Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to the Southern Vampire Novels. Sookie Stackhouse and the universe she kicks ass in were created by Charlaine Harris and consequently belong to her. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Note: I'm awfully sorry that this chapter took so long. Writing the sex scene was a pain in the arse. Metaphorically speaking. ;) I really appreciate each and every one of your reviews and comments. They always cheer me up. So lots of hugs and kisses to everyone who left me a few words. Now on to the chapter!

chapter five: dire straits

One thing you should know about dating a vampire is that you're going to push what you previously considered your sexual limits aka ick factors pretty damn far. Blood play is pretty much a given (well, duh) and they can talk you into basically everything else because they're just so damn good at it. So it should not come as a surprise that this wasn't the first time I had had sex in a cemetery. And considering the sometimes Draculaesque sleeping habits of my undead boyfriend, I doubted that this would be the last. Eric definitely knew how to kiss a woman into willing and oh so eager submission. His lips were cool and soft but they evoked entirely different feelings in me. I reached up and crossed my arms behind his neck, pulling myself up and into the kiss. He had to lean down to kiss me properly and I stood on tiptoes.

I hadn't planned on being seduced by my blond Viking tonight, in fact, I had expected to spend the night in rather awkward company, so I wasn't wearing anything sexy. (Though nothing floppy, either. Sometimes I am rather vindictive and showing Bill what he missed was a petty little pleasure I would undoubtedly pay for in my afterlife.) So when Eric slid his big, skilled hands under my clothes, he pushed up a tight-fitting but washed-out blue shirt that barely reached my navel. I shivered but not from the cold as his cool fingers caressed my belly, my sides and then slowly moved up to my breasts. He only brushed them teasingly before breaking the kiss and divesting me of my shirt and bra. I moved my hips against him and Eric groaned and set about removing my cut-off jeans. As soon as he was finished, he grabbed my behind and pulled me up. I crossed my legs behind him, feeling him hard and hot against my pelvis. I shuddered, even though two layers of fabric still separated us. Luxuriously, I ran my hands through his thick, rippling hair and let one wander down to feel the muscles working under the smooth skin on his back. Rawr. We must have looked like the cover of a harlequin novel. I couldn't quite suppress the giggles at the thought and told him. Eric threw his head back and laughed.

"Oh, Sookie," he said, grinning. "Want to know what's on the next page?" Eric quirked an eyebrow.

"These kinds of novels aren't exactly known for plot twists," I replied – gasping because he was back to sucking my neck and letting his hands wander all over me. There is something to be said about slow lovemaking but right there, in the graveyard next to my house, I felt the urge to do the exact opposite. I disentangled myself from him and pushed my panties down my legs. His eyes followed me hungrily but let it be said that Eric is quite good at multitasking – he got rid of his own clothes in no time.

Naked, Eric was breathtakingly beautiful. His long hair shone silver in the moonlight and he had long, well-muscled legs that were dusted with blond hair, a broad chest and perfectly toned arms. Eric in blue jeans and t-shirt could stop women on the street. Naked Eric in all his glory would probably cause car crashes. While I was ogling him, he draped his shirt on a flat, grass-covered spot next to a medium-sized tombstone. That's when I decided that I had enough of just looking, flung myself at him and pushed him on his back. With a pleased smile, he let me have my wicked way with him and I enjoyed running my hands all over his glorious body. His fangs were fully out as he watched me shift down, kissing and teasing him and eventually taking him into my mouth. He let out a deep moan and, after a flick of my tongue, I slowly sucked him in as deep as I could. (Say about my first boyfriend what you will but he was a very skilled teacher.) The sounds he made seemed to reverberate through my entire body and strike a chord in my lower regions. Ever since we were blood-bonded I felt his ecstasy just as strongly as mine. I was more than ready for him in mere moments and I didn't protest when he pulled me up.

"My lover," he said gravelly, sending shivers down my spine. His hand travelled up my right leg and behind. I gasped when he found what he was looking for. My thighs were trembling as he pushed one long finger slowly into me. He really had deliciously long fingers! I arched my back and he moved his hand in a torturously slow rhythm.

"Eric, stop teasing," I gasped, and, "Please." I leaned down and bit his left nipple, hard, knowing full well the effect it had on him. He tensed, making a strangled noise, and complied. I felt his long, thick shaft against me, rubbing me in a very distracting way, and pushed back on him, impaling myself on him as deeply as I could stand.

