Pam must have picked up on my mood because she just smirked at me. "You are often that way around him. It is highly amusing." She tapped her pink binder. "But you will have sense when you need to, won't you? This party must be perfect. There's a lot riding on this, and not just you on Eric's dick."

I had no idea, as usual with Pam, what she meant, so I just gaped inelegantly at her.

"I will explain, since I am a generous vampire." I didn't have the heart or wit to correct her. "And you and my master have been morons." Well, I'd object to that, but one look at Pam told me it wouldn't go over that well. "Just get it right this time, Sookie," Pam said simply, before stalking off. She threw a glance over her shoulder at me. "He's worth it."


"SOOK, THIS PARTY IS KICK-ASS." Jason's bellow meant I didn't need eyes on the back of my head.

It was, yes, finally the day of Pam's Boyfriend and Girlfriend Party. But only Eric, Pam, and I knew that. Eric had put his foot down, largely at my insistence. (Although I doubted he wanted the entire region to know he approved of being called a "boyfriend," anyway. Lover or sex object? He'd be happy to swagger around with that title, but "boyfriend" made him comment repeatedly on just how much of a man he was.) After a fight, a fit, and a week-long sulk, Pam had emerged from her office with pink envelopes in hand, which she'd hustled off to the Post Office before Eric could check them. (The Post Office had always loved the vamps coming out, since it lessened the need for day mail, and allowed them to brag that they were fulfilling their motto, that "neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night" stopped the mail. They even had special red stamps, which most vamps used as a matter of pride. Except Pam, who generally went with whatever floral stamps were in stock.) And then in the next few days, the rest of Shreveport and Bon Temps, including Eric and yours truly, had received RSVPs to the "Fangtasia Soiree Celebrating the Tender Friendship of Our Leadership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Shreveport and Bon Temps." With the command to "RSVP or die," of course.

You'd almost thought she did mean this as some kind of charity fund-raiser, if you looked around. There were boxes at the doors for donations, with vampires either glaring daggers at you to donate (Felicia) or earnestly imploring you to do so (Bill, wandering around with a photo of a sad-looking boy). There were little statuettes, like cake toppers, of blond boys and blond girls on the tables, even.

But if you looked closer, you could see some of Pam's initial plan in action. The little cake topper boy was wearing a tux and the girl a white dress. Every table had a little hand-written quote about love on it, and there were rose petals sprinkled around generously. And if you listened, you heard a live singer who sounded very, very much like Bubba before his transition. (Given I didn't see Bubba anywhere, I imagined Pam was having his performance piped in from another room. The vamps wouldn't have had a problem with his real identity, but the amount of non-vamp guests was just too high to risk someone distressing him by recognizing his first identity. Or just not sharing his particular appetites.)

I sipped my water. Thankfully, while a few of the guests looked initially horrified, and then just confused, at the message difference between the quotes about "true love" and love songs, and the vampires begging for money for children's organizations (despite my shields, I heard more than one wonder just how "tender" our friendship was with those groups), most of the invitees were just there to party. And as for the vampires, let's just say normal isn't in their vocabulary to begin with. Heck, even the vamps I knew were behaving a little more oddly than normal, so it wasn't as if they'd notice. Even Eric had shut off his side of our bond tonight and asked me to block him as well—"Just for fun, lover. A little anticipation for afterwards…" he'd murmured in a voice so smokey you'd think a park ranger bear would soon jump into the room with a fire extinguisher. I admit, after having been kissed six ways to Sunday by him, that I'd have agreed to just about anything then.

So it was oddly quiet in my head and heart for once, allowing me to just party for once. I can't say I didn't like it, although I did keep reflexively checking on Eric's whereabouts, which just made me more impatient for him to rejoin me from his latest chat with one of the vamp guests. From the twinkle in his eye as he'd looked at me across the room, I knew he had a hunch just how impatient I was for him.

"YOU ARE RIGHT, SOOK, IT IS FUCKIN' HOT HERE." Jason's voice, and my own mutterings, embarrassed me enough to get a grip. And not on Eric, sadly.

"I'm glad you like it, Jason. Did you donate yet?" Just because Pam hadn't intended this to be really a charity party didn't mean we shouldn't do some good, I figured.

