking her on vacation. They'd drone on and on about how he was manipulating her and all that. She'd let them know before it was time to go to cut down on everyone's aggravation and the fighting.
After everyone was done eating everyone changed into bathing suits and headed for the far back end of Sookie's property behind the barn and pastured near the southeast forest line. There was a creek that led into a pond back there and Sookie had played in it with her brother, Tara, and Lafayette all her life. The next three hours were spent swimming around, playing Marco Polo, King of the Hill, and such as everyone wore themselves down. When they were done swimming everyone headed back up to the house. The guys split up into teams to play volley ball with Jason's net while Tara and Frannie helped Sookie clean up the table before they began making ice cream sundaes for everyone.
Most everyone spread out in the living room to eat their Sundaes but Sookie found herself seated on the back porch watching her horses run around with Frannie beside her. The girl had been very shy at first but quickly opened up when everyone treated her like a long lost friend. She seemed particularly fond of Sookie and had been trailing around after her like a kid sister all day. Now sitting next to her as she ate her sundae she blurted out, "He really likes you Sookie."
Swallowing the bite of ice cream she'd been eating Sookie asked, "Who?"
"Oh … well, I like him to hun. He's a nice guy."
Shaking her head Frannie continued, "No. I mean he really likes you, and I think you like him too. He's a good guy. He'd never treat you wrong or nothing."
Setting her spoon down in her bowl Sookie regarded the younger girl and replied gently, "Frannie honey, I—I do like your brother. I really do, but, well, I'm not in the position to be with him. I'm … well, I'm kind of with someone else right now and I'm not sure how that's going to turn out. I do like Quinn, but nothing like that can happen between us."
Frannie twirled her spoon around in her ice cream before she said, "It's because that vampire forced you to be with him isn't it? Vampires are evil and nothing but trouble. My brother would never do anything like that to you."
"I'm sure he wouldn't Frannie, but the fact remains right now all I can offer your brother is friendship."
Frannie was silent before she hissed, "I hate Vampires. All they ever do is hurt you and take from you. Back in Las Vegas I saw how bad they treated my brother. Making him fight for his life in the Pitts almost every night. Making him hurt people by threatening to hurt me or my mom. They made him do terrible things for money. Now one's hurting you and forcing you to do things you don't want. I wish they'd all just die!"
Feeling the anger, rage, pain and resentment rolling off the girl, Sookie set her ice cream down and hugged the teenager to her chest. She stroked the girl's hair and used her gift to draw the negative emotions from her as she whispered, "You don't have to live like that anymore Frannie. You're here now, and you're safe. No one's going to hurt you or your brother anymore. I'm so sorry you had to live like that for so long, but you've got to let the past go so you can embrace your future. You and your brother have a new start on life. Don't let the past overshadow it."
"They hurt us both so much. Sometimes they'd ask him to do really bad things and he'd refuse, so they would drag me down into their dungeons and lock me up for days without food in the dark until he had done what they wanted. They threatened to turn me if he didn't fight in their Pits or hurt the people they told him to hurt. Sometimes they'd rough me up as a message to him, and there was nothing we could do … I hate them. I hate them Sookie! I hate vampires and it's not right you're being forced to stay with one."
As Frannie began to cry Sookie continued to stroke her hair as tears filled her own eyes. "Oh baby that's horrible. They shouldn't have done those things to you, but it's over now. Over for good. You and your brother are here and you're safe. No one is going to use you against your brother again. I promise. You'll be happy here Frannie. You and your brother are going to build yourselves a whole new life and you'll be happy. It's ok … you cry out all your anger and pain and then you need to move past it so you can be happy."
Frannie buried herself against Sookie and let the older girl comfort her. She'd never had a mother figure. Her mom was all sorts of crazy and the few lucid moments she did have made it perfectly clear she didn't want Frannie around due to her being a product of rape. Her brother had done his best to take care of her, but with all of his responsibilities to the Vampires back in Las Vegas she'd really been alone a lot. She liked Sookie. She really did and she could see them being a family together. Sookie could be the big sister/Mom she'd never have and her brother could take care of them both. Sookie and her brother could have kids and she could help take care of them and they could be a real and true family. She wanted that picture perfect life.
Behind them standing at the back door Quinn watched as Sookie comforted his sister; rocking her in her arms and whispering soothing words to her as Frannie cried. He could feel his heart warm at the sight. He'd come to check on his sister and had arrived just as Frannie told Sookie how much he liked her. He knew Frannie was carrying around some demons of her own due to their past, and he was glad she was finally talking about it to someone. She'd always refused to talk about the vampires did to her to him because she knew how hard he took that since he couldn't do anything about it. Frannie tried to protect him as much as he tried to protect her. Now he was glad that she did have someone to talk to. Not wanting to intrude on the moment he backed up slowly so neither girl would know he'd been there and made his way into the living room. His affection and esteem for Sookie once again rising.
Back on the porch, Sookie rocked Frannie for nearly a half hour drawing the pain and heartbreak out of the girl before she finally calmed down. When she was done Sookie took her into the kitchen to wipe her face with a wet cloth since her nose had started to run and her cheeks were all red.
"I want you to promise me that you're going to start living your life without worries, Frannie. This is a whole new life for you and your brother and I don't want either of you to miss out on anything because of the shadows of your past … live Frannie. Live and be happy."
Frannie smiled up at Sookie and promised, "I will Sookie. Me and Quinn are both happy to have a fresh start, and we owe it all to you."
Deciding not to argue with the girl over that Sookie took their sundae bowls and put them in the sink as she replied, "Why don't you go into the living room and watch TV with everyone and I'll finish up these dishes."
Frannie nodded her head and left the kitchen to join the others while Sookie stood at the sink. She had heard a good deal of the girl's thoughts while she was comforting her and she could understand why Frannie was idealizing her, but Sookie knew she couldn't give Quinn or his sister what they needed. She had so many of her own problems right now there was no way she could even begin to think of settling down and starting a family. Sure it was her dream, but it didn't look like that was ever going to happen for her. Not to mention the whole jumbled mess that was her feelings for Eric.
As she began washing the dishes in the sink Sookie thought, 'I honestly can't tell what it is I feel for him. He makes me feel things I've never felt before. I thought my emotions were strong with Bill but they were nothing compared to what Eric brings out in me. Eric makes me feel so beautiful and special when I'm with him. He makes me feel like I'm on top of the world sometimes; like it's just the two of us. Sometimes when I'm with him things seem so perfect that I never want to be away from him.'
'Of course sometimes he makes things horrible as well. He seems to be able to hurt me and bring me down in ways no one else can. He gets so controlling and possessive that I feel like I'm literally trapped in a cage with no way out, and I hate that! I don't know what to think about it all. I enjoy spending time with him. It's so different between me and him. It's never been like that for me with anyone. I've always had to hide parts of myself with other people, always had to hold back or keep my guard up. I had to be careful not to listen in or feel people. I enjoyed being with Bill because I didn't have to do that, but With Eric it's different.'
Beginning to dry the dishes Sookie continued to ponder the difference between her two vampire suitors.
'When I was with Bill there was always this underlying tension. I thought it was just normal to have between a Vampire and a human and got used to it, but now I realize it was just what was off between us. With Eric that isn't there. The only time there is tension between us is when he gets all macho I'm-your-Master-I-own-you-no one- can-touch-you-or-talk-to-you-but-me vampire on me when he get's jealous, but when it's just us hanging out like last night everything is so perfect. He's the first one I've ever really and truly been completely open and free with. He brings things out in me that I've never shown anyone. I thought I got close to Bill, but I'm telling Eric things I've never told anyone. Not even Gran knew about how Momma used to hurt me … but I told Eric.'
