Disclaimer : Charlaine Harris retains sole rights to the SVM and its characters and I am in no way attempting to infringe on the world she has created. Her characters are being borrowed as creative inspirations, and are being portrayed here merely through my interpretation of their interactions. Thanks for reading.

Story Summary : Post FDtW, Sookie finds her life even more entangled in the supernatural than ever. She's summoned to Las Vegas by Felipe de Castro so that he may formally anounce her protected status, and that really does seem to be all he wants from her. During the trip Sookie is faced with an almost overwhelming choice to make and her conscience demands an answer soon - what man should she love? She finds an unexpected friendship in the form of Corrine Platt, known mostly as Cory, who is also a human living and loving in the world of vampires. However, the trip turns sinister as Sookie, Eric, and Bill find out what else has been going on in Nevada, and their new friends are right in the thick of it. Will all the suffering be worth the cost? Sookie might finally be ready to accept her place in the world at the side of a vampire, but that world may not end up being a place she can stand living in.

Chapter Summary : Sookie finds herself unexpectedly invited to Las Vegas, not that she has much choice about going. Eric needs her to go with him and as usual that isn't all he wants from her, but this time it seems to be more than just playful desire.

Author's Note : This was originally posted on the True Blood wiki at '.com/page/Jesiryu%27s+Fan+Fiction' but I've uploaded it here as my first entry to . I always appreciate reviews and comments, since it always makes my day to know that someone enjoyed the time they spent reading my story. Criticism welcome!

I knew I would find Eric at my house before I even pulled in the driveway.

It had been another long night at Merlotte's and it was already late. I'd been looking forward to getting in the shower and letting the water rinse away some of the tension in my body before lying down for the night.

Now another kind of tension was building and I hadn't even gotten out of the damn car, although I did feel better than I had ten minutes ago.

I shut down the engine and leaned back in the seat thinking maybe if I just stayed there he'd get the hint and go away. But Eric wasn't interested in what I wanted, and my driver's door was open before I could even unbuckle my seat belt.

I didn't look at him as I got out of the car and marched up my front steps, keys in hand, and unlocked the door to the house. All the lights were out so I figured Amelia was already in bed, as seemed to be her current habit now that Octavia had gone back to New Orleans. For half a second I actually wished my roommate was still puttering around, at least then I might've had an excuse not to talk to Eric. I paused just short of opening the door to the house, thought better of letting him inside, and turned around.

"What do you want, Eric?" I hoped my voice sounded as tired as I felt. I finally let myself look at him and felt that familiar twinge that seemed to run from the tips of my toes to the top of my head. It's hard not to get that feeling around Eric, but I clamped down on the urge to throw myself at him. I'm not sure what I would have done if I had. I was pretty split between wanting to hit him and kissing him, but any physical contact would have been too intense right at this moment.

Eric seemed to see some of the conflict on my face, or so I told myself, but he was happy to see me. Stupid blood bond. I clamped down again.

"You didn't return my phone call." His voice was playful and it was hard to ignore the memories it stirred, but I managed.

"And you figured showing up unannounced would be the best way to get a response?" I retorted angrily. I hadn't returned his call because I was avoiding him. Things between me and Eric were just too mixed up for me to handle and I needed more time to sort out how I felt about everything. The last time I'd seen him had been at Merlotte's with Pam, when he had come to tell me that I was being offered protection by the Las Vegas (and now Louisiana and Arkansas) vampire King, Filipe de Castro, in return for saving him from a definitely not finally-dead Sigebert. I'd saved Eric, really, and Filipe de Castro by proxy. Personally I thought paying for the repairs to my car had been enough of a thank-you.

"I assumed it would be better to show up at your home than your place of work, yes," he said simply. "I need to talk to you."

"Eric…I really don't know why you want to talk about it," I said in exasperation.