"Yeah, sure, I'll get around to that. The beer is fucking awesome, though! I'm gonna see that redheaded chick, I'll catch you later." And he wandered off.

I'd have felt his absence but a very large presence had just come up to my back. "I do hope my beautiful lover hasn't missed me in my absence." Eric's lips brushed my shoulder, his mouth smiling.

I bumped him with my hips, "Save that for later, mister."

I felt teeth graze my skin. "You are propositioning me, Miss Stackhouse." His lips were at my ear. "I like it."

"I didn't even need the bond to know that," I sighed as I felt his little laugh rumble through me.

His hands pulled me back against his body. I set the water aside to rest my hands on his arms, admiring the rich black fabric. Pam had bought him a new suit, and he looked delicious in it, of course—the words "golden" and "gorgeous" had sprung to mind the second I saw him in it. It was a famous designer, she'd told me, and I don't know what it was, but it make it all kinds of difficult to keep my hands off of him.

(Eric didn't mind that a whit, I knew, from the smile he gave me when he'd picked me up. "If you want to drag me off to have sex, just say the word, lover," he'd teased.)

Then again, he liked my outfit, too. I'd got it at Tara's Togs but I had no doubt it didn't start there—mainly because Tara's face had turned dreamy the instant she saw me, and she had said she had a "dress in the back for me" before reappearing with the fanciest dress I'd ever seen in that store. Now that may not sound too suspicious, but Tara's Togs had a back the size of my living room closet, and it was mainly a place for Tara to stash her purse and a change of shoes. Tara's dresses didn't come tissue-wrapped, either, they didn't feel like silk under your hands, and they didn't have a $25 price tag for a dress that had to be a lot more than that. (Even with Tara's robotic insistence that the dress was "on sale.")

I was half-surprised there wasn't a big "Pam" on the tag. In pink glittery letters, of course.

I was all set to reject it, but damn it, it really was pretty. And just my style—a simple cocktail dress with a halter top designed properly for the generously endowed of us. The skirt was near the knee and swished happily when I twirled—the perfect dancing dress. And the creamy white color did make my tan glow, I had to admit.

I'd had to text Eric about my dilemma. "Do you know if Pam's been glamouring Tara to give me a dress?"

The message I got back was pretty clear. "If I will want to tear it off you, buy it or I will. :K " In case I was irritated, I guess, he had added, "If you like it, wear it. It will get her off my ass."

It got her off his ass but put him squarely on mine now, apparently, as his hands were being a bit friendly with my hips, as if he were trying to figure out what underwear I was wearing. Then again, this was Eric, so of course he was trying to figure out my unspeakables. My hand, stretched upward to rub the masculine skin of his jawline, pushed him a little. "Quit it, you."

"Never." He turned to allow his lips to slide against my palm.

We were distracted by a vision in pink wandering up to us. "Why, if I didn't know better, I would think you were a girlfriend and boyfriend," Pam purred.

"Your party is great, Pam."

"I know, so much better than anything that damn tiger could do. I don't know why we bother to work with those people." She jerked her chin to her shoulder, to indicate Quinn across the room from us. Perhaps for my benefit, or perhaps just to show off her party-planning skills, Pam had invited all of the local Supes as well as a lot of my town. I'd already seen Sam hovering by the water fountain, Alcide was drinking a beer with some of his pack members, and Calvin was attending with some young lady who had an unfortunate family resemblance to him.

(I shuddered.)

"And you look beautiful," I added sincerely. Her dress was pink, lacy, and a bit on the dangerous side, but that was Pam for you.

"Murad 2014," she offered, before glancing up to Eric. "Master, must we have those dancers?" Pam's perfectly painted lip curled up.

"Those dancers" were off in the corner. There was a lot going on at the party—lots of tables, a big dance floor I'd already sampled once with Eric—and even some fairy lights (Pam's idea of a joke, I think) hung in the garden outside the ballroom. But off the corner of the giant ballroom were the boys from Hooligans, alternately picking up women (and men) and dancing suggestively for tips. With clothes on—there was a limit to what Pam would accept at her party.