'Why is it like this with us? Why can he make me so afraid one minute, so angry and resentful? And then the next minute he makes me feel beautiful, precious, and protected? What is that? Why does his presence make me feel comforted? Is it the blood bond? But it can't be, because when the bond was first made it wasn't like this. It's been steadily growing and Sam and Bill both made it sound like everything that changed in me with the bond was immediate. Not something that slowly grows over time. So these are definitely my emotions. Besides right now I still feel affection for him and he's dead … so that means they have to be my emotions right? Gosh this is all so confusing. I wish Gran was here for me to talk to.'
Shaking her head and deciding that trying to figure out her very complex feelings for Eric was better saved for a time when her house wasn't filled with guests Sookie finished drying off the last of the dishes and put them away before joining everyone else in the living room to watch the TV. The rest of the afternoon and night was spent watching a marathon of Sopranos. Every apparently really loved the deluxe cable package Eric had gotten her.
A few hours later, Eric rose from the underground panic room. He'd felt and heard the presences of so many people in the house. He had also felt the intense happiness and love Sookie felt the last few hours as he worked on his computer when he first woke up from his daytime dead rest. He was glad that she was enjoying her day. Especially since he wouldn't be able to spend the evening with her as he had intended to.
He had told her they would be going into the city tonight to go dancing and would leave around 9, but when he checked his email tonight he found a summons from the queen. Apparently she and the magistrate were calling him forward to test his new skill. He'd been expecting such a summons and was in truth looking forward to it. He was also looking forward to finding out what had become of dear Compton. Thankfully no mention of Sookie had been made and he would not have to subject her to the Queen's court again so soon.
Making his way into the living room, he heard the many voices in the house and growled in annoyance. Stepping into the living room he felt anger and jealousy rise up in him as he found Sookie sitting squashed between Quinn and Alcide on the couch along with a young girl he didn't know. Scattered about the room were the rest of the pathetic vermin his bonded seemed to care so much about. He heard the front door open as Han and Ivan stepped into the house just as he made his presence known by picking Sookie up off the couch with his mind, she cried out in surprise and glared at him, and floated her over to his side.
Tucking her under his arm and glaring hard at all the Weres and humans in the room he said, "Your presence is no longer needed. Get out."
"Eric! Don't be rude!" Sookie gasped.
He ignored her as he looked to Han and Ivan who were standing at the other entrance to the living room near the entry way and ordered, "See them all out." He didn't look at anyone else as he swept Sookie up in his arms bridal style and carried her upstairs into their bedroom.
As soon as he set her on her feet Sookie slapped his chest and hissed, "You are so rude! Why did you do that?"
"You've spent enough time with those bloodbags and damn animals."
Letting his eyes sweep over her bikini clad form he arched a brow and asked, "Is there some reason you were flaunting what belongs to me before them all?"
Putting her hands on her hips Sookie tossed her head back to hold his gaze and replied through clenched teeth, "We went swimming you big ape! In case you didn't notice we were all still in our bathing suits! And I wasn't flaunting anything you jerk!"
Crossing his arms over his chest Eric commanded, "I forbid it."
"You forbid it?"
"Indeed. You will not wear such clothing around anyone but me. I thought I made this clear?"
Shaking her head Sookie argued, "What in the hell am I supposed to wear when I go swimming?"
"You may wear such clothing when swimming, but you will do so only around me. You will not go swimming with others from now on."
Mouth dropping open Sookie looked at Eric in shock. "Are you serious?"
"Eric you're being ridiculous! It's a bathing suit!"
"And it shows entirely too much of what is mine to the world. I forbid it."
"Eric do you even realize how insane you sound right now? You are going completely overboard with this jealousy crap!"
Stepping forward Eric gazed down at Sookie and replied darkly, "I care not for your opinion on this matter. My decision is final. As I had not made a rule about swimming before now I will not punish you for wearing such clothes in front of others. Now that you know I expect you to comply from this moment forward."
"Eric I love to swim! I also love to sun bathe. You can't do this to me!"
Eric regarded her for a moment and felt her strong emotions through the bond. Finally he offered, "You may swim but you will not wear a bikini in front of anyone but me. You will wear a one piece and if you wish to sun bathe you will do it alone where no one else can see you."
"Why are you being like this? You go on and on about sexuality not being shameful like humans make it then you go all caveman on me over the tiniest thing!"
Truthfully Eric wondered the same thing. It should not matter to him if others saw Sookie or not since he was the only one that could touch her. In fact, he should enjoy it. He should enjoy others looking upon her and being jealous that she was his. Sookie was a beautiful woman, add her scent to that and she was damn near irresistible to Supes. He should revel in others coveting her … but he didn't. He couldn't stand for others to look at her. He found that as each day passed he was more and more possessive over her. He'd never been this way with a woman before and he didn't understand it. All he knew was it roused his beast and infuriated him when others saw too much of her skin. So he wouldn't tolerate it.
Holding Sookie's gaze he replied, "It is unusual for me to care this much about modesty. I admit that I have never cared for the clothing of a woman before as long as it was appealing … you are obviously different. I cannot stand the thought of others seeing more of your skin than necessary and as such you will not wear clothes that show it. This is nonnegotiable Sookie."
Crossing her arms under her chest Sookie glared at Eric and huffed, "You are so aggravating. Fine I won't wear bikinis in front of other men. Can I least wear them when around my brother and friends?"
"That is acceptable. As long as none of these friends are ones that will lust after you. Now we must speak of tonight. I have been summoned to go before the queen. Our plans for tonight will have to be put on hold while I deal with the summons."
Her anger quickly evaporating to be replaced with worry Sookie asked, "Why do you have to go see her?"
"I told you that an inquiry would be made to assess my new ability. I will appear before the queen and the magistrate tonight for them to no doubt test me."
All the times Eric had warned her that the queen was their enemy joined her own memories of appearing before the woman who had done so much to make her a slave and Sookie pressed, "What if it's a trap?"
"It could be, but I doubt it. She would be a fool to try and take me out without assessing my new ability first. The Queen is many things but a fool is not one of them. It will only be an inquisition I'm sure."
"But you don't know for certain? She could be luring you there to kill you."
Feeling her worry and fear through the bond Eric smirked as he asked, "Why Sookie, are you worried about me?"
"Of course I am Eric! That woman has more than made it clear she wants you out of the way. You've said so yourself. You've been warning me about it from the beginning and now she wants to see you all of a sudden and you're acting like it's no big deal!"
Eric was pleased by her concern for his welfare. "I assure you Sookie that there will be no attempt on my life and even if there was I would overcome it. I will come to no harm."
Sookie argued, "Eric no one is invincible. The queen is dangerous. You've told me that over and over. If you're going to go take Han and Ivan with you."
"Sookie, that is not necessary. I am more than capable of protecting myself; especially given my new talent. Han and Ivan are your guards and they will stay here with you to see to your care. I will fly to New Orleans and get my meeting with the queen over with as soon as possible and hopefully return in time for us to spend time together this evening before I must take shelter."
Seeing the determination in Eric's gaze Sookie wracked her brain to try and find a way to stop him from walking into that bitch's lair alone when Sophie-Anne obviously wanted him dead. Finally she said, "You promised to give me anything I want as long as it's not freedom from you. Well I'm asking for this. Take Han and Ivan with you."
