Sam was going to kill me. This was so inappropriate, so unbelievably wrong and yet, here I was, standing in the corner of the storeroom, sneaking off to make a phone call. I should have been hustling Hoyt on home to his mama or pretending to care about what that guy at the bar was thinking, but instead I was making personal phone calls from behind a bucket of pickles.
I definitely deserved whatever I got for this.
There was a click on the line and a voice said, "Fangtasia, the bar with bite. This is Mina, how may I help you?"
Mina. Sure. It made sense that she would be a literate fangbanger.
"This is Sookie Stackhouse, I need to talk to Pam."
I shuffled anxiously as I waited for Pam's bored voice to answer and ran through a series of excuses should Sam come in looking for beer or onions or something. None of them were any good.
"This is Pam."
"Hi! Can you do something for me?" I probably sounded like a lunatic, but I didn't much care at the moment. I needed help and I really couldn't ask Sam to do anything for me; he'd already been forced into things that had nothing to do with him all too often. I wasn't going to keep dragging him into all of my weird supernatural problems.
"Yes, Sookie. What do you require?"
"I really hate to ask, but could you swing by and check the woods around my house? I haven't heard anything in them for days. No animals, no birds, no crickets. I think something is watching me," I told her. I missed the sounds that were part of spring evenings in Bon Temps.
There was an awkward pause before Pam finally said, "Of course, but why are you asking me?" IInstead of Eric/I, said her tone, if not her words.
Why did she always have to ask these things? A regular, human friend would have just said okay and not mentioned Eric until later when there wasn't an entire bar, and possibly the man in question listening in. Thanks, Pam.
"Because I know he's busy with the new king and I'm probably just paranoid." There, that was a pretty decent excuse. "Look, I have to go. Can you come by tonight?"
I hung up and I hot-footed it out to the bar, smiling apologetically to Sam as I swept the empty bottles away from Portia, who was downhearted over her first marital spat and about four sheets to the wind from the looks of things. I'd call Halleigh to pick her up. Sister-in-laws are good for these things. Or so they say, I wouldn't know.
The bar was empty at least half an hour before last call, which is not surprising for a Monday. I grabbed my coat and my purse from Sam's office, said goodbye and trudged out to my car. With all of the unexpected events that had popped up in my life lately, I was just happy to get home easily and in one piece. I listened as I drove down Hummingbird Lane, trying to hear rustling in the leaves or chirping of crickets, but there was nothing. Not a sound aside from my tires on the road and then the crunch of gravel as I turned onto my driveway.
The lights were off, which I took to mean that Amelia and Octavia had gone to bed. I could feel fear claw at my skin. I hated coming home and being afraid and it was happening far too often these days for my taste.
I parked behind the house and made a mad dash for the back porch door, slamming it shut and re-locking it in record time. Slowly and cautiously, I crossed to the kitchen door and repeated the process, my breath still coming fast from the adrenaline pumping through my veins and fear of being snatched out of the night by whatever was hiding in the trees.
"Are you panting?"
I jumped at the voice and spun around before I registered who had spoken, but once I had, it didn't make me feel any better.
"Eric, what are you doing here?"
"Tell me you're panting," he said, eyebrows raised, implication none too wholesome.
"I called Pam," I said, trying to keep my voice steady. "Where's Pam?" It wasn't that I was unhappy to see Eric; in fact I was darn near enthralled to see him, which was the problem. And now that all of my thoughts and feelings weren't being drowned out by the fear of the monster in my woods that warm, pleasant feeling that always accompanied his presence was starting to seep into my bloodstream.
Slowly and with one eye always on him, I set my purse on the counter and shucked off my coat, the one he'd given me and which he was eying appreciatively, hanging it on a hook by the door. He narrowed his eyes at me and I could feel indecision and supposition (yesterday's Word of the Day) suddenly strike him. I wanted to run far away.
"Sookie," he said, his voice sounding suspicious.
"Eric," I answered, matching his tone. I wouldn't be able to keep him at a distance for long, which meant I should probably rescind his invitation. But the thought was almost unbearable. Damn it!
"Did you find anything in the woods?" I asked. When in doubt, or when trying to get some distance, I find it wise to change the subject.
"Yes. Diantha is there. She could not mourn her sister before, so she is fasting now. It is their way. She should be gone in a day or two." He shrugged as if to say no harm, 'no foul.'
"She could have said hello," I said with no small amount of annoyance. I knew I sounded like a grumpy child, but I'd been scared for days and it had been Diantha the entire time, who was not really less scary, but at least I would have known what was there. And maybe stocked up on steel swords or something just to be safe.
"Well, thank you," I said, quickly walking past Eric toward the bathroom. "I'm dead on my feet so I think I'm going to sleep now."
Thanks to our blood bond, I knew right away that he wasn't having it. Having shared blood with Eric on several occasions, I could feel his confidant skepticism just as I was sure he could feel my anxiety. Except this time it had nothing to do with what was outside; it was what was inside that scared me. Gotta love irony.