From the men, anyway.

"It's helping my cousin's business. And they're nice guys. Look, nobody's getting hurt." Possibly only because Claude wasn't there to set off a vampire frenzy, I thought, but still. I knew he was glad for some advertising. And by the throng over there, including the bright red of Arlene's hair, they were very popular.

"Yes, family." Eric's chest lifted at my back. I felt his shrug behind me.

"Mmm…I see." I'm not sure she did or if she just found the idea of a family (other than herself and Eric) absurd; she rolled her eyes and tapped a tapped an impatient finger-tip against the pink fabric at her wrist. Her fingertips glittered with silver polish, I noticed. That Pam. She must have noticed the direction of my eyes, because she waved a hand beneath my face. "Like my nails, Sookie?" Her smile was fiendish. "It's a special brand."

I reached out to admire her manicure better but a buzz behind me distracted us. "Pam, I believe I have a visitor I need to greet." Eric gave me a slight squeeze. "Do see to my lover, won't you? I'll be taking this outside."

Pam grinned enormously. "Of course. We girls will just have our own fun, won't we, Sookie?" She winked as she turned us, but for once, she wasn't winking at me. "Do run along, Eric. Time's flying."

"But of course. Till later, lover." And he brushed his lips against my forehead before disappearing.

Pam seemed distracted as I was by Eric's departure, and it wasn't because, like me, she was ogling the cut of his tux. She didn't even leer at me or try a grope when I dragged her onto the dance floor, and she almost smiled—so if she were distracted, I figured, it had to be for good reasons, not bad. Probably just glad whatever vamp business was up in the air was being handled, I imagined. "Having a good night?" I called her to over the throng of bodies joining us on the floor.

Her fangs were out. "You have no idea."


I walked down the hall—how is it hotels can be so big, and so full of people, but feel so empty?—to the ladies'. A lip gloss emergency awaits no woman and besides, given Eric was out doing a social lap of the vamps, I knew it gave me a few minutes to take care of my business before he re-focused on us. (Or his energetic attempts to play footsie at the banquet table.)

The ladies' was a ridiculously long ways from the hall—a surprising oversight for Pam, but then again, she lacked these particular needs. It was very swanky, though—the kind of gold-and-crystal bathroom that looked much snazzier than your living room, with big vases of live flowers set around.

(I paused to send a silent apology to Gran for that one. Our house may have been a bit tattered but it was tidy and well-loved, and that's nothing to hang one's head over.)

It was also, I thought with a sudden chill, extremely quiet; my little heels hit the tiles with an uncharacteristically menacing slap, like the eerie crack of icicles falling. Probably just because of the distance from the party, I decided—and besides, I'd been bombarded with thoughts all night in the party, so I was probably just a bit overwhelmed.

I peeked in all of the stalls, still, because I've seen enough horror movies and I am not the stupid type to go wandering in the forest alone. Safe and sound, of course.

Mother nature doesn't really care about safety, though, so I hustled into my stall and took care of the necessities. Which included wrangling with those awful Spanx-like Tara had given me—I'd desperately stretched them out before the night, just to be able to get around, but that didn't mean pulling them on and off was an easy feat. I sucked in a breath and yanked the material upward. With a surge and a wiggle, it went into position—I'd be thrilled to have Eric rip this off me later, I decided—and I grunted with victory as I reached to pull my dress' fabric from bunching up at my waistline.

"You think you've won, bitch."

The voice was quiet but loud enough in the bathroom. And sullen. And accompanied by the sharp tap of an angry heel. A quick peek under the doorway told me that the person was off to the side—thankfully, not between me and the door.

"I think you have the wrong stall," I said, casting around for some kind of weapon. The only thing at hand was the fancy toilet paper, so I grabbed that and my purse. Why? Because I'd made do with worse weapons. And because I'd forgotten my emergency toothpick when I changed purses for the party, I admit.

I listened. No breathing. Oh, crap. I was really going to miss that toothpick.

"My man is dead because of you, bitch," I heard a broken female voice say, desperately. There was a loud thud on another door, as if she'd struck it. With enough force that the stalls all shook.