Eric regarded Sookie for a moment before asking, "Do you wish them to go with me so that you can be assured you do not fall into the hands of the queen or is it true concern for me?"
Eyes widening in outrage Sookie gasped, "How can you ask me that?!"
"It is a logical question."
"Eric, I may be mad at you for what you've done to me and there are definitely moments when you make me so mad I want to slap you, but I don't want you dead. Never that. I want you to take Han and Ivan because I want you to come back alive. I'll find a way out of all this mess that doesn't involve killing you."
Testing the bond, Eric felt the integrity of her words. He smirked, "You care for me."
Exasperated Sookie pressed, "Will you just take them with you?"
"I will take Ivan, but Han will stay with you … if you admit that you care for me."
"Eric, do I really have to say anything? Can't you feel what I feel right now through the bond? Haven't you always been able to feel my emotions since we bonded?"
He nodded, "Indeed, but I still want to hear you say it."
"Eric just take Ivan and go already! Didn't you say you wanted to get this over with quickly so you could come back here?"
"Say it Sookie … say it or I go alone."
Unable to meet his gaze Sookie looked at the floor and murmured, "I care for you."
Stepping closer Eric took her chin in his hand to bring her gaze to his. Leaning down he kissed her lips softly before whispering against her cheek, "I'm pleased to hear you say that. I will take Ivan with me little one and I will return to you safely … though his presence is not needed."
She flushed in embarrassment. "Humor me then. It will make me feel better to know you aren't going alone. What's going to happen? Will you be punished for the other night?"
Still standing close to her Eric set his hands on her hips and nuzzled her hair. He could smell the sunlight upon her skin and embedded in her silky locks. Her scent was divine. "No. It was within my right to punish Compton for harming you. No one else was hurt save him and all the humans were properly glamoured to cover the incident up."
Closing her eyes as Eric's hands stroked her bare abdomen and hips around her bikini Sookie forced herself to focus and continued, "Are you sure it's not a trap?"
Kissing the sensitive spot behind her ear and enjoying the shudder of pleasure that ran through her at the action Eric replied, "Nothing is ever certain Sookie so I cannot give that promise. I will promise that I will return to you tonight though."
Gasping as Eric nipped the bottom of her ear and pulled her against him Sookie set her hands on his chest and tilted her head to the side as he began to nip and kiss along her neck. "I thought you just said nothing was certain?"
"Nothing but that. I will always return to you Sookie." Placing his hands on her lower back to pull her flush against him Eric growled, "I swear it."
Sookie whimpered as he bit her shoulder softly. Her mind was becoming hazy at the feel of him all around her, as she took in the woodsy masculine scent of him. She felt so small next to him, but instead of making her feel insignificant as the sensation used to it now comforted her. It made her feel protected. Tilting her head further to the side she whispered, "Do you want to feed before you go?"
His cock had already been hard before but now it was throbbing. He ached for her in ways he'd never ached for anyone else. Wrapping his arms around her he pulled her up against his chest and growled, "I thought you'd never ask."
Sookie felt him drag his fangs over her pulse again and again. Each scrape of the deadly points that so could easily end her but brought her only pleasure had Sookie's heart rate soaring. When he sucked the skin of her mouth into his mouth but didn't bite into her she couldn't help but whimper, "Eric."
The plea in her voice undid him and he bite into her as his arms tightened around her. The rush of her Faery laced delicious blood flooded his mouth and he growled against her neck as he pulled her so tight against his chest he almost worried she wouldn't be able to breathe, but then she did something that surprised him. He felt her wrap her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist as she pushed herself closer to him and whimpered his name again. His eyes flashed as he spun her around to push her against the wall to grind himself against her. He was damn near dry humping her, but he didn't even care.
Sookie's eyes fluttered closed and she couldn't help but moan wantonly, "Eric." The feel of his fangs in her flesh as his arms surrounded her had her on sensational and emotional overload while his hardened length pressed against her center again and again. Every time they were like this she found it harder and harder to deny the call of her body to his; her need for him. Tangling her hands in his hair she pulled him closer to her as she rocked her hips against his own and whimpered in desire.
He fed for as long as he dared, but inevitably he was forced to pull back and lick the wounds closed. He could still feel Sookie's heightened desire and need for him and it matched his own, but he knew now was not the time. He had a visit to the Queen to make. He began sending soft soothing waves into her to help abate the desire in her as he tried to control his own need. He kept himself pressed against her as he nipped and sucked at her neck and shoulder while her fingers stroked through his hair and caressed the nape of his neck. "I am addicted to your blood, my Sookie. I will never get enough of you."
Laying her head on his shoulder Sookie tried to beat her rising lust back, and felt Eric's influence to calm her down as she whispered, "Well I guess you're lucky I can't go anywhere then huh?"
Laughing softly at her reference to his taking of her for his own without rancor Eric nipped her ear and replied, "Very lucky."
Still stroking her fingers along the back of his neck Sookie asked, "Are you sure she's not going to try and kill you?"
Thoroughly pleased by her continued worry for him and his safety Eric assured, "I'm sure. The presence of the Magistrate alone assures that."
"She could be lying. She could be saying he's there when he's not."
Holding Sookie to him as he stood from the wall to move to the bed he sat down and positioned her so she was straddling his lap with her knees on either side of his hips. Stroking her hair back he explained, "Sookie she sent me an email. I forwarded that email to Pam and Chow, and it is now part of public record. I also emailed it to the magistrate with my confirmation to join them tonight, and he replied that he was looking forward to seeing my new skill. There is a paper trail now. If the queen planned a trap she would not use such public means to lure me in. The magistrate's reply alone assures that. He is not fond of Sophie-Anne and would not back any play of hers to take me out. I have known the magistrate for 500 years. We hold a general respect for each other."
Comforted by his explanation Sookie pressed, "What will happen?"
"More than likely they'll want a demonstration of what I can do and the queen might speak to me privately about our trip tomorrow for New York. The visit will probably be short, but it might not be either. She will definitely release me in time to make it back here for our departure in the morning as she will not want to offend Ahmose in any way."
"And that's it?"
Nodding his head Eric replied, "I can't imagine what else she'll have to discuss with me. That should be it." Standing he set Sookie on her feet and continued, "Take a long bathe, eat a bowl of ice cream to make yourself feel better, and I'll be back soon."
Laughing at his belief that ice cream seemed to be a cure all for human women and their upset, Sookie followed Eric down the stairs as he headed out the front. Han was sitting in the living room and Ivan was by the front door. Obviously they had heard the conversation and the Russian Enforcer knew he was leaving as well. Eric turned to face Sookie as Ivan opened the door and added, "Bobby will be by soon to drop off my luggage for the trip and your new luggage as well. I had the stylist you met with earlier do some shopping for you. New York is much colder than here so none of your clothes are appropriate. She only purchased you a few outfits and a warm coat, and a few of the gowns I've preselected for you will be included as well. You will purchase more clothing in New York when we get there in addition to some fur coats and even more appropriate clothing for our trip to Sweden. Much of the luggage you are taking will be empty but we will return with them full. I'm not sure how long we're going to be there or the number of events Ahmose will have us attending so we will be taking quite a bit of luggage with us to be prepared. You need only add your bathing supplies."
Nodding her head Sookie replied, "When is Bobby going to be here?"
"Within the next half hour."