I shut myself in the bathroom and readied for bed, thinking that if I ignored him, he would go away. I brushed my teeth, washed my face and changed into a pair of blue flannel pajamas then I straightened the hand towels and wiped down the counter. When the bathroom was spotless I gave up stalling – better bite the bullet and just deal with the damned Viking.
He was sitting on the edge of my bed, facing the bathroom door when I peeked out of it.
"Sookie," he said again, but this time there was no suspicion, only confidence and something else that may have started with an "L" and ended in "ust." Possibly.
"What are you doing?"
That was an excellent question. I had no idea what I was doing.
"Going to sleep," I answered. And to prove my point, I walked around him, giving him as wide a berth as I could, and scrambled under the covers. I pulled them up to my chin and gave him my maniac smile. "See?"
It was a decent try, ineffectual, but decent. Eric crawled right into bed with me, still clothed, with his eyes locked on my face.
"You cannot avoid me," he said, putting his blond head on my pillow. "Why are you trying?"
I scoffed and rolled my eyes, but I could tell he wasn't buying it for a second. Before I could offer a protest, weak as it would have been, he was kissing me.
I melted. I didn't want to, but how in the hell was I expected not to melt when he does that thing with his tongue? I had been trying not to do this, and there were really some very good reasons for avoiding Eric. If only I could remember what they were.
His hand snaked under my pajama top and along my ribcage, up to my shoulder and into my hair. I couldn't help but moan a little at his touch. He pulled away briefly to look at me and I met his eye without thinking about it. There was so much there, so many complicated emotions that I wouldn't have given him credit for feeling if I couldn't feel them too. I didn't know how this blood bond worked, but it did – and then I recalled the important reasons why I had been avoiding this.
His memory had been restored by Hallow Stonebrook, the same witch who'd taken it away in the first place, though through less pleasant means. Pam had tortured her into removing the spell and when she did his personality had returned and he'd gone back to running his business, but he'd claimed not to remember what had happened between us. I hadn't wanted to talk about it, but now that I knew our time together was not my secret to keep, it didn't feel right having these kinds of relations with him without clearing the air first.
I opened my mouth to speak, but he covered it with his own, breaking away after a moment to mutter, "Later." And then he was pulling off my top and his lips were everywhere.
I arched against him as he lowered his mouth to my breasts, his fangs grazing lightly against my skin, but not drawing blood, teasing the both of us. Oh, I was in trouble. His hands skirted over my hips and low on my belly, gently tugging the waist of my pajama pants down just enough so he could nip at my inner thigh, again not drawing blood.
Slowly the pants melted away and Eric lowered himself down onto me. The rough fabric of his jeans scratched my skin as he moved to kiss me again so I slid a hand to his buttons, flipping them open. He moaned and turned onto his back, pulling me on top. I straddled his legs as I tugged his jeans off impatiently, ignoring the egotistical smile on his face. He would definitely be saying, "I knew you couldn't resist me" later.
I don't even remember where his red flannel buttondown shirt went just that he was suddenly naked. Had he been wearing underwear? I couldn't recall. The point was that he was naked and I loved every inch of it, much to my dismay.
My breath hitched as he moved his hips in just the right way and he laughed and did it again. I was sorely tempted to chastise him for teasing me, but it wasn't exactly a hardship.
Eric flipped me over onto my back again, his lips pressing reverently against the base of my throat. Then he buried his face in my hair, kissing a line from my ear to my jaw. He kissed my lips. My eyelids. Goodness, what had gotten into him? As if he'd heard my thoughts he pulled away and smiled at me. It was not an entirely pleasant smile.
"Oh yes, my lover. I remember all of it," he said. "I cannot understand how you could pretend this never happened."
I had no answer, but he didn't seem to want one because he caught my eye as he entered me. I gasped and clutched at him. Eric was an amazing lover, this I knew, but there was something else there now. It was the most peculiar and amazing sensation I had ever felt. And suddenly I didn't care that I couldn't separate his emotions from mine that I felt everything he did. I could live with that, just as long as we could do this again and often.
"Oh, God," I sighed. Sorry for the name in vain thing, God. Couldn't be helped.
His hand pressed against my cheek in that way he had done before when things weren't complicated, when he'd made promises he could never keep. "Look at me," he said softly.
For one tiny moment I hesitated. I was so consumed with both fear and what he was doing to me that I couldn't. Looking at him was dangerous. He was dangerous. I hadn't actually counted on the other softer, maybe even kinder Eric reconciling with the real Eric. The possibility was frightening and yet so exciting. But I did look at him, I had to – I had to know.
His eyes were just as I knew they would be: blue and bright and sincere. He held my gaze, both of us fighting not to lose whatever it was we had found together. But he suddenly muttered something that sounded incredibly scary and I was clutching at him, eyes wide and muttering it right back as his teeth finally found my neck and we were both shuddering and shivering.
And to my shock, I hadn't said it because he had, I hadn't said because I wanted to reciprocate. I meant it – I loved him. This couldn't be good.
His tongue ran across the punctures and I trembled a little, silently wishing that he would just stay there and did that for the next several hours.
I got my wish and then some.