I slid out of the door, knowing full well what I'd be facing. "Look, Evie…"

She was standing there in tight black leather, boobs overflowing. Her "here to party" outfit didn't match the mascara streaks around her eyes, or the red trails on her cheeks.

"Don't you fucking say my name, bitch," she snarled.

"You know I didn't do it—it was Victor." I shifted my feet slowly to the right. If I made a break for it, she'd catch me—any vamp would be faster than a human. My only hope was to get close enough to the door that she wouldn't risk discovery.

"Do you think I don't FUCKING KNOW?" she roared at me, before slamming a fist down on the marble counter. Splinters opened in the cold stone beneath her hands. "I am not got a goddamn IDIOT, you fucking bitch!"

I wanted to ask her if she could call me something else for once, but given her mood, I squelched that potentially suicidal thought.

Better a live bitch than a dead lady, I guess.

"He said I'd have the area. He was going to take this piece of shit and give it to me. We'd run it down and the king would let us have it all. And I'd get this piece of shit." A hand of long plastic nails waved in the air. "And I was going to take Northman, make him part of my contract with the area, make him fuck me whenever I liked." Her eyes turned hatefully to me.

My fingernails had clawed into that Charmin by now.

But Evie kept going. "—until I could turn Jerry." And for a person who didn't need to breathe, she gave a rough sobbing gasp. "I was going to have him forever, I was going to have everything."

My hands went up despite my anger. "I—I am so sorry—"

Her voice interrupted me, uncaring. "I've got nothing, bitch."

Her moment of introspection was too short for me to move. Evie suddenly straightened up, simultaneously adjusting the leather bodice of her outfit and flipping her hair back. A hand slid over her cheeks, rubbing out some of the black and red stains.

"But you won't either. If I am going down, so are you, you fucking bitch." She gave me a twisted smile. "But for fucking you, nobody would ever have noticed us. And Victor wouldn't have killed him." She took a single step towards me.

I dropped my belongings and reached for whatever I could grab from the tabletop vase. Please let there be wood, please let there be wood…No, my hand just wrapped around the set of a bunch of white flowers.

A bouquet of flowers wasn't going to hold her back, I knew that. I sucked in a breath and I played what cards I had. "This place is loaded with security. You're a fool if you think you can hurt me and get away safe."

Her lip curled upward, one ugly fang visible. "I'm not going to hurt you that way, bitch."

"What?" My stomach, already tight, felt nauseous.

"I'm going to hurt you like you hurt me." She smiled nastily now as her hand touched what I hadn't spotted before—a stake pocked on the side of her leg. "I'm going to kill your man."

And she started to run.


I think a lot—too much, I'll admit. It causes a lot of grief.

I wasn't thinking now. I was running after Evie, screaming like a banshee with that bouquet, still dripping, in my hand. I was running, lungs burning, like my life was on the line, and all I knew or thought came in bursts of impressions—

Eric won't hear me, he said he'd be blocking me tonight—

Eric is outside, he was with the other vamps outside; he won't know what's going on until she gets there—

"ERIC, ERIC, ERIC," I was screaming, or at least my body was. "STOP THAT WOMAN, STOP HER!" I was moving faster than I ever had before, because at least I was in sight of Evie—but she was still ahead—

-And I saw a quick flicker of an old man, a very familiar old man, blowing something to me from the side-

"SOOK, I GOTCHA!" And I saw Jason barreling ahead of me, knocking people out of the way, bless his heart—"HOYT, JACKSON GAME, REMEMBER THE MOVE!" and then there was a body running with him, also opening the way for me, as if they were defending me and my bouquet—

-And I saw, for a split-second, a topless male in leather chaps, blowing a whistle, before moving out of sight again-

"THE MOVE? THE MOVE!" Male voices echoed, and suddenly, half-dressed, the Hooligans boys were charging next to us, opening the packed hallway as we heard more screams, like Arlene's—"JESUS IS COMING, AND SO AM I!"