Sookie watched Eric step out onto the front porch and prepare to launch himself and Ivan into the air as she said, "Text me when it's over and you're on your way back so I know it wasn't a trap." Smiling at her worry over him, Eric nodded his head and looked up to take to the sky when Sookie's voice stopped him. "I'm still mad at you Eric. You're being completely unreasonable about the swimming thing and I'm not done talking to you about that. I'll yell at you when you get back."
"Very well," Eric laughed before focusing his mind to keep Ivan with him as he shot upwards.
When they were gone Sookie walked back into the house and found Han waiting for her in the entryway. "Something wrong?"
"Your bonded will be fine, Sookie. He spoke truth. The queen will not be so foolish as to try and attack him tonight. He will return to you. Ivan's presence was not needed."
Shrugging Sookie replied, "It makes me feel better."
Han smiled softly at that and offered, "Why don't you relax in your bath as Northman suggested. I will speak with the Viking's human when he gets here and collect the luggage."
"Thank you, Han. I think I'll do that," Sookie said as she headed upstairs. Fifteen minutes later Sookie was relaxing in her large pink marble bathtub with candles lit around her and her favorite CD playing. Thor was spread out on the rug on the floor as she thought about her immediate reaction to Eric's announcement to his summons by the queen.
She'd been afraid. She'd been afraid for him and hadn't wanted him to go. She knew that Sophie-Anne wanted him dead and was afraid the awful woman would be using this as a chance to take Eric out. While she didn't want to end up the queen's servant that thought hadn't even entered her mind until Eric brought it up. What had worried and frightened her was the idea that he could be walking into a trap and might not come back. Her heart clenched painfully at the thought, and she felt her stomach churn as though she was going to be sick.
'Oh Lord I'm in for it now. I really am coming to care for him. How can I be so worried about him when he's the one that's making me a slave? How can I be terrified about him being hurt when he's hurt me so much and taken away my freedom? Is it purely the bond or is it really my emotions? I really don't think it's just the bond because during the day I feel affection for him and everyone's made it seem like he can only directly affect my emotions when he's awake. Not to mention the fact I'm still angry at him for ordering me around tonight and how rude he was to my guests. I can still feel my anger, but the worry for him is in me too. I know these are my emotions…oh God! I … I think I'm falling in love with him!'
Looking at Thor when he yipped in his sleep and she whispered, "I am so screwed."
A little while later, Eric landed in front of the queen's compound with Ivan behind him. He straightened his hair and began walking forward when Ivan's voice stopped him.
"Sookie fear for you. This good, Viking. Love in her grow. Joining happen soon," the Russian enforcer remarked in a gruff voice.
Smirking, Eric nodded his head at the larger vampire and agreed, "Indeed, she does. Her heart is tender. I will take it for my own soon enough. Though I'm beginning to think you and Han, along with the Ancient One, are even more anxious for me to claim Sookie than I am."
Ivan laughed, "None eager as Viking for Sookie. Not even HER."
Eric laughed as well and turned back to head into the queen's estate as he added, "Right you are. No one is more eager for me to own all of Sookie in every way than myself, and she will give herself to me soon."
Minutes later, Eric stood in the Queen's throne room with Ivan standing behind him and a little to the left. The queen sat on her throne with Andre to her right and the magistrate in a place of honor in a smaller throne to her left. All around them were dozens of Vampire subjects and even more human pets. What pleased Eric the most was the sight of Compton seated at the queen's feet. He looked more pale than any vampire should be and his cheeks were sunken in so apparently he'd suffered a great blood loss recently and not been permitted to feed to replenish himself. Also seeing Bill having to sit at the queen's feet like a lowly human pet was truly a sight to behold. He allowed himself a moment to bask in the satisfaction of Compton's humiliation before bowing his head to Sophie-Anne and addressed, "My queen. You summoned me?"
Watching Eric straighten before him with Ivan behind him Sophie-Anne said, "I hear you have quite the new talent, Northman. I also hear you used it in a less than subtle display in front of dozens of human witnesses. You are here to demonstrate this gift of yours and then we will decide if punishment shall be handed down."
Eric arched a brow and replied, "Punishment? I defended my bonded. Compton not only laid hands on her but broke her arm in doing so. I was well within my rights to meet out my own punishment. In fact as he also contacted my bonded without my permission through a letter yesterday giving me yet another reason to make a lawful claim on his life. I have broken no laws. No vampire save him was harmed in the release of my new power, and all humans were properly glamoured to cover the incident up."
Sophie-Anne was not pleased to hear that and hissed down at Compton, "You harmed the girl, you fool? And what's more you contacted her without her Master's permission?"
Flinching at her tone, Bill lowered his head and replied softly, "I accidently broke her arm. My emotions overtook me and I failed to check my strength when I grabbed her arm, and I did send her a letter. I felt the need to apologize for what had happened between us."
At this point the magistrate decided to speak up. Twirling his cane in his hands he said to Sophie-Anne, "It sounds as though Sheriff Northman is the only one with the right to hand down punishment here." Focusing on Eric he asked, "Do you demand the life of William Compton? As the official magistrate for the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama my word is sufficient. If you ask for it now I will give it and you will not need to place a formal request to send him to his final death."
The room filled with silence as everyone waited to hear Eric's reply. Eric enjoyed the moment immensely as he looked at Compton seated at the queen's feet. He could see the fear and desperation the man tried to hide, but it was very apparent in his eyes. Eric fully intended to kill Bill, but not like this. If he ordered Compton's death now Sookie would hear of it and she would not forgive him for it. No. He would find a way to make Bill disappear that would shed no suspicion on him. That way he could spend a great deal of time torturing the idiot before finally offing him. Finally he shook his head and replied, "It is not necessary. I believe I'll enjoy seeing Compton suffer his loss more than I'd enjoy seeing him dead. This way lasts longer. The fool may live, but if he ever touches my bonded or attempts to contact her on a personal level without my permission again I will kill him."
The magistrate smiled and confirmed, "I authorize such an action. You may mete out said punishment immediately should he overstep himself again."
Sophie-Anne, clearly upset by the turn of events as she'd hoped to be able to punish Eric in some way, thought quickly as to how to make him suffer and finally added, "Well as you have officially relinquished your rights to Compton's life for his previous transgressions against your telepath I am appointing him the investigator for your area. You will take him back with you tonight. He will also be traveling with you on any future business trips where the use of your little mind reader is required including your upcoming trip to New York City. I trust you and your bonded will have no trouble working side by side with him while you continue to sort out these Fellowship problems?"
Eric could feel a growl building in his chest as he asked, "Is his Maker not laying claim to him? I was under the impression she intended to take him with her on her return to Portugal."
Sophie-Anne laughed and replied, "Oh she did. However, I reminded her that if she re-staked her claim on him and drew him back into her service than the debts he owed me would fall to her. When she heard how much it would cost her and realized it would take everything she had and more to reclaim him she changed her mind. She left for Portugal last night to rejoin her own Maker; leaving Bill to continue in his service to me until his debts are paid. As such I am appointing Bill the investigator to your area. He will be your liaison to me and my court and I require you to take him on all official trips you go on with your telepath. He will also work at your bar with you nightly. Is that understood, sheriff?"
Knowing that the queen was doing this specifically to aggravate him and hurt his bonded Eric could feel his anger rising, however at the moment he had no room to argue the point or retaliate. Having no other alternative he nodded his head and answered, "But of course, my queen. I look forward to the extra manpower. Having Compton around will free me up to spend more personal time with my bonded."