He groaned something in a language I didn't understand and put his hands on my hips, steadying me. Eric reached very deep in this position; I had rarely ever felt so full and I felt exhilarated (another calendar word I didn't actually think of while having sex with Eric). I made a few teasing moves with my hips and his hands traveled up to my breasts. We didn't do it like this very often – Eric liked being in control and I found little reason to complain – but there is something to be said about being on top. The blue eyes staring up at me were filled with hunger and desire and I enjoyed being so exposed to him. He felt huge inside me and it took me a few moments to adjust before I felt ready to lift myself off and take him all the way in again. Heat tingled up my spine, gathered and spread deep inside me with every push and, even though moving rhythmically wasn't all that easy, the look he gave me was worth it. I forgot all about being skilful soon and before long, Eric met me on every move, thrusting up when I pushed down. I was trembling with the blazing pleasure that I felt with every slide. With a low rumbling growl, he sat up, pressed me against him and sank his teeth into my neck. I felt disconnected for a moment, entirely lost in this throbbing, devouring pleasure, and then I was wrecked with shudders, coming hard and long around him, while he penetrated me with his fangs and, um, you know, until he fell over the edge, too.

When my legs started working again and I gathered my clothes, I noticed that I had forgotten my sweater at Bill's house. I smiled all the while, feeling happy and relaxed to the point of bonelessness. Not everyone can boast of having sweet and decidedly erotic memories of a night in the graveyard. I turned and looked at my very own Viking. Apart from his dishevelled hair, Eric looked impeccable. He waited for me to finish dressing but I could see that he was enjoying the show. Vampires. Never in need of Viagra.

It felt good and natural to walk beside him. His calm and powerful presence was reassuring and I liked having him to myself for a while. I shouldn't have been surprised that life would catch up with us pretty quickly. Or at least with me.

When we walked into the driveway of the house, the front door burst open and Amelia appeared, dressed in her pajamas and, from the looks of it, drenched in tears. I let go of Eric's hand and ran up to her. She fell into my arms, sobbing.

"What happened?" I asked, trying to soothe her as best as I could. When I looked at Eric, I saw that he stood exactly where I had left him, an expression of distaste and horror on his face. It was almost comical. Eric has faced whole armies but he can't deal with crying women.

"It's Octavia. She's not back yet and she should have been by now…and when I tried to contact her – you know she and I have a mental connection because of her being my teacher and all – I couldn't reach her. It's like something blocked me out and it was real close to tracking me down and hurting me. I think she's in deep trouble, Sookie!" Amelia sputtered. I led her into the house. Eric followed us at a safe distance. If Amelia's concerns hadn't honestly troubled me, I would have laughed.

"When was the last time you saw her?" I asked when we had settled into the couch. Amelia curled up in a ball of misery. I sat down next to her and handed her a handkerchief, which she took gratefully. Eric stood watching us.

"Five days ago…maybe? Not since she took that job."

"What kind of job?" Eric asked.

"Someone hired her for her talent. I don't know who or what for. It's not unusual that people hire us under the seal of secrecy. They don't want their neighbors to know that they believe in séances or love spells, you know?"

I nodded. "But Octavia said that she would be back today?"

"Yes," Amelia confirmed, drying her face with the hanky. "She was going to visit her niece tomorrow morning. Oh, I should have noticed that something was off before."

"How?" Eric asked calmly.

"I…I don't know," Amelia cried.

"Then you're only burdening yourself with unnecessary guilt, which isn't helpful."

I turned and glared at Eric, who continued to look as unapologetic as can be.

"I'm sorry," Amelia said, sniffing. "I gave her a lift to Monroe to meet the client but I don't think that we'd find her there."

"Yes," Eric said grimly. "I share your suspicion that her disappearance and the attacks on my area are connected."

Which…did make a lot of sense, now that I thought of it. I mentally kicked myself for not having seen it before. It must have been the real reason for Amelia's tears. Vampires weren't exactly known for their sense of humor and they sure didn't have any when it came to a threat to their power.

"Octavia would never have agreed to do anything like that willingly. She obviously didn't know what she was getting into," I said quickly, eyeing Eric carefully. Whatever Octavia had done, she didn't deserve Eric's wrath.

"That's true. She knows about the takeover and Fangtasia and she would never have--"

"Can you locate her?" Eric interrupted Amelia in his no-nonsense voice.

"Yes," Amelia said confidently. "But it'll take a few hours to get the spell working."

Eric looked out of the window. It was still in the dead of the night and hours before dawn but he wouldn't be breaking any necks tonight. He let out a such a growl of frustration that even my hair stood on end.

"It would have been too late in any case," I said. "And Amelia can do a better job if she isn't under pressure." Meaning, without Eric looming over her.