But I had no mind for that. Eric, Eric, Eric, please someone tell him, stop her-

Tara's face was a blur as we charged past. "Sookie? FUCK THAT SHIT!" A chair was thrown ahead of us—no doubt at Evie—but I saw her still dashing ahead of us—

And then a dog went hurling past us, and as dots dizzied my eyes—another, but larger, darker—

"FUCKING WOLF," someone said, before the real screams began, and a familiar tiger charged past us. I heard barking, roaring, howling, before I saw Evie's hands and feet lash out and knock them all away—even Bill, thrown wildly aside as he dove for her-

"STOP HER, SHE WANTS TO KILL ERIC!" I gasp-shouted, but it was lost in the screams-

We were crossing the ballroom, the way opening up for us, and I cried out in agony. A brunette with designer sunglasses in her hair flickered into view, blew something that sparkled at me, and fell from view again—my hands tightened on the still-clutched bouquet, my feet picked up, and so did my heart-

Because the ballroom doors had just opened and up on the little stage, Eric had walked out. Eric, spotlighted up there, his eyes searching the room rapidly for friends and foe as we barreled towards him. I felt the rapid sweep of his eyes, assessing both my physical and emotional state. His lips were lifting and I knew already he was ready to fight. But it was empty up there, nothing he could use to block an incoming stake—suddenly Thalia was there, handing him a sword—

"A FUCKIN' SWORD," either Jason yelled or I heard in my head.

"I don't think so, sister," said a hero in pink, and Evie suddenly crashed at the bottom of the stairs. Pam was on her in an instant, pinning her with her legs and wrenching Evie by the hair.

"She's got a stake!" I screamed.

"And I've got these." Pam growled and lifted a silver-tipped hand before turning her fingernails against Evie's neck. Evie's cry was accompanied by the tell-tale ripped of smoke in the air. "Special manicure, love, isn't it the best?" She yanked back on Evie's hair with a free hand. "Just goes to show what a good base coat can do for a girl." She leaned over Evie again. "Nothing's fucking up this party, bitch."

"Pamela," Eric said and she glanced up swiftly. He'd descended the steps, sword in hand.

"Can we kill her later? It is a goddamned crime to fuck up a Tom Ford suit."

"Of course," he was smiling coolly as Indira and Thalia wrestled Evie away. "I do have other plans for tonight."

"He's all yours, Sookie," Pam stood and dusted off her pink dress daintily. "Try not to smear too much of her makeup, Master."

"Too late," he murmured, and suddenly I was whirled into his arms. "To the victor, go the spoils." And his lips claimed mine.


For all the insanity, the party came back together again rapidly. Maybe because Evie was hustled out quickly, to be dealt with later, maybe because it was a Supe party (and goodness knows they aren't ones to let a little mayhem disrupt fun), or maybe it was because Pam stood up, brushed off her pink dress, and announced loudly, "If anyone leaves now, I will stake you and your family. Now have some fucking fun."

That Pam.

Eric was, naturally, giddy as all get out from his brush with violence. (I suspected he was more than a little sorry he didn't get to display his sword skills—those kind, that is, as I knew perfectly well he meant to demonstrate the other later, based on the way he kept touching me. Forget Disneyland, Eric's libido wanted other rewards after a surge of adrenaline.)

But I'd reined him in a little as we danced and, sure, I might've whispered a promise or two to him about later. And kissed him more than Jason liked, by the horrified, "Dude, that's my SISTER," I heard at one point.

But I liked it just fine.

Until Eric had to go handle "one last errand," that is, which caused him to disappear from my side. I sighed; it was growing a bit late. I had to admit I was getting a bit tired, which led Pam to practically shove me out the door to the big balcony attached to the ballroom. ("You're sweating. You cannot sweat on that dress. Get yourself together." Such a maternal soul, that Pam.)

It was, thankfully, not too hot when I stepped out on the balcony. It overlooked the little garden area of the hotel, so it was a nice sight to see. Beyond that lay the lights of Shreveport, and behind me, the music of Pam's band, playing some surprisingly serene number while Bubba crooned on.

It was so quiet out here I didn't want to breathe, to disturb it. Let the noise and uproar happen somewhere else, for once.

Something stirred behind me, and it wasn't the wind ruffling the long window shears by the open doors. I glanced over my shoulder to see Eric there. He was watching me again, I noticed—his eyes glowed bright as the lamps out in the far-away buildings I'd just seen.