Sophie-Anne could tell that Eric was less than pleased, but was hiding it well. Sitting back on her throne she waved a hand at him and ordered, "Now that we've taken care of that matter let's see this power of yours."
Nodding, Eric focused his power and lifted every human and piece of furniture in the room, save the thrones the queen and magistrate sat on, and began rotating them around the room in the circle. The humans all squealed in either fear, surprise, or excitement. He carried them around the room a few times before setting them all back in the exact spots they'd occupied before. There was stunned silence in the room before the magistrate began clapping and said, "Now that is quite the talent there, sheriff."
Sophie-Anne, far less pleased as she realized how powerful Eric had become, tapped her fingers in annoyance on the arm of her throne and added, "Indeed. Quite the talent. Strange how you just seemed to suddenly develop it. You are not using witch craft I hope? You know it is against the law for vampires to attempt to boost their own power through such means, and if I find you have done such a thing I will have to order your final death."
Before Eric could reply Ivan stepped up beside him and answered, "No witchcraft. Ancient One say he do. Ancient One see happen. Power belong to Viking alone. Ancient One verify."
The queen regarded Ivan for a moment before focusing on Eric and saying, "Well it seems I am quite the lucky ruler. I have a flying, telekinetic sheriff with a bonded telepathic human in my retinue."
"Indeed my queen. You have many valuable assets in your retinue," Eric nodded holding her gaze.
There was a long tense moment before Sophie-Anne smiled and kicked Bill's shoulder as she ordered, "Collect that child of yours and prepare to depart with Northman." When Bill rose, bowed to her, and left the throne room she focused back on Eric and added, "I expect daily reports from your activities in Ahmose's court. Keep me notified. You may wait for Bill and his child in the sunroom. You are dismissed."
Eric bowed his head, turned and strode out of the throne room with Ivan following after him. He cursed the Queen and her childish need to have the last word as he waited for Bill to arrive. They showed up very soon and Eric rolled his eyes at the triumphant expression in Bill's gaze. Obviously the idiot hoped to be able to use his new station to get back in Sookie's good graces, but Eric had no intention of allowing that.
As soon as Bill walked into the sunroom with Jessica, he headed out of the house with Ivan and his two new passengers following. When they were standing outside he got an idea on how to piss of Compton and pulled his phone out of his pocket. With Bill being a vampire, even a subpar one, he would be able to hear the conversation on the phone. Hitting speed dial he waited for Sookie to pick up and said, "It is over and I'm on my way home."
In Bon Temps, Sookie was curled up on the couch with Han as they watched Castle which she was still trying to finish and sighed, "That's good. Everything went ok right? You didn't get hurt?"
Eric smiled as he watched Bill glare at him as the younger Vampire picked up on Sookie's voice and words and replied, "Indeed. I gave my demonstration and everything is fine. I'll be home soon. Did you enjoy your bath and your ice cream?"
"Yes. I soaked for nearly an hour, and I'm eating ice cream now. Oh! by the way, you jerk! You left your towel and clothes on the floor again! I had to clean them up this morning. We agreed you would pick up after yourself if you were going to move in here! And don't leave your shoes in the middle of the floor either. I nearly tripped over them this morning getting out of bed. Put them in the closet."
Eric was thoroughly pleased with Sookie's rant. She had absolutely no idea that Bill could hear every word she said. He watched the younger Vampire's face darken at his former girlfriend's words and resisted the urge to laugh. "I took a shower last night after you fell asleep and the hamper was full of your clothes. What was I supposed to do with them?"
Back at home, Sookie rolled her eyes. "You could have carried them to the laundry room. Or you could have taken them to the hamper in the hall bath. You know I like to keep the house clean. You're a 1,000 years old Eric you don't honestly expect me to believe that you don't know how to take care of yourself do you? And what about the shoes? When I helped you unpack the other night I showed you how I like to have the shoes arranged in my closet. You watched me straighten yours next to mine after you just tossed them in there. If you can't pick up after yourself you're moving out of my bedroom and keeping your stuff in the guest room!"
Eric was practically beaming in satisfaction at the look on Bill's face. Sookie had just made it quite obvious that she was sharing parts of her life with him that she had never shared with Compton. "Sookie," he purred, "I will endeavor to remember to keep up with your clean freak standards. There is no reason to get upset. I will keep our room as clean as you wish if that is such a concern of yours. Now think on what you'd like to do when I return. There is still much of the night left. We won't be able to go dancing in Shreveport as I had planned for tonight, but perhaps you'd like to play chess again? Maybe this time you might actually win."
"Hey! I nearly had you last time!"
"You were cornered and you know it. I had three unavoidable traps set for you halfway into the game. You just did not see them."
"Whatever. We'll play when you get back and I'll win. After that we can watch a movie … and we're still going to talk about my bikini! You are being so unreasonable about that!"
In Bon Temps Sookie bit her lip before asking, "You're sure you're alright? Nothing happened to you?"
"I'm certain. You can stop worrying. I am fine. I'll see you soon. Oh, and there is something we must discuss when I return as well."
"Is it about our trip tomorrow? Bobby just dropped off the luggage and your travel coffin about 30 minutes ago. Han said he and Ivan have their own and he'd bring them over from the guest house later tonight. Thank you for my new luggage by the way. It's really pretty. I like my new coat too. Will it really be that cold in New York?"
Watching Bill clench his fists and glare at him hatefully Eric replied, "Indeed. It will be in the 50's. We will be discussing our trip tomorrow. It appears we have another guest coming with us and that is what I will have to speak to you about. I will see you when I get home and we'll talk more then."
"Alright. See you in a bit. And it's your turn to pick the movie. Sadly Bad Boys 2 is not among my selection though, and almost all the movies I do have are romantic."
Laughing Eric said, "That's what the deluxe cable package is for. I'm sure I'll find something on either On Demand or Pay Per View. Be home soon my pet."
When she hung up Eric hit end on his iPhone and tucked it into his pocket as he smirked darkly at Bill and added, "She is so touchy about me leaving my clothes on the floor. She was upset about having to pick my bloody ones off the bathroom floor the other night when I put my fist through your stomach. I'm really going to have to remember to aim for the hamper from now on."
Bill clenched his fist so tightly you could hear the bones of his knuckles grinding together as he hissed, "Are you quite ready to go? I have packing to do today since we will be leaving tomorrow."
Eric could practically see the waves of jealousy rolling off of Compton and reveled in it. Nodding his head he agreed, "Indeed. I have much better company waiting for me at home. I will drop you and your child off at your home and then go to Sookie."
Before Bill could say anything Eric launched them all into the air and he and Jessica were subjected to the feeling of being pulled through the air with no help or aid. It only took Eric about 35 minutes to get them back to Bon Temps and land them in front of Compton's decrepit house. Bill was still full of rage and anger as he watched Eric turn to face them. He hated the smug look on the older vampire's face and dearly wished he could punch it off, but knew it would end in his final death. Taking Jessica by the arm he directed her towards the house before turning to Eric and saying, "I will be in my travel coffin with my luggage in the living room tomorrow. I trust I will arrive to New York safely?"
"Of course you will, Compton. Dead, I won't be able to rub in the fact that Sookie is mine and not yours," Eric replied. "However I'm warning you that if you make this trip uncomfortable or difficult for Sookie more than it needs to be you will suffer. Is that understood?"