"If you think I'm here to talk about our affair, I'm not." Well that was like a slap in the face. I blinked as though it would help me clear the thoughts whirling around half-formed in my mind. Absurdly I actually felt hurt that he'd already moved past it. Eric had lost his memory after being cursed by a Witch who'd wanted his blood, among other things. I had sheltered him in my home because it was the safest place for him at the time. He had been so sweet, and caring, without a thousand years of memories weighing on his shoulders. We'd had a great time together – correction, a spectacular time – and I think he might have loved me at some point between, or maybe during, all the fabulous sex. He'd even offered to stay with me and give up getting back his life if it would make me happy. But I couldn't let him do that because it would have made any life we made together a cheated one. When the curse was removed all those new memories he'd gotten during his stay went poof and in a way I was relieved. I had told him later, in a very glossy overview, what had happened between us in return for him saving my friend Tara from an abusive vampire named Mickey, but Eric's response had mostly been to avoid me after that point. Then, that same night that Filipe de Castro completed his take-over of Louisiana, Eric somehow regained those memories. The last time he'd even mentioned it to me, other than some playful teasing, he had said we would have to come to an understanding. Foolish me, I guess I'd been hoping for, well, something other than this.

"Well I guess we can't get any better understanding than that." My throat felt ridiculously closed up, and I'm sure my shame filtered back to him very clearly over our bond. I wondered, for the umpteenth time, when it would fade away completely.

"Oh I'm not saying we're never going to discuss it, just that it's not the reason for my visit." Eric smirked. He'd meant to get a reaction out of me and it had worked. God damn blood bonded Viking vampires, pardon my French.

"Then stop with the fucking games, Eric, and just tell me why you're here." His eyebrows rose slightly at my use of language. Well at least I could still surprise him a little.

"Filipe de Castro has requested our presence at his, ah, headquarters."

"What on earth for?"

"It seems he wants to celebrate his successful venture in Louisiana by hosting a ball in Las Vegas."

"And why does this mean I have to go?" I said, more than a little put out. Going somewhere meant taking time off of work, and that was something that I really couldn't afford even in the best of times.

"Because your status as a protected human needs to be announced formally, and this is the best time for the King to do so." For the first time that evening I caught on that Eric was not happy with the situation. I wondered if that was contributing to my exceptionally foul mood, decided I didn't really want to know, and threw my hands up in the air as I stalked over to one of the chairs on the porch and sat down in a huff.

He let the silence hang for a moment and moved to lean against the railing opposite of my chair. Oh, boy could he make that look yummy. I remembered him leaning like that with considerably less clothes on, knew he remembered it too, caught myself, and battened down the hatches again.

"So why is this a bad thing, besides the fact that I'm not exactly thrilled with the idea of going?"

Eric looked out towards the woods as he seemed to think over the best way to explain. "The King has a lot of new territory. It's not an unprecedented amount, but it is significant." A piece of the puzzle clicked into place and I caught on to what he was implying.

"You think he should be spending his time reinforcing his gain, not having parties." The corners of Eric's mouth twitched and he shifted his gaze back to me, nodding almost imperceptibly.

"Well that's just great. So we can expect trouble?"

"I would say so, yes." He hesitated a moment before adding, "There would be in any case, but I was hoping that the King would only summon me to this gathering and leave you out of it."

Well that was saying something. I opened my mouth to speak, closed it again, frowned, and shook my head. "Would you at least have told me you were going?"

"Of course, my lover, but only if you'd asked." That made things shudder inside me, but I wasn't going to let him distract me.

"What do you mean, if I'd asked? We never talk except when there's something you need me to do for you."

"Yes, a fact I'd prefer to change." With no other preamble, Eric was suddenly on his knees next to the chair and leaning over me. I felt a surge between my legs at him being so close and my lips parted in anticipation before my brain could catch up. But rather than kissing me he lowered his face towards my neck, which was bare because my hair was still up in a ponytail from being at work. My hands shot out and pushed against his shoulders, not that I could have actually done anything to stop him.

"Eric! What – "

"I'm not going to bite you," he said in a slightly ragged voice. Strangely enough, once he said it I believed him. "Unless you want me to." Now I could hear an unmistakable leer and I turned my head to look at him. His words had made that flare of heat move closer to a real flame. I hated that the thought of him drinking my blood was now a turn-on.