"Hey, there, you." I smiled, but somehow it felt stiff, off, wrong. My heart rate sped up. If I'd been a deer in another life, I'd be looking for a hunter right about now.

But hadn't we had enough of that?

I searched his eyes for some clue to his thoughts but found none.

Run, part of me said; you don't know what he's going to do.

The other part of me told that tiny sliver to take a flying leap and stretched out a hand to my quiet honey.

He began to walk—his panther walk, I once thought it, when he'd slink over to you, swinging one of those loooong legs over the other, all the while keeping an unblinking focus on you.

It took some time, but it was impressive.

Suddenly, it wasn't quite so cool out here, either.

"Sookie," he murmured again, in the voice he reserved for Very Special Occasions—so special I usually only heard it panted against my ear.

I didn't know what to say; if he was going to proposition me, he already knew I did have boundaries about when and where, no matter if he looked and sounded like—well, positively edible.

I felt his hand slip into mine—a welcome relief from the worries clamoring around inside of me. A little squeeze and I could breathe again. Although—I tilted my head, studied the lines around his eyes—

He was just as worried as I was.

He winked, but I knew at least part of his secret now: Something unnerved the great Eric Northman. And from the way he lifted my hand to his mouth, pressing lips soft and reverent against my palm—and, okay, touching his tongue to my skin too, because this is Eric—I knew it had to involve me.

In the past, I'd have snatched my hand back and run away. In the past, I'd have given in to the voices saying this was a break-up for whatever stupid reason, that I wasn't good enough for him, that he wouldn't fight for me, that the vamp world wouldn't have me with him and would find him someone else.

But as I took a sharp breath and felt his skin vibrate against mine, I knew this wasn't the past.


"You are mine," he murmured against my hand, and then took it away from his mouth. He closed his eyes a moment, took a breath he didn't need, and then those blazing blues were on me again. "Sookie."


"You are my vampire wife. We say this does not matter. But I have lied to you, Sookie." His eyes pinned me as the words, I have lied, slid into my heart. No, no…

"It matters." Now his voice was tight and one of his hands was on my face, turning my chin so I couldn't look away. "It always mattered. To me." He leaned down so that our noses nearly brushed.

"There was no other. There could be no other. I would have you, in whatever way I could have you. I would have you now, in all ways."

I swallowed the ball of tears rising in my throat. Eric's thumb brushed a drop easing from my lashes.

"I am not a human man, Sookie. But you recognize human rites and if this is what it takes…" The hand slid from my face as Eric shifted—moved—


"I am told this is what one does." For a moment, his face had the contrary expression of a sulky five year old, and I knew, somewhere, there had been a discussion with Pam on this point.

"So be it, then. Remember, you promised me a 'yes' once." And then came the smile I loved, the whole-hearted grin that said if trouble came, you embraced it, but you never stopped loving life, either.

Or the people who mattered.

His free hand had stolen into his pocket and emerged with a little box. I wish I could say the color, or the shape of the box, but I couldn't. I was shaking from the inside out and only Eric giving my hand a sudden squeeze kept me from falling over.

And wasn't that the way it had always been?

"Marry me, Sookie Stackhouse."


The tears were coming, blurring the joyful smile in front of me, the blue eyes glowing. The bubbles within were overflowing, my knees weak, as if under some spell. But this was a magic that wasn't supernatural, I knew, as I looked through my tears into Eric's brilliantly lit face.

Love isn't a mystery, after all.

It is the person who would rather have you for a short, heartbreaking time in his existence than not at all.

It is the person who would offer to give up his world for you.

It is the person who stands by you with a bomb in your hand, and offers to take it from you.

It is the person who always believed in you, no matter what you were, how you looked, how you behaved, or what trouble it cost him.

It is, at the end of the day, the person who wants you warm and your driveway functional—to warm your heart and be forever your foundation.

It was Eric.

It was always Eric.

Somewhere at the periphery of my vision, pink fireworks were going off. I threw my arms around his neck—thankfully, not far from my blind grip—with a sob.

"Oh, Eric—yes!"


We didn't make it back into the ballroom for some time after that.