"Perfectly," Bill said before he turned around and walked into the house to slam the door behind him.
Laughing at the younger vampire's upset, Eric headed across the cemetery. Walking inside the house Eric found Sookie curled up on one end of the couch with Thor pressed against her leg while Han sat on the far end from her. They were both watching Castle and looked up when Eric and Ivan filled the doorway. Sookie looked up and smiled at Eric as she said, "That was quick."
"Indeed." Looking at Han Eric said, "I have matters to discuss with Sookie so the two of you can have the rest of the night off. Be sure to bring your travel coffins and luggage over here before sunrise and rest here."
The two Enforcers bid them both good night and Sookie waved at them before asking Eric, "So, what's up?"
Taking his jacket off and tossing it on the back of the chair Eric joined Sookie on the couch and got right to the point. "The queen has named Bill the investigator for this area. I have been ordered to take him with us anytime we take an official trip. I had to bring him back with me tonight and he will be joining us on our trip to New York tomorrow."
Sookie went rigid before she jumped up and began pacing the room with her fists clenched. "No! Absolutely not! He can't come!"
While Eric was pleased with her reaction he had to get her to understand the position they were in. "Sookie the decision has been made. We are going to New York as emissaries of the queen. Not to mention the fact that I am her sheriff and still subject to her. She has given an order and I must obey. I do not like this any more than you do, but there is nothing for it. Compton is coming."
Sookie could feel her emotions warring within her. While she was more sympathetic to his plight she was in no way ready to deal with having to face him again so soon. "Eric I can't do this! I can't see him yet!"
Watching her pace back and forth Eric soothed, "Sookie you will not be left alone with him. He will be there in an official capacity only, and will only be allowed to speak to you with my permission. The only time you'll see him will be when we are working with Ahmose, and you will have plenty of distractions at those times to keep your mind off of him. Your days will be spent shopping and touring the city and I will do my best to keep your nights full as well."
Tears filling her eyes Sookie begged, "Eric, please don't let him come! I … I can't see him so soon! It hurts me to think about what he did, let alone see him!"
"Sookie this is not my decision to make. The queen has given a command and I have no choice but to carry it out."
"Why is he coming? Why is he coming back at all? I thought you said the Queen was going to punish him?"
"She did. He looks as though he suffered a recent torturing but he should be fine by tomorrow night after he feeds. I believe the queen has two purposes for sending Bill here. First, to drive a wedge between us. She knows it will hurt you and aggravate me to have him around. The second reason is to hurt Compton himself. It will hurt him to see you and not be able to be with you. It is actually a clever move on her part."
"That's horrible! Why can't she leave me alone!"
"Because she is Queen and is unused to not getting her way. I told you she would interfere in our lives. This is her first step. There is nothing I can do about this Sookie."
She was silent a moment before pressing, "You'll keep him away from me?"
Sitting back down on the couch Sookie curled up in a ball and said, "Fine, but I'm not happy about this."
Eric regarded her for a moment before asking, "Why are you so upset about this? Just the other day you told me you had forgiven him because of that stupid letter he sent."
"I did not! I said I understood how he was in a hard position and didn't know how to feel about it. I never said all was forgiven! I don't know if things could ever be right between us. The letter explained why he did what he did but it doesn't make up for it. The fact remains he betrayed me and took things from me he had no right to take. I'm upset because I don't want him around reminding me of what a fool I was and all that I've lost because of his lies, and you're really not helping!"
"I told you I'd kill him for you."
"Eric! No killing!"
Sitting back on the couch with his arms across the back Eric rolled his eyes and sighed, "You are far too picky. You want me to pick up my clothes, line up my shoes, be nice to your friends, not kill or torture people, keep Compton away from you but not kill him doing so. I swear, Sookie, you are so hard to please."
Staring at him with shock on her face before she caught the humor in his gaze Sookie picked up a pillow and threw it at his head. She couldn't help but laugh as Eric caught the pillow in mid air and set it next to him while sending her one of those devilishly charming smiles. With those few little words he had been able to lift her spirits. She squeaked when she suddenly found herself floating through the air as Eric used his gift to bring her into his lap.
Wrapping his arms around her to pull her against his chest as he held her bridal style Eric said, "I will not let him bother us more than absolutely necessary. I will make sure you enjoy your trip to New York."
Tucking her head under his chin Sookie let him stroke her thigh; she was wearing a pair of pink matching track shorts and tank top and most of her skin was bare. "Why is it every time things start to settle down something else happens?"
"I don't know. Things always seem to be more interesting with you around Sookie. I think you attract trouble."
Looking up at him she gasped, "Are you blaming this on me?"
Kissing her forehead he replied, "I was only teasing you. This is no one's fault. I'm sorry you are upset, but things will be fine."
Resting against him again Sookie whispered, "He wants me back."
"I know, but mine you are and mine you will stay."
"He's not going to give up."
"I wouldn't either."
"I'm so lost. I don't know what I want anymore. I don't know what to do. You confuse me."
Laughing softly Eric replied, "I will not apologize for making you doubt your desire to leave me."
Sookie couldn't help but smile at that. They sat together in silence for a little longer before she said, "I don't want to think about it tonight. I'll think about it tomorrow. Let's play chess and watch a movie."
Pleased by her attitude Eric replied, "Very well. What wager would you like to make on the game?"
As she stood to retrieve her chess set out of the hall closet Sookie thought about what wager she would make. When she came back into the living room she offered, "How about if I win you let me wear what I want when swimming and don't argue with who I swim with."
Firm in the belief that he would be winning Eric replied, "Very well. If I win you have to let me buy you some more night clothes, and you have to wear them at least twice a week in rotation with the garments you already sleep in."
"You're going to buy lingerie aren't you?"
"But of course."
Shaking her head Sookie argued, "I can't make that agreement. You'll pick things I hate and will feel uncomfortable in. I should be at ease in my own bed."
"What if I promise to only give you things I know you will not object to? You seemed to like the nightgowns I picked you last time. I am capable of picking clothes that please us both."
Kneeling down on her side of the coffee table Sookie agreed, "It's a deal then."
"Prepare to face defeat, Sookie."
"We'll see about that, Viking."
Two hours and three re-matches later Sookie was thoroughly beaten and not only had to accept new night clothes from Eric, but had to kiss him (a real kiss) at Fangtasia the next night they were there, and had to agree to spend obscene amounts of money on herself while in New York and do absolutely no bargain shopping or purchasing of anything on sale. After that they watched Bourne Ultimatum before heading upstairs so Sookie could go to bed.
Eric sat on the bed removing his boots while Sookie gathered her peach chiffon nightgown up to go into the bathroom to change and brush her teeth. After pulling his boots and shirt off to push his pants off his hips, Eric caught sight of the picture he'd sent to Sookie of her star. It replaced her old painting and was covering her wall safe, and was in direct sight of the bed. He smiled at that. Pleased that he was slowly surrounding Sookie of things that reminded her of their connection.
When Sookie turned off the bathroom light and stepped back into the bedroom she found Eric already beneath the covers and waiting for her with Thor stretched out at the bottom already snoring away. She saw his clothes and shoes on the floor and asked, "You intend to pick those up, right?"
Chuckling as he nodded his head Eric replied, "Indeed. After you fall asleep, I'll get dressed again to use your dojo for my training session. After that I'll probably get my laptop and do some work in the living room before retiring for the night when dawn approaches. I'm going to put them back on so don't worry your room will be clean."