"Sookie asked me to do some research on shielding spells. I know Octavia's handiwork and if she is behind the shielding charm protecting the arsonists, I can undo it," Amelia said eagerly. "And I can also single out and mark your enemies like the local coven did during the Witch War." I looked at her, surprised at her prowess. Amelia had always been a powerful witch, but she was still in training and it was easy to forget about her magic, since she was so easy-going and normal all the time. She was such a strong broadcaster that I knew immediately what her sudden eagerness to help Eric was all about. If Eric owed her, she could bargain for Octavia's life. Clever.

Eric gave her a long, scrutinizing look. "I'd be obliged to you." I knew then that he understood Amelia's motives, too. "And I expect you both at Fangtasia at sunset."

"I have to work," I reminded him. The three days off Sam had given me were over.

Eric gave me a look that clearly questioned my sanity. "Ask Sam for another night off."

"All right but he won't be happy. Not at all," I said. And I could understand Sam. He had to plan shifts beforehand and it had been hard enough for him to get my three shifts covered at such short notice. Life in Bon Temps didn't revolve around Eric. I threw a look at my watch and saw that Merlotte's would be open for another hour. "Listen, if we're finished here, I could drive by Merlotte's right now and talk to Sam in person."

Amelia was quite happy with the idea – she thought that she could use the time for a cleansing ritual and then get some sleep. Eric nodded almost absent-mindedly, held up a hand and pulled out his mobile. It is still strange to see supernatural creatures using technology like that. Eric was far from being a geek like Bill but he was all in favor of using whatever advanced his purposes.

He speed-dialed a number and, after a few short moments, he said, "Yes, this is me. The database search was successful. Proceed as planned and call everyone together." Eric ended the call and dialed another number. "I am here," he said in a less authoritarian voice. "Yes, everything's in motion. I won't insist on your presence if you're not fully recovered." He paused. "I see. No, that is not up to discussion and I'll take care of it tonight. Watch your back, Pam." And he hung up again.

It was good that we finally had a lead. I could tell that Eric was done waiting and tomorrow heads would roll. I felt his optimism but also his frustration and anger, a swirl of emotions so strong they made me shiver. I didn't even want to think of the possibility that Eric could get injured, too, not to mention my own bad, bad track record. I hardly ever made it out of these supernatural fights without more or less serious damage.

I was so lost in thoughts that I was startled when Eric reached for my hand and pulled me to my feet.

"I'm coming with you to Merlotte's before I fly back to Shreveport," Eric said. Oh, goodie. When I started to protest, he silenced me with a kiss.

Amelia cleared her throat. "If you two lovebirds are finished, I'd like to get started before I fall asleep." She sounded more like her usual self, likely because now we had a plan and if we all did our best, we had a good chance of coming out of this alive. We both hoped. Amelia was also hoping to see Pam and I felt real bad for not having told her about Pam's injury.

I put on another sweater, grabbed my purse and off we went. Eric folded himself into the front seat and my car looked suddenly much, much smaller. For a while, we drove in silence. I was reminded of a day dream I had once had, in which Eric and I had enjoyed a ride on a sunny day. I felt a surge of affection for him and could feel the surprised and pleased look Eric gave me.

I cleared my throat. "Um, Eric. You're not exactly Mr. Diplomacy tonight, why are you coming?"

He laughed. "You'd rather face Sam on your own, even though it is I who requires your services? I don't think so."

"I just hope you know that pissing him off won't do much good," I muttered and threw a quick glance at him. Eric smiled at me, the whites of his eyes and his teeth luminous in the dark.

"I am grateful for your help, my lover," he said in a voice that sent pleasant shivers down my spine. "But you know that Sam wouldn't be so difficult if it wasn't me who was asking a favor."

I sighed. Of course I knew. Sam didn't know that Eric and I were closer to being a real couple than ever before and I didn't exactly look forward to telling him. I don't always agree with Sam but I do value his opinion and I like to be in his good books. Besides, I knew that Sam was worried for a reason. I had never been in hospital before I dated vampire Bill, who introduced me to the supernatural world and all its dangers. Of course, the vampires had saved my life numerous times, too, but I doubt that I would have needed saving if I hadn't been involved in their affairs.

We were at Merlotte's sooner than I expected. I blamed sharing Eric's love for speeding through the blood bond. (Yes, the blood bond comes in handy when it comes to dodging responsibility, I am aware of that.) I led the way through the backdoor to the office where Sam was doing his books, which usually put him in a bad mood. Great. It was as though Grumpy McGrumperton had come to town and infected every man I knew.