Eric grabbed me, whirled me around, and promptly began to demonstrate his skill in kissing while simultaneously sliding a ring onto my finger. (How he learned how to do that, I have no idea.) In another scenario, I might have been concerned about the damage caused by his hand capturing my hair and pulling me tighter into him, our wet faces together, but that scenario didn't exist on a planet in which Eric's mouth was on mine, the soft velvet of his tongue meeting mine.

We parted for breath (mine, anyway) for just a moment. "I will please you," he murmured hoarsely. He looked just as out of breath as I was, for all that he didn't have to breathe, and I'd apparently done a number on his tie and shirt. And his hair was just as messy as mine, come to think of it. Oops. "You will be happy." His kisses were falling fast over my face, his eyes boring into mine. "You will be treasured forever, my Sookie."

He leaned in to capture my lips again, but my shaking fingers stopped him. Now was the time. "About forever—" I began—

"What?" His eyes were sharp, suddenly tense.

"I think—" I traced his lips with my finger before risking looking at his eyes.


Adrenaline pushed it out of me. "According to Dr. Ludwig, that's what it will be." I toyed with his collar nervously. I dared a glance at his face again; his face wore an expression new to me, shock combined with…hope.

I touched his collar, willing him to speak. "Does that change things?"

Eric seized me to him with a wordless cry, and suddenly the moisture on our faces wasn't mine alone.

There was a roar in the not so dear distance, followed by more fireworks. "YESSSSS!" I heard Pam shout in tones much like Jason watching a Saints game. "FUCK YES!" The door to the balcony closed with a loud thump—presumably, to give us our privacy, although I doubt either Eric or I cared much about that just then.

We came apart with my gulp of air. "I guess the party's really on now, huh?"

"For them. Let's have our own, lover." Eric winked, slid his arm beneath my legs, and then, laughing, we were off to meet the moonlit sky.


We didn't head back to the party that night. Eric was set on delivering not just some grade-A love-making, but grade-A+ love-making.

(And I had to admit I wasn't grading on a curve.)

The next day, still in bed, delightfully tousled, I remembered to have a chat with Eric. (Hard to do, when your body really doesn't want to speak just now.) I compromised with my desires by drawing designs on that magnificent chest while I spoke. "Are we going to have an issue with, um, my…family?" I didn't quite know what to call Niall, Claude, and Claudine. Niall didn't sound like he disapproved of Eric, and neither did my fairy cousins, but you never knew with Supes. I certainly remembered how carefully Eric had handled Niall when he first entered my life, too.

That card with his phone number was still stuck on my bulletin board, come to think of it. Right next to the take-out menu for the pizza place. And the to-do, added today by Eric, to buy more chocolate sauce when I was next at the store.

"Already settled, lover." Eric smirked at me distractingly; he was reclining on my white sheets, his arm curled back to make a pillow for his head (and a glorious bicep for my lustful fantasies). "We went through several negotiations to make sure there would not be an issue. In fact, the Prince has guaranteed your safety and mine for eternity. We went through multiple contract signings for this, right up to the end." He winked at me. "He wanted to lock me down. I'm quite the catch for your family."

I sat up and clutched the sheet to my chest. "And if I'd said no?"

He gave me his most winsome smile and gave a little tug at the sheet. "You would not resist me forever, my lover."

I raised my own eyebrow, worthy of his as I held on to the sheet. "And if he said no?"

"I said I would ask you and if you agreed, it would be done." His fangs clicked into place. "No matter what."

"You'd go to war with the fae for me?"

He sat up, nose to nose with me. "I always said you were so much trouble, lover." He tucked some hair behind my ear. "I love it." I heard what else he murmured, too—those foreign words, my favorite words.

I let the sheets go.


Life went on when we got out of bed, as it always did. (Darn it.) I obviously had a ton of messages on my phone, as did Eric; both of ours had been tossed to the side the minute we got home, and we'd been too pre-occupied to look at them.