When Eric held the covers up for her Sookie slid into the bed with him and said, "Good thing. I'm serious about you cleaning up after yourself. I can't stand a messy house."
"I'm aware." Pulling Sookie into the curve of his arm Eric indicated the picture of the star and inquired, "Did you like the pictures?"
Smiling brightly at that she answered, "Of course I did. Thank you for those by the way. Hey! I wanted to ask you how you got that star renamed for me? Quinn told me no star has ever been named after a person so how did you do it? He told me that the agency that catalogues them doesn't take donations to rename them so how did you do it?"
"I called in debts of vampire kings and queens throughout the world and had them glamour the humans in the top administrative positions of the IAU in their countries. I think some 27,000 humans all together were glamoured and they all voted to accept my proposal to rename the star. I made a donation to the IAU as well, but that was for appearances mainly."
Mouth falling open in shock Sookie whispered, "You're joking, right?"
"No. It was the only way to get it done. I told you that many monarchs owed me incredible debts due to my services to them during my Enforcer days. The King of France did most of the work since the IAU is based in that country. He had to arrange for the 1,400 members of the IAU administrative branch there to be glamoured and accept my request."
"Eric why would you do that? Why would you waste some of your favors on something like that?"
"The favors it cost me is nothing compared to the ones still owed me. The King of France owes me many. His glamouring of the humans was only one and he owes me seven more. All more significant than the one I called in, and I did it because I wanted you in the stars."
Sookie was silent a moment before she leaned up to kiss Eric's cheek and said, "There you go being all sweet again."
Pulling Sookie into his lap Eric kissed her neck and purred, "I'll be as sweet as you like if you kiss me again … but can I pick where?"
"Eric!" Sookie laughed.
Pleased that she wasn't truly angry Eric nipped her shoulder before biting into his wrist and offering her the wound. As her mouth wrapped around the wound he nuzzled her neck and shoulder and let a growl build in his chest. He didn't want to arouse her so he sent her calm soothing waves through the bond to keep her blood from heating. He wanted her to get to sleep soon since she was going to have a hectic day tomorrow. Ken would be arriving early in the morning to give her a lesson since she would be gone for several days and after that she would be hurrying up to get ready to head to the airport for their flight to New York. He thoroughly enjoyed the feel of her feeding from him, but he knew it wouldn't do to work Sookie up now when there was no way for him to take care of her needs.
Sookie could feel the heat in her blood trying to rise up as Eric's rushed into her body as she drank from his wrist, but she could tell Eric was forcing it back. Once again she wasn't mad at his interference. She knew he was keeping her calm so that she could fall asleep easily. When he pulled his wrist away she licked her lips to remove the few droplets clinging to the corners of her mouth. "Thanks," she whispered.
"You're welcome," Eric replied as he moved them both to lie on their sides on the bed with Sookie spooned against his much larger frame. He buried his face in her hair and inhaled her sweet scent as he said, "Sleep well Sookie."
"Mmm … 'night Eric," Sookie mumbled as she faded away into sleep.
The next day Sookie was finishing up getting dressed after the shower she'd taken when her lesson with Ken was over when Bobby arrived with his luggage. Sookie's guards let him and nodded at him. All seven of her guards were accompanying her to New York along with Han and Ivan. Now that Bill was coming too that increased their little traveling party to 13 and one puppy. Thor was running around the house all excited and barking as the Were guards began loading all the luggage into the back of Sookie's Mercedes. She'd be riding in it while the four vampires would be riding in two separate bullet proof vans that had been rented for the transportation to the private air field where their Anubis jet was waiting. It was a little before nine and Quinn stood at the bottom of the stairs and hollered up, "Sook! It's time to go, babe! Northman wants us on the plane and in the air by 10 so we've gotta hit the road towards Shreveport! Get a move on!"
"I'm coming! Give me a minute!" Sookie looked at herself in the mirror and decided she looked pretty good. She was wearing an outfit she'd found set out on her bed along with a cream shearling and white fox fur coat when she woke up this morning with a note from Eric. He told her it would be a little warm for Louisiana weather but she would appreciate it once they landed in New York. She had designer jeans with black boots on and a white off the shoulder cashmere sweater that hugged her hips and fit her perfectly. It was so soft she didn't care if it was a bit much for the 77 degree weather of Bon Temps. She decided she'd just turn the AC on it the car.
She was taking her purse and computer case with her on the plane and a small carrying bag with some toys for Thor. Checking to make sure she had her wallet, cell phone and house keys in her purse she headed downstairs with her coat, purse and bag. She found all her guards loitering around the entryway with Bobby waiting for her. She didn't see the coffins so she figured that Eric, Han, and Ivan were already loaded. Looking at Quinn she asked, "You guys get Bill?"
"Yeah. Let's go Babe. Better early than late," the weretiger answered.
Checking to make sure the note she'd written Tara on the feeding instructions for her horses Sookie turned off all the lights in the house and led the way to the cars after locking the house. When she slid into the Mercedes with Thor at her feet she turned to face Quinn as he got in the driver's seat and asked, "Are you sure Frannie will be ok? She could come with us."
"Nah. That's part of the reason I got her the hardship license. She can take care of herself for a few days. Besides Alcide's got some women in his pack swinging by a lot to help her get situated. She'll be fine. We're only going to be gone three or four days at the most. She'll be alright."
Sookie felt comforted at that and was almost tempted to ask if whether or not he knew if any arrangements had been made for Jessica then she realized that not only was she still upset with the other girl for deceiving her, but Bill would certainly make sure she was looked after. After that she made small talk with Quinn as their convoy of her Mercedes, two transport vans, and two trucks made its way to Shreveport to the independent air port where their private jet awaited them.
Sookie was just as delighted with the jet they took to New York as she had been with the one to New Orleans though this one was much larger. Thor spent most of his time running around the cabin chasing the ball Sookie or one of the guards would throw to keep him entertained. They took off from Shreveport at 10am and the flight took two and a half hours. Due to the time change when they landed in New York it was about 1:45pm, and Sookie found she was entirely grateful for the warm clothing and even warmer coat that Eric had provided her. As soon as the cabin door opened she was hit with a blast of cold air and pulled her new fur coat tightly around her. There was a small contingent of limos and transportation vans waiting for them along with a tall black man than introduced himself as Edwin and Ahmose's day man. He informed them that instead of staying at a hotel they would be staying at Ahmose's personal home in the Hamptons.
Sookie looked out the window the entire way to Ahmose's home and she openly gawked as they pulled through a huge gate to drive down a long drive that led to the most beautiful house Sookie had ever seen.
She heard Alcide let out a low whistle beside her as she whispered, "Oh my lord."
"Damn. Now that's a house," Alcide said with equal amounts of awe in his voice.
Quinn looked at it and shrugged as he commented, "Felipe De Castro's in Vegas is much bigger. This place ain't too shabby though. I like the pool."
By now the limo had stopped and they were getting out as Edwin approached Sookie and said, "You and Mr. Northman are to be put in the main guest room. The entire house has light tight window panels that descend with a remote. Ahmose enjoys windows. I'll see you and Mr. Northman to your suite with your luggage and the other butlers will settle your guards in their rooms."
Quinn stepped forward and insisted, "One of us has to be with her at all times. Alcide and I will escort her to her room with you and stay with her so the other guards can get settled. They'll relieve us so we can then do the same."
Edwin bowed and replied, "Of course. My lord instructed me to accommodate any requests you might have."