"Hey, Sam," I said cheerfully, only all too aware of the tall blond vampire not breathing down my neck. Sam looked up and his face darkened when he saw who was with me. I can't read shifters as well as ordinary people but I could feel the displeasure rolling off him in waves.

"Sookie. Eric." He nodded in greeting, took a deep breath and leaned back in his chair. Then the blood drained right out of his face. Ooops. Since there hadn't been time for a shower, I was pretty damn sure he smelt that Eric and I had done the naughty and I was also sure that he didn't care for it one bit.

"How's it going?" I asked, still maddeningly cheerful.

"It's been a busy night." Wow, Sam knew how to play the guilt card.

"Will you be able to manage without Sookie for one more day?" Eric asked, getting straight to the point as usual.

"Sookie." Sam sighed, ignoring Eric. "I agreed to three nights. It's football season, I need you here. Besides, you can't live your life for the undead. And as far as I know, you don't want to."

"Sam, it's important."

"Isn't it always?" Sam retorted.

"Yes. I wouldn't ask her if it wasn't," Eric said in a voice that made a glacier sound warm and fuzzy.

"Right," Sam muttered darkly and then put his pen down forcefully. "And is Sookie's life less important? You meddle in her affairs an awful lot. And in mine, too, since she's working for me."

This was when Eric snapped. "Is this about compensation or about marking your territory, dog?"

Sam pushed his chair back and stood, his face dark with anger, the tendons on his neck standing out.

"Listen, guys," I said quickly and as calmly as possible. "It's been a tough few days for everyone. Why don't we handle this like adults?" I looked from Eric, who was scarily white and royally pissed off, to Sam, who was close to jumping over his desk.

"Oh, you sure had a tough night, Sookie. I can smell it!" Sam snarled, beyond reason. I stared at him for a long moment, disbelieving that he would stoop so low, and too shocked for words. He didn't…he hadn't! When he realized what he had just said in anger, he paled visibly and his whole body deflated but it was too late. Now I was real angry. I heard Eric snarl behind me and raised my hand to stop him. This was between Sam and me.

"I can't even count how many times I worked my butt off for you, how many times I was here doing overtime or took over shifts when Arlene's kids were sick or one of the other girls took off without saying a word. Not to mention the time I went to Eric and begged him, on your behalf, to send a bouncer along, who then happened to be out to kill me! You owe me, buddy!" I shouted at Sam. What I said wasn't entirely fair, since Sam had gotten shot because Charles Twining had been out to kill me, but that was beside the point. I was so angry that the blood rushed in my ears and thumped in my temples.

"Sookie," Sam pleaded.

"Don't Sookie me," I cut him off. "I'm going to help Eric tomorrow night because it's real important and you should know me better than to think I'm off on a holiday. And I don't care if you fire me or don't fire me for this but I do expect an apology the next time we meet."

"Please, Sookie," Sam tried again, making his way from behind the desk to me. I heard the door to the bar being opened. Our shouting must have attracted attention. I heard Arlene calling Sam's name.

"No, Sam. I'm too mad to talk to you right now," I said and headed for the door. Eric was past me quick as lightning, looming over Sam like a very angry grizzly. Or like I imagined one to look.

"I am not," he growled. "You may not like that Sookie is mine and you can disapprove of our relationship all you want. I don't care." Because you're not important enough, was the message that went along unspoken. "But you will treat my lover with the respect she deserves or roadkill will look better than you when I'm finished."

"Get out of my bar, Northman," Sam snarled but he sounded defeated.

I nodded to Arlene, who looked scared and hesitant, once Eric came into view. "Everything's all right," I said. But I was still too upset for small talk and walked out the door.

Outside, I could breathe freely, feeling the anger seeping out of me. Eric pulled me in his arms and looked down at me. His face didn't give anything away.

"I'm not used to this," he said.

"What?" I asked wearily. I felt drained and tired in every sense of the word.

"This. You. I worry about you when I should be concerned with my area."

"Tough," I replied, not as angry as I wanted to be. "I never told Sam about us and now he finds out about it like this. I'm tired, Eric. I can't…" I blinked my tears away. He gave me another scrutinizing look but kept silent. I don't know why vampires always seem to think that they'd be able to extract my thoughts and feelings by staring at me long and hard but there it is.

Finally, Eric stepped back, releasing me from his embrace. For a second, I hated myself for feeling bereft.

"You should get some sleep," he said, more distant.

"Good night," I said. For a moment, he floated a foot above the ground, looking inhumanly handsome. And then he was gone and I stood alone in the parking lot, feeling sorry for myself.


Now that you've read it, please take a moment and let me know what you think in a review. I'll try to be quicker with the next chapter.