I showed them to him later—Jason asking if it was safe for him to come by and get some of the meat from my freezer ("or are you all going to be butt-naked? Because I'm not down for that, sis, fuck that Game of Thrones shit"), Amelia's mile-long message of exclamation points, followed by a hissed voicemail, "I'll be finding another place for a few days, just in case you're celebrating there, ahem," and even Sam's resigned, "Yes, you don't have to come in to work until you're ready, Sookie. Again."

There was one from Pam, though, which I didn't play for Eric.

"Sookie, I see my master has gotten his head fully out of his ass. I am a sensitive vampire and so I can sense he is truly happy, and not just because his considerable dick is in you. Although I am sure being inside you is exquisite." She paused, as if to let me take in her sensitivity. " I have waited all of my undead life for this, Sookie. That fucking witch who gave him amnesia said it wouldn't happen, that he would find and lose his heart's desire. You don't know how much over all this time I wanted to dig up her corpse just to fuck her up again." Well, now. Her tone turned, as she burst out, "My master is finally happy." Another pause, and then a thick-voiced, suspiciously hoarse, "Thank you." And then, after a pause so long I thought she might have hung up if I hadn't caught the delicate sniffling at the end—she finally exclaimed, "Fuck it, I'm planning the wedding with you! It's going to be fabulous." And she hung up.

Okay, maybe I'd better warn Eric about that part.

"Sookie!" I heard the man himself call from another room. (We were working on rechristening the entire house. I called it stress release, while Eric said we should spend less time talking and more time loving.)

Of course, we had a long way to go still—the calendar had barely moved from when he first put the gleaming engagement ring on my hand. But I smiled back at the Word of the Day ("Joy"), knowing whatever came, whether it would be just us, a child, or the little ragtag family we'd already made—I could rely on one person.

"Where are you, my lover?" my Viking asked, leaning against the doorway with a smile like sin. I smiled back at him, not feeling guilty at all for this particular indulgence, this love.

Because I knew it.

We were going to live happily ever after.


This is for you, SVM/TB fans.

I want to thank the SVM/TB fandom for lifting my spirits for many years now. You gave me great joy in writing as well as a sense of community. I hope this story gives you a little of what I wanted this story to have, the joy I found in the original books.

To answer just a few questions:

*Why the name? I had no idea what to name the first chapter (the story started off as a one-off dare to write fanfic) so I played with the idea of enjoying something you thought was naughty. Like ice cream. Or Eric!

*There's an issue in chapter 63, in which I incorrectly refer to INXS vs. 'N Sync. That's just my brain swapping words—sorry!

*There were several comments about Eric having IKEA furniture. I'm not extremely familiar with IKEA, so I apologize for giving Eric less-than-craftsman furniture. (Let's just say Pam got the furniture as a Swedish joke and replaced it the next week, okay?)

*Why did Sookie wait so long to love/trust/have sex with Eric? I tried to build off the Sookie in the books, who has major trust issues and frankly, is a bit irritating when it comes to common sense. So she starts from that point and has to evolve a bit. If she was as sharp as we'd hope, there wouldn't be any story—she'd be grabbing Eric in the first paragraph!

*How long does Sookie live? Do they have kids? I don't know. I intended originally to end the story with just a very sweet/fluffy proposal scene, but given the complete failure of closure from the books (AHEM), I had to figure out a longer-lasting happy ending for my tastes. So I had to give Sookie and Eric options to make their lives together more livable (get rid of the short lifeline issue, allow Eric more functionality than just night). I opened the door for a discussion on children because I don't know if that is a component of happiness for Sookie or not. I don't know if Sookie wants kids since, as I had her say here, she's never really thought about it as an option. Nor did I want to dismiss women who don't have children (yours truly) or to ignore the possibility of adoption as a valid choice (which infuriated me in the "logic" behind the final book). So I left that open ended for you to decide.

*Music: I've listened to a lot of music while writing this story. There are too many songs for a playlist, but FYI: the Kelly Clarkson song referenced in the text is "My Life Would Suck Without You." Justin Timberlake's "Mirrors" is also here. And the song that was on loop when I began finishing this was Bruno Mars' "Marry You." (The entire party sequence at the end was written with that song in mind.)

Thank you again, my fellow SVM/TB fans, for a wonderful ride. I hope, like Eric (and Sookie) here, you do one day find your heart's desire.