Sookie ignored Bobby's glare and hateful thoughts as he wondered why she was being given such preferential treatment. He was especially upset that Sookie would be sharing a room with his Master, but Sookie forced herself to tune his thoughts out as she whistled to Thor who had run off to make use of the yard. She followed behind Edwin with Quinn and Alcide following her as three servants trailed them with hers and Eric's luggage and Eric's travel coffin. As they made their way down the many hallways Edwin said, "Each of the guest rooms has a theme. You and Mr. Northman are staying in the Princess bedroom since Mr. Northman informed my Master that you have feminine taste."
|one of many hallways|
Sookie nodded when appropriate as she looked around at all the beautiful marble the entire house seemed to be made of. She'd never seen such a beautiful house. She'd found Sophie-Anne's house overdone and tacky, but this house screamed of taste and wealth.
|Eric and Sookie's opulent bedroom accommodations|
When Edwin brought them to a door and opened it for her so she could step inside Sookie gasped at the beauty and opulence of the room. It looked like a royal bedroom and Sookie had to restrain herself from going to jump on the bed. She watched as the servants wheeled Eric's coffin into the room and dropped their baggage off. The light tight panels on the windows were already lowered and the chandeliers alit to keep the room lighted. Sookie toured the room slowly with Thor padding after her as she gasped, "It's beautiful."
Edwin smiled at her awe in the room and replied, "My Master will be pleased with your satisfaction. He wanted to be sure you and Mr. Northman were comfortable. I am also to inform you that you have the full use of the house and are free to look around at your pleasure. My Master assures that his home is your home during your stay."
"Oh! Well … uh … tell your Master I'm very thankful and I really look forward to meeting him when Eric gets up."
Edwin bowed and replied, "He will be pleased to hear that. There is a phone by your bed and if you need me press '1' and you will be connected to me personally. All the servants in the house are aware you are here and know to attend you properly. Please let me know if there is anything you need Miss Stackhouse. For now I'll ask that you excuse me while I see to the situating of your companions."
Sookie smiled and answered, "That's fine. Can you make sure Han and Ivan are close, though?"
"Of course." Edwin bowed to her and made his way out of the suite so she could get situated.
When he was gone Sookie smiled at Quinn and Alcide and said, "Can you believe how beautiful this house is? And look at this room!"
Alcide and Quinn laughed at her exuberance before Alcide replied, "I'm sure Northman will love the room. The pink couches and chairs especially."
Sookie laughed at that and moved to begin unpacking her and Eric's clothes as she added, "About as much as he loves my flower print couches back home … but he did tell Ahmose I have feminine taste so he set himself up for this."
It was almost three by the time Sookie was done unpacking her and Eric's things and she was ready to tour the house. Edwin had alerted them to the fact that the sun set around 4:30 so she would have just enough time to look around the house before Eric rose. She wasn't sure how the time change and different sun rise would affect him and figured if he got up earlier than she was expecting he would be upset that she wasn't in their suite waiting for him.
She could barely believe how beautiful the house was. The landscaping was marvelous but the obviously authentic and ancient artifacts scattered around the house really caught Sookie's eye. There was an almost temple like room in the house with huge statues of Gods and Goddesses she figured to be Egyptian really awed her and she remembered how Eric had told her that Odin was real so she wondered if these Gods were as well. She had read up a bit on Ahmose on the internet in preparation for this trip and knew the one with the falcon head was Horus. She also knew the woman with the baby on her lap was Isis. As soon as she had stepped into the room she'd felt an electrical charge in the air and had been afraid to say anything or touch anything while in the room, but strangely she'd felt welcome there.
At a little past four she finished touring the library and decided to make her way back to her room to get ready for her introduction to Ahmose. Eric had told her to wear the blue gown that was packed in her luggage in his note to her that morning and she wanted to be ready or almost ready when he rose. Thankfully her guards were with her and were able to guide her back since she would never have been able to find her way.
By 4:30 she was finishing up curling her hair as she stood in the bathroom in her dress. She actually liked it very much. It was a light blue layers silk with silver embroidery around her waist. The top was very modest and crossed around her neck covering her chest with silk. Eric had apparently packed her diamond bracelets and earrings so she wore those as well. She was putting the last touches on her hair when Eric suddenly appeared behind her in the mirror and she gasped in surprise. "Eric! Don't do that!"
Eric had risen about 15 minutes ago and set about getting dressed in his black Armani suit so that he could be ready after he'd checked in with Han and Ivan in the hall. He'd made it clear to them that Compton was not allowed near Sookie unless absolutely necessary, and ordered that Bill be sent to wait with all the other vampires in the throne room since he and Sookie were the only ones who were actually being presented to Ahmose tonight. As he'd dressed he'd heard Sookie in the bathroom finishing up as well and was eager to see how she looked in the gown he'd selected for her tonight. Leaning against the doorway with his arms crossed over his chest as Sookie turned around to face him Eric let his eyes trail over her form starting at the top of her head and going all the way to her toes. When he was done he smirked at her and said, "You get more beautiful by the day."
"Yeah, because you're giving me your blood."
"Sookie I've told you to stop putting yourself down like that. It displeases me." Holding his hand out to her and pulling her forward to kiss her cheek as he led her back into the bedroom he asked, "How was your day?"
"It was good. You should see this house! It's so beautiful! Much better than Sophie-Anne's."
"I have seen it. I've come here on several occasions to meet with Ahmose. I'm glad you like it. He will be pleased. Do you not like Sophie's house?"
Shaking her head Sookie replied, "It's too tacky. She tries way too hard to make it look like she's rich and powerful and it doesn't come off right. This house looks great because it is. I really like it."
Eric picked up his suit jacket and was putting it on as he said, "I agree on both points. Sophie-Anne's taste has always been a bit lavish."
Sookie watched Eric for a moment before she asked, "Eric when we meet Ahmose do you think he'll mind if I ask him some questions?"
Smirking at her as he fastened his buttons Eric answered, "I sincerely doubt it. He made it quite clear to me during our phone conversations that he was looking forward to meeting you. I told you he is good with humans and I think he would be more than amiable to answering your questions. He actually speaks to a number of museum curators about history so they can get their facts straight. He is not so shy about his past as many vampires are."
"That's great because I have so many questions!"
"Then let us see about getting you some answers," Eric laughed as he held his arm out for Sookie to take it so he could lead her out of the room. Ahmose had told him to bring Sookie down in the receiving room as soon as they were ready and Edwin would escort them into the throne room to be properly introduced to Ahmose's court. He could feel Sookie's nervousness as they left their room and Han and Ivan fell into step behind them. Leaning down he whispered in her ear, "Hold your head high, Sookie. You're about to meet one of the oldest vampires in the world and he's far more interested in meeting you than you are in him. Remember that little one."
Sookie smiled up at Eric as he sent her steady waves of calm through the bond and whispered, "Just don't let me trip. I want to make a good impression so he'll like me."
Eric shook his head and laughed, "Sookie you always make a good impression. Just be yourself and I'm sure you'll charm him every bit as you have me."
"Well then here goes nothing, Viking," Sookie whispered as Eric led her down the main staircase where she could see Edwin waiting at the bottom to guide them to the throne room she had toured earlier. She was about to meet an Ancient Vampire who had once been a Pharaoh as she walked on the arm of a 1,000 year old telekinetic, flying Viking vampire sheriff with two of the world's most powerful and famed pledged vampire enforcers behind her. Her life just kept getting weirder and weirder.