I opened my mouth to say 'no' with as much attitude as I could muster but he put a finger to my lips. His head tilted so he could look into my eyes and I found myself surprised that he seemed to be searching for something. Eric hardly ever looked at me at like this and I felt myself tremble for reasons too numerous to count. His eyes flicked over my face, taking me in, and he slid his finger from my lips to under my chin. I had absolutely no idea what was going through his mind and it was making me very nervous at how un-Eric like this seemed.

"You let me go." My eyes widened as I tried to track what he was saying. "When we got to Shreveport the night of the Witch War, and I offered…" his voice trailed off like he couldn't understand his own words, so I mentally added 'when you offered to stay with me and give up your vampire responsibilities'. "You let me go," he repeated, looking at me intently.

"Well, yeah, Eric, what should I have done?"

"Why did you do it? You said 'I'm an idiot' but that doesn't tell me anything." Darn, how could he remember that so precisely?

I must have looked like a deer in headlights, because that's how I sure felt. "If you had been you, you'd never have said those things." Horrible sentence I know, but I was flustered and sure as hell didn't want to tell him the details of my reasoning.

"But I did say them," he insisted oddly, his eyes still searching, "Weren't you even tempted?"

My eyes widened further. Did I just hear him right? "That's crazy, Eric."

The blues of his eyes were boring holes in mine and I could tell that he would have given anything to be able to read my thoughts at that moment. But the next thing I knew, his face reverted back to the vampire slate I was so used to and he was on his feet walking down the stairs. My brain was doing flip-flops over what had just happened. At least I think it was my brain. I stood up to chase after him.

"Eric, wait!" God damn it, why couldn't I just let him walk away?

He was in front of me suddenly, and I found myself pressed against the side of the house. This time the intensity of his stare was deadly and my heart started pounding.

"Is this fun for you, Sookie? Toying with someone?"

"I'm not trying to toy with you, Eric," I protested into the vicinity of his chest.

"Then why aren't you glad I remembered? I would have thought, if I had truly meant something to you, that you would have been glad for the chance."

Completely disarmed by his vulnerability, I couldn't think of any good way to avoid explaining. "I didn't know how you felt about remembering. I mean, come on Eric, you're the big tough vampire Sheriff of Shreveport, how could you possibly enjoy remembering that you'd been a moment away from giving it all up for a stupid human girl? I knew you'd enjoy remembering the sex, heck I enjoy remembering it." Not even a twitch from him. I swallowed hard. "Look I just…I figured you'd hate that I'd seen you like that. You certainly implied so when I told you what happened between us in return for saving Tara. You asked if you should just kill me to end thinking about me." I remember how scared I'd been that night, and our current situation with him pressed up against me with each of his hands resting against the house trapping me between his arms was just making it more terrifying. I wondered if I'd overplayed my hand again.

"I didn't know how happy I'd been, when you told me," he pointed out, his voice calm. Okay, so he wasn't angry, that had to be a plus.

"Yeah, well, I told you about your offer to give everything up for me. What did you think that meant?" I asked, trying to get him to understand.

"I thought you were exaggerating or that you must have misunderstood, though I knew you were perfectly serious when you said it." He seemed to be considering what I was saying to him, seemingly trying to gauge the honesty behind it.

"But you couldn't imagine that you'd really meant it?" I prodded further, wondering if I was out of danger yet.

"No." There was my honest vampire. Not 'my'. I didn't…ah damn it.

"Well there," I finished lamely.

The intensity coming off of him through our bond could have hardened coal into diamonds, and it made me gasp. He looked me straight in the eyes. "But I remember now, and I remember why I said it. Sookie, I – " My eyes went wide again and I interrupted him before he could complete the sentence.

"Oh, no, no, don't you say those words to me Eric Northman. Not even in past tense." I don't know why I was reacting so badly. "Besides, you only said that you could feel that way, not that you did."

He closed his eyes and went silent for a moment. "So it doesn't matter to you." His voice was so low I had to strain to hear him.

"What do you want me to say, Eric? I can't for the life of me think why it matters now."

Oh that got a reaction, just not the one I expected. His mouth was on mine before the words had finished leaving my lips. The kiss was forceful and full of pent-up feelings for both of us. Only Bill had ever kissed me like this, the type of kiss that you feel inside out that says I-love-you-I-want-you-I-missed-you-I-need-you. And damn me, I couldn't help but get swept